Warning: session_start(): open(/var/lib/php/session/sess_tkmemhdbl2r9hk33a36jf9vneh, O_RDWR) failed: No space left on device (28) in /var/www/html/includes/config.php on line 34

Warning: session_start(): Failed to read session data: files (path: /var/lib/php/session) in /var/www/html/includes/config.php on line 34
addabook - Surely You're Joking, Mr. Feynman! (Adventures of a Curious Character)
addabook home timeline gallery
signup or login
Surely You're Joking, Mr. Feynman! (Adventures of a Curious Character)
Richard P. Feynman
read on September 1, 2011

This is a fantastic book to read to try and get an understanding of how fundamentally different people much, much smarter than yourself are. Feynman is brilliant, and it's just fascinating to see how that brilliance (and eccentricity) shows itself through the different parts of his life. Hilariously funny as well, and not technical at all - anyone would be able to enjoy this, (he barely talks at all about physics/math etc), get ready to be depressed at how unambitious and underachieving your life is though.

Some of my favorite parts:

  • Feynman used to have lucid dreams. But instead of just having fun and enjoying them, he would actually carry out experiments during his dreams to try and figure out the nature of the senses and how his brain worked. Who else would ever do that?! His experiments were remarkably thoughtful as well - during his dreams!
  • He had a great passage in their where he tried to describe frustrations with other people - in that it seemed to him like other people seem to "learn" by rote, rather than by genuine understanding - which leaves them unable to apply their knowledge to novel situations. "Their knowledge is so fragile." Ug - humiliating in it's accuracy. Feynman works to understand everything on a basis of first principals - to really understand, to understand the foundations of the topic before moving on to anything else. Inspiring.
  • More than anything, Feynman's fearlessness at trying new things was impressive. He wanted to know more about how bloodhounds could smell so well - so he actually started smelling things himself, and doing experiments and actual, dedicated practice at trying to improve and refine his sense of smell - and it worked! Well!
  • Another example - he wanted to know how ants always knew where they were going, and what determined their paths. So he would follow them around for hours with colored pencils, drawing their paths all over his house - using different colors for different ants and different shades for each new time they followed the same path - and he actually determines some really interesting conclusions about how the kinds of paths ants make, and how they must track each other.

Author Bio:

Richard Phillips Feynman (/ˈfaɪnmən/; May 11, 1918 – February 15, 1988) was an American theoretical physicist known for his work in the path integral formulation of quantum mechanics, the theory of quantum electrodynamics, and the physics of the superfluidity of supercooled liquid helium, as well as in particle physics for which he proposed the parton model. For his contributions to the development of quantum electrodynamics, Feynman, jointly with Julian Schwinger and Sin'ichirō Tomonaga, received the Nobel Prize in Physics in 1965. Feynman developed a widely used pictorial representation scheme for the mathematical expressions governing the behavior of subatomic particles, which later became known as Feynman diagrams. During his lifetime, Feynman became one of the best-known scientists in the world. In a 1999 poll of 130 leading physicists worldwide by the British journal Physics World he was ranked as one of the ten greatest physicists of all time. He assisted in the development of the atomic bomb during World War II and became known to a wide public in the 1980s as a member of the Rogers Commission, the panel that investigated the Space Shuttle Challenger disaster. Along with his work in theoretical physics, Feynman has been credited with pioneering the field of quantum computing, and introducing the concept of nanotechnology. He held the Richard C. Tolman professorship in theoretical physics at the California Institute of Technology. Feynman was a keen popularizer of physics through both books and lectures, including a 1959 talk on top-down nanotechnology called There's Plenty of Room at the Bottom, and the three-volume publication of his undergraduate lectures, The Feynman Lectures on Physics. Feynman also became known through his semi-autobiographical books Surely You're Joking, Mr. Feynman! and What Do You Care What Other People Think? and books written about him, such as Tuva or Bust! and Genius: The Life and Science of Richard Feynman by James Gleick.