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Fun to Imagine


Richard Feynman

A spotlight here on bongo player, artist, safe cracker and physicist, Richard Feynman; a master in bringing complex ideas down to the level that a five year old could understand. And the joy ! The joy of science, excitable creativity, lifelong - Feynman is the example of an irascible curiosity that did not wear off whilst making the crossing over to adulthood. His way of thinking and communicating is one example of how to approach the phenomenal world. His musings too on the power, and responsibility of scientific progress, also bears witness to the complex relationship between rationality in an irrational world.

“I wonder why. I wonder why. I wonder why I wonder. I wonder why I wonder why I wonder why I wonder!” 


Richard Feynman

Surely You're Joking Mr Feynman: Adventures of a Curious Character as Told to Ralph Leighton

The Value of Science

by Richard Feynman

January 1988

When I was younger, I thought science would make good things for everybody. It was obviously useful; it was good. During the war I worked on the atomic bomb. This result of science was obviously a very serious matter: It represented the destruction of people.

After the war I was very worried about the bomb. I didn’t know what the future was going to look like, and I certainly wasn’t anywhere near sure that we would last until now. Therefore one question was: is there some evil involved in science?

Put another way, what is the value of the science I had dedicated myself to - the thing I loved - when I saw what terrible things it could do? It was a question I had to answer.

“The Value of Science”was a kind of report, if you will, on many of the thoughts that came to me when I tried to answer that question.

Read on here

Ball Up Ball Down

an exercise to try

Q: If you throw a small ball vertically upward in real air with drag, does it take longer to go up or come down?

A: here

Shadow Mathematics

Feynman interviewed by Charles Weiner, discussing his father

Friday, 4 March 1966

'...he played a lot with me. I mean, we had a very good relationship. We fooled around a lot. He’d tell me about things all the time. And the other rumor, which I can’t exactly remember, is that when I was very small, he went to a company that made bathroom tiles and got a lot of old extra tiles, you know, and then he would stand them up on my high chair, on end, in a long row — as you do with dominos. Then when we’d get all ready, I would be allowed to push it at the end, and the whole pile would go over. We’d play this game. But you’d have to verify it with my mother, of course, because I don’t remember exactly. But he would then take a game. He’d say, “Now we put a white one, now a blue one, now a white one, now a blue one.” Sometimes I’d want to put two blue ones together and he’d say, “No, no, must be a white one now.” My mothered tell me that she would say, “Now let the boy put a blue one.” He’d say, “No, we have to get him to understand patterns.” This was the only thing I could do at this age, to think about patterns and recognize those things as being interesting. After a short time with this game, I could do extremely elaborate patterns. I mean, once I paid attention — two blues, a white, a brown, two whites, to two blues, a white — and so on. So he started in as early as he could with what he said was a kind of mathematics, sort of the shadow of mathematics. He was always playing games and telling me things, which he realized were scientific, bearing relation to science.'

The Artist-Scientist

Richard Feynman

Surely You're Joking Mr Feynman: Adventures of a Curious Character as Told to Ralph Leighton

“I wanted very much to learn to draw, for a reason that 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.” 

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