Wednesday, January 22, 2014

Feynman lectures on physics: all volumes now free

This is a continuation of the announcements of the free Volume I and Volume III.
Electromagnetism and elementary condensed matter from a top guru

Finally, all three volumes of the Feynman Lectures on Physics are available for free.

The URLs are: (main) (backup)

...Volume II TOC main server (primary),
...Volume II TOC backup (delayed)
The tome on electromagnetism and macroscopic matter, including the errata, became the latest and last edition to the marvelous Caltech project that transformed the famous physicist's lectures to free HTML pages with equations in MathJax.

The Volume II teaches you about electric and magnetic forces, the notion of a field, practical applications of electromagnetism, differential operations involving vectors, heat conduction and diffusion equation, Gauss' law and electrostatic fields in various situations, plasma oscillations, electromagnetism in Earth sciences, dielectrics, magnetostatics, electromagnetic induction, currents, Maxwell's equations, and everything else that is basic enough when it comes to classical electrodynamics.

The book continues with the principle of least action, solutions to Maxwell's equations in empty space and waves, the solutions with sources (charges and currents), alternating current circuits, resonant cavities, guided waves, relativistic form of Maxwell's equations, Lorentz symmetry, local form of energy conservation law, electromagnetic mass including the divergences and outdated attempts to remove them as well as a derivation of the flawed and confusing \(E=(3/4)mc^2\) at the end of Section 28-3, and forces acting on electric charges.

Finally, the attention moves to macroscopic laws of matter: crystals and lattices, their mathematical and physical properties, tensors, refractive indices of materials, diamagnetism, paramagnetism, ferromagnetism and hysteresis, elasticity of materials and stresses, hydrostatics, hydrodynamics, turbulence, and even curved space from Einstein's theory of gravity.

This is quite a collection of wisdom – more or less the bulk of the "newer half" of classical physics – or all of classical physics except for mechanics, thermodynamics, and statistical physics that is discussed in Volume I. I do believe that it could become standard for certain undergraduate courses to recommend the Feynman Lectures on Physics as the main recommended literature. The students could entirely avoid paper-based books. I wonder whether it would cause any problems.

I hope that many smart undergraduates and teenagers will study physics from these Feynman lectures. If you're a bit younger – a high school student or a college freshman who really likes physics – you may also be recommended a book by Feynman targeting folks like you, "Feynman's Tips on Physics: Reflections, Advice, Insights, Practice". A Kindle edition is linked to in the link in the cover image above. The hardcover edition of that book is over $100, however. An advantage of the hardcover book is that according to, it was released in the middle ages (1000 AD).


  1. I used to be a liaison officer in southeastern Germany in the 70's, and would occasionally visit the border posts in the Bavarian woods. Once we were gazing over at the Czech border fence and guard tower, and a beautiful buck came running from the Czech side, leaped over the fence as if it weren't there, and disappeared in the woods on the German side. Could be he did it just to impress the girls.

  2. I understand Euclid's Elements was a standard textbook for boys in the nineteenth century. 2.2 millennia — not a bad print run. :)

    We'll have to wait a while to see if Feynman tops that. Worth the wait though.

    Stick around. :)

  3. LOL, a good buck. I guess that he got asylum in Germany and these days, he still behaves as a localized ethnic German.

  4. They didn't allow you, a then schoolboy, to go to Munich to see your uncle huh.... Those bastards communists... do you think they believed that your mum was organising your escape?

    On Mars it can only be a Martian egg that has hatched ;-)

  5. LOL, I or we didn't have any plans but of course it would be rather probable for us/me to stay there.

    BTW most people tended to emigrate through Yugoslavia which was somewhere in between the blocs.

    I just discovered a crazy 1981 Czechoslovak-Yugoslav (using the new nationalities, Czech-Croatian) sci-fi movie

    I have never heard of! ;-) A weird amateur sci-fi writers writes a book about some visitors from the Arcana Galaxy when they actually arrive etc. It's by Macourek who later did some highly professional films but I guess that this has never been aired because it's considered trash - but it's fun.

  6. Meteorite: immensely improbable. Martians yobs: slightly more likely. My bet: moved by a wheel.

  7. In fact there were also smaller curtains behind the big iron curtain. Most of the European bisons, (European relative of the American buffalo or bison: ), live in the Bialowieza Forest, which lies both in Poland and in Belarus (with 2/3 on the Belorussian side). . Before 1980 the bisons used to roam freely across the border. But in 1980 the Soviets built a fence across the border. I don't know whether it was built before or after the founding of Solidarity (which was founded in the same year) but possibly the Soviets were worried that the bison's crossing to Poland might start getting subversive ideas. Anyway, the fence has stood since then. After the end of the Soviet Union it was expected that the fence will be removed, but after Lukashenka became president all such hopes quickly evaporated.
    The bisons in Belarus (not to mention the people) would certainly be better of without the fence. Their population has been declining and is smaller than the Polish one (even though they have much more space there).
    However, the Poles or at least Polish scientists are no longer so keen on the idea. It seems that in order to increase their bison population the Soviets mixed their European population with Caucasian bison, so the only pure European bisons are now on the Polish side. In the case of animals other than humans such "racism" is, of course, perfectly respectable.

  8. The years leading up to January 1, 1000 were tumultuous ones. Some seers of the time saw evil tidings in Y1K, as it was known at the time, other gurus spun the date for its concinnity and deemed it propitious. In the end, despite all the hype and hoopla and except for the publication of a book by a scientist of from the future, it turned out to be "just another day".

  9. My 1964 freshman physics class used Feynman's texts, but we had to buy them ;) Now, 50 years later, I'm thinking it would be fun to reread them.

  10. Without color diagrams, wins the day.

  11. Huh ...?!

    There is absolutely nothing with the TRF posts about the divergent sums, on the contrary they are very interesting and educational!

    The one about the Zeta function I have to reread though ... :-)

  12. Dilaton, I think you have not been reading John's post carefully enough. He is an "agent provocateur par excellence" and besides, he is British which is often the same thing.
    I hope it was not you who downgraded him this time (unless it was because you are not a fan of The British Sense of Humour).

  13. Whatever happened to No Sex Please, We're British? ;)

    P.S. and unrelated to anything, I have a book recommendation for you:

    I Sleep In Hitler's Room by Tuvia Tenenbom:

  14. Dilaton, if you want to annoy John, whisper two names in his ear:

    Suarez. Balotelli.

    On second thought, don't do it. Too cruel.

  15. “No Sex Please, We are British”, eh? Well, I assure you that when I was an undergraduate in England in the early 1970s, this was still funny but certainly no longer true ;-)

    Thanks for the recommendation. I bought the Kindle version and have already read a large part of it. It’s funny, sounds true, and unfortunately is a bit depressing, and at least for me, confirms that Germany was better under the Kaiser just as England was much better under Queen Victoria. I won’t even mention the US.

    But there was one thing in this book, just one actually, that I felt genuinely offended by, and even disgusted. O.K the author does not like Alexander Fest, who may well be very anti-Israeli for all I know (I know nothing about him).
    But to suggest that his father Joachim Fest was some sort of Nazi or a Nazi sympathiser is so ignorant and really stupid that makes me wonder about the rest of the book.

    Joachim Fest and his family were not only not Nazis, but they were among the bravest and most honorable of Germans during the whole Nazi period. Maybe not quite the level of the “White Rose” but not far behind. Fest’s father, a teacher was forced into compulsory retirement because of refusing to sign a statement of loyalty to the Regime. Joachim was expelled from school (together with his younger brother) for drawing caricatures of Hitler. The parents refused to let the boys join the Hitlerjugend. Unlike Gunter Grass, Joachim was not in the Waffen SS. Everything is in Fest’s very moving book “No I”, and also here:

    and here

    Now, it is true, that Fest was deceived by Albert Speers fake contrition at Nuremberg, but he was far from the only one. He went to far in supporting Nolte in the “War of the Historians” but the main thing that lead him in this direction he was right about. Fest always insisted that someone who had willingly served Stalin carried just as big guilt as one who had served Hitler and quite a few Jews were upset about this. Some of them, like Marcel Reich-Ranicki, who was once Fest’s protégé before their relationship broke down over the “war of the historians”, was once an agent of the Polish stalinist secret police in the West, a fact that he always made fun of, like the way some speak of innocent indiscretions of their youth.

    It is also outrageous to suggest that Fest does not mention the Holocaust in his books. “Plotting Hitler’s Death”, his work about the German military resistance is full of references to the Holocaust - how could one, for example, write about Axel von dem Bussche without mentioning the Holocaust?

    So yes, a very good book, but one should keep a certain distance.

  16. Tenenbom is not an expert on German history, obviously he gets some things wrong. (I agree that Joachim Fest was an honorable man.) He is a satirist in the tradition of Mark Twain ("Innocents Abroad"). Alexander Fest, the editor at the German publishing house that had contracted for Tenenbom to write the book, demanded large-scale revisions and expurgations, with flimsy justification. Then he asked for part of the advance back. Tenenbom then self-published the book in English, it was later picked up by a different German publisher.

    Reich-Ranicki, who passed away last year, was the greatest reviewer and critic of German literature in the past half-century. He had a literature show on television that sold millions of books. No one did as much as he to make literature exciting and relevant to the public. He and his wife survived the Warsaw ghetto, he wrote about that in his autobiography. One may feel that his mea culpas about the time that he worked in the Polish communist secret service were insufficient. It is a blot on his record, but it pales in significance to the rest of his career.

    If you could read German, I would also recommend to you any of the books by Henryk M. Broder, also a Polish-born Jew. He, too, is a gifted satirist and he knows Germany and the Germans much better than Tenenbom.

  17. Did I write that? Mmmmm...

    Oh well, never apologise, never explain.

    Eugene, Lucretius, Dilaton,

    Thanks for being so nice about it. :)

  18. Eugene,


    At £1,339.05 it's clearly a good book for buying and selling. :)

    But is it as good as Portnoy's Complaint for reading? :)

    Lucretius, useful review. Thanks. I like the idea of the humour but I'm not so keen on reading about the tensions underlying it. There's a 'demographic reality' facing Britain and that's enough for me to be getting on with.

    By the way, Eugene, as for No Sex Please, We're British, I've never seen/been to it. There are some aspects of British culture I don't enjoy. I just read the plot on wiki and it confirms the impression I had acquired by 'osmosis'. I'm pretty certain I would find it irritating in the extreme. But then I find that with a lot of popular British comedy, especially these days, albeit for different reasons.

    Talking of which, here's a Sherlock Holmes joke. I hope you haven't heard it before. I tried to post it on Peter Hitchens's blog but he blocked it ( I suspect he took a dislike to one of my asterisks. I think it might be the black one.

    Sherlock Holmes and Dr Watson went on a camping trip. After a good meal and a bottle of wine they lay down for the night and went to sleep.

    Some hours later, Holmes awoke and nudged his faithful friend.

    "Watson, look up at the sky and tell me what you see."

    Watson replied, "I see millions and millions of stars."

    "What does that tell you?"

    Watson pondered for a minute.

    "Astronomically, it tells me that there are millions of galaxies and potentially billions of planets. Astrologically, I observe that Saturn is in Leo. Horologically, I deduce that the time is approximately a quarter past three. Theologically, I can see that God is all powerful and that we are a small and insignificant speck on His Great Creation. Meteorologically, I suspect that we will have a beautiful day tomorrow. Why, what does it tell you, Holmes?"

    Holmes was silent for a moment, then spoke. "Watson, you d***head. Some b*****d has stolen our tent."

  19. Very interesting that you should mention these people Eugene ;-)

    Do you know that Marcel Reich-Ranicki’s son, Andrew Ranicki, is a professor of mathematics at the University of Edinburgh? Actually, I know him (so I hope he does not read TRF ;-)). He is a topologist (like myself) and one of the world’s leading experts on surgery theory. From time to time a young German topologist is introduced to Andrew and then most of the time the following conversation takes place:

    The German: Excuse my but are you …

    Andrew Ranicki: Yes, he is my father.

    Although he has lived in Britain almost all his life Andrew Ranicki still has a very strong Polish accent, even stronger than mine (I arrived in the UK when I was 15). He maintains good relations with Polish topologists, but he will never visit Poland. Can you guess why?

    His father made him promise that he would never do so, because of Polish antisemitism. Yet Marcel Reich-Ranicki did not mind himself living in Germany.

    Unfortunately my German is poor: I am only capable of reading math papers in German. Actually I have read only one, a famous paper by the German topologist Albrecht Dold and the French Rene Thom (–Thom_theorem ). In fact, all the German I know I learnt while reading this paper which, unfortunately for me, was written in German. This does not give a good foundation for reading German literature, which I usually read either in English and sometimes in Polish translation.

    So my view of German literature is of course somewhat skewed by these translations. The only thing by Reich-Ranicki I have read is his autobiography “The Author of Himself” - in the English translation. I had mixed feelings.

    The one thing I agree with Reich-Ranicki about is a rather esoteric subject for most people: Polish poetry. Like him, I think it is magnificent, Poland’s greatest contribution to world culture, the only one that is really in the first rank. Moreover, it’s great throughout history, beginning with Jan Kochanowski . I also agree with Reich-Ranicki about the colossal but unfortunately totally untranslatable genius of Adam Mickiewicz, which, in my opinion surpasses Pushkin or any other Romantic poet known to me. But contrast Polish prose is mediocre and far inferior to the Russian one (which I value above all others). In fact, the greatest “Polish” novelist wrote in English: he was Joseph Conrad (who I also consider the greatest British novelist).

    But other than Polish poetry, Reich-Ranicki and I don’t seem to agree on much, and that includes even literature. We agree about Musil and Kafka, whom we both admire (probably for different reasons) and disagree about Ernst Junger - who I think was a writer of a far greater and lasting significance than anyone in the circle of leftists Reich-Ranicki moved in and whom he praised. About Junger Reich-Ranicki only wrote that he is the only Gemran writer about whom he never writes anything. I, on the other hand, have read everything, in English of course.

    Natually, the views on literature of someone who can only read it in translation cannot be taken with great seriousness but (like Vladimir Nabokov, whom I greatly admire) I have not found many German writers that seemed to me above mediocre, even though I have tried.

    As for Henryk M. Broder, I have been for quite a long time a member of a Facebook group bearing his name, so keep getting updates in German… Usually I can work out what they are about but no more. But of course I have long known about him.

  20. the circle of leftists Reich-Ranicki moved in and whom he praised

    This comes as news to me. I never considered MRR a leftist. He was head of the Literature section for many years of Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung, the country's leading broadsheet. FAZ is "conservative" (centrist leaning right), but the Arts & Literature section (Feuilleton) has always had a more catholic (small c) outlook and probably has more leftish than rightish writers.

    In any case, I don't remember MRR subscribing to a position on the political spectrum. I think one could call him a bourgeois -- not as a pejorative but in the best tradition of the term.

    A lot of people considered him a hidebound reactionary. In part because he did not join them in espousing leftist causes, in part because he had little interest in avant-garde experimentation, preferring traditional storytelling to more "modern" novelistic techniques.

  21. I'm sorry, but 1 + 2 + 3 + 4 does not equal -1/12. I don't know what you and string theorists are smoking. But when I add positive integers, I get a positive sum, not a negative sum, you weirdo.

  22. By the way, 1 - 2 + 3 - 4 + 5 - 6 +... does not equal 1/4. You are adding and subtracting integers, so how do you get a fraction out of that? The Taylor expansion 1 - 2x + 3x^2 - 4x^3 + ... equals 1/(1+x)^2 only if the expansion converges. I believe it converges if x < 1, but not if x = 1. Therefore your argument in that the above series equals -1/4 is incorrect.

  23. To learn more about alternating series, and to help clear out the nonsense and fake mathssss inside your head, please see and see

    and see

    Educate yourself, Lubos, and clear your head of all this nonsensical mathsssssssss.

  24. Here's a good tutorial for you, Lubos:

    Scroll down to alternating series.

  25. Oh this is interesting. I'm reading about how if you let s = 1 - 1 + 1 - 1 +..., then 1 - s = 1 - (1 - 1 + 1 - 1 +...) = 1 - 1 + 1 - 1 + ... = s. Therefore, 1 = 2s, therefore s = 1/2.

    But you realize that this is total bullshit. Why? Because if 1 - s = s, THEN 1 = 2s is true IF AND ONLY IF s is a variable that represents an ACTUAL NUMBER. But in this case, s does NOT represent an actual number, because the series does NOT CONVERGE to a number!!

    In other words, you cannot add s to itself to get 2s if s does not represent an actual quantity. That's like saying if you add Ricky to itself, you get 2Ricky. That's only true if Ricky represents a number.

    Thus, 1 - 1 + 1 - 1 +... DOES NOT EQUAL 1/2.

    What do you say to that, Lubos? I'm very interested.

  26. It has also been argued that one may say that 1 - 1 + 1 - 1 +... = limit of 1/(1+x) as x approaches 1 from the left = 1/2.

    Ah...but what they are saying is this:

    1 - x + x^2 - x^3 +... = 1/(1+x). Thus you can take the limit of both sides as x approaches 1 from the left, and you get 1/2. Right?

    Well...not so fast.

    1 - x + x^2 - x^3 +... = 1/(1+x) IFF |x| < 1. NOT if x = 1. The series does NOT CONVERGE

  27. Face it, Lubos. I know more mathssssss than you.

  28. Lubos,
    It has also been argued that 1 - 1 + 1 - 1 +... SHOULD equal 1/2 because 1/2 is the average of the two possible partial sums, namely, 0 and 1.

    Now, in your text, you say D = 2 - 2/(1+2+3+...) and that since 1 + 2 + 3 +... = -1/12, then D = 26.

    But not so fast. Suppose 1+2+3+... equals -1/12. Then we have:
    D = 2 + 24. There are two partial sums in this, namely, 2 and 24. Take the average and you get 13. Thus D = 13, not 26.

    This contradicts string theory.

  29. I don't know. When I see D = 2 - 2/(1+2+3+4+...), I think to myself that this implies D = 2 because the 1+2+3+4+... sum diverges. Thus, the critical dimension is D=2, which is clearly incorrect because we live in 4d spacetime. Thus, string theory is WRONG.

    Lubos: Are you sure this isn't some hand-waving argument to keep string theory alive as a theory?

    To me, D = 2 - 2/(1+2+3+4+...) is proof positive that string theory cannot be correct because 1 + 2 + 3 +... is infinite plain and simple. Hence, 2 - 2/infinity = 2. Ergo, String theory is wrong.

  30. Please remove the idiotic spam by this math illiterate from the comments of this thread.

  31. Please, lucretius, I want to know whether this moron will collect some votes! ;-)

  32. Wow, this spammer is quite insistent LOL :-D

    Does Discus have an option to hide comments with enough downvotes? If so, you could still test if the troll is able to collect upvotes, whereas Lucretius and other people's view of the comment thread would be less polluted ... ;-)

  33. Well, OK. Also, freedom of speech etc.
    Next week I am going to propose at my department that we include some basic knowledge about summation of divergent series in our first introductory analysis course for computer science students (it is already in the course for math students). Maybe something positive will come out of this after all.

  34. Somebody should tell him that the right result for 1+2+3+... is -1/12 but only if you add the integers manually. Should keep him busy for a while.