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The Feynman Lectures on Physics (3 Volume Set) (Set v)

110 customer reviews
ISBN-13: 978-0201021158
ISBN-10: 0201021153
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 1552 pages
  • Publisher: Addison Wesley Longman (January 1, 1970)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0201021153
  • ISBN-13: 978-0201021158
  • Product Dimensions: 11 x 8.5 x 2.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 6.8 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (110 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #891,563 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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More About the Author

Richard P. Feynman was born in 1918 and grew up in Far Rockaway, New York. At the age of seventeen he entered MIT and in 1939 went to Princeton, then to Los Alamos, where he joined in the effort to build the atomic bomb. Following World War II he joined the physics faculty at Cornell, then went on to Caltech in 1951, where he taught until his death in 1988. He shared the Nobel Prize for physics in 1965, and served with distinction on the Shuttle Commission in 1986. A commemorative stamp in his name was issued by the U.S. Postal Service in 2005.

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

247 of 259 people found the following review helpful By Stan Vernooy on March 31, 2001
Format: Paperback
When I took my sophomore-level physics class in college in the mid-60's, my professor put these Feynman books on reserve in the library. Eventually, looking for anything that could help me with a difficult course, I went into the library to see what Mr. Feynman (of whom I had never heard) had to say.
I was spellbound. It was unimaginable to me that a subject so full of technical detail, formulas and equations, could be brought to life so brilliantly and vividly.
I soon changed my major to math, and I never heard or thought of Richard Feynman again until the Challenger disaster about 20 years later. When President Reagan appointed Feynman to the investigating panel, I said, "Hey! That's the guy who wrote those wonderful Physics books!"
Since then I have learned a lot more about Richard Feynman, and I guess I could say that if I have a hero, he's it. I have also gone back to look at these incomparable physics books again, and they are at least as magnificent as I thought they were in 1966. After decades of reading math and science books, I still believe this set of three books is head and shoulders above ANY textbook that I have seen in ANY subject. (Although, as others have said, it isn't really a textbook. On the other hand, after reading these books, you are likely to ask, "Who the hell needs a texbook?")
Feynman manages to cover the technical and mechanical details of his subject while at the same time conveying a deep and philosophical understanding of the way the physical world works. He shines a dazzling and penetrating floodlight on a subject which is murky to all but the most talented among us.
No praise is too high or too exaggerated for this work. It is one of the great achievements in the history of scientific writing.
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84 of 86 people found the following review helpful By henrique fleming on May 8, 2000
Format: Paperback
I hold the opinion that Richard Feynman was the best physics teacher of all times. I keep his three red volumes always at the main position of my bookshelves, aside Dirac's "Principles of Quantum Mechanics" and the Landau-Lifshitz collection. What is it that puts them in a class apart from every other introductory text? A Nobel-prize winner, Giaever, I think, said that he seldom had to reach for other book of physics than Feynman's. On the other hand, the very respected mathematician Gian Carlo Rota gave it a bad review, orienting students to go instead to Halliday-Resnick for help. Perhaps these opposite opinions give us a clue: Feynman's "Lectures" are the sole book to present basic physics as a living subject, as real physics, that thing that researchers slowly build in their day-to-day toil.For the author, as always, strived to rebuild everything almost from scratch, sometimes with great originality. This explains why we never grow tired of it. It explains too why it "lacks" the organization of a text designed solely by pedagogical purposes. It's an asset, rather than a liability. If you are a beginner, use both (Feynman and Halliday-Resnick). In Feynman you'll see the magic and understand the beauty of a career in physics, as in nowhere else.
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131 of 138 people found the following review helpful By Ursiform VINE VOICE on April 23, 2005
Format: Paperback
First, on the question of whether the original lectures were a failure. In the April 2005 issue of Physics Today, Matthew Sands writes about the project that resulted in the Feynman Lectures. He disputes the claim that the undergraduates drifted away from Feynman's lectures in large numbers, and explains how Feynman's preface came about, and why he (Sands) finds it unduly negative.

It has always been widely agreed that the Lectures are insufficient as a standalone textbook, and best used as supplemental reading. As can be seen from the reviews here, Feynman's approach appeals to many readers, but falls flat with others. This is not surprising, as different people respond to different ways of explaining physics. As an historical aside, Feynman and Schwinger took such different approaches to developing quantum electrodynamics theory that it wasn't immediately clear that their formulations were even equivalent. Most physicists find Feynman's approach easier to learn, but others find it unsatisfying. People are different. Physicists are different. Even physics students are different. There is not, and will never be, one book that is the best for every reader. The Feynman Lectures are great because they have been so enlightening to so many people, not because they meet the impossible standard of being clear to every reader.
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64 of 65 people found the following review helpful By Real Mad Scientist on January 13, 2005
Format: Paperback
Most of the reviewers are right, even the ones that contradict; something Feynman would appreciate.

The books bespeak the Beauty of Physics. Feynman's enthusiasm and

creativity comes through. The wonder and joy of physics is there.

For this alone the books are rightly appreciated. I have the set on my bookshelf and do go back to read it from time to time.

The dark side can be shown by Feynman himself in Volume 3. Regarding the lectures, he says "...I think the system is a failure." It seemed to only reach the brightest students and the ones with the best physics backgrounds. He quotes Gibbons: "The

power of instruction is seldom of much efficacy except in those happy dispositions where it is almost superfluous." In short,

the lectures do NOT make a great text.

I was an undergraduate at Caltech starting in 1970, and the first two years of physics used these books as text. There was a book of problems accompanying the lectures, but the connection was slight. The majority of us had a hard time. Beauty is one thing, but solving problems is another. It took years of grinding through Schaum's and other books to gain an understanding of physics sufficient for a Ph.D., which I now actually have.

So that's how I view these books. They are must-have books, but it is difficult to use them as a text. (Volume 3, the Quantum

Mechanics one comes the closest, I must confess.)
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