Courtney Lindwall's Reviews > Six Easy Pieces: Essentials of Physics By Its Most Brilliant Teacher

Six Easy Pieces by Richard Feynman
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's review
Mar 15, 2011

liked it
bookshelves: 2011, required, non-fiction
Recommended to Courtney by: Required
Recommended for: Science Nerds
Read from March 15 to 23, 2011

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.

With that said, I didn't understand much of this book. I could follow along vaguely and in general terms. But could I explain to someone else what gravitational energy is now? Definitely not. In fact, I can barely remember the different topics in the book now because of how little I actually retained about them.

For people who think this is going to be a magical book that will teach what were once almost mysteriously complicated ideas with wonderful simplicity - think again. You would never become truly knowledgeable on any of these topics with only this small of an overview. But, if you are scientifically inclined, it might at least be interesting and prompt you to take your learning further. It does get more technical than I thought it would. Although nowhere near as technical as the topics actually go.

All in all, I didn't really enjoy it. Which is why it's 3 stars. But I could see its merit for Physics students and it did bring to light various big questions about science in general, which is why it didn't get 2 or 1.
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Comments (showing 1-6 of 6) (6 new)

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message 1: by Robert (new)

Robert Nobody knows what gravitational energy is, because nobody knows what energy is...

Courtney Lindwall And the fact that I didn't know that nobody knows what energy is, is another testament to the fact that I didn't gain much from this book.

message 3: by Robert (new)

Robert I can't remember how explicitly he goes into it. It's at least implied in the lecture on conservation of energy but I doubt people new to physics would pick up on it.

Courtney Lindwall I'm completely new to Physics. The first introduction to Physics I have ever had was Page 1 of this book. So...there's that, too.

message 5: by Matt (new) - added it

Matt Thanks for your review. I have an interest in physics and other areas of science, but like you, I'm not really educated in any of the subjects. I was contemplating reading this, hoping that it would be a nice, easy-to-read-and-understand introduction to physics. If it is how you say it is, I think I'll decide to not waste my time.

message 6: by Jeff (last edited Feb 11, 2013 10:49AM) (new) - rated it 5 stars

Jeff Wells I haven't read the book yet (I'm reading it now), but I think it's important to keep in mind where these 6 "easy pieces" come from when reading.

This book is composed of the six easiest lectures from Feynman's "Lectures on Physics", which was an undergrad physics course at Caltech. They are easy relative to the rest of the course, but the course did have college level math and physics prerequisites so they aren't necessarily of the "so easy anybody could do it" vein that people usually mean when they say a thing is "easy".

So with that in mind, if you got anything out of it all while having absolutely no background in physics, I'd say you're doing very well, and you shouldn't feel the slightest bit dumb. Dumb people don't pick up books like this in an effort to learn more about things. ;)

I'm a physics fan and a science fan in general, but I don't have more than a physics 101 background (which essentially stuck to Newtonian physics of motion and that's it), so I expect I won't understand much of it either. But I tend to go into these kinds of books knowing the best I can hope for is a very simplistic understanding of how things work, and I think that's a pretty nice goal in itself.

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