The Feynman Lectures on Gravitation are based on notes prepared during a course on gravitational physics that Richard Feynman taught at Caltech during the academic year For several years prior to these lectures, Feynman thought long and hard about the fundamental problems in gravitational physics, yet he published very little These lectures represent a useful record of his viewpoints and some of his insights into gravity and its application to cosmology, superstars, wormholes, and gravitational waves at that particular time The lectures also contain a number of fascinating digressions and asides on the foundations of physics and other issuesCharacteristically, Feynman took an untraditional non geometric approach to gravitation and general relativity based on the underlying quantum aspects of gravity Hence, these lectures contain a unique pedagogical account of the development of Einstein s general theory of relativity as the inevitable result of the demand for a self consistent theory of a massless spinfield the graviton coupled to the energy momentum tensor of matter This approach also demonstrates the intimate and fundamental connection between gauge invariance and the principle of equivalence

7 thoughts on “Feynman Lectures On Gravitation (Frontiers in Physics)

  1. Rory Coker Rory Coker says:

    In the late 1950s and early 1960s, Feynman s old research advisor John Archibald Wheeler encouraged Feynman to think deeply about quantizing gravity Wheeler and Feynman attended two international conferences on gravity and Feynman was famously totally disgusted by the quality of the talks he heard at the conferences In the 1962 3 academic year at Caltech, Feynman taught an advanced graduate course, basically summarizing the work he had done on quantizing gravity up to that date In retrospect, the course was taught at the worst possible time in the history of physics, because the entire field was about to explode, with the most major future events being the discovery in 1964 of the cosmic microwave background radiation, which ultimately converted cosmology into hard science instead of dreamy speculation, and after decades of success in applying Einstein s theory of gravity to astrophysical phenomena finally the direct observation in 2016 of gravitational radiation What s , Feynman s own research into gravity had piddled out frustratingly, as he began to fully comprehend the seemingly insuperable obstacles to quantizing gravity.Of the 27 lectures, only 16 are included in this collection published in 1995 Feynman clearly did not consider much of the material worthy of preservation The collection includes a long introduction by Caltech colleagues Preskill and Thorne, putting Feynman s work into perspective based on the state of the field in the early 1990s, while a preface by Brian Hatfield, the volume s editor, summarizes the efforts to quantize gravity as of the early 1990s.About 2 3 of the book involves Feynman imagining Venusian physicists who are experts on quantum field theory but have never heard of gravity When gravity is brought to their attention, they try to understand it in terms of quantum field theory, which of course Feynman is also trying to do In the remainder of the book Feynman shows that Einstein s classical equation for the gravitational field can be derived based on very general assumptions and basic symmetries of nature, and ends by showing how to include emission of gravitons in diagrams for various fundamental physical processes There are plentiful asides on various topics, including Wheeler s completely crackpot theory called geometrodynamics, Hermann Bondi s fruitless fascination with Mach s Principle, Fred Hoyle s nonsensical continuous creation cosmology, and similar topics current circa 1960 He also makes remarks on conceptual problems with quantum physics and thermodynamics.This is Feynman, after all, and even when he is discussing topics that lead nowhere, involve wrong assumptions, or played no further part in physics, we see Feynman s mind furiously at work His distinctive way of approaching problems is always on prominent display Although there is very little in this book that is of current interest and that little is far lucidly discussed in other, later books by other great men in the field this is still a book that will repay close study, just for what it reveals about Feynman the physicist, hard at work and thinking deeply.

  2. Andrew Andrew says:

    Liked especially the amplitude to emit gravitons, formula 16.3.4, page 214, and 16.3.5, page 214, the probability of emission of a graviton emission per disintegration.In these two examples, Feynman linked an allegedly abstract particle, the quantum graviton, with particle decay phenomenology This is the strength of this volume I.e very precise calculationsThe negative, if you can call it that, is that Feynman has in this book, no coverage of the CMBR I.e he COULD NOT POSSIBLY know of it The book, is dated, badly dated, in parts, while other calculations inter relate with amazingly contemporary issues.I.e., if one picks and chooses, many of the calculations are very contemporary in terms of what they say, albeit, that Feynman did ALL of this with NO knowledge of contemporary cosmology and Inflation.My gripe, is that some of the ideas are old hat, but others are still amazingly pertinent In all, considering the year, i.e this 50 year old reference is a gem.

  3. EliP EliP says:

    Great book if you want to see the inside thinking behind quantum gravitational field theories While the lectures are old, the editors make some up to date comments If you believe that either QLG or String theory are the only right way to QG, perhaps this book is not for you, however if you want to understand the possibilities and limitations of attempting a low energy QG, this is a great reference work.Just like other Feynman lectures, there is an underlining what if way of thinking and playful discussions of the possibilities.

  4. Michael Lowe Michael Lowe says:

    I heard some of these in real time long ago He was a truly great and timeless physicist We truly miss him and the fun being around him.Michael

  5. JJ Hawk JJ Hawk says:

    Great book, love Feynman

  6. Bart Stuck Bart Stuck says:

    outstanding but falls short of Feynman s best, and he knew it

  7. Customer Customer says:

    She particularly liked the gray lines on the pages suggesting to the reader just how likely they were to want to delve deeply into the book.