Feynman remade quantum electrodynamics—the theory of the interaction between light and matter—and thus altered the way science understands the nature of waves and particles. He was co-awarded the Nobel Prize for Physics in 1965 for this work, which tied together in an experimentally perfect package all the varied phenomena at work in light, radio, electricity, and magnetism. The other cowinners of the Nobel Prize, Julian S. Schwinger of the United States and Tomonaga Shin’ichirō of Japan, had independently created equivalent theories, but it was Feynman’s that proved the most original and far-reaching. The problem-solving tools that he invented—including pictorial representations of particle interactions known as Feynman diagrams—permeated many areas of theoretical physics in the second half of the 20th century.
I'd love to know when this was filmed. Couldn't have been more than a couple years before his death. What a character.
“So we aren't any closer to unification than we were in Einstein's time?” the historian asked. Feynman grew angry. “It's a crazy question!...We're certainly closer. We know more. And if there's a finite amount to be known, we obviously must be closer to having the knowledge, okay? I don't know how to make this into a sensible question... It's all so stupid. All these interviews are always so damned useless.”
He rose from his desk and walked out the door and down the corridor, drumming his knuckles along the wall. The writer heard him shout, just before he disappeared: “It's goddamned useless to talk about these things! It's a complete waste of time! The history of these things is nonsense! You're trying to make something difficult and complicated out of something that's simple and beautiful.”
Across the hall Murray Gell-Mann looked out of his office. “I see you've met Dick,” he said.
davemee: Tragic that he died of a vitamin C overdose.
After I'd completed the P.S. and P.P.S., I ran into Richard Feynman at a conference. I reminded him of my lecture at Caltech three years earlier; his somewhat vague recollection of it was that it was "silly". I took that as a charitable way of saying that he hadn't seen any point to it. Which made me think that maybe his "village-idiot" stance was due to genuine puzzlement, and not just an act.
I then told him, with a certain amount of trepidation, that in my new book I had humorously referred to his blunt way of answering all my analogy problems as "village-idiotic" a few times. Would this offend him? "Oh, no!" he said. "A while back, Omni magazine interviewed me, and on their cover they advertised it as an interview with the `world's smartest man'. I think it's good to counterbalance that—so now you're calling me a village idiot. That's fine. I think my mother would agree with you more than with Omni."
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