Six Easy Pieces By Richard Feynman

Richard P. Feynman was born in 1918 in Brooklyn; in 1942 he received his Ph.D. from Princeton. Already displaying his brilliance, Feynman played an important role in the development of the atomic bomb through his work in the Manhattan Project. In 1945 he became a physics teacher at Cornell University, and in 1950 he became a professor at the California Institute of Technology. He, along with Sin-Itero and Julian Schwinger, received the Nobel Prize in Physics in 1965 for his work in the field of quantum electrodynamics.
Another great achievement of Dr. Feynman’s was the creation of a mathematical theory that accounts for the phenomenon of super fluidity in liquid helium. Along with Murray Gell-Mann, Feynman did fundamental work with weak interactions like beta decay. Years later, Dr. Feynman was an important part of the development of quark theory by putting forward his parton model of high-energy proton collision processes. Furthermore, Dr. Feynman introduced new computational techniques and notations into physics, most importantly, the Feynman diagrams that perhaps more than any formality in recent scientific history, have altered how basic processes of physics are calculated and conceptualized.
Feynman was considered a superb teacher, and received many awards and honors, the one he admired most being the Oersted Medal for Teaching, which was awarded to him in 1972. Critics and fellow scientists around the world held many of his publications in high esteem, and his some of his works were written for the general public, so that all people might have an opportunity to grasp the basic concepts of physics. His more advanced writings have become important assets to researchers and students; some of his works have even made their way into textbooks.
Another of his most famous contributions is his work in the Challenger investigation when it crashed in 1986. His notorious demonstration of the O-rings to cold was during this research, an experiment that required no more than a glass of ice water. However, less known to the public was Feynman’s efforts on the California State Curriculum Committee in the 1960’s when he fought against the mediocrity of current textbooks. Sadly, Richard Feynman died on February 15, 1988, in Los Angeles.
Six Easy Pieces is a compilation of six of Dr. Feynman’s lectures all dealing with the easier aspects of physics. These lectures come from the famous Lectures on Physics that contains all of the lectures that Dr. Feynman used to teach his students at Caltech University. Feynman was different from most physics teachers of his time, he was a revolutionary; he taught an approach that was less mathematical and more theoretical, but many feel he makes it easier to learn the concepts. His diagrams, famous throughout the science world, detail his every word and give visual assistance to the struggling student.
As the book progresses from chapter to chapter, Feynman takes the reader deeper into the heart of physics, while still relating each concept to something that the general public will understand. His use of analogies and thorough explanation makes the material easier to comprehend. Still, the book is by no means easy reading; only through careful analysis and attentiveness was I able to grasp the messages that Feynman was attempting to convey. In the sixth chapter, “Quantum Behavior,” Feynman gives the reader a taste of his passion, as he expounds on the field with which he devoted much of his career to.
Obviously, Feynman wanted to use this novel to educate the minds of people who have some interest in the field of science. He wanted to give the reader a taste of what physics has to offer; he does not intend to teach the reader everything about physics, even he says that there is too much material to teach it all to a student in even four years of college. Still, there is more than enough information for the reader to gain a general idea of what can be learned through physics, Feynman is attempting to entice his readers to go out and learn more and not just stop with what this one book provides them.
Clearly stated in his introduction, Feynman says that these lectures are designed to, “Maintain the interest of the very enthusiastic and rather smart students coming out of the high schools and into Caltech.”