Feynman’s “The Character of Physical Law”

Richard Feynman’s famous 1964 lecture series “The character of physical law“, is now available on the web curtesy of Bill Gates, who bought the rights.  For any of you who are uamiliar with Feynman, I would recommend watching the brilliant physicist and expositor at work.  There are seven lectures in total.  I watched the first, describing the law of grativation,  and the fifth on the distinction of past and future, where he gives a beautiful and clear explanation of entropy and the arrow of time.

Feynman also anticipates complexity theory in the fifth lecture.  He says that knowing the fundamental laws don’t help much in understanding complex phenomena like entropy.  There is a lot of analysis that must be done to get there.  He also talks about the hierachy of descriptions from the laws of elementary forces and particles all the way up to human concepts like beauty and hope.  He then says that he doesn’t believe either end of this spectrum or any of the steps in between are any more “closer to God”, i.e. more fundamental than any other.  He jokes that the people working on these very different fields should not have any animosity towards each other and that they’re all doing essentially the same thing, which is to try to relate the various levels of the hierarchy to each other.

5 thoughts on “Feynman’s “The Character of Physical Law”

  1. Now only if Bill Gates would allow the lectures to be used by a real operating system…


  2. I am using Ubuntu. The problem is that it uses Microsoft’s Silverlight program. The licensing of that program is more or less a disaster. There is a Linux version (Moonlight) but only a few Linux distributions are allowed to download it, and it has never worked on my machine.


  3. Same here. I saw a couple of the lectures on a Windows machine and I loved them. If only I could find a way to watch them on my Ubuntu.


  4. Promoting Silverlight thru’ Feynman… It might work thou :)

    These lectures are worth more than anything.. He teaches not just understanding physics or maths, but teaches understanding itself…


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