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on 29 August 2001
Consisting of six chapters drawn from his legendary "Lectures on Physics", this is probably one of the best and most exhilarating introductions availiable on the theory of relativity for both laymen and students alike. By reading this book one can really appreciate Feynman's inimitable lucid and humourous writing style, while at the same time gain an accurate and comprehensive understanding of the basic fundamentals of both special and general relativity. The book also discusses the important concept of symmetry in physical laws. It has wonderful analogies that explain difficult ideas, and some mathematical equations for those who want to go one step further from just knowing the theory qualitatively (Though people who are not so sure of mathematics can also skip these without missing any descriptive content). This is a truly great book, something that everyone with an interest in modern physics should possess and enjoy.
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on 9 September 2009
I had long heard of Feynman's great ability at science communication, and reading this book, it's not hard to see why: under one cover, he weaves together fairly complex ideas concerning vectors, special and general relativity in such a simple, yet nonetheless scientifically accurate way that you find yourself saying "Aah, I see; that makes sense." His style is unlike any other communicator of science I've ever come across: he presents ideas in a simple, straight-forward, context, and it all flows very well form one chapter to the next, yet he doesn't loose any scientific accuracy in the process; moreover, he enhances your knowledge of physics, adding fresh new insights and connections which you'd never realised before. Too many scientific journalists these days get so obsessed with making topics seem as simple as possible, they loose their true essence; Feynman's insights are like a breath of fresh air.
As far as the background of the reader is concerned, I'd reccomend the reader to have a maths and physics education up to about A level/IB standard, if they really want to appreciate from Feynman's fresh new insights: though he does build everything more-or-less from scratch, basic knowledge about calculus and physics equations are assummed. Furthermore, I can imagine the more general reader getting a bit bored with this book.
Overall, a great read if you're interested gaining a fairly detailed understanding of basic relativity.
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I first encountered this series of books, written by Richard P Feynman, in my local book retailer and I was surprised at their size. Despite the nature of their subject, they are barely a couple hundred pages in length. Usually scientific books are much thicker volumes. But when one realises these books were written from notes derived for student presentations by Feynman, then size doesn't really matter. I am more inclined to purchase a 'thin' book than a 'thick' book because apart from being cheaper to buy and easier to carry, it should be an easier book to read. Doubtless, size is a marketing ploy but it means these books are affordable to a great many more people.

The information these books contain, often illustrated by original drawings by the author, help to convey some quite complex theories. These theories maybe right or they maybe wrong but they serve to illustrate the thoughts of a 'genius' whom many professionals believe rivalled Einstein in terms of his vision of how the universe works. Feynman was a controversial, colourful, some say eccentric theoretical physicist who cared little for convention and left an indelible mark in understanding science.

I purchased 3 books in this series and I purchased 3 more for a friend's birthday. Doubtless I will purchase other books in the same series when I have time to read them.
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on 14 March 2010
I regret to say that Feynman's fabled genius in explaining Physics did not come across in this book. Although the book explained relativity I felt it relied too heavily upon maths to do so and consequently, left me thinking hard to understand at times.

Still, if your willing to put in a little effort to overcome the difficult maths, (or simply overlook it which would make the text disappointingly short), the book is rewarding.
Furthermore, at times Feynman misses mathematical steps which are tricky to fill in yourself depending on your level of mathematical undertsanding.

In conclusion, Six Not So Easy Peices is a good book for those already familiar with relativity and fluent in maths, but is certainly a 'not so easy' read and requires a great deal of concentration if it is to be fully understood.

Additional Info: I am a Y13 Physics and Maths student so this review is from a Y13 perspective.
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on 10 July 2010
You either like or you don't like Richard Feynman. To say he makes difficult things easy I think is only true for some students but most will be left confused. As was the case also during his teaching career at CalTech.

This book, as well as the companion "Six easy pieces" are almost verbatim copies of chapters taken from the first volume of the three part set "Feynman Lectures on Physics". You may want to consider to buy that book instead of paying about as much for these two paperbacks and only get 1/4 of the text.

Feynman is an excellent physicist. He's a great teacher for those that have a knack for physics. HE's not so good for all other mortals.
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on 27 September 2005
I liked this book a lot but found the chapter on symmetry was too long and at times uninteresting.The chapters on Einstein's General Theory of Relativity are the best I've read from the point of view of a layman.The word layman has been used in other reviews of this book but I think I should point out as a professional physicist that the term "layman" in the context of
Feynman's discussions means someone who is adept at mathematics at least up to A level standard.A great read but not for the feint-hearted.
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VINE VOICEon 29 May 2005
The title of the book gives away the contents. I bought the CD because I have an hour commute to work and don't want to waste time on traffic reports. This was a big mistake for this book unless you have extraordinary powers of visualization. The descriptions are quite clear; however it is like following a map of Europe in your mind and never seeing the original map. The book is quite clear and after reading it you say "Now why did I not think of that?"
After reading the book (that comes packaged with the CD's) the CD's quit helpful in pronouncing words and you can then remember the diagrams you saw. They add a demotion to this collection that is worth the cost; yet, the CD's can not substitute for the book.
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on 1 January 2014
A thought provoking book which will challenge all the those well versed in physics. Unfortunately I am not one of those but I enjoy being stretched a little and doing the research needed to understand the thihgs described.
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on 2 October 2014
They are not so easy and you must have a much greater intelligence than mine to understand them!
Best for the Physicists of the world.
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on 10 January 2011
I had heard much about Richard Feynman's legendary teaching ability. The introduction, and "special preface" in this book fuel the hype. Feynman's own preface is humble and folksy. The anticipation builds. Then the physics begins...

I was disappointed. Maybe Feynman was groundbreaking in the 1960s, but his style and analogies are now widely copied and he is no longer original. The second problem is that these are not normal books, but lectures presented by Feynman (orally, with time constraints) in the 1960s, that have been posthumously published in book format.

This is not a bad introduction to Relativity and quantum physics, but it is not the best account that I have ever read. Were it not for the hype, I might have had a more favourable impression, although, without the hype, it's unlikely that I would have chosen a 40 year old introduction to Relativity.

If you want to learn about Relativity, then you will need to read a few different accounts anyway. No reason why this shouldn't be one of the first.
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