EL PLACER DE DESCUBRIR RICHARD FEYNMAN PDF

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There are legends about him, that he was the Puck of physics - brilliant, untamed, and really, really funny. He would tell Nobel laureates - men whose names were bywords for scientific brilliance - that they were wrong, without hedging or worrying about their egos. He liked to play the bongos, loved a good party, and delighted in playing tricks.

One of his more irritating hobbies was safe-cracking, and by the time he left Los Alamos labs after the Manhattan Project there were no places left to hide secrets from Feynman. So Feynman was no doubt a really cool guy, the kind of scientist you would want to invite to your party without hesitation. His first interest was science, and as scientist go, he was one of the best. The book is, for me, not very readable for two reasons.

The first is that it goes get terribly technical at times, and while I love science, I am not educated enough in it to grasp a lot of the technical details. True, yes. Humbling, yes. But still Then, having made the reader comfortable with how Feynman thought, they could have gotten into what Feynman thought.

But no, the book starts of with highly technical lectures on quantum electrodynamics and the difficulties in getting parallel computers to work.

Or a lot lost. Even his minority opinion on the Challenger accident, something I was especially keen to read, was far too dry to be enjoyable. There are a lot of asides and false starts, wandering thoughts and truncated paragraphs. Perhaps it would be different to listen to him, to sit in the audience and watch the man speak.

I reckon that he had the kind of infectious energy and enthusiasm that would make it easy to gloss over structural problems and really enjoy the speech. But turning speech into print is always dangerous, and here I think it fails. One of those is, indeed, the title of the book - the pleasure of finding things out. He attributes a lot of that attitude to his father, an unlikely fan of science.

But he raised his son to think about the world. Rather than tell him why, for example, a bird picked at its feathers with its beak, encouraged Richard to observe the bird, to form a hypothesis and then see if observations confirmed it. His father taught him to question everything, to form his own opinions about the world, and by doing so, made him into a scientist from an early age.

He says, over and over, to doubt everything. Ask yourself why things are the way they are, rather than just relying on what other people tell you. He has some disdain for social sciences, and a pretty healthy dose of misogyny in a couple of places, but if he is arrogant, then it is probably deserved.

Feynman was a man fascinated with how the universe worked, all the way down to its smallest components, and that was his passion. Not awards, not titles, not praise - just the work, the discovery and the pleasure.

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