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Six Easy Pieces: Essentials of Physics By Its Most Brilliant Teacher

4.21  ·  Rating details ·  19,832 ratings  ·  679 reviews
Six Easy Pieces: Essentials of Physics Explained by Its Most Brilliant Teacher is a publishing first. This set couples a book containing the six easiest chapters from Richard P. Feynman's landmark work, Lectures on Physics—specifically designed for the general, non-scientist reader—with the actual recordings of the late, great physicist delivering the lectures on which the ...more
Paperback, 138 pages
Published 1995 by Basic Books (first published 1962)
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Ahmad Sharabiani
Mar 31, 2012 rated it really liked it
Six Easy Pieces: Essentials of Physics Explained by Its Most Brilliant Teacher, Richard Feynman

Presents six of the easiest chapters from the Nobel Prize winner's celebrated text Lectures in Physics, originally published in 1963, which comprised the lectures he prepared for undergraduate students at Caltech in the early 1960's.

Addressing key topics in largely qualitative terms without formal mathematics, the six selections discuss atoms in motion, basic physics, the relation of physics to other
...more
Tulpesh Patel
Jun 16, 2012 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: pop-science
There is not much more to be said about Richard Feynman’s impact on physics or science communication; the man is as bona-fide legend and as close to being a worshipable God as scientists can have. Six Easy Pieces is a collection of the ‘easiest’ six chapters from Richard Feynman’s most-celebrated text book The Feynman Lectures on Physics.

The ‘easy’ in the title, is, like our sense of time, all relative. The lectures, delivered in the early 60’s, were aimed at “the most intelligent in the class
...more
Courtney Lindwall
Mar 15, 2011 rated it liked it
Recommends it for: Science Nerds
Recommended to Courtney by: Required
Note to reader: I am not within Feynman's target demographic...

So if anyone is familiar with Feynman's "claim to fame," it's basically the idea that he's the most brilliant Physicis teacher of the 20th century and his lectures are ingenius in both their presentation and method.

Now, I'm not the most science-inclined person out there. I've never taken even a preliminary physics course (and these lectures were intended for his intro Caltech class, so...). But I'm also not dumb as a rock, either.

W
...more
Roy Lotz
Jun 03, 2013 rated it really liked it
This is one of those rare books whose title says everything that has to be said about it. In fact, the title sums up the book so well that I’ll only repeat it:

Six Easy Pieces: Essentials of Physics Explained by its Most Brilliant Teacher

Brent
Sep 16, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Contains the best explanation for the uncertainty principle I have come across. Still trying to wrap my mind around quantum mechanics though.
Laoonatic
Sep 06, 2013 rated it it was amazing
I think that, when reading this book, you have to be familiar with physics and maths. There are a lot of books claiming to be for the neophytes in physics/maths/astrology etc. but, truth be told, there is little to be learned when in that position. Which is why people shouldn't consider this book as being no good just because they haven't reached the paradise of enlightment which was promised to them. Such a thing isn't possible. Not from a single book, as far as I know, and anyway, not from thi ...more
rebecca
Jul 11, 2018 rated it liked it
so this book (if you were at all interested) is a collection of the six 'most basic' lectures delivered by richard feynman when he taught caltech 1st year physics undergrads in the early 1960s. feynman is famously an excellent communicator and very good at explaining physics-y things and coming up with analogies. honestly though, i was a little disappointed.
admittedly, i thought the chapter on quantum behaviour (6) was *fantastic*, and probably the best and most thorough explanation i've come ac
...more
Christopher
Jan 13, 2020 rated it really liked it
A really lucid introduction to physics—lecture style.
Bob Nichols
In these lectures, Feynman is very good at explaining some basic concepts for those fairly new to physics. For field theory, he uses the analogy of waves in a pool to show how motion in one place affects motion in a distant place. He says that matter goes straight unless acted upon by an external force, but we don't know why; that the earth is pulled toward the sun, as opposed to the earth moving around the sun; and that atoms are always in motion ("jigglings and wigglings of atoms") and that su ...more
Mεδ Rεδħα
Dec 18, 2018 rated it really liked it
Shelves: physics
Great book. Feynman is as enigmatic as usual and his descriptions are vivid and inspiring. He begins discussing atoms and shows us how we can understand the world around us using the simple concept of 'jiggling' atoms. I found this to be a profound and exiting way of understanding how things truly work, for example, why does tea cool down when we blow on it? Well, we cause some of the atoms (well molecules in reality) of the tea to get so excited and jiggly that they break away from the liquid a ...more
Cassandra Kay Silva
Jun 05, 2011 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: science
I think it is very rare for someone to be not only brilliant but also a wonderful teacher. Feynman has a very clear and direct style of imparting information. I just love it. Not quite as good as his autobiographical one but still very good.
Gina
Apparently these are the 6 "easiest to understand" (despite the inclusion of quantum mechanics!") of the Feynman lectures. Some of them flit too much from one thing to another; I'm sure they were interesting as lectures but they are not the ideal way to read about a topic. However, the way Feynman explains certain concrete idea is really interesting; in particular the chapter on quantum mechanics is good and easy to follow. I'm on the fence as to whether to read the full set of lectures.
Roger
May 15, 2014 rated it really liked it
In the early 1960s the renown physicist, Richard Feynman, delivered introductory courses on physics to first and second year undergraduate students at Caltech, in the USA. His lectures were very popular at the time and whilst aimed at undergraduates, it wasn't uncommon for graduate physics students to infiltrate his classes; the one thing Feynman could be assured of was a full house each time he came to teach this course. The lectures, after some editing, were published in three large volumes. T ...more
Mark
May 11, 2011 rated it it was ok
Recommends it for: those interested in a straightforward introduction to quantum mechanical "weirdness"
If you have heard about the "weirdness" of quantum mechanics but don't know what the hype is all about, look no further than chapter six of this book. In chapter six, with his usual down-to-earth approach, Feynman describes one of the most famous experiments in physics (the double-slit experiment) and what it tells us about the way fundamental particles behave. He compares the behavior of "lumps" to the behavior of "waves" before moving on to the behavior of electrons... and the outcome might su ...more
Elsie
Mar 22, 2020 rated it did not like it
The thing that bothers me about this is that physics sounds interesting in a book like this but I did my high school physics and first year physics at university and the core of it, the thing you had to learn and understand want the fascinating results and conclusions, it was the collection of vast amounts of data and then the math. The formulas, the statistical analysis, the endless calculation. It's math (maths?). It's all math. And math is beautiful sometimes but it's also a huge amount of gr ...more
Menglong Youk
Oct 25, 2016 rated it it was amazing
4.5/5 stars

I picked up this book several months ago and then dropped it despite nearly finishing it due to the complexity of the last chapter: Quantum Behavior. This by no means implies that the book is difficult as a whole.

I thoroughly enjoyed the first three chapters: Atoms in Motion, Basic Physics, and the Relations of Physics to Other Sciences. The method he chose to explain the concepts in these chapters was elegant and easy to understand. He compared our understanding the law of physics to
...more
Rob
Apr 30, 2008 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Rob by: io9
Almost five-stars. For someone like me (i.e., a layperson that has no background in physics whatsoever), this is a great introduction to the mysterious world of physics—it is humorous and accessible and makes an effort to be "approximately accurate" about everything (while calling itself out on things that are simplified for the sake of the example or else "unknown or unknowable"). However, to be "approximately accurate about everything" means a bunch of math and other fancy-pants equations that ...more
Connie  Kuntz
Apr 20, 2009 rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: Anyone who believes that science and spirituality aren't mutally exclusive
Recommended to Connie by: Christine O'Brien (soon to be Dr. C. O'Brien)
This book is truly mind-opening and I am convinced that Feynman was one enlightened dude. As I read the book, I felt myself opening up to the concept of atoms, amalgamations, energy, astronomy, gravity, light years, colliders and quantum physics. There was humor, history and simplified experiments in the book, too, which gave the field of Physics an "inviting" feeling, rather than a snooty one. The first five chapters were wonderful, but I struggled quite a bit with Chapter 6. To be clear: I sti ...more
John Gribbin
Aug 17, 2013 rated it really liked it
One of the biggest influences on my scientific career, and later my career as a populariser of science, was the multi-volume Feynman Lectures on Physics which appeared in the early 1960s. This epitome of that masterwork really does offer an easy guide to what physics, and science in general, is all about. Feynman explores the most fundamental scientific theories that all intelligent people should be aware of – the structure and behaviour of atoms, quantum mechanics and gravity. These are the fun ...more
Colleen
Previously, I had read Richard Feynman's "What Do You Care What They Think" & absolutely loved it! It goes without saying that Richard Feynman, a Nobel Prize winner in Physics, is beyond brilliant....but I said it anyway. I enjoy his writing & his joy of discovery in all things scientific. If I'd had a Physics professor like him maybe I would've understood it or had more interest in physical sciences. That said, I found this book very interesting and informative but the formulas & concepts were ...more
Hamid
Mar 04, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: science
I love this book. I wonder why I didn't study physics when I was younger. It is so fascinating. Physics is probably the most significant science of all time. It has had its impact already on many fronts. There'd be no transistors or cell phones without physics. If we don't apply Einstein's equations into the satellites we build, our GPS will render useless. Physics also has an intimate relationship with other scientific fields like astronomy, chemistry, biology, etc. I think this book is relativ ...more
Mike
Feb 21, 2010 rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: Anyone
I have read several other books by and about Richard Feynman: a man whose brilliance and oddness were well known within the Physics community, but sadly only his eccentricities were known by most of the wider world.

This book is not really about Feynman, rather it is six chapters excised out of a two-year course of physics lectures he gave at CalTech in the mid 60s. The publisher created this volume (and a second one that I am just getting into called "Six Not-So-Easy Pieces") and a companion aud
...more
ريم
Jan 29, 2018 rated it liked it
I liked 4 out of the 6 pieces, so technically it should be 3.3 stars.
I didn't like some of them probably because I didn't understand them, and to be fair I didn't focus a lot while reading it, it was more of a leisure read.
The gravitational piece was beautiful. It explained big complex ideas with simple analogies that made sense, some of the laws he discussed I knew already but after reading the lecture it all clicked and the picture was more clear.
I didn't like the conservation of energy or
...more
Steve
Jul 27, 2007 rated it liked it
That subtitle may seem overwrought, but it's true. Hawking and Greene have done much to popularize (and fetishize) physics, but Feynman will help the layperson really start to understand it at its most conceptual, basic form. And if you haven't the ability to sustain fifteen years of advanced mathematics, these lessons can still illuminate the marvels of the "mechanism."

To be fair, Hawking (astrophysics) and Greene (quantum mechanics) both do a lot for their respective fields as well, but they a
...more
Dileep N
This is a sampling from the legendary Feynman Lectures put together to introduce laypeople to physics. I'm not sure this short book succeeds in achieving that goal. It isn't thorough enough or organized well enough to teach people who haven't already been exposed to physics something useful about the subject.

If you have dipped your toes in the fascinating world of physics, however, this is definitely worth reading. This book won't teach you anything new but it'll give you new eyes and a new way
...more
Hubert
Nov 18, 2019 rated it it was amazing
An eye-opening primer on theoretical physics. I could only regret that my primary / high school physics teachers were not able to convey the messages in such a straightforward a compelling manner. The links between cornerstone concepts of physics, chemistry and biology reappeared in a completely different light. The author takes you on an exciting "understanding tour" starting with the atomic hypothesis, then placing all basic concepts in both historical and cross-science perspectives to consequ ...more
Harish Rajamani
Jan 22, 2018 rated it really liked it
Awesome introduction (or recap, depending on your background) of the most fundamental concepts in Physics. Expect the most relatable language possible for the depth and fidelity with which these topics deserve to be covered.

My favorite excerpt: "The whole universe is in a glass of wine." Sheer poetry created at the end of a lecture, rolling off the tongue of this amazing guy!
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=i0h_u...

I listened to the audible recording, which was great for being able to experience
...more
Patrick Neylan
Feynman was a genius, but these pieces are by no means easy. It's not a surprise that the lectures that formed the basis for this book were initially attended by undergraduates who were gradually supplanted by post-graduates. True, my degree is in medieval English and history, but I do have an O-Level in physics, but I found most of this hard to absorb.

If I had been given this as a 14-year old, I would have concluded that physics is not for me. It's just not pitched at that level. The chapter on
...more
Hitessh Panchal
Apr 24, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Brilliant !!!

I felt as if i visited my college again ! Only with a best teacher this time to teach me the most dreaded Subject - PHYSICS !!!

Most of us who have studied physics in school or college days, would find the physics teachers most sombre, Dull and half-heartedly teaching the subject and on the top of it , they will constantly remind , how this is the only subject people fails the most ! Thanks to you Sirs !!!

Switch to Feynman, the teacher, who leaves no attempt to make the subject so si
...more
Aahili Dutta
May 27, 2020 rated it really liked it
 I put my text book aside for a while and picked up a smaller book, Six Easy Pieces by Richard P. Feynman. When I started reading the first chapter, I was relived. There wasn’t any complex equations, just the central ideas of physics explained in a way that I could understand. Even though the title of Feynman’s book is Six Easy Pieces, it wasn’t easy in a dumbed down sort of way. This book made me think, or maybe I should say it allowed me to think, since the way Feynman explained physics gave m ...more
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Richard Phillips Feynman was an American physicist known for the path integral formulation of quantum mechanics, the theory of quantum electrodynamics and the physics of the superfluidity of supercooled liquid helium, as well as work in particle physics (he proposed the parton model). For his contributions to the development of quantum electrodynamics, Feynman was a joint recipient of the Nobel Pr ...more

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