Feynman <3

Favorite quotations, etc.
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RoamingFrancis
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Feynman <3

Post by RoamingFrancis »


Miss Lonelyhearts
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Re: Feynman <3

Post by Miss Lonelyhearts »

Topic for debate: is genius discontinuous? Feynman here seems to come down hard on the side of “no.” I’m inclined to agree, allowing for some modest provision of talent within the field.

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Sclass
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Re: Feynman <3

Post by Sclass »

:lol:

This guy was my neighbor in Altadena where I grew up.

He was well aware that he was very special. He comes off as disingenuous here. I think this is where Ralph Leighton came up with the line “surely you must be joking Dr. Feynman.” He’s pulling the interviewers chain.

I think he was somewhat conflicted in this way. There’s the famous Feynmanism “You don’t have to show no one nothing.” Yet my memory of him was a showman with a streak of insecurity. I found this kind of confusing because we all knew he was a brilliant Nobel prize winning physicist. Yet he tried really hard to impress the neighborhood kids with magic tricks.

Miss Lonelyhearts
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Re: Feynman <3

Post by Miss Lonelyhearts »

But if he’s NOT being disingenuous, who’s the joke really on?

At least one other YouTube clip from the same interview is him refusing to dumb down electromagnetism to satisfy the interviewer’s curiousity about the truth of the idea that “we never really touch the chair.” Unless the interviewer is a really good actor, he does seem to get openly offended by Feynman’s answer.

I recall someone telling me an anecdote about Feynman that Feynman shared somewhere, that when Feynman was a boy he’d worked at his family’s restaurant, but it was a miserable experience because all he’d done was anger people by explaining to them why things should be done a different way. In other words, being “different” was rather familiar to him.

nomadscientist
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Re: Feynman <3

Post by nomadscientist »

Sclass wrote:
Thu Jun 18, 2020 7:12 pm
:lol:

This guy was my neighbor in Altadena where I grew up.

He was well aware that he was very special. He comes off as disingenuous here. I think this is where Ralph Leighton came up with the line “surely you must be joking Dr. Feynman.” He’s pulling the interviewers chain.

I think he was somewhat conflicted in this way. There’s the famous Feynmanism “You don’t have to show no one nothing.” Yet my memory of him was a showman with a streak of insecurity. I found this kind of confusing because we all knew he was a brilliant Nobel prize winning physicist. Yet he tried really hard to impress the neighborhood kids with magic tricks.
It was never clear how those book came to exist. Feynman did not write them; apparently they were spontaneously compiled by someone Feynman knew who just thought he was so interesting there must be such a book. But it is not a conventional biography, or even autobiography, really just Feynman talking to the reader.

Nobel Prize winning theoretical physicist surely can be interesting. But there are several interesting people in the world and none others have this sort of treatment that I know of.

If he asked a friend to write such a book so he can soap box the world while still appearing modest, makes more sense.

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Sclass
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Re: Feynman <3

Post by Sclass »

A guy named Ralph Leighton wrote many of the books. He was the son of Bob Leighton, one of the co authors of the Feynman lectures.

I hung out with Ralph in the 80s. He followed Dr. Feynman like he was some kind of guru. His dad was disappointed that he chose to do this and didn’t bother learning physics from Feynman. The word among the Caltech families was that the Leighton kid was enchanted by the Nobel professor. Along with Ralph were a bunch of other people in the neighborhood Feynman entourage. I hung out with some of these guys regularly as preteens.

My parents discouraged me from attending the intellectually stimulating get togethers at the Feynman home even though there was an open invitation. My dad had known him a long time before we moved into the neighborhood from his undergrad days at Caltech. While he admired the guy deeply he didn’t want me spending my time over there having fun with Ralph and the gang.

ertyu
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Re: Feynman <3

Post by ertyu »

I wonder why your parents were suspicious of him. No one is a prophet in their home town, or how was it that the saying went.

Campitor
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Re: Feynman <3

Post by Campitor »

In another thread regarding Feynman, was another forum member who I think worked for him or studied under him. He said he was very egotistical and also notorious for seducing married woman. The impression I was left with was that Feynman was brilliant but made choices that would probably kick him out of a lot of social circles.

I still respect Feynman and his work in physics and electrodynamics. And his lectures are fun to watch. His testimony on the Challenger explosion was also very interesting. He had the gift of knowing how to explain difficult concepts to laymen.

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Sclass
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Re: Feynman <3

Post by Sclass »

ertyu wrote:
Mon Jun 22, 2020 8:10 am
I wonder why your parents were suspicious of him.
They knew him a little too well.

The books and stories are a glimpse of reality. Reality was way more complex.

He portrayed himself in a way that would maximize attention. The kind of schtick that kept his entourage of teenagers wide eyed in his home did not make any of them physicists. The video above represents that side of the man. All good but that wasn’t going to do much for me. I did go on to graduate in physics.

My dad, a physicist, worried I’d go down Ralph Leighton’s path and become RF’s follower rather than learning how to be a better physicist. Mom didn’t like the womanizing. The guy left a wake of destruction behind him among the townswomen.

ertyu
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Re: Feynman <3

Post by ertyu »

Makes perfect sense thanks for answering Sclass. Also, really interesting case study on the sort of difference between the public figure and the actual human that I'm sure applies across the board for most who achieve some level of social renown.

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Sclass
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Re: Feynman <3

Post by Sclass »

I got inspired to climb into my loft and dig through some print books in boxes. My favorite Feynman books. Also saw this in a high school yearbook with a photo of Michelle. We went to school with Rodney King too believe it or not. I'll save his photo for another thread. History is just history. The RF books are an enjoyable collection of stories.

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