The Character of Physical Law

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]

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


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 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".[5]


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

See also


  1. Feynman, Richard (1965). The Character of Physical Law. Modern Library. ISBN 978-0-679-60127-2.CS1 maint: ref=harv (link)
  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.
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