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on July 13, 2004
I love reading Feynman. I am not going to write a long review of this book. If you are interested enough in physics to be at this page, then reading this book is a no brainer. I will say that I read QED first, and that is Feynman's masterpiece. This work suffers by comparison only in that he is addressing underclassman and trying to get them interested in the big picture, whereas QED is the big picture. The great thing about this book is its conversational tone. You can almost imagine yourself in a classroom headed by the most brilliant physics teacher or our time. That's worth something, I'd say. Enjoy.
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on July 13, 2004
Feynman is one of my favorite American heros. It is hard not to admire any one aspect of his life. Above all, he was a great teacher obviously. The book is a collection of his lectures for introductory physics, may be a little too elementary for some. Note that, nowadays such topics are delivered to students at earlier ages since Feynman first started these lectures. Still, how he uses daily language and examples to explain and highlight the basic principles of physics is impressive. More importantly, he is very open and clear about exactly what is known and explainable and what we really do not know yet. This comes in very handy in the last chapter on quantum physics, which I enjoyed the most.
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on July 16, 2004
Feynman has condensed the contents of his presentations to 1st year Physics students at CalTech. The information about the six topics is simply put and without a prerequisite deep mathematic understanding. These more advanced lessons are available in the Feynman Lectures on Physics. If you would like a basic Physics understanding and would like learning it from a teacher with wit and verve, this is a great resource. The six topics are about atoms, basic Physics, Physics relations to other sciences, energy, gravity, and Quantum Mechanics.
When read with "Surely you must be joking, Mr. Feynman", this book is far more interesting. It will highlight Feynman's wit and prepare you for its appearance in his lecture.
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This book explains some basic concepts in physics so well that even someone who doesn't like physics might enjoy it! 'Six Easy Pieces' are 6 lectures from Feynman's complete 'Lectures on Physics', chosen for their accessibility to the general public.
Feynman, like all great teachers, understands his subject so well that he is able to explain the concepts behind it in clear, simple terms.
There are 6 chapters in the book, all of them generalized lectures on topics in physics. Feynman explains the structure of the atom and there is a very excellent description of charge and how atoms attract each other.
I really enjoyed the chapter on the relationship of physics to the other sciences, especially chemistry and biology. There is even a section on the relationship of physics to psychology.
Chapter 5 is on gravity and there is a great explanation of Kepler's laws of planetary motion and Newtons law of gravitation. These ideas are explained so understandably, I felt like I received a clear conceptual picture of what is happening.
But the highlight of the book for me is Chapter 6 on quantum behavior. Feynman explains the wave-particle duality and the Heisenberg Uncertainty Principle so well that I really felt I understood the basic ideas. I am just a layman but I found I could really get what he was saying.
Another thing I liked about the book is its honesty. If there is something physics does not understand, Feyman admits it, outlining the parameters of knowledge but acknowledging deficiencies.
The author doesn't come across as a know-it-all, and doesn't 'talk down' to the reader, something which I find refreshing in a science book.
Like any book by Richard Feynman, this one is a delight to read. Informative, honest and with that unique Feynman ability to make even the most complex ideas understandable to the intelligent layman.
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on February 23, 2003
Six Easy Pieces is an excellent introduction to one of today's most intriguing scientific fields. Feynman presents physics in a series of easily understandable lectures that are appealing to the layman, in that it presents theories and concepts through simple example. Despite the age of his work, much of what is taught and discussed in the book is still relevant and accepted in physics today.
The book centers on the basic principles and operations of the following topics:
1 - Atoms In Motion
2 - Basic Physics
3 - The Relation of Physics to Other Sciences
4 - Conservation of Energy
5 - The Theory of Gravitation
6 - Quantum Behavior
Within each topic lesser subtopics are addressed, more specifically subtopics that are rooted to or based in one of the overall topics. The teaching style exhibited by Feynman is well thought out and should appeal to the majority of readers. However, Six Easy Pieces is meant as an introduction for the layman and is not suggested for those already experienced in the field.
In closing, Six Easy Pieces is an excellent introduction to the topic of physics, however it is just that - an introduction. Therefore, it is highly recommended for the layman, but not for the physicist.
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on November 1, 2002
This book consists of what the editors consider to be six of the easier lessons from Richard Feynman's Lectures on Physics, a three volume work adapted from a series of freshman and sophomore level lectures given at Caltech in the 1960s. Each piece elegantly explains its intended topic without complicated or in depth mathematics. The reader will obtain the gist of the principles behind theses physical phenomena. Feynman whole heartedly admits to the limits of scientific knowledge of his time and in doing so very much dates his lectures. They nonetheless contain rich morsels of the knowledge of physics which will benefit the modern reader. This book is not intended to be an overview of physics. It assumes the reader has some basic education in some subjects, and a previous knowledge of elementary physics greatly helps to understand the pieces. More than anything, it is Feynman's style of teaching that is conveyed through the work's pages. The greatest joy in reading Six East Pieces is to experience Feynman's intuitive knowledge of physics and his subtly elegant conveyance of this topic.
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From 1961 to 1963, Nobel laureate Richard Feynman delivered a set of lectures to classes in basic physics. By design, the contents of the lectures were transcribed, with the goal being the creation of a set of materials that could be used worldwide in the teaching of physics. Unlike so many abstract scientists, Feynman was an excellent teacher, able to explain the principles by using everyday analogies and without appeal to advanced mathematics. This book is a collection of six of those lectures, chosen for their appeal to the general reader.
The titles and topics of the lectures are:
i) Atoms In Motion - an examination of the atomic theory of matter and how atoms react with each other.
ii) Basic physics - the history of physics before and after the discovery of quantum mechanics.
iii) The Relation of Physics to Other Sciences - how physics can be used to explain chemical, biological, geological and astronomical phenomena.
iv) Conservation of energy - the fundamental principle of conservation of energy, and how energy can change form.
v) The Theory of Gravitation - the development of the theory of gravity from Kepler to Einstein.
vi) Quantum behavior - an explanation of some simple thought experiments demonstrating the weirdness of quantum behavior.
Feynman is also honest with his audience in saying that in many cases, the mechanism is not known.
Since the lectures were delivered forty years ago, many advances have been made. However, they still remain an excellent introduction to the basic principles of physics and can be read and understood by anyone interested in how the universe functions. They can also still be used as primer material in a basic physics course.
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on May 26, 2001
If you want to really learn physics, get a textbook and/or take a class with labs. The purpose of this book isn't really to teach you physics. It is, after all, only six of numerous chapters in Feynman's "Lectures on Physics." What it does is to give the reader a taste of the scope of the field, what physicists do, and what the study of physics is like without going in too deep. So, for the reader who does not really know about physics and has a slight interest in some basic concepts, this book is enjoyable and enlightening.
For the reader who has an extensive, or at least some, knowledge of physics already, I think this book would be even more fun to read. You have little to learn in the way of the content of what he teaches, and so you can focus on how he teaches and think about the examples he gives. It is by no means a waste of time unless you have read already the "Lectures on Physics." Feynman's lectures are much more exciting than any textbook, and reviewing basic materials from the perspective of someone like him is a worthwhile thing to do.
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on May 27, 2000
As an avid admirer of intellectuals(Gertrude Stein, Einstein, Chomsky, Goodman,Said, et al)I couldn't have been happier finding out a new one, this being Richard P Feynman (1918-1988) and his book Six Easy Pieces. The book is divided into 6 or 7 chapters explaining different ideas of physics, this ideas being very simply, hence the same six EASY Pieces. The book doesn't use any equationis accept very elemantary ones. The first chapter devotes some time to the theory (or fact, whatever you prefer) of atoms, explaining how it works. Feynman also talks about,in different chapters, about the relation of physics to other sciences and ideas.
Feynman's gift is very simple. He understands physics. Not just the ideas of physics but how it relates to life and how it came about. Feynman knows how to use simple examples in life to make a point clear. Feynman also explains a mistake that a textbook makes in showing how atoms are seen through a microscope. It is just this kind of experience and truth that makes Six Easy Pieces a book that is incredible good. In the book Feynman talks about Newton's ideas of Physics and Kepler's thoughts and ideas of the orbit of the planets. Buy if you want a great explanation of the basic elements in physics.
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on January 12, 1998
As a top graduate student in engineering and science, physics is a part of my life. A number of courses I took have taught me plenty of analytical tools and essentials of physics. Having thought that I know almost everything about physics, I looked at Feyman's 6-easy pieces and couldn't help reading it to find out if there is something I can learn from a small and elementary physics novel. Well, I am so surprised that Feynman taught me quite a bit about things that I've never thought about before, even if I am well familiar the complicated and challenging quantum electrodynamics that he developed. He had such simple explanations on conceptually deep natural phenomena such as motion of planets and stars, probabilistic interpretation in quantum physics ; and amusingly interesting insights on daily events such as why blowing your soup to make it cooler. That's what I thought of Feynman's 6-easy pieces as a person who knows physics better than most people. In fact, I bought and will read Feynman's lecture on physics (3-volume) after reading 6-easy pieces. I am sure that I will learn much more from Feynman and so will anyone.
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