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Customer Review

40 of 42 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Makes physics interesting, 1 Jan. 2010
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This review is from: Six Easy Pieces: Fundamentals of Physics Explained (Penguin Press Science) (Paperback)
Six Easy Pieces is a great place to start, not only for science students but also anyone else who skipped physics at school and wishes to get up to speed with what they missed. The explanations in this relatively modest-sized book are quite possibly the best I have read, and Feynman quickly demonstrates why he is so highly and widely regarded as one of the all time greats.

The six chapters are:

1) ATOMS IN MOTION
- an excellent overview of the structure and behaviour of atoms, this acts as a good taster for Feynman's down-to-earth approach in communicating facts and ideas with daily language and examples.

2) BASIC PHYSICS
- a good run-through of some of the most fundamental principles, both before and after the advent of quantum physics.

3) THE RELATION OF PHYSICS TO OTHER SCIENCES
- including chemistry, biology, astronomy, geology and even psychology. This might as well be described as a rapid-fire explanation of the whole world. Never again confuse your atomic nucleus with your cell nucleus.

4) CONSERVATION OF ENERGY
- the fundamental principle of how energy can change form. Probably the most difficult chapter for a novice, but a decent introduction nonetheless.

5) THE THEORY OF GRAVITATION
- charting the development of the theory of gravity, from Kepler through to Einstein. There's some mathematics here, but provided you pay attention, it's nothing to be scared of.

6) QUANTUM BEHAVIOR
- includes a retelling of the double-slit experiment of quantum mechanics - an explanation which, in my view, remains unmatched for its clarity.

These lectures were first delivered more than 45 years ago, and while many advances have since been made, what is here remains an outstanding introduction to the basic principles of physics.

Feynman's success lay in the way he could penetrate the mind of a student and pre-empt their questions at each stage of the process. His conversational tone and relaxed teaching style should not disguise the fact that his lectures here are logically structured and well thought-out.

Only a couple of minor gripes: the editors chose to retain references to chapters not in the book (no big deal - if nothing else it whets your appetite for more). And a few of the diagrams are so small that labels are barely legible.

Yes this is a short book, but quality not quantity is what you're getting here, and six chapters from one of the most brilliant physics teachers of our time is definitely worth the price. Enjoy.
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