Classic Feynman - Book Review
In life, it seems that there are two types of geniuses - great minds and great teachers. Many of each type have come along throughout modern history, minds like Albert Einstein, Isaac Newton and Niels Bohr, and teachers such as Nadia Boulanger, Socrates and Annie Sullivan. Very infrequently, genetics will stumble upon a phenomenal combination that provides both within once person - this was Richard Feynman.
Despite his incredible mind, he also had a knack for explanation and story-telling - a talent that no doubt arose from his love of the unorthodox. In this book, a collection of all of Feynman’s greatest tales are collected for any readers, young or old, to divulge and enjoy. There are very few books in which ‘Quantum Electrodynamics’ and ‘strip clubs’ can make contextual sense in the same sentence, but Feynman flawlessly manages to make it work.
His tales are much more than mere fun stories of a silly old scientist, as they both entertaining and enlightening. One of my favorite sections from the book details a discussion that Feynman had with a friend of his, an artist. His friend attempted to tell Feynman that his scientific understanding of the flower only diminished its beauty, dragging it down to the boring depths of esoteric textbook terms and definitions. However, Feynman rejected his friend’s claim, stating that he could “see much more about the flower than [the artist] sees. I could imagine the cells in there, the complicated actions inside, which also have a beauty. I mean it’s not just beauty at this dimension, at one centimeter; there’s also beauty at smaller dimensions, the inner structure, also the processes…All kinds of interesting questions which the science knowledge only adds to the excitement, the mystery and the awe of a flower. It only adds. I don’t understand how it subtracts.”
These interesting tales of explosions, safe-cracking, Los Alamos, nude painting and science allow us all to see into the nature of this incredible man - a truly ‘curious character.’