"Surely you're joking, Mr. Feynman!"

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"Surely you're joking, Mr. Feynman!"

Postby Spuddly » Wed Aug 06, 2008 6:16 am UTC

Mr. Feynman is sort of an ass. A womanizing ass. And a faker. And I'm very terribly jealous of him.
What a jerk. He decides to dabble in the field of biology, and does a weekend experiment with Watson while in grad school.


Anyone else read this guy's memoir? It's good. Sort of rambles, like an old man is telling it. Which I guess he was, by the time he wrote it. Though I get the feeling it's actually ghost written by someone who recorded Feynman on his 8-track. I decided to read it, since I had seen him referenced a couple times in the comics, and read some quotes from him in Chrichton's memoirs.
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Re: "Surely you're joking, Mr. Feynman!"

Postby Jorpho » Tue Aug 12, 2008 3:23 am UTC

Yes, it's quite readable. You might also be interested in Safecracker Suite (an audio recording of Feynman reading from the book, plus some of his bongo playing) and The Art of Richard P. Feynman (since he discusses his drawing in such depth). And of course there's the sequel, What Do You Care What Other People Think?, but much of the volume is taken up by discussion of Feynman's involvement in the Challenger shuttle investigation, which makes for pretty dry reading if you're not into that kind of thing.

I for one am vaguely interested in reading the published Feynman lectures on physics some day, but a copy of that doesn't come cheaply.

One thing I'm wondering about is what happened to that painting of the masseuse he describes. Is it in a private collection somewhere? Or is it lying in a basement, waiting for someone to discover it some day at a flea market..?

I think the nifty thing is that even though he won the Nobel Prize, along the way he was happy to dabble in things like safecracking and bongo playing and visual arts. Maybe if he was born a few decades later he'd be a crack TF2 player.
Last edited by Jorpho on Tue Aug 12, 2008 6:30 am UTC, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: "Surely you're joking, Mr. Feynman!"

Postby telcontar42 » Tue Aug 12, 2008 4:43 am UTC

Yeah, there are some great stories in that book. I also have a collection of letters he had written called Perfectly Reasonable Deviations from the Beaten Track but haven't gotten around to reading it yet.
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Re: "Surely you're joking, Mr. Feynman!"

Postby Awia » Tue Aug 12, 2008 6:46 am UTC

I have to read this to get into my A-level Physics class, along with A Short History of Nearly Everything by Bill Bryson, and In Search of Schrödinger's Cat by god knows who.
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Re: "Surely you're joking, Mr. Feynman!"

Postby cypherspace » Tue Aug 12, 2008 1:24 pm UTC

Awia - John Gribbin.

All very readable books. Feynman's is my favourite though, along with The Pleasure Of Finding Things Out. He's been a huge influence on my attitude to my career.
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Re: "Surely you're joking, Mr. Feynman!"

Postby Jorpho » Tue Aug 12, 2008 1:58 pm UTC

Awia wrote:I have to read this to get into my A-level Physics class, along with A Short History of Nearly Everything by Bill Bryson, and In Search of Schrödinger's Cat by god knows who.


What an odd requirement for an advanced level physics class.
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Re: "Surely you're joking, Mr. Feynman!"

Postby Awia » Tue Aug 12, 2008 4:14 pm UTC

I know, apparently it's to make sure if I'm dedicated enough.
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Re: "Surely you're joking, Mr. Feynman!"

Postby Spuddly » Wed Aug 13, 2008 4:43 am UTC

His ability to "dabble in other things" and be really fucking good at it pisses me off. I wish I could do the things I do as well as him. The part where he's hanging out with all the really stellar mathematicians (like Tukey!) and yanking their chains.
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Re: "Surely you're joking, Mr. Feynman!"

Postby Jorpho » Wed Aug 13, 2008 5:18 am UTC

That's another thing I never figured out: he mentions doing integrals that would otherwise require complex analysis by, what was it, differentiating under the integral sign? How does that work?
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Re: "Surely you're joking, Mr. Feynman!"

Postby xyzzy » Wed Aug 13, 2008 9:43 pm UTC

Jorpho wrote:That's another thing I never figured out: he mentions doing integrals that would otherwise require complex analysis by, what was it, differentiating under the integral sign? How does that work?


He mentions the book he learned it from...

Anyway, I rather enjoy reading Feynman's pieces. He has 'a very powerful sense of social irresponsibility' which makes for wonderful reading.

Incidentally, the book was actually transcribed from him relating these incidents to a friend, so the feel that an old man is telling it is very accurate.
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Re: "Surely you're joking, Mr. Feynman!"

Postby Jorpho » Thu Aug 14, 2008 2:36 am UTC

xyzzy wrote:He mentions the book he learned it from...
Well, I suppose I could try to track it down, but is it such an uncommon or impractical technique that to this day it is rarely discussed? I never came across it myself in any textbooks.
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Re: "Surely you're joking, Mr. Feynman!"

Postby ian » Thu Aug 14, 2008 2:28 pm UTC

Jorpho wrote:
xyzzy wrote:He mentions the book he learned it from...
Well, I suppose I could try to track it down, but is it such an uncommon or impractical technique that to this day it is rarely discussed? I never came across it myself in any textbooks.


http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Differenti ... egral_sign

Book listed at the bottom
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Re: "Surely you're joking, Mr. Feynman!"

Postby cathrl » Thu Aug 14, 2008 8:32 pm UTC

Spuddly wrote:Mr. Feynman is sort of an ass. A womanizing ass. And a faker. And I'm very terribly jealous of him.
What a jerk. He decides to dabble in the field of biology, and does a weekend experiment with Watson while in grad school.


Anyone else read this guy's memoir? It's good. Sort of rambles, like an old man is telling it. Which I guess he was, by the time he wrote it. Though I get the feeling it's actually ghost written by someone who recorded Feynman on his 8-track. I decided to read it, since I had seen him referenced a couple times in the comics, and read some quotes from him in Chrichton's memoirs.


My copy of this has, as one of the review excerpts:

"Almost makes you want to become a physicist."

In my case, the "almost" was inaccurate. It did make me want to become a physicist. And I am now a physicist. (And my nineteenth birthday present was a copy of the Feynman Lectures. No, not cheap.)
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Re: "Surely you're joking, Mr. Feynman!"

Postby Ishindri » Wed Aug 20, 2008 4:17 am UTC

I got Classic Feynman (a compilation of a few of his books) out of the library a few weeks ago, and it was awesome. Feynman is one of my new favorite scientists, right up there with Tesla.
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Re: "Surely you're joking, Mr. Feynman!"

Postby Pa-Patch » Thu Aug 21, 2008 6:21 am UTC

Yeah, my physics teacher gave it to me while the rest of the class got caught up. Good book.
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Re: "Surely you're joking, Mr. Feynman!"

Postby Caboose » Sat Aug 23, 2008 7:41 pm UTC

James Gleick's biography of Feynman is called "Genius" and it's well worth reading.
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Re: "Surely you're joking, Mr. Feynman!"

Postby Jorpho » Fri Sep 05, 2008 3:59 am UTC

Well well, what have we here?
http://www.vega.org.uk/video/subseries/8
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Re: "Surely you're joking, Mr. Feynman!"

Postby Minerva » Fri Sep 05, 2008 1:38 pm UTC

Caboose wrote:James Gleick's biography of Feynman is called "Genius" and it's well worth reading.


Hell yes, it's very good.

Jorpho wrote:Well well, what have we here?
http://www.vega.org.uk/video/subseries/8

Ah yes, the QED in New Zealand lectures. They're good. The bit where he refuses to use the silly names for quarks is amusing.

The Feynman videos on the BBC Horizon website are good too.
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Re: "Surely you're joking, Mr. Feynman!"

Postby Savara » Sat Sep 06, 2008 5:14 pm UTC

Spuddly wrote:Though I get the feeling it's actually ghost written by someone who recorded Feynman on his 8-track.


That's because, IIRC, it is. :) I haven't got a copy to hand, but it really is a very entertaining book.
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Re: "Surely you're joking, Mr. Feynman!"

Postby Blatm » Sun Nov 16, 2008 12:02 am UTC

I had read this book a couple years ago, and, more recently, was fortunate to come upon an excuse to delve back into it: a presentation for engrish class. I've reread a few of the stories I remembered to be particularly amusing, but unfortunately, will only have time to read one. I was thinking of either "Who stole the door?", "Meeeeee!" or "Lucky numbers", but I haven't had time to read all the stories yet.

Therefore (of some similar, more appropriate word), I'd like to get opinions on which story to present from you (yes, YOU!)
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Re: "Surely you're joking, Mr. Feynman!"

Postby Sir_Elderberry » Mon Nov 17, 2008 3:57 am UTC

Blatm wrote:I had read this book a couple years ago, and, more recently, was fortunate to come upon an excuse to delve back into it: a presentation for engrish class. I've reread a few of the stories I remembered to be particularly amusing, but unfortunately, will only have time to read one. I was thinking of either "Who stole the door?", "Meeeeee!" or "Lucky numbers", but I haven't had time to read all the stories yet.

Therefore (of some similar, more appropriate word), I'd like to get opinions on which story to present from you (yes, YOU!)


"Lucky numbers" is enjoyable but probably won't have much an effect on non-math-geeks.
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Re: "Surely you're joking, Mr. Feynman!"

Postby diotimajsh » Mon Nov 17, 2008 5:40 am UTC

Weirdly enough, there's a copy of this available online. Weirder still, I actually read all the way through it online. Normally I get less than halfway through online books.

Anyway, yes, a greatly fascinating read; it's good to get that kind of perspective on such a famous figure. I didn't always like the attitudes it seems he took toward women, but overall he seemed like a good fellow. Quite a trickster and prankster, yet there's something very earnest and down-to-earth about his character.
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Re: "Surely you're joking, Mr. Feynman!"

Postby The Spherical Cow » Tue Nov 18, 2008 2:04 pm UTC

diotimajsh wrote:Anyway, yes, a greatly fascinating read; it's good to get that kind of perspective on such a famous figure. I didn't always like the attitudes it seems he took toward women, but overall he seemed like a good fellow. Quite a trickster and prankster, yet there's something very earnest and down-to-earth about his character.
I thought that too. One of my favourite parts is when he wins the Nobel Prize, and the Swedish embassy wants to put on a function for him, so they ask for him to make a list of people he'd like to be there so as to check for duplicates. He invites his neighbour, and a few friends. They invite hundreds of diplomats and other influentials. And in the end he calls it off.

Down-to-earth certainly seems to me to be a very good way to describe him.
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Re: "Surely you're joking, Mr. Feynman!"

Postby Jorpho » Tue Nov 18, 2008 4:19 pm UTC

diotimajsh wrote:Weirdly enough, there's a copy of this available online.
You'd be surprised what you can find just by searching for a random, statistically-distinct phrase from a sufficiently well-known book. (It's all brazenly illegal, of course.)
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Re: "Surely you're joking, Mr. Feynman!"

Postby SecondTalon » Tue Nov 18, 2008 9:19 pm UTC

Good point.
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Re: "Surely you're joking, Mr. Feynman!"

Postby diotimajsh » Wed Nov 19, 2008 1:56 am UTC

Erm. Sorry. I guess some part of me thought it was legit, since it's so easily found and it seemed to constitute the entire website at that address.

Goes to show what assuming gets me.
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Re: "Surely you're joking, Mr. Feynman!"

Postby Absolute » Wed Nov 19, 2008 7:48 am UTC

No one's brought it up, so I'll recommend Feynman's Rainbow to any fans. While not written by Feynman, it does contain some excellent Feynmanny goodness.
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Re: "Surely you're joking, Mr. Feynman!"

Postby SecondTalon » Wed Nov 19, 2008 5:16 pm UTC

diotimajsh wrote:Erm. Sorry. I guess some part of me thought it was legit, since it's so easily found and it seemed to constitute the entire website at that address.

Goes to show what assuming gets me.


Me too.
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