The Feynman Lectures on Physics
The Feynman Lectures on Physics  

The Feynman Lectures on Physics including Feynman's Tips on Physics: The Definitive and Extended Edition (2nd edition, 2005)


Author  Richard P. Feynman, Robert B. Leighton and Matthew Sands 
Country  United States 
Language  English 
Subject  Physics 
Publisher  Addison–Wesley 
Publication date

1964 
OCLC  19455482 
The Feynman Lectures on Physics is a physics textbook based on some lectures by Richard P. Feynman, a Nobel laureate who has sometimes been called “The Great Explainer”.^{1} The lectures were given to undergraduate students at the California Institute of Technology (Caltech), during 1961–1963. The book's authors are Feynman, Robert B. Leighton, and Matthew Sands.
The book comprises three volumes. The first volume focuses on mechanics, radiation, and heat, including relativistic effects. The second volume is mainly on electromagnetism and matter. The third volume is on quantum mechanics; it shows, for example, how the doubleslit experiment contains the essential features of quantum mechanics. The book also includes chapters on mathematics and the relation of physics to other sciences.
The Feynman Lectures on Physics is perhaps the most popular physics book ever written. It has been printed in a dozen languages.^{2} More than 1.5 million copies have sold in English, and probably even more copies in foreignlanguage editions.^{2} A 2013 review in Nature described the book as having "simplicity, beauty, unity … presented with enthusiasm and insight".^{3}
In 2013, Caltech made the book freely available, on the web site feynmanlectures.caltech.edu.
Contents
Background
By 1960, Richard Feynman’s research and discoveries in physics had resolved a number of troubling inconsistencies in several fundamental theories. In particular, it was his work in quantum electrodynamics which would lead to the awarding in 1965 of the Nobel Prize in physics. At the same time that Feynman was at the pinnacle of his fame, the faculty of the California Institute of Technology was concerned about the quality of the introductory courses being offered to the undergraduate students. It was felt that these were burdened by an oldfashioned syllabus and that the exciting discoveries of recent years, many of which had occurred at Caltech, were not being conveyed to the students.
Thus, it was decided to reconfigure the first physics course offered to students at Caltech, with the goal being to generate more excitement in the students. Feynman readily agreed to give the course, though only once. Aware of the fact that this would be a historic event, Caltech recorded each lecture and took photographs of each drawing made on the blackboard by Feynman.
Based on the lectures and the tape recordings, a team of physicists and graduate students put together a manuscript that would become The Feynman Lectures on Physics. Although Feynman's most valuable technical contribution to the field of physics may have been in the field of quantum electrodynamics, the Feynman Lectures were destined to become his most widely read work.
The Feynman Lectures are considered to be one of the best and most sophisticated college level introductions to physics.^{4} Feynman, himself, however, stated, in his original preface, that he was “pessimistic” with regard to the success with which he reached all of his students. The Feynman lectures were written “to maintain the interest of very enthusiastic and rather smart students coming out of high schools and into Caltech.” Feynman was targeting the lectures to students who, “at the end of two years of our previous course, [were] very discouraged because there were really very few grand, new, modern ideas presented to them.” As a result, some physics students find the lectures more valuable after they obtain a good grasp of physics by studying more traditional texts. Many professional physicists refer to the lectures at various points in their careers to refresh their minds with regard to basic principles.
As the twoyear course (1961–1963) was still being completed, rumor of it spread throughout the physics community. In a special preface to the 1989 edition, David Goodstein and Gerry Neugebauer claim that as time went on, the attendance of registered students dropped sharply but was matched by a compensating increase in the number of faculty and graduate students. Sands, in his memoir accompanying the 2005 edition, contests this claim. Goodstein and Neugebauer also state that, “it was [Feynman’s] peers — scientists, physicists, and professors — who would be the main beneficiaries of his magnificent achievement, which was nothing less than to see physics through the fresh and dynamic perspective of Richard Feynman,” and that his "gift was that he was an extraordinary teacher of teachers".
Addison–Wesley published a collection of problems to accompany The Feynman Lectures on Physics. The problem sets were first used in the 19621963 academic year and organized by Robert B. Leighton. Some of the problems are sophisticated enough to require understanding of topics as advanced as Kolmogorov's zeroone law, for example.
Addison–Wesley also released in CD format all the audio tapes of the lectures, over 103 hours with Richard Feynman, after remastering the sound and clearing the recordings. For the CD release, the order of the lectures was rearranged from that of the original texts. (The publisher has released a table showing the correspondence between the books and the CDs.)
In March 1964, Feynman appeared before the freshman physics class as a guest lecturer, but the notes for this lecture were lost for a number of years. They were finally located, restored, and made available as Feynman's Lost Lecture: The Motion of Planets Around the Sun.
In 2005, Michael A. Gottlieb and Ralph Leighton coauthored Feynman's Tips on Physics, which includes four of Feynman's freshman lectures not included in the main text (three on problem solving, one on inertial guidance), a memoir by Matt Sands about the origins of the Feynman Lectures on Physics, and exercises (with answers) that were assigned to students by Robert B. Leighton and Rochus Vogt in recitation sections of the Feynman Lectures course at Caltech. Also released in 2005, was a "Definitive Edition" of the lectures which includes corrections to the original text.
An account on the history of these famous volumes is given by Sands in his memoir article “Capturing the Wisdom of Feynman”, Physics Today, Apr 2005, p. 49.^{5}
In September 13, 2013, in an email to members of Feynman Lectures online forum, Gottlieb announced the launch of a new website by Caltech and The Feynman Lectures Website which offers "[A] free highquality online edition" of the lecture text. Volume I of the lectures is initially posted on this website, but other volumes are expected to be available in the near future.^{6} To provide a device independent reading experience, the website takes advantage of modern web technologies like HTML5, SVG, and Mathjax to present text, figures, and equations in any sizes while maintaining the display quality.^{7}
Contents
Volume I. Mainly mechanics, radiation, and heat
 Preface: “When new ideas came in, I would try either to deduce them if they were deducible or to explain that it was a new idea … and which was not supposed to be provable.”
 Chapters
 Atoms in motion
 Basic Physics
 The relation of physics to other sciences
 Conservation of energy
 Time and distance
 Probability
 The theory of gravitation
 Motion
 Newton's laws of dynamics
 Conservation of momentum
 Vectors
 Characteristics of force
 Work and potential energy (A)
 Work and potential energy (conclusion)
 The special theory of relativity
 Relativistic energy and momentum
 Spacetime
 Rotation in two dimensions
 Center of mass; Moment of inertia
 Rotation in space
 The harmonic oscillator
 Algebra
 Resonance
 Transients
 Linear systems and review
 Optics: The principle of least time
 Geometrical optics
 Electromagnetic radiation
 Interference
 Diffraction
 The origin of the refractive index
 Radiation damping. Light scattering
 Polarization
 Relativistic effects in radiation
 Color vision
 Mechanisms of seeing
 Quantum behavior
 The Relation of Wave and particle viewpoints
 The kinetic theory of gases
 The principles of statistical mechanics
 The brownian movement
 Applications of kinetic theory
 Diffusion
 The laws of thermodynamics
 Illustrations of thermodynamics
 Ratchet and pawl
 Sound. The wave equation
 Beats
 Modes
 Harmonics
 Waves
 Symmetry in physical laws
Volume II. Mainly electromagnetism and matter
 Chapters
 Electromagnetism
 Differential calculus of vector fields
 Vector integral calculus
 Electrostatics
 Application of Gauss' law
 The electric field in various circumstances
 The electric field in various circumstances (continued)
 Electrostatic energy
 Electricity in the atmosphere
 Dielectrics
 Inside dielectrics
 Electrostatic analogs
 Magnetostatics
 The magnetic field in various situations
 The vector potential
 Induced currents
 The laws of induction
 The Maxwell equations
 Principle of least action
 Solutions of Maxwell's equations in free space
 Solutions of Maxwell's equations with currents and charges
 AC circuits
 Cavity resonators
 Waveguides
 Electrodynamics in relativistic notation
 Lorentz transformations of the fields
 Field energy and field momentum
 Electromagnetic mass (ref. to Wheeler–Feynman absorber theory)
 The motion of charges in electric and magnetic fields
 The internal geometry of crystals
 Tensors
 Refractive index of dense materials
 Reflection from surfaces
 The magnetism of matter
 Paramagnetism and magnetic resonance
 Ferromagnetism
 Magnetic materials
 Elasticity
 Elastic materials
 The flow of dry water
 The flow of wet water
 Curved space
Volume III. Quantum mechanics
 Chapters
 Quantum behavior
 The relation of wave and particle viewpoints
 Probability amplitudes
 Identical particles
 Spin one
 Spin onehalf
 The dependence of amplitudes on time
 The Hamiltonian matrix
 The ammonia maser
 Other twostate systems
 More twostate systems
 The hyperfine splitting in hydrogen
 Propagation in a crystal lattice
 Semiconductors
 The independent particle approximation
 The dependence of amplitudes on position
 Symmetry and conservation laws
 Angular momentum
 The hydrogen atom and the periodic table
 Operators
 The Schrödinger equation in a classical context: a seminar on superconductivity
Abbreviated editions
Six readilyaccessible chapters were later compiled into a book entitled Six Easy Pieces: Essentials of Physics Explained by Its Most Brilliant Teacher. Six more chapters are in the book Six Not So Easy Pieces: Einstein's Relativity, Symmetry and SpaceTime.
“Six Easy Pieces grew out of the need to bring to as wide an audience as possible, a substantial yet nontechnical physics primer based on the science of Richard Feynman…. General readers are fortunate that Feynman chose to present certain key topics in largely qualitative terms without formal mathematics….”^{8}
Six Easy Pieces (1994)
Chapters:
 Atoms in motion
 Basic Physics
 The relation of physics to other sciences
 Conservation of energy
 The theory of gravitation
 Quantum behavior
Six NotSoEasy Pieces (1998)
Chapters:
 Vectors
 Symmetry in physical laws
 The special theory of relativity
 Relativistic energy and momentum
 Spacetime
 Curved space
The Very Best of The Feynman Lectures (Audio, 2005)
Chapters:
 The Theory of Gravitation (Vol. I, Chapter 7)
 Curved Space (Vol. II, Chapter 42)
 Electromagnetism (Vol. II, Chapter 1)
 Probability (Vol. I, Chapter 6)
 The Relation of Wave and Particle Viewpoints (Vol. III, Chapter 2)
 Superconductivity (Vol. III, Chapter 21)
Publishing information
 Feynman R, Leighton R, and Sands M. The Feynman Lectures on Physics . 3 volumes 1964, 1966. Library of Congress Catalog Card No. 6320717

 ISBN 0201021153 (1970 paperback threevolume set)
 ISBN 0201500647 (1989 commemorative hardcover threevolume set)
 ISBN 0805390456 (2006 the definitive edition (2nd printing); hardcover)

 Feynman's Tips On Physics: A ProblemSolving Supplement to the Feynman Lectures on Physics (hardcover) ISBN 0805390634
 Six Easy Pieces (hardcover book with original Feynman audio on CDs) ISBN 0201408961
 Six Easy Pieces (paperback book) ISBN 0201408252
 Six NotSoEasy Pieces (paperback book with original Feynman audio on CDs) ISBN 0201328410
 Six NotSoEasy Pieces (paperback book) ISBN 0201328429
 Exercises for the Feynman Lectures (paperback book) ISBN 2356487891 (out of print)
 Feynman R, Leighton R, and Sands M. "The Feynman Lectures on Physics, Volume I" (online edition), The Feynman Lectures Website, September 2013.
See also
References
 ^ LeVine, Harry (2009). The Great Explainer: The Story of Richard Feynman. Greensboro, North Carolina: Morgan Reynolds. ISBN 9781599351131.
 ^ ^{a} ^{b} [1]
 ^ Phillips R. (5 December 2013), "The Feynman lectures on physics", Nature, 504: 3031.
 ^ Rohrlich, Fritz (1989), From paradox to reality: our basic concepts of the physical world, Cambridge University Press, p. 157, ISBN 052137605X, Extract of page 157
 ^ See also: Welton, T.A., “Memory of Feynman”, Physics Today, Feb 2007, p.46.
 ^ Text of the email to Feynman Lectures Forum Members on Hacker News.
 ^ Footnote on homepage of website The Feynman Lectures on Physics.
 ^ Feynman, Richard Phillips; Leighton, Robert B.; Sands, Matthew (2011). Six Easy Pieces: Essentials of Physics Explained by Its Most Brilliant Teacher. Basic Books. p. vii. ISBN 0465025293., Extract of page vii
External links
 The Feynman Lectures on Physics California Institute of Technology (Caltech) – HTML edition.
 The Feynman Lectures on Physics The Feynman Lectures Website – HTML edition and also exercises and other related material.

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