Feynman Rules!

July 22, 2009

I was originally going to call this something related to "Fine Man," but I decided that was pretty stupid.

Recently, Bill Gates purchased a series of lectures at Cornell and put them online for free. When anything even vaguely associated with Microsoft is free, it's probably worthy of interest. In this case, it definitely is.

The lectures in question were given by one of the most fascinating people of the twentieth century: Nobel Laureate Richard Feynman. Feynman is best known for his work on the renormalization of QED (see an earlier post for a discussion of QED). He also did extensive work on the Manhattan project and was central to figuring out what caused the Challenger disaster. He invented a brilliant way of thinking about Quantum Field Theory that is beautifully summarized by his so called Feynman Diagrams and their corresponding Feynman rules. However, is possibly best known for the passion that he brought to the world of physics and his unparalleled abilities as a teacher. He always had a unique way of viewing a problem or approaching a concept that could illuminate even the most difficult part of the world.

On top of that, he is pretty hilarious. He had a sort of odd passion for playing the bongos:

Bongs 1

Bongos 2

Anyway, if you have some free time and want to feel really inspired about the world and want learn some really interesting things, I strongly suggest that you watch some of the following:

Feynman on waves and vision

Feynman on chess and the nature of physics

Feynman famously blaming the "O Ring" for the challenger disaster:

A series of lectures on some interesting physics topics:

Part 1: Atoms

Part 2: Fire (interesting)

Part 3: Rubber Bands

Part 4: Magnets (interesting)

Part 5: Electricity

Part 6: Mirrors (interesting)

Part 7 The Train (interesting)

Part 8: Seeing Things

Part 9: Big Numbers

Part 10: Big Numbers Continued

(I can't find part 11)

Part 12: Ways of Thinking

Part 13: Ways of Thinking Continued

Another general series of lectures about science, life, etc:

Part 1

Part 2

Part 3

Part 4

Part 5

Finally, I highly recommend the book, "Surely You're Joking, Mr. Feynman." It's an autobiography, and it's hilarious, sad, brilliant, eye opening, and a lot of other things. Also, of course, the extremely famous "Feynman Lectures on Physics," a three volume set, is one of the best tools for anyone trying to learn introductory physics.