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"What Do You Care What Other People Think?": Further Adventures of a Curious Character

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One of the greatest physicists of the twentieth century, Richard Feynman possessed an unquenchable thirst for adventure and an unparalleled ability to tell the stories of his life. "What Do You Care What Other People Think?" is Feynman’s last literary legacy, prepared with his friend and fellow drummer, Ralph Leighton. Among its many tales—some funny, others intensely moving—we meet Feynman’s first wife, Arlene, who taught him of love’s irreducible mystery as she lay dying in a hospital bed while he worked nearby on the atomic bomb at Los Alamos. We are also given a fascinating narrative of the investigation of the space shuttle Challenger’s explosion in 1986, and we relive the moment when Feynman revealed the disaster’s cause by an elegant experiment: dropping a ring of rubber into a glass of cold water and pulling it out, misshapen.

288 pages, Paperback

First published January 1, 1988

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About the author

Richard P. Feynman

251 books5,694 followers
Richard Phillips Feynman was an American physicist known for the path integral formulation of quantum mechanics, the theory of quantum electrodynamics and the physics of the superfluidity of supercooled liquid helium, as well as work in particle physics (he proposed the parton model). For his contributions to the development of quantum electrodynamics, Feynman was a joint recipient of the Nobel Prize in Physics in 1965, together with Julian Schwinger and Sin-Itiro Tomonaga. Feynman developed a widely used pictorial representation scheme for the mathematical expressions governing the behavior of subatomic particles, which later became known as Feynman diagrams. During his lifetime and after his death, Feynman became one of the most publicly known scientists in the world.

He assisted in the development of the atomic bomb and was a member of the panel that investigated the Space Shuttle Challenger disaster. In addition to his work in theoretical physics, Feynman has been credited with pioneering the field of quantum computing, and introducing the concept of nanotechnology (creation of devices at the molecular scale). He held the Richard Chace Tolman professorship in theoretical physics at Caltech.


See Ричард Фейнман

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Displaying 1 - 30 of 1,271 reviews
Profile Image for Manny.
Author 30 books14k followers
October 6, 2010
We were having a discussion about safety at NASA in another thread and I thought of this book, about half of which consists of an account of Feynman's role in the investigation following the Challenger disaster. One of the other reviewers complained that this section was too long, but I found it completely fascinating.

Feynman was always very good at asking tough questions and at describing things as they are, not as they are supposed to be. The most famous bit is where he's at the press conference and demonstrates the critical problem with the O-ring by dropping one into a glass of ice-water. That was certainly dramatic. But I found the surrounding discussion even more interesting. As Feynman said, he was forced to make this dramatic gesture because he felt that the people in charge didn't actually want him to uncover the reason for the crash. They just wanted it to look like all due diligence had been applied.

Also, when he started digging into the safety calculations, he rapidly discovered that they made no sense. NASA had all these claims about how careful they were, and how unlikely it was that anything could go wrong on a launch. They quoted figures like "a one in ten thousand chance of failure". So Feynman does the obvious piece of arithmetic and says, guys, do you honestly mean you could launch one Shuttle a day for 30 years and only get a single crash? Several technical people back down and say, no, of course not, the real figure is probably more like one in a hundred. There are too many unknowns. But the senior managers stick to their guns, and when he goes back to talk to the techies a second time they won't confirm their earlier comments.

There is a really tragic story here about self-deception. The US politicians decided that space travel needed to be safe, but they didn't understand that it couldn't yet be done. Their unwillingness to accept this fact has almost killed manned space flight.

The rest of the book is pretty good too. Warning: the chapter about his first wife and her early death from tuberculosis might make you cry.
Profile Image for Dr. Appu Sasidharan (Dasfill).
1,271 reviews2,443 followers
September 11, 2022

Richard Feynman was a world-famous physicist who won the Nobel Prize in Physics in 1965 for his contributions to quantum electrodynamics. He is also famous for Feynman Technique and Feynman diagram.

Feynman discusses more about his family life and his first wife Arline's tragic death in this book. The reason for the challenger disaster was perfectly demonstrated that the material used in the Challenger shuttle's O-rings were less resilient to cold.

This book is also discussing that topic in depth.
Profile Image for Roy Lotz.
Author 1 book8,284 followers
June 6, 2016
I had a conversation with a coworker a couple days ago about whether leadership can be taught. Can you make somebody into a great leader? If so, then why are so many people bad at leading? I really have no idea. But what I am far more certain about is whether there are natural born leaders; I’m sure there are, and I’m sure Feynman was one of them.

Something about Feynman’s voice, about his way of seeing and thinking about the world, makes me respond quite automatically. I stop being skeptical; I’ll trust anything he says. As soon as he starts talking, I’m instantly won over. It’s strange. I’m not particularly prone to hero worship; and I’m generally very distrustful of leaders. Yet all of my natural cynicism and distrust are dispersed like a puff of air when faced with Feynman's charm.

I’m not sure this says more about me or about Feynman. Perhaps I’m just particularly susceptible to his appeal. But I suspect that it isn’t just me, and that many others respond this way too. There is some mysterious element in his personality that everyone seems to notice. In another review, Manny suggested that Feynman might have been a mystic. I admit that I scoffed at the suggestion at the time. But now I think it’s very insightful. For there is something quasi-religious about Feynman’s combination of naïveté, simplicity, and keen wonder at the natural world; there is something indeed mystical about his way of cutting through everything distracting and irrelevant, of putting aside all unhelpful conventions, and getting to the core of the issue.

Well, on to the book. This is the more serious older brother of Surely You’re Joking. The lighthearted tone that enlivened the earlier book is here almost absent. To the contrary, the second chapter of this book, which tells the story of Feynman’s first wife, is downright tragic. And the story of Feynman’s involvement with the Rogers Commission, investigating the Challenger Shuttle disaster, is detailed and lengthy. The materials collected into this book do feel like they’ve been thrown together; the parts don’t form a unified whole. But taken individually, everything here is well worth reading, both for the insight into Feynman’s character, and the exploration of institutional NASA stupidity.

It’s a good thing Feynman is dead. If he was alive, I might have to quit my job and study physics under him, and that wouldn’t be fun for either of us—since I’d be a dull student.
Profile Image for Tara.
437 reviews19 followers
November 13, 2018
“His most valuable contribution to physics is as a sustainer of morale; when he bursts into the room with his latest brain-wave and proceeds to expound on it with the most lavish sound effects and waving about of the arms, life at least is not dull.”

—Physicist Freeman Dyson on Richard Feynman, November 1947

While this (never dull) volume isn’t quite as consistently interesting and entertaining as Surely You’re Joking, Mr. Feynman!, I can’t really give it any less than 4 stars because, hey, it’s still freakin’ Feynman, with his trademark ebullient sound effects, energetic arm-waving, and irrepressibly joyful spirit. Just in case you’re not familiar with him, Richard Feynman was an American theoretical physicist, known for his work in the path integral formulation of quantum mechanics, the theory of quantum electrodynamics, and the physics of the superfluidity of supercooled liquid helium, as well as in particle physics. For his contributions to the development of quantum electrodynamics, Feynman received the Nobel Prize in Physics in 1965. And, believe it or not, those are but a small fraction of his many and varied interests and accomplishments. Furthermore, he was also a very colorful, lovable character with a highly unique way of looking at things and an irresistibly jaunty sense of humor.

Feynman’s infectious enthusiasm and curiosity are more prevalent in the first part of the book, which contains nine stories and essays; these provide some delightful snapshots of his life and mind. The second part is a rather detailed account of his time on the commission that investigated the NASA space shuttle Challenger explosion. This section was actually quite fascinating in its own right, and often surprisingly humorous—I frequently found myself chuckling as I read about Feynman’s eagerness and impatience to cut through all the bullshit official red tape and endless committee meetings and start doing some actual, you know, work. The book then ends with a wonderful speech of Feynman’s from 1955 titled “The Value of Science.” The following are a couple of my favorite parts:

”When we read about [scientific discoveries] in the newspaper, it says ‘Scientists say this discovery may have importance in the search for a cure for cancer.’ The paper is only interested in the use of the idea, not the idea itself. Hardly anyone can understand the importance of an idea, it is so remarkable. Except that, possibly, some children catch on. And when a child catches on to an idea like that, we have a scientist. It is too late for them to get the spirit when they are in our universities, so we must attempt to explain these ideas to children.”

“We are at the very beginning of time for the human race. It is not unreasonable that we grapple with problems. But there are tens of thousands of years in the future. Our responsibility is to do what we can, learn what we can, improve the solutions, and pass them on. It is our responsibility to leave the people of the future a free hand. In the impetuous youth of humanity, we can make grave errors that can stunt our growth for a long time. This we will do if we say we have the answers now, so young and ignorant as we are. If we suppress all discussion, all criticism, proclaiming ‘This is the answer, my friends; man is saved!’ we will doom humanity for a long time to the chains of authority, confined to the limits of our present imagination. It has been done so many times before.”

Overall, this is a truly splendid book. I highly recommend it for fans of Feynman’s first autobiographical collection who want to spend just a little more time with that remarkable, endearing, brilliant guy.

Profile Image for Jonathan O'Neill.
174 reviews351 followers
May 12, 2023
4 ⭐

”To every man is given the key to the gates of heaven; the same key opens the gates of hell. What then, is the value of the key to heaven? It is true that if we lack clear instructions that enable us to determine which is the gate to heaven and which the gate to hell, the key may be a dangerous object to use. But the key obviously has value: how can we enter heaven without it?”

feynman bongos

Finding a sequel to a book you love is like being asked out on a second date by an absolute bombshell, way out of your league. You know you’re wholly inferior and undeserving but there’s no way in hell you’re gonna say no! So here I am, on a second date with my man crush, Nobel prize winning theoretical physicist, Richard P. Feynman. This is kind of my cop-out Science book for 2022 (though I still plan to read Susskind’s ‘Theoretical Minimum’). I’ve had a string of Physics books lined up since being inspired by the first book in this duology, ’Surely you’re Joking, Mr.Feynman?’, but, as is integral to my nature, have become side-tracked; perhaps I’ll add a few Pop-sci books to the back end of the year, they’re always fun.

Unlike SYJMF, this book lacks any clear chronology or organisational coherence other than its breakdown into two parts and an unmissable Appendix/Epilogue. Ralph Leighton, who is responsible for recording Feynman relating stories of his life, makes it clear in the introduction that, in tone (and arrangement) this addition is not intended to be SYJMF #2. And he’s right.

Part 1 is more or less a continuation of the former book, however, it has a decidedly less jovial, more sombre tone as it relates primarily to the story of his first wife, Arlene, her diagnosis with tuberculosis and resulting death. This terribly sad story is interspersed with lessons he learned from his father as a youth as well as a number of lighter anecdotes, though, the overarching story regarding Arlene casts a melancholic shadow over the whole of part 1, giving these smaller stories the feeling of jokes being told at a funeral; not in a distasteful way, but in an effort to reflect the positive, humorous nature of the deceased.

As these stories are taken from a number of sources, including a BBC special that I’d previously watched along with other interviews, I often wondered if there was crossover with the first book or whether I’d just remembered them from one or more of those interviews; I can’t be sure.
This first part is wrapped up with a section displaying Feynman’s photos and drawings (he took up art lessons at the age of 44) and a series of letters from Feynman to his later wife, Gweneth, from Freeman (Dyson?) to a family friend displaying an admiration for Feynman, and from Henry Bethe to Gwyneth in memory of Feynman.

”Hardly anyone can understand the importance of an idea, it is so remarkable. Except that, possibly, some children catch on. And when a child catches on to an idea like that, we have a scientist. It is too late for them to get the spirit when they are in our universities, so we must attempt to explain these ideas to children.”

Part 2, which makes up a little over half of the book, covers Feynman’s time on the Roger’s commission, investigating the ’86 Space shuttle Challenger disaster. I didn’t know a lot about this subject and having now read Feynman’s account of it, which was absolutely compelling from beginning to end, it’d be difficult for me to have any degree of faith in another retelling. See, Feynman is a no-nonsense type operator; not in the boring sense that he’s not up for a bit of clowning around here or there, but in the sense that he despises embellishment of any kind. He can’t stand baloney and though he regularly and strategically feigns naivety, he can smell horseshit from a mile away. Hence, he very quickly sniffed out a “fishiness” or corruption within NASA’s upper/middle management as well as an active hinderance of his investigative procedures from the heads of the commission.

Failure of the two O-ring seals in one of the Space Shuttle's right solid rocket booster aside, Feynman, in his ’Personal Observations on the reliability of the shuttle (included ironically as an appendix in this very book) plainly calls NASA officials out for their clear lack of proper communication with lower level management and engineers as well as their proclivity for turning a blind eye to the reality of safe working statistics and making everything seem cherry ripe in the interests of receiving continued funding from Washington. This report is typically non-negotiable in its realistic and matter of fact condemnation of NASA’s higher-ups and as such it is evident, from my point of view, that Feynman was given the run-around by the heads of the commission with respect to adding his ‘personal observations’ to the final report (it was eventually added merely as an appendix after much piss-farting around) as well as trying to organise an official questioning of NASA leaders. A number of quotes can sum up Feynman’s experience and observations with the committee:

”I got the feeling we were being railroaded: things were being decided, somehow, a little out of our control.”

“If a guy tells me the probability of failure is 1 in 100,000, I know he’s full of crap—but I don’t know what’s natural in a bureaucratic system.

”You have to convince Congress that there exists a project that only NASA can do. In order to do so, it is necessary—at least it was apparently necessary in this case—to exaggerate: to exaggerate how economical the shuttle would be, to exaggerate how often it could fly, to exaggerate how safe it would be, to exaggerate the big scientific facts that would be discovered.”

”For a successful technology, reality must take precedence over public relations, for Nature cannot be fooled.”

”Maybe they don’t say explicitly “Don’t tell me,” but they discourage communication, which amounts to the same thing.”
- Feynman

”in the air force we have a rule: check six.” He explained, “A guy is flying along, looking in all directions, and feeling very safe. Another guy flies up behind him (at ‘six o’clock’—‘twelve o’clock’ is directly in front), and shoots. Most airplanes are shot down that way. Thinking that you’re safe is very dangerous! Somewhere, there’s a weakness you’ve got to find. You must always check six o’clock.” - General Kutyna

Finally, included as an epilogue is an inspirational speech made by Feynman (“The Value of Science”) in which he puts forth, somewhat in defiance of those who say Science would be used ultimately for evil, values besides the obvious practical application of science. This was a great piece to finish on as Feynman’s infectious, child-like curiosity and passion for discovery shines so brightly and leaves you with an intense desire to get out there and learn more yourself. An extraordinarily charismatic and endearing character, this book along with ‘Surely You’re Joking…’ are two that I would recommend whole-heartedly to anyone, Science-lover or not!

”Out of the cradle
onto dry land
here it is
atoms with consciousness;
matter with curiosity.

Stands at the sea,
wonders at wondering: I
a universe of atoms
an atom in the universe.

Richard P. Feynman (The Value of Science)
Profile Image for Darwin8u.
1,599 reviews8,728 followers
January 11, 2018
"If we want to solve a problem that we have never solved before, we must leave the door to the unknown ajar."
- Richard Feynman, What Do You Care What Other People Think?


An interesting book. Not as good as Surely You're Joking, Mr. Feynman!: Adventures of a Curious Character, but it is still a gem. Part 1 of the book (A Curious Character) contains roughly 9 essays spanning Feynman's life. Some of the essays are expansions of stories and essays from other books. Part 2 (Mr. Feynman Goes to Washington) details Dr. Feynman's time on the Roger's Commission investigating the Challenger accident. While not the Manhattan Project, Feynman's work on the Roger's Commission provides an amazing vehicle for looking at Feynman's unique way of tackling a project. At the end of the book, Feynman includes a beautiful essay on "The Value of Science".
Profile Image for Lori.
178 reviews
April 5, 2013
Somehow I came across Richard Feynman in the spring of 2012. I wish I had come across him sooner. I was not quite sure how to pronounce his last name so I asked my husband if he had ever heard of Richard "Feman" and he responded "Feynman?" At that time I knew very little about Richard Feynman and wished I had talked about him more with my husband. My husband passed away in June of 2012 and he had very much in common with Richard Feynman. In fact, my husband reminded me so much of him! So when I came across the audio version of Feynman's WHAT DO YOU CARE WHAT OTHER PEOPLE THINK I really wished I had found that before my husband's passing. I think my husband would very much enjoyed the short autobiography. For ME, the short autobiography helped me immensely with my grief. On the first CD, Richard Feynman speaks of his very first love and his very first wife that was cut short with her passing. He said that there was more quality in the 10 years he spent with her so time (quantity) meant very little to him regarding that. My husband and I had only been married 14 1/2 years when he passed away unexpectedly. But since we were together 24/7 for a good 10 years - our quality of life packed into many years was phenomenal! I have gotten much enjoyment from listening to Dr. Feynman and his different views on life (and his many accomplishments and teachings) on YouTube. A brilliant, humble man - almost a reflection of my husband. This world lost two great men (my husband and Dr. Feynman).
Profile Image for Patrick Peterson.
473 reviews202 followers
October 25, 2021
2021-10-25 Just thought of this book, especially the title after seeing a study on how the public loves to "conform" and how the government is using that in nefarious ways with it's propaganda to control our actions. We need more Feynman's. We need more people to read this book and discover their backbone, their own self-worth and critical thinking. Consider the alternatives...

17 Nov. 2017 - I read this about 30-35 years ago and loved it, just after reading the earlier autobiography by Feynman "Surely you're joking, Mr. Feynman."

Both books were a pure joy to experience. I still have some vivid memories about his humor, quite libertarian personal philosophy and life experiences. He was so good at seeing, then demonstrating clearly, some basic truths that needed telling. See his account, and the historical record, on his part of figuring out what happened to the Challenger spacecraft explosion. You will be amazed at how simple and effective good creative communication can be.

I recommend this book, and it's earlier companion: "Surely you are joking, Mr. Feynman?" to everyone, especially young people, who need a boost in reasoned self-confidence.

Thank you Ross Overbeek, for investing in me with the earlier book. I am eternally grateful.
Profile Image for Veronika Sebechlebská.
381 reviews129 followers
March 9, 2019
Ako bežný človek vymieňa žiarovku
Vezme žiarovku a vymení ju.

Ako ja vymieňam žiarovku
Nijako. Temnota je môj prirodzený stav a aspoň sa nemusím pozerať na ten bordel.

Ako Feynman vymieňa ziarovku
Najprv mu príde podozrivé, že žiarovka je vypálená, pretože ju nedávno vymieňal. Vymyslí teda myšlienkový experiment týkajúci sa pozmeneného vnímania času, ktorý následne ukáže, že jeho vnímanie času je absolútne v poriadku. Po krátkej úvahe a pár jednoduchých výpočtoch vylúči možnosť, že by v okolí žiarovky bol časopriestor zakrivený viac ako to má bežne vo zvyku. Zavolá teda do najbližšej hvezdárne, kde si overí, že v posledných hodinách nezaznamenali žiadne slnečné protuberancie. Nakoniec pomocou hodinkového sklíčka, sitka na čaj a príkepovej vŕtačky odmeria hrúbku wolframového vlákna. Okamžite vytočí číslo výrobcu, aby si vyjasnil, prečo je hrúbka vlákna 18057x menšia, ako by každý rozumne uvažujúci človek predpokladal, čo z neho v zásade robí superstrunu. Kým počúva výhovorky podnikového právnika, čmára si na papierik jednoduché rovnice týkajúce sa kvantovej mechaniky a difrakcie svetla, ktoré mu vnuknú nápad, ako zdokonaliť výrobu žiaroviek. Spýta sa právnika, či vie, koľko právnikov treba na výmenu žiarovky a hneď si aj odpovie, že odmocnina z -2. Kým si právnik v duchu prepočítava nakoľko je to žalovateľné, Feynman položí a začne koncipovať otvorený list komisárovi EU pre energetiku, v ktorom poukáže na nezmyselné normy, týkajúce sa výroby žiaroviek a navrhne úpravy, ktoré by mohli ušetriť niekoľko miliárd EUR ročne, ktoré ale komisia zavrhne, pretože by mohli ušetriť niekoľko miliárd EUR ročne.

Vzdelávacie okienko

Obsah radioaktivního fosforu v mozku krysy se sníží během dvou týdnů na polovinu. Co to teď znamená? To znamená, že fosfor v mozku krysy - a také v mém nebo vašem - není stejný jako pred čtrnácti dny. Což znamená, že atomy mozku se neustále obnovují. Ty, co tam byly předtím jsou pryč. Tak co je to ta naše mysl? Co jsou to ty atomy nadané vědomím? Brambory z minulého týdne.

...a týmto dnes Feynman definitívne zmenil môj pohľad na svet, seba a bryndzové halušky.
Profile Image for Ryan.
256 reviews53 followers
June 21, 2021
I think that while this book may work as a lighthearted romp, and as wonderfully illuminating insight into the life and thinking of Richard Feynman—easily the most interesting scientist I've ever read—it also functions as a quintessential book on what it means to think as a scientist.

I say this because while I understand what it means to think politically—"we must understand the players, the stakes, and what each person wants, along with what benefits whom", or something like this—and as an ideal businessperson—"how does this generate value, profit, and benefit for consumers in a ethical way"—I can safely say I could not sum up neatly what it means to think as a scientist before encountering this work.

But Feynman does an amazing job of showing what that means, because he thinks like one, seemingly as naturally as one knows how to walk or breathe. This is best demonstrated when he is assisting the U.S. Federal Government and NASA investigate what happened during the Challenger explosion later in the work. He is apparently confused by both the politics of bureaucracy, and the lack of scientific understanding by those above the engineers and technical people. He eventually overcomes this, and mentions how in science, one needs to think of what works and what might be the best solution, regardless of authority or political or (I would assume, if acting in the purest way) business concerns. This was actually very enlightening, and it was a delight seeing Feynman's childlike (real or feigned) ignorance blossom into seamless and fluid understandings that continuously helped him navigate through unfamiliar situations. Like when he accidentally gave a confidential report to a reporter, only to get it back from him and prevent it being released simply by saying 'I have no idea of this works, I don't understand the news business, I made a mistake and was acting foolish.'

Ultimately, I would argue one of the most important things I came to learn in this book is that one of the essential things a scientist must have is doubt:

"When a scientist doesn’t know the answer to a problem, he is ignorant. When he has a hunch as to what the result is, he is uncertain. And when he is pretty darn sure of what the result is going to be, he is still in some doubt. We have found it of paramount importance that in order to progress we must recognize our ignorance and leave room for doubt. Scientific knowledge is a body of statements of varying degrees of certainty—some most unsure, some nearly sure, but none absolutely certain"

I think this sort of thinking is incredibly helpful in any sort of intellectual exploration, because once someone becomes too certain, the risk of becoming too fanatical, partisan, or close-minded greatly increases, which ultimately closes off the potential of learning more. I think Richard Feynman remained open-minded even late into his life, and if nothing else aside from the sheer entertainment value and insightful commentary of his adventures, keeping an open and doubtful mind is probably the greatest takeaway I can think of from this fantastic book.
Profile Image for Nadia Jasmine.
169 reviews18 followers
November 7, 2022
মাসকাবারি গুচ্ছ লেখায় এই বই নিয়ে লেখা অংশ--

...রিচার্ড ফাইনম্যানের ‘শিওরলি, ইউ আর জোকিং মিঃ ফাইনম্যান’ শেষ করে ‘হোয়াট ডু ইউ কেয়ার হোয়াট আদার পিপল থিংক’ ধরেছিলাম। আর এটাও যখন শেষ হয়ে গেল, মন আকুপাকু শুরু করল তাঁর আরো বই পড়ার জন্য! ‘হোয়াট ডু ইউ কেয়ার হোয়াট আদার পিপল থিংক’ এ শুরুতে অনেকখানি জুড়ে তাঁর প্রথম স্ত্রীর সাথে তাঁর সম্পর্কের গল্প। আর কি যে সুন্দর ছিল তাদের দুজনকার মধ্যে বোঝাপড়া, তা পড়লে মন ভালো হয়ে যায়। জানি, ফাইনম্যানের জীবনধারা ও কেরিয়ারের অনেক সিদ্ধান্তের কারনে অনেকে তাঁর প্রতি বিরূপ হয়েছে। কিন্তু, বইটার নাম দেখলে মনে হয় না যে তিনি সেটা নিয়ে অতো তাড়িত হয়ে জীবনযাপন করতে আগ্রহী ছিলেন। বইটিতে তাঁকে নিয়ে লেখা কয়েকজনের চিঠিও সংকলিত হয়েছে। এতে ফাইনম্যান নিজে যেসব গল্প বলেন নি, সেগুলো জানার সুযোগ পেয়েছি। আর শেষে তাঁর জীবনের ভীষণ সাহসী একটি অধ্যায় নিয়ে আলোচনা করেছেন। সেটা হল, নাসার ‘চ্যালেঞ্জার ডিজাস্টার’ নিয়ে তাঁর তদন্তের পর্যায়ক্রমিক বর্ননা। পড়ে সত্যিই মনে হয়েছে, রেগানের সরকার শুধু মুখরক্ষা হবে এই ভেবে তাঁকে এতে ডেকে না আনলে এরকম একটা বিষয় সকলের অগোচরেই থেকে যেতো। যতো তাঁকে নিয়ে জানছি, ততো বেশি মুজাই এর তিনি কেন এতো প্রিয় একজন মানুষ, তা বুঝতে পারছি। তাঁর বাকি বই গুলোও দেখি যোগাড় করতে পারি কিনা। পদার্থবিজ্ঞানের তত্ত্ব মাথার উপর দিয়ে গেলেও তা বোঝাতে তিনি কোন উপায়ে এগিয়েছেন, সেটা জানতে তাঁর একাডেমিক লেখাও পড়তে ইচ্ছা করছে এই দুটো বই শেষ করে!...
Profile Image for Aditi Jaiswal.
115 reviews151 followers
January 10, 2021
If you have read SYJMF ( Surely, You Are Joking Mr Feynman) then this book might seem redundant, repetitive except the events are not in chronological order. It reads like odd, aimless anecdotes including some personal uninteresting letters, travel stories with a hint of smug, and self-righteous reflections of a man always sizzling with new ideas, are scattered across the board but you can't deny that they are winsome in its wording.

Perhaps this was the reason that I found it slightly monotonous because I have read so much about his adventures in SYJMF, except for one thing, among all these stories there was something entirely captivating and warming that it was nearly impossible to dislike this book. It was his enthusiasm and undying love for learning.

People with such childlike curiosity understand the importance of an idea and that's why they have an undaunted spirit to innovate, they dare to ask harsh questions when hit by the feeling of inquisition.

When he reminisces on his last adventure of investigating and discovering the cause that led to Space Shuttle Challenger disaster with a simple ice cup experiment, he didn't fail to blatantly put forward his views. His criticism on bureaucracy and public relations overshadowing the scientific recommendations was spot on because indeed for a technology to become successful, reality must take precedence over public relations, for nature cannot be fooled.

It's an indisputable fact that an exaggeration at the top which is inconsistent with the reality at the bottom anywhere will always lead to a jammed communication. He unravelled this failure of communication by explaining how NASA's getting political influence came in the way of the recommendation. The pressure to prove that a system is capable harms the result. Essential information is suppressed or discouraged by the big authorities who are in charge of reporting, to get the support of the govt and to ensure the supply of funds.

The latter part of the book did get technical at times but was no less interesting.

Lastly, I felt like Professor Feynman often contradicted himself as he had plans to say something but he tried to make peace with everything by compromising. For instance, he accepted that he was trying to balance the good and bad, equally, but in the end, the book was drafted in a way to give you an impression that the right always outweighs the wrong.

Fun fact: Professor Feynman had a habit of forgetting things when he did something dumb or annoying that put people out.
Profile Image for J..
215 reviews11 followers
May 20, 2014
I was enthusiastic about reading this after reading "Surely you're joking Mr. Feynman?". The book is divided into two parts "A Curious Character" which deals with the people who influenced Feynman the most; his father and his wife Arline. Arline and Richard were perfect for each other alas their relationship was bitter sweet. Arline succumbed to tuberculosis and passed away at the age of twenty five. It's not all sad though Arline very much enjoyed seeing Richard succeed but made sure he stayed grounded and they both knew how to make what little time they had together count. Sixteen months after her death Feynman wrote this touching letter to Arline. www.lettersofnote.com/2012/02/i-love-...

I loved the story about the walks he took in the woods with his father and their discussions about natural phenomena and how things work. Feynman's father was not from a scientific background but ignited a love for the subject in his son.

The second part of the book which I didn't enjoy so much concerned the investigation of the shuttle Challenger disaster. Ailing at the time from cancer Feynman took on this project despite knowing that it would use up his strength and time. I felt the book listed a bit at this point for me and that I was getting bogged down in technical terminology. At the heart of this 'part' is a cautionary tale about the management of large organisations and their internal communication. Even Feynman's investigation was frustrated by the same problems. The organisational culture was expressed by the managerial political dogma versus the technical knowledge of engineers and the break down of communication between the two. Feynman's discoveries are quite the coup d'etat. As he puts it himself in the end "Nature cannot be fooled".

Feynman is an interesting, quirky, man of intellectual integrity, who has a good sense of humour and writes about science in a refreshing and largely understandable way.
Profile Image for María Paz Greene F.
1,035 reviews184 followers
August 2, 2016
BUENÍSIMO. Me gustó todavía más que el libro anterior, que aunque también es excelente, a veces se siente un poco fanfarrón. La forma de hablar del autor (aunque haya sido transcrito por otros) sigue siendo tan sencilla y genial... que dan ganas, dan ganas de seguir la propia pasión y hacer cosas.

Dan ganas de todo.

La primera parte de este libro es sencillamente ESPECTACULAR... la historia de su primera mujer, sus primeros intentos con la ciencia... es simplemente demasiado buena. Solo las cartas familiares me aburrieron un poquitín.

La segunda parte también me gustó, pero quizá sea un poco árida para los que no son tan fan ni de la ciencia ni de las políticas relativas. Es sobre por qué falló el Challenger y cómo Feynman colaboró en la comisión de "arreglo" y, al estilo de Asimov, mezcla lo humano con lo divino, porque habla tanto de los métodos descubrimientos duros, como de las personas y cosas cotidianas. Y con gracia.

La tercera también habla de ciencia, y es una preciosidad. Cortita, casi necesaria. Esa la recomiendo absolutamente, y no solo a los que gustan de estos temas. Es otro recordatorio más sobre cómo el conocimiento es capaz de llevarnos tanto a la construcción como a la destrucción, por ser "como una llave que puede abrir el cielo y también el infierno", y esta vez desde la perspectiva de alguien que, desgraciadamente, ayudó a crear la bomba atómica, y que es capaz de comentarlo con autocrítica (Feynman).

En conclusión, cinco estrellas redondas y brillantes. Para mí.
Profile Image for Mohamed al-Jamri.
174 reviews116 followers
October 19, 2016
هذا الكتاب هو عبارة عن مجموعة من القصص والرسائل التي كتبها عالم الفيزياء الأمريكي ريتشارد فاينمان. في البداية يتحدث عن طفولته وعن دور أبيه في زراعة الفضول فيه والدافع إلى البحث والمعرفة. ثم يتحدث عن زوجته الأولى أرلين وكيف تطوّرت علاقتهما إلى أن توفيت بسبب مرض السل. هناك ذكر سريع لانجازات فايمان العلمية ولكن التركيز الأساسي هو على حياته الشخصية.

القسم الثاني من الكتاب يتحدث عن كارثة المكوك تشالينجر الذي النفجر بعد انطلاقه بقليل ومات رواده السبعة. يلعب فاينمان دوراً أساسياً في اللجنة التي شكلها الرئيس الأمريكي ريجان للتحقيق في أسباب الحادثة. ويروي لنا فاينمان هذه التجربة ببعض التفصيل.

في النهاية هناك كلمة لفاينمان ألقاها حول أهمية العلم وهي من الكلمات التي تكرر له بشكل كثير حيث يشرح فيها طبيعة العلم ولماذا هو مهم بالنسبة للبشرية. الكتاب يبيّن لنا شخصية هذا العالم وطريقة تفكيره

من أجمل المقاطع التي ذكرها هو كيف يفتح العلم لنا آفاقاً جديدة لرؤية العالم، هذه الزهرة الجميلة التي نراها يمكن لنا أيضاً أن نراها من منظور الخلايا وكيف تقوم بالبناء الضوئي، ويمكن لنا النظر لها أيضاً من منظار تطوري وكيف انتقت الحشرات هذه الألوان بالذات بما فيها ألوان لا نستطيع نحن البشر مشارهدتها (الموجات ما فوق البنفسجية) وما يمكن أن يعنيه هذا من امتلاك هذه الحشرات ذوق فني شبيه إلى حد كبير بذوقنا الفني.
10 reviews
April 15, 2009
This is five star because of one particular essay, called 'The Value of Science' In that essay, Feynman conveys his sense of wonder with the natural world and likens that sense of awe and mystery with religious experience - one few people not educated in science have the priviledge to encounter. He also emplasises something I believe, but have never seen written about explicitly before - that one huge contribution of science is the realisation that it's entirely possible to live your life and make decisions while not being sure, even about fundamental things. Science is all about uncertainty - hypotheses are only true until someone proves them wrong. We can never be sure about the meaning of the universe (at least, not through science). So, doing science teaches people how to suspend judgement, and to take other views and possibilities into account. This essay is essential reading for young scientists (what are your responsibilities to wider society?), and anyone interested in philosophy (without the jargon).
Also really interesting is his account of being on the committee that investigated the Challenger disaster - a cautionary insight into how bureacracy can go badly wrong in even well-meaning organisations.
I'm unsure how much of his autobiographical stuff is exaggerated, and I am not sure how easy he would have been to live with! But I wish he'd written more about his own personal philosophies and opinions, because I find myself agreeing with him an awful lot. And considering he was instrumental in the Manhattan Project, that in itself is thought-provoking.

Profile Image for Joel.
110 reviews50 followers
July 5, 2017
Once again, Feynman is touching, hilarious, frank, and insightful, all at once.

This book, like the one preceding it, Surely You’re Joking Mr. Feynman, is a transcription of recordings made by Feynman’s drumming partner, Ralph Leighton. I have spent quite a few late nights watching interviews of Feynman on YouTube, including the story about the brown throated thrush, and I could actually hear his voice in my head as I was reading it.

This book is not as linear as the first one, being more of a random collection of stories, drawings, letters, an account of his time on the Presidential commission investigating the Challenger disaster, and a talk he gave on the value of science. Nevertheless, it was just as entertaining, inspiring, and illuminating.

I found the story of Feynman’s run-in with an angry crowd of feminists particularly funny. His story about a Negro (his words, not mine) taxi driver in Trinidad left me shaking my head, while the section on NASA had me banging my fists against the table. It is inspiring to see that despite Feynman’s respect for the US government, his scientific integrity made him prepared to be honestly critical of how it operates.

I was afraid the book would end on a bad note with the somewhat vapid speech at the end, but there were some quite deep insights in there as well, and his closing remarks about not suppressing discussion and criticism was a perfect way to end it.

Overall, not as meaty as some other books of this genre, but it was a quick entertaining read, and left me with many lessons I will carry with me.
Profile Image for Mack .
1,498 reviews52 followers
March 6, 2021
In this book, Richard Feynman shows himself to be many things: a devoted husband, a tragic figure, a dedicated scientist, a superb investigator. The science shown is related both to Feynman's famous part in the investigation of the shuttle disaster of 1986 and to his views of the ethics of science. I feel inspired by Feynman's story.
Profile Image for Ana.
652 reviews86 followers
May 28, 2018
This book has two main parts, one is a sort of biography made of Feynman’s own childhood reminiscences, that helps us understand how he turned into a scientist, episodes of his adult life narrated by himself and others, and then a second part about the Space Shuttle accident and his work in the commission that was nominated to investigate the causes of the accident. I found both parts equally interesting, although the second part became a bit too technical, at times.

I also found that the first part jumped too quickly over his early adult years. I think this essay at BrainPickings is a great complement to the book, for those who’d like to understand a bit more the character of this amazing person: https://www.brainpickings.org/2017/10...

Anyway, I think I will never get tired of reading Feynman, because each time I read him, I am reminded of the beauty of science and the pleasure of finding things out. Feynman refuted the notion that scientific quest deprives life of poetry, as many used to argue in the past (fortunately, things are less so nowadays):
” Poets say science takes away from the beauty of the stars — mere globs of gas atoms. I too can see the stars on a desert night, and feel them. But do I see less or more? The vastness of the heavens stretches my imagination — stuck on this carousel my little eye can catch one-million-year-old light. A vast pattern — of which I am a part…. What is the pattern, or the meaning, or the why? It does not do harm to the mystery to know a little about it. For far more marvelous is the truth than any artists of the past imagined it. Why do the poets of the present not speak of it? What men are poets who can speak of Jupiter if he were a man, but if he is an immense spinning sphere of methane and ammonia must be silent?”

And how beautiful is this text, written by Feynman himself, about the wonder of life:

“I stand at the seashore, alone, and start to think.

There are the rushing waves
mountains of molecules
each stupidly minding its own business
trillions apart
yet forming white surf in unison

Ages on ages
before any eyes could see
year after year thunderously pounding the shore as now.
For whom, for what? On a dead planet
with no life to entertain.

Never at rest
tortured by energy
wasted prodigiously by the Sun
poured into space. A mite makes the sea roar.

Deep in the sea
all molecules repeat
the patterns of one another
till complex new ones are formed.
They make others like themselves
and a new dance starts.

Growing in size and complexity
living things
masses of atoms
DNA, protein
dancing a pattern ever more intricate.

Out of the cradle
onto dry land
here it is standing:
atoms with consciousness;
matter with curiosity.

Stands at the sea,
wonders at wondering: I
a universe of atoms
an atom in the Universe.”
Profile Image for muthuvel.
257 reviews154 followers
August 31, 2016
Loved every bit of the words <3
What a curious character he was. It was total fun learning from his delightful, hilarious, flamboyant experiences. However the epilogue touched my mind very profoundly regarding hia contemplations on the value of Science! It was an unfathomable feeling occupied with his ideas.

"We are at the very beginning of time for the human race. It is not unreasonable that we grapple with problems. But there are tens of thousands of years in the future. Our responsibility is to do what we can, learn what we can, improve the solutions, and pass them on."
Profile Image for Neha More.
9 reviews
February 26, 2019
Amazing read. Wish I could meet Mr.Feynman in real life. He was surely an interesting person!
Profile Image for Saeed Ramazany.
Author 1 book67 followers
July 2, 2019
من فقط یک فصل از کتاب که عنوان کتاب رو داشت خوندم.
تو این فصل فاینمن از اولین همسرش میگه. به قدری خوب و ساده و روان حرف میزنه و خوب در مورد دوست داشتن حرف میزنه که آخرش بغضم گرفته بود.
نامه‌ش به این زنش که یک سال بعد مرگش هم نوشته بود عالیه!
Profile Image for Sabbir Ahmed.
98 reviews24 followers
July 16, 2015
রিচার্ড ফাইনম্যান কিভাবে একজন নামকরা বিজ্ঞানী হয়ে উঠলেন?
তিনি এর পেছনে তার বাবার অবদানের কথা স্বীকার করেন। তিনি যখন ভূমিষ্ঠও হননি তখন তার বাবা তার মাকে বলেছিল, যদি ছেলে হয় তবে সে হবে একজন বিজ্ঞানী (ফাইনম্যানের বোনও কিন্তু একজন পদার্থবিদ তবে এক্ষেত্রে তার বিখ্যাত ভাইয়ের অবদান বেশী)।
তিনি যখন একেবারে ছোট তখন তার পিতা তার সাথে বাথরুমের টাইলস দিয়ে ডমিনো খেলতেন। ডমিনোগুলোকে তিনি ছোট ফাইনম্যানকে এভাবে সাজাতে দিতেন, দুইটি সাদা এরপর একটি নীল, আবার দুইটি সাদা তারপর আরেকটি নীল। তার মা এসব দেখে বলত, leave the poor child alone. if he wants to put a blue tile, let him put a blue tile. কিন্তু পিতার উত্তর ছিল, No, i want to show him what patterns are like and how interesting they are.
আরেকটু বড় হলে তার পিতা এনসাইক্লোপেডিয়া ব্রিটানিকা পড়ে শুনাতেন। একবার যখন টাইরেনোসরাস রেক্স সম্পর্কে পড়ছিলেন তখন হঠাৎ বই বন্ধ করে বললেন, This dinosaur is twenty five feet high and its head is six feet across. Now, lets see what that means. That would mean that if it stood in our front yard, it would be tall enough to put his head through our window up here. But its head would be too wide to fit in the window. ফাইনম্যান বলেন, যে সেখান থেকে তিনি এই অভ্যাসটি আয়ত্ত করেছেন - everything i read i try to figure out what it really means, what it's really saying.
একবার ফাইনম্যান খেলনার গাড়ির ভেতরে ছোট বল রেখে খেলা করছিলেন। তিনি লক্ষ্য করলেন, যখন গাড়িটিকে ধাক্কা দেওয়া হয় তখন বলটি পেছনে চলে আসে আবার থামবার সময় সেটি ঠিক সামনের দিকে গড়িয়ে আসে। তিনি বাবার কাছে ছুটে গেলেন এর কারন জানার জন্য। বাবা কিন্তু শুধু, এটা inertia, বড় হলে শিখতে পারবে - এই বলে শেষ করে দেন নি। তার উত্তর ছিল, That, nobody knows. The general principle is that things which are moving tend to keep on moving and things which are standing still tend to stand still, unless you push them hard. This tendency is called inertia, but nobody knows why its true.

ফাইনম্যান এরকম কিছু উদাহরণ টেনে বলেন, Thats the way i was educated by my father, with those kinds of examples and discussions: no pressure - just lovely, interesting discussion. It has motivated me for the rest of my life, and makes me interested in all the sciences. It happens i do physics better.

ফাইনম্যানের পিতা নিশ্চয়ই খুব বড় ধরণের স্কলার ছিলেন - এটা মনে হতে পারে। কিন্তু তিনি ছিলেন একজন সাধ��রণ সেলসম্যান।

ফাইনম্যানের নাসার একটি প্রজেক্টে কাজ করা নিয়ে আলেকপাত করা হয়েছে বইটির একটা বিশাল অংশ জুড়ে। যেটা পড়তে খানিকটা বিরক্তির উদ্রেক হতে পারে। তবে যেটা বোঝা যায়, নাসাকে নিয়ে সবসময় যে কন্সপিরেসী থিওরি দাড় করানো হয় তার আসলেই একটা কারণ আছে। ফাইনম্যান একজন নোবেল বিজয়ী বিজ্ঞানী এবং খোদ আমেরিকান হয়েও নাসার ভেতরকার কাজকর্ম নিয়ে কম ঝামেলায় পড়েন নি।

সবশেষে, সমাজ জীবনে বিজ্ঞানে গুরুত্ব (আশির্বাদ না অভিশাপ) য়ে তিনি কিছু কথা বলেন (মনে রাখতে হবে, এটমিক বোমা বানানের প্রজেক্ট (লস আলামস এ) কিন্তু ফাইনম্যান একজন সক্রিয় কর্মী ছিলেন)।
একবার হনলুলুতে বেড়াবার সময় এক প্যাগোডায় বৌদ্ধ ভিক্ষুকের কাছে তিনি একটি proverb শুনেন যেটি এরকম,

প্রত্যেক মানুষের কাছে একটি চাবি দেওয়া আছে যা দ্বারা স্বর্গের দরজা খোলা যায়। কিন্তু সেই একই চাবি নরকের দরজাও খুলতে পারে। তাই সঠিক জ্ঞান না থাকলে সেই চাবিটি কিন্তু একটি বিপদজনক জিনিস।

ফাইনম্যান বলেন, বিজ্ঞান হল সেই চাবি। যার অবশ্যই একটি মূল্য আছে। শুধু চাবিহীন নির্দেশনা যেমন মূল্যহীন, তেমনি নির্দেশনা ব্যতিত চাবিরও মূল্য ভয়াবহ।

তবে ফাইনম্যানের আত্মজীবনীর জন্য এই বইটি highly recommendable.

Profile Image for Troy.
Author 6 books7 followers
September 7, 2013
I liked this a lot, especially the chapters about Feynman's experiences as a commissioner in the Challenger shuttle accident investigation. The last quote by Feynman at the very end stood out and struck me, as a sort of inter-ocular impact:

"It is our responsibility as scientists, knowing the great progress which comes from a satifactory philosophy of ignorance, the great progress which is the fruit of freedom of thought, to proclaim the value of this freedom; to teach how doubt is not to be feared but welcomed and discussed; and to demand this freedom as our duty to all coming generations."

Mr. Feynman was surely NOT joking when he penned that, and I for one will remember his legacy as a scientist and most curious character indeed.
Profile Image for Kim.
430 reviews
March 27, 2009
Really difficult to review this without comparing it to "Surely You're Joking", which is a shame since this book is pretty good all on its own, but is a bit scattershot (which it admits right at the beginning), and about half of it covers the Challenger explosion in more details than I really cared about. For the Feynman completist or NASA disaster junkie this will be really interesting, for the average reader probably not.

However the first essay, about how parents can instill a love of learning and a sense of scientific curiosity in children, should be handed out to all prospective parents - read this book if only for that one chapter.
Profile Image for Bee.
411 reviews3 followers
February 4, 2015
"Wonderful anecdotes from a brilliant mind "

A mixed bag of fascinating stories that fill in any of the gaps from Fyenman's life that weren't covered in Surely You're Joking Mr Feynman. Insightful and touching. Albeit very scattered and not particularly chronological
Profile Image for Anima.
432 reviews55 followers
February 27, 2019
Feynman encourages us to challenge perspectives, to let our thoughts travel beyond the borders defined by the palpable matter of us, of the world we live in. Here are few of the pathways of this journey.
“When an atom makes a transition from one state to another, it emits a particle of light”- a scientific fact which we could transfer to the definition of us- a conglomerate of tangible atoms and feelings and thoughts and senses ( we are a ‘population’ of lots of atoms (imagine a number with 27 zeros! :), e.g. oxygen -about 65 percent of our weight, carbon -about 18 percent, hydrogen -about 10 percent, and not to forget about sodium and potassium , which together represent only about 0.6% of our body and are essential for our functional status ),

...“Although my mother didn’t know anything about science, she had a great influence on me as well. In particular, she had a wonderful sense of humor, and I learned from her that the highest forms of understanding we can achieve are laughter and human compassion”- I could not agree more!

....“Arlene didn’t spend all of her time inventing games. She had sent away for a book called ‘Sound and Symbol in Chinese’. It was a lovely book- I still have it- with about fifty symbols done in beautiful calligraphy, with explanations like ‘Trouble: three women in a house.” She had the right paper, brushes, and ink and was practicing calligraphy. She had also bought a Chinese dictionary to get a lot of other symbols.
One time when I came to visit her, Arlene was practicing these things. She says to herself. “No. That one’s wrong.”
So I, the “great scientist,” say, “What do you mean, ‘wrong’? It’s only a human convention. There is no law of nature which says how they’re supposed to look; you can draw them any way you want.”
“I mean, artistically it’s wrong. It’s a question of balance, of how it feels.”
“But one way is just as good as another,” I protest.
“Here,” she says, and she hands me the brush. “Make one yourself.”
So I made one, and I said, “Wait a minute. Let me make another one- it’s too blobby.” ( I couldn’t say it was wrong, after all.)
“How do you know how blobby it’s supposed to be?” she says.
I learnt what she meant. There’s a particular way you have to make the stroke for it to look good. An aesthetic thing has a certain set, a certain character, which I can’t define. Because it couldn’t be defined made me think there was nothing to it. But I learned from that experience that there is something to it- and it’s a fascination I’ve had for art ever since.”
Profile Image for Henning.
105 reviews33 followers
August 3, 2021
Well, I wanted to give this terrific work 4 stars - but then, I read through the essay, which is called 'The Value of Science', at the end of the book. How beautifully and eloquently he wrote this essay fascinated me, so I had to give this masterpiece well-deserved five stars.
Richard Feynman was indeed a genius and most certainly one of the greatest teachers of all time. His curiosity was unique and his drive to solve and fully understand things is utterly motivating.

I can't recommend this highly enough.
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