Surely Your Joking, Mr. Feynman

Read any good books lately?
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Lausten
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Surely Your Joking, Mr. Feynman

Post by Lausten » Mon Aug 29, 2011 6:08 pm

A book of stories by Richard Feynman. It had its highlights, but I hope to find some better by him. I especially enjoyed the speech at the end, about Cargo Cult Science. It contains the quote used by Herk. It also discusses the missing element in education about science that we only teach by example, and then not so well. That when a scientist puts out a theory, include all the things that could make it invalid, don't just show what came out right but what you thought might be wrong and how you eliminated that, or if you didn't completely eliminate it, explain why not.

The problems he addresses, that he saw in 1974, have only got worse. He talks of how we shouldn't make up reasons for why science is needed, just because that will get you funding, and how if someone like a politician asks you to do an experiment to prove their point, and the experiment shows they are wrong, you still need to publish it. It seems we have only got better at doing the things Feynman warned against. The idea of admitting that their might be a flaw in your argument would be ridiculous in politics. Because scientists do admit it, they are considered weak.

Here is just that speech
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Re: Surely Your Joking, Mr. Feynman

Post by Jeff D » Mon Aug 29, 2011 7:48 pm

My recollection is that this book, and at least one other, was co-written by Feynman's long-time buddy and bongo-playing partner, Ralph Leighton.

Sometime in the late 1980s or early 1990s, NOVA did one of its one-hour programs on Feynman as a raconteur and all-around "curious character" as well as a physics prodigy who kept on demonstrating its genius. I don't know if this program is available anywhere, but it ended with Ralph Leighton talking about how the last trip that Feynman and he planned to take together -- to Tannu Tuva in the vicinity of Mongolia -- never happened because of Feynman's terminal cancer.

I have read bits of Feynman's published lectures in physics, and I have read and enthusiastically recommend James Gleick's biography, Genius. Have not yet read Lawrence Krauss's 2011 biography.

Feynman had a wonderful knack for cutting through the B.S. Somewhere -- perhaps it was here, and from Lausten -- I was led to a bit of vintage video where Feynman is saying that the imagination of [personified] Nature is much more clever and confounding than human minds, and that if we don't like how the universe turns out to be structured, at subatomic and quantum scales all the way up to the scale of clusters of galaxies, then we should go to a different universe, where the physical laws are more pleasing and "sensible" and less offensive to our fantasies.
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Re: Surely Your Joking, Mr. Feynman

Post by rickoshay85 » Mon Aug 29, 2011 8:14 pm

the imagination of [personified] Nature is much more clever and confounding than human minds, and that if we don't like how the universe turns out to be structured, at subatomic and quantum scales all the way up to the scale of clusters of galaxies, then we should go to a different universe, where the physical laws are more pleasing and "sensible" and less offensive to our fantasies. >>

A rare individual who knows how things are, not what they should be
What we think, or what we know, or what we believe is, in the end, of little consequence. The only consequence is WHAT WE DO. John Ruskin (1819 - 1900)

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Re: Surely Your Joking, Mr. Feynman

Post by nmblum88 » Mon Aug 29, 2011 10:13 pm

Jeff D wrote:My recollection is that this book, and at least one other, was co-written by Feynman's long-time buddy and bongo-playing partner, Ralph Leighton.

Sometime in the late 1980s or early 1990s, NOVA did one of its one-hour programs on Feynman as a raconteur and all-around "curious character" as well as a physics prodigy who kept on demonstrating its genius. I don't know if this program is available anywhere, but it ended with Ralph Leighton talking about how the last trip that Feynman and he planned to take together -- to Tannu Tuva in the vicinity of Mongolia -- never happened because of Feynman's terminal cancer.

I have read bits of Feynman's published lectures in physics, and I have read and enthusiastically recommend James Gleick's biography, Genius. Have not yet read Lawrence Krauss's 2011 biography.

Feynman had a wonderful knack for cutting through the B.S. Somewhere -- perhaps it was here, and from Lausten -- I was led to a bit of vintage video where Feynman is saying that the imagination of [personified] Nature is much more clever and confounding than human minds, and that if we don't like how the universe turns out to be structured, at subatomic and quantum scales all the way up to the scale of clusters of galaxies, then we should go to a different universe, where the physical laws are more pleasing and "sensible" and less offensive to our fantasies.
A bit of jingoism here: Dr. Feynman was pure "New York." (although Imyself am not sure whether the Rockaways are officially considered Brooklyn or Queens).
No matter. New York was in the cadence of his speech, his manner of expressing himself, and in the humor, ironic but zestful, and often irreverent that marked his way of communicating...
If it is still available, parts of a BBC interview for the programme "Horizons" illustrate his charm, wit, humor that gave such eclat to his brilliant mind, his endless curiosity:

http://www.bbc.co.uk/sn/tvradio/program ... e/feynman/

"Tua or Bust." comic, serious, and tragic, given that Feynman never did make it to Tuva. used to be available from Netflix.
And so was the feature film, "Infinity" the story of Feynman's fist employment ... Los Alamos, the Manhattan Project, a young man's meeting with the most accomplished scientists in the world, working on the most unimaginable, from every point of view, communal science project ever attempted..
His own young wife, was in a hospital in Albuquerque dying of leukemia- the in-gathering of the science gods, being entirely absorbed in giving death dominion., and in his lovely travels between her hospital room and his laboratory, he had many hours to ponder the mysteries of vulnerable man in his universe, and the possibilities of a greater beyond.
A sweet, non polemical, but in many ways serious and enlightening film which also corroborated the development of the very tender as well as tough aspects of the cooly realistic older Feynman:
"I don't have to know an answer. I don't feel frightened not knowing things, by being lost in a mysterious universe without any purpose, which is the way it really is as far as I can tell. It doesn't frighten me."
( Richard P Feynman, as quoted in "Genius, the Life and Science,")

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" Norma, you poor sad lonely alcoholic. You entire life is devoted to interrupting other people's posts on this forum, regardless of the topic, to tell them what's wrong with them. The irony is, here you are doing it again, with this very post.
Your fanciful card games, movie sojourns and exciting overseas trips, that all take place within the four walls of an aged care retirement home, do not suggest your own children offered you the care, I gave my parents."

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Re: Surely Your Joking, Mr. Feynman

Post by rickoshay85 » Mon Aug 29, 2011 10:25 pm

"I don't have to know an answer. I don't feel frightened not knowing things, by being lost in a mysterious universe without any purpose, which is the way it really is as far as I can tell. It doesn't frighten me."
( Richard P Feynman, as quoted in "Genius, the Life and Science,") >>

Great instincts... We should emulate his joie de vivre
What we think, or what we know, or what we believe is, in the end, of little consequence. The only consequence is WHAT WE DO. John Ruskin (1819 - 1900)

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Re: Surely Your Joking, Mr. Feynman

Post by Pyrrho » Mon Aug 29, 2011 11:34 pm

http://www.feynmanonline.com/" onclick="window.open(this.href);return false;
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