Cover image for The pleasure of finding things out : the best short works of Richard P. Feynman
The pleasure of finding things out : the best short works of Richard P. Feynman
Feynman, Richard P. (Richard Phillips), 1918-1988.
Publication Information:
Cambridge, Mass. : Perseus Books, [1999]

Physical Description:
xvi, 270 pages ; 22 cm
General Note:
Includes index.
Subject Term:
Added Author:
Format :


Call Number
Material Type
Home Location
Item Holds
Q171 .F385 1999 Adult Non-Fiction Open Shelf
Q171 .F385 1999 Adult Non-Fiction Central Closed Stacks
Q171 .F385 1999 Adult Non-Fiction Non-Fiction Area
Q171 .F385 1999 Adult Non-Fiction Open Shelf
Q171 .F385 1999 Adult Non-Fiction Open Shelf

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The Pleasure of Finding Things Out is a magnificent treasury of the best short works of Richard Feynman--from interviews and speeches to lectures and printed articles. A sweeping, wide-ranging collection, it presents an intimate and fascinating view of a life in science--a life like no other.From his ruminations on science in our culture and descriptions of the fantastic properties of quantum physics to his report on the Space Shuttle Challenger disaster and his Nobel Prize acceptance speech, this book will fascinate anyone interested in Feynman and anyone interested in the world of ideas. Newcomers to Feynman will be moved by his wit and deep understanding of the natural world, and of the human experience.

Author Notes

The late Richard P. Feynman won the 1965 Nobel Prize in physics for his many contributions to physics, especially for his work on quantum electrodynamics.

Reviews 4

Booklist Review

These dozen easy lectures and interviews are the late Feynman's accessible expositions about his life, about technical topics in computing and physics, and about science's general place in society. Although Feynman was normally an ebullient personality, several of the pieces reveal his pessimism over the deep penetration of society by science: not only was physics beyond the comprehension of the nonmathematical minded, he believed the ability of people to fool themselves was immense, a quotidian example being their belief in astrology, and an exceptional one, NASA's belief that the space shuttle was safe. Hence he was committed to absolute honesty in science, which he impressed on the 1974 graduates of Cal Tech in his commencement speech reprinted here. Other discourses, those recorded for radio interviews or popular magazine articles, show the more upbeat, iconoclastic Feynman, and his fans will enjoy his recollections of his father and of his work on the atom bomb project when he was a somewhat awestruck nobody rubbing elbows with world-famous physicists. A popular addition to Feynmania. --Gilbert Taylor

Publisher's Weekly Review

A Nobel-winning physicist, inveterate prankster and gifted teacher, Feynman (1918-1988) charmed plenty of contemporary and future scientists with accounts of his misadventures in the bestselling Surely You're Joking, Mr. Feynman! and explained the fundamentals of physics in (among other books) Six Easy Pieces. Editor Jeffrey Robbins's assemblage of 13 essays, interviews and addresses (only one of them new to print) will satisfy admirers of those books and other fans of the brilliant and colorful scientist. Best known among the selections here is certainly Feynman's "Minority Report to the Challenger Inquiry," in which the physicist explained to an anxious nation why the Space Shuttle exploded. The title piece transcribes a wide-ranging, often-autobiographical interview Feynman gave in 1981; an earlier talk with Omni magazine has the author explaining his prize-winning work on quantum electrodynamics, then fixing the interviewer's tape recorder. Other pieces address the field of nanotechnology, "The Relation of Science and Religion" and Feynman's experience at Los Alamos, where he helped create the A-bomb (and, in his spare time, cracked safes). Much of the work here was originally meant for oral delivery, as speeches or lectures: Feynman's talky informality can seduce, but some of the pieces read more like unedited tape transcripts than like science writing. Most often, however, Feynman remains fun and informative. Here are yet more comments, anecdotes and overviews from a charismatic rulebreaker with his own, sometimes compelling, views about what science is and how it can be done. (Oct.) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved

Library Journal Review

It is an ironic twist of fate that Feynman the iconoclast has become a 20th-century icon. Feynman has a large and devoted following not because of his famous hijinks, or his skill as a bongo drum performer, or even his Nobel Prize in quantum electrodynamics. Feynman became an icon because he was a man of great integrity who did physics because it was fun. This collection of 13 short works is a pleasure to readÄthe editor has chosen not to correct any of Feynman's grammar or idiosyncratic phraseology. Intended for a general audience, these lectures and presentations cover a wide range of topics, including his early life, philosophy, religion, nanotechnology, the future of computing, Los Alamos, fun with science, science and society, and the Challenger disaster. Recommended for public as well as academic institutions.ÄJames Olson, Northeastern Illinois Univ. Lib., Chicago (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

Choice Review

This is yet another collection of excellent articles by the late, great American physicist Richard Feynman. Some of the articles were originally published in obscure, small-circulation journals, and some are transcripts of talks or interviews that Feynman gave over a very distinguished career as researcher and educator. They range from "Role of Scientific Culture in Modern Society" (1964) to "Minority Report on the Space Shuttle Challenger Inquiry" (1986). Feynman demonstrates his genius for rational thinking in each case and explains difficult concepts with the deftness of someone who was a master teacher. All the essays are aimed at a lay audience. They demonstrate the clear sightedness, prescience, and brilliance of a world-renowned scientist mixed with equal portions of impish humor that was his hallmark. The 13 articles, not arranged chronologically, were collected from several sources and are thoroughly pleasurable to read in any order. There is a good index. All in all, a book for every student and for all ages. All levels. N. Sadanand; Central Connecticut State University

Table of Contents

Freeman Dyson
Forewordp. ix
Editor's Introductionp. xv
1 The Pleasure of Finding Things Outp. 1
2 Computing Machines in the Futurep. 27
3 Los Alamos from Belowp. 53
4 What Is and What Should Be the Role of Scientific Culture in Modern Societyp. 97
5 There's Plenty of Room at the Bottomp. 117
6 The Value of Sciencep. 141
7 Richard P. Feynman's Minority Report to the Space Shuttle Challenger Inquiryp. 151
8 What Is Science?p. 171
9 The Smartest Man in the Worldp. 189
10 Cargo Cult Science: Some Remarks on Science, Pseudoscience, and Learning How to Not Fool Yourselfp. 205
11 It's as Simple as One, Two, Threep. 217
12 Richard Feynman Builds a Universep. 225
13 The Relation of Science and Religionp. 245
Acknowledgmentsp. 259
Indexp. 261