The Pleasure of Finding Things Out: The Best Short Works of Richard P. Feynman

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Richard Feynman was one of the greatest physicists of the 20th century - from his work on the atomic bomb to his solution to the puzzle of the Challenger disaster; Feynman helped to shape the world as we know it. Nobel laureate, iconoclastic icon, caring family man, amateur artist and professional musician, Feynman was a man of many dimensions, and this book is a magnificent treasury of his best short works. A wide-ranging collection, it presents an intimate and fascinating view of a life in science - a life like no other. There could be no better way to capture the spirit of the times than in the words of one whom Time has honored as one of the most influential people of the twentieth century.

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Why do we do science? Beyond altruistic and self-aggrandizing motivations, many of our best scientists work long hours seeking the electric thrill that comes only from learning something that nobody knew before. The Pleasure of Finding Things Out, a collection of previously unpublished or difficult-to-find short works by maverick physicist Richard Feynman, takes its title from his own answer. From TV interview transcripts to his acceptance speech for the Nobel Prize, we see his quick, sharp wit, his devotion to his work, and his unwillingness to bow to social pressure or convention. It's no wonder he was only grudgingly admired by the establishment during his lifetime--read his "Minority Report to the Space Shuttle Challenger Inquiry" to see him blowing off political considerations as impediments to finding the truth.

Feynman had a fantastic sense of humor, and his memoirs of his Manhattan Project days roil with fun despite his later misgivings about nuclear weapons. Though one or two pieces are a bit hard to follow for the nontechnical reader, for the most part the book is easygoing and engaging on a personal rather than a scientific level. Freeman Dyson's foreword and editor Jeffrey Robbins's introductions to each essay set the stage well and are respectful without being worshipful. Though Feynman has been gone now for many years, his work lives on in quantum physics, computer design, and nanotechnology; like any great scientist, he asked more questions than he answered, to give future generations the pleasure of finding things out. --Rob Lightner

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Other Popular Editions of the Same Title

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