We have the electromagnetic force, the strong force, and it looks like there is a dark force too now! Mr. Michael Gottlieb, the publisher of the online edition of Feynman’s Lectures, is actively exploring it: I received yet another DMCA take-down notice for so-called unfair use of the material (see below) and, yes, this hassle has some history already, unfortunately—so it is bad news.
Now, it is true I do refer quite often to these lectures—but I do so because they are a commonly referenced textbook: one needs some kind of reference when referring to mainstream physics, isn’t it? In fact, I am amazed Mr. Gottlieb was able to claim copyright on a textbook that was published 57 years ago and whose author is long dead! I should also add that I started this blog on Feynman’s Lectures before Mr. Gottlieb’s online edition of it became online! Shame on him! However, it looks like he’s got the upper hand in this nasty game so I’ll just bow out and that will be it. I’ve got better things to do than fight some narcissist who thinks of a 1963 textbook as personal property!
The material Mr. Gottlieb objects to is in older posts mainly—but he has been scrutinizing more recent posts as well. The use of the diagram with the energy levels of electron orbitals in a lithium atom in my May, 2020 post, for example, is apparently not permitted—despite me mentioning the source of this diagram quite explicitly. In short, it looks like many of my posts on this blog will look quite mutilated soon. Worse, the host of this WordPress site (Automattic) may decide to take down my site altogether.
I know there are dark forces fighting freedom of expression and independent thought everywhere. I just hadn’t expected them to be present in science too. This is, effectively, a lot worse than just being told to ‘shut up and calculate’ or – more commonly – being referred to as a ‘crackpot’ theorist. I, therefore, actually do feel sad about it. Any case, if the site goes down, I would like to thank my readers here – especially those who are actually following each and every post – for their encouragement. It has been a good exercise, and I will continue to publish, of course, using other channels and references other than Feynman. Keep tracking independent research on viXra.org, academia.edu and ResearchGate.net.
I wish Mr. Gottlieb the best of luck: I can only hope he learns some real physics while continuing to scrutinize my posts. Just for the record, I would like to understand this correctly: Mr. Gottlieb put Feynman’s Lectures online – verbatim – but so he is not copying stuff. And so I am trying to do some creative stuff with it – not copying literally but effectively using some of Feynman’s material to provide a new perspective or make a point – and so it is me who is the offender here, right? That’s the situation, isn’t it? Or is my logic faulty here? We really do live in weird times. Weird but interesting, at least.
I have various working titles for a future book on physics, but ‘The Sorry State of Physics’ is still my favorite one. In fact, Oliver Consa is probably right when calling it plain rotten. And, yes, at this occasion, I’d like to recall my previous advice: do not buy Feynman’s Lectures, please. They are outdated and you can, therefore, not learn all that much from them. They have, unfortunately, become what Feynman did not want them to become: Cargo Cult Science, zealously guarded by a bunch of self-appointed Mystery Wallahs. Be well and happy, and please do keep thinking things through for yourself!
Jean Louis Van Belle, 18 June 2020
Jun 17, 2020, 10:17 PM UTC
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