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The Pleasure of Finding Things Out: The Best Short Works of Richard P. Feynman [Format Kindle]

Richard P. Feynman , Jeffrey Robbins

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Why do we do science? Beyond altruistic and self-aggrandizing motivations, many of our best scientists work long hours seeking the electric thrill that comes only from learning something that nobody knew before. The Pleasure of Finding Things Out, a collection of previously unpublished or difficult-to-find short works by maverick physicist Richard Feynman, takes its title from his own answer. From TV interview transcripts to his acceptance speech for the Nobel Prize, we see his quick, sharp wit, his devotion to his work, and his unwillingness to bow to social pressure or convention. It's no wonder he was only grudgingly admired by the establishment during his lifetime--read his "Minority Report to the Space Shuttle Challenger Inquiry" to see him blowing off political considerations as impediments to finding the truth.

Feynman had a fantastic sense of humor, and his memoirs of his Manhattan Project days roil with fun despite his later misgivings about nuclear weapons. Though one or two pieces are a bit hard to follow for the nontechnical reader, for the most part the book is easygoing and engaging on a personal rather than a scientific level. Freeman Dyson's foreword and editor Jeffrey Robbins's introductions to each essay set the stage well and are respectful without being worshipful. Though Feynman has been gone now for many years, his work lives on in quantum physics, computer design, and nanotechnology; like any great scientist, he asked more questions than he answered, to give future generations the pleasure of finding things out. --Rob Lightner

From Publishers Weekly

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.)
Copyright 1999 Reed Business Information, Inc.

Détails sur le produit

  • Format : Format Kindle
  • Taille du fichier : 711 KB
  • Nombre de pages de l'édition imprimée : 290 pages
  • Editeur : Basic Books (6 avril 2005)
  • Vendu par : Amazon Media EU S.à r.l.
  • Langue : Anglais
  • ISBN-10: 0465013120
  • ISBN-13: 978-0465013128
  • ASIN: B005QBLHB4
  • Synthèse vocale : Activée
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  • Composition améliorée: Non activé
  • Classement des meilleures ventes d'Amazon: n°63.369 dans la Boutique Kindle (Voir le Top 100 dans la Boutique Kindle)
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Amazon.com: 4.4 étoiles sur 5  128 commentaires
140 internautes sur 144 ont trouvé ce commentaire utile 
5.0 étoiles sur 5 Our Pleasure Indeed 4 janvier 2000
Par Robert Morris - Publié sur Amazon.com
Those who have read Gleick's biography of Richard P. Feynman (Genius) have probably also read this collection of Feynman's "best short works." This is indeed an odd collection. Feynman is most accessible in the interviews and speeches; least accessible in his "Minority Report to the Space Shuttle Challenger Inquiry." Gleick's biography reveals a man who exemplifies what Whitman had in mind when he observed "Do I contradict myself? Very well then, I contradict myself. I am large. I contain multitudes." Feynman was indeed large; he contained multitudes. To read this book is to share the pleasure of his company as he formally and informally shares his thoughts and feelings about himself, his life, his career, and just about everything else which attracted his attention. Chapter 1 ("The Pleasure of Finding Things Out") and Chapter 8 ("What Is Science?") are my personal favorites. The aforementioned "Minority Report" (Chapter 7) was, for me, tough going. As I worked my way through this collection, I began to think that I was in the company of someone who has Albert Einstein's intellect and Danny Kaye's personality. Feyman must have been a flamboyant (albeit demanding) classroom teacher. There can be no doubt about his intelligence. Nor his passion and compassion. Nor his playfulness. How much I regret never having known him personally. Therefore, how much I appreciate this collection which I continue to re-read with joy.
80 internautes sur 80 ont trouvé ce commentaire utile 
5.0 étoiles sur 5 The best overview of Feynman's thinking 25 janvier 2000
Par Amazon Customer - Publié sur Amazon.com
I recommend this book to people who have never read Feynman before, and to those people who only know Feynman's funny stories.
This book is a good overview of Feynman's thinking and not merely a collection of his humorous anecdotes. If you have read many of his other works and you are expecting a great amount of new material, then this book will probably be a disappointment. However, if you are only marginally familiar with Feynman or not familiar at all with him, I highly recommend it.
I believe some of the less than stellar reviews found here were written by Feynman fans who thought this book contained lots of new material. They are correct claiming there is not a lot of new material here for the well-read Feynman fan. However, for the unfamiliar who doesn't want to read everything he wrote, I believe this is the book to get.
If you are interested more in his humorous storytelling, as opposed to his ideas, then I recommend 'Surely You're Joking, Mr. Feynman' instead of this book.
70 internautes sur 73 ont trouvé ce commentaire utile 
5.0 étoiles sur 5 �The kick in the discovery� 8 novembre 2000
Par taking a rest - Publié sur Amazon.com
I felt a bit of trepidation when approaching this work, as reading a collection of what are considered "The Best Short Works" of a Nobel Laureate Physicist, sounds daunting even for someone trained to some degree in the field. I am not so trained. Mr. Richard Feynman has the additional gift of speaking passionately, and often in a self-deprecating manner, about what he does, with the result that the layperson can enjoy both his originally spoken, and written thoughts. There are terms and concepts that are understood best, and perhaps only, by those who have made the decision to pursue physics to its higher levels. However the vast majority of the book is readable to any that are inquisitive.
Mr. Feynman's Father was also a remarkable man. He was not a trained scientist, and his profession had absolutely nothing to do with science. However as is repeated throughout the book he was the catalyst that recognized and nurtured the talent his precocious son possessed. This topic and the ideas that are expressed about learning and teaching are just one of the topics that is completely accessible to any reader. The topics make for such interesting reading, as the author's enthusiasm combined with his gift for explaining the complex and the abstract, is what allows his thoughts to be accessible, and this is what I enjoyed so much. He was a man of great enthusiasm for the wonders that he sought to understand, and his writing transfers this feeling to his audience.
The quote that titles this review is Mr. Feynman's way of describing his feelings when he learns something new. The feelings translated not only into every recognition that his peers could bestow, but also a gift to the rest of us, for he was able to apply the same mind to questions of religion, morality, teaching, governmental roles in science, the responsibilities scientists have to society, and dozens of other topics.
I enjoyed the entire work but there were some sections that could have justified the entire time spent reading on their own. His lecture at The Galileo Symposium in 1964, and his report on the Space Shuttle Challenger disaster were remarkable. I was unaware of his role as an investigator into the Challenger episode, and was even more surprised that the committee on which he served attempted to suppress his report. Once you have read his report you will understand why many would have liked to see it locked away. He explains what is arguably the most complex piece of equipment assembled by man, and it is elegant in its simplicity. I believe he intended it to be so, as he could have made his case in language that would have been foreign if he had so chose.
I read this book as I enjoyed "Fermat's Enigma" so much. It is not necessary to understand everything that is involved with what these gifted minds have done. It is a pure joy when you can read and gain a glimpse, just a bit, of the ideas that are discussed. It requires a gifted speaker/writer, and this man clearly counted his extraordinary ability to communicate among his skills.
A wonderful enlightening book.
35 internautes sur 35 ont trouvé ce commentaire utile 
5.0 étoiles sur 5 Brilliance and charm: Feynman as a teacher 16 avril 2002
Par Dennis Littrell - Publié sur Amazon.com
I very much enjoyed this entertaining and delightful collection of lectures, talks and essays by the world-renown and sorely missed Professor Feynman, Nobel Prize winning physicist, idiosyncratic genius and one of the great men of the twentieth century.

I particularly enjoyed the subtle yet unmistakable way he scolded the people at NASA for putting their political butts before the safety of the space program they were managing in his famous "Minority Report to the Space Shuttle Challenger Inquiry." But the chapter that really sold me on Richard P. Feynman, boy wonder grown up, was "It's as Simple as One, Two, Three" in which he explores the ability to do two things at once through an experiment with counting. Such a delight he took in learning as a kid from his friend Bernie that we sometimes think in pictures and not in words. And then the further delight he took in learning that some people count with their inner voice (himself), and others (his friend John Tukey) count by visualization.

I was also loved the chapter, "What is Science?", a talk to science teachers in which Feynman demonstrates that the real difference between science and other ways of "knowing" (e.g., religion) is the ability to doubt. In science we learn, as Feyman said he himself learned, to live with doubt. But in the religious way of "knowing" doubt is intolerable. Feynman gives an evolutionary illustration of why doubt is essential. He begins with the "intelligent" animals "which can learn something from experience (like cats)." At this stage, he says, each animal learned "from its own experience." Then came some animals that could learn more rapidly and from the experience of others by watching. Then came something "completely new...things could be learned by one animal, passed on to another, and another, fast enough that...[the knowledge] was not lost to the race...," and could be passed on to a new generation.

Now, let's stop for a moment. What a great teacher does--and here and elsewhere Feynman proves himself to be a great teacher (although he said he doubted that!)--is to guide the student just enough so that the student arrives at or anticipates the point of the lesson before the teacher gets there. What is the punch line of this lesson for the science teachers? Namely this: with the passing of knowledge from one generation to the next it became also possible to pass on false knowledge or "mistaken ideas." Feynman calls this a "disease."

"Then a way of avoiding the disease was discovered. This is to doubt that what is being passed from the past is in fact true, and to try to find out ab initio, again from experience, what the situation is, rather than trusting the experience of the past..."

In other words, don't blindly accept the word of authority. Test it for yourself! And this is what science does. It tests and it tests again, and it doubts and it doubts--always.

I loved this because one of my dictums is "always guide the experts"--the lawyer, the doctor, the insurance adjustor, et al. Always guide them because, although they are the experts, you're the one who really cares. To this I can now add that you should also doubt the experts because even though they are experts they can be wrong. And, as Feynman showed in his report on the Challenge disaster, they can be wrong for reasons that have nothing to do with their expertise.

I also liked the commencement address he gave at Caltech on "Cargo Cult Science...and How to Not Fool Yourself." We fool ourselves a lot. The managers at NASA fooled themselves; what's their names of cold fusion delusion fame fooled themselves. Feynman has noted that he has fooled himself. Science, he avers, is a tool to help us to not fool ourselves. He is profoundly right. Without science we would go on fooling ourselves with all sorts of mumbo-jumbo, "revealed" religiosity and scientific-seeming stuff such as Rhine's ESP experiments some years ago at Duke, the entire litany of New Age pseudobabblese, and--yes!--such stuff as the amazing Cargo Cult Science in which some Pacific Islanders, in an attempt to attract the big birds of the sky with their cargoes of goodies, built "nests," that is, landing fields with empty cargo boxes, and faux towers, etc. in the hope that the planes flying overhead would see them and land on their island. Feynman has taken this as an example of pseudoscience, that is, behavior in the form of science without the substance of science, without the "integrity" of science.

The integrity of science, Feynman advised the graduates, demands that all the information about the experiment be given, even detrimental facts. Feynman contrasts this idea with that of advertizing in which only that which makes the product look good is given.

When reading this book it helps to imagine that one is listening to Feynman speak. The text includes repetitions and the omissions which he no doubt conveyed with his voice, expression or gesture. When one reads him this way, some of Feynman's endearing charm and the gentle, self-effacing humor for which he is famous comes through. Here's a joke from pages 206-207: He is at Esalen in a hot bath with another man and a girl. The man begins to massage the girl's foot. He feels something in her big toe. He asks his instructor, "Is that the pituitary?" The girl says, "No, that's not the way it feels." Feynman injects, "You're a hell of a long way from the pituitary, man." And they both look at him. "I had blown my cover, you see--and she said, It's reflexology. So I closed my eyes and appeared to be meditating." Yes, Feynman is a long way from reflexology.

--Dennis Littrell, author of "The World Is Not as We Think It Is"
30 internautes sur 30 ont trouvé ce commentaire utile 
4.0 étoiles sur 5 Great book if you haven't read much Feynman 14 octobre 1999
Par Un client - Publié sur Amazon.com
All but one of the 'shorts' in this book have previously been published - if you have extensively read Feynman (or even moderately) you'll learn/read nothing new about him.
If you are a new Feynman discoverer however it is a superb book and may well lead you on to wanting to get hold of his other works.
For me though, I was looking for new stuff and was a little disappointed although I did read the whole book and am pleased to have it in my collection.
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