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

4.30  ·  Rating Details  ·  1,859 Ratings  ·  30 Reviews
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 Do You 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 ...more
ebook, 192 pages
Published November 6th 2009 by W. W. Norton & Company (first published 1996)
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(showing 1-30 of 3,000)
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At this late stage one has to wonder if there can be any worthwhile material by or about Feynman that hasn't already been published - the answer is, in this case, yes - but this doesn't offer a tremendous amount that would be new to dedicated Feynman fans. It's really for completests and neither a great nor terrible place to start for newcomers.

For just such newbies to Feynman I will briefly disclose that he was a Nobel Prize winning theoretical physicist who worked on the Manhattan Project in h
Feb 16, 2010 Danil rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: science
"I tried to find the simplest [demonstration:] that I could. It's still too hard for an ordinary human being" -- Feynman's own comment on his demonstration.

After his introduction, Feynman's demonstration proceeds in three parts: a review of some basic geometric properties of the ellipse; the geometric demonstration that elliptical orbits follow from the inverse square law, and then the application of the same ideas to atomic scattering and the discovery of the atomic nucleus.

The intention is tha
Mar 23, 2008 Weyl rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: popular-science
I don't have the other version of this with the CD, I have just the book. This is a fantastic little book. Basically in his unique engaging style Richard Feynman proves the motion of the planets around the sun, but with Geometry! Anyone with a piece of paper, pencil, determination and school maths could follow this with effort. I don't think any other science writer could have pulled this off. After reading it I found you get a new found respect for the audacity and cheekiness of Mr Newton, who ...more
Melissa McShane
This is definitely a three-star book. The story of how the Goodsteins found and recreated Feynman's lost lecture on planetary movements is interesting; the image of David Goodstein holed up in a cruise ship cabin because he'd finally worked out the secret cracks me up. They're also good writers and their point-by-point explanation of Feynman's lecture is clear and easy to follow with only a basic understanding of high-school geometry.

Unfortunately, the explanation is necessary because so much of
Another cool, clever read. Quick and interesting. Explains how newton worked out the nature of gravity and derived the elliptical orbit of planets through his three laws of physics. The arguments are far less esoteric and far more understandable than I (a non-student of physics since 14) anticipated, though of course they are the result of years of hard thinking and decades of astrological observation. The book also gives a glimpse of how 20th century physics (relativity and quantum mechanics) e ...more
Jan 12, 2013 Ross rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Amazing what Feynman does with basic geometry. Accessible and clear.
This lecture represents Feynman at his best! Play the audio CD & follow along in the book to see just how much enthusiasm & love he brings to his subject. The concepts he presents are fairly basic, but require some knowledge of high school geometry & physics.

Feynman gave this lecture "for fun" - as a guest lecturer in the 1964 freshman physics course. He started out to explain Newton's proof of why planets have elliptical orbits around the sun - but departed from Newton's proof to us
Jul 22, 2008 Kev rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Kev by: Dr. Clayton Crockett
Shelves: science
This is a magnificent book.

The collaboration between husban & wife team David & Judith Goodstein is generative, illuminating & ultimately profound.

The math is beautiful. The reason for understanding the principles is farreaching & pragmatic at once. Truths live regardless of fashion or time. Feynman was a genius. I'm honored not only to understand this work but to celebrate it.

You will embark upon a timejourney that reaches from Plato & Aristotle in 4th century BCE, to Ptolem
May 08, 2016 Vladimir rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Oddly fun read. Great combination of historical and scientific context plus an insightful application of elementary math. Multiple approaches to ellipses in general, and elliptical orbits in particular, come together really well in the end. Of course, everything applies to rockets and satellites as much as planets.

I haven't read anything scientific or mathematical in a while, fortunately stumbled across this while packing.
Curious Me
Feb 16, 2014 Curious Me rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I read this for extra credit assignment for a physics class. The first half is all about the history behind Kepler's laws and a bit about Feynman as a professor and genius. The second half goes more into calculating the formulas and deriving them. It's a great read, but a little technical. I suggest having a pencil and notepad close by for taking notes!
Jun 11, 2015 Jerry rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I have the version with the CD. I think it helps, at least for the transcription portion of the book, to have Feynman’s cadence orally. The rest of the book stands up perfectly fine on its own. It begins with a history of Kepler, Brahe, and Copernicus, Galileo, how their discoveries led to the Newtonian revolution in how we think about the world.

Then the authors write an expanded version of Feynman’s lecture. This is necessary if, like me—and unlike Feynman’s freshman class—you are decades past
A. Merlocks
Dec 08, 2014 A. Merlocks rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: useful
Do you love Physics? Did you love your College classes? If the answer to these two questions is in the affirmative, then this book is for you. It is truly a museum piece in its own right. It includes plenty of technical notes. A must read for those planning a career in academia (the teaching side).
Jan 09, 2014 Hrishikesh rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Incredible, incredible book.

One of the most incredible things about this entire lecture is that Feynman proves Kepler's laws using just high school geometry. There is no fancier math tool used to do so. Simplification is the real test of genius.

To be honest, I preferred the author's proof to Feynman's lecture; primarily because the lecture was verbatim and very difficult to understand without the diagrams used in the actual class. The way the authors have broken it down to a level where anyone
Jan 20, 2016 Lena rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Great intro, with short recap of history of physics and a new way to prove the 2nd law of Keppler's planetary motion.
The title is irresistable. But, like most of my "reading Feynman" projects, it's more work than I thought it would be. He is, after all, a physicist.

But, it's not a bad lecture and it comes with a story about how it was reconstructed. So, it's another labor of love for a man who makes us proud to be human.

It's approximately the same level of material that's in Six Easy Pieces. I think I would've liked it better if I'd heard it before SEP. As it is, it was a lot of money for "just one more lectur
Feb 11, 2015 Rahul rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Brought back the "aha!" moments of 12th class geometry proofs.
Sep 18, 2014 Amey rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
A very clever proof indeed!
Jeff Brateman
Jul 17, 2015 Jeff Brateman rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This was awesome. Using no calculus or terribly obtuse math, you see some really important geometrical physics proofs. Spoiler alert: the conclusions were used for more than just planetary motion!

The version of the book I had also included the CD. Listen to it. Feynman is a charismatic lecturer, along with his intellect.
Apr 18, 2010 Brian rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
This book has motivated me find more material on Dick Feynman, but it is essentially 100 pages of proofs. Not good munching material when a hangover is lingering, but more deserving than two stars. The reviewer's expectations unfairly punish the book in this case. All in all a neat derivation of Newton's planetary motion laws.
Mar 12, 2012 tallulah is currently reading it  ·  review of another edition
It's so fun to read about math and science. Reading this book totally makes you feel smarter than you really are.
Mar 22, 2016 Matt rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I think I finally understand orbits! Still confused about how they decay though...
Mar 06, 2014 Bettie☯ rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: sciences, fraudio
Feynman's Lost Lecture: Motion of Planets Around the Sun is a book based on a lecture by Richard Feynman. Restoration of the lecture notes and conversion into book form was undertaken by Caltech physicist David L. Goodstein and archivist Judith R. Goodstein. Feynman had given the lecture on the motion of bodies at Caltech on March 13, 1964, but the notes and pictures were lost for a number of years and consequently not included in The Feynman Lectures on Physics series. The lecture notes were la ...more
Laurelle J's
Loved the tales of one of the most profound scientist/physicist of our time. Fascinating read.
Michael Medsker
Dec 30, 2012 Michael Medsker rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
A great book that I highly recommend to all the Richard Feynman fans out there.
Jan 25, 2013 Mohammad rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
When The Title contains 'Feynman' ,I Just can't resist. and I never regret!
Jul 11, 2015 Dragonlady-sci-fi-fantasy rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: science
Re-read this last week. Found a set at the library with the audio !
Lukasz Glinka
Mar 27, 2011 Lukasz Glinka rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
The Solar System laws of motion explained by Richard Feynman.
Paolo  Gianlucca
Feb 15, 2013 Paolo Gianlucca rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Que elegante demostración, muy excepcional.
Adam Weber
Nice explanation of planetary motion.
Jennifer Gu
Oct 13, 2013 Jennifer Gu marked it as to-read  ·  review of another edition
I really want this!
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