Even knowing Feynmans work this book is a revelation. I've listened to the lectures but not had the intro's before. I'm buying a second copy to give to a 12 year old. Chapter 1 could be quite a hook for youngsters who may then go on to read more. (Not understand much but still get something out of the great explanations of how the sciences fit together.)
I can't recommend this book highly enough. Every school child should be given a copy.
Feynman is often lauded as the greatest modern physicist - not just for his work, but for his ability to communicate. This book proves that fantastically.
These lectures are easy. Anyone who has done GCSE Physics will find themselves recovering familiar territory in the first chapter, but rest assured it does get a lot more interesting. Once comfortable subjects such as potential energies and moments are covered, the world of quantum mechanics is entered, and frankly the book is worth 5 stars just for the last chapter. Quite simply, despite having read many popular physics books, I have never seen such a comprehensible yet in-depth introduction into QM, no complex differentials required.
Six Easy Pieces is a extraordinary introduction to physics and, as Paul Davies opines in his opening remarks (p.xi), an even more extraordinary introduction to Richard Feynman: how one envies those fortunate enough to have experienced Feynman's lectures first-hand! Indeed, these opening chapters of his Caltech Lectures leave no doubt that he was as gifted a teacher as he was a scientist and it is a rare talent that creates text that is as joyous and illuminating as this.
The six topics covered in this first book represent the fundamental building blocks of physics (atomic nature of matter, historical perspective, relative perspective, conservation of energy, gravity, and quantum behaviour) and no previous scientific education is required to follow the arguments advanced. Nonetheless, the later subjects (conservation of energy, gravity, and quantum behaviour) do rely on some mathematical lines of reasoning and, for those not versed in such concepts, perseverance may be required to grasp these proofs: nonetheless, time and patience should be all that is required and Feynman's more unconventional illustrations throughout the book more than compensate for the effort.
Ultimately, the wonder of this book is that it not only delivers a peerless introduction to physics but that it also reveals its author to be a man who was deeply intimate with his subject and someone who brought unparalleled clarity to complex and counter-intuitive ideas.
For a non-physics trained soul this book is brilliant; if you could only choose one man to read in this world this would be it. The way he explains the basics is the very best, with humour and care for his subject, he was the topdog and still is!
Whilst it is called Six "Easy" Pieces, it does go into a fair bit of detail in explaining the various topics, however it is written on the basis that the reader has no understanding of Physics. As such it is understandable if you have little or no physics knowledge!
Feynman also manages to bring some personality into the topics discussed and his passion for the topics really shines through!
In summary if you are looking to refresh your knowledge of things you learnt in school, or perhaps trying to improve your knowledge so you can discuss Physics with your friends or children if they are studying it in school then this book is a good place to start..