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The Character of Physical Law

Sunday 19 October 2014

In 1964, Richard Feynman gave a series of seven lectures at Cornell called The Character of Physical Law. They were recorded by the BBC, and are now on YouTube. These are great.

These are not advanced lectures, they were intended for a general audience, and Feynman does a great job inhabiting the world of fundamental physics. He's clearly one of the top experts, but explains in such a personal approachable style that you are right alongside him as he explores this world looking for answers, following in the footsteps of Newton and Einstein.

If you've never heard Feynman, at least dip into the first one if only to hear his deep, thick New York accent. He also is witty: he places the French Revolution in 1783, and says, "Accurate to three decimal places, not bad for a physicist!" It's disarmingly out of character for an intellectual, but Feynman is the real thing, discussing not just the basics of forces and particles, but the philosophical implications for scientists and all thinkers:

I converted the videos to pure audio and listened to them in my car, which meant I couldn't see what he was drawing on the blackboard, but it was enlightening nonetheless. Highly recommended: The Character of Physical Law.

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