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Feynman Lectures on Physics Vol. 1 Released in HTML Format

Soulskill posted about 7 months ago | from the surely-you're-joking dept.

Education 129

Dr. Richard Feynman's lectures on physics have been iconic standards of physics education for the past five decades. Videos of the series were put online at Microsoft Research a few years ago, but now the entirety of Volume 1 is available over simple HTML (mirror). In a letter to members of the Feynman Lectures Forum, editor Mike Gottlieb said, "It was an idea conceived many years ago, when through FL website correspondence I became aware of the many eager young minds who could benefit from reading FLP, who want to read it, but for economic or other reasons have no access to it, while at the same time I was becoming aware of the growing popularity of horrid scanned copies of old editions of FLP circulating on file-sharing and torrent websites. A free high-quality online edition was my proposed solution to both problems. All concerned agreed on the potential pedagogical benefits, but also had to be convinced that book sales would not be harmed. The conversion from LaTeX to HTML was expensive: we raised considerable funds, but ran out before finishing Volumes II and III, so we are only posting Volume I initially. (I am working on finishing Volumes II and III myself, as time permits, and will start posting chapters in the not-too-distant future, if all goes as planned.)"

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129 comments

What? (0)

gstoddart (321705) | about 7 months ago | (#44840883)

And nobody is making a copyright claim?

Re:What? (5, Informative)

Trepidity (597) | about 7 months ago | (#44841197)

They have the agreement of the print publisher to produce this free online version. I'm actually somewhat surprised they got it; as the summary notes, they had to convince the publisher that having a free version available online wouldn't hurt print sales, which is often hard to convince publishers of.

The thank-you section of the page lists:

  • Thomas Kelleher and Basic Books, for their open-mindedness in allowing this edition to be published free of charge

Re:What? (1)

fnj (64210) | about 7 months ago | (#44841489)

But isn't the copyright the property of Feynman's heirs? If not, why not? I am probably naive.

Re:What? (1)

EvanED (569694) | about 7 months ago | (#44841529)

This page [caltech.edu] says Caltech holds the copyright. Presumably they require(d) that faculty transfer copyright of works they did in the course of their employment to the university. My guess is that's probably standard provision for faculty, though I'm not positive.

Re:What? (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#44842247)

I don't know what the policy was when Feynman made that, but Caltech's copyright policy was (and still looks like) that copyright of books, papers, written work, and stuff related to classes remain with the author unless specifically funded by Caltech (above and beyond simply being an employee there). And when they do get the copyright, you get a portion of the royalties, or can chose to donate a portion of your share to research in a field you specify, and Caltech will match your contribution from their portion of the royalties.

Re:What? (1)

tlhIngan (30335) | about 7 months ago | (#44841499)

They have the agreement of the print publisher to produce this free online version. I'm actually somewhat surprised they got it; as the summary notes, they had to convince the publisher that having a free version available online wouldn't hurt print sales, which is often hard to convince publishers of.

The thank-you section of the page lists:
Thomas Kelleher and Basic Books, for their open-mindedness in allowing this edition to be published free of charge

I guess it also helps that it isn't a book that's been published recently - being an older title, sales are probably thin to begin with. An online copy can easily be a good marketing mechanism in that case.

FLP Sales (1)

play_in_traffic (946193) | about 7 months ago | (#44842285)

. . .

I guess it also helps that it isn't a book that's been published recently - being an older title, sales are probably thin to begin with. An online copy can easily be a good marketing mechanism in that case.

Still is #55,812 rank in Amazon book sales and that is just for the 2011 3-book commemorative set! I'm sure that this clear and somewhat comprehensive physics treatise will sell well long after I'm gone!

Re:What? (3, Informative)

tloh (451585) | about 7 months ago | (#44842725)

I'll get to the copyright in a minute. But there is actually a huge bit of inaccuracy in the post. The videos at Microsoft research in *NOT* the Feynman lectures on physics. Those are actually a part of the Messenger Lectures recorded at Cornell in 1964 called "The Character of Physical Law" and preceded the Cal Tech undergraduate physics lectures which we now know as the Feynman Lectures on Physics.

Bill Gates has long been a fan of the lesser known Messenger Lectures. As part of the drive to popularize Silverlight, he actually acquired the rights to "The Character of Physical Law" in order to be able to present them to the public using the Silverlight platform at Project Tuva. Not a bad move for like minded Feynman fans like me.

Conversion? (4, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#44840933)

If they wanted to replace the "horrid scanned copies", and it was already in LaTeX, why not upload good PDFs?
What a waste of money.

Re:Conversion? (4, Insightful)

EvanED (569694) | about 7 months ago | (#44840953)

Yeah, I had the same question.

My guess is that it's the "book sales would not be harmed" qualifier, with the assumption that just posting good PDFs would harm sales and an HTML version wouldn't.

I'm not sure how they got to that conclusion, but that's my guess anyway.

Re:Conversion? (2)

fnj (64210) | about 7 months ago | (#44841685)

It may have something to do with stuff that can't be rendered properly in HTML. The web presentation is full of equations rendered like this:

\begin{equation} \label{Eq:I:39:2} dW = F(-dx) = -PA\,dx = -P\,dV. \end{equation}

I assume that is rendered as a proper equation in the hardcopy!

The good news is that the web presentation is searchable ASCII text, which a bit-mapped scan would not be.

Re:Conversion? (4, Informative)

RDW (41497) | about 7 months ago | (#44841747)

Browser issue? You should see the equations properly rendered by MathJax in the online version (maybe with a very brief delay before the sort of text you quote is replaced by an equation).

Re:Conversion? (1)

fnj (64210) | about 7 months ago | (#44841777)

OK, I now found a cached version of the web page that actually works properly, and the equations are indeed rendered correctly.

So why can't you just print the pages out to PDF? Would the result be considered "not good quality" PDF?

Re:Conversion? (1)

EvanED (569694) | about 7 months ago | (#44841905)

So why can't you just print the pages out to PDF? Would the result be considered "not good quality" PDF?

Nah... a printed web page will only print even remotely close to the quality of a real typeset book if a lot of effort was expended on creating CSS specifically for printing, and even then you probably can't get even all that good. (Could you even get a table of contents with page numbers? I dunno.) And that basically means that it wouldn't happen.

Re:Conversion? (1)

nmr_andrew (1997772) | about 7 months ago | (#44842865)

FWIW, I clicked a chapter at (semi)random and saw what you did briefly, then apparently the embedded script parsed it because the page redrew with normal looking equations.

Re:Conversion? (2)

Bert64 (520050) | about 7 months ago | (#44841019)

And how can it be expensive? latex2html seems to work just fine...

Re:Conversion? (1)

VortexCortex (1117377) | about 7 months ago | (#44842175)

You would deprive a fellow latex user of his easy exploitation of the ignorant who refuse to learn computing, whilst they also convince the publisher high quality online versions will not hurt sales?

Personally, I hope they extract every last dime they can by running a terminal command and farting about the web for the other 8 hours of the day. However, I'm sure it has more to do with web formatting and hosting, links and other such things than getting paid to do nothing.

Protip: In capitalist societies, getting paid more to do less is considered a mark of success...

Re:Conversion? (2)

harlows_monkeys (106428) | about 7 months ago | (#44843289)

The person who did much of the conversion work has commented in the Hacker News [ycombinator.com] discussion of this, and explains why tools like latex2html were not good enough.

Re:Conversion? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#44843573)

That is true if images are not enough. As I built a publication system out of it 13 years ago the output was still the standard HTML 3 or 4 and GIF. I did have to make some bug fixes and change the default page structure to get a W3C-valid output. That was perhaps 20 lines plus the custom template and other code.

Re:Conversion? (1)

rs1n (1867908) | about 7 months ago | (#44841373)

Because the good PDFs would harm the sales of the printed volumes. The HTML forms are better than bad scans, but not good enough to be printed out (like a high quality PDF) by folks who wish to capitalize in copyright infringement.

Re:Conversion? (1)

lister king of smeg (2481612) | about 7 months ago | (#44842353)

If they wanted to replace the "horrid scanned copies", and it was already in LaTeX, why not upload good PDFs?
What a waste of money.

or the LaTeX .DVI's

Re:Conversion? (1)

harlows_monkeys (106428) | about 7 months ago | (#44842823)

HTML works better in this case. PDF is better when you need the formatting to be the same on all the devices, but that is not the case here.

With HTML, the user can adjust the size and have the text reflow, and can separately scale all the math (see the MathJax context menu on any equation to access the math scaling settings).

For instance, the HTML edition is quite usable on even my iPhone, with my poor 50+ year old eyes. For a PDF to be usable on such a device, they would have had to format it in such a way that it would look ridiculous on a desktop system.

Re:Conversion? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#44843019)

So the iPhone users should have footed the conversion bill!

LaTeX to HTML conversion (2)

Hatta (162192) | about 7 months ago | (#44840995)

I assume this was expensive because TeX4ht wasn't up to the task. Was TeX4ht used as a starting point for the conversion tool? Is someone now maintaining an updated TeX4ht? Is the converter available in CTAN?

Surely you didn't spend all this money having people manually convert one structural markup language to another, instead of investing in tools to do it automatically, right?

Re:LaTeX to HTML conversion (4, Interesting)

fnj (64210) | about 7 months ago | (#44841813)

The TeX source for the equations is just embedded in the text of the page. The use Javascript to render them. I'm not sure why that was expensive.

Re:LaTeX to HTML conversion (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#44842235)

Automated tools often do not do a great job for things of this size. The publishers probably don't want a low-quality job associated with this.

Re:LaTeX to HTML conversion (1)

DerekLyons (302214) | about 7 months ago | (#44842539)

Editing is more than just conversion or reformatting - it's also ensuring that the conversion/reformatting operated correctly and did not induce any errors snd that the process produced reasonable and useful output in the target format. (I.E. leave it Slashdot to concentrate on the 1% of the task that can be automated.) Editing is one of those thankless tasks, because done right it's invisible.

Fantastic choice of markup (5, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#44840999)

MathML for equations and SVG for diagrams. This is a quality transcription from the book to online.

Re:Fantastic choice of markup (3, Informative)

Trepidity (597) | about 7 months ago | (#44841481)

The equations aren't actually in MathML; they're in TeX. They're converted to a version renderable in your browser on the fly via MathJax (a big pile of Javascript). In some browsers that will result in presentation MathML output (but not semantic MathML).

slashdot effect (1)

xombo (628858) | about 7 months ago | (#44841035)

aaand it's down

Re:slashdot effect (1)

jones_supa (887896) | about 7 months ago | (#44841385)

Quite abnormal, actually. Servers and connections are so beefy these days that the Slashdot effect is met only rarely.

Just like the good old days (2)

MikeTheGreat (34142) | about 7 months ago | (#44841649)

Man this takes me back - it's just like the good old days of /., when we'd all head over to some small, random site and /. it. A nice, well-meaning site that had no idea about the tsunami of visitors they were about to be inundated with. Yep, those were good times :)

Re:Just like the good old days (2)

cusco (717999) | about 7 months ago | (#44843317)

I remember one site replaced its home page with a static page that just said, "You assholes crashed my company's T-1". The good old days . . .

Overrated? (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#44841063)

R.F. the most overrated physicist ever?

Re:Overrated? (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#44841179)

Nah, that's Einstein. He got lucky once and stole Olinto De Pretto's formula, but after that? Feynman was working all the time.

Re:Overrated? (5, Interesting)

ebno-10db (1459097) | about 7 months ago | (#44841497)

Nah, that's Einstein. He got lucky once and stole Olinto De Pretto's formula, but after that? Feynman was working all the time.

De Pretto figured out (or perhaps made a lucky guess) based on his understanding of the lumineferous aether. Einstein derived it from his special theory of relativity. Einstein presented E=mc^2 in a followup letter to his paper "On the Electrodynamics of Moving Bodies" (i.e. it's an interesting derivation, not an essential part of the theory). There was also the photoelectric effect and general relativity. Of the three, special relativity is arguably his least impressive work (Lorentz, et al, were also working towards it).

Re:Overrated? (2)

EvanED (569694) | about 7 months ago | (#44841567)

Of the three, special relativity is arguably his least impressive work

Exactly. I mean, his Nobel prize wasn't even for relativity -- it was largely for his explanation of the photoelectric effect, which basically spawned quantum physics. He already had earned his Nobel before he even published E=mc^2.

Calling Einstein a one-trick pony is using an awfully liberal definition of "once".

Re:Overrated? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#44842173)

Of the three, special relativity is arguably his least impressive work

Exactly. I mean, his Nobel prize wasn't even for relativity -- it was largely for his explanation of the photoelectric effect, which basically spawned quantum physics. He already had earned his Nobel before he even published E=mc^2.

Calling Einstein a one-trick pony is using an awfully liberal definition of "once".

Relativity and General Relativity were outside of experimental verification though. And even with Sir Eddington's confirmation of one Einstein GR predictions it was still a result that had too big and error. So the Nobel committee did the only sensible thing. Instead of awarding the prize for theories that at the time were not sufficiently exprimentally verified went with the discovery and explanation of the photoelectric effect.
And frankly calling Einstein a one trick pony shows how fucking little you know of the man's scientific achievements.

Re:Overrated? (1)

EvanED (569694) | about 7 months ago | (#44843043)

And frankly calling Einstein a one trick pony shows how fucking little you know of the man's scientific achievements.

That... was kind of my point. I was addressing AC's down-voted comment that "He got lucky once and stole Olinto De Pretto's formula, but after that?" which is so blatantly BS that I called it out in... perhaps too much of an understated manner. :-)

Re:Overrated? (1)

EvanED (569694) | about 7 months ago | (#44843063)

(It occurred to me just after I hit submit that, just as I assumed that you misinterpreted me, I may have misinterpreted you and you didn't mean to say that I was, in fact, calling him a one-trick pony. If true, I apologize, and hopefully we can stop talking past one another. :-))

Also AC's comment wasn't down-voted, I was thinking of his/her parent, the originator of this thread.

Re:Overrated? (3, Interesting)

justthinkit (954982) | about 7 months ago | (#44841597)

What about Poincare [wikipedia.org] ?

Einstein's first paper on relativity was published three months after Poincare's short paper, but before Poincare's longer version. Einstein relied on the principle of relativity to derive the Lorentz transformations and used a similar clock synchronisation procedure (Einstein synchronisation) to the one that Poincare (1900) had described, but Einstein's was remarkable in that it contained no references at all. Poincare never acknowledged Einstein's work on special relativity. Einstein acknowledged Poincare posthumously in the text of a lecture in 1921 called Geometrie und Erfahrung in connection with non-Euclidean geometry, but not in connection with special relativity. A few years before his death, Einstein commented on Poincare as being one of the pioneers of relativity, saying "Lorentz had already recognised that the transformation named after him is essential for the analysis of Maxwell's equations, and Poincare deepened this insight still further ...."

Re:Overrated? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#44842963)

Mod into oblivion please. Einstein deserves the merit and the proof is that he got his nobel price for his other work. Apart from that, E = mc is far from everything he did, I just want to throw the words "general relativity" out.

Maybe Einstein "stole" someone else's idea but reducing him to that and pretending "all is said" is plain wrong.

Re:Overrated? (5, Interesting)

MacTO (1161105) | about 7 months ago | (#44841291)

Feynman was known for his contributions to physics, for communicating concepts clearly and in an interesting manner, as exhibiting certain traits known as "being human".

Now there are physicists who did far better in each of the three areas than he did, but very few (if any) did as well as he did in all three areas.

Re:Overrated? (5, Interesting)

catchblue22 (1004569) | about 7 months ago | (#44842209)

No. Not over-rated. He was capable of communicating ideas, deep and otherwise, clearly, which is very difficult. Consider how to convey the difference in magnitude between gravity and the electromagnetic force. The example he gives goes something like this:

RF: What is your charge right now?

Student: neutral.

RF: Why?

Student: Because we have the same amount of positive and negative charge.

RF: OK. What would happen if you took some electrons from your neighbour?

Student: I would become positive and he would be negative

RF: Yes. Now I want you to imagine you steal some of the electrons from your neighbor. Let's not be greedy. Let's say you take 10% of them. Now you are negative and your friend is positive and you will feel an attractive force towards him. The question is: how strong is the force of attraction. Is it larger or smaller than the weight of the Empire State Building?

Student: Hmmmm...dunno. I'm gonna guess larger.

RF: Yes it is larger. But how much larger. Is the force of attraction between you and your neighbor larger or smaller than the weight of Mount Everest?

Student: I'm gonna go with larger.

RF: Yes, you are correct. In fact, the force of attaction between you and your neighbor WILL BE ABOUT THE SAME AS THE WEIGHT OF THE ENTIRE EARTH!

The above paraphrased lesson emphasizes like nothing I've ever heard before how weak gravity is and how strong the electromagnetic force is. Simply brilliant.

Re:Overrated? (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#44843173)

Feynman is outstandingly brilliant at explaining things. But that was his biggest failing (not getting into his ego arguments). He was so good, you end up believing you know what he's talking about, but then as soon as the lecture is over, you realize you remain none the wiser.

Surely you're Joking! (5, Informative)

tippe (1136385) | about 7 months ago | (#44841223)

In addition to being a great physicist, Richard Feynman was also quite funny and a pretty big troublemaker in his day. What a great guy. If you get a chance, the book "Surely You're Joking, Mr. Feynman!" is well worth the read.

Re:Surely you're Joking! (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#44841263)

Awesome read, especially the stories about scoring with chicks and safe cracking. Very entertaining. Posting as anon because I used mod points in the article.

Re:Surely you're Joking! (1)

gander666 (723553) | about 7 months ago | (#44841309)

I will agree with this. He was truly a great man, and an inspiration to a generation (and more) of geeks.

Re:Surely you're Joking! (2)

braindrainbahrain (874202) | about 7 months ago | (#44841591)

In some situations I find myself asking "What would Richard Feynman do?" I don't always follow what the answer would be, but it invariably lightens up the moment!

Re:Surely you're Joking! (2)

erikkemperman (252014) | about 7 months ago | (#44841737)

I wanted to say pretty much this, his autobiography is a great read. What a character. There's also a really worthwhile BBC-produced dramatization of his involvement in the Challenger [bbc.co.uk] investigation. William Hurt does a really good job portraying the great man, IMHO.

Re:Surely you're Joking! (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#44843113)

He was not joking. And don't call him Shirley.

texi2html (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#44841247)

now they'll just have to raise more funds to convert it to PDF

Fantastic ! But please do consider crowd sourcing (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#44841327)

Thank you for making these freely available. But have you considered that others who like the idea may be willing to return the favour with free labour of theirs to mitigate your costs. A public git repository of the LaTeX code with a TODO list and list of already taken up or assigned tasks may be a good idea.

Re:Fantastic ! But please do consider crowd sourci (1)

EvanED (569694) | about 7 months ago | (#44841465)

rs1n [slashdot.org] and I [slashdot.org] both speculate that the reason they don't just release PDFs from the Latex source is that the publisher feels that would compromise physical book sales (and HTML doesn't).

Publish the Latex source and you're back to "publisher won't allow it" land (if our assumption holds).

At last (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#44841371)

I can bin my hard copy

Pissed off because... (1)

advocate_one (662832) | about 7 months ago | (#44841473)

I studied physics at 'A' level in the early 70's and also at University in 1975, but absolutely NONE of this work was available to me at all... and it predated my courses by a decade :(...

Re:Pissed off because... (1)

cellocgw (617879) | about 7 months ago | (#44841547)

What are you talking about? The 3 Red Books were published in 1964. If you couldn't get them, blame your own ignorance.

Re:Pissed off because... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#44842493)

The world was a different place then, with things like an Iron Curtain and without the communication technology we civilians have now.

Ran out of funds? (2)

vm146j2 (233075) | about 7 months ago | (#44841565)

If anything screams kickstarter, this is it.

Re:Ran out of funds? (1)

MacTO (1161105) | about 7 months ago | (#44841705)

I wonder how much the rights holders would want to release the Feynman Lectures into the public domain, or a CC license that will ensure free access to this text.

After all, the Feynman Lectures cannot be that valuable to them. While it is widely recognised, it is definitely directed towards people specializing in physics and engineering. As far as I know it's rarely used as a course text either (age, lack of supporting curricular materials, etc.).

Qualia? (1)

KIFulgore (972701) | about 7 months ago | (#44841603)

"In other words, there is nothing that living things do that cannot be understood from the point of view that they are made of atoms acting according to the laws of physics."

Many philosophers would disagree with that.

Many think the moon landings a hoax (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#44841797)

And that the earth really is flat.

Or that there is an intelligent spaghetti-based being out there controlling us.

Qualia are the results of neurons firing re-creating previously recorded patterns. So quite why you put that in the title escapes me...

Re:Qualia? (1)

harvestsun (2948641) | about 7 months ago | (#44842047)

If you want to get technical, yes; he makes the logical assumption that there exists some objective reality, and that human perceptions are correlated to that reality. That's kind of the whole basis for the study of physics.

Errata? (1)

RevWaldo (1186281) | about 7 months ago | (#44841723)

Have there been any discoveries in physics in the nearly fifty years since its publication that make any of the lectures, well, less than correct? Or can the intrepid autodidact dive right in and take it all at face value?

.

Re:Errata? (-1, Offtopic)

fermion (181285) | about 7 months ago | (#44842159)

Yes. In fact recent discoveries in physics has shown many of Newton's laws to be incorrect. We still teach them in high school and college, but that is probably just because physics people are particularly lazy. I am sure much of what

To be serious, science is a process, not a collection of trivia. This is often the disconnect of science people and non science people. For example we once thought there was an æther that light traveled. It was then found that there was not. Those who don't understand science take this as an indictment of science and it's inferiority to other paths to knowledge. Scientist, however, see it as evidence of the resilience and ability of science to lead us to more effective models of nature.

Re:Errata? (2)

Zontar The Mindless (9002) | about 7 months ago | (#44842829)

You manage to ignore your own statement that physics is a process.

Newton's laws are not wrong. They're approximations. Now we have better approximations.

Re:Errata? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#44843735)

They aren't even approximations. They are aggregations.

Re:Errata? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#44842231)

According to the Preface, the errata has been collected and corrections have been made to the lectures.

Re:Errata? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#44842795)

Errata are plural. The singular is erratum.

Re:Errata? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#44843745)

Fuck offs.

Re:Errata? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#44843987)

Errata is plural. The singular is erratum.

Fixed. You're referring to the single word "errata", not to the errata themselves. To turn it around, one wouldn't say "erratum and datum is singular".

Re:Errata? (2)

amaurea (2900163) | about 7 months ago | (#44842241)

I just read the chapter on symmetry, and that is a bit out of date in that while it correctly explains that parity symmetry is broken, it still incorrectly claims that parity-charge symmetry holds, which we now know is false.

The lectures are very educational and engagingly written, so I recommend that you give it a go anyway. If you take it all on face value, you will end up with only a very few, minor misunderstandings.

Re:Errata? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#44842347)

A History of Errata

The Feynman Lectures on Physics was produced very quickly by Feynman and his co-authors, Robert B. Leighton and Matthew Sands, working from and expanding on tape recordings and blackboard photos of Feynman's course lectures1 (both of which are incorporated into the Enhanced Electronic Version of this New Millennium Edition). Given the high speed at which Feynman, Leighton and Sands worked, it was inevitable that many errors crept into the first edition. Feynman accumulated long lists of claimed errata over the subsequent years---errata found by students and faculty at Caltech and by readers around the world. In the 1960's and early 70's, Feynman made time in his intense life to check most but not all of the claimed errata for Volumes I and II, and insert corrections into subsequent printings. But Feynman's sense of duty never rose high enough above the excitement of discovering new things to make him deal with the errata in Volume III.2 After his untimely death in 1988, lists of errata for all three volumes were deposited in the Caltech Archives, and there they lay forgotten.

In 2002 Ralph Leighton (son of the late Robert Leighton and compatriot of Feynman) informed me of the old errata and a new long list compiled by Ralph's friend Michael Gottlieb. Leighton proposed that Caltech produce a new edition of The Feynman Lectures with all errata corrected, and publish it alongside a new volume of auxiliary material, Feynman's Tips on Physics, which he and Gottlieb were preparing.

Feynman was my hero and a close personal friend. When I saw the lists of errata and the content of the proposed new volume, I quickly agreed to oversee this project on behalf of Caltech (Feynman's long-time academic home, to which he, Leighton and Sands had entrusted all rights and responsibilities for The Feynman Lectures). After a year and a half of meticulous work by Gottlieb, and careful scrutiny by Dr. Michael Hartl (an outstanding Caltech postdoc who vetted all errata plus the new volume), the 2005 Definitive Edition of The Feynman Lectures on Physics was born, with about 200 errata corrected and accompanied by Feynman's Tips on Physics by Feynman, Gottlieb and Leighton.

I thought that edition was going to be "Definitive''. What I did not anticipate was the enthusiastic response of readers around the world to an appeal from Gottlieb to identify further errata, and submit them via a website that Gottlieb created and continues to maintain, The Feynman Lectures Website, www.feynmanlectures.info. In the five years since then, 965 new errata have been submitted and survived the meticulous scrutiny of Gottlieb, Hartl, and Nate Bode (an outstanding Caltech physics graduate student, who succeeded Hartl as Caltech's vetter of errata). Of these, 965 vetted errata, 80 were corrected in the fourth printing of the Definitive Edition (August 2006) and the remaining 885 are corrected in the first printing of this New Millennium Edition (332 in volume I, 263 in volume II, and 200 in volume III). For details of the errata, see www.feynmanlectures.info.

Clearly, making The Feynman Lectures on Physics error-free has become a world-wide community enterprise. On behalf of Caltech I thank the 50 readers who have contributed since 2005 and the many more who may contribute over the coming years. The names of all contributors are posted at www.feynmanlectures.info/flp_errata.html.

Almost all the errata have been of three types: (i) typographical errors in prose; (ii) typographical and mathematical errors in equations, tables and figures---sign errors, incorrect numbers (e.g., a 5 that should be a 4), and missing subscripts, summation signs, parentheses and terms in equations; (iii) incorrect cross references to chapters, tables and figures. These kinds of errors, though not terribly serious to a mature physicist, can be frustrating and confusing to Feynman's primary audience: students.

It is remarkable that among the 1165 errata corrected under my auspices, only several do I regard as true errors in physics. An example is Volume II, page 5-9, which now says "no static distribution of charges inside a closed grounded conductor can produce any [electric] fields outside'' (the word grounded was omitted in previous editions). This error was pointed out to Feynman by a number of readers, including Beulah Elizabeth Cox, a student at The College of William and Mary, who had relied on Feynman's erroneous passage in an exam. To Ms. Cox, Feynman wrote in 1975,3 "Your instructor was right not to give you any points, for your answer was wrong, as he demonstrated using Gauss's law. You should, in science, believe logic and arguments, carefully drawn, and not authorities. You also read the book correctly and understood it. I made a mistake, so the book is wrong. I probably was thinking of a grounded conducting sphere, or else of the fact that moving the charges around in different places inside does not affect things on the outside. I am not sure how I did it, but I goofed. And you goofed, too, for believing me.''

p.s. fuck you, idiot. Stop being so much of a broke-dick mother unfucker that you can't click a link and RTFM. RTFM always.

Lectures on Physics videos not available (1)

velleity (2992993) | about 7 months ago | (#44841825)

The original post refers to the videos being available. This seems to be a common error. The link points to the Messenger Lectures given at Cornell in 1965(?). As far as I know, the videos are not (legally) available online.

Re:Lectures on Physics videos not available (1)

Nethemas the Great (909900) | about 7 months ago | (#44842053)

I couldn't tell you where the link points as Microsoft appears to be playing toddler games with Google again. I'm getting a screen cap of the Silverlight with the message "Sorry, Silverlight for your browser is not officially supported." Of course I have Silverlight for Chrome installed. Click on the link provided and am told:

The version of Silverlight installed is: Silverlight 5 (5.1.20513.0) You are ready to use Microsoft Silverlight

Re:Lectures on Physics videos not available (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#44842523)

YouTube them for the play anywhere versions.

Re:Lectures on Physics videos not available (1)

velleity (2992993) | about 7 months ago | (#44842297)

I forgot to mention that Feynman's Messenger Lectures were the basis of the book "The Character of Physical Law."

/. it Jim (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#44841951)

/. it Jim

been a while.

Could I... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#44841979)

...give them my left hand for that?

LaTeX to HTML (1)

extraqwert (983362) | about 7 months ago | (#44842473)

LaTeX to bystroTeX [freecode.com] should be easy, although I do not yet have a working converter. BystroTeX [freecode.com] produces HTML. The syntax of bystroTeX is Racket Scribble [racket-lang.org] , it is very similar to LaTeX so writing a converter should be more or less straightforward.

A warning from a physics professor (5, Insightful)

goodmanj (234846) | about 7 months ago | (#44842851)

Hi. I teach undergraduate physics. If you're a clever high school or early college student interested in physics, you may have heard of Feynman, and you may have heard physics people give rave reviews of the Feynman lectures. And hey, he intended these lectures as a first-year college physics course, so that's perfect for you, right?

Wrong. This is not the right place to start learning physics. Feynman has some beautiful insights about how introductory physics concepts connect to "real" modern physics, and a way of cutting through the red tape to elegantly explain concepts in ways that make experienced physicists drool. But that's not what you need. You need the red tape. You need to learn to apply concepts to real situations, you need to get buried in the algebra, trig and calculus and dig your way back out again. Feynman won't help you about that.

Feynman's Lectures on Physics represent how an experienced modern physicist would teach introductory physics to a roomful of other professional physicists. Feynman was a genius, but his lectures are designed to impress, not to teach. You should absolutely read it, and you will love it, later in your career. But start with a more traditional textbook.

Re:A warning from a physics professor (4, Interesting)

mgscheue (21096) | about 7 months ago | (#44843007)

Bruce Sherwood, who taught a course using the Feynman Lectures as a textbook, has some interesting comments, saying that it went quite well for him.
http://matterandinteractions.wordpress.com/2012/10/01/the-feynman-lectures-as-textbook/

Re:A warning from a physics professor (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#44843931)

I'm not quite old enough for Feynman, but my father had the set of books... my recollection was that there was originally a workbook with exercises that went along with them.

Re:A warning from a physics professor (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#44844159)

Where would a bright self-study student start?

Adding footnotes / margin comments (1)

Martin McCormick (3075403) | about 7 months ago | (#44843553)

Despite the accolades from some, Feynman's lectures are far from clear and perfect. What would be more exciting is a collaborative website for adding comments to this online version to work through the kinks.

Kickstarter? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#44843945)

Has he tried a kickstarter campaign to raise funds for Volumes II and III? I'm sure he'd hit the target goal within days.

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