Richard P. Feynman was raised in Far Rockaway, New York, and received his Ph.D. from Princeton. He held professorships at both Cornell and the California Institute of Technology. In 1965 he received the Nobel Prize for his work on quantum electrodynamics. He died in 1988.
A Nobel-winning physicist, inveterate prankster and gifted teacher, Feynman (1918-1988) charmed plenty of contemporary and future scientists with accounts of his misadventures in the bestselling Surely You're Joking, Mr. Feynman! and explained the fundamentals of physics in (among other books) Six Easy Pieces. Editor Jeffrey Robbins's assemblage of 13 essays, interviews and addresses (only one of them new to print) will satisfy admirers of those books and other fans of the brilliant and colorful scientist. Best known among the selections here is certainly Feynman's "Minority Report to the Challenger Inquiry," in which the physicist explained to an anxious nation why the Space Shuttle exploded. The title piece transcribes a wide-ranging, often-autobiographical interview Feynman gave in 1981; an earlier talk with Omni magazine has the author explaining his prize-winning work on quantum electrodynamics, then fixing the interviewer's tape recorder. Other pieces address the field of nanotechnology, "The Relation of Science and Religion" and Feynman's experience at Los Alamos, where he helped create the A-bomb (and, in his spare time, cracked safes). Much of the work here was originally meant for oral delivery, as speeches or lectures: Feynman's talky informality can seduce, but some of the pieces read more like unedited tape transcripts than like science writing. Most often, however, Feynman remains fun and informative. Here are yet more comments, anecdotes and overviews from a charismatic rulebreaker with his own, sometimes compelling, views about what science is and how it can be done. (Oct.) Copyright 1999 Cahners Business Information.
It is an ironic twist of fate that Feynman the iconoclast has become a 20th-century icon. Feynman has a large and devoted following not because of his famous hijinks, or his skill as a bongo drum performer, or even his Nobel Prize in quantum electrodynamics. Feynman became an icon because he was a man of great integrity who did physics because it was fun. This collection of 13 short works is a pleasure to readÄthe editor has chosen not to correct any of Feynman's grammar or idiosyncratic phraseology. Intended for a general audience, these lectures and presentations cover a wide range of topics, including his early life, philosophy, religion, nanotechnology, the future of computing, Los Alamos, fun with science, science and society, and the Challenger disaster. Recommended for public as well as academic institutions.ÄJames Olson, Northeastern Illinois Univ. Lib., Chicago Copyright 1999 Cahners Business Information.