The Feynman Lectures on Physics (HTML)

Education — September 16, 2013

Volume 1 of The Feynman Lectures on Physics is finally available in digital form, and in a format that doesn’t suck! (I hate PDF). If you’ve ever wanted to learn or relearn physics, nothing is better.

The special problem we tried to get at with these lectures was to maintain the interest of the very enthusiastic and rather smart students coming out of the high schools and into Caltech. They have heard a lot about how interesting and exciting physics is—the theory of relativity, quantum mechanics, and other modern ideas. By the end of two years of our previous course, many would be very discouraged because there were really very few grand, new, modern ideas presented to them. They were made to study inclined planes, electrostatics, and so forth, and after two years it was quite stultifying. The problem was whether or not we could make a course which would save the more advanced and excited student by maintaining his enthusiasm.

Disassembly

Education — October 24, 2010

In my desperate attempt to understand the interworkings of the mechanical watch, I enrolled in a online course and purchased a watchmaker’s tool set with a ETA 2801 movement.

Level 1 consists of disassembly. After about two full days of squinting behind a loupe, and feebly handing tweezers, I finished:

Only managed to break one part – the lower Incabloc spring for shock absorption. (My hair is probably thicker than that little guy.) I’ve ordered five more of these springs, and will move on to assembly once they arrive.

Mechanical watches are so intricate and beautiful. Just looking at the gears move makes me feel like I’m witnessing the creation of time itself.

The First Thread.

Education — December 3, 2006

I honestly don’t have this planned out…I just have a simple idea to get started. Think of this place as a somewhat controlled environment. A comment starts a single thread. The topic of another thread will then be started from a comment within an existing thread. It’s the idea of collecting a group consciousness on a given topic. An attempt to create an endless well of inspiration — based on ideas, principles, philosophies, and even anomalies.

Here’s the first comment. From one of my heros, Peter Drucker:

Technology, however important and however visible, will not be the most important feature of the transformation in education. Most important will be rethinking the role and function of schooling. It’s focus, its purpose, its values. The technology will still be significant, but primarily because it should force us to do new things rather than because it will enable us to do old things better.

I’ve started a project called Openmoko. I like to describe Openmoko as a movement to create a open platform that empowers people to personalize their phone, much like a computer, in any way they see fit.

One of my long term dreams is to help provide tools that will transform the way people learn. I am a self-proclaimed technologist. Since the mobile phone is the single piece of technology that I will carry whenever I go, naturally, this seemed to be the best place for me to start.

We chose to make the entire software stack open. From a control standpoint — the things corporations love — this borders on insanity. But I think by pushing these borders, we will let loose the possibility for immense innovation.

Innovation, in my opinion, is seldom found within the endless cubicles of a large corporation. Most commonly it manifests itself within the intense focus and concentration, that all individuals seem to have access to, when they stare at a single problem long enough.

Staying with a problem long after most would quit, is a luxury few companies can afford. Instead, I want to focus on the fundamentals — the framework — to use a more specific term. The include the following parts:

  • UI — Common look & feel for end users
  • Data — Common storage model for applications
  • Libraries — Common platform for developers

We believe that these are some of the key areas to solidify for innovation to form. And that this will benefit not just my company (FIC), but everyone who uses a mobile phone.

So here’s my question for you all. What can do we do — as a corporation and as a community — to help build better tools for learning? Or to use Drucker’s words again, how will an open source mobile phone, “force us to do new things”?. How can it help us all rethink “the role and function of schooling”?

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