Fine Feynman Fare
July 12, 2011 1:40 PM   Subscribe

Physicist Freeman Dyson reviews two new books about Richard Feynman, one about the science and one in graphic novel form.

He never showed the slightest resentment when I published some of his ideas before he did. He told me that he avoided disputes about priority in science by following a simple rule: "Always give the bastards more credit than they deserve." I have followed this rule myself. I find it remarkably effective for avoiding quarrels and making friends. A generous sharing of credit is the quickest way to build a healthy scientific community.

(previously, previously, and probably in the future, but not predictably so.
posted by cogneuro (20 comments total) 23 users marked this as a favorite
Shortened links are a bit dodgy. Here is the first link, unshortened.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 1:42 PM on July 12, 2011 [1 favorite]

Freeman on Feynman!
posted by Fizz at 2:09 PM on July 12, 2011

I enjoyed that read but it isn't much of a review, really. More like "Dyson using the pretext of book reviews to reminisce".
posted by neuromodulator at 2:11 PM on July 12, 2011

He is a Scientist, he seeks to understand him.
posted by holdkris99 at 2:12 PM on July 12, 2011 [2 favorites]

Feynman was one of a kind, and we're really the poorer now that he's gone.
posted by Chocolate Pickle at 2:16 PM on July 12, 2011 [2 favorites]

Graphic biography of Feynman? I must have this.
posted by Tesseractive at 2:19 PM on July 12, 2011

I may stop on the way home and see if I can find the Krauss book; I have been a fan of Feyman ever since a fellow student at UT loaned me Surely You're Joking, Mr. Feynman in the 1980s. Other reviews of interest may be found at the New York Times and NPR.
posted by TedW at 2:42 PM on July 12, 2011

I figured, at first, that this was the work of Apostolos Doxiadis, and Christos H. Papadimitriou, who wrote a great graphic novel about Bertrand Russel, Logicomix.

Still, I might have to get this out of the library at some point.
posted by codacorolla at 2:51 PM on July 12, 2011 [1 favorite]

A graphic biography of Feynman?! I too, must also have this.
posted by midnightscout at 4:27 PM on July 12, 2011 [1 favorite]

If you want to read about some of Feynman non-science exploits, get yourself a copy of Tuva or Bust, best enjoyed while listening to some Tuvan throat singing.
posted by vidur at 5:35 PM on July 12, 2011 [2 favorites]

Strangely enough, I just started reading "Surely you're Joking, Mr. Feynman!" last week. It's written in a different voice than I expected, almost naive, privileged or sheltered or some combination of the above. It's still an interesting read though, and I love his lectures on physics.
posted by formless at 6:51 PM on July 12, 2011 [1 favorite]

The review has been changed in the past day, originally the section on Feynman and the Shuttle read something like: The engineers estimated the Shuttle risk to be one flight in 100, management estimated it at one flight in 100,000.

Wonder what Dyson reckoned the risks were for Project Orion. Anyway, Feynman comics? yeah, sign me up for the whole series! (Worked for Space, Time and Beyond).
posted by Twang at 7:06 PM on July 12, 2011

Dick Feynman, having never known you in real life, I miss you still.

posted by flippant at 7:26 PM on July 12, 2011 [1 favorite]

Richard Feynman was a great man! My son and I read both 'Surely You Are Joking Mr. Feynman' and 'Tuva or Bust'. My first tast of Tuvan throat singing was over short wave in like 1988. I called my son into the room and said, 'Check it out! Tuvan music!' I tried to throat sing but it made ne cough. Then there was some sort of radio interference when they got halogen lights in my building. Even local radio was hard to pick up, let alone Radio Moscow.
posted by Katjusa Roquette at 10:44 PM on July 12, 2011

From the article: In the spring of 1945, Feynman was nursing his beloved first wife, Arline, through the last weeks of her life until he watched her die from tuberculosis. In the same spring, Tomonaga was helping a group of his students to survive in the ashes of Tokyo, after a firestorm devastated the city and killed an even greater number of people than the nuclear bomb would kill in Hiroshima four months later.

Didn't they have an even more profound connection, one that is almost but not quite mentioned here? Didn't Feynman help develop the technology for that bomb? Pretty amazing to consider that aspect of things, I think. Two people out of the whole human race come up with nearly the exact same findings completely independent of one another; and one also happens to contribute (albeit in a minor way) to the development of a bomb that catastrophically defeats the other's country in a world war.

I expect that meeting in Sweden would have been awkward.
posted by fartknocker at 11:48 PM on July 12, 2011 [1 favorite]

Wow, I'm really excited to hear that Jim Ottaviani has finally done a full-length book on Feynman--Ottaviani is a former nuclear engineer who's built a second career writing long-form graphic nonfiction, and everything I've read of his work has been excellent. His Fallout, which tells the story of the Manhattan Project and it's aftermath through the stories of Robert Oppenheimer and Leo Szilard, holds its own on my very crowded nuclear-history shelf, so he's a natural for this. (He's also not new to the topic, as there are at least one or two Feynman stories in Two-Fisted Science, which I think was Ottaviani's first book.)
posted by Lazlo at 12:38 AM on July 13, 2011 [1 favorite]

Score! Must own! Ever since I was 19, when someone handed me a battered copy of Surely You're Joking, Mr. Feynman!, I've been totally smitten with this guy.
posted by PuppyCat at 7:06 AM on July 13, 2011

Physicist Freeman Dyson reviews two new books about Richard Feynman

I read that as "Physicist Freeman Dyson reviews two new books by Richard Feynman" and did a double take. Surely you're dead, Mr. Feynman.
posted by orange swan at 11:33 AM on July 13, 2011

As mentioned above by Lazlo, Ottaviani's Two Fisted Science is bloody brilliant.
posted by whuppy at 1:50 PM on July 13, 2011

No, this was a good review. I got enough context to be interested in Quantum Man; it sounds like a great companion to the previous Feynman biographies. And it's by the guy who wrote The Physics of Star Trek! Great book, very well-written; used it on a project in high school where we took his explanation of the concepts and applied the math to show how plausible pop-SF science was.

Dyson gives Krauss very glowing praise. If I were Krauss, I'd be positively radiating right now. Above and beyond the normal blackbody curve for my temperature.
posted by Eideteker at 6:39 AM on July 14, 2011

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