The Character of Physical Law is a series of seven lectures by physicist Richard Feynman concerning the nature of the laws of physics. Feynman delivered the lectures in 1964 at Cornell University, as part of the Messenger Lectures series. The BBC recorded the lectures, and published a book under the same title the following year;[1] Cornell published the BBC's recordings online in September 2015.[2] In 2017 MIT Press published, with a new foreword by Frank Wilczek, a paperback reprint of the 1965 book.[3]


The lectures covered the following topics:

The law of gravitation, an example of physical law
The relation of mathematics and physics
The great conservation principles
Symmetry in physical law
The distinction of past and future
Probability and uncertainty - the quantum mechanical view of nature
Seeking new laws


Critical reception has been positive.[4][5] The journal The Physics Teacher, in recommending it to both scientists and non-scientists alike, gave The Character of Physical Law a favorable review, writing that although the book was initially intended to supplement the recordings, it was "complete in itself and will appeal to a far wider audience".[6]

"In general we look for a new law by the following process. First we guess it. ...", – Feynman 1965, p. 156

See also

QED: The Strange Theory of Light and Matter
The Feynman Lectures on Physics


Feynman, Richard (1965). The Character of Physical Law. Modern Library. ISBN 978-0-679-60127-2.
"Richard Feynman Messenger Lectures (1964) - CornellCast". CornellCast. Retrieved 2015-12-26.
Richard Feynman (10 March 2017). The Character of Physical Law, with new foreword. MIT Press. ISBN 978-0-262-34173-8.
Narodny, Leo (1991). "Reviewed Work: The Character of Physical Law by Richard Feynman". Leonardo. 24 (4): 493. doi:10.2307/1575548. JSTOR 1575548.
Michalos, Alex C. (June 1967). "Reviewed Work: The Character of Physical Law by Richard Feynman". Philosophy of Science. 34 (2): 194. doi:10.1086/288144. JSTOR 186108.
Hutchisson, Elmer (1968). "BOOK AND FILM REVIEWS: The Character of Physical Law". The Physics Teacher. 6 (89): 89–90. Bibcode:1968PhTea...6...89F. doi:10.1119/1.2351260.

Physics Encyclopedia



Hellenica World - Scientific Library

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