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Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Guest Review: Feynman by Jim Ottoviani & Leland Myrick

Image from
macmillian.com

Richard Feynman was the closest anyone in the modern world has come to being Buckaroo Banzai. Apart from being a Nobel--winning physicist, he was also an accomplished musician and a notorious ladies' man; it's little wonder that, among the scientifically inclined, he has a cult following rivalling that of Tesla. This roughly chronological collection of stories and anecdotes about his life picks up in 1923 with a childhood full of exploration abetted by enthusiastic parents, and sees Feynman from his acquisition of mathematical knowledge by subverting librarians, through the Manhattan Project and a long career in physics (with digressions into playing samba and pursuing women), up to his role in the Challenger investigation and his death soon thereafter. Time and again, he applys his talent for viewing and solving problems differently from others to advance scientific understanding, annoy the narrow-minded, and repeatedly get himself into and out of pickles. Feynman is an excellent introduction to the life of one of the 20th Century's greatest minds and personalities. Anyone curious as to why he is so highly regarded should make a study of this volume before proceeding to his exclusively text-based autobiographical material or even his academic works. Myrick's casual pencils gel well with the loosely organized and frequently comic episodes related by Ottaviani, and suit the charmingly disheveled physicist nicely. In addition to the uncanny tales from a life of inquiry and exploration, the author includes a well illustrated introductory lecture Feynman gave in New Zealand about the discovery for which he won the Nobel Prize in physics. It's as cogent a description of quantum electrodynamics for the layman as can be found anywhere.You would like this book if you like Surely You're Joking, Mr Feynman!; What Do You Care What Other People Think?; Trinity: A Graphic History of the First Atomic Bomb


-RET3, Guest Blogger