Feynman's Rainbow: A Search for Beauty in Physics and in Life
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Feynman's Rainbow: A Search for Beauty in Physics and in Life

3.91 of 5 stars 3.91  ·  rating details  ·  1,217 ratings  ·  75 reviews
Some of the brightest minds in science have passed through the halls of the California Institute of Technology. In the early 1980s, Leonard Mlodinow joined their ranks to begin a postdoctoral fellowship. Afraid he was not smart enough to be there, despite his groundbreaking Ph.D. thesis, he took his insecurities to Richard Feynman, Caltech’s intimidating resident genius an...more
Paperback, 192 pages
Published November 29th 2011 by Vintage (first published January 1st 2003)
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I don’t know quite what I was expecting, but I don’t think I was expecting quite this. This one did have an almost Tuesdays with Morrie An Old Man, a Young Man, and Life's Greatest Lesson feel about it (which is not exactly high praise) although I guess there is something about someone at the end of their life (sort of - or potentially) handing over hard won advice to someone in the next generation, even if that isn't ever quite what happens here.

I also think Mlodinow worked out early in the pi...more
Sasha Zbarskaya
Обаятельный очерк периода невыдуманной жизни физика (популяризатора, энтузиаста всего интересного) Леонарда Млодинова во времена его знакомства с Ричардом Фейнманом. Переведя 2 книги Млодинова и прочитав как редактор еще одну, я к его стилю привыкла и он мне глубоко симпатичен, по массе причин. Это его хронологически первый текст для широкого читателя, и теперь я могу отследить развитие этого самого стиля от начала. Млодинов, как выясняется, со сравнительно младых ногтей был балагур и весельчак,...more
Although it has Feynman’s name on it, Feynman’s Rainbow: A Search for Beauty in Physics and in Life is the story of Leonard Mlodinow rather than that of Richard Feynman himself. Not that it makes the book any less significant, as Mlodinow has his own story to tell. As a new post-doctorate researcher at Caltech, Mlodinow shares all the wonders, insecurities, and fears as he begins life as a physicist. Along the way, he reveals some of the more interesting encounters and conversations that he shar...more
A medio camino entre una novela corta y un libro de física teórica, El arcoiris de Feynman es un relato autobiográfico de Mlodinow en el que cuenta sus primeros años posteriores a su doctorado en física. Luego de ganar una beca para investigar en el Caltech (una de las universidades más prestigiosas de Estados Unidos, con 20 premios nobeles en su historia), Mlodinow se encuentra con un bloqueo y se siente incapaz de cumplir con las expectativas puestas sobre su persona. No encuentra un tema de i...more

Leonard Mlodinow [LM] es un físico teórico que en su tesis doctoral propuso un enfoque completamente novedoso que permitía resolver muchos problemas conocidos de la física de una manera mucho más simple. A grandes rasgos, su modelo suponía que el Universo tenía infinitas dimensiones espaciales, lo cual permitía, de alguna retorcida manera, simplificar todos los cálculos de los problemas más famosos de la mecánica cuántica. Esta tesis le consiguió el acceso a los mejores puestos de investigación

This fun, little book is quite charming. Leonard Mlodinow was hired by the CalTech Physics Department. He did not have a clue as to what sort of theoretical research to begin. He talked to all of the faculty members, including Nobel laureates Murray Gell-Mann and Richard Feynman. He brought a tape recorder to many of his visits with Feynman, so now, 20 years later, we can read some of the transcripts. Feynman was a very interesting character, who hated psychology and philosophy. Yet, Mlodinow le...more
Raunaq Ahmed
Absolutely a joy to read! A very well written book, and has got a nice charm to it. There have been a lot of books on Feynman(the brilliant physicist) and his science, but none like this. It gives a unique glimpse into the wonderful man's life and science.

In particular, the author recollects his time with Feynman who at the time was in the final stages of his cancer. Even then, Feynman was so warm and full of life. There is a lot a physicist can learn from this book. A general audience will als...more
Walking with a giant

Caltech is the home of some of the best minds in physics. Most notable physicists on its faculty included Richard Feynman and Murray Gell-Mann; both are Nobel laureates. The author narrates in simple words his casual interactions with Richard Feynman when he (author) was a freshman-faculty member at the physics department. Feeling unsettled in the world of giants, he looks for guidance and direction to establish his career, and in the process learns some basic lessons about b...more
Give me physics book for the lay person and I'm all over it. Throw a little philosophy in to boot, and I'll consider it an enjoyable read. A short sweet book that shows the humanity of one of our greatest physicists. Dug it.
Often moving, often funny, always relatable. Would recommend to other people, especially theoretical physicists at the beginning of their careers. Non-physicists will also be able to appreciate it, though.
Great book. Not too heavy into physics. More about the personality of Feynman as seen through the author's eyes. Author was an up and coming physicist for whom Feynman was an occasional mentor.
One can never tire of reading about Dr. Feynman and his insights into How We Do Physics. How Feynman did physics is so different from how most people do physics, and reading about it makes me wish for a way to jump into his mind and watch the way he thought about things from the inside out.

The narrator of the book, Dr. Mlodinow, was a young physicist when Feynman was nearing what was (sadly) to be the end of his career. While I read, I was partly envious of Mlodinow's opportunities to pester Fe...more
Leonard Mlodinow's charming little book tells the story of his friendship with one of the giants of 20th century physics, the legendary Richard Feynman. Famed as both a brilliant thinker and a colorful character who marched to his own drummer, Feynman was terminally ill with cancer and near the end of his career when Mlodinow met him. At the time,Mlodinow was a junior faculty member unsure of what he wanted to do with his life, and doubtful that he could make it in physics despite having authore...more
In 1981, Leonard Mlodinow, a recent grad with a doctorate in physics, landed a faculty position at Caltech - and immediately began to doubt whether or not he was worthy of it. To his good fortune, not one but two Nobel laureates were housed on the same floor (Richard Feynman and Murray Gell-Mann), and he sought their counsel. Feynman proved the more accessible, and their dialogues form the basis for this book.

Unfortunately, there is very little of Feynman to be found. From the technical perspect...more
David Glad
Nice relatively short (audio)book of the author's experiences of coming to CalTech as a PhD student after getting his masters at Berkeley and his encounters with Feynman and other influences during his time there. Gave surprising insight into how politics worked at CalTech, such as their proud boast of having 19 Nobel Laureates to MIT's 20 (emphasizing the latter school being five times the size) when he first arrived (it would be tied shortly after). Another amusing passage was how when John Sc...more
Instead of "Tuesdays with Morrie" it's "Tuesdays with Feynman"...OK, not completely, but kinda. Mlodinow was a first year physics prof at CalTech, searching for some answers re: physics and life. Who better to turn to than physics legend Ricard Feynman?

I've read several of Feynman's books and have enjoyed their blend of personality and science. Mlodinow creates the same blend, just it's not 100% his personality carrying the books...like Feynman's books, it's Feynman's personality that sells this...more
This isn't really about Richard Feynman, renowned physicist. It's about Leonard Mlodinow, post-doctoral researcher. I admit it was the title's reference to Feynman that got my attention but it was Mlodinow's story of his experience as a new Caltech research fellow that makes this a great read. In 1973, Mlodinow arrives in Pasadena and finds to his amazement that he can work on whatever physics problem he wants. He has no clue what that is, so spends some time trying to get to know the rest of th...more
This book is a quick beach book. It isn't bad, but it isn't particularly memorable either. Also, the book is equal parts about Feynman, Mlodinow and another physicist Murray Gell-Mann, so the title is a bit misleading.
It is written in a near non-fiction format that runs smoothly and is very clear and concise, when it is not talking about physics.
It is apparent that the author tries to dumb down the physics a bit to reach a wider audience, but then it just digresses into a three way conversation...more
Steven P.R.
Feynman's Rainbow is about Leonard Mlodinow's experience meeting with and talking with Richard Feynman. It is an autobiographical account and I found the conversations between them fascinating as they discuss science amongst other things. One particular conversation that was interesting was when Feynman recounted his experience in high school when he invented the half derivative in Calculus.

It was an enjoyable read.
For what this is I enjoyed it. Mlondinow gives a brief and descriptive account of his time at Caltech centered around his personal experiences with Feynman. In the back is Mleondinow's struggle to find his life calling juxtaposed against greats like Feynman and Gell-Mann. Eventualy he left the field for his greater writing passion. In the process he managed to get a few taped interviews with Feynman.
Brad West
The observation I couldn't stop making the whole time I was reading was how this book was very likely the inspiration behind the TV show The Big Bang Theory. The quirks of the different scientist Mlodinow mentions at Caltech couldn't have been more like the show.

As for the book itself, I found it a great read of a young scientist looking to an old scientist for guidance. Even if you don't wish to be a theoretical physicist you can still take some of the lessons Feynman gave to Mlodinow and apply...more
Richard Feynman was such a fascinating character (one of a very short list of physicists who have become, more-or-less, pop-culture icons) that even a passing acquaintance with the man two decades ago can result in a book-length collection of reminiscences. And Mlodinow’s book is absolutely brimming with respect for Feynman, who at the opening of the book is already dying of cancer, but remains very much the charismatic, down-to-earth genius of lore.

This is Mlodinow’s second book written for a p...more
David Schuster
Neat, quick read. Fantastic to see someone way more qualified and able than me giving voice to the inadequacies I now imagine almost all physics PhD's feel from time to time. Also, a lot of insight into Feynman's personality and attitude toward the universe (out of respect to him, I won't call it his philosophy of science). A mixed bag, there, but I can still learn a lot from him.
Ryan Cutter
A truly inspiring book. I couldn't put it down, it highlights both the human nature of the smartest thinkers and how exceptional they were as well. Strangely one of the best feel-good reads I've ever had the pleasure of reading. :D
Arash Fallah
An entertaining read for anyone, even if you're not a physicist or even that much interested in physics! The best feature of the books is indeed not about Feynman but but author struggles with high expectations and emotional lows about the idea that no matter how smart you are, which school you went to, or the quality of work you produce, there would always be moments of self doubt.
At same time it offers the eye-opening ideas of Richard Feynman concerning how one should approach to be a scientis...more
Very good. The author is very candid about the struggle to connect to the subject of the book. It makes it seem as though he's a bit removed from the action, so to speak.
It really shows the beauty of Physics and further constitutes the belief that this complex universe is built of simple principles and theories.
Max Nemtsov
Радуга Фейнмана! Верхнемайянские птички Гелл-Мэнна! Яйца Млодинова! Все, что вы хотели знать о большой науке, но всегда стеснялись спросить!
Jan 08, 2009 Mike rated it 4 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: hopeful physicists and people interested in physics or what drives people like Feynman
Recommended to Mike by: Grandma Pat
This was a great story about a young post-doc starting independent research at CalTech almost immediately after receiving his Ph.D. from UC Berkley. He is unsure of his capabilities and so turns to Richard Feynman for advice on pursuing his own research goals. This is a great, truthfully told, and well articulated story of the author's insecurities and passions for activities other than physics. He takes you through his ups and downs and his many periods of uninspired research. In the end he rea...more
This book was amazing!! I knew Mlodinow was smart but I didnt realize just how smart he is. His PhD thesis was so revolutionary that he received a postdoc at CalTech with no restrictions. His office was down the hall from not one, but two Nobel prize winners, Richard Feynman and Murray Gell-Mann (who might be the smartest person who has ever lived). This book came out of conversations and musings of Mlodinow during his tenure at CalTech and his conversations with Feynman. Highly enjoyable and re...more
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Leonard Mlodinow is a physicist and author.

Mlodinow was born in Chicago, Illinois, in 1959, of parents who were both Holocaust survivors. His father, who spent more than a year in the Buchenwald death camp, had been a leader in the Jewish resistance under Nazi rule in his hometown of Częstochowa, Poland. As a child, Mlodinow was interested in both mathematics and chemistry, and while in high schoo...more
More about Leonard Mlodinow...
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