Sunday, 4 November 2012

Quantum Man

This is the second time Lawrence Krauss has appeared in this blog, this time for his biography of Richard Feynman [1918-1988]. I really enjoyed his style of writing and his treatment of Feynman's life. I was totally ignorant of Feynman's work before beginning this book. After finishing it I feel like I can begin to understand the impact Feyman had on so many areas of physics.

He shared the Nobel prize in 1965 with Julian Schwinger and Sin-Itiro Tomonaga for work in quantum electrodynamics. He invented Feynman diagrams and his own notation. He worked on the Manhattan project when he was a grad student. He demonstated why the Challanger mission failed. He was a great explainer of things and frequently asked questions which led to discoveries that he was not credited for.

Apparently he was also a frequent patron of strip bars. I was glad Krauss left most of this part of Feynman out of Quantum Man.

He taught a two year introductory physics course at Cal Tech which would later be published as the Feynman Lectures on Physics. Most of his undergrad students failed this course because of its difficulty, but grad students and professors filled the empty lecture seats because of his ability to rework accepted knowledge in ways that had never been thought of before.

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