Free: Richard Feynman’s Physics Course from Cornell (1964)

We’re beam­ing you back to 1964. Richard Feyn­man, our favorite Bon­go-play­ing, Nobel Prize-win­ning physi­cist, reduces sci­ence to the barest essen­tials, to its most fun­da­men­tal truth. If a the­o­ry does­n’t square with exper­i­ment, it’s wrong. That holds true for clever the­o­ries, ele­gant the­o­ries, and all of the rest.

This clip is just a small out­take from a sev­en-part lec­ture series that Fey­man pre­sent­ed at Cor­nell in 1964, and the lec­tures are all now freely avail­able on the web thanks to Bill Gates. You can watch the full series on our site, or on a Mis­crosoft site, but be warned: if you choose the lat­ter, you’ll need to down­load Microsoft­’s Sil­verlight soft­ware to watch the lec­tures.

For more free physics lessons, don’t miss our col­lec­tion of Free Online Physics Cours­es, part of our larg­er col­lec­tion, 1,700 Free Online Cours­es from Top Uni­ver­si­ties.

Feyn­man fans will also want to see this oth­er open project: The Feyn­man Lec­tures on Physics, The Most Pop­u­lar Physics Book Ever Writ­ten, Now Com­plete­ly Online.

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Comments (14)
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  • Plonimus says:

    I get the impres­sion that Richard Feyn­man nev­er seri­ous­ly stud­ied the phi­los­o­phy of sci­ence. He is quot­ed as say­ing: “Phi­los­o­phy of sci­ence is about as use­ful to sci­en­tists as ornithol­o­gy is to birds.”

    A lit­tle dis­ap­point­ing from such a smart man.

    • John S Wilkins says:

      Of course, the inverse applies. Physi­cists know about as much about the phi­los­o­phy of physics as birds do about ornithol­o­gy…

      • loganspappy says:

        Physics became the foun­da­tion of all real-world philoso­phies by a sim­ple phi­los­o­phy of obser­va­tion and Occam’s razor, throw­ing all oth­er philoso­phies out of physics, begin­ning with Bra­he, Kepler, and Galilieo, who are the giants upon whom New­ton stood. Orinthol­o­gy is an uncom­pressed, non-Occam’s razor view of the com­pressed DNA pro­gram­ming of birds and what the birds need to know and expe­ri­ence. The uncom­pressed view is what peo­ple need in order to under­stand birds. Like­wise, phi­los­o­phy is the expand­ed view of what physics has achieved. There are also philoso­phies of how to approach advanc­ing the knowl­edge of physics, which Feyn­man dis­cuss­es in these lec­tures, but they are not real­ly con­sid­ered a branch of phi­los­o­phy. Phi­los­o­phy these days is main­ly just pick­ing up the crumbs from the physics table. Like psy­chol­o­gy of the 1900’s, phi­los­o­phy is still all about who can be the most enter­tain­ing and pro­lif­ic writer.

    • daryl says:

      Phi­los­o­phy is fan­tas­ti­cal­ly cap­ti­vat­ing and use­ful as a vehi­cle for study­ing the his­to­ry of our under­stand­ing. As a vehi­cle for advance­ments of our under­stand­ing, how­ev­er, it is exhaust­ed; it holds no fur­ther poten­tial in this regard. The method of phi­los­o­phy (rumi­nat­ing) has been grad­u­al­ly dis­placed by the method of sci­ence. No doubt remains that the only way to learn about the nature is through inter­ro­gat­ing the nature; in every area of inquiry. This includes the long “resist­ing” domains of con­scious­ness, moral­i­ty and art. That’s what mod­ern sci­en­tists mean by these com­ments. Feyn­man was one of the first ones to say this pub­licly.

  • penguin says:

    did you guys see this video of bill gates dis­cussing phil­an­thropy, com­merce and cit­i­zen­ship with his dad?

  • If Mr. Gates is help­ing in sci­ence project regard­ing com­put­er then it will be great for stu­dents who will learn under them.

  • Leslie says:

    i want to watch all series, but do i have to down­load Microsoft’s Sil­verlight soft­ware to watch them? I don’t like get­ting extra soft­ware on my pc. I was just going to con­vert flv to avi , will i need this Sil­verlight soft­ware in this case?

  • Avi Player says:

    I think it’d be a good thing if bill Gates helped in sci­ence project rel­e­vant to com­put­er tech­nol­o­gy, It’d be great for study­ing.

  • Vendy says:

    the lec­tures are rael­ly inter­est­ing for me..

  • Alane Jewel says:

    Fey­man was bril­liant. @leslie maybe try to watch all the series. I am the same way, I hate extra soft­ware, usu­al­ly I stick to RealPlay­er late­ly for my media play­er

  • Jim Stuttard says:

    Leslie asked about Sil­verlight. I was pleased to here Gates was pub­lish­ing these and then dis­cov­ered you can only watch them cos Gates and Balmer have turned them into a cheap mar­ket­ing lockin. Cor­nell is com­plic­it in lock­ing up pub­licly-fund­ed info and should insist that these are made avail­able in an open source for­mat.

  • Jim Stuttard says:

    /watch them/watch them with Sil­verlight

  • vaskojoao says:

    Mr Gates does a great deal of char­i­ty to gives us this lec­tures… if you down­load the f#$&/( sil­verlight. Come on, were not stu­pid.

  • aa says:

    how igno­rant…

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