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Thursday, June 27, 2019

Review: Six Easy Pieces

Six Easy Pieces is a selection of lectures from the Feynman Lectures on Physics. The "easy" part is basically a reference to the lack of math in these and that they can be understood without reference to many of the other sections in the lectures. I was very entertained by the preface, where it was mentioned that while it was intended to be an introductory class, undergraduates kept dropping out but the lecture hall remained full because graduate students and other faculty members started attending!

I enjoyed the introduction, which I thought was a good example of scientific deduction: once you know everything is made out of atoms, here's how you build upon that knowledge. The remaining sections deal with the relation of physics to the other sciences, the conservation of energy, gravitation, the history of physics, and Quantum mechanics.

All the examples are lucid, with a unique view of the systems involved that's different from the typical dry textbook examples, and the quantum behavior chapter in particular takes away all the hocus pocus stuff about observers and basically casts quantum behavior as viewed from an experimental point of view.

Looking at the collected lectures, I can see that there are many chapters which start with differential equations and just roll on from there, so I can see why these chapters were picked out of the entire lecture series. But maybe I should go ahead and try working through the actual lectures to see if my "A" levels "D" was a matter of both immaturity and the inability of my high school physics lecturer to get through to me.

In any case, the book comes recommended and is short and well worth your time to read.

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