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David Goodstein

## 10 thoughts on “Feynman's Lost Lecture: The Motion of Planets Around the Sun”

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 his youth and became famous not only for his professional skill but his quirky and irreverent public persona and his capabilities as an educator, both of the general public and of student physicists.This lecture was omitted from the famous three volumes of lectures based on a two year undergrad introductory course that Feynman taught at Caltech It is a demonstration of the fact that planets orbit the sun in elipses if Newton s Law of Gravitation is correct and perturbations from all the other planets are ignored using only plane geometry Since only a few diagrams and notes from the lecture remained, along with a voice recording of it, it was quite a task to reconstruct the proof, which as is pointed out by Feynman himself is, whilst elementary, not simple That said, the explanation of the demonstration could not be clearer and anybody who can follow school level geometry will be fine Because there are a large number of diagrams, what appears to be a lengthy and therefore possibly intimidating wodge of physics is in fact something you could read and understand in a couple of hours easily.Additionally to the reconstruction and explanation of the proof, there is a mini biography of Feynman which is best as always when telling anecdotes, not history, a transcript of Feynman delivering the lecture and a brief history of the relevant discoveries about the nature of the solar system, gravity and the way things move.

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 not satisfied with just using calculus decided to prove it using geometry too

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 that the demonstration be elementary , in the sense that it does not assume that the audience is already familiar with the antecedent material It is, however, very quick elementary does not mean easy to understand The lecture itself is a live recording in a lecture hall of freshman physics students who had already covered Newton s laws The recording itself is good, but suffers a bit from the lack of visuals.The text is a supplement to the lecture, and includes background on the laws of gravitation, on Feynman, on the material within the lecture Feynman Newton s demonstration is insufficiently elementary I cooked up another one Goldstein maybe we should add a chapter connecting the dots , and then a transcript of the lecture itself.The demonstration itself, while correct, is not necessarily rigorous I found that the initial understanding I had after first listening to the lecture began to wilt under careful examination.

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 Feynman s actual material has been lost The reconstruction is good, but Feynman s lecture the final chapter loses some impact without the visual aids I m also annoyed at my library for not including the audio of the lecture on CD, as the cover copy promises I think hearing it in his words would have enhanced the experience considerably The book is probably of most interest to Feynman completists and students of science history, but in general it falls short of its promise.

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, Copernicus, and 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 your high school geometry The proofs really are elementary and basic that is, at the high school level and very visual, in the geometric sense It is a fascinating glimpse into how Newton and his contemporaries thought, and how they after Newton, at least saw the universe.

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 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 evolved from the newtonian system Eyeopening and again I wish I d read it before college Why don t they give us stuff like this at O Level

Amazing what Feynman does with basic geometry Accessible and clear.

Looking to refresh your high school geometry love without embarrassing yourself getting caught reading high school books READ THIS 2, maybe 3 pee breaks and boom Such ingenuity I did not even know how to prove Kepler or Newton. but Mr Feynman has taught me now And the bonus lesson of applying concepts to Rutherford experiment s It was really fun to try it myself on paper.Only if someone could gift me the entire volume of Feynman lectures.

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 use his own, much simpler using basic geometry proof, that he had cooked up at the last minute The sheer joy with which he delivers this lecture is apparent on the recording.Along with his lecture on Algebra The Feynman Lectures on Physics, Vol.1, Ch 22 in which he starts with addition proceeds logically through imaginary numbers using only algebra trigonometric functions to derive Euler s formula this book CD combo show why Richard Philips Feynman was one of the most original thinkers in 20th Century physics.

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 later found, but unfortunately without the photographs of his illustrative chalkboard drawings One of the editors, David L Goodstein, stated that at first without the photographs, it was very hard to figure out what diagrams he was referring to in the audiotapes, but later finding of his own private lecture notes made it possible to understand completely the logical framework with which Feynman delivered the lecture.So I have the audio without those diagrams dot dot dot lol so I am no further forward al la Feynman but I get the drift, if you catch my drift.