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Six Not-So-Easy Pieces: Einstein's Relativity, Symmetry, and Space-Time [Paperback]

Richard P. Feynman
4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (20 customer reviews)

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Six Not-So-Easy Pieces: Einstein’s Relativity, Symmetry, and Space-Time Six Not-So-Easy Pieces: Einstein’s Relativity, Symmetry, and Space-Time 4.6 out of 5 stars (20)
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Book Description

March 16 2005 0465023932 978-0465023936
No twentieth-century American scientist is better known to a wider spectrum of people than Richard P. Feynman (1918–1988)—physicist, teacher, author, and cultural icon. His autobiographies and biographies have been read and enjoyed by millions of readers around the world, while his wit and eccentricities have made him the subject of TV specials and even a theatrical film. The spectacular reception of the book and audio versions of Feynman’s Six Easy Pieces (published in 1995) resulted in a worldwide clamor for “More Feynman! More Feynman!” The outcome is these six additional lectures, drawn from the celebrated three-volume Lectures on Physics. Though slightly more challenging than the first six, these lectures are more focused, delving into the most revolutionary discovery in twentieth-century physics: Einstein’s Theory of Relativity. No single breakthrough in twentieth-century physics (with the possible exception of quantum mechanics) changed our view of the world more than that of Einstein’s discovery of relativity. The notions that the flow of time is not a constant, that the mass of an object depends on its velocity, and that the speed of light is a constant no matter what the motion of the observer, at first seemed shocking to scientists and laymen alike. But, as Feynman shows so clearly and so entertainingly in the lectures chosen for this volume, these crazy notions are no mere dry principles of physics, but are things of beauty and elegance. No one—not even Einstein himself—explained these difficult, anti-intuitive concepts more clearly, or with more verve and gusto, than Richard Feynman.

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About the Author

Richard P. Feynman was raised in Far Rockaway, New York, and received his Ph.D. from Princeton. He held professorships at both Cornell and the California Institute of Technology. In 1965 he received the Nobel Prize for his work on quantum electrodynamics. He died in 1988.

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4.6 out of 5 stars
4.6 out of 5 stars
Most helpful customer reviews
6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars NOT for the beginner. Dec 30 2002
If you've got a fair background in beginning Calculus and elementary physics, you may find this book very worthwhile. I wouldn't know.
Don't be fooled, however, by reviewers who claim that Feynman explains things in such a way that even without those basic tools, the book isn't incomprehensible. I've HAD basic calculus, albeit a LONG time ago, and I'm a tad rusty. And I have even less grounding in physics. But I'm far from mathematically illiterate, or incapable. And it isn't true that I got nothing out of my reading of this book; the sixth chapter did, in fact, answer the question that I'd hoped to have answered when I bought it. But by and large, the book was close to impenetrable. Now, clearly, this may well be due to my lack of preparation in the prerequisites for understanding it. But it definitely is NOT the first step in the process of understanding physics, as one reviewer actually called it and others implied. Read "Six Easy Pieces" first, and brush up on first-year Calculus. THEN consider tackling this book.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Six More Elegantly Explained Concepts April 4 2003
By John
Six Not-So-Easy Pieces is the sequel to the book Six Easy Pieces. The first book is a collection of six of the easier lectures from Feynman's freshman and sophomore physics classes at CalTech. Six Not-So-Easy Pieces are some of the more difficult lectures from those classes. In contrast to the first book, these lessons are much more mathematical. Freshman calculus is definitely a prerequisite to reading this book. Courses in vector calculus and differential equations will help the reader to more completely understand the works, but they are not absolutely necessary. However, without much mathematical knowledge, one can just take Feynman at his word for all the equations, reading mainly the conceptual explanations, but one will invariably miss out on some of the points. For anyone reading the book, Feynman's teaching style is something that can be enjoyed. He explains the concepts in a comprehensive and not-too-difficult manner and seems to have a full understanding of what the student in the lecture hall is thinking. The six topics (chapters) covered in this book are: Vectors, Symmetry in Physical Laws, The Special Theory of Relativity, Relativistic Energy and Motion, Space-Time, and Curved Space. This book is in no way a survey of physics. It is more of a sampling of Feynman's teaching. However, the common thread that runs through the six pieces is that they all relate to understanding relativity. For the layman who has a mathematical background and wants to understand the concept of relativity, this book is an excellent help. I would suggest reading Six Easy Pieces before reading this book, but it is not necessary. If you enjoyed reading the first book, I would highly recommend this one and vice versa.
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4.0 out of 5 stars Great lectures, though a bit out of place May 31 2004
By A Customer
Six not so Easy Pieses is a small anthology of six pieces taken from Feynman's great classic, The Feynman Lectures on Physics, which were delivered to Caltech freshman. I would not recommend buying this book unless you have an excellent backround in calculus and how it relates to physics. I have read the first volume of the Lectures, and i will tell you it is nice having this to accompany it, since some of the chapters such as on Relativity merit to be read twice and since the Lectures is so bulky and heavy. There is no way someone can read understand what he's saying without knowing a good amount of math. Its like reading a book in which all the concepts are expressed in Greek. Also, these lectures were given during the middle of course, and he often mentions things which were discussed in previous lectures. The reason it gets a four is because the lectures are great (many great lectures were ommitted though), but it is too short and is out of place. This is NOT a great sequel to Six Easy Lectures, they have practically nothing to do with each other. The perfect sequal to Six Easy Lectures is the whole first volume of the Lectures.
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5.0 out of 5 stars A Challenging Intro to Thinking Physical June 27 2001
"Six Not-So-Easy Pieces" are six selections from the Feynman "Lectures on Physics". They represent not the hardest material to be found in the "Lectures" (and certainly not elsewhere concerning Feymnan's essays or other lectures) but perhaps some of the most thought-provoking and challenging conceptually (although, if you would like a conceptual challenge, check out Feynman's "QED"). Spacetime, Relativity (Special and General), Vectors, Symmetry --- there is no end to the knowledge and unique grasp of physics that Feynman possesses.
He first introduces the reader to some fundamental that they need in order to begin thinking like a physicist -- specifically, vector algebra, connecting directions with movements in space. This might take a little while for the beginner to work through, but he is careful to show all of the steps geometrically and makes it seem quite clear.
Then he moves on to talk about symmetries physicists know and work with, especially the symmetry where the physics you do is invariant according to your place in space and time. Capping the book off with more abstractly challenging concepts -- special relativity and general relativity, tying ideas of the previous chapters in (vectors and symmetry) he slowly is able to make beginning readers understand aspects of physics difficult even for the amateur physicist.
I recommend this book to any high school student who has had geometry, and to any scientific and non-scientific reader who is curious about the universe.
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Most recent customer reviews
4.0 out of 5 stars Not-so-easy is right!
It's interesting, but probably too technical for the average person. Since it is based on Richard Feynman's actual lectures, it will be more useful to those who are undergraduates... Read more
Published 9 months ago by Darrell R Juliak
4.0 out of 5 stars Relativity explained
It would be difficult to find a better begin to study relativity. It is, moreover, a joy to read it.
Published 12 months ago by JAN G C VAN DE LINDE
5.0 out of 5 stars Feynman's Six Not-so-Easy Pieces is an enjoyable and enlightening...
For a genius to be a genius, is one thing. For a genius to be also a great teacher is the mark of a truly great genius!

I am not a physicist. Read more
Published 14 months ago by Bookologist
5.0 out of 5 stars Très bon livre de vulgarisation
Comme toujours, un livre de Richard P. Feynman qui aide à la compréhension d'un sujet difficile à comprendre. Read more
Published on Oct. 16 2011 by Nav425
4.0 out of 5 stars Not-so-easy to stop reading
How refreshing it was to read Feynman's explanation of relativity after wading through Einstein's dry coverage of the same material. Read more
Published on Feb. 11 2002 by Michael Bayne
5.0 out of 5 stars Not-So-Difficult, But Wonderfully Challenging
"Six Not-So-Easy Pieces" are six selections from the Feynman "Lectures on Physics". Read more
Published on June 27 2001 by Abigail Nussey
5.0 out of 5 stars Best introduction to relativity
If you want to understand relativity, start with this book. Feynman's explanation of the basic principles is very clever. Read more
Published on Oct. 6 2000
5.0 out of 5 stars This is a review of the CD
The tittle of the book gives away the contents. I bought the CD because I have an hour commute to work and don't want to waste time on traffic reports. Read more
Published on Aug. 20 2000 by bernie
5.0 out of 5 stars Not-So-Easy Concepts Made Easy
As in the first book, Feynman clearly explains each concept from vectors to curved space-time in a manner suitable for those embarking on those concepts. Read more
Published on July 9 2000 by Amazon Customer
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