Richard P. Feynman
My Feynman Lectures have arrived!
So I recently turned 18, which is exciting. For my birthday, my fabulous brother and my as-of-fairly-recently-sister-in-law sent me a £100 Amazon gift card, which is also exciting. I suppose I could have saved the money and used it tactically throughout the year, but what would be the fun of that? I decided to splash the whole amount out on The Feynman Lectures on Physics boxed set. While it’s true I could have bought the three volumes in paperback for a fair amount cheaper, I wanted the nice little box of hardbacks. I mean, these books are to physicists what Shakespeare’s Works are to English Literature students. It’s all very exciting.
I was so happy to receive my amazon parcel today, that I guess I wanted to post something about Richard Feynman, and why he is so great.
Over the summer holidays, I took out ‘Don’t You Have Time To Think?‘ which is a compilation, put together by Feynman’s daughter, of many of the letters that Richard sent and received over the years. It includes sensitive letters to his mother, and to his wife- as well as notes to people of high authority, which often upset them. Coming away from this book, I found the man to be something quite marvelous.
I can’t say I read all that much, but there was just something about this man that was all very exciting.
Richard Phillips Feynman was a remarkable physicist, educator, and bongo player. He was eccentric, as any real physicist should be, as well as massively innately clever. He loved what he did.
Feynman was the pioneer of a ‘little’ concept known as nanotechnology (I sure hope that pun translates), as well as quantum computing, a field which is rapidly expanding as of late. At one point in his career, Feynman decided to refrigerate some helium to see what would happen. When he supercooled some Helium, he discovered a property of the fluid that he coined as ‘superfluidity’. That is to say that, when cooled to a relatively very low temperature, helium appears to not have any viscosity.
The most important piece of work of Richard Feynman, in my opinion, is his diagrams. Anyone that has studied Physics past the stage of GCSE will have drawn one of Feynman’s famous diagrams.
Beta Minus (B-) decay
Feynman was awarded a Nobel Prize for Physics, jointly with two friends:
“for their fundamental work in quantum electrodynamics, with deep-ploughing consequences for the physics of elementary particles”.
This included, of course, his diagrams. Feynman was the first to model the idea of the ‘weak decay’, a concept which allows physicists to describe most of everything that happens in the universe, which is quite something.
There are a lot of books written both by and about Richard Feynman, and rightly so. The man was curious, clever, and charismatic. He was everything a physicist should be, and then some.
It is for these reasons that Richard Feynman has been listed in the top 10 physicists of all time by Physics World, and he is definitely in my top 5.