Monday, July 17, 2006

Surely You're Joking, Mr. Feynman

Adventures of a Curious Character
Richard Feynman


This book consists of a number of talks, both in public and in private, given by the physicist Feynman. As such, it tends to jump around in time, but it retains a more complete sense of theme than if this had been written down in chronological format. The various chapters deal with his love of solving problems and for getting into trouble - usually because he wasn't content to accept conventional wisdom.

There was his time at Los Alamos, working on the atom bomb while his wife was dying of tuberculosis, where they passed letters back and forth with an eye toward delilberately annoying the censors. There were his safecracking efforts at the same time as he tried to show how ineffectual security at the plant truly was. There was the time he was an exchange professor down in Brazil, and how he determined that there was no real learning going on at the university, only rote memorization. (And because he wasn't afraid to stand up and say so, he might very well have effected a change in the whole system!) There were his adventures in bars, samba bands, and fraternities, and his meetings with prominent physicists and even the 'down side to the Nobel prize.'

You don't need to know anything about physics to appreciate this book. You only need to have the love of a great story, and the knowledge that a smart mouth can get you into (and out of) all manner of trouble.

Go buy it already!


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