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Genius: Richard Feynman and Modern Physics Paperback – 2 Apr 1994
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the book is a moving, beautifully written literate and perceptive account of Feynman's life. (NATURE)
I came away from Genius feeling that I knew a lot more about Feynman and his play in 20th century science. (SUNDAY TIMES)
Gleick's narrative, consistently measured and elegant is a formidable work of scientific biography. (NEW STATESMEN)
thoughtful and fascinating. (THE LITERARY REVIEW)
The life of Richard Feynman and the story of modern physics itself.See all Product description
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The book is chronological, focussed on his professional rather than personal life, ... growing up in Far Rockaway (western Long Island), education at MIT (Massachusetts Institute of Technology), graduate study and a Ph.D. (maths and physics) at Princeton. Feynman was involved, at a junior level, developing the nuclear bomb at Los Alamos. He went to Cornell (1945-1950) and Caltech (California Institute of Technology) for the rest of his career, winning the Nobel Prize in 1965. Always he showed a heavy concentration on maths and physics and a disregard of high culture.
The author talks about how Feynman approached problems (preferring to encounter a problem then independently work out it's solution), that he often didn't read the literature, that he searched (not so much necessarily for the deep truth about reality as) for a practical understanding - rules or algorithms -that gives the right answers. Gleick talks at length about the nature of scientific progress and genius. Feynman seems to have understood exactly what he was doing (studying a problem, guessing a solution that had testable implications ... and having it tested). His approach was intuitive and, reliant on the unconscious, inherently fast and difficult to explain. Keynes, writing about Newton, said Newton had terrific muscles of intuition that could hold a problem in the mind's-eye until it yielded up it's secrets. Feynman had something similar, a dogged, practical, single-minded intuition, coming at problems from unusual perspectives.