Feynman's Lost Lecture: The Motion of Planets Around the Sun

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9780393039184: Feynman's Lost Lecture: The Motion of Planets Around the Sun

"Glorious."―Wall Street Journal

Rescued from obscurity, Feynman's Lost Lecture is a blessing for all Feynman followers. Most know Richard Feynman for the hilarious anecdotes and exploits in his best-selling books Surely You're Joking, Mr. Feynman! and What DoYou Care What Other People Think? But not always obvious in those stories was his brilliance as a pure scientist―one of the century's greatest physicists. With this book and CD, we hear the voice of the great Feynman in all his ingenuity, insight, and acumen for argument. This breathtaking lecture―"The Motion of the Planets Around the Sun"―uses nothing more advanced than high-school geometry to explain why the planets orbit the sun elliptically rather than in perfect circles, and conclusively demonstrates the astonishing fact that has mystified and intrigued thinkers since Newton: Nature obeys mathematics. David and Judith Goodstein give us a beautifully written short memoir of life with Feynman, provide meticulous commentary on the lecture itself, and relate the exciting story of their effort to chase down one of Feynman's most original and scintillating lectures.

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Review:

Richard Feynman, the rock star of theoretical physics, has left an image that belies his nerdy side. Not many bongo-playing surfer beatniks would have spent hours of their spare time proving Newton's law of elliptical planetary motion using only plane geometry. But Feynman's Lost Lecture: The Motion of Planets Around the Sun shows that the great man did just that. Originally delivered to an introductory physics class at Caltech in 1963, this 76-minute CD and book set contains everything the math-savvy listener needs to savor the pleasures of applied math. Caltech physicist David L. Goodstein and archivist Judith R. Goodstein found the notes and tape amid another professor's papers and set to work making sense of them; unfortunately, photographs of the blackboard drawings didn't survive. The book briefly covers their find and recovery work, then presents the proof as reconstructed--crucial reading if one is to follow the lecture. There's nothing easy about it, as Feynman acknowledges in the lecture:

I am going to give what I will call an elementary demonstration. "Elementary" means that very little is required to know ahead of time in order to understand it, except to have an infinite amount of intelligence.
He means, instead, that he is strictly using geometrical methods to reach his destination, which explains why it was so difficult to reconstruct without his diagrams. His charming Brooklyn accent and good humor show through in this lecture, even if the material is quite a bit drier than his fans might expect. Still, those interested in adding a new dimension to their understanding of this brilliant scientist--and those with a deep interest in Newtonian physics--will find The Motion of Planets Around the Sun a rare and unexpected treat. --Rob Lightner

From the Back Cover:

On March 13, 1964, Feynman delivered a lecture to the Caltech freshman class, "The Motion of Planets Around the Sun"why the planets move elliptically instead of in perfect circles. For reasons unknown, most probably for his own amusement, he chose to make the argument using mathematics no more advanced than high-school plane geometry. Isaac Newton had pulled off much the same trick nearly 300 years earlier in his masterpiece, the Principia. Feynman, unable to follow Newton's obscure proof, invented his own original, geometrical proof in the Caltech lecture. The subject of Feynman's lecture was the watershed discovery that separated the ancient world discovery that separated the ancient world from the modern world - the culmination of the Scientific Revolution. Before Copernicus, Kepler, Galileo, and Newton, the universe was Earth-centered. After their discoveries, our idea of the universe steadily altered and expanded, moving outward to the infinity we try to understand in our own time. Thus Feynman deals here with a crowning achievement of the human mind, comparable to Beethoven's symphonies. Shakespeare's plays, or Michelangelo's Sistine Chapel. Feynman conclusively demonstrates the astonishing fact that has mystified and intrigued all deep thinkers since Newton's time: Nature obeys mathematics. For thirty years this brilliant and seminal lecture lay dormant in the Caltech archives. Now, in this book, Feynman's lost lecture has been reconstructed and explained in meticulous detail together with a history of ideas of the planets' motions. Anyone who remembers high-school geometry can enjoy it and can profit from the compact disc that accompanies this book.

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Descrizione libro W. W. Norton Company, United States, 1996. Mixed media product. Condizione libro: New. Language: English . Brand New Book. Rescued from obscurity, Feynman s Lost Lecture is a blessing for all Feynman followers. Most know Richard Feynman for the hilarious anecdotes and exploits in his best-selling books Surely You re Joking, Mr. Feynman! and What DoYou Care What Other People Think? But not always obvious in those stories was his brilliance as a pure scientist one of the century s greatest physicists. With this book and CD, we hear the voice of the great Feynman in all his ingenuity, insight, and acumen for argument. This breathtaking lecture The Motion of the Planets Around the Sun uses nothing more advanced than high-school geometry to explain why the planets orbit the sun elliptically rather than in perfect circles, and conclusively demonstrates the astonishing fact that has mystified and intrigued thinkers since Newton: Nature obeys mathematics. David and Judith Goodstein give us a beautifully written short memoir of life with Feynman, provide meticulous commentary on the lecture itself, and relate the exciting story of their effort to chase down one of Feynman s most original and scintillating lectures. Codice libro della libreria AAC9780393039184

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Descrizione libro W. W. Norton Company, United States, 1996. Mixed media product. Condizione libro: New. Language: English . Brand New Book. Rescued from obscurity, Feynman s Lost Lecture is a blessing for all Feynman followers. Most know Richard Feynman for the hilarious anecdotes and exploits in his best-selling books Surely You re Joking, Mr. Feynman! and What DoYou Care What Other People Think? But not always obvious in those stories was his brilliance as a pure scientist one of the century s greatest physicists. With this book and CD, we hear the voice of the great Feynman in all his ingenuity, insight, and acumen for argument. This breathtaking lecture The Motion of the Planets Around the Sun uses nothing more advanced than high-school geometry to explain why the planets orbit the sun elliptically rather than in perfect circles, and conclusively demonstrates the astonishing fact that has mystified and intrigued thinkers since Newton: Nature obeys mathematics. David and Judith Goodstein give us a beautifully written short memoir of life with Feynman, provide meticulous commentary on the lecture itself, and relate the exciting story of their effort to chase down one of Feynman s most original and scintillating lectures. Codice libro della libreria AAC9780393039184

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