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Book review

The Character of Physical Law

Rating: 2 star (!)

This was a tough review for me: I mean, Richard Feynman?! The man is a god, really, plus the whole Nobel Prize thing, who am I to criticise? Unfortunately I think this book is showing its age, especially in the writing style. It’s more or less a transcription of Feynman speaking his lectures, as captured by the BBC in the 1960s, and unfortunately that doesn’t translate terribly well into a writing style.

It’s also starting a bunch of physics from (nearly) the beginning, which means that for me, it didn’t tell me anything terribly new.

On the other hand, it does give a very different perspective on things like Newton’s theory of gravity, which you might not see in many other places. I enjoyed also his complete transparency about how physics, and science in general, is done: you make bold predictions about things in completely new spaces, you test them out, then if they fail you guess at the form of new laws that might explain them. And he’s quite clear about the guessing part: great scientists are great guessers. Which makes Prof. Feynman a guesser of interstellar proportions, I think. A true polymath genius, that man. So I feel bad about the 2 stars, but I’m reviewing the book, not the man!

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