Critical Section

Feynman the thinker

Monday,  04/04/11  11:58 PM

Richard Feyman, the thinkerMy friend Bob emailed a link to this NYTimes book review: Richard Feynman, the Thinker.  It's a good review of what appears to be a good book, a noble addition to the overflowing shelves of books about the Nobel-prizewinning physicist.

Among other things he was an incredible lecturer, fitting that he's shown at right in 22 Gates, "the low temperature lab", a lecture hall in the sub-sub-basement of the physics building at Caltech.

Yeah, I did see a Feynman lecture while at CalTech.  By the time I got there he was “retired”, but occasionally came out to give talks.  I knew him slightly from before, he was a friend of my father’s, actually played bongo drums at my parents’ wedding :)  My dad was a postdoc at CalTech in the late 1950s, working for Linus Pauling.  Anyway when I was a freshman I remember one week the Physics I lecture was moved from the usual hall to a much larger one, and rumor spread that Feynman himself was giving a lecture.  Sure enough, on the day there were about 2,000 people in attendance besides my little class of 100, to hear him speak about Special Relativity, many of them senior administrators and faculty.  What can I say, he was great; to this day I remember it so well.  He spoke with a distinct New York accent, used a lot of slang, and was completely irreverent, yet he discussed the subject as only one who completely understands it can do, with simple analogies that led easily to "aha" moments.  He also kept referring to Albert [Einstein] and Murray [Gell-Mann], which was a little unsettling :)  I remember walking out of the hall dazed and amazed, sure I *finally* understood Special Relativity.  Of course two hours later I had lost it again, never to return.  Anyway that was cool.

I’ve read a number of biographies of Feynman, he was of course an amazing character beside being a brilliant physicist.  “Surely you must be joking, Mr. Feynman”, remains my favorite.  I'll have to check this one out.

this date in:
About Me

Greatest Hits
Correlation vs. Causality
The Tyranny of Email
Unnatural Selection
On Blame
Try, or Try Not
Books and Wine
Emergent Properties
God and Beauty
Moving Mount Fuji
The Nest
Rock 'n Roll
IQ and Populations
Are You a Bright?
Adding Value
The Joy of Craftsmanship
The Emperor's New Code
Toy Story
The Return of the King
Religion vs IQ
In the Wet
solving bongard problems
visiting Titan
unintelligent design
the nuclear option
estimating in meatspace
second gear
On the Persistence of Bad Design...
Texas chili cookoff
almost famous design and stochastic debugging
may I take your order?
universal healthcare
triple double
New Yorker covers
Death Rider! (da da dum)
how did I get here (Mt.Whitney)?
the Law of Significance
Holiday Inn
Daniel Jacoby's photographs
the first bird
Gödel Escher Bach: Birthday Cantatatata
Father's Day (in pictures)
your cat for my car
Jobsnotes of note
world population map
no joy in Baker
vote smart
exact nonsense
introducing eyesFinder
to space
where are the desktop apps?
still the first bird
electoral fail
progress ratches
2020 explained