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Some time with Feynman Hardcover – 5 Jun 2003


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Product details

  • Hardcover: 192 pages
  • Publisher: Allen Lane (5 Jun. 2003)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0713996439
  • ISBN-13: 978-0713996432
  • Product Dimensions: 14.5 x 2.1 x 22.4 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 3.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (3 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 1,234,903 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Product Description

About the Author

Leonard Mlodinow, PhD, was a member of the faculty of the Californian Institute if Technology before moving to Hollywood to become a writer for television. He is the author of "Euclid's Window" (Penguin).

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First Sentence
IN A GRAY CEMENT building on the olive tree-lined Caltech campus on California Boulevard in Pasadena, a thin man with longish hair steps into his modest office. Read the first page
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Customer Reviews

3.3 out of 5 stars
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Dr. G. L. Vasseur on 9 Jun. 2010
Format: Paperback
To be perfectly honest, don't expect most of the book to be devoted to Richard Feynman. That said, in my opinion, the book does give an interesting insight on how Feynman was in everyday life near his end (e.g. his rivalry with Murray Gell-Mann).

For me, the most interesting aspect of the book is the struggle of the author to figure out if his future lies in fundamental research or not. It's a struggle I've myself experienced and I find this book to best portrait and explain it. I would strongly recommend this reading to all PhD students.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By a punshon on 9 Jan. 2009
Format: Paperback
I very much warmed to this touching account of grad school doubt and uncertainty. It is autobiographical of the author rather than a biography of Feynman. The author's experience of working in what can only have been a very intellectually intimidating environment is interesting and quite frank. Feynman is held as a distant and almost aloof character-very different from Feynman's own accounts in "Surely you're joking" etc. Despite this the author seems to have found inspiration in the time spent with Feynman.
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1 of 4 people found the following review helpful By Mr. T. Brown on 19 Oct. 2007
Format: Hardcover
I was slightly puzzled by this book. Despite the title its really an autobiography about the authors time at Caltech in which he came across Feynman about two times. His 'time' with Feynman was extremely limited as Feynman clearly thought the guy was a pain in the backside. If you read between the lines you can see that Feynman just sees Mlodinow as a stalker.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)

Amazon.com: 3 reviews
10 of 11 people found the following review helpful
The love of discovery 22 April 2006
By Shalom Freedman - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback
This small book works on many levels. On the one hand it is the story of a young scientist, Leonard Mlodinow and his effort to understand his place and direction in Physics. In another it is the picture of one of the world's great Physics Departments, Cal Tech at the time Murry Gell-Mann, and Richard Feynmann were there and presenting their own very different ways of working in Physics. According to Mlodinow Gell- Mann was like an ancient Greek focusing on the underlying order of the physical world, while Feynmann like an ancient Babylonian focused on the phenomena themselves.

The major emphasis however in the work is on the lessons the apprentice young aspiring physicist learns from the great mentor and master Feymnann. And the heart of the work is a series of insertions, transcripts of tapes of what Feynmann actually told Mlodinow about the study of Physics.

Here one major message emerges one which corresponds with the Feynmann 'legend' . Feynmann teaches the importance of going one's own way , trusting oneself and one's intuitions, and living for the love of the process of scientific discovery.

Feynmann tells Mlodinow.

" I can say I am a scientist. I find excitement in discovery.

The excitement is not in the fact that you've created something, but that you've found something beautiful that's always been there. So scientific stuff affects every part of my life."

There is an especially moving part of the book when Feynmann speaks about his first wife , Arline who died very young from TB . He speaks to Mlodinow at a point where he himself is close to the end from cancer and says the following. "Now I've been to the hospital and I don't know how long I have to live. It happens to all of us sooner or later. Everybody dies. It's just a matter of when. But with Arlene I was really happy for a while, so I have had it all.After Arlene, the rest of my life didn't have to be so good, you see, because I had already had it all."

I have only indicated a small part of what this very rich small book contains.
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
Feynman and Gell-Mann Talk: Mlodinow Listens 29 Sept. 2012
By warren - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
If you ever heard or saw Feynman then you have a clear recollection of the man. Mlodinow brings him back to life in his own words. Ironically, this takes place not long before Feynman succumbs to cancer. He is spending most of his last years trying to do what has eluded physicists in the quarter century since he passed away, reminiscent of Einstein's fruitless quest near the end of his life. Mlodinow is a young post-doc at Cal Tech hoping Feynman, or anyone, can help him to get a foothold in physics and not too sure he belongs in this world. For a young student this memoir should resonate with the fears and hopes peculiar to a profession with so many towering figures. Feynman exhorts Mlodinow to just find his own way and never mind what anyone else thinks. And Mlodinow did just that, leaving us with some bittersweet memories of perhaps the most memorable scientist of the 20th century.
Confused student shares cute anecdotes 19 May 2013
By Avery Morrow - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Hardcover
You kind of have to appreciate this book for what it is. Mlodinow is not a bad writer. He has plenty of funny stories to share about Feynman and Gell-Mann, and he shares them well, with no lack of respect and sympathy for both of these brilliant 20th century scientists. Nowhere did I feel that the author was oversharing or missing out on the details.

The problem with the book is that Mlodinow was just a young guy who wound up at CalTech without a driving scientific passion, and tried to extract some of that famous energy and joie-de-vivre from the old and weakening Feynman, who was sympathetic but impatient. Mlodinow's nice little book has got emotion, humor, and self-awareness, but it doesn't have a compelling narrative, for the simple reason that Mlodinow's life at that time did not have a compelling narrative, nor was he doing compelling physics that got Feynman interested.

I do appreciate the effort, but this book is not really one for the home bookshelf. It will probably be used to provide quotations for a future, more interesting biography.
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