Richard Feynman’s Notebook: How He Taught Himself Calculus

Feynman's Notebook

Richard Feynman is one of the most renowned physicists of the 20th century. He received the Nobel Prize in Physics in 1965 and significantly contributed to developing quantum mechanics and particle physics. Feynman’s fascination with math started at an early age, and he was always looking for opportunities to learn more. In this blog post, I will take a closer look at Feynman’s notebook and how he taught himself calculus by reading Calculus for the Practical Man and taking meticulous notes.

Richard Feynmans Calculus Book
Feynman’s Calculus Notebook

In the early 1930s, calculus was not offered as a course in high school, and trigonometry was the highest level of math that was taught. James Edgar Thompson’s Practical Man series caught Feynman’s attention as he wanted to learn more about the subject. Calculus for the Practical Man was the book that caught his attention, and he started learning from it, taking notes meticulously as he went along.

Feynman found Algebra for the Practical Man easy but did not find trigonometry useful or interesting. However, calculus was different. He was fascinated by the subject and spent countless hours studying and trying to understand its concepts. The book was challenging, and Feynman had to spend much time thinking about each concept to ensure he fully grasped it.

Richard Feynman’s Notebook

The notebook Feynman used to take notes while learning calculus is currently displayed at the California Institute of Technology. Feynman’s notebook is a testament to Feynman’s dedication and hard work. The notes are precise and concise, demonstrating Feynman’s ability to understand and explain complex concepts in straightforward language.

Feynmans Calculus Book
Feynman’s Calculus Book

Feynman’s father was perplexed by the book and this surprised Feynman. It was the first time he realized he could understand something his father couldn’t. This realization opened up a whole new world of learning for Feynman. He continued to teach himself more advanced topics, and his love for physics and mathematics continued to grow.

Feynman Calculus Book
Feynman’s Notebook
Richard Feynman Calculus Book
Feynman’s Notebook

Richard Feynman’s dedication to learning and his ability to teach himself calculus amazed everyone around him. His approach to learning was unique, and it paved the way for his future success in physics. Feynman’s notebook gives us a glimpse into the mind of a genius determined to understand the complex subject of calculus. Feynman’s story inspires all those who wish to learn more and push beyond the boundaries of their knowledge.

You may also find these interesting:30 Best Math Books to Learn Advanced Mathematics for Self-LearnersThe Feynman Lectures on PhysicsThe Best 10+ Calculus Books for Self-Study: A Comprehensive Guide22 Best Physics Textbooks, According to a Harvard Ph.D. Student in Physics30+ Best Math Proof Books to Learn Mathematical Thinking
12 Beautiful Richard Feynman Books for Physics Enthusiasts Richard Feynman – Ode To A FlowerThe Beautiful Drawings of Richard FeynmanPaul Dirac’s PhD Thesis: the First Ever Written on Quantum MechanicsNewton’s College Notebook
Ali Kaya


Ali Kaya

This is Ali. Bespectacled and mustachioed father, math blogger, and soccer player. I also do consult for global math and science startups.

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