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Publisher's Summary

In these Messenger Lectures, originally delivered at Cornell University and recorded for television by the BBC, Richard Feynman offers an overview of selected physical laws and gathers their common features into one broad principle of invariance. He maintains at the outset that the importance of a physical law is not "how clever we are to have foundit out but…how clever nature is to pay attention to it" and steers his discussions toward a final exposition of the elegance and simplicity of all scientific laws. Rather than an essay on the most significant achievements in modern science, The Character of Physical Lawis a statement of what is most remarkable in nature. Feynman’s enlightened approach, his wit, and his enthusiasm make this a memorable exposition of the scientist’s craft. The law of gravitation is the author’s principal example. Relating the details of its discovery and stressing its mathematical character, he uses it to demonstrate the essential interaction of mathematics and physics. He views mathematics as the key to any system of scientific laws, suggesting that if it were possible to fill out the structure of scientific theory completely, the result would be an integrated set of mathematical axioms. The principles of conservation, symmetry, and time irreversibility are then considered in relation to developments in classical and modern physics, and in his final lecture, Feynman develops his own analysis of the process and future of scientific discovery.

Like any set of oral reflections, The Character of Physical Law has special value as a demonstration of the mind in action. The reader is particularly lucky in Richard Feynman - one of the most eminent and imaginative modern physicists.

©1965 Richard Feynman (P)2013 Blackstone Audio

What listeners say about The Character of Physical Law

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Better read than listened to

Bought the audio book to renew my love of this great book. Because of the math , however, it should be read.

9 people found this helpful

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Recommended for the Feynman fan.

Feynman was one of the best lecturers in recent history. This lecture is an engaging and intellectually stimulating talk about how science is done, the relationship between science and math, and intriguing ideas from modern physics.

While the narrator is excellent (even his accent is reminiscent of Feynmans), this audiobook is not as engaging as a video recording (such recordings exist). It also lacks the occasional visual figures, but these problems do not detract from the overall quality.

I wouldn't recommend it as your first Feynman book ("Surely You Must Be Joking Mr Feynman" has that laurel), but I would recommend it if you wished his biographies talked more about physics.

6 people found this helpful

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Not a Physicist.

Well explained ideas about physics which demistify the process without being condescending. The role that guesswork plays in conjunction with experimentation, approximations, and limitations on conclusions as well as broader application on a universal scale of reliability testing are all points well made. Almost makes me think physicists are just souped up garage inventor wannabes.

4 people found this helpful

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A nice set of his Stanford lectures.

It’s like the classic Stanford 1965 lectures now available on video. He was a brilliant scientist and a brilliant teacher. Time well spent.

4 people found this helpful

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Not my favourite narrator

I don't enjoy Sean Runnette's voice.

Overall this was pretty good. Some of it was hard to track with, which is I think the nature of the material. Feynman is a bit too common-sensey sometimes, but we need some of those people in physics.

3 people found this helpful

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Brilliantly said

He raises the best questions man could pose in 1965
He is very unkind to philosophers!
Last 3 chapters are mind stretching & a bit stressing!
I feel alive and potent! In the sense Fromm put it.

1 person found this helpful

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Excellent lecture

Another great lecture by Richard Feynman. Unfortunately some chapter make heavy use of figures which are unavailable as an audiobook. Chapter 6 explains de double slit experiment in all it's glory, which made it all worthwhile for me.
Excellent reading performance with a clear and calm voice.

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I love Sean Runnette’s voice and Feynman writing.

It’s like data from Star Trek wrote a book and read it to us. I love it! He speaks plainly and states everything so well anyone could get into the book and learn a lot.

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great book, well read

This is one of my favorite books by Richard Feynman. It is a great narrative, easy to understand and the readers voice and inflections are perfect.

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fresh discussion on scope/contours of physical law

clear general discussion of physical laws, their development, their interrelations, their connection to the world, their utility and limitations. thoroughly enjoyable

1 person found this helpful

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  • Brian Ardill
  • 04-20-20

Excellent. Feynman has a real art in explaining.

Feynman is great in making difficult concepts understandable to the layman without trivialising them.

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  • Anonymous User
  • 09-13-21

typical Feynmen

a beautifully elegant outlook on our reality with typical bluntness. Not once dies the author beat around the bush regarding his views on superstition and the fundamental facts of nature.

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  • Amazon Customer
  • 09-12-21

interesting but quite hard to grasp

I enjoy these sorts of books an Richard Feynman's in particular. I did find that as a layman this was hard to follow without the diagrams and probably would have been over my head even with them.

with that being said it did act as a lense to view things that I had encountered before in a different light and weight. I'd recommend giving it a go on the audible plus catalogue for sure.

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  • LC
  • 08-23-21

Very enjoyable and educational

I really enjoyed this one, as with other Feynman books. Although I was already familiar with most of the physics being described, the way it was described in relation to ways of thinking about physical laws and finding new ones helped expand my thinking.

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  • Delcos
  • 07-03-20

Cant see images

The book story is good but it contains images that I can't see with the audiobook