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Feynman's lost lecture : the motion of planets around the sun

Author: David L Goodstein; Judith R Goodstein
Publisher: New York : Norton, ©1996.
Edition/Format:   Print book : English : 1st edView all editions and formats
Database:WorldCat
Summary:
On March 13, 1964, Feynman delivered a lecture to the Caltech freshman class, "The Motion of Planets Around the Sun"why the planets move elliptically instead of in perfect circles. For reasons unknown, most probably for his own amusement, he chose to make the argument using mathematics no more advanced than high-school plane geometry. Isaac Newton had pulled off much the same trick nearly 300 years earlier in his
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Details

Named Person: Richard Phillips Feynman; Richard P Feynman
Document Type: Book
All Authors / Contributors: David L Goodstein; Judith R Goodstein
ISBN: 0393039188 9780393039184
OCLC Number: 33078849
Description: 191 pages : illustrations ; 22 cm + 1 audio disc (digital ; 4 3/4 in.)
Contents: 1. From Copernicus to Newton --
2. Feynman: A Reminiscence --
3. Feynman's Proof of the Law of Ellipses --
4. "The Motion of Planets Around the Sun" (March 13, 1964) --
Feynman's Lecture Notes.
Other Titles: Motion of planets around the sun
Responsibility: David L. Goodstein and Judith R. Goodstein.

Abstract:

On March 13, 1964, Feynman delivered a lecture to the Caltech freshman class, "The Motion of Planets Around the Sun"why the planets move elliptically instead of in perfect circles. For reasons unknown, most probably for his own amusement, he chose to make the argument using mathematics no more advanced than high-school plane geometry. Isaac Newton had pulled off much the same trick nearly 300 years earlier in his masterpiece, the Principia. Feynman, unable to follow Newton's obscure proof, invented his own original, geometrical proof in the Caltech lecture.

The subject of Feynman's lecture was the watershed discovery that separated the ancient world from the modern world - the culmination of the Scientific Revolution. Before Copernicus, Kepler, Galileo, and Newton, the universe was Earth-centered. After their discoveries, our idea of the universe steadily altered and expanded, moving outward to the infinity we try to understand in our own time. Thus Feynman deals here with a crowning achievement of the human mind, comparable to Beethoven's symphonies. Shakespeare's plays, or Michelangelo's Sistine Chapel. Feynman conclusively demonstrates the astonishing fact that has mystified and intrigued all deep thinkers since Newton's time: Nature obeys mathematics.

For thirty years this brilliant and seminal lecture lay dormant in the Caltech archives. Now, in this book, Feynman's lost lecture has been reconstructed and explained in meticulous detail together with a history of ideas of the planets' motions. Anyone who remembers high-school geometry can enjoy it and can profit from the compact disc that accompanies this book.

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