Audio-Only Feynman Not So Fine, Man

feynman

I can’t say that I was surprised that an audio-only, college-level physics-course doesn’t work, but I was disappointed. I thought if anyone could pull it off, it would be Richard Feynman.

I listened to several lessons from Richard Feynman’s Lectures on Physics, but found the CDs a near-complete waste of time.  At least in the volume I listened-to (Volume Three:  From Crystal Structure To Magnetism) Feynman spends most of each class putting-up equations on a blackboard. All well and good for the few score people sitting in his classroom fifty years ago– but not so helpful for the thousands, perhaps millions, who hearing his lessons via the collection of recordings someone made of these lectures.

Feynman may have given some industrious person or group permission to record his lectures, but he in no way altered his lecture-style to accommodate his future, much larger, and audio-only audience.  

Feynman has a nice strong voice and clear diction (is that New York I hear in his accent?), and he is a far more enthusiastic lecturer than most science profs I’ve had the displeasure to listen to, but all that professorial talent is wasted in an audio course which is not only equation-heavy but has obviously been planned by the lecturer with a reliance upon visuals.

I only listened to three lectures, so there’s a chance I just happened to catch the three worst hours presented, but if the rest of the series is similarly produced, which I suspect it is, then I strongly recommended getting both your Physics and your Feynman –both pleasant enough activities when done correctly– in some other way than this series of recorded lectures.

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