Richard Feynman

gigatos | February 6, 2022


Richard Phillips Feynman (February 15, 1988) was an American theoretical physicist known for his work in the path integral formulation of quantum mechanics, the theory of quantum electrodynamics and the physics of superfluidity of subcooled liquid helium, as well as in particle physics, a field in which he proposed the Parton model. For his contributions to the development of quantum electrodynamics, Feynman, together with Julian Schwinger and Sin-Itiro Tomonaga, received the Nobel Prize in Physics in 1965.

He developed a set of widely used pictorial representation schemes for the mathematical expressions governing the behavior of subatomic particles, which later became known as Feynman diagrams. During his lifetime, Feynman became one of the best-known scientists in the world. In a 1999 survey by the British magazine Physics World, of the top 130 physicists worldwide cited, Feynman was ranked as one of the ten greatest physicists of all time.

He assisted in the development of the atomic bomb during World War II and became known to a wide audience in the 1980s as a member of the Rogers Commission, the group that investigated the Challenger space shuttle disaster. In addition to his work in theoretical physics, Feynman did research with pioneers in the field of quantum computing, and introduced the concept of nanotechnology. He held the Richard Chace Tolman chair in theoretical physics at the California Institute of Technology.

Feynman was an enthusiastic popularizer of physics through books and lectures, including a 1959 talk on top-down nanotechnology called There”s Plenty of Room at the Bottom, and the three-volume publication of his lectures aimed at undergraduates, The Feynman Lectures on Physics. Feynman also became known through his semi-autobiographical books Surely You”re Joking, Mr. Feynman! (and What Do You Care What Other People Think? (What Do You Care What Other People Think?). There are also books written about him such as Tuva or Bust! and Genius: The Life and Science of Richard Feynman, by James Gleick.

Richard Phillips Feynman was born on May 11, 1918, in Queens, New York, the son of Lucille Phillips, a housewife, and Arthur Melville Feynman, a sales manager. His family originated from Russia and Poland. His parents were Ashkenazi Jews although they were not religious. In his youth, Feynman described himself as an “avowed atheist.” He also stated that “To select, for the approval of the peculiar elements that come supposedly from Jewish heritage, is to open the door to all sorts of nonsense in racial theory,” adding that “…by the age of thirteen I had not only converted to other religious views, but I had also ceased to believe that the Jewish people were in any way ”the chosen people.”” Later in life, during a visit to the Jewish Theological Seminary, he commented on the Talmud that although he was impressed, he was disappointed with the lack of interest in nature and the outside world expressed by the rabbis, who cared only about the questions arising from that work.

Feynman was slow to begin speaking; by the age of 3 he could not utter a single word, and he retained his Bronx accent into adulthood. He retained a Bronx accent into adulthood. That accent was thick enough to be perceived as forced or exaggerated – so much so that his friends Wolfgang Pauli and Hans Bethe would one day make the comment that Feynman spoke like a “tramp.”

The young Feynman was strongly influenced by his father, who encouraged him to ask questions that challenged orthodox thinking, and was always willing to teach Feynman something new. From his mother he acquired the sense of humor he had all his life. As a young man, he had a talent for engineering; he kept an experimental laboratory in his home and enjoyed repairing radios. When he was in elementary school, he created a house burglar alarm system while his parents were away from home working.

When Richard was five years old, his mother gave birth to a brother, who died at four weeks of age. Four years later Joan was born and the family moved to Far Rockaway, Queens. Although they were nine years apart, Joan and Richard had a close relationship, both sharing a natural curiosity about the world. Her mother thought that women did not have the mental capacity to understand such things. Although her mother disapproved of Joan”s desire to study astronomy, Richard encouraged her. After a while Joan became an astrophysicist specializing in the interactions between the Earth and the solar wind.

Feynman attended Far Rockaway High School, a school in Far Rockaway, Queens, also attended by Nobel laureates Burton Richter and Baruch Samuel Blumberg. Starting high school, Feynman was quickly moved to a high-level math class. An intelligence test at the school estimated his IQ at 123-high, but “merely respectable,” according to biographer James Gleick.

At the age of 15, he taught himself trigonometry, advanced algebra, infinite series, analytic geometry, and differential and integral calculus. Before entering college, he enjoyed experimenting with mathematics, even developing mathematical concepts such as the half-derivative using his own notation. He created special symbols for the logarithm, sine, cosine and tangent functions so that they did not look like three variables multiplied together. He also invented a new notation for the derivative.

His habit of direct characterization rattled more conventional thinkers several times; for example, one of his questions, when learning feline anatomy, was “Do you have a map of the cat?” (referring to an anatomical chart).

A member of the Arista Honor Society, in his senior year in high school, Feynman won the New York University Mathematics Championship; the large difference between his score and that of his competitors surprised the judges.

He attempted to enroll at Columbia University, but was not accepted due to having exceeded the quota for the number of Jews admitted. Instead, he attended the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, where he received a bachelor”s degree in 1939.

He achieved a perfect score on the Princeton University graduate school entrance exams in mathematics and physics, which was unprecedented; however, he scored low on the history and English portions. Among those attending Feynman”s first seminar were Albert Einstein, Wolfgang Pauli and John von Neumann. He received a Ph.D. from Princeton University in 1942; his thesis advisor was John Archibald Wheeler. Feynman”s thesis, entitled The Principle of Least Action in Quantum Mechanics, applies the principle of least action to problems in quantum mechanics, inspired by the desire to quantize the Wheeler-Feynman absorber theory of electrodynamics, laying the foundation for the formulation using path integrals and Feynman diagrams.

This was Richard Feynman near the peak of his powers. At twenty-three…there may not have been another physicist on earth who could match his exuberant command of the native materials of theoretical science. He had not only a facility for mathematics (although it had become clear…that the mathematical machinery that emerged from the Wheeler-Feynman collaboration, was beyond Wheeler”s own ability). Feynman seemed to possess a frightening facility with the substance behind the equations, like Albert Einstein at the same age, or the Soviet physicist Lev Landau, but few others.

At Princeton, physicist Robert R. Wilson encouraged Feynman to participate in the Manhattan Project, a U.S. Army project developed at Los Alamos during World War II to make the atomic bomb. Feynman said that what made him decide to join the effort was to build it before Nazi Germany developed its own bomb. He was assigned to Hans Bethe”s theoretical division and impressed Bethe enough that Bethe commissioned him to lead a working group. He and Bethe developed the Bethe-Feynman formula for calculating the yield of a fission bomb, based on previous work by Robert Serber.

He immersed himself in the work of the project, and was present at the Trinity bomb test. Feynman claimed to be the only person who saw the explosion without the dark glasses or welder”s goggles, reasoning that it was safe to look through a truck windshield, as it filters out harmful ultraviolet radiation. Witnessing the explosion, Feynman ducked to the floor of his truck due to the immense brightness of the blast, where he saw a trail of a temporary “purple blur” in the event.

As an assistant physicist, he was not central to the project. He coordinated the ”human computer” computation group in the theoretical division (one of his students there, John G. Kemeny, later co-designed and co-specified the BASIC programming language). Later, with Nicholas Metropolis, he helped set up the system for using IBM punch cards for computation.

Feynman”s other work at Los Alamos involved calculating the neutron equations for the Los Alamos “Caldera,” a small nuclear reactor, to measure how close a set of fissile material was to criticality. Upon completion of this work, he was transferred to the Oak Ridge facility, where he assisted engineers in designing safety procedures for storage of the material so that criticality accidents (e.g., due to subcritical amounts of fissile material inadvertently stored in close proximity to opposite sides of a wall) could be avoided. He also did the work and theoretical calculations on the proposed uranium hydride bomb, which later turned out not to be feasible.

Feynman was sought out by physicist Niels Bohr for face-to-face conversations. The reason was later discovered: most other physicists were too afraid of Bohr to argue with him. Feynman had no such limitations, forcefully pointing out anything he considered wrong with Bohr”s thinking. Feynman said he had as much respect for Bohr as anyone else, but once someone has him talking physics, he was so focused that he forgot about social niceties.

The Los Alamos facility was isolated because of the top-secret nature of the project. In Feynman”s own words, “There was nothing to do there.” Bored, he set about picking locks to show the vulnerabilities of the security systems. They changed the padlocks to Mosler locks with 3-number combinations such as 21-63-43. After much testing and study he discovered that he could discover the last two numbers when the lock was open. When he went to someone else”s office and the lock was open, he would inadvertently feel the lock to discover the last two numbers and write them down in a notebook. If another day he needed to open that lock, he would consult his notebook and only needed a few minutes to discover the missing number. He also studied how to open some safes. One Sunday he went to the Oak Ridge uranium plant where in a meeting with a general they needed some documents that were inside a safe. They tried to call the secretary who knew the combination but she was not reachable. Feynman asked permission to try to open it and she opened it in 10 minutes.

Feynman played many pranks on his colleagues. On one occasion he found himself with the combination of a locked filing cabinet trying to guess the numbers a physicist would use (which turned out to be 27-18-28 as it is the base of natural logarithms, e = 2.71828…), and found that the three filing cabinets where a colleague kept a set of research notes on the atomic bomb, all had the same combination. He left a series of notes in the cabinets as a joke, which initially frightened his colleague, Frederic de Hoffmann, who believed that a spy or saboteur had gained access to the secrets of the atomic bomb.

On several occasions, Feynman drove to Albuquerque to see his sick wife in a car borrowed from Klaus Fuchs, who was later discovered to be a real spy for the Soviets transporting nuclear secrets in his car to Santa Fe.

On one occasion, Feynman found an isolated area of the Mesa where he could play in the Native American drumming style; “And maybe I”d like to dance and sing, a little bit.” This did not go unnoticed, and rumors spread about a mysterious Indian drummer named “Indian Joe.” He also befriended the head of the lab, J. Robert Oppenheimer, who unsuccessfully tried to lure him away from his other commitments after the war to take him to work at the University of Berkeley, California.

Feynman alludes to his thoughts on the rationale for getting involved in the Manhattan Project in The Pleasure of Finding Things Out. He felt that the possibility of Nazi Germany developing the bomb before the Allies did was a compelling reason to assist in its development for the United States. He later admitted that it was a mistake not to reconsider the situation once Germany was defeated. In the same publication, Feynman also discusses his concerns in the atomic bomb era, feeling for a considerable time that there was a high risk that the bomb would soon be used again, so there was no point in building one for the future. He later describes this period as a “depression”.

After completion of his Ph.D. in 1942, Feynman held an appointment at the University of Wisconsin-Madison as assistant professor of physics. The appointment was for his participation in the Manhattan Project. In 1945, he received a letter from Dean Mark Ingraham of the College of Letters and Science requesting his return to the University of Washington to teach in the next academic year. His appointment was not extended when he decided not to return. In a talk he gave several years later at the University of Washington, Feynman quipped, “It”s great to be back at the only university that had had the good sense to fire me.”

After the war, Feynman turned down an offer from the Institute for Advanced Study in Princeton, New Jersey, despite the presence of distinguished professors such as Albert Einstein, Kurt Gödel and John von Neumann. Feynman followed Hans Bethe, to Cornell University, where Feynman taught theoretical physics from 1945 to 1950. During a temporary depression after the destruction of Hiroshima and Nagasaki by the bombs produced in the Manhattan Project, he focused on complex physics problems, not for their usefulness, but for self-satisfaction. One of these was the analysis of the physics of air displacement of a spinning disk with associated nutation. In his work during this period he used rotation equations to express different spin rates, proving important for his Nobel Prize winning work, but only because he felt exhausted and had turned his attention to problems with no immediate practical application, and was surprised by offers of professorships at other renowned universities.

Despite receiving a new offer from the Institute for Advanced Study, Feynman turned it down on the grounds that there were no teaching assignments: Feynman felt that students were a source of inspiration and teaching was a distraction during non-creative periods. So the Institute for Advanced Study at Princeton University offered him a package whereby he could teach at the university and also be at the institute. Feynman instead accepted an offer from the California Institute of Technology (Caltech) – and as he says in his book Surely You”re Joking Mr. Feynman!- because of a desire to live in a mild climate, a thought he had fixed in his mind while he was installing tire chains on his car in the middle of a snowstorm in Ithaca.

Feynman has been called the “Great Explainer.” He gained a reputation for taking great care in giving explanations to his students since it was a moral duty to make the subject accessible. His guiding principle was that if a subject could not be explained in a first-year lecture, it was not yet fully understood. Feynman gained great pleasure from coming up with a “freshman-level” explanation, for example, of the connection between spin and statistics. What he said was that groups of particles with spin ½ “repel,” while groups with integer spin “clump together.” This was a brilliantly simplified way of demonstrating how Fermi-Dirac statistics and Bose-Einstein statistics evolved as a consequence of studying how fermions and bosons behave under 360° rotation. This was also a question he pondered in his more advanced lectures, as he demonstrated the solution in the 1986 Dirac memorial lecture. In the same lecture, he further explained that antiparticles must exist, because if the particles had only positive energies, they would not be confined to a so-called “light cone”.

He opposed thoughtless rote learning and other teaching methods that emphasized form over function. Clear thinking and clear presentation were fundamental requirements for his attention. It could be dangerous to even approach it unprepared, not to mention foolish or pretentious.

Feynman did important work, while at Caltech, including research on:

He also developed Feynman diagrams, an accounting device that aids in the conceptualization and calculation of interactions between particles in space-time, including interactions between electrons and their antimatter counterparts, positrons. This device and later ones made it possible to approach the reversibility of time and other fundamental processes. Feynman”s mental image for these diagrams began with the approximation of a hard sphere, and the interactions could be thought of as collisions at first. It was not until decades later that physicists thought to analyze the nodes of Feynman diagrams more closely.

After the success of quantum electrodynamics, Feynman returned to quantum gravity. By analogy with the photon, which has spin 1, he investigated the consequences of a massless free field of spin 2, and derived the Einstein field equation of general relativity and went a step further. The computational device that Feynman discovered was then applied to the study of “ghosts” in gravitational theories, as “particles” inside their diagrams that have the “wrong” connection between spin and statistics, have proved to be of great value in explaining the behavior of quantum particles of Yang-Mills theories, e.g., QCD and the electroweak theory.

Feynman was elected a Foreign Fellow of the Royal Society (ForMemRS) in 1965. At that time in the 1960s, Feynman was exhausted working on several major projects simultaneously while at Caltech enhancing undergraduate teaching. After three years devoted to the task, he produced a series of lectures that eventually became The Feynman Lectures on Physics. Feynman wanted the cover of that book to be a picture of a drumhead sprinkled with powder to show modes of vibration. Concerned about the connections that might be made between drugs and rock and roll induced by such an image, the publishers changed the cover to a monochrome red color, even though they include a photo of him playing the drums in the foreword. Feynman”s Lectures on Physics occupied two physicists, Robert B. Leighton and Sands Mateo, as part-time co-authors for several years. Although the books were not adopted by universities as textbooks, they continue to sell well, providing a deep understanding of physics. Many of his lectures and various talks were turned into other books, including The Character of Physical Law, QED: The Strange Theory of Light and Matter, Statistical Mechanics, Lectures on Gravitation, and Feynman Lectures on Computation.

As a way of bringing publicity to advances in physics, Feynman offered $1,000 prizes for two of his nanotechnology challenges; one was claimed by William McLellan and the other by Tom Newman. He was also one of the first scientists to conceive of the possibility of quantum computers.

In 1974, Feynman delivered the Caltech commencement address with the theme “Cargo Cult Science”, and defined it as science that has the appearance of being scientific, but is only pseudoscience, due to the lack in the scientist of “a kind of scientific integrity, a principle of scientific thinking that corresponds to the kind of absolute honesty”. He instructed his audience by expressing that : “The first principle is that you should not deceive yourself and you are the easiest person to deceive. That is why you should be very careful. After you have not fooled yourself, it is easy not to fool other scientists. After that you just have to be honest in a conventional way.”

In 1984-1986, he developed a variational method for the approximate computation of path integrals, which has resulted in a powerful method of converting divergent perturbation expansions into strongly coupled convergent expansions (variational perturbation theory) and, as a consequence, in a better determination of the accuracy of the critical exponents measured in satellite experiments.

In the late 1980s, according to Richard Feynman and the Connection Machine, Feynman played a crucial role in the development of the first massively parallel computer, and in finding innovative uses in numerical computations, in the construction of neural networks, as well as in physical simulations using cellular automata (such as turbulent fluid flow), in collaboration with Stephen Wolfram at Caltech His son Carl also played a role in developing the engineering of the original connection machine; Feynman influenced the interconnections, while his son worked on the software.

Feynman”s diagrams are now fundamental to string theory and M-theory, and have even been extended topologically. The world-lines of the diagrams have evolved to become tubes to allow better modeling of more complicated objects such as strings and membranes. Shortly before his death, Feynman criticized string theory in an interview, “I don”t like that they”re not calculating anything,” he said. “I don”t like that they don”t check their ideas. I don”t like that for anything that doesn”t agree with an experiment, they cook up an explanation, instead of saying, ”Well, it could still be true.”” These words have been quoted a lot by opponents of the direction that string theory of particle physics has taken.

Feynman played an important role in the Rogers Presidential Commission, where he investigated the Challenger disaster. During a televised hearing, Feynman demonstrated that the material used in the spacecraft”s O-rings becomes less resilient in cold weather by compressing a sample of the material in a clamp and immersing it in ice water. The commission ultimately determined that the disaster was caused by the primary O-ring not being properly sealed in unusually cold weather at Cape Canaveral.

Feynman devoted the second half of his book What Do You Care What Other People Think? to his experience on the Rogers Commission, deviating from his usual convention of brief, lighthearted anecdotes to offer a lengthy, sober narrative. He reveals a disconnect between NASA engineers and executives that was far more surprising than expected. His interviews with senior NASA managers revealed surprising misunderstandings of elementary concepts. For example, NASA managers claimed that there was a 1 in 100,000 chance of a catastrophic failure aboard the shuttle, but Feynman discovered that NASA engineers estimate their own chances of a catastrophe to be close to 1 in 200. It was concluded that the estimates of space shuttle reliability by NASA management were incredibly unrealistic, and he was particularly infuriated that NASA used these figures to recruit Christa McAuliffe into the “Teacher in Space” program. He warned in his appendix in the committee report (which was included only after he threatened not to sign the report), “For a successful technology, reality must trump public relations, nature cannot be fooled.”

A television documentary drama called The Challenger Disaster, detailing part of Feynman on the research, aired in 2013.

Although born and raised by parents who were Ashkenazi, Feynman was not only an atheist, he refused to be labeled as Jewish. He consistently refused to be included in lists or books that classified people by race. He asked not to be included in Tina Levitan”s writing The Laureates: Jewish Winners of the Nobel Prize, “To select, peculiar elements that come from some supposedly Jewish heritage is to open the door to all sorts of nonsense about racial theory,” and added that “…at the age of thirteen I converted not only to other religious views, but also stopped believing that the Jewish people are somehow the ”chosen people.””

While doing research for his Ph.D., Feynman married Arline Greenbaum (often misspelled Arlene). They married knowing that Arline was seriously ill with tuberculosis, from which she died in 1945. In 1946, Feynman wrote her a letter, but it remained sealed for the rest of his life. This part of Feynman”s life was portrayed in the 1996 movie Infinity, which featured Feynman”s daughter Michelle in a film role.

He married a second time in June 1952, to Mary Louise Bell of Neodesha, Kansas; this marriage was unsuccessful:

He starts working with calculus problems in his head as soon as he wakes up. He would do calculus while driving his car, while sitting in the living room, and while lying in bed at night.

He later married Gweneth Howarth (1934-1989), who was from Ripponden, Yorkshire, and shared his enthusiasm for life and adventure. In addition to their home in Altadena, California, they had a beach house in Baja California, purchased with Feynman”s Nobel Prize money, one-third of the $55,000. They remained married until Feynman”s death. They had a son, Carl, in 1962, and adopted a daughter, Michelle, in 1968.

Feynman had great success in teaching Carl, using, for example, discussions about ants and Martians as a device for gaining perspective on problems and issues. He was surprised to learn that the same teaching devices were not useful with Michelle. Mathematics was a common interest for father and son; both entered the computer field as consultants and were involved in promoting a new method of using multiple computers to solve complex problems, known as parallel computing. The Jet Propulsion Laboratory retained Feynman as a computer consultant during critical missions. A co-worker characterized Feynman as akin to Don Quixote at his desk, rather than at a computer workstation, he was ready for battle against windmills.

Feynman traveled to Brazil, where he gave courses at the CBPF (Brazilian Center for Physical Research) and near the end of his life planned to visit the Russian region of Tuva, a dream that, due to Cold War bureaucratic problems, he was never able to realize. The day after his death, a letter arrived for Feynman from the Soviet government, giving him authorization to travel to Tuva. From his enthusiastic interest in getting to Tuva came the phrase “Tuva or Bust” (also the title of a book about his efforts to get there), which was often used among his circle of friends in the hope that, one day, he would be able to see it firsthand. The documentary film, Genghis Blues, mentions some of his attempts to communicate with Tuva and recounts the successful journey for his friends.

In response to Hubert Humphrey”s congratulations on his Nobel Prize, Feynman admitted a longstanding admiration for him, then vice president. In a letter to an MIT professor dated December 6, 1966, Feynman expressed interest in running for governor of California.

Feynman took drawing and painting classes and enjoyed some success under the pseudonym “Ofey”, culminating in an exhibition of his work. He learned to play a metal percussion instrument (frigideira) in a samba style in Brazil, and participated in a samba school.

In addition, he had a certain degree of synesthesia for equations, explaining that the letters in certain mathematical functions appeared in color to him, even though they were always printed in black and white.

According to James Gleick, author of the biography Genius, Feynman attempted to use LSD during his professorship at Caltech. Somewhat embarrassed by his actions, he largely sidestepped the issue by dictating his anecdotes; he mentions it in the section “O Americano, Outra Vez,” while the “Altered States” chapter in Surely You”re Joking, Mr. Feynman! describes only experiences with marijuana and ketamine in John Lilly”s famous sensory deprivation tanks, as a way to study consciousness. Inside the tank he was hallucinating in less than 15 minutes.

Feynman gave up alcohol when he began to show the first signs of alcoholism, as he did not want to do anything that might damage his brain.In “Altered States” he explains his reluctance to experiment with drugs.

”Una vez pensé en tomar drogas, pero me asusté: me gusta pensar, y no quiero joder a la máquina”: Me encanta pensar y no quería estropear la máquina.””Una vez pensé en tomar drogas, pero me asusté: Me encanta pensar y no quería estropear la máquina.”

In Surely You”re Joking, Mr. Feynman!, he gives advice on the best way to pick up girls in a bar. At Caltech, he used a nude bar (topless bar) as an office away from his usual office, sketching or writing physics equations on paper napkins. When county officials tried to shut the place down, all the visitors except Feynman refused to testify on behalf of the bar, fearing that their families or clients would learn that they patronized such establishments. Only Feynman agreed, and in court, he asserted that the bar was a public necessity, claiming that workers, technicians, engineers, common laborers, “and a physics professor” frequented the establishment. While the bar lost the court case, it was allowed to remain open for the duration of the appeal.

Feynman has a supporting acting role in the film Anti-Clock credited as “The Professor”.

Feynman suffered from two rare forms of cancer, liposarcoma and Waldenström”s macroglobulinemia, dying shortly after his last surgery on February 15, 1988, at the age of 69. His last quoted words are, “I wouldn”t like to die twice. It”s so boring.”

Actor Alan Alda commissioned playwright Peter Parnell to write a two-character play about a fictional day in Feynman”s life dated two years before his death. The play, QED, based on writings about Richard Feynman”s life during the 1990s, premiered at the Mark Taper Forum in Los Angeles, California in 2001. The play was then presented at the Vivian Beaumont Theatre on Broadway, with both performances starring Alda as Richard Feynman.

On May 4, 2005, the U.S. Postal Service issued a commemorative set of self-adhesive stamps in various 37-cent configurations on American Scientists. The scientists represented were Feynman, John von Neumann, Barbara McClintock, and Josiah Willard Gibbs. The Feynman stamp, in sepia tones, featured a photograph of Feynman in his 30s and eight small diagrams of Feynman. The stamps were designed by Victor Stabin under the art direction of Carl T. Herrman.

The main building of the Computing Division at Fermilab is named the Feynman Computing Center in his honor.

Real Time Opera premiered his opera Feynman at the Norfolk (CT) Chamber Music Festival in June 2005.

In a 1992 New York Times article on Feynman and his legacy, James Gleick tells the story of how Murray Gell-Mann describes what is known as “The Feynman Problem-Solving Algorithm” to a student: “The student asks Gell-Mann about Feynman”s notes, and Gell-Mann says no, Dick”s methods are not the same as the methods used here. The student asks, well, what are Feynman”s methods? Gell-Mann leans timidly against the board and says, Dick”s method is this. You write down the problem – do you think it”s too hard? (He closes his eyes and presses his knuckles parodically to his forehead). Well, write your answer.

In 1998, a photograph of Richard Feynman giving a lecture was part of the poster series commissioned by Apple Inc. for its “Think Different” advertising campaign.

In 2011, Feynman was the subject of a biographical graphic novel titled “Simply Feynman,” written by Jim Ottaviani and illustrated by Leland Myrick.

In 2013, the BBC drama, The Challenger, depicted Feynman”s role on the Rogers Commission in the exposé of the O-ring failure in NASA”s solid rocket boosters (SRBs), based in part on Feynman”s book What Do You Care What Other People Think?

In episode 3 of season 9 of The Big Bang Theory, titled “The Bachelor Party Corrosion”, Raj and Howard decide to “kidnap” Leonard for a bachelor party weekend despite taking Sheldon, who is shocked to learn that the van they are riding in belonged to the late Dr. Richard Feynman, rented for the occasion by Howard from a friend.

In episode 2 of season 11 of The Big Bang Theory, titled “The Retraction Reaction,” the series” main characters go to visit Feynman”s grave in search of inspiration and solace.

Feynman appears in some of the music videos that make up John Boswell”s Symphony of Science: “We are all connected”, “The Quantum World” and “The Quantum World”.

Textbooks and lecture notes

The Feynman Lectures on Physics is perhaps his most accessible work for anyone with an interest in physics, compiling lectures for Caltech students from 1961-1964. As news of the lectures grew, professional physicists and graduate students began to turn out to listen. Co-authors Robert B. Leighton and Matthew Sands, Feynman”s colleagues, edited and illustrated them in book form. The work has remained current and proven useful even today. The work was edited and completed in 2005 with Feynman”s Tips on Physics: A Problem-Solving Supplement to the Feynman Lectures on Physics by Michael Gottlieb and Ralph Leighton (son of Robert Leighton), with support from Kip Thorne and other physicists.

Films and plays


  1. Richard Feynman
  2. Richard Feynman
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