Well it seems I’m on a science kick again today. On my ride in, which takes about 30 minutes, instead of listening to some Billy Idol, Southern Discomfort, Perlman, Heifetz, or some other odd music that’s on my ipod, I decided to listen to the Feynman lecture series again. Now those of you who don’t know who Richard Feynman was, well, you’ve missed out on a lot. I also really recommend his lecture series.

     Richard Feynman was probably one of the greatest teachers of complex ideas of all time. I’m talking, he ranks up there with the greatest in history. The man would take an hour or hour and a half and do a lecture on the most complex of subjects imaginable, and do it to in such a way that a classroom full of freshman would walk away and go “Ahhhhhh, NOW I get it.” If you think you know or understand a subject, there is an easy way to tell. Try to teach it to a group of people, without buzz words, without math, without complex symbology, if it can’t be explained in simple easy to understand language, then you don’t know it as well as you think you do. Heck, I taught a class on computers to a bunch of grade school kids. Should have been a cake walk. HELLO! I don’t think so. Let’s see you explain cache memory buffering to a kid, let alone the way a worm can do a buffer overflow exploit.

     Anyhow. Back to Feynman, do a search on his name. You might find some interesting information. Little tidbits of interesting information, things that will make you do a little more searching, maybe even grab some of his books to read. He was a very very interesting person. He helped build the atom bomb, would break into locked safes and leave notes for fun, loved to drum, helped the world understand the electroweak force, etc etc. And was just another bloke going through life. I am always fascinated by just the little things in a persons life. Like when Omni in 1979 interviewed Feynman and titled the article “The Smartest Man in the World.” Richards mother responded with this quote “Our Richie? The world’s smartest man?  God help us!”.  You’ve got to love your mom for keeping a person from getting too swelled a head.

     Or how about this snippet of a poem titled “Fun with Physics.”

Galileo and Newton and Einstein and Bohr
Are egg-headed heroes of legend and lore.
In the annals of science they’re bona fide giants,
The belles of the physicists’ ball.
But their brains notwithstanding, you’ve got to admit
That for jocular genius, for wisdom with wit,
For sheer creativity and hyperactivity,
It’s Feynman who’s king of them all!

     I don’t know about the rest of humanity. But, personally, I don’t want to go down in the history books as the finder of some mathematical function, or new physical tidbit, or even the builder of some thing. I’d rather go down as one crazy son of a gun who did some really neat things in life and made people ponder what they were doing. Just a thought.

Dr. Richard Feynman

1918-1988

Nobel Laureate, Physicist, Teacher, Inspiration.

 

Advertisements