Wednesday, September 7, 2011

A Peek at Richard Feynman

I'm reading Lawrence M. Krauss' Quantum Man: Richard Feynman's Life in Science and enjoying it immensely. Krauss mentions how Feynman met a fellow named Ted Welton as a sophmore at MIT. So I did a quick web search and found this article, "Memories of Feynman", in Physics Today where Welton reminisces about the Feynman he knew.

Here is a bit from the conclusion of the article:
He [Feynman] will smile if he reads this, but I feel as I imagine Marcel Grossmann must have felt about Einstein or Chritopher Wren about Newton: amazed at having been given the privilege of knowing so interesting a character. After long reflection, I would think it apt to compare the young Feynman with the young Newton. Of course Newton had it easy; he had a new science to invent. Feynman could only perfect something already existing, but the ingenuity and energy with which he went about the job have been seen only rarely since the plague years.
Over the years I've read everything by Feynman or about Feynman that I can get my hands on. I really admire him. He is a very curious, very open, very honest, amazingly intelligent, witty, regular short of guy who is a mad genius. Here's a telling quip about him by Eugene Wigner:
He's another Dirac. Only this time human.
Here is an obituary for Ted Welton. Despite all his self-deprecation in comparing himself to Feynman, he did win one notable physics prize: the Humboldt Prize in Physics by the Alexander Von Humboldt Foundation in Bonn-Bad Godesberg, Germany. I find it interesting how life is so arbitrary. Welton lived 22 years longer than Feynman.

For more on Richard Feynman, read the Wikipedia write up. But to enjoy the human being read these:
  • Surely You're Joking, Mr. Feynman!: Adventures of a Curious Character, Richard Feynman

  • What Do You Care What Other People Think? Further Adventures of a Curious Character, Richard Feynman

  • Genius: The Life and Science of Richard Feynman, James Gleik

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