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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

3.97  ·  Rating Details ·  2,286 Ratings  ·  123 Reviews
As a young physicist, Leonard Mlodinow looked for guidance from his mentor, the Nobel Prize-winning physicist Richard Feynman. Drawing on transcripts from their meetings during their time together at Cal Tech, Mlodinow shares Feynman's provocative thoughts and observations. At once a moving portrait of a friendship and an affecting account of Feynman's final, creative year ...more
Paperback, 192 pages
Published May 1st 2004 by Grand Central Publishing
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Sep 25, 2009 Trevor rated it liked it
Shelves: history, science, maths
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
Arghya Dutta
Jan 04, 2015 Arghya Dutta rated it really liked it
I don't know whether this book was marketed as a biography of Richard Feynman, as the blurb quote by Stephen Hawking may tell you, or just a popular science book. It is neither. And the resulting disappointments are reflected in my friend Trevor's review.

Instead this book is all about "a day in the life of" a physicist. It tells all the anxiety, jealousy, squabbling, prestige, grit, moments of truth and the joy of finding a consistent theory of a physicist.

After completing his PhD, Mlodinow was
Jigar Brahmbhatt
Jan 06, 2017 Jigar Brahmbhatt rated it liked it
This book is more a snapshot of life at Caltech, not boring, but not great either. The Feynman-Murray dynamics are some of the best parts of the book. Feynman remains intriguing as ever and some of his anecdotes are worth the time invested. The one that I was happy to discover goes like this:

The writer, Leonard Mlodinow, is confused about the problem he is working on. His research in string theory is hardly progressing further and a lot of his fellow researchers, including Feynman, remain skepti
Shashi Martynova
Apr 12, 2014 Shashi Martynova rated it liked it
Shelves: translated
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
Feb 09, 2012 Eppursimuov3 rated it really liked it
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
Jun 21, 2011 David rated it liked it
Shelves: physics, memoirs
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
Mar 04, 2012 Remo rated it it was amazing

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

Feb 20, 2014 Rama rated it it was ok
Shelves: physics
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
Mar 30, 2011 Jorge rated it liked it
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
Raunaq Ahmed
Dec 25, 2011 Raunaq Ahmed rated it it was amazing
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
May 31, 2016 Ethan rated it it was amazing
This is an excellent book for anyone who has ever been in a situation where they are expected to perform at a very high level and are plagued by doubts of their own competence. Leonard Mlodinow does a very good job describing exactly how that feels, and how he worked through his problems with "help" from some of the most brilliant minds of the 20th century. This isn't necessarily a book about Feynman, and people who are looking for a biography of Feynman's life would be well served elsewhere. Ho ...more
Jun 05, 2015 Ypres rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2015, science
I started this book because I needed motivation. Last year, I started the physics career, and my results were the opposite of what I expected. Now im facing the special exams session (redoing the exams) in almost all the subjects. I was facing a crisis. Why I am here? I'm smart enough to study this career? I'm glad to say that there is much that I have encountered. Every Feynman's lesson, even if i'm agree or not with many of his own ideas, contains the wisdom of a man who loves life,but knows t ...more
Fernando del Alamo
Este es uno de los libros con más sentimiento de divulgación que he leído en mi vida. No recomiento leer este libro sin antes conocer a Richard Feryman y leer antes "¿Está Ud. de broma, Sr. Feynman?" y "¿Qué te importa lo que piensen los demás?".

Finalizados los dos libros anteriores ya estaremos preparados para leer esta auténtica joya en la que un joven, el autor, tiene su despacho en el mismo pasillo que dos Premios Nobel y se las ve y desea para intentar acceder a ellos y le presten atención.
Eowyn Dean
Aug 23, 2015 Eowyn Dean rated it really liked it
A short, funny, and occasionally deep snapshot of Feynman's impact on Leonard Mlodinow during the short time when they were Caltech office-neighbors. Far more psychological than Feynman would have approved! A great pick-me-up type of book for those who love physics; you won't learn any science from it, but perhaps you to will be thrilled to learn some tidbit -- like that Feynman also wondered about a world with two temporal dimensions instead of one.
Jul 28, 2008 Heather rated it it was amazing
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.
Oct 08, 2012 Adarsh rated it really liked 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.
Aug 15, 2009 Dan rated it really liked it
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.
Arnab Paul
Nov 10, 2016 Arnab Paul rated it liked it
Shelves: memoir
This is a personal reflection of Mr. Mlodinow,about his life and Feynman. I first learned his name from the book Grand Design, then watched him on some Harris-Dawkins-Deepak Chopra debate. I was completely unaware that he wrote some episodes of Star Trek series!
This book deals with Mlodinow's personal experience conflated with Feynman while he was a junior faculty of Caltech. His writing style is very straight forward. It comes to mind how technical, cognitive would be the prose of a Caltech fa
Tatevique Sukiasyan
Feb 06, 2017 Tatevique Sukiasyan rated it really liked it
The book would be a great prologue to the original "Surely you're joking, Mr. Feynman", but to my slight regret, I learnt about Mr. Mlodinow long time after. Anyway it's quite pleasant and easy-to-read, just not that impressive as the one I mentioned above.
Ricardo Homsi
Mlodinow speaks of his hesitant time as a twentysomething researcher at Caltech: he did not really know what to do once getting there. Any number of university majors will recognize the feelings of anxiety and even loss, but it's not truly engaging nor terribly novel writing. It gets better when he recounts his occasional conversations with Richard Feynman and steers us into learning something of the drive and inadequacies of great minds. But that is something that gets somewhat deceptively move ...more
NC Weil
Apr 22, 2016 NC Weil rated it liked it
Shelves: science
Feynman’s Rainbow by Leonard Mlodinow
Reviewed by NC Weil

The author, a freshly-minted young Ph.D. physicist, was offered a position on California Institute of Technology’s faculty in 1981. At that time, the Caltech physics department boasted two Nobel Prize winners: Richard Feynman and Murray Gell-Mann. These two were as opposite in temperament and approach as two titans of subatomic physics could be, and Mlodinow’s office location on the same hall gave him access to both.
But it is Feynman he fo
Jennifer Goen
A nice, simplified explanation of certain theories in physics , but also a nice simplified explanation of a relationship he had long ago with the well-known physicist. There was barely enough to be a book so he spent about a third of the time telling us about his own pot smoking and search for meaning in his own career. These parts read quite poorly as this is a book written 20 years after the events happened yet he describes those details like they happened yesterday, and it's just not convinci ...more
Jul 11, 2015 Philipp rated it really liked it
Shelves: non-fiction, physics
This one finds me at exactly the right time as an early career researcher supposed to find his own niche.

This book is about Mlodinow starting out at Caltech, with a very good PhD thesis that made some waves in the physics community, but also with a serious case of impostor's syndrome. On his floor, just two doors down, is a dying Feynman, not far from that, Murray Gell-Mann's office - the relationship between both as well as their relative outlook on life is the undercurrent of this book, with a
Jeffrey Sung
Feb 23, 2017 Jeffrey Sung rated it really liked it
An interesting account by an ex-theoretical physicist who later left the field of his interactions with Feynman at Caltech.

I should've followed the advice mentioned here before going into graduate school.
Nov 07, 2015 Venky rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: bibliocase
When Leonard Mlodinow is offered a postdoctoral fellowship at the California Institute of Technology ("Caltech"), he is besides himself with ecstasy. However the enthusiasm swiftly wanes out as the young student is racked by feelings of insecurity and plagued by the fear of failure. Caltech after all was the Institute, whose hallowed portals lent hospitality to twenty Nobel Laureates. When Mlodinow is at the nadir of his doubtful professional existence, he realizes, by chance, that his office is ...more
Mar 04, 2011 Brandie rated it it was amazing
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
Apr 17, 2009 Mazola1 rated it liked it
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
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
Dmitry Demidov
Feb 17, 2017 Dmitry Demidov rated it liked it
Книга оказалась очень короткой (половина объема русского издания - отрывки из других книг Млодинова) и совсем не о Фейнмане. Она, скорее, о самом Млодинове, о поиске им своего призвания и других подробностях его жизни в короткий период пребывания в Калтехе. Фейнман уже стар и стоит на пороге смерти, о чем сам знает. И он присутствует в книге только в виде прямого цитирования нескольких монологов. И все. В общем, на любителя. Как я люблю говорить - я как раз такой любитель.
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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
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“You’re wasting your time,” he said. “You don’t learn how to discover things by reading books on it. And psychology is a bunch of bullshit.” 1 likes
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