Loading... The Character of Physical Law (1965)by Richard Feynman
Loading...
Sign up for LibraryThing to find out whether you'll like this book. No current Talk conversations about this book. How delightful is Nature for Feynman and his peers. This glimpse on the Physicist method (more than the actual explanations of some laws) is a great takeaway. I already feel the approach, both in technic and in philosophy, can be applied to any kind of intellectual work. This book is a transcript, hence it is sometimes hard to process. The videos can be seen online, that’s a great experience overall. Also it makes reading with Feynman accent in mind mandatory from now on :) This is a fantastic little book for which we have to thank the BBC: They decided to film these lectures and subsequently publish transcripts of them, at a time before Feynman had turned into a oneman industry and every one of Feynman`s students`firstdraft lecture notes became as diamond dust. The title tells one enough about the contents; if you have any interest in the topic you should read this book. It is almost but not completely nonmathematical. If you can cope with the algebra contained within F=GMm/R  well, that's as hard as it gets. The aspect of the book that particularly interested me this time around is in Chapter two (and reprised somewhat in the final lecture). Feynman takes the above given equation, which expresses Newton's Law of Universal Gravitation and says  that's all very well, but you can express it in another way that's to do with how something called a potential varies locally  and if you do it will always give exactly the same answer! And, not content with that, you can express it another way that is to do with finding the minimum of a certain thing called the Action. (Technically it doesn't have to be a minimum, just somewhere where the tangent to the graph of the Action would be horizontal.) Done this way, the answers always come out the same as the other two ways! What's the point of that? Three ways to say the same thing! But here's the interesting, indeed profound thing: when it came to understanding quantum mechanics (which doesn't deal with gravity) it was found that both potentials and a principle of minimum (stationary, strictly) Action were needed. So the different ways of expressing Newton's gravity law turned out profoundly useful in understanding a different set of phenomena, namely the nuclear forces and electromagnetism. So if you are involved in trying to understand fundamental physics it would probably be healthy to actively search for different mathematical methods of expressing the laws as we understand them now! Incidently, I doubt you will ever come across a more accessible introduction to the essential mystery of quantum mechanics (the photon/electron double slit experiment) than that given in this lecture, in which Feynman gave his famous quote, "...I think I can safely say nobody understands quantum mechanics."  Simple, which is good  Fundamental, which is great  Entertaining, who doesn't like that? A casual stroll past the vast edifices of simple physical laws, a few views of strange ideas that haven't been accepted but interesting all the same, and terminating at his  Richard's  favourite 'twin split' experiment that we all remember from our school days. This is a great little book. More, such an approach  clearly stating background ideas and how they were arrived at, concluding at the vanguard  could and should be applied to more topics. Very nice way of introducing how physics work and physicists think. Feynman makes it a fun ride filled with witty jokes and awesome experiments, methods and metaphors to explain this beautiful subject. He mainly sticks to the character of the laws  their essence  rather than the laws themselves. PS. I saw the original lectures which were recorded on tape by BBC. no reviews  add a review
Is abridged in
Like any set of oral reflections, The Character of Physical Law has special value as a demonstration of the mind in action. The reader is particularly lucky in Richard Feynman  one of the most eminent and imaginative modern physicists. In these Messenger Lectures, originally delivered at Cornell University and recorded for television by the BBC, Richard Feynman offers an overview of selected physical laws and gathers their common features into one broad principle of invariance. He maintains at the outset that the importance of a physical law is not ''how clever we are to have found it out  but . . . how clever nature is to pay attention to it'' and steers his discussions toward a final exposition of the elegance and simplicity of all scientific laws. Rather than an essay on the most significant achievements in modern science, The Character of Physical Law is a statement of what is most remarkable in nature. Feynman's enlightened approach, his wit, and his enthusiasm make this a memorable exposition of the scientist's craft. The law of gravitation is the author's principal example. Relating the details of its discovery and stressing its mathematical character, he uses it to demonstrate the essential interaction of mathematics and physics. He views mathematics as the key to any system of scientific laws, suggesting that if it were possible to fill out the structure of scientific theory completely, the result would be an integrated set of mathematical axioms. The principles of conservation, symmetry, and time irreversibility are then considered in relation to developments in classical and modern physics, and in his final lecture, Feynman develops his own analysis of the process and future of scientific discovery. No library descriptions found.

Popular covers
Google Books — Loading... GenresMelvil Decimal System (DDC)530 — Natural sciences and mathematics Physics PhysicsLC ClassificationRatingAverage:
Is this you?Become a LibraryThing Author. Penguin AustraliaAn edition of this book was published by Penguin Australia. 
Recommended for anyone with the slightest interest in Physics and should be read by every intelligent person who believes science is a collection of facts, rather than a process of making ever better guesses about nature.
Feynman shared the 1965 Nobel Prize in Physics. ( )