The Pleasure of Finding Things Out - The Best Short Works of Richard P. Feynman
Feynman (Richard), Dyson (Freeman), Robbins (Jeffrey), Ed.
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BOOK ABSTRACT:

Inside Cover Blurb

  1. 'Everything is interesting if you go into it deeply enough' says Richard Feynman in 'The Smartest Man in the World', one of the many priceless pieces in this collection of Feynman's best short works.
  2. Here we see Feynman as he was - a brilliant physicist who consistently rejected authority, wholeheartedly embraced the value of doubt, and whose infectious sense of curiosity infused everything he did. This wide-ranging collection includes: uproarious tales of Feynman's early student experiments (with himself, his socks, his typewriter, his fellow students); his youthful experiences on the Manhattan Project at Los Alamos during World war II; his famous report on the Space Shuttle Challenger disaster; two seminal lectures on the future of computers and nanotechnology; stories of safecracking and plaguing US censors with talcum powder; the tales of the physicist as a child - how his father delighted in showing him the world, and how he, the young boy, took great pleasure in 'finding things out'.
  3. Enlightening, absorbing, and always entertaining, THE PLEASURE OF FINDING THINGS OUT is Feynman at his best.
  4. Richard P Feynman was one of this century's most brilliant theoretical physicists and original thinkers. Born in 1918 in Brooklyn, he received his PhD from Princeton in 1942. Despite his youth, he played an important part in the Manhattan Project at Los Alamos during world War II. Subsequently he taught at Cornell and at the California Institute of Technology. In 1965 he received the Nobel Prize in Physics for his work in quantum electrodynamics.
  5. Perpetually curious about his world, Richard Feynman was at various times a repairer of radios, a picker of locks, an artist, a dancer, a percussionist, a decipherer of Mayan hieroglyphics. He died in 1988 in Los Angeles.

Contents
    Freeman Dyson - Foreword - ix
    Jeffrey Robbins - Editor’s Introduction - xv
  1. "Feynman (Richard) - The Pleasure of Finding Things Out" - 1
  2. "Feynman (Richard) - Computing Machines in the Future" - 27
  3. "Feynman (Richard) - Los Alamos from Below" - 53
  4. "Feynman (Richard) - Computing Machines in the Future" - 97
  5. "Feynman (Richard) - There's Plenty of Room at the Bottom" - 117
  6. "Feynman (Richard) - The Value of Science" - 141
  7. "Feynman (Richard) - Richard Feynman's Minority Report to the Space Shuttle Challenger Inquiry" – 151
  8. "Feynman (Richard) - What Is Science" - 171
  9. "Feynman (Richard) - The Smartest Man in the World" - 189
  10. "Feynman (Richard) - Cargo Cult Science: Some Remarks on Science, Pseudoscience, and Learning How to Not Fool Yourself" - 205
  11. "Feynman (Richard) - It’s as Simple as One, Two, Three" - 217
  12. "Feynman (Richard) - Richard Feynman Builds a Universe" - 225
  13. "Feynman (Richard) - The Relation of Science and Religion" - 245
    Acknowledgments
    Index

BOOK COMMENT:

Allen Lane, Penguin Books, London, 1999. Foreward by Freeman Dyson.



"Dyson (Freeman) & Robbins (Jeffrey), Ed. - The Pleasure of Finding Things Out: Prefaces, Etc."

Source: Feynman - The Pleasure of Finding Things Out - The Best Short Works


Contents



"Feynman (Richard) - The Pleasure of Finding Things Out"

Source: Feynman - The Pleasure of Finding Things Out - The Best Short Works


Editor’s Introduction
  1. This is the edited transcript of an interview with Feynman made for the BBC television program Horizon in 1981, shown in the United States as an episode of Nova.
  2. Feynman had most of his life behind him by this time (he died in 1988), so he could reflect on his experiences and accomplishments with the perspective not often attainable by a younger person.
  3. The result is a candid, relaxed, and very personal discussion on many topics close to Feynman’s heart:
    • Why knowing merely the name of something is the same as not knowing anything at all about it;
    • How he and his fellow atomic scientists of the Manhattan Project could drink and revel in the success of the terrible weapon they had created while on the other side of the world in Hiroshima thousands of their fellow human beings were dead or dying from it
    • Why Feynman could just as well have gotten along without a Nobel Prize.



"Feynman (Richard) - Computing Machines in the Future"

Source: Feynman - The Pleasure of Finding Things Out - The Best Short Works


Editor’s Introduction
  1. Forty years to the day after the atomic bombing of Nagasaki, Manhattan Project veteran Feynman delivers a talk in Japan, but the topic is a peaceful one, one that still occupies our sharpest minds: the future of the computing machine, including the topic that made Feynman seem a Nostradamus of computer science - the ultimate lower limit to the size of a computer.
  2. This chapter may be challenging for some readers; however, it is such an important part of Feynman’s contribution to science that I hope they will take the time to read it, even if they have to skip over some of the more technical spots.
  3. It ends with a brief discussion of one of Feynman’s favorite pet ideas, which launched the current revolution in nanotechnology.



"Feynman (Richard) - Los Alamos from Below"

Source: Feynman - The Pleasure of Finding Things Out - The Best Short Works


Editor’s Introduction
  1. And now a little something on the lighter side — gems about wise-cracker (not to mention safecracker) Feynman getting in and out of trouble at Los Alamos:
    → getting his own private room by seeming to break the no-women-in-the-men’s-dormitory rule;
    → outwitting the camp’s censors;
    → rubbing shoulders with great men like Robert Oppenheimer, Niels Bohr, and Hans Bethe; and
    → the awesome distinction of being the only man to stare straight at the first atomic blast without protective goggles, an experience that changed Feynman forever.



"Feynman (Richard) - What Is and What Should Be the Role of Scientific Culture in Modern Society"

Source: Feynman - The Pleasure of Finding Things Out - The Best Short Works


Editor’s Introduction
  1. Here is a talk Feynman gave to an audience of scientists at the Galileo Symposium in Italy, in 1964.
  2. With frequent acknowledgments and references to the great work and intense anguish of Galileo, Feynman speaks on the effect of science on religion, on society, and on philosophy, and warns that it is our capacity to doubt that will determine the future of civilization.



"Feynman (Richard) - There's Plenty of Room at the Bottom"

Source: Feynman - The Pleasure of Finding Things Out - The Best Short Works


Editor’s Introduction
  1. In this famous talk to the American Physical Society on December 29, 1959, at Caltech, Feynman, the “father of nanotechnology,” expounds, decades ahead of his time, on the future of miniaturization: how to put the entire Encyclopaedia Brittanica on the head of a pin, the drastic reduction in size of both biological and inanimate objects, and the problems of lubricating machines smaller than the period at the end of this sentence.
  2. Feynman makes his famous wager, challenging young scientists to construct a working motor no more than 1/64 of an inch on all sides.


COMMENT:



"Feynman (Richard) - The Value of Science"

Source: Feynman - The Pleasure of Finding Things Out - The Best Short Works


Editor’s Introduction
  1. Of all its many values, the greatest must he the freedom to doubt.
  2. In Hawaii, Feynman learns a lesson in humility while touring a Buddhist temple: "To every man is given the key to the gates of heaven; the same key opens the gates of hell.” This is one of Feynman's most eloquent pieces, reflecting on science's relevance to the human experience and vice versa. He also gives a lesson to fellow scientists on their responsibility to the future of civilization.



"Feynman (Richard) - Richard Feynman's Minority Report to the Space Shuttle Challenger Inquiry"

Source: Feynman - The Pleasure of Finding Things Out - The Best Short Works


Editor’s Introduction
  1. When the Space Shuttle Challenger exploded shortly after its launch on January 28, 1986, six professional astronauts and one school-teacher were tragically killed. The nation was devastated, and NASA was shaken out of its complacency, brought on by years of successful – or at least nonlethal – space missions.
  2. A commission was formed, led by Secretary of State William P. Rogers and composed of politicians, astronauts, military men, and one scientist, to investigate the cause of the accident and to recommend steps to prevent such a disaster from ever happening again.
  3. The fact that Richard Feynman was that one scientist may have made the difference between answering the question of why the Challenger failed and eternal mystery. Feynman was gutsier than most men, not afraid to jet all over the country to talk to the men on the ground, the engineers who had recognized the fact that propaganda was taking the lead over care and safety in the shuttle program.
  4. His report, which was perceived by the Commission as embarrassing to NASA, was almost suppressed by the Commission, but Feynman fought to have it included; it was relegated to an appendix.
  5. When the Commission held a live press conference to answer questions, Feynman did his now-famous tabletop experiment with one of the shuttle’s gaskets, or O-rings, and a cup of ice water. It dramatically proved that those key gaskets had failed because the warning of the engineers that it was too cold outside to go ahead with the launch went unheeded by managers eager to impress their bosses with the punctuality of their mission schedule.
  6. Here is that historic report.



"Feynman (Richard) - What Is Science"

Source: Feynman - The Pleasure of Finding Things Out - The Best Short Works


Editor’s Introduction
  1. What is science? It is common sense! Or is it?
  2. In April 1966 the master teacher delivered an address to the National Science Teachers’ Association in which he gave his fellow teachers lessons on how to teach their students to think like a scientist and how to view the world with curiosity, open-mindedness, and, above all, doubt.
  3. This talk is also a tribute to the enormous influence Feynman's father - a uniforms salesman - had on Feynman’s way of looking at the world.



"Feynman (Richard) - The Smartest Man in the World"

Source: Feynman - The Pleasure of Finding Things Out - The Best Short Works


Editor’s Introduction
  1. Here is that wonderful 1979 interview of Feynman by Omni magazine.
  2. This is Feynman on what he knows and loves best — physics — and what he loves least, philosophy. ("Philosophers should learn to laugh at themselves. ")
  3. Here Feynman discusses the work that earned him the Nobel Prize, quantum electrodynamics (QED); he then goes on to cosmology, quarks, and those pesky infinities that gum up so many equations.



"Feynman (Richard) - Cargo Cult Science: Some Remarks on Science, Pseudoscience, and Learning How to Not Fool Yourself"

Source: Feynman - The Pleasure of Finding Things Out - The Best Short Works


Editor’s Introduction
  1. The 1974 Caltech Commencement Address
  2. Question: What do witch doctors, ESP, South Sea Islanders, rhinoceros horns, and Wesson Oil have to do with college graduation?
  3. Answer: They’re all examples the crafty Feynman uses to convince departing graduates that honesty in science is more rewarding than all the kudos and temporary successes in the world.
  4. In this address to Caltech’s class of 1974, Feynman gives a lesson in scientific integrity in the face of peer pressure and glowering funding agencies.



"Feynman (Richard) - It’s as Simple as One, Two, Three"

Source: Feynman - The Pleasure of Finding Things Out - The Best Short Works


Editor’s Introduction
  1. An uproarious tale of Feynman the precocious student experimenting – with himself, his socks, his typewriter, and his fellow students – to solve the mysteries of counting and of time.



"Feynman (Richard) - Richard Feynman Builds a Universe"

Source: Feynman - The Pleasure of Finding Things Out - The Best Short Works


Editor’s Introduction
  1. In a previously unpublished interview made under the auspices of the American Association for the Advancement of Science, Feynman reminisces about his life in science: his terrifying first lecture to a Nobel laureate-packed room; the invitation to work on the first atomic bomb and his reaction; cargo-cult science; and that fateful pre-dawn wake-up call from a journalist informing him that he'd just won the Nobel prize. Feynman’s answer: "You could have told me that in the morning."



"Feynman (Richard) - The Relation of Science and Religion"

Source: Feynman - The Pleasure of Finding Things Out - The Best Short Works


Editor’s Introduction
  1. In a kind of thought experiment, Feynman takes the various points of view of an imaginary panel to represent the thinking of scientists and spiritualists and discusses the points of agreement and of disagreement between science and religion, anticipating by two decades, the current active debate between these two fundamentally different ways of searching for truth.
  2. Among other questions, he wonders whether atheists can have morals based on what science tells them, in the way that spiritualists can have morals based on their belief in God — an unusually philosophical topic for pragmatic Feynman.




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