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Our Pleasure Indeed

  • Jan 4, 2000
Those who have read Gleick's biography of Richard P. Feynman (Genius) have probably also read this collection of Feynman's "best short works." This is indeed an odd collection. Feynman is most accessible in the interviews and speeches; least accessible in his "Minority Report to the Space Shuttle Challenger Inquiry." Gleick's biography reveals a man who exemplifies what Whitman had in mind when he observed "Do I contradict myself? Very well then, I contradict myself. I am large. I contain multitudes." Feynman was indeed large; he contained multitudes. To read this book is to share the pleasure of his company as he formally and informally shares his thoughts and feelings about himself, his life, his career, and just about everything else which attracted his attention. Chapter 1 ("The Pleasure of Finding Things Out") and Chapter 8 ("What Is Science?") are my personal favorites. The aforementioned "Minority Report" (Chapter 7) was, for me, tough going. As I worked my way through this collection, I began to think that I was in the company of someone who has Albert Einstein's intellect and Danny Kaye's personality. Feyman must have been a flamboyant (albeit demanding) classroom teacher. There can be no doubt about his intelligence. Nor his passion and compassion. Nor his playfulness. How much I regret never having known him personally. Therefore, how much I appreciate this collection which I continue to re-read with joy.

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Robert Morris ()
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Professionally, I am an independent management consultant who specializes in accelerated executive development and breakthrough high-impact organizational performance. I also review mostly business books … more
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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only from learning something that nobody knew before.The Pleasure of Finding Things Out, a collection of previously unpublished or difficult-to-find short works by maverick physicist Richard Feynman, takes its title from his own answer.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 ShuttleChallengerInquiry" 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 ...

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ISBN-10: 0738201081
ISBN-13: 978-0738201085
Author: Richard P. Feynman
Publisher: Perseus Books

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