Feynman.jpg"I'd hate to die twice. It's so boring," were the last words of American theoretical physicist, Richard Feynman (Wikipedia).

Richard Feynman was famous for lots of discoveries and theories which lead him to winning numerous amounts of awards. His love for calculus and physics made him important for discovering new theories and formulas. He was well "known for his work in the path integral formulation of quantum mechanics, the theory of quantum electrodynamics..." (Wikipedia). Though Feynman had countless fame for his success in the science field, he encountered several obstacles throughout his career that enabled him to produce content. He overcame his difficulties and regained his love for science and worked hard for achieving accomplishments in this field. With numberless extents of contribution to the world of science and physics. Feynman to this day has earned his achievement from his works over the course of his lifetime.

Background


On May 11,1918 in Queens, New York, American genius Richard Phillips Feynman was born to Lucille Phillips and Melville Arthur (Riley). Feynman's family line originated from Russia and Poland. Even though he was a late talker, Feynman surprised his family later when he was so smart in school. Feynman's father was an uneducated man who worked as a sales manager for a company that made uniforms, and his mother was a homemaker. Despite being born into an ordinary middle class Jewish family, Feynman was very smart and at the age of 10 he began to take interest in physics. His IQ was 125 which was extremely high. When he was 10 years old, Richard collected old radios and had his own personal laboratory. At the age of 12, Feynman managed fix the old radios he had collected from his neighbors, due to his talent for engineering (Weisstein). When he was in grade school, he was able to create a home burglary system while his parents were out for the day running errands (Wikipedia). When Richard was five years old, his mother gave birth to a younger brother, but this brother died at four weeks of age. Four years later, Richard gained a sister, Joan, and the family moved to Far Rockaway, Queens. Even though they separated by nine years, Joan and Richard were close because they were curious about the world. Their mother disapproved Joan from studying about astromy because she felt that women were not smart enough to comprehend those things. Richard encouraged his sister to discover the world and learn new things. "Joan eventually became an astrophysicist specializing in interactions between the Earth and the solar wind" (Wikipedia). During his childhood, Feynman did not like formality, his family did not like him and his ways of life. He often played practical jokes and liked to pick locks. Knowing that he did not have passion for being a businessman like his father, Feynman concluded to become a physicist.

In school, he liked mathematics and approached it a different way. "Feynman needed to fully understand every problem he encountered by starting from scratch, solving it in his own way and often in several different ways" (Lanouette). In 1933, when he turned 15, he taught himself trigonometry, advanced algebra, infinite series, analytic geometry, and both differential and integral calculus. In high school Feynman was developing the mathematical intuition behind his Taylor series of mathematical operators (Wikipedia). He was a member of Arista Honor Society his senior year of high school and wont the New York University Math Championship (Wikipedia). "When he was hired to work on the Manhattan Project at Los Alamos during World War II, Feynman's mathematical flair so impressed Theoretical Division Director Hans Bethe that he made him head of the computation group" (Lanouette). Feynman graduated from Far Rockaway High School in 1935 and began attending the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in Cambridge, Massachusetts. He received a B.S. from the school in 1939. Afterward, on a fellowship to the Atomic Energy Project at Princeton University in New Jersey, he did doctoral work and completed his Ph.D. in theoretical physics in 1942 and met his first wife Arline Greenbaum (American Science Leaders). After many major accomplishments, Feynman went to the California Institute of Technology (Caltech) in 1951 to work as a full professor (American Science Leaders). Feynman was an exceptional professor and was well liked by his students leading to publishing his own lectures. He was excellent at explaining the curriculum thus earning the nickname the "Great Explainer." Feynman had two rare forms of cancer, liposarcoma and Waldenström's macroglobulinemia, dying shortly after a final attempt at surgery on February 15, 1988 (Wikipedia).

Personality Traits

43639696_feynman2.jpg"I don't know anything, but I do know that everything is interesting if you go into it deeply enough," (Notable Quotes). With this saying, Feynman has lived by it his whole life. Everything he has gotten into and excellent at, revolves around his own words. Feynman's personality was light hearted and hard working. He would not give up if a math problem was in his way or if a physics equation stumped him. Math and physics were his favorite subjects; he dislikes history and English. "Much more than just a great theoretical physicist, Feynman was noted for his originality, scientific integrity, humor, joie de vivre, and showmanship. Bringing all these resources into the lecture hall, he was a masterful teacher who combined deep insights with an infectious love for and fascination with nature" (Sundaram). Being such a helpful and dedicated teacher for all his students, Feynman often liked to derive things for the first principles. He also challenged himself to describe equations. Having the skills to do the complicated work, Feynman was a versatile thinker. Now, thanks to the web, Richard Feynman’s unique talents – not just as a brilliant physicist, but as an inspiring communicator – are being rediscovered by a whole new audience (Riley). Feynman was a magnificent leader and showed outstanding leadership skills. When explaining science, he was amusing and was well knowledgeable. Even though Feynman was insanely smart, he was willing to learn new things. Besides his brilliant mind in science and math, he had a musical side of him as well. Feynman liked to play the bongos. "Feynman took up drawing at one time and enjoyed some success under the pseudonym, "Ofey", culminating in an exhibition of his work. He learned to play a metal percussion instrument (frigideira) in a samba style in Brazil, and participated in a samba school" (Wikipedia). Feynman was not religious nor participated in religious activities.
Although born to and raised by parents who were Ashkenazi, Feynman was not only an atheist, but declined to be labelled Jewish on supposedly "ethnic" grounds. He routinely refused to be included in lists or books that classified people by race (Wikipedia). All of his positive character made Feynman a successful man regarding his personal life and his public life.

Obstacles


richard-and-arline-feynman.jpg
Feynman with his wife Arline.

Although Feynman was a genius, he too encountered some obstacles throughout his lifetime. Feynman's personal life was tragic and troubled. The death of his father, due to stroke, sadden Feynman. When his father, Melville, passed away on October 1946, Feynman was depressed. Feynman quickly recovered and challenged himself to describe the wobbling movement of a spinning plate with equations. Besides his father's death, there were other troubles he suffered from. Feynman liked to party and was a womanizer. He also had affairs with many faculty colleagues' wives at Cornell and Caltech (William). His marriages were not healthy and did not last long. When Feynman was researching for his Ph.D., he met Arline Greenbaum. "After just three years of marriage to his beloved high-school sweetheart, she died of tuberculosis in 1945, a month before the A-bomb he had helped create was first exploded. Her death tipped him into years of nihilism and depression" (William). He lost interest in physics at one point, but got back into it afterwards. In 1946, Feynman wrote a letter to her, but kept it sealed for the rest of his life (Wikipedia). In June 1952, he married Mary Louise Bell; this marriage was also unsuccessful and did not last. "He begins working calculus problems in his head as soon as he awakens. He did calculus while driving in his car, while sitting in the living room, and while lying in bed at night," was what Bell said on their divorce complaint (Wikipedia). In 1934, Feynman married Gweneth Howarth, she liked how he was enthusiastic about life and had spirited adventure. They remainded married until Feynman's death. They had a son Carl, in 1962, and a daughter, Michelle in 1968 (Wikipedia). Other than his personal life, Feynman had difficulties respecting his career. He had a rival- Julian Schuinger. Despite Feynman's troubled life, he overcame many hardships, conquered the ups and downs down the road, and came to be the person he once was.

Historical Significance

Feynman_2553738b.jpgBeing a brilliant man he was Feynman once said, "The first principle is that you must not fool yourself-and you are the easiest person to fool," (The Quotations Page). With all the success and achievements Feynman had gained in the science world, there are abundance amounts of reasons for why he made an impact to the world. "Feynman was the recipient of numerous awards during his lifetime, including the Albert Einstein Award (1954, Princeton) and Lawrence Award (1962). Feynman was also a member of the American Physical Society, the American Association for the Advancement of Science, the National Academy of Science, and was elected a foreign member of the Royal Society, London (Great Britain) in 1965" (Weisstein). Feynman won a Nobel Prize for quantum electrodynamics which is known for its accurate predictions. He also discovered many things including the law of nature, the QED, and a law called Paulis Quantum Mechanical Exclusion Principle. He created "Feynman Diagrams" which explain the behavior of subatomic particles. "Feynman's contributions to physics were so important that many physicists rank him as the father of the "new" physics, just as Albert Einstein was the father of an "earlier" physics" (Sundaram). In 1942, Feynman was assigned to work on the Manhattan Project atomic bomb development plan, he served as a group leader. He was one of the scientists who was present at the first test explosion of the weapon. "In the early 1950s, Feynman started investigating the properties of liquid helium and used the mathematics of quantum mechanics to explain the atomic phenomena that characterize the substance. His work helped clear up many of the questions scientists had about this mysterious form of helium" (American Science Leaders)."When at Caltech in the 1950s and 1960s, Feynman enjoyed a hyperactive collaboration with future Nobelist Murray Gell-Mann as they studied the "weak interaction" that causes subatomic particles to decay.Feynman's brilliant achievements... here uses his life and labors to trace and explain how quantum theory evolved in its many surprising applications: quantum thermodynamics, QED, and most recently, quantum computing" (American Science Leaders). During a lecture in 1959, Feynman outlined the new field now called nanotechnology, predicting how records could be stored on pinhead-sized surfaces, biologists could manipulate life on the molecular and even atomic scale, and nanomachines could run on the rules of quantum mechanics (William). In addition to his work with liquid helium, Feynman was an absolute engaging teacher. "Listening to a Feynman lecture was a truly electrifying experience. On stage, he was all motion, just like the atoms he was so fond of talking about. He would strut across the stage like a dancer. His arms and hands would move in elaborate and graceful curves, acting out his words. His voice would rise and fall to make points. In short, he commanded attention. One former student described the experience of attending a Feynman class as being akin to watching a Broadway play" (Sundaram). He would also make a difficult problem appear to be easy. He was also a member of the council for evaluation of books of mathematics and physics for the primary and secondary public schools of California for two years. Feynman shared a Nobel Prize with Julian S. Schwinger and Sin-itiro Tomonaga in 1965 for their contributions in electromagnetic. Feynman's lectures were so engaging for students that they were published. In 1964, his first book, Feynman Lectures on Computation was published. In 1972, he published another book called Statistical Mechanics. "Feynman, the Nobel laureate, brought one measure of scientific authority to the Rogers Commission that investigated the disastrous explosion of the space shuttle Challenger in 1986. Feynman's investigative approach soon diverged from the commission's procedures, however. Not content to gather information from briefings by managers, he spoke directly to the technical people who had designed, built, and operated the shuttle and its launch craft" (Sundaram). In 1985, another one of Feynman's books, "Surely You're Joking, Mr. Feynman!" was published. The last book Feynman wrote was What Do You Care What Other People Think; this book was published in 1988. Whether if it was being a brilliant physicist or a heart warming and engaging professor, Feynman was very successful with his career. Richard Feynman an unforgettable genius who has ever walked this planet, has helped construct the world to what it is today.

References


Guterl, Fred. "Notes From a Genius; Feynman's Letters reveal his irrepressible personality. "Newsweek International 16 May 2005: 63. eLibrary. Web. 13 Nov 2013.

Lanouette, William. "Life of Feynman." Issues in Science and Technology 4 (2011): 90. eLibrary. Web. 16 Oct. 2013.

O'Connor and Robertson, J J E F. "Richard Phillips Feynman." . N.p.. Web. 02 Oct. 2013.
<http://www-history.mcs.st-and.ac.uk/Biographies/Feynman.html>.

Riley, Christopher, "RIchard Feynman: Life, the universe and everything." The Telegraph, 09 May 2013. Web, 17 Dec 2013.
<http://www.telegraph.co.uk/culture/10036024/Richard-Feynman-Life-the-universe-and-everything.html>.

Sundaram, T.R. (Joe). Brilliant Scientist and Curious Character.'' "Word & I 13. (1998): 172. eLibrary. Web. 30 Oct. 2013.

Weisstein, Eric, "Feynman, Richard Philips (1918-1988)" Wolfram Research. Np. Web. 9 Jan 2014.
<http://scienceworld.wolfram.com/biography/Feynman.html>.

Notable Quotes. Web. 14 Feb 2014.
<http://www.notable-quotes.com/f/feynman_richard.html>.

"Richard Feynman." American Science Leaders. 2001. eLibrary. Web. 12 Sep. 2013.

"Richard Feynman". wikipedia.org. N.p. Web. 3 Dec 2013
<http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Richard_feynman>.

The Quotations Page. Web. 14 Feb 2014.
<http://www.quotationspage.com/quotes/Richard_Feynman>.