I got an email from one of the group’s graduate students today*, pointing to an archive of videos of lectures by the great Sidney Coleman. He’s doing quantum field theory. This makes this a marvelous resource, in principle, and so I thought I’d share them with you. They are here.
I wonder: are these the lectures that Jacques Distler has mentioned attending a few times in the past on his blog? This was the 1975-1976 year, a graduate course. I wonder if anyone (else) I know was in that class room…
[Update: I learned from the discussion over on Jonathan Shock's site that there are some partial lecture notes from the course here, by Bryan Gin-ge Chen, based on notes by Brian Hill. He's looking for help on completing the project, so get in touch if you want to help out.]
I’ve never seen Coleman in action before, and so I was immediately rather curious, largely because I’m a fan of his wonderful “Aspects of Symmetry” book of lectures (that every theoretical High Energy Physicist should study and own at some point) and so was curious to know if the brilliant, humour-filled person with the twinkle in his eye I’d created in my head from reading those lectures matches the person in the videos. I also have a soft spot for watching videos of learned people in the 70s giving lectures. I think that this follows from my spending a good amount of my middle to late teenage years learning and enriching my mathematics (and a little physics, but mostly mathematics) by watching late night and early morning Open University lectures on television on the BBC (it allowed me to explore a bit more than the material I was getting at school, at the time). (You know… dreadful haircuts and suits, huge beards, wide lapels… oh yeah.)
Anyway, so I clicked at random on lecture 28, and watched for a while to get a sense of things. Yes, it was the same person. Wonderful. The quality is not good enough here to read the board, but I think that a lot might be picked up by just listening carefully in sequence.
In this one, he was making arrangements to move the class a bit earlier for some logistical reason or other, and he was fiddling with what I thought was a box of chalk. Then he’s about to start so he takes out one of the long white sticks from the box and… puts it into his mouth… then he produces a match book… (I’m still confused as to why he’s put the chalk into his mouth, and the matches don’t help me)… then he lights a match and proceeds to light the… Oh! it’s a cigarette! Good Lord. He turns and begins the lecture, cigarette in one hand, chalk in the other.
Ah, the 70s…
Some Related Asymptotia Posts (not exhaustive):