“Surely You’re Joking, Mr. Feynman” by Richard Feynman

Joking Feynman

One of the most delightful autobiographies I’ve ever read. It’s intelligent, hilarious, candid and fascinating. A colorful portrait of the curious, outrageous and brilliant character that is Richard Feynman. Almost like a combination of Sherlock Holmes and Thomas Sawyer. The thrill of puzzle-solving, the exotic adventures, the natural showoff, and great showmanship.

What impressed me the most is his inexhaustible curiosity and desire to search out the wonders and beauty in the world (whether it be physics, safecracking, mindreading or painting) and convey them to others, which makes him a great scientist and a great teacher.

Beauty in Science

“I wanted very much to learn to draw, for a reason I kept to myself: I wanted to convey an emotion I have about the beauty of the world. It’s difficult to describe because it’s an emotion. It’s analogous to the feeling one has in religion that has to do with a god that controls everything in the whole universe; there’s a generality aspect that you feel when you think about how things that appear so different and behave so differently are all run ‘behind the scenes’ by the same organization, the same physical laws. It’s an appreciation of the mathematical beauty of nature, of how she works inside; a realization that the phenomena we see result from the complexity of the inner workings between atoms; a feeling of how dramatic and wonderful it is. It’s a feeling of awe–of scientific awe–which I felt could be communicated through a drawing to someone who had also had this emotion. It could remind him, for a moment, of this feeling about the glories of the universe.”

References:

  • Feynman, Richard P. “Surely You’re Joking, Mr. Feynman!”: Adventures of a Curious Character. New York: W.W. Norton, 1985.
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