Book Reviews of some priceless books..!

Sunday, August 20, 2006

Surely You're Joking Mr. Feynman

Lets explore into who’s who theme a bit to spot about Richard P.Feynman—the man who has got the geek appeal in spades. He’s theperson who was known for breaking safes while working on theManhattan project. Later, he was a widely loved Professor of Quantum Physics and was the coolest Nobel laureate ever. He wasalso very enthusiastic about things beyond science; he was an aviddrummer and dabbled in painting as well. Hell, he’s even got his own Think Different poster!

The book “Surely You must be Joking Mr. Feynman” is an epitome ofthe curious within of Feynman’s innovative and intelligent ways of solving things with a simple twist of brain. A few stories from the bookgive us an insight into the same:

**”FIXING RADIOS BY THINKING”—wherein young Richard goes to aguy’s house, looks at a broken radio, walks around for a few minutes(to the concern of the radio’s owner), then proceeds to fix it bytwiddling with one little part. Fixing radios with no prior training was aquite noticeable in that curious character.

**Feynman visited the plant where uranium was being extracted forthe Manhattan project. His purpose was to prevent the factory fromexploding by ensuring they did not store volatile chemicals too closeto each other for too long. It was his second trip and he was reviewingthe plans for the factory with two other men, but didn’t really knowhow to read blueprints. They’d been going on for twenty minutes andhe didn’t want to look like an idiot and ask, “What does this symbolmean?” Instead, he pointed at what he thought was a valve andasked, “What if this one fails?” They first responded,”oh it will be OK”,but when he was asked later how he found it so quickly he said, “Justask which one is a valve”.

So, you definitely want to read the book of such a curious character,even if you’re not into quantum physics and the like. Advancedgeekery isn’t required. It’s really a fun to read about such aninquisitive and multifaceted intellectual. The book goes on to explorehis days working in Los Alamos on the atomic bomb and how helearned to pick the locks (for fun) of safes that contained top-secretinformation.

The book "Surely You're Joking, Mr. Feynman!" does not have anytraditional or methodical format of reading dictation. Instead, it is acollection of stories, anecdotes, and views that Dr. Feynman has heldthroughout the various periods of his life.

The book covers the major aspects of his life, beginning with hisboyhood on Long Island, continuing on to his work at Los Alamos onthe atomic bomb—the genius in him spoke out at a tender age itself,and culminated with his various adventures further in teaching. Dr.Feynman recalls his undergraduate years at MIT, his graduate studiesat Princeton, his stint at Cornell, and how he ended up at Caltech,with a brief divergence in Brazil, so the curios genius never missed outany of great temple of knowledge centres. Interestingly enough,Feynman avoids talking about the two events that have made himthe most famous: his Nobel Prize and his participation in theChallenger Disaster investigation. While reading this book, one isrepeatedly made aware of Dr. Feynman's insatiable curiosity for worldaround him and the people that inhabit it. He was never afraid toexperience the new and unknown things. That same insatiablecuriosity also got him into several dangerous situations. On oneoccasion he almost set his bedroom on fire during one of hischildhood home laboratory "experiments." His irreverence for andignorance of social propriety shocked his fraternity brothers at MIT,and caused the wife of Princeton University dean to exclaim, "Surelyyou're joking, Mr. Feynman!”, and so, here comes the origin of thetitle of the book.

Dr. Feynman continually exploited the laws and realms of science forthe greatest possible enjoyment. His awe and joy for how the universeworks is infectious, and readers will find themselves stopping towonder why they never asked themselves the questions that heposes. "Surely You're Joking, Mr. Feynman!" is a very enjoyable, can'tput-it-down read. Be you an English major, or a budding physicist, thehuman story behind an esteemed scientist is captivating and revealsthat science, and the people behind it, are not as dry as your highschool physics textbook may have lead you to believe.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

Very nice work!!! I especially liked the book review (which I agree with... and there's more from Dr. Feynman, apart from that one!).

Keep them coming....


Tuesday, 22 August, 2006


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