Feynman and Gates

I’ve just noticed that Bill Gates bought the rights to Richard Feynman’s Messenger lectures and put them online for free, for anyone to watch.

I was always a great admirer of Feynman. When I was a kid, my father had an old copy of “Feynman’s Lectures On Physics” and I must have picked it up very early. Not that I understood much from it at the time, but I liked it for some reason and I read it so many times that I know certain parts almost by heart. Especially the “entertainment” chapters at the end of each volume. Yes, I am crazy I know :-)

For those who don’t know, Feynman was one of the smartest physicists ever. When he was fresh out of university, he took part in the Manhattan Project and claimed to be the only person to see the first nuclear explosion with unshielded eyes (only through the windshield of a truck). In 1965 he received Nobel Prize for his work on quantum electrodynamics. He was at the peak of his career then, and very famous because of his unorthodox approach to science.

Then, for some reason he decided to give freshman lectures on physics for the 1st and 2nd years at Caltech, where he was employed at the time. Now, it isn’t common for a Nobel laureate and one of the most distinguished physicists in the world to teach physics to undergraduates :-) Anyway, the lectures went ahead and got recorded (sadly not filmed). They were later turned into a book, the one that I picked up some 25 years later on my father’s shelf.

The lectures that Bill Gates bought from Feynman estate (Feynman died in 1988 from cancer) are different, they are “popular science” kind of thing that anyone could attend, and were given at Cornell. They are rather wonderful, and very accessible. You can watch them here (I think Silverlight plugin is required): http://research.microsoft.com/apps/tools/tuva/index.html.

Gates claims that had he attended the lectures when he was a student, he might not have dropped out of Harvard and his life might have played out differently (no Microsoft?).

Personally I think the greatest book by Feynman is “QED: The Strange Theory of Light And Matter”, which was again transcribed from the lectures he gave in new Zealand (if I’m right). There he explains how his Nobel-winning theory QED works, and amazingly you don’t have to be a physicist to understand it.

16 Comments

  1. Posted February 7, 2012 at 14:08 | Permalink | Reply

    Thanks Kaalus.

    I remember picking up my Dad’s copy of Surely You’re Joking Mr Feynman and loving it, he really was a character. I will definitely have a look at these when I get time, thanks!

    • Skxawng
      Posted February 7, 2012 at 17:01 | Permalink | Reply

      That was a fantastic book! :D I thought it was hilarious that everyone was gobsmacked that he fixed radios by thinking! lol
      Think i’ll give the lectures a listen, he has an amazing way of simplifying things so even people like me can follow… -ish :D

  2. hypernova
    Posted February 7, 2012 at 14:15 | Permalink | Reply

    I didn’t think you’d have enough time to be a science nerd with all the work you do on SC and I wish I was bill so I could just do stuff like that haha im not overly familiar with Feynman but I do no his work and just for that he is in my top ten idols :P mind you he has some stiff competition with Christian Doppler, Darwin, Richard Dawkins and Carl sagan being on that list so Feynman is probably 9thish :) thanks for the heads up on this too! :D

  3. Nikpol22
    Posted February 7, 2012 at 17:10 | Permalink | Reply

    I remember this book. It’s cool book. I forgot to say: the game might be super awesome, if you will get some classical music in it. You are going alone in the desert or in the forest and epic music is starting, maybe it could be something like C418 – piano3 or C418 – Sweden, it should be exciting. Mine, you are digging and cool music playing, it’s wonderful! (I played Minecraft too much, so I know how it is cool)

    • jriot10
      Posted February 7, 2012 at 22:15 | Permalink | Reply

      Yah minecraft music is amazing. And i have never heard of feyman before…But i will give the lectures a listen!

      • jriot10
        Posted February 8, 2012 at 22:18 | Permalink | Reply

        Yah music just makes minecraft so much better.

    • Posted February 8, 2012 at 11:58 | Permalink | Reply

      I disagree with this – why implement in game music and be restricted to whatever is included, when you can just use Zune or Spotify etc to list to whatever you want? You can still skip songs etc, have the game sounds as well if you want. I wouldnt even both including and in game mp3 player, you can do it all already.

      • Nikpol22
        Posted February 8, 2012 at 12:39 | Permalink | Reply

        You are not right, music in game is better, I think Kaalus can add music switch volume switch, so you can not hear music, and play Minecraft on PC, you will understand how it’s cool listening music, which is in the game, also in sandbox like that.

  4. Posted February 8, 2012 at 13:04 | Permalink | Reply

    So being restrictied to whatever Kaalus decides we should listen to is better than having unlimited music via Zune pass or Spotify? I really dont understand where you are coming from.

    • Nikpol22
      Posted February 8, 2012 at 17:56 | Permalink | Reply

      Guy, you don’t understand? You can switch the music off, if you want, and may be I don’t have any music in my Zune? I said you: play Minecraft for a little time, you will understand my position.

      • hypernova
        Posted February 8, 2012 at 23:26 | Permalink | Reply

        From what ive herd of minecraft music at my friends place its not as great as you make it out to be, if im playing a large game like mass effect or skyrim I’ll listen intently the whole way throughout the game but on phone games were im just looking for some quick fun I’ll listen to my own music ive listened to all the sounds and music in all the games I have most of the sounds are generic sounds I can hear everyday while the music is annoying most of the time and when its not its music designed specifically for that game and is played by an orchestra so I don’t think kaalus should come up with some annoying jingle lol and how can you not have any music? You can get a free 14 day trial to download any music from the marketplace

      • Posted February 9, 2012 at 13:52 | Permalink | Reply

        Yes or just play last.fm which is totally free forever.

    • jriot10
      Posted February 9, 2012 at 22:32 | Permalink | Reply

      Well i mean Kaalus can always make a button that switches music off or on.

  5. Nallek
    Posted February 9, 2012 at 12:35 | Permalink | Reply

    When will you submit update?

  6. Posted February 9, 2012 at 15:22 | Permalink | Reply

    U dont want to add sign to the game? To can write something on it…

    • Nallek
      Posted February 9, 2012 at 18:07 | Permalink | Reply

      Yeah, it’s funny to place signs near house and write smthng about “keep out” or “my house” :-)

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