A beautiful mind

This is my third post in four days, a testimony of my level of boredom and the complete lack of nightlife in Gurgaon, which was well, completely unanticipated from my side. The roads start getting sparse even before the clock strikes 9, a phenomenon I never observed even back in Bhubaneswar. Apparently the reason seems to be the high crime rates here, which deters most people from stepping out at night.

Anyway without further digressing from the topic in hand, the person I am referring to here is Richard Phillips Feynman, one of the great physicists the world has ever known. He was the prime reason for my increased interest in physics (which promptly came back to normally low levels after PH 102). I remember my 12th class physics teacher recommending “Lectures on Physics” and how I immediately fell in love with the way Feynman explained the basic principles of Physics in it. Although that didn’t increase my JEE physics marks significantly, it did help me appreciate those basic laws from a very intuitive perspective (to score well in JEE, you require a good analytical viewpoint). That wasn’t the end of it though. The impact the man has had on my life has been much more far reaching than explaining JEE physics.

I got hold of this book called” Surely you are not joking Mr. Feynman” sometime in 3rd semester. The book chronicles his unusually interesting and eventful life, the kind you would never relate to a Nobel prize winning theoretical physicist (interesting and eventful would be an understatement). The way Feynman has been portrayed in this book is truly inspirational. He has a combination of learnedness, directness, simplicity and honesty which are infectious. As is his humour. However, the quality that I have found most remarkable about Feynman is his humility. This humility went a long way in sustaining his respect for others and his curiosity as well. He also had an immense inner strength that never made him give up on something. He was not merely theoretical (despite his life’s work coming from theoretical physics, an area he derived great pleasure from working in) and had his feet on the ground the whole time.

I have always yearned for a teacher like him, someone who could help me appreciate a subject better through a deeper understanding rather than feeding all those bookish crap, as is the case with most Profs here.


~ by rastapopulus on May 13, 2008.

7 Responses to “A beautiful mind”

  1. a Feynman ballad, for sure!
    will make a novice grab that book and read it off..
    the first paragraph has good humor too..
    great going.. keep it up!

  2. well..the aim wasn’t exactly to popularize the book, but was to show what a great man RF was…

  3. surely thou art a bored mind…

  4. The most surreal and notable feature of RF’s personality was that the man was not a CONFORMIST.
    The other day I read a small piece by management guru PETER DRUCKER who in his article made a apt observation about the paucity of Management leaders with a “difference” because of the advent of this new vice “CONFORMISM”.I think RF was a contrarian to this and a perfect testimony to the adage ” Give me life,I’ll take it with both hands”

  5. huh. Humility? So, never in the whole book the text transpires the HUMONGOUS ego that Feynman was famous for? And I mean, really famous. I am a physicist and never met him personally, but I have heard many first hand stories about him. Doesn´t the I can solve it all myself attitude tell you something? Don´t get me wrong, he was a genius, but sometimes he went a little above his way to present things that had magically appeared to him, while crushing to oblivion the sources from which he had got the ideas. The reason? He was a prick, a genius prick, but a prick.

  6. Dear Fernando,

    Have you got some evidence about his ego. I’ve never heard or read that before and I’ve read his stuff and other people about him quite a lot. Also his interviews on the BBC and elsewhere. He comes across as a thoroughly nice bloke.

    Rastpopulus – the books title is actually “Surely You’re Joking, Mr. Feynman!” and I agree it is a great life afirming book. Try “What Do You Care What Other People Think?”, if you haven’t already, is also a very good read.

  7. Eforie Sud Pensiuni

    whoah this blog is excellent i like reading your articles.

    Keep up the great work! You understand, lots of people are looking around for this information, you could aid them greatly.

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