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on 1 January 2007
When I first opened Feynman's Rainbow: A Search For Beauty in Physics And In Life, I wasn't sure whether to expect all sorts of physics facts or the inside life of a struggling scientist. In the end, I received both. Feynman's Rainbow, written and narrated by Leonard Mlodinow, is the story of Leonard Mlodinow's encounters and conversations with the two famous physicists of his time, Murray Gell-Mann and Richard Feynman, although he concentrates on Feynman as his role model. In the beginning, Mlodinow had absolutely no interest in physics, but rapidly grew to love it as he read Feynman's books and lectures on physics while volunteering to help in Jerusalem during the Yom Kippur War. During this time, out of boredom from lack of anything else to do he read these books, which were some of the only ones available to him at the time. He changes his major to physics and receives his PhD. when he returns to the United States and soon gets employed by CalTech (California Institute of Technology) for his appealing theory of infinite dimensions. Soon he is overwhelmed by his impressive position with Murray and Feynman, and is frantic to live up to CalTech's Nobel Prize expectations of him. During this time Mlodinow chose Feynman as his mentor, although ironically Feynman always disliked psychology profusely. Through the story there are also several physics theories that are explained in the book fairly understandably. Many of the quotes by Feynman are direct from recordings of him by Mlodinow, who always recorded their conversations. This book gives a very interesting insight into the life and of course, realistic pressure of working in a high and prestigious scholarly and scientific position. The book takes place during the last years of Feynman's life as he struggled with his terminal cancer, but he always had an optimistic and simple outlook on life. Being a fan of Richard Feynman myself, I enjoyed this book and reading about Feynman's realistic, down-to-earth views on life and science. If you are interested in Feynman specifically, I would greatly recommend reading "Surely You're Joking, Mr. Feynman!" Adventures of a Curious Character. Feynman's Rainbow was a good (although not the best) book to read, but I would suggest that you read this if you take interest in the philosophy or thoughts of a "genius" at work.
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on 1 March 2014
I was disappointed when I recently received this book. Not because I disliked the content. I liked it; liked the physics and the stories of Feynman, Gell-Mann and the author. The reason I was disappointed was because I already had the book under the title Some Time With Feynman.
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on 15 October 2008
Caltech is the home of some of the best minds in physics. Most notable physicists on its faculty included Richard Feynman and Murray Gell-Mann; both are Nobel laureates. The author narrates in simple words his casual interactions with Richard Feynman when he (author) was a freshman-faculty member at the physics department. Feeling unsettled in the world of giants, he looks for guidance and direction to establish his career, and in the process learns some basic lessons about being a person, and a physicist. Feynman is a legend in physics world, and was considered as Einstein of modern times until his death in 1988. He was known for discovery of quantum electrodynamics, a theory of the electromagnetic force that governs the behavior of electrons that orbit the nucleus of the atom.

Academics is a dog-eat-dog world; if you can't create something new in physics, you could be walking out of the door sooner than latter. This is true at all top colleges and research institutions. This is painfully clear to a new faculty member, and the author expresses this fear in spite of the fact that his PhD thesis at UC Berkeley is a significant contribution, in his own rights, in physics. Feynman was the first one to detect this unsettling behavior, at that time Feynman was 63 and terminally ill with cancer. Feynman loved life, dressed and spoke like a blue-collar Joe, with no sophistication in his style. He lounged around strip clubs to do his physics, experimented with controlled substances and once crashed into a wedding party to freeload on buffet in casual cloths when all the invited guests were dressed in suits and dresses. He didn't drink and he was faithful to his wife. Both Feynman and Gell-Mann looked down on biologists, chemists, and physicists who applied physics rather than discover fundamental laws. Seminars at Caltech had the reputation for its brutality because Gell-Mann could nag the speaker for the tiniest point, and if the seminar is uninteresting he would read a newspaper. Feynman was equally brash and unwilling to respect sloppy ideas in physics. The combination of Gell-Mann and Feynman were highly intimidating. Feynman was diligent in avoiding any activity that he did not find interesting. He could be abrupt and abrasive. Gell-Mann was a show-off; he was a know-it-all type. Feynman and Gell-Mann were both friends and enemies.

The author briefly describes early work done on String theory at Caltech by John Schwartz: This was the time when String theory was at its infancy. He gets discouraged to work in this field by the negative reaction of both Gell-Mann and Feynman. He seriously considers working with Schwartz but his own doubts about the theory forces the author to loose confidence in himself. Sometimes the author feels "small" to walk on the footsteps of giants, but he also shows that great physicists are also human and do crazy things like normal people.

1. The Drunkard's Walk: How Randomness Rules Our Lives
2. Some Time with Feynman (Penguin Press Science)
3. Euclid's Window: The Story of Geometry from Parallel Lines to Hyperspace (Penguin Press Science)
4. Surely You're Joking, Mr.Feynman!: Adventures of a Curious Character
5. Six Easy Pieces: Fundamentals of Physics Explained (Penguin Press Science)
6. Don't You Have Time to Think
7. QED - The Strange Theory of Light and Matter (Penguin Press Science)
8. Genius: Richard Feynman and Modern Physics
9. Strange Beauty: Murray Gell-Mann and the Revolution in Twentieth-century Physics
10. The Quark and the Jaguar: Adventures in the Simple and the Complex
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on 19 January 2014
Would be interesting to a PhD student loking for a project; a pleasant easy read for those who like this genre.
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on 17 December 2014
Delivered in 5 days. No problems at all.
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on 17 March 2006
You go through times quite similar to those described in this book. To focus on what you are and what made you be that way, often helps you to get you back on the right track. It also helps if you've a couple of kind, or at least, willing to talk, nobel prizes down the aisle. Good book, anyways.
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