Profile for Richard Smith > Reviews

Personal Profile

Content by Richard Smith
Top Reviewer Ranking: 6,051,918
Helpful Votes: 10

Learn more about Your Profile.

Reviews Written by
Richard Smith

Page: 1
Lectures on Physics: Complete Set v. 1-3
Lectures on Physics: Complete Set v. 1-3
by R.P. Feynman
Edition: Paperback

10 of 12 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Difficult to rate., 31 May 2008
I would prefer not to assign a rating for these books since the rating depends on how one wishes to use them.

As complementary material for an undergraduate degree course in physics I would give them a five. As text books, I would give them a 3, which is my rating here since I have used volume 3 as a text book for a quantum mechanics course. The way Feynman introduces quantum mechanics is very non-traditional though I can see some advantages towards introducing the concept of an amplitude as soon as possible. However, the lack of any accompanying questions and the paucity of mathematics makes this a rather weak text book. Furthermore, Feynman has an annoying habit of defining and then redefining the same quantity in the same chapter. To use it as a text book means the teacher has to do far more work (eg coming up with relevant questions and proofs) than should be necessary.

Furthermore, it is a hallmark of these books that Feynman strived to find new ways to present undergraduate physics. This is useful and admirable though does not necessarily lead to a better way of teaching physics. Teachers are typically "borrowers" - well I am anyway. If I encounter a good way of explaining a concept, I'll absorb it and use it in my teaching. Only some small parts of the Feynman lectures (Vol. 3) have found their way into more recent text books; this indicates that teachers don't find them pedagogically superior to existing material.

The near universal 5 star rating for these books puzzles me. I wonder how many reviewers would have given five stars if, when they encountered the books for the first time, the books were called "The John Smith Lectures on Physics".
Comment Comments (3) | Permalink | Most recent comment: May 22, 2010 7:42 AM BST

Page: 1