Friday, June 13, 2008

The Pleasure of Finding Things Out

Back in the early 1980s, the BBC science newsmagazine Horizon interviewed Richard Feynman. I have been a fan of his ever since I was in high school and read volume 1 of his Lectures. So, I thought it was really neat that the show is available on YouTube. Here is the show, along with some of my own comments.

Part 1

The artist that Feynman is referring to is probably Jirayr Zorthian, whom he talks about in his book "Surely You're Joking, Mr. Feynman".

Feynman's way of pronouncing "processes" sounds unusual for an American. Was this something he picked up from his wife Gweneth?

Feynman expressed warm memories of his father, who cared deeply about his education and upbringing. From what Feynman says, it was he who instilled in him a deep curiosity about the natural world as well as a healthy dose of skepticism.

Part 2

Part 3

Feynman's decision to not worry about what other people may think of his work and just do the kind of research that he finds interesting, is a sane and healthy one. Too often, people will do things not for their own pleasure, but to impress other people. I believe that if people made more sensible lifestyle choices, they would not be in so much debt and would be much happier.

Feynman's story about the spinning plate illustrates the power of serendipity. The questions surrounding quantum electrodynamics would have been solved, but not nearly as elegantly, if Feynman had not been fascinated by that spinning plate.

Part 4

I appreciate Feynman's stance on the need for solitude and quiet. In my work, I need to be alone and undisturbed in order to move ideas around in my mind. Ideas are my livelihood, and if I cannot think, I cannot work. This is a big reason I do not work for a large corporation.

Part 5

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