The Pleasure of Finding Things Out: The Best Short Works of Richard P.Feynman (Helix Book.) Paperback – 21 Jul 2000
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More gems from the Feynman factory. If some things are old or borrowed, it hardly matters: there are enough new or unfamiliar to charm fans. Since the Nobel laureate's death, there have been biographies, "as-told-to" accounts, and various interviews and selected writings that continue to reveal the workings of one of the most remarkable and inventive minds in physics. But part and parcel with the revelations of genius are the pranks and idiosyncrasies that have built the Feynman legend of bongo player, gambler, bon vivant, and girl watcher. The current collection replays a few of those choice bits. But it's much more a picture of Feynman as passionate and scrupulously honest scientist, insisting always that truth is never absolute. There is much homage to his father, who inspired the habit of asking questions that go to the heart of the matter of how and why things work. A wonderful Caltech graduation speech allows him to contrast real with pseudoscience and speaks to the absolute necessity of providing one's peers with all the information they need to judge one's work. There's a lovely reminiscence of himself as a nervous 24-year-old asked to present a seminar at Princeton before a group that included Eugene Wigner, John Wheeler, Wolfgang Pauli, John von Neumann and Albert Einstein. When it's over, Pauli gets up and turns to Einstein and says, don't you agree that this theory cannot be right? To which Einstein replies, "N-o-o-o." "Nicest no I ever heard," Feynman says. The collection includes Feynman's insightful minority report on the Challenger disaster, his well-known disdainful comments on philosophy and behavioral science, his despair of today's cultural ignorance of the nature of science, and his prescient thoughts on parallel processing for computers and principles of miniaturization we now call nanotechnology. All said, of course, in the idiom of the boy from New York whose pleasure in finding things out affords the reader another sort of pleasure. (Kirkus Reviews)
About the Author
Richard P. Feynman was raised in Far Rockaway, New York, and received his Ph.D. from Princeton. He held professorships at both Cornell and the California Institute of Technology. In 1965 he received the Nobel Prize for his work on quantum electrodynamics. He died in 1988. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
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Top Customer Reviews
There are some amusing things in this book and some interesting details, but there really isn't anything special except for the fact that Feynman enjoys the personality cult associated with a zany physics genius. He was an original character and, in physics, a truly great thinker. But that doesn't make every last little thing that he ever said or scribbled down interesting, except to uncritical devotees who live with the fantasy that everything he said was better than worthwhile. Indeed, if you know about something in great depth he writes (well talks) about, his views appear as superficial as the rest of non-specialists on the subjects. Where he is truly interesting in on physics, mathematics, and science - and the overwhelming majority of what he produced on those subjects is already available.
I would not recommend this book, except as a source of Feynman trivia if that is your bag. Indeed, I had heard most of these things before - either in films about the man or from his earlier writings. As such, that makes this book the crassest attempt to commercially exploit the legacy of this great man yet again. If such a thing were possible, the editor should be ashamed.
However, Feynman's "casual manner towards proper grammar" (p.xv) in both spoken and written forms often result in awkward sentence structures and colloquialisms that, at times, defy understanding. Moreover, these selected pieces also reveal a spontaneous thinker whose ideas often seem to tumble out faster than he was able to (fully) articulate them. Whilst this spontaneity made Feynman an engaging and gifted scientist, it also gives the impression that he was frequently addressing his next thought before completing his previous: the effect is that his arguments can feel unfinished and, on philosophical and religious issues, strangely naive.
Nonetheless, Feynman was not only a spontaneous thinker but also an original one. His musings on the future of computing and nanotechnology (pp.27-52) were significantly ahead of their time and still appear prescient more than two-decades later. Furthermore, despite his protestations that seeking knowledge is (or should be) an end unto itself, he was also enormously practical and his minority report on the Space Shuttle Challenger disaster (pp.151-169) is an exemplar of forensic investigation that should serve as a template for achieving bureaucratic clarity! Notwithstanding these noteworthy contributions, the real jewel-in-the-crown is the (edited) transcript from Feynman's 1981 Horizon interview: it is undoubtedly worthy of the cover price in its own right.
In summary, those familiar with the idiosyncrasies of Feynman's delivery will love this collection and most likely "hear" every word in his distinctive drawl; however, for the uninitiated, it is perhaps not the best introduction to this remarkable man.
This book is a collection of articles that he had written. The scope of these is quote divers & it is naturally easy to pick up & put down. Be warned you will WANT to complete each paper before you do put it down. Feynman attributes his love of science to time spent with his father who was not a scientist or engineer. This is probably where his talent for writing this way comes from.
Most Recent Customer Reviews
A fascinating book by one of the world's best physicists, who believed nothing unless he could prove it for himself.Published 3 months ago by CHRIS (Herts)
Great book. You can hear Feynman's voice in your head as you read, which is a pleasure in itself.Published 5 months ago by FencingCoach_3w
Everything that Feynman wrote is worth reading. He has definite ideas and describes then clearly. A breath of fresh air in our world of hypocrisy...Published on 23 April 2014 by David M.
What can I say its Richard Faynman- its like having a casual chat in a bar over a drink and he really makes it simple and understandable. MagicPublished on 9 Mar. 2014 by oceanade
This book is a selection of good informative and readable essays from a remarkable, if underrated, scientist and human being. Very enjoyable.Published on 11 Feb. 2014 by W M Johnson
I bought this book because I saw a film about the author. What a man! This is a good book to dip in and out of. Will definitely buy his other books. it arrived very quickly.Published on 17 Dec. 2013 by Luise