Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Six Easy Pieces

Six Easy Pieces by Richard Feynman, the noted, Nobel Prize winning physicist, becomes an interesting case for the reader.  They are ‘easy’ in there is not much elaborate mathematical detail about the topics Feynman discusses (atoms, quantum physics, astronomy, etc.) and the beginning essays are, in fact, quite easy. 

But as one reads, the 'easy' pieces get harder, and my late high school and early college science classes quickly failed me.  Interesting, this is what is said in the preface.   

These lectures were prepared for a freshman physics class and Feynman prepared them as introductory material.  But as the semester went on, we are told, more and more freshman dropped the course, and more faculty and graduate students attended.  They wanted to see Feynman explain complicated topics in a simple way, in itself a difficult task.

So, unless you have a decent background in physics, these lectures will leave you way behind at the mid-point.  This is not to say that the lectures fail (although they did not accomplish their original purpose) but it is to say that this is not a great introduction to physics for the novice.

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