Book Review: Six Easy Pieces by Richard Feynman

Title: Six Easy Pieces: Essentials of Physics

Author: Richard Feynman

Genre: Nonfiction, Science, Physics

Publisher: Bascic Books

Published: 1995

Page Amount: 138 pages

Goodreads Summary: Six Easy Pieces: Essentials of Physics Explained by Its Most Brilliant Teacher is a publishing first. This set couples a book containing the six easiest chapters from Richard P. Feynman’s landmark work, Lectures on Physics—specifically designed for the general, non-scientist reader—with the actual recordings of the late, great physicist delivering the lectures on which the chapters are based. Nobel Laureate Feynman gave these lectures just once, to a group of Caltech undergraduates in 1961 and 1962, and these newly released recordings allow you to experience one of the Twentieth Century’s greatest minds—as if you were right there in the classroom.

Why Read: I love physics. I honestly really truly adore learning about physics. The small caveat is that I’m absolutely horrid at it. Learning about how the universe works (not really why, as Feynman points out) is something that I am not particularly gifted in. But nonetheless, I love reading about it.

Review: I picked up Six Easy Pieces an age ago. I thought that it would be a great book for me because as previously mentioned, I’m not good at the subject. The basics are most definitely something that I could use a hand in. Everyone has heard of Feynman’s lectures, they’re practically famous and so reading the first six “easy” pieces felt like something doable.

Let me disabuse you of that notion. Much as I enjoyed reading this book, I didn’t find it doable or easy to comprehend. The first couple chapters are okay, when you learn about gravity and about the magnetic pulls between atoms and planets – but then… then comes the quantum mechanics. Then comes the simple act that physic researchers are just trying to figure out “how” things work, rather than “why.”

Before reading this book, I hadn’t considered that physics as a science is a bit of a test of experimentation. On one hand, we learn new rules by experimenting and assume they are true until something goes horribly wrong. On the other one, however, we just exist in a state of chaos – never truly knowing about why rules are the way they are.

Talk about frustrating.

I admit that in reading this book, I was frustrated. I wanted to know about why certain particles acted in the ways they did and… the answers weren’t provided to me. Granted, no scientist has the answer so I shouldn’t expect a “Physics for Dummies” book to help me. Still.

It’s a fascinating read, and it’s not particularly easy. But give it a whirl, and you will be proud of yourself.

Rating: 4/5 Stars

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