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Genius: The Life and Science of Richard Feynman (English Edition) Format Kindle
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Throughout the book, Gleick gives us many instances that showcase Feynman's lifelong refusal to abide by what he considered pointless or hypocritical social norms. He carried over this unorthodoxy to his work, often coming up with approaches often considered bizzarre by his peers, to deal with the conundrums of QED.
In deft language and simple analogies, Gleick outlines the developments of quantum mechanics until Feynman's time. The author them goes on to describe the renormalization approach of Feynman, Schwinger and Tomonaga that offered an ingenious method of removing the puzzling self-interaction terms that would otherwise lead to infinite (unphysical) field quantities.
In chronicling Feynman's life, Gleick gives us vivid vignettes of the physicist's encounters with the other luminaries in his field, his refusal to accept anything unquestioningly, the sheer energy, originality and versatality with which he approached every aspect of his life and his often messy and volatile relationships with women. Paying tribute to Feynman's genius while portraying the many aspects of this brilliant persona is a daunting task; Gleick has risen to the monumental challenge with grace and profound insight.
Feynman was no slouch as a writer himself, penning "Surely You're Joking, Mr. Feynman", "Adventures of a Curious Character", and "The Pleasure of Finding Things Out." James Gleick has written a number of books, beginning with "Chaos" a good introduction to the science, and he has progressed as a writer to works like "Faster", "What Just Happened", and "Isaac Newton." A finalist for the National Book Award, "Genius" is Gleick's finest work and undeservedly missed out.
Gleick's conception of physics is quite accurate, and his writing style is sufficiently colourful, that this is one of the few books I always go back for passages. His writing of Feymann, his colleagues, and certain events are almost like reading a novel, adding charm to the otherwise blend perception to the world of science.
More importantly, it is Gleick's portrayal of Feymann as human -- with flaws, feelings, friends and enemies -- than a mystical figure, that makes it wonderful to read as a biography. He made no attempt to glorify his achievements, nor did he praise his talents. This, I find, a very humble gesture.
In fact, this is such an impact to me, when I finished reading this book, I decided to quit work and persue my Ph.D., which I am doing now.
However, as someone who is more interested in the person than the science, I found it difficult to stay completely interested. There are long, detailed discussions about Physics, and as another reviewer said, it becomes tedious to the layman. Then again, maybe I'm just a dope about science.
So I'm not knocking the book, because I am sure that many people with more interest in Feynman's science than his personality will love it. But if you're not going to enjoy long discussions on Physics, I'd stick with "Surely You're Joking..." or "What Do You Care...".
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