"Tivo-ifies the web" Paul Kedrosky

Full Richard Feynman Messenger Lecture Series

My hobby is Physics, specifically information theory. Not a popular pastime to have, perhaps, but my Dad is a physicist and the interest rubs off.

One thing I’ve learned is that to get simple explanations for things, counter to popular belief it’s better to get the view of the best physicists than the best communicators. Richard Feynman was both.

There are many Feynman clips around, but Bill Gates has spent significant time and some of his fortune tracking down rights for a famous series of 7 lectures by Feynman at Cornell University in 1964, called the Messenger lectures. They have been put up for free at the Microsoft Research Web site, as part of project Tuva, with full transcripts and interactive features.

The extras are thorough and useful for this type of subject matter, but the format is very like an old school interactive CD-ROM, where the interface re-invents the wheel and omits standard functionality such as the ability to embed.

[ BTW - these Microsoft Silverlight powered videos were almost impossible to watch for me, due to stopping and starting. Like the bad old days before Youtube used flash embeds and web based video suddenly seemed good enough. Silverlight is, in theory solid, so what's up here? Is it just me? ]

Watch them here.

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6 comments on “Full Richard Feynman Messenger Lecture Series

  1. Eamonn says:

    The Microsoft videos are completely unwatchable to me too … You can't even pause them and wait for them to download.. shame !

  2. Eunice says:

    The silverlight player is just crap, I have to stop and restart dozens of times to get it working without it interrupting the playback every second.

    And it took a while until I figured out you can jump anywhere and not only to the start of a chapter, but why on earth is the seek bar unavailable in "fullscreen" mode, which isn't even fullscreen at all?

    I also found countless other shortcomings of the tech, the biggest being that an interruption of the very very long precaching leaves you with a non-working site until you delete your browsers cache.

    Come on MS, these videos are really great and for sure get you MANY clicks, but in case you tried to popularize silverlight, get your technology right next time!

  3. ram daryanani says:

    Agree with the comments but let's not look at a gift horse in the mouth. A grudging thank you to Bill from my part.
    For those of you who enjoyed these clips, have a look at the series of 4 lectures given by Feynman in 2007 at the University of Auckland – NZ (http://vega.org.uk/video/subseries/8). Also freely available thanks to the Vega Science Trust.
    The briiliance of the man as a physicist and a public speaker is breathtaking. I cannot recollect any other scientist who could (or can) deliver a difficult subject and have you spellbound with no fancy powerpoint slides, but just chalk and whiteboard.

  4. ram daryanani says:

    A typo… the lectures were given in 1979, and not 2007.

  5. kurt6string says:

    They locked up my computer after awhile – 100% cpu usage, had to reset to recover. Seems a shame to make these available, and yet unavailable. Nice try, too bad it didn't work.

  6. Fletch says:

    There definitely seems to be some problem specifically with the way the tuva player is using silverlight. Just load up one of the videos and pause it, and CPU usage on my laptop sits at 75%. It's hogging the cpu displaying the same frame over and over or in some silverlight script infinite loop or something.

    I guess this is typical of Microsoft products recently. They give you a bunch of features that might have some cool benefit (transcript search, comments, etc), but somehow manage to totally fumble basic functionality. I wish they would just nail the basics before adding these extra features.

    So a big gigantic thanks to Bill Gates for making these videos public. At the same time, maybe just posting them on Youtube would have actually had a bigger philanthropic benefit.

    Dumb question — where's the index to all the videos. I only see the first 8 or so on the main page, but I thought the series of lectures was much longer. This is the sort of "fumbling the basics" I'm talking about. I'm not an idiot — but I cannot find the video index.

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