The Feynman Lectures: Physics 2: Part 2B, Chapters 20-41: Electromagnetism and Matter.

Pasadena, CA: The California Institute of Technology, 1963.

Extremely rare pre-publication issue of a section of Feynman’s legendary lectures on physics, namely that devoted to electromagnetism, from Maxwell’s equations to the optical and magnetic properties of materials, and concluding with four lectures on elasticity and fluid flow. According to the curators of Caltech’s Feynman Lectures website (, this preliminary edition was produced by Caltech’s graphics department between the end of the 1962-1963 academic year and the beginning of the 1963-64 academic year. It is copyrighted 1963, one year before the first published edition of the Feynman lectures, produced by Addison-Wesley. No more than 300 copies of this pre-publication edition were printed. This section of the Feynman Lectures is a record of part of the second year’s lectures, which were given to the sophomore class during the 1962–1963 academic year (all Caltech sophomores were required to take the class, regardless of their majors). The printed lectures were not a verbatim transcript of what Feynman said, but were edited by Leighton and Sands. “We hoped to make the written version as clear an exposition as possible of the ideas on which the original lectures were based. For some of the lectures this could be done by making only minor adjustments of the wording in the original transcript. For others of the lectures a major reworking and rearrangement of the material was required. Sometimes we felt we should add some new material to improve the clarity or balance of the presentation. Throughout the process we benefitted from the continual help and advice of Professor Feynman” (Sands). “Feynman’s lectures are as powerful today as when first published, thanks to Feynman’s unique physics insights and pedagogy. They have been studied worldwide by novices and mature physicists alike; they have been translated into at least a dozen languages with more than 1.5 millions copies printed in the English language alone. Perhaps no other set of physics books has had such wide impact, for so long” (Kip Thorne). “Mark Kac, the eminent Polish-American mathematician, wrote: ‘In science, as well as in other fields of human endeavor, there are two kinds of geniuses: the ‘ordinary’ and the ‘magicians’. An ordinary genius is a fellow that you and I would be just as good as, if we were only many times better. There is no mystery as to how his mind works. Once we understand what he has done, we feel certain that we, too, could have done it. It is different with magicians … the working of their minds is for all intents and purposes incomprehensible … Richard Feynman [was] a magician of the highest caliber’” (Biographical Memoirs of Fellows of the Royal Society of London 48 (2002), p. 99). Widely regarded as the most brilliant, influential, and iconoclastic figure in theoretical physics in the post-World War II era, Feynman shared the Nobel Prize in Physics 1965 with Sin-Itiro Tomonaga and Julian Schwinger “for their fundamental work in quantum electrodynamics, with deep-ploughing consequences for the physics of elementary particles.” We are not aware of any other copy of this preliminary version of Feynman’s lectures having appeared on the market, and we have located no institutional holdings other than Caltech.

Matthew Sands joined the physics department at Caltech in 1950, at the same time as did Richard Feynman. They had known each other at Los Alamos and at Cornell, but at Caltech their acquaintance matured. In the 1950s, Sands served on the Commission on College Physics, which had been established to work on the improvement of physics teaching. “Until that time he had been teaching graduate courses and, with Feynman’s help, had restructured the graduate curriculum at Caltech. Stimulated by his work on the Commission on College Physics, he took a close look at the undergraduate physics curriculum at Caltech and didn’t like what he saw … in the first two years, when students took chemistry, physics, and engineering, no mention was made of atomic physics, quantum theory, and relativity … [Sands] felt very strongly that they should revise the undergraduate introductory courses in physics. At first, he got only a negative response from Robert Bacher, who was then head of the division of physics, mathematics, and astronomy [but Sands] ultimately convinced Bacher that it would be good to modernize the program … [Bacher] thought that Matt Sands himself was too radical, so he asked Robert Leighton, a quiet conservative, and Victor Neher – an old collaborator of Millikan’s and an excellent designer of pedagogical experiments – all three to work on revising the introductory physics curriculum …

‘About half way through the year [1960] I [Sands] became very frustrated because Leighton kept coming back with a very traditional outline, and we could not seem to converge on a solution which would meet my requirements and his. One day I had the brilliant inspiration of saying, “Look, why don’t we get Feynman to give the lectures and let him make the final decision on the contents?”’

“So Sand went to see Feynman at his house and said, ‘Look, Richard, you have spent forty years trying to understand physics. Now here is your chance to distil it down to the essence at the level of a freshman.’ Feynman thought about it and said, ‘Hmm! That might be interesting! But, you know, I have never taught freshman physics before.’ Sands had seen Feynman lecture in graduate courses and seminars and was convinced that his style and thought would be very good for what he had in mind. From their discussion, Feynman obtained a good feeling for what might be possible, ‘So he said he would think about it for a day or two and I saw him later on and he asked: “Do you know if there has ever been a great physicist who lectured on freshman physics?” I said, “I don’t know, but I don’t think so!” And he said, “I’ll do it!”” (Mehra, pp. 483-484).

Bacher initially opposed the idea, partly because Feynman had no experience of teaching freshman physics, and partly it would distract Feynman from his research. However, “Bacher was ultimately convinced. Leighton and Sands took their two outlines and handed them to Feynman. Feynman threw away their syllabus and said he would develop his own.

“In the fall of 1961, Feynman began to give two lectures per week, with demonstrations and the whole show. He gave 100 per cent of his time to the lectures. He worked from eight to sixteen hours per day on these lectures, thinking through his own outline and planning how each lecture fitted with the other parts. ‘I was worried about how things would fit together; I had all this in my head and I would map and plan out the individual lectures. I would come to the lecture with a small piece of paper with a few little notes on it. I wasn’t only worried about the content of each lecture, but also each lecture had to be self-contained, complete in itself. It had to be a dramatic production – which had a dramatic line, with an introduction, a development of the theme, and a denoument.’

“From the beginning, the lectures were recorded. It was planned that from the recordings transcripts would be made and notes would be prepared for the students … Sands and Leighton took it upon themselves to prepare the written notes of Feynman’s lectures … After every lecture, [they] would meet with Feynman, usually at lunch, to discuss the lecture and what would follow … ‘Most of the audience members felt during Feynman’s lectures that they were participating in something special. It was a beautiful performance in the sense that he had thought through not only the dramatic line but also where each thing he wrote on the blackboard would be. He would start in one corner of the blackboard and develop a little something there, which he would refer to later; so the blackboard would gradually become covered and at the end was also a dramatic piece. The entire evolution was remarkable. Of course Feynman’s physical performance as a showman was quite famous and he lived up to it. He would use gestures to illustrate a point. He spent a lot of time developing original demonstrations with the technician, Tom Harvey, and each demonstration would be gone over in advance. He did not want any “black boxes” or hidden apparatus, he wanted everything to be open and visible’ …

“’At the end of two years [1961-63] I felt that I had wasted two years, that I had done no research during this entire period and I was muttering to this effect. I remember Robert Walker saying to me: “Someday you will realize that what you did for physics in those two years is far more important than any research you could have done during the same period.” I said, “You’re crazy!” I don’t think he’s crazy now, I think he was right. The books [The Feynman Lectures on Physics] are popular, they are read by a lot of people, and when I read them over [I find] they’re good, they’re all right

“Matthew Sands was responsible for getting the printed versions out as quickly as possible for the students; usually within two or three weeks after the lecture a copy of the printed version would be made available to the students. Towards the middle of the second year they decided that the notes were sufficiently useful that they should be published in book form for the future students. Several publishing companies, who had heard of the lectures and knew about Feynman, were trying to convince the organizing team to publish them. ‘In the end, we picked a publisher [ASddison-Wesley] who said they could have copies of the book in the hands of the students six months later’” (ibid., pp. 484-488).

The offered work is a collection of the printed versions of the lectures offered to the students shortly after each lecture was given. It contains the following chapters:

Chapter 20. Solutions of Maxwell’s Equations in Free Space

Chapter 21. Solutions of Maxwell’s Equations with Currents and Charges

Chapter 22. AC Circuits

Chapter 23. Cavity Resonators

Chapter 24. Waveguides

Chapter 25. Electrodynamics in Relativistic Notation

Chapter 26. Lorentz Transformations of the Fields

Chapter 27. Field Energy and Field Momentum

Chapter 28. Electromagnetic Mass

Chapter 29. The Motion of Charges in Electric and Magnetic Fields

Chapter 30. The Internal Geometry of Crystals

Chapter 31. Tensors

Chapter 32. Refractive Index of Dense Materials

Chapter 33. Reflection from Surfaces

Chapter 34. The Magnetism of Matter

Chapter 35. Paramagnetism and Magnetic Resonance

Chapter 36. Ferromagnetism

Chapter 37. Magnetic Materials

Chapter 38. Elasticity

Chapter 39. Elastic Materials

Chapter 40. The Flow of Dry Water

Chapter 41. The Flow of Wet Water

“What makes these lectures timeless? Elementary physics has been taught to undergraduates for nearly a century with relatively little change. Over the past 50 years the subject has been even more static. Textbooks and introductory courses have largely targeted those planning to study medicine and engineers with a focus on formulaic problem-solving and exam preparation, rather than cultivating a wonder for nature and the development of physical intuition.

“Superficially, Feynman’s primer touches on the same topics that others do: mechanics, thermodynamics, optics, electricity and magnetism, and modern physics. Beneath this veneer of common cause, his introduction to elementary physics seems to have higher aspirations – the love of nature and a grasp of it through experimentation and reasoning. In Feynman’s hands, even a topic as mundane as projectile motion becomes the story of how Galileo and Newton unlocked the secrets of planetary motion. Feynman’s physics is about simplicity, beauty, unity and analogy, presented with enthusiasm and insight that bursts from the page …

“Mark Twain quipped that a classic is something that everybody wants to have read and nobody wants to read. Feynman’s classic breaks the mould … The book has a cult following among non-specialist readers as well. As Feynman writes in his epilogue to the series: ‘I most wanted to give you some appreciation of the wonderful world and the physicist’s way of looking at it ... it is even possible that you may want to join in the greatest adventure that the human mind has ever begun.’ It is because they serve as an expert and loving guide to this great adventure that The Feynman Lectures on Physics are as timely now as they have ever been” (Phillips).

Mehra, The Beat of a Different Drum, 1994. Phillips, ‘In retrospect: The Feynman Lectures on Physics,’ Nature 504 (2013), pp. 30-31).

4to (275 x 213 mm), reproduced typescript. Stapled into original blue printed wrappers with binding tape along spine (binding tape dried out with some pieces flaked away, covers with some light edge wear, lower corner and base of spine lightly bumped).

Item #5135

Price: $1,850.00