"Glorious."—Wall Street Journal
Rescued from obscurity, Feynman's Lost Lecture is a blessing for all Feynman followers. Most know Richard Feynman for the hilarious anecdotes and exploits in his best-selling books "Surely You're Joking, Mr. Feynman!" and "What Do You Care What Other People Think?" But not always obvious in those stories was his brilliance as a pure scientist—one of the century's greatest physicists. With this book and CD, we hear the voice of the great Feynman in all his ingenuity, insight, and acumen for argument. This breathtaking lecture—"The Motion of the Planets Around the Sun"—uses nothing more advanced than high-school geometry to explain why the planets orbit the sun elliptically rather than in perfect circles, and conclusively demonstrates the astonishing fact that has mystified and intrigued thinkers since Newton: Nature obeys mathematics. David and Judith Goodstein give us a beautifully written short memoir of life with Feynman, provide meticulous commentary on the lecture itself, and relate the exciting story of their effort to chase down one of Feynman's most original and scintillating lectures.
Isaac Newton, in his Principia Mathematica (1687), proved Johannes Kepler's law explaining why planets travel in elliptical orbits around the Sun. In 1964, theoretical physicist Richard Feynman, the bestselling author and Nobel Prize winner, set forth his own proof of Kepler's law, using only plane geometry. Feynman's difficult proof, presented in an introductory lecture to Caltech undergraduates, never made it into the classic multivolume Feynman Lectures on Physics, published between 1963 and 1965, but California Institute of Technology archivist Judith Goodstein unearthed the transcript of Feynman's 1964 lecture, published here along with explanatory commentary and historical background, plus 25 photographs and 150 diagrams. Caltech physics professor David Goodstein, Feynman's friend and colleague until the latter's death in 1988, provides a warm reminiscence and does a good job of explaining how quantum physics and relativity supplanted Newtonian science.