Sidney Coleman QFT Video Recordings


A very special thanks to theoreticalminimum for pointing out that Harvard has now put up streaming videos of Sidney Coleman’s 1975-1976 Quantum Field Theory lectures. The video quality is what one would expect from digitised VHS tapes from the 70s [1], but Coleman’s uniquely witty personality still shines through.

For completeness, one can watch the videos with Brian Hill’s handwritten notes which you can pick up at Dr. Tong’s QFT page. Further, Bryan Chen has transcribed the first eleven lectures in TeX format [2].

Most readers won’t need me to explain Coleman’s tremendous influence on theoretical physics. He is among the pantheon of all-time physics legends whose mark on the field is Feynman-esque. Besides being one of the truly great quantum field theorists, all of his lectures and review articles have all become must-read classics [3]. Along the way he has left us a trail of endearing `Coleman-stories‘ that will be part of physics lore forever.

Sadly, Professor Coleman passed away last November. I’d only known him through anecdotal accounts and his writing, but I still felt that the community had lost someone who thought about and loved physics in a way that made each of us love what we were doing. These video recordings help keep the memory of the memory of Coleman’s wit and charm alive. The timing with Easter is purely coincidental, though I’m sure Professor Coleman would have apprecaited it.

I should pass on a small anecdote. Professor Coleman was a notorious perfectionist and, as such, had reservations about making his QFT notes and videos available. I hope he will forgive us for preserving these priceless lectures for future generations.

Special thanks once again to Brian Hill, Bryan Chen, and those at Harvard who digitised the Coleman lectures.


[1] There was at least one lecture with very poor audio, but the rest seem to be perfectly fine. One can even read the chalkboard.

[2] Bryan mentions that TeX’ing up Feynman diagrams become prohibitive for the further lectures. Someone get a copy of Jaxodraw and help out! Let me also say that Bryan’s TeX’ing abilities are first class and I’m very impressed by the quality of his transcription.

[3] At the top of the list are Coleman’s Erice lectures, partially reproduced in the book Aspects of Symmetry. This book has survived the decades and is still a key reference in modern pedagogy on renormalisation, nonperturbative field theory, and the 1/N expansion.

5 Responses to “Sidney Coleman QFT Video Recordings”

  1. 1 Alejandro Rivero

    Remember it is forbidden to see any lecture of Coleman before 3 PM.

  2. 2 andy.s

    Jax’ing the Feynman diagrams sounds like a fun project.
    I’ll give it a try.

  3. 3 andy.s

    Crap. This is harder than it sounds – the video is so grainy I can’t see the diagrams.

  4. Ah — try using Brian Hill’s hand-written notes. 🙂

  1. 1 Coleman’s cult classic online! « High energy mayhem

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