Richard Feynman

Richard Feynman: The Sharpest Thinker since Albert Einstein

Richard Feynman was born in New York City in 1918 and died of cancer in Los Angeles in 1988.  Legendary teacher who spent 30 years in Caltech, he was anything but stereotypical scientist. His highly original approach in physics won him a Nobel Prize in 1965. Family man, an adventurer and the mastermind of quantum electrodynamics, Richard Feynman became one of the best-known scientists of all times.

About the Importance of a Father in the Life of Richard Feynman

Richard Feynman had enjoyed a wonderful relationship with his father: “We had Encyclopedia Britannica at home, and even as I was a small boy my father would seat me on his lap and read to me from the Encyclopedia”. When asked why the ball in the children’s wagon rolls to the back of the wagon, when the wagon is pushed forward, his father answered: “that nobody knows; the general principle is: the things that are moving try to keep on moving, and thing that are standing still tend to stand still unless you push on them hard. This tendency is called inertia, but nobody knows why it’s true”.

He Enjoyed Finding Things Out

Talking little bit about everything meant a great deal of depth for Richard Feynman. Being a man of unordinary intellect and disruptive thinking, this gifted scientist simply was not capable of “talking about nothing”.

Richard Feynman’s No Second Guess Opinion about Scientific Methods

His phenomenal sense of humor made lectures a breeze and a pleasure: “Today we are going to discuss how we would look for a new law. In general, we look for new law by the following courses:  First, we get it (Laughter). Then we compute the consequences of a guess to see what if this is right, what it will imply. Then we compare these computation results to nature; or we say: we compare the results to the experiment; compare directly with observations to see if it works. If it disagrees with experiment – it’s wrong. And that simple statement is the key of science! It does not make a difference how beautiful your guess is, it does not make a difference how smart you are, or what his name is (laughter). If your guess disagrees with the experiment - it’s wrong!”

On Pseudoscience and Shortcuts in Science

“Because of the success of science, there is a kind of a pseudoscience – social science is an example, which is not a science: they don’t do it in a scientific way. They follow the forms: you do so and so, and so forth, you gather data; but they don’t get any laws, at least they have not found anything. They have not gone anywhere… yet! Maybe someday they will. You get experts on everything; sounds like they are so scientific. They sit in the front of keyboard and type something like: food grown with a fertilizer that is organic is better for you, than food grown with fertilizer that is inorganic. ..Maybe true, may not be true, but it has not been demonstrated one way or another.”

Richard Feynman on Algebra and Modern School Program

“They have invented a set of rules that if you follow them without thinking, could produce the answer… series of steps through which you can get the answers if you don’t know what you are trying to do.”

Seeker and Believer

“If you expect science to give you answers: what the meaning of the universe is, and so on, and so on, you can easily become disillusioned, looking for some mystic answer. How the scientists can come up with mystic answers I don’t know because the Holy Spirit still…well, never mind on that.”

Richard Feynman had His Way with Science and Philosophy

“What the students are taught in physics: there are many ‘bigger’ numbers. The numbers are much bigger; the numbers are so enormous that you cannot count them directly. So they have invented a fantastic array of tricks and gimmicks for putting together the numbers; for counting and checking and so on without actually doing it the way you could explain it. These are the tricks of mathematics, that’s all. We are not going to worry about that…”

Quantum Mechanics: Photons as Corpuscles of Light

“…It became more and more crisis in physics to understand what the matter was like, because it looked so obviously right that the electrons go around nucleus, yet nothing worked when you worked it out…”

The Last journey Richard Feynman: “I am an Explorer, I get Curious about Things”

“…I have won a Nobel Prize and it is a pain in the neck, and it destroys a great deal of the adventure of life for me. It saddens and cuts of lots of things I would like to do. I did not see that the publicity would be so terrible…I knew right away I did not want it!

…The whole idea is to have adventure, to have adventure at lower level, and not to ride on freeway stopping at Holiday Inn…

…I am an explorer, I get curious about everything, and I want to investigate all kinds of stuff…because I could make a contribution not everybody could make...”

References:Nova, CHM Hill, Wikipedia, Google, Horizon, University of Auckland.