The Character of Physical Law

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The Character of Physical Law
The Character of Physical Law.jpg
First edition
AuthorRichard Feynman
CountryUnited States
Published1965 (BBC)
Pages173 pp.
LC ClassQC71 .F44

The Character of Physical Law is a series of seven lectures by physicist Richard Feynman concerning the nature of the laws of physics. The lectures were delivered by Feynman in 1964 at Cornell University, as part of the Messenger Lectures series. The BBC recorded the seven lectures and published a book by the same name in 1965.[1] Cornell University published the BBC's recordings on a Cornell website in September 2015.[2]


The lectures covered the following topics:

  1. The law of gravitation, an example of physical law
  2. The relation of mathematics and physics
  3. The great conservation principles
  4. Symmetry in physical law
  5. The distinction of past and future
  6. Probability and uncertainty - the quantum mechanical view of nature
  7. Seeking new laws


Critical reception has been positive.[3][4] The Physics Teacher gave a favorable review for The Character of Physical Law, writing that although the book was initially intended to supplement the BBC recordings of the lectures, it was "complete in itself and will appeal to a far wider audience" and recommended it to scientists and non-scientists.[5]


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

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Feynman, Richard (1965). The Character of Physical Law. Modern Library. ISBN 0-679-60127-9.
  2. ^ "Richard Feynman Messenger Lectures (1964) - CornellCast". CornellCast. Retrieved 2015-12-26.
  3. ^ Narodny, Leo (1991). "Reviewed Work: The Character of Physical Law by Richard Feynman". Leonardo. 24 (4): 493. doi:10.2307/1575548. JSTOR 1575548.
  4. ^ 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.
  5. ^ 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. Retrieved 29 June 2015.

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