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Caltech Makes Famed Physicist's 'Feynman Lectures' Available Online For Free

Richard P. Feynman dances with his wife Gweneth Howarth at the Nobel Ball in Stockholm in 1965. Feynman won the Nobel Prize in Physics that year. (Photo by Keystone/Getty Images)
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Caltech has made all three volumes of The Feynman Lectures On Physics, the celebrated textbook, available to read online for free.

The site was first launched in September of 2013, with only Volume I: Mainly mechanics, radiation, and heat at first. But now, as KPCC has pointed out, the other two volumes, Mainly electromagnetism and matter and Quantum mechanics have now been posted. The site is even optimized to look good on a mobile or tablet device. Get your learn on!

Richard P. Feynman, the Nobel laureate who was at Caltech from 1949 until the end of his life, is one of the most celebrated physicists and scientific minds of the 20th century. He would win the Nobel Prize in 1965 for his work in the field of quantum electrodynamics. Aside from his contributions to the world of physics, he also worked on the Manhattan Project and served on the commission that investigated the explosion of the Space Shuttle Challenger.

His personality and enthusiasm made him a beloved figure, which helped to make the world of physics more accessible to the general population. He was known to ensure that students understood the material he was teaching, which earned him the nickname "The Great Explainer."

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The Feynman Lectures are based on lectures Feynman gave to undergrads at Caltech from 1961 to 1963 in order to serve as an updated and streamlined introductory course to physics in light the major advancements being made in the field. Because he only gave the lectures once, they were recorded and first published in three volumes in 1964.

The textbooks have been printed in a dozen languages, and the English copies alone have sold over 1.5 million copies. Sections of the Lectures have been condensed into the books Six Easy Pieces and Six Not So Easy Pieces, and audio CDs released of all 103 hours of lectures that Feynman gave.

Here's a video of Feynman giving the first of his series of seven lectures about physics at Cornell in 1964. You can watch the other six over at io9. Although an academic lecture, it's a great document of what made him so engaging.

If you'd like something a little less heavy, here's a fun interview with him from 1981 touching on topics ranging from the beauty of the natural world to particle physics. It offers great insight into his enthusiasm.