Quantum electrodynamics (QED) was the subject of “QED – The Strange Theory of Light and Matter,” the popular book by Richard Feynman which was first published by Princeton University Press in 1985. Feynman makes passing references to the fact that the book is based on a series of general lectures on QED which were first delivered in New Zealand.
Feynman had doubts about the accessibility of the lectures on QED to a general audience, and chose not to initially deliver these lectures at his native Caltech. Rather he chose remote New Zealand as his testing ground and in the process, gave the New Zealand physics community the dubious honor of being the guinea-pigs for his QED lectures.
At Auckland University, these lectures were delivered in 1979, as the Sir Douglas Robb Lectures. Although the published version of “QED – The Strange Theory of Light and Matter” is an excellent self-contained description of the subject, watching an unedited Feynman delivering the lectures reveals his style and enthusiasm for his subject in a way which is impossible in a printed medium. Direct quotations from the lectures provide fascinating additional insight both into the material of QED itself and into Feynman’s character.