Richard Phillips Feynman (/ˈfaɪnmən/; May 11, 1918 – February 15,
1988) was an American theoretical physicist known for his work in the
path integral formulation of quantum mechanics, the theory of quantum
electrodynamics, and the physics of the superfluidity of supercooled
liquid helium, as well as in particle physics for which he proposed
the parton model. For his contributions to the development of quantum
electrodynamics, Feynman, jointly with
Julian Schwinger and
Shin'ichirō Tomonaga, received the
Nobel Prize in Physics
Nobel Prize in Physics in 1965.
Feynman developed a widely used pictorial representation scheme for
the mathematical expressions governing the behavior of subatomic
particles, which later became known as Feynman diagrams. During his
lifetime, Feynman became one of the best-known scientists in the
world. In a 1999 poll of 130 leading physicists worldwide by the
Physics World he was ranked as one of the ten greatest
physicists of all time.
He assisted in the development of the atomic bomb during World War II
and became known to a wide public in the 1980s as a member of the
Rogers Commission, the panel that investigated the Space Shuttle
Challenger disaster. Along with his work in theoretical physics,
Feynman has been credited with pioneering the field of quantum
computing and introducing the concept of nanotechnology. He held the
Richard C. Tolman
Richard C. Tolman professorship in theoretical physics at the
California Institute of Technology.
Feynman was a keen popularizer of physics through both books and
lectures including a 1959 talk on top-down nanotechnology called
There's Plenty of Room at the Bottom and the three-volume publication
of his undergraduate lectures, The Feynman Lectures on Physics.
Feynman also became known through his semi-autobiographical books
Surely You're Joking, Mr. Feynman!
Surely You're Joking, Mr. Feynman! and What Do You Care What Other
People Think? and books written about him such as
Tuva or Bust!
Tuva or Bust! by
Ralph Leighton and Genius: The Life and Science of
Richard Feynman by
1 Early life
3 Manhattan Project
5.1 Personal and political life
5.4 Surely You're Joking Mr. Feynman
5.5 Challenger disaster
5.6 Recognition and awards
7 Popular legacy
8.1 Selected scientific works
8.2 Textbooks and lecture notes
8.3 Popular works
8.4 Audio and video recordings
11 Further reading
11.3 Films and plays
12 External links
Richard Phillips Feynman was born on May 11, 1918, in Queens, New York
City, to Lucille née Phillips, a homemaker, and Melville
Arthur Feynman, a sales manager, originally from
Belarus, in those days part of the Russian Empire; both were
Lithuanian Jews. They were not religious, and by his youth, Feynman
described himself as an "avowed atheist". Many years later, in a
letter to Tina Levitan, declining a request for information for her
book on Jewish Nobel Prize winners, he stated, "To select, for
approbation the peculiar elements that come from some supposedly
Jewish heredity is to open the door to all kinds of nonsense on racial
theory", adding, "at thirteen I was not only converted to other
religious views, but I also stopped believing that the Jewish people
are in any way 'the chosen people'". Later in his life, during a
visit to the Jewish Theological Seminary, he encountered the Talmud
for the first time and remarked that it contained a medieval kind of
reasoning and was a wonderful book.
Albert Einstein and Edward Teller, Feynman was a late talker, and
by his third birthday had yet to utter a single word. He retained a
Brooklyn accent as an adult. That accent was thick enough to be
perceived as an affectation or exaggeration – so much so
that his good friends
Wolfgang Pauli and
Hans Bethe once commented
that Feynman spoke like a "bum". The young Feynman was heavily
influenced by his father, who encouraged him to ask questions to
challenge orthodox thinking, and who was always ready to teach Feynman
something new. From his mother, he gained the sense of humor that he
had throughout his life. As a child, he had a talent for engineering,
maintained an experimental laboratory in his home, and delighted in
repairing radios. When he was in grade school, he created a home
burglar alarm system while his parents were out for the day running
When Richard was five years old, his mother gave birth to a younger
brother, Henry Philips, who died at four weeks of age on February 25,
1924. Four years later, Richard's sister Joan was born, and the
family moved to Far Rockaway, Queens. Though separated by nine
years, Joan and Richard were close, as they both shared a natural
curiosity about the world. Their mother thought that women did not
have the intellectual capacity to comprehend such things. Despite
their mother's disapproval of Joan's desire to study astronomy,
Richard encouraged his sister to explore the universe. Joan eventually
became an astrophysicist specializing in interactions between the
Earth and the solar wind.
Far Rockaway High School, a school in Far Rockaway,
Queens, which was also attended by fellow Nobel laureates Burton
Richter and Baruch Samuel Blumberg. Upon starting high school,
Feynman was quickly promoted into a higher math class. A
high-school-administered IQ test estimated his IQ at 125—high, but
"merely respectable" according to biographer James Gleick. His
sister Joan did better, allowing her to claim that she was smarter.
Years later he declined to join Mensa International, saying that his
IQ was too low. Physicist
Steve Hsu stated of the test:
I suspect that this test emphasized verbal, as opposed to
mathematical, ability. Feynman received the highest score in the
United States by a large margin on the notoriously difficult Putnam
mathematics competition exam... He also had the highest scores on
record on the math/physics graduate admission exams at Princeton...
Feynman's cognitive abilities might have been a bit lopsided... I
recall looking at excerpts from a notebook Feynman kept while an
undergraduate... [it] contained a number of misspellings and
grammatical errors. I doubt Feynman cared very much about such
When Feynman was 15, he taught himself trigonometry, advanced algebra,
infinite series, analytic geometry, and both differential and integral
calculus. Before entering college, he was experimenting with and
deriving mathematical topics such as the half-derivative using his own
notation. He created special symbols for logarithm, sine, cosine
and tangent functions so they didn't look like three variables
multiplied together, and for the derivative, to remove the temptation
of canceling out the d's. A member of the Arista Honor
Society, in his last year in high school he won the New York
University Math Championship. His habit of direct characterization
sometimes rattled more conventional thinkers; for example, one of his
questions, when learning feline anatomy, was "Do you have a map of the
cat?" (referring to an anatomical chart).
Feynman applied to
Columbia University but was not accepted because of
their quota for the number of Jews admitted. Instead, he attended
the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, where he joined the Phi
Beta Delta fraternity. Although he originally majored in
mathematics, he later switched to electrical engineering, as he
considered mathematics to be too abstract. Noticing that he "had gone
too far," he then switched to physics, which he claimed was "somewhere
in between." As an undergraduate, he published two papers in the
Physical Review. One, co-written with Manuel Vallarta, was on "The
Scattering of Cosmic Rays by the Stars of a Galaxy".
Vallarta let his student in on a secret of mentor-protégé
publishing: the senior scientist's name comes first. Feynman had his
revenge a few years later, when Heisenberg concluded an entire book in
cosmic rays with the phrase: "such an effect is not to be expected
according to Vallarta and Feynman." When they next met, Feynman asked
gleefully whether Vallarta had seen Heisenberg's book. Vallarta knew
why Feynman was grinning. "Yes," he replied. "You're the last word in
The other was his senior thesis, on "The Forces in Molecules",
based on an idea by John C. Slater, who was sufficiently impressed by
the paper to have it published. Today, it is known as the
In 1939, Feynman received a bachelor's degree, and was named a
Putnam Fellow. He attained a perfect score on the graduate school
entrance exams to
Princeton University in physics—an unprecedented
feat—and an outstanding score in mathematics, but did poorly on the
history and English portions. The head of the physics department
there, Henry D. Smyth, had another concern, writing to Philip M. Morse
to ask: "Is Feynman Jewish? We have no definite rule against Jews but
like to keep their proportion in our department reasonably small".
Morse conceded that Feynman was indeed Jewish, but reassured Smyth
that Feynman's "physiognomy and manner, however, show no trace of this
Attendees at Feynman's first seminar, which was on the classical
version of the Wheeler-Feynman absorber theory, included Albert
Einstein, Wolfgang Pauli, and John von Neumann. Pauli made the
prescient comment that the theory would be extremely difficult to
quantize, and Einstein said that one might try to apply this method to
gravity in general relativity, which
Sir Fred Hoyle
Sir Fred Hoyle and Jayant
Narlikar did much later as the Hoyle–Narlikar theory of
gravity. Feynman received a PhD from Princeton in 1942; his
thesis advisor was John Archibald Wheeler. His doctoral thesis
applied the principle of stationary action to problems of quantum
mechanics, inspired by a desire to quantize the Wheeler–Feynman
absorber theory of electrodynamics, laying the groundwork for the path
integral formulation and Feynman diagrams, and was titled "The
Principle of Least Action in Quantum Mechanics". A key insight was
that positrons behaved like electrons moving backwards in time.
James Gleick wrote:
Richard Feynman nearing the crest of his powers. At
twenty-three ... there was no physicist on earth who could match
his exuberant command over the native materials of theoretical
science. It was not just a facility at mathematics (though it had
become clear ... that the mathematical machinery emerging from
the Wheeler–Feynman collaboration was beyond Wheeler's own ability).
Feynman seemed to possess a frightening ease with the substance behind
the equations, like
Albert Einstein at the same age, like the Soviet
physicist Lev Landau—but few others.
One of the conditions of Feynman's scholarship to Princeton was that
he could not be married; but he continued to see his high school
sweetheart, Arline Greenbaum, and was determined to marry her once he
had been awarded his Ph.D. despite the knowledge that she was
seriously ill with tuberculosis. This was an incurable disease at the
time, and she was not expected to live more than two years. On June
29, 1942, they took the
Staten Island Ferry
Staten Island Ferry to Staten Island, where
they were married in the city office. The ceremony was attended by
neither family nor friends and was witnessed by a pair of strangers.
Feynman could only kiss Arline on the cheek. After the ceremony he
took her to Deborah Hospital, where he visited her on
Feynman's Los Alamos ID badge
In 1941, with
World War II
World War II raging in Europe but the United States not
yet at war, Feynman spent the summer working on ballistics problems at
Frankford Arsenal in Pennsylvania. After the attack on
Pearl Harbor had brought the United States into the war, Feynman was
recruited by Robert R. Wilson, who was working on means to produce
enriched uranium for use in an atomic bomb, as part of what would
become the Manhattan Project. Wilson's team at Princeton was
working on a device called an isotron, which would electromagnetically
separate uranium-235 from uranium-238. This was done in a quite
different manner from that used by the calutron that was under
development by a team under Wilson's former mentor, Ernest O.
Lawrence, at the Radiation Laboratory of the University of California.
On paper, the isotron was many times more efficient than the calutron,
but Feynman and
Paul Olum struggled to determine whether or not it was
practical. Ultimately, on Lawrence's recommendation, the isotron
project was abandoned.
At this juncture, in early 1943,
Robert Oppenheimer was establishing
the Los Alamos Laboratory, a secret laboratory on a remote mesa in New
Mexico where atomic bombs would be designed and built. An offer was
made to the Princeton team to be redeployed there. "Like a bunch of
professional soldiers," Wilson later recalled, "we signed up, en
masse, to go to Los Alamos." Like many other young physicists,
Feynman soon fell under the spell of the charismatic Oppenheimer, who
telephoned Feynman long distance from Chicago to inform him that he
had found a sanatorium in Albuquerque, New Mexico, for Arline. They
were among the first to depart for New Mexico, leaving on a train on
March 28, 1943. The railroad supplied Arline with a wheelchair, and
Feynman paid extra for a private room for her.
At Los Alamos, Feynman was assigned to Hans Bethe's Theoretical (T)
Division, and impressed Bethe enough to be made a group
leader. He and Bethe developed the
Bethe–Feynman formula for
calculating the yield of a fission bomb, which built upon previous
work by Robert Serber. As a junior physicist, he was not central
to the project. He administered the computation group of human
computers in the theoretical division. With
Stanley Frankel and
Nicholas Metropolis, he assisted in establishing a system for using
IBM punched cards for computation. He invented a new method of
computing logarithms that he later used on the Connection
Machine. Other work at Los Alamos included calculating neutron
equations for the Los Alamos "Water Boiler", a small nuclear reactor,
to measure how close an assembly of fissile material was to
On completing this work, Feynman was sent to the Clinton Engineer
Works in Oak Ridge, Tennessee, where the
Manhattan Project had its
uranium enrichment facilities. He aided the engineers there in
devising safety procedures for material storage so that criticality
accidents could be avoided, especially when enriched uranium came into
contact with water, which acted as a neutron moderator. He insisted on
giving the rank and file a lecture on nuclear physics so that they
would realize the dangers. He explained that while any amount of
unenriched uranium could be safely stored, the enriched uranium had to
be carefully handled. He developed a series of safety recommendations
for the various grades of enrichments. He was told that if the
people at Oak Ridge gave him any difficulty with his proposals, he was
to inform them that Los Alamos "could not be responsible for their
At the 1946 colloquium on the Super at the Los Alamos Laboratory.
Feynman is in the second row, fourth from the left, next to Robert
Returning to Los Alamos, Feynman was put in charge of the group
responsible for the theoretical work and calculations on the proposed
uranium hydride bomb, which ultimately proved to be
infeasible. He was sought out by physicist
Niels Bohr for
one-on-one discussions. He later discovered the reason: most of the
other physicists were too much in awe of Bohr to argue with him.
Feynman had no such inhibitions, vigorously pointing out anything he
considered to be flawed in Bohr's thinking. He said he felt as much
respect for Bohr as anyone else, but once anyone got him talking about
physics, he would become so focused he forgot about social niceties.
Perhaps because of this, Bohr never warmed to Feynman.
Due to the top secret nature of the work, the Los Alamos Laboratory
was isolated. Feynman indulged his curiosity by discovering the
combination locks on cabinets and desks used to secure papers. He
found that people tended to leave their safes unlocked, or leave them
on the factory settings, or write the combinations down, or use easily
guessable combinations like dates. Feynman played jokes on
colleagues. In one case he found the combination to a locked filing
cabinet by trying the numbers he thought a physicist would use (it
proved to be 27–18–28 after the base of natural logarithms, e =
2.71828...), and found that the three filing cabinets where a
colleague kept a set of atomic bomb research notes all had the same
combination. He left a series of notes in the cabinets as a prank,
which initially spooked his colleague, Frederic de Hoffmann, into
thinking a spy or saboteur had gained access to atomic bomb
Feynman's salary was $380 a month, about half what he needed to cover
his modest living expenses and Arline's medical bills. The rest came
from her $3,300 in savings. On weekends, Feynman drove to
Albuquerque to see his ailing wife in a car borrowed from his good
friend Klaus Fuchs. Asked who at Los Alamos was most likely to
be a spy, Fuchs speculated that Feynman, with his safe cracking and
frequent trips to Albuquerque, was the most likely candidate. When
Fuchs confessed to being a spy for the
Soviet Union in 1950, this
would be seen in a different light. The
FBI would compile a bulky
file on Feynman.
Feynman (center) with
Robert Oppenheimer (viewer's right, next to
Feynman) at a
Los Alamos Laboratory
Los Alamos Laboratory social function during the
Feynman was working in the computing room when he was informed that
Arline was dying. He borrowed Fuchs' car and drove to Albuquerque
where he sat with her for hours until she died on June 16, 1945.
He immersed himself in work on the project and was present at the
Trinity nuclear test. Feynman claimed to be the only person to see the
explosion without the very dark glasses or welder's lenses provided,
reasoning that it was safe to look through a truck windshield, as it
would screen out the harmful ultraviolet radiation. On witnessing the
blast, Feynman ducked towards the floor of his truck because of the
immense brightness of the explosion, where he saw a temporary "purple
splotch" afterimage of the event.
Feynman nominally held an appointment at the University of
Wisconsin–Madison as an assistant professor of physics, but was on
unpaid leave during his involvement in the Manhattan Project. In
1945, he received a letter from Dean Mark Ingraham of the College of
Letters and Science requesting his return to the university to teach
in the coming academic year. His appointment was not extended when he
did not commit to returning. In a talk given there several years
later, Feynman quipped, "It's great to be back at the only university
that ever had the good sense to fire me."
As early as October 30, 1943, Bethe had written to the chairman of the
physics department of his university, Cornell, to recommend that
Feynman be hired. On February 28, 1944, this was endorsed by Robert
Bacher, also from Cornell, and one of the most senior
scientists at Los Alamos. This led to an offer being made in
August 1944, which Feynman accepted. Oppenheimer had also hoped to
recruit Feynman to the University of California, but the head of the
Raymond T. Birge was reluctant. Eventually, he
made Feynman an offer in May 1945, but Feynman turned it down. Cornell
did, however, match its salary offer of $3,900 per annum. Feynman
became one of the first of the Los Alamos Laboratory's group leader to
depart, leaving for Ithaca, New York, in October 1945.
Since Feynman was no longer working at the Los Alamos Laboratory, he
was no longer exempt from the draft and was called up by the Army in
the fall of 1946. However, he was not drafted, because his responses
to a psychologist's questions were misinterpreted such that he was
believed to be mentally ill, and the Army gave him a 4-F exemption on
Feynman's father died suddenly on October 8, 1946, and Feynman
suffered from depression. On October 17, 1946, he wrote a letter
to Arline, expressing his deep love and heartbreak. This letter was
sealed and only opened after his death. "Please excuse my not mailing
this," the letter concluded, "but I don't know your new address."
Unable to focus on research problems, Feynman began tackling physics
problems, not for utility, but for self-satisfaction. One of these
involved analyzing the physics of a twirling, nutating disk as it is
moving through the air, inspired by an incident in the cafeteria at
Cornell when someone tossed a dinner plate in the air. He read the
work of Sir
William Rowan Hamilton
William Rowan Hamilton on quaternions, and attempted
unsuccessfully to use them to formulate a relativistic theory of
electrons. His work during this period, which used equations of
rotation to express various spinning speeds, ultimately proved
important to his Nobel Prize–winning work, yet because he felt
burned out and had turned his attention to less immediately practical
problems, he was surprised by the offers of professorships from other
renowned universities, including the Institute for Advanced Study, the
University of California, Los Angeles, and the University of
Feynman diagram of electron/positron annihilation
Feynman was not the only frustrated theoretical physicist in the early
Quantum electrodynamics suffered from infinite
integrals in perturbation theory. These were clear mathematical flaws
in the theory, which Feynman and Wheeler had unsuccessfully attempted
to work around. "Theoreticians", noted Murray Gell-Mann, "were in
disgrace." In June 1947, leading American physicists met at the
Shelter Island Conference. For Feynman, it was his "first big
conference with big men ... I had never gone to one like this one
in peacetime." The problems plaguing quantum electrodynamics were
discussed, but the theoreticians were completely overshadowed by the
achievements of the experimentalists, who reported the discovery of
the Lamb shift, the measurement of the magnetic moment of the
electron, and Robert Marshak's two-meson hypothesis.
Bethe took the lead from the work of Hans Kramers, and derived a
renormalized non-relativistic quantum equation for the Lamb shift. The
next step was to create a relativistic version. Feynman thought that
he could do this, but when he went back to Bethe with his solution, it
did not converge. Feynman carefully worked through the problem
again, applying the path integral formulation that he had used in his
thesis. Like Bethe, he made the integral finite by applying a cut-off
term. The result corresponded to Bethe's version. Feynman
presented his work to his peers at the
Pocono Conference in 1948. It
did not go well.
Julian Schwinger gave a long presentation of his work
in quantum electrodynamics, and Feynman then offered his version,
titled "Alternative Formulation of Quantum Electrodynamics". The
unfamiliar Feynman diagrams, used for the first time, puzzled the
audience. Feynman failed to get his point across, and Paul Dirac,
Edward Teller and
Niels Bohr all raised objections.
To Freeman Dyson, one thing at least was clear: Shin'ichirō Tomonaga,
Schwinger and Feynman understood what they were talking about even if
no one else did, but had not published anything. Moreover, he was
convinced that Feynman's formulation was easier to understand, and
ultimately managed to convince Oppenheimer that this was the case.
Dyson published a paper in 1949, which added new rules to Feynman's
that told how to implement renormalization. Feynman was prompted
to publish his ideas in the
Physical Review in a series of papers over
three years. His 1948 papers on "A Relativistic Cut-Off for
Classical Electrodynamics" attempted to explain what he had been
unable to get across at Pocono. His 1949 paper on "The Theory of
Positrons" addressed the
Schrödinger equation and Dirac equation, and
introduced what is now called the Feynman propagator. Finally, in
papers on the "Mathematical Formulation of the Quantum Theory of
Electromagnetic Interaction" in 1950 and "An Operator Calculus Having
Applications in Quantum Electrodynamics" in 1951, he developed the
mathematical basis of his ideas, derived familiar formulae and
advanced new ones.
While papers by others initially cited Schwinger, papers citing
Feynman and employing
Feynman diagrams appeared in 1950, and soon
became prevalent. Students learned and used the powerful new tool
that Feynman had created. Eventually, computer programs were written
to compute Feynman diagrams, providing a tool of unprecedented power.
It is possible to write such programs because the Feynman diagrams
constitute a formal language with a formal grammar.
Marc Kac provided
the formal proofs of the summation under history, showing that the
parabolic partial differential equation can be re-expressed as a sum
under different histories (that is, an expectation operator), what is
now known as the Feynman–Kac formula, the use of which extends
beyond physics to many applications of stochastic processes. To
Feynman diagram was "pedagogy, not physics." 
By 1949, Feynman was becoming restless at Cornell. He never settled
into a particular house or apartment, living in guest houses or
student residences, or with married friends "until these arrangements
became sexually volatile."  He liked to date undergraduates, hire
prostitutes, and sleep with the wives of friends. He was not fond
of Ithaca's cold winter weather, and pined for a warmer climate.
Above all, at Cornell, he was always in the shadow of Hans Bethe.
Feynman did, however, look back favorably on the Telluride House,
where he resided for a large period of his Cornell career. In an
interview, he described the House as "a group of boys that have been
specially selected because of their scholarship, because of their
cleverness or whatever it is, to be given free board and lodging and
so on, because of their brains." He enjoyed the house's convenience
and said that "it's there that I did the fundamental work" for which
he won the Nobel Prize.
Personal and political life
Feynman spent several weeks in
Rio de Janeiro
Rio de Janeiro in July 1949, and
brought back a woman called Clotilde from Copacabana who lived with
him in Ithaca for a time. As well as the cold weather, there was also
the Cold War. The
Soviet Union detonated its first atomic bomb in
1949, generating anti-communist hysteria. Fuchs was arrested as a
Soviet spy in 1950, and the
FBI questioned Bethe about Feynman's
David Bohm was arrested on December 4,
1950, and emigrated to Brazil in October 1951. A girlfriend
told Feynman that he should consider moving to South America. He
had a sabbatical coming for 1951–52, and elected to spend it in
Brazil, where he gave courses at the Centro Brasileiro de Pesquisas
Físicas. In Brazil, Feynman was particularly impressed with the Samba
music, and learned to play a metal percussion instrument, the
frigideira. He was an enthusiastic amateur player of bongo drums
and often played them in the pit orchestra in musicals. He spent
time in Rio with his good friend Bohm, but Bohm could not convince
Feynman to take up investigating Bohm's ideas on physics.
Feynman did not return to Cornell. Bacher, who had been instrumental
in bringing Feynman to Cornell, had lured him to the California
Institute of Technology (Caltech). Part of the deal was that he could
spend his first year on sabbatical in Brazil. He had become
smitten by Mary Louise Bell from Neodesha, Kansas. They had met in a
cafeteria in Cornell, where she had studied the history of Mexican art
and textiles. She later followed him to Caltech, where he gave a
lecture. While he was in Brazil, she had taught classes on the history
of furniture and interiors at Michigan State University. He proposed
to her by mail from Rio de Janeiro, and they married in Boise, Idaho,
on June 28, 1952, shortly after he returned. They frequently quarreled
and she was frightened by his violent temper. Their politics were
different; although he registered and voted as a Republican, she was
more conservative, and her opinion on the 1954 Oppenheimer security
hearing ("Where there's smoke there's fire") offended him. They
separated on May 20, 1956. An interlocutory decree of divorce was
entered on June 19, 1956, on the grounds of "extreme cruelty". The
divorce became final on May 5, 1958.
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.
Mary Louise Bell, divorce complaint
In the wake of the 1957 Sputnik crisis, the U.S. government's interest
in science rose for a time. Feynman was considered for a seat on the
President's Science Advisory Committee, but was not appointed. At this
FBI interviewed a woman close to Feynman, possibly Mary Lou,
who sent a written statement to
J. Edgar Hoover
J. Edgar Hoover on August 8, 1958:
I do not know—but I believe that
Richard Feynman is either a
Communist or very strongly pro-Communist—and as such as [sic] a
very definite security risk. This man is, in my opinion, an extremely
complex and dangerous person, a very dangerous person to have in a
position of public trust ... In matters of intrigue Richard
Feynman is, I believe immensely clever—indeed a genius—and he is,
I further believe, completely ruthless, unhampered by morals, ethics,
or religion—and will stop at absolutely nothing to achieve his
The government nevertheless sent Feynman to
Geneva for the September
Atoms for Peace
Atoms for Peace Conference. On the beach on Lake Geneva, he met
Gweneth Howarth, who was from Ripponden, Yorkshire, and working in
Switzerland as an au pair. Feynman's love life had been turbulent
since his divorce; his previous girlfriend had walked off with his
Albert Einstein Award
Albert Einstein Award medal and, on the advice of an earlier
girlfriend, had feigned pregnancy and blackmailed him into paying for
an abortion, then used the money to buy furniture. When Feynman found
that Howarth was being paid only $25 a month, he offered her $20 a
week to be his live-in maid. That this sort of behavior was illegal
was not overlooked; Feynman had a friend, Matthew Sands, act as her
sponsor. Howarth pointed out that she already had two boyfriends, but
eventually decided to take Feynman up on his offer, and arrived in
Altadena, California, in June 1959. She made a point of dating other
men but Feynman proposed in the spring of 1960. They were married on
September 24, 1960, at the Huntington Hotel in Pasadena. They had a
son, Carl, in 1962, and adopted a daughter, Michelle, in
1968. Besides their home in Altadena, they had a beach house
in Baja California, purchased with the money from Feynman's Nobel
Feynman tried marijuana and ketamine experiences at John Lilly's famed
sensory deprivation tanks, as a way of studying
consciousness. He gave up alcohol when he began to show
vague, early signs of alcoholism, as he did not want to do anything
that could damage his brain. Despite his curiosity about
hallucinations, he was reluctant to experiment with LSD.
At Caltech, Feynman investigated the physics of the superfluidity of
supercooled liquid helium, where helium seems to display a complete
lack of viscosity when flowing. Feynman provided a quantum-mechanical
explanation for the Soviet physicist Lev Landau's theory of
superfluidity. In 1941, Feynman indicated that amplitudes in
quantum theory could be worked out by using path integrals that sum
with appropriate weight contributions from all possible histories of a
system. Applying the
Schrödinger equation to the question showed
that the superfluid was displaying quantum mechanical behavior
observable on a macroscopic scale. This helped with the problem of
superconductivity, but the solution eluded Feynman. It was solved
BCS theory of superconductivity, proposed by John Bardeen,
Leon Neil Cooper, and John Robert Schrieffer.
Richard Feynman at the
Robert Treat Paine Estate
Robert Treat Paine Estate in Waltham,
Massachusetts, in 1984
With Murray Gell-Mann, Feynman developed a model of weak decay, which
showed that the current coupling in the process is a combination of
vector and axial currents (an example of weak decay is the decay of a
neutron into an electron, a proton, and an antineutrino). Although E.
C. George Sudarshan and
Robert Marshak developed the theory nearly
simultaneously, Feynman's collaboration with
Murray Gell-Mann was seen
as seminal because the weak interaction was neatly described by the
vector and axial currents. It thus combined the 1933 beta decay theory
Enrico Fermi with an explanation of parity violation.
From his diagrams of a few particles interacting in spacetime, Feynman
could then model all of physics in terms of the spins of those
particles and the range of coupling of the fundamental forces. Feynman
attempted an explanation of the strong interactions governing nucleons
scattering called the parton model. The parton model emerged as a
complement to the quark model developed by Gell-Mann. The relationship
between the two models was murky; Gell-Mann referred to Feynman's
partons derisively as "put-ons". In the mid-1960s, physicists believed
that quarks were just a bookkeeping device for symmetry numbers, not
real particles; the statistics of the Omega-minus particle, if it were
interpreted as three identical strange quarks bound together, seemed
impossible if quarks were real.
SLAC National Accelerator Laboratory
SLAC National Accelerator Laboratory deep inelastic scattering
experiments of the late 1960s showed that nucleons (protons and
neutrons) contained point-like particles that scattered electrons. It
was natural to identify these with quarks, but Feynman's parton model
attempted to interpret the experimental data in a way that did not
introduce additional hypotheses. For example, the data showed that
some 45% of the energy momentum was carried by electrically neutral
particles in the nucleon. These electrically neutral particles are now
seen to be the gluons that carry the forces between the quarks, and
their three-valued color quantum number solves the Omega-minus
problem. Feynman did not dispute the quark model; for example, when
the fifth quark was discovered in 1977, Feynman immediately pointed
out to his students that the discovery implied the existence of a
sixth quark, which was discovered in the decade after his
After the success of quantum electrodynamics, Feynman turned to
quantum gravity. By analogy with the photon, which has spin 1, he
investigated the consequences of a free massless spin 2 field and
Einstein field equation
Einstein field equation of general relativity, but little
more. The computational device that Feynman discovered then for
gravity, "ghosts", which are "particles" in the interior of his
diagrams that have the "wrong" connection between spin and statistics,
have proved invaluable in explaining the quantum particle behavior of
Yang–Mills theories, for example, quantum chromodynamics and the
electro-weak theory. He did work on all four of the forces of
nature: electromagnetic, the weak force, the strong force and gravity.
John and Mary Gribbin say in their book on Feynman: "Nobody else has
made such influential contributions to the investigation of all four
of the interactions".
Partly as a way to bring publicity to progress in physics, Feynman
offered $1,000 prizes for two of his challenges in nanotechnology; one
was claimed by William McLellan and the other by Tom Newman. He
was also one of the first scientists to conceive the possibility of
quantum computers. In 1984–86, he developed a variational
method for the approximate calculation of path integrals, which has
led to a powerful method of converting divergent perturbation
expansions into convergent strong-coupling expansions (variational
perturbation theory) and, as a consequence, to the most accurate
determination of critical exponents measured in satellite
The Feynman section at the
In the early 1960s, Feynman acceded to a request to "spruce up" the
teaching of undergraduates at Caltech. After three years devoted to
the task, he produced a series of lectures that eventually became The
Feynman Lectures on Physics. He wanted a picture of a drumhead
sprinkled with powder to show the modes of vibration at the beginning
of the book. Concerned over the connections to drugs and rock and roll
that could be made from the image, the publishers changed the cover to
plain red, though they included a picture of him playing drums in the
The Feynman Lectures on Physics
The Feynman Lectures on Physics occupied two physicists,
Robert B. Leighton and Matthew Sands, as part-time co-authors for
several years. Even though the books were not adopted by universities
as textbooks, they continue to sell well because they provide a deep
understanding of physics. Many of his lectures and miscellaneous
talks were turned into other books, including The Character of
Physical Law, QED: The Strange Theory of Light and Matter, Statistical
Mechanics, Lectures on Gravitation, and the Feynman Lectures on
Feynman wrote about his experiences teaching physics undergraduates in
Brazil. The students' study habits and the Portuguese language
textbooks were so devoid of any context or applications for their
information that, in Feynman's opinion, the students were not learning
physics at all. At the end of the year, Feynman was invited to give a
lecture on his teaching experiences, and he agreed to do so, provided
he could speak frankly, which he did.
Feynman opposed rote learning or unthinking memorization and other
teaching methods that emphasized form over function. Clear thinking
and clear presentation were fundamental prerequisites for his
attention. It could be perilous even to approach him when unprepared,
and he did not forget the fools or pretenders. In 1964, he served
on the California State Curriculum Commission, which was responsible
for approving textbooks to be used by schools in California. He was
not impressed with what he found. Many of the mathematics texts
covered subjects of use only to pure mathematicians as part of the
"New Math". Elementary students were taught about sets, but:
It will perhaps surprise most people who have studied these textbooks
to discover that the symbol ∪ or ∩ representing union and
intersection of sets and the special use of the brackets and so
forth, all the elaborate notation for sets that is given in these
books, almost never appear in any writings in theoretical physics, in
engineering, in business arithmetic, computer design, or other places
where mathematics is being used. I see no need or reason for this all
to be explained or to be taught in school. It is not a useful way to
express one's self. It is not a cogent and simple way. It is claimed
to be precise, but precise for what purpose?
In April 1966, Feynman delivered an address to the National Science
Teachers Association, in which he suggested how students could be made
to think like scientists, be open-minded, curious, and especially, to
doubt. In the course of the lecture, he gave a definition of science,
which he said came about by several stages. The evolution of
intelligent life on planet Earth—creatures such as cats that play
and learn from experience. The evolution of humans, who came to use
language to pass knowledge from one individual to the next, so that
the knowledge was not lost when an individual died. Unfortunately,
incorrect knowledge could be passed down as well as correct knowledge,
so another step was needed.
Galileo and others started doubting the
truth of what was passed down and to investigate ab initio, from
experience, what the true situation was—this was science.
In 1974, Feynman delivered the
Caltech commencement address on the
topic of cargo cult science, which has the semblance of science, but
is only pseudoscience due to a lack of "a kind of scientific
integrity, a principle of scientific thought that corresponds to a
kind of utter honesty" on the part of the scientist. He instructed the
graduating class that "The first principle is that you must not fool
yourself—and you are the easiest person to fool. So you have to be
very careful about that. After you've not fooled yourself, it's easy
not to fool other scientists. You just have to be honest in a
conventional way after that."
Feynman served as doctoral advisor to 31 students.
Surely You're Joking Mr. Feynman
In the 1960s, Feynman began thinking of writing an autobiography, and
he began granting interviews to historians. In the 1980s, working with
Ralph Leighton (Robert Leighton's son), he recorded chapters on audio
tape that Robert transcribed. The book was published in 1985 as Surely
You're Joking, Mr. Feynman! and became a best-seller. The publication
of the book brought a new wave of protest about Feynman's attitude
toward women. There had been protests over his alleged sexism in 1968,
and again in 1972. It did not help that Jenijoy La Belle, who had been
hired as Caltech's first female professor in 1969, was refused tenure
in 1974. She filed suit with the Equal Employment Opportunity
Commission, which ruled against
Caltech in 1977, adding that she had
been paid less than male colleagues. La Belle finally received tenure
in 1979. Many of Feynman's colleagues were surprised that he took her
side. He had gotten to know La Belle and both liked and admired
Gell-Mann was upset by Feynman's account in the book of the weak
interaction work, and threatened to sue, resulting in a correction
being inserted in later editions. This incident was just the
latest provocation in a decades-long bad feeling between the two
scientists. Gell-Mann often expressed frustration at the attention
Feynman received; he remarked: "[Feynman] was a great scientist,
but he spent a great deal of his effort generating anecdotes about
himself." He noted that Feynman's eccentricities included a
refusal to brush his teeth, which he advised others not to do on
national television, despite dentists showing him scientific studies
that supported the practice.
Main article: Space Shuttle Challenger disaster
The 1986 Space Shuttle Challenger disaster
Feynman played an important role on the Presidential Rogers
Commission, which investigated the Challenger disaster. During a
televised hearing, Feynman demonstrated that the material used in the
shuttle's O-rings became less resilient in cold weather by compressing
a sample of the material in a clamp and immersing it in ice-cold
water. The commission ultimately determined that the disaster was
caused by the primary
O-ring not properly sealing in unusually cold
weather at Cape Canaveral.
Feynman devoted the latter half of his book What Do You Care What
Other People Think? to his experience on the Rogers Commission,
straying from his usual convention of brief, light-hearted anecdotes
to deliver an extended and sober narrative. Feynman's account reveals
a disconnect between NASA's engineers and executives that was far more
striking than he expected. His interviews of NASA's high-ranking
managers revealed startling misunderstandings of elementary concepts.
NASA managers claimed that there was a 1 in 100,000
chance of a catastrophic failure aboard the shuttle, but Feynman
discovered that NASA's own engineers estimated the chance of a
catastrophe at closer to 1 in 200. He concluded that
estimate of the reliability of the space shuttle was unrealistic, and
he was particularly angered that
NASA used it to recruit Christa
McAuliffe into the Teacher-in-Space program. He warned in his appendix
to the commission's report (which was included only after he
threatened not to sign the report), "For a successful technology,
reality must take precedence over public relations, for nature cannot
Recognition and awards
The first public recognition of Feynman's work came in 1954, when
Lewis Strauss, the chairman of the Atomic Energy Commission (AEC)
notified him that he had won the
Albert Einstein Award, which was
worth $15,000 and came with a gold medal. Because of Strauss' actions
in stripping Oppenheimer of his security clearance, Feynman was
reluctant to accept the award, but
Isidor Isaac Rabi
Isidor Isaac Rabi cautioned him:
"You should never turn a man's generosity as a sword against him. Any
virtue that a man has, even if he has many vices, should not be used
as a tool against him." It was followed by the AEC's Ernest
Orlando Lawrence Award in 1962. Schwinger, Tomonaga and Feynman
shared the 1965
Nobel Prize in Physics
Nobel Prize in Physics "for their fundamental work in
quantum electrodynamics, with deep-ploughing consequences for the
physics of elementary particles". He was elected a Foreign Member
of the Royal Society in 1965, received the
Oersted Medal in
1972, and the
National Medal of Science
National Medal of Science in 1979. He was
elected a member of the National Academy of Sciences, but ultimately
resigned and is no longer listed by them.
In 1978, Feynman sought medical treatment for abdominal pains and was
diagnosed with liposarcoma, a rare form of cancer. Surgeons removed a
tumor the size of a football that had crushed one kidney and his
spleen. Further operations were performed in October 1986 and October
1987. He was again hospitalized at the
UCLA Medical Center
UCLA Medical Center on
February 3, 1988. A ruptured duodenal ulcer caused kidney
failure, and he declined to undergo the dialysis that might have
prolonged his life for a few months. Watched over by his wife Gweneth,
sister Joan, and cousin Frances Lewine, he died on February 15,
When Feynman was nearing death, he asked
Danny Hillis why he was so
sad. Hillis replied that he thought Feynman was going to die soon.
Feynman said that this sometimes bothered him, too, adding, when you
get to be as old as he was, and have told so many stories to so many
people, even when he was dead he would not be completely gone.
Near the end of his life, Feynman attempted to visit the Russian land
of Tuva, a dream thwarted by
Cold War bureaucratic issues – the
letter from the Soviet government authorizing the trip was not
received until the day after he died. His daughter Michelle later
undertook the journey. His burial was at Mountain View Cemetery
and Mausoleum in Altadena. His last words were: "I'd hate to die
twice. It's so boring."
Aspects of Feynman's life have been portrayed in various media.
Feynman was portrayed by
Matthew Broderick in the 1996 biopic
Alan Alda commissioned playwright Peter Parnell
to write a two-character play about a fictional day in the life of
Feynman set two years before Feynman's death. The play, QED, premiered
Mark Taper Forum
Mark Taper Forum in
Los Angeles in 2001 and was later presented
Vivian Beaumont Theater
Vivian Beaumont Theater on Broadway, with both presentations
starring Alda as Richard Feynman.
Real Time Opera premiered its
opera Feynman at the Norfolk (CT) Chamber Music Festival in June
2005. In 2011, Feynman was the subject of a biographical graphic
novel entitled simply Feynman, written by
Jim Ottaviani and
illustrated by Leland Myrick. In 2013, Feynman's role on the
Rogers Commission was dramatised by the
The Challenger (US
The Challenger Disaster), with
William Hurt playing
Feynman is commemorated in various ways. On May 4, 2005, the United
States Postal Service issued the "American Scientists" commemorative
set of four 37-cent self-adhesive stamps in several configurations.
The scientists depicted were Richard Feynman, John von Neumann,
Barbara McClintock, and Josiah Willard Gibbs. Feynman's stamp,
sepia-toned, features a photograph of a 30-something Feynman and eight
small Feynman diagrams. The stamps were designed by Victor Stabin
under the artistic direction of Carl T. Herrman. The main
building for the Computing Division at
Fermilab is named the "Feynman
Computing Center" in his honor. A photograph of Richard Feynman
giving a lecture was part of the 1988 poster series commissioned by
Apple Inc. for their "Think Different" advertising campaign. The
Sheldon Cooper character in
The Big Bang Theory
The Big Bang Theory is a Feynman fan who
emulates him by playing the bongo drums. On January 27, 2016,
Bill Gates wrote an article "The Best Teacher I Never Had" describing
Feynman's talents as a teacher which inspired Gates to create Project
Tuva to place the filmed Feynman
Messenger Lectures The Character of
Physical Law videos on a website for public viewing. In 2015 Gates
made a video on why he thought Feynman was special. The video was made
for the 50th anniversary of Feynman's 1965 Nobel Prize, in response to
Caltech's request for thoughts on Feynman.
Selected scientific works
Feynman, Richard P. (2000). Laurie M. Brown, ed. Selected Papers of
Richard Feynman: With Commentary. 20th Century Physics. World
Scientific. ISBN 978-981-02-4131-5.
Feynman, Richard P. (1942). Laurie M. Brown, ed. The Principle of
Least Action in Quantum Mechanics. PhD Dissertation, Princeton
University. World Scientific (with title Feynman's Thesis: a New
Approach to Quantum Theory) (published 2005).
Wheeler, John A.; Feynman, Richard P. (1945). "Interaction with the
Absorber as the Mechanism of Radiation". Reviews of Modern Physics. 17
(2–3): 157–181. Bibcode:1945RvMP...17..157W.
Feynman, Richard P. (1946). A Theorem and its Application to Finite
Tampers. Los Alamos Scientific Laboratory, Atomic Energy Commission.
Feynman, Richard P.; Welton, T. A. (1946).
Neutron Diffusion in a
Space Lattice of Fissionable and Absorbing Materials. Los Alamos
Scientific Laboratory, Atomic Energy Commission.
Feynman, Richard P.; Metropolis, N.; Teller, E. (1947). Equations of
State of Elements Based on the Generalized Fermi-Thomas Theory. Los
Alamos Scientific Laboratory, Atomic Energy Commission.
Feynman, Richard P. (1948). "Space-time approach to non-relativistic
quantum mechanics". Reviews of Modern Physics. 20 (2): 367–387.
Feynman, Richard P. (1948). "A Relativistic Cut-Off for Classical
Electrodynamics". Physical Review. 74 (8): 939–946.
Feynman, Richard P. (1948). "A Relativistic Cut-Off for Quantum
Electrodynamics". Physical Review. 74 (10): 1430–1438.
Wheeler, John A.; Feynman, Richard P. (1949). "Classical
Electrodynamics in Terms of Direct Interparticle Action". Reviews of
Modern Physics. 21 (3): 425–433. Bibcode:1949RvMP...21..425W.
Feynman, Richard P. (1949). "The theory of positrons". Physical
Review. 76 (6): 749–759. Bibcode:1949PhRv...76..749F.
Feynman, Richard P. (1949). "Space-Time Approach to Quantum
Electrodynamic". Physical Review. 76 (6): 769–789.
Feynman, Richard P. (1950). "Mathematical formulation of the quantum
theory of electromagnetic interaction". Physical Review. 80 (3):
Feynman, Richard P. (1951). "An Operator Calculus Having Applications
in Quantum Electrodynamics". Physical Review. 84: 108–128.
Feynman, Richard P. (1953). "The λ-Transition in Liquid Helium".
Physical Review. 90 (6): 1116–1117. Bibcode:1953PhRv...90.1116F.
Feynman, Richard P.; de Hoffmann, F.; Serber, R. (1955). Dispersion of
Neutron Emission in U235 Fission. Los Alamos Scientific
Laboratory, Atomic Energy Commission. OSTI 4354998.
Feynman, Richard P. (1956). "Science and the Open Channel". Science
(published February 24, 1956). 123 (3191): 307.
Cohen, M.; Feynman, Richard P. (1957). "Theory of Inelastic Scattering
of Cold Neutrons from Liquid Helium". Physical Review. 107: 13–24.
Feynman, Richard P.; Vernon, F. L.; Hellwarth, R. W. (1957).
"Geometric representation of the
Schrödinger equation for solving
maser equations". J. Appl. Phys. 28: 49. Bibcode:1957JAP....28...49F.
Feynman, Richard P. (1959). "Plenty of Room at the Bottom".
Presentation to American Physical Society. Archived from the original
on February 11, 2010.
Edgar, R. S.; Feynman, Richard P.; Klein, S.; Lielausis, I.;
Steinberg, C. M. (1962). "Mapping experiments with r mutants of
bacteriophage T4D". Genetics (published February 1962). 47 (2):
179–86. PMC 1210321 . PMID 13889186.
Feynman, Richard P. (1968) . "What is Science?" (PDF). The
Physics Teacher. 7 (6): 313–320. Bibcode:1969PhTea...7..313F.
doi:10.1119/1.2351388. Retrieved December 15, 2016. Lecture
presented at the fifteenth annual meeting of the National Science
Teachers Association, 1966 in New York City
Feynman, Richard P. (1966). "The Development of the Space-Time View of
Quantum Electrodynamics". Science (published August 12, 1966). 153
(3737): 699–708. Bibcode:1966Sci...153..699F.
doi:10.1126/science.153.3737.699. PMID 17791121.
Feynman, Richard P. (1974a). "Structure of the proton". Science
(published February 15, 1974). 183 (4125): 601–610.
Feynman, Richard P. (1974). "Cargo Cult Science" (PDF). Engineering
and Science. 37 (7).
Feynman, Richard P.; Kleinert, Hagen (1986). "Effective classical
Physical Review A (published December 1986). 34
(6): 5080–5084. Bibcode:1986PhRvA..34.5080F.
doi:10.1103/PhysRevA.34.5080. PMID 9897894.
Feynman, Richard P. (1986).
Rogers Commission Report, Volume 2
Appendix F – Personal Observations on Reliability of Shuttle.
Textbooks and lecture notes
The Feynman Lectures on Physics
The Feynman Lectures on Physics including Feynman's Tips on Physics:
The Definitive and Extended Edition (2nd edition, 2005)
The Feynman Lectures on Physics
The Feynman Lectures on Physics is perhaps his most accessible work
for anyone with an interest in physics, compiled from lectures to
Caltech undergraduates in 1961–1964. As news of the lectures'
lucidity grew, professional physicists and graduate students began to
drop in to listen. Co-authors
Robert B. Leighton and Matthew Sands,
colleagues of Feynman, edited and illustrated them into book form. The
work has endured and is useful to this day. They were edited and
supplemented in 2005 with Feynman's Tips on Physics: A Problem-Solving
Supplement to the Feynman Lectures on Physics by Michael Gottlieb and
Ralph Leighton (Robert Leighton's son), with support from Kip Thorne
and other physicists.
Feynman, Richard P.; Leighton, Robert B.; Sands, Matthew (2005)
. The Feynman Lectures on Physics: The Definitive and Extended
Edition (2nd ed.). Addison Wesley. ISBN 0-8053-9045-6.
Includes Feynman's Tips on Physics (with Michael Gottlieb and Ralph
Leighton), which includes four previously unreleased lectures on
problem solving, exercises by Robert Leighton and Rochus Vogt, and a
historical essay by Matthew Sands. Three volumes; originally published
as separate volumes in 1964 and 1966.
Feynman, Richard P. (1961). Theory of Fundamental Processes. Addison
Wesley. ISBN 0-8053-2507-7.
Feynman, Richard P. (1962). Quantum Electrodynamics. Addison Wesley.
Feynman, Richard P.; Hibbs, Albert (1965). Quantum Mechanics and Path
Integrals. McGraw Hill. ISBN 0-07-020650-3.
Feynman, Richard P. (1967). The Character of Physical Law: The 1964
Messenger Lectures. MIT Press. ISBN 0-262-56003-8.
Feynman, Richard P. (1972). Statistical Mechanics: A Set of Lectures.
Reading, Mass: W. A. Benjamin. ISBN 0-8053-2509-3.
Feynman, Richard P. (1985b). QED: The Strange Theory of Light and
Princeton University Press. ISBN 0-691-02417-0.
Feynman, Richard P. (1987). Elementary Particles and the Laws of
Physics: The 1986 Dirac Memorial Lectures. Cambridge University Press.
Feynman, Richard P. (1995). Brian Hatfield, ed. Lectures on
Gravitation. Addison Wesley Longman. ISBN 0-201-62734-5.
Feynman, Richard P. (1997). Feynman's Lost Lecture: The Motion of
Planets Around the Sun (Vintage Press ed.). London: Vintage.
Feynman, Richard P. (2000).
Tony Hey and Robin W. Allen, ed. Feynman
Lectures on Computation. Perseus Books Group.
Feynman, Richard P. (1985). Ralph Leighton, ed. Surely You're Joking,
Mr. Feynman!: Adventures of a Curious Character.
W. W. Norton
W. W. Norton &
Co. ISBN 0-393-01921-7. OCLC 10925248.
Feynman, Richard P. (1988). Ralph Leighton, ed. What Do You Care What
Other People Think?: Further Adventures of a Curious Character. W. W.
Norton & Co. ISBN 0-393-02659-0.
No Ordinary Genius: The Illustrated Richard Feynman, ed. Christopher
W. W. Norton
W. W. Norton & Co, 1996, ISBN 0-393-31393-X.
Six Easy Pieces: Essentials of Physics Explained by Its Most Brilliant
Teacher, Perseus Books, 1994, ISBN 0-201-40955-0. Listed by the
Board of Directors of the
Modern Library as one of the 100 best
Six Not So Easy Pieces: Einstein's Relativity, Symmetry and
Space-Time, Addison Wesley, 1997, ISBN 0-201-15026-3.
Feynman, Richard P. (1998). The Meaning of It All: Thoughts of a
Citizen Scientist. Reading, Massachusetts: Perseus Publishing,.
Feynman, Richard P. (1999). Robbins, Jeffrey, ed. The Pleasure of
Finding Things Out: The Best Short Works of Richard P. Feynman.
Cambridge, Massachusetts: Perseus Books.
Classic Feynman: All the Adventures of a Curious Character, edited by
W. W. Norton
W. W. Norton & Co, 2005, ISBN 0-393-06132-9.
Chronologically reordered omnibus volume of Surely You're Joking, Mr.
Feynman! and What Do You Care What Other People Think?, with a bundled
CD containing one of Feynman's signature lectures.
Audio and video recordings
Safecracker Suite (a collection of drum pieces interspersed with
Feynman telling anecdotes)
Los Alamos From Below (audio, talk given by Feynman at Santa Barbara
on February 6, 1975)
Six Easy Pieces (original lectures upon which the book is based)
Six Not So Easy Pieces (original lectures upon which the book is
The Feynman Lectures on Physics: The Complete Audio Collection
Samples of Feynman's drumming, chanting and speech are included in the
Tuva Groove (Bolur Daa-Bol, Bolbas Daa-Bol)" and "Kargyraa Rap
(Dürgen Chugaa)" on the album Back
Tuva Future, The Adventure
Continues by Kongar-ool Ondar. The hidden track on this album also
includes excerpts from lectures without musical background.
The Messenger Lectures, given at Cornell in 1964, in which he explains
basic topics in physics. Available on Project
Tuva free. (See
also the book The Character of Physical Law)
Take the world from another point of view [videorecording] / with
Richard Feynman; Films for the Hu (1972)
The Douglas Robb Memorial Lectures Four public lectures of which the
four chapters of the book QED: The Strange Theory of Light and Matter
are transcripts. (1979)
The Pleasure of Finding Things Out,
BBC Horizon episode (1981) (not to
be confused with the later published book of the same title)
Richard Feynman: Fun to Imagine Collection,
BBC Archive of six short
films of Feynman talking in a style that is accessible to all about
the physics behind common to all experiences. (1983)
Elementary Particles and the Laws of Physics (1986)
Tiny Machines: The Feynman
Nanotechnology (video, 1984)
Computers From the Inside Out (video)
Quantum Mechanical View of Reality: Workshop at Esalen (video, 1983)
Idiosyncratic Thinking Workshop (video, 1985)
Bits and Pieces—From Richard's Life and Times (video, 1988)
Strangeness Minus Three (video,
BBC Horizon 1964)
No Ordinary Genius (video, Cristopher Sykes Documentary)
Richard Feynman—The Best Mind Since Einstein (video, Documentary)
The Motion of Planets Around the Sun (audio, sometimes titled
"Feynman's Lost Lecture")
Nature of Matter (audio)
^ Tindol, Robert (December 2, 1999). "
Physics World poll names Richard
Feynman one of 10 greatest physicists of all time" (Press release).
California Institute of Technology. Archived from the original on
March 21, 2012. Retrieved December 1, 2012.
^ a b "Richard P. Feynman – Biographical". The Nobel Foundation.
Retrieved April 23, 2013.
^ a b c J. J. O'Connor; E. F. Robertson (August 2002). "Richard
Phillips Feynman". University of St. Andrews. Retrieved April 23,
^ Oakes 2007, p. 231.
^ "Richard Phillips Feynman". Nobel-winners.com. Retrieved April 23,
^ Feynman 1988, p. 25.
^ Harrison, John. "Physics, bongos and the art of the nude". The Daily
Telegraph. Retrieved April 23, 2013.
^ Feynman 1985, p. 284–287.
^ Chown 1985, p. 34.
^ Close 2011, p. 58.
^ a b Sykes 1994, p. 54.
^ Friedman 2004, p. 231.
^ Henderson 2011, p. 8.
^ Gleick 1992, pp. 25–26.
^ Hirshberg, Charles (March 23, 2014). "My Mother, the Scientist".
Popular Science. Archived from the original on June 20, 2016.
Retrieved April 23, 2013.
^ Schwach, Howard (April 15, 2005). "Museum Tracks Down FRHS Nobel
Laureates". The Wave. Retrieved April 23, 2013.
^ Gleick 1992, p. 30.
^ Carroll 1996, p. 9: "The general experience of psychologists in
applying tests would lead them to expect that Feynman would have made
a much higher IQ if he had been properly tested."
^ Gribbin & Gribbin 1997, pp. 19–20: Gleick says his IQ was
125; No Ordinary Genius says 123
^ "A Polymath Physicist On Richard Feynman's "Low" IQ And Finding
Another Einstein: A conversation with Steve Hsu". Psychology Today.
December 26, 2011. Retrieved January 6, 2017.
^ Schweber 1994, p. 374.
Richard Feynman – Biography". Atomic Archive. Retrieved July 12,
^ Feynman 1985, p. 24.
^ Gleick 1992, p. 15.
^ a b Mehra 1994, p. 41.
^ Feynman 1985, p. 72.
^ Gribbin & Gribbin 1997, pp. 45–46.
^ Feynman, Richard. "Oral Histories -
Richard Feynman - Session II".
American Institute of Physics. American Institute of Physics.
Retrieved 25 May 2017.
^ Vallarta, M. S. and Feynman, R. P. (March 1939). "The Scattering of
Cosmic Rays by the Stars of a Galaxy". Physical Review. American
Physical Society. 55 (5): 506–507. Bibcode:1939PhRv...55..506V.
^ Gleick 1992, p. 82.
^ Feynman, R. P. (August 1939). "Forces in Molecules". Physical
Review. American Physical Society. 56 (4): 340–343.
^ Mehra 1994, pp. 71–78.
^ Gribbin & Gribbin 1997, p. 56.
^ "Putnam Competition Individual and Team Winners". MMA: Mathematical
Association of America. 2014. Retrieved March 8, 2014.
^ a b Gleick 1992, p. 84.
^ Feynman 1985, pp. 77–80.
^ "Cosmology: Math Plus Mach Equals Far-Out Gravity". Time. June 26,
1964. Retrieved August 7, 2010.
^ F. Hoyle; J. V. Narlikar (1964). "A New Theory of Gravitation".
Proceedings of the Royal Society A. 282: 191–207.
^ a b Gleick 1992, pp. 129–130.
^ a b Mehra 1994, pp. 92–101.
^ Feynman, Richard P. (1942). The Principle of Least Action in Quantum
Mechanics (PDF) (Ph.D.). Princeton University. Retrieved July 12,
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Bashe, Charles J.; Johnson, Lyle R.; Palmer, John H.; Pugh, Emerson W.
(1986). IBM's Early Computers. Cambridge, Massachusetts: MIT.
ISBN 0-262-02225-7. OCLC 12021988.
Bethe, Hans A. (1991). The Road from Los Alamos. Masters of Modern
Physics. 2. New York: Simon and Schuster. ISBN 0-671-74012-1.
Carroll, John Bissell (1996). Sternberg, Robert J.; Ben-Zeev, Talia,
eds. The Nature of Mathematical Thinking. Mahwah, New Jersey: L.
Erlbaum Associates. ISBN 978-0-8058-1799-7.
Chown, Marcus (May 2, 1985). "Strangeness and Charm". New Scientist:
34. ISSN 0262-4079.
Close, Frank (2011). The
Infinity Puzzle: The Personalities, Politics,
and Extraordinary Science Behind the Higgs Boson. Oxford University
Press. ISBN 978-0-19-959350-7. OCLC 840427493.
Deutsch, David (June 1, 1992). "Quantum computation". Physics World:
57–61. ISSN 0953-8585.
Feynman, Richard P. (1987). Ralph Leighton, ed. "Mr. Feynman Goes to
Washington". Engineering and Science. Caltech. 51 (1): 6–22.
Friedman, Jerome (2004). "A Student's View of Fermi". In Cronin, James
W. Fermi Remembered. Chicago: University of Chicago Press.
ISBN 978-0-226-12111-6. OCLC 835230762.
Galison, Peter (1998). "Feynman's War:Modelling Weapons, Modelling
Nature". Studies in History and Philosophy of Science Part B: Studies
in History and Philosophy of Modern Physics. 29 (3): 391–434.
Gribbin, John; Gribbin, Mary (1997). Richard Feynman: A Life in
Science. Dutton. ISBN 0-525-94124-X. OCLC 636838499.
Gleick, James (1992). Genius: The Life and Science of Richard Feynman.
Pantheon Books. ISBN 0-679-40836-3. OCLC 243743850.
Henderson, Harry (2011). Richard Feynman: Quarks, Bombs, and Bongos.
Chelsea House Publishers. ISBN 978-0-8160-6176-1.
Hoddeson, Lillian; Henriksen, Paul W.; Meade, Roger A.; Westfall,
Catherine L. (1993). Critical Assembly: A Technical History of Los
Alamos During the Oppenheimer Years, 1943–1945. New York: Cambridge
University Press. ISBN 0-521-44132-3. OCLC 26764320.
Krauss, Lawrence M. (2011). Quantum Man: Richard Feynman's Life in
W. W. Norton
W. W. Norton & Company. ISBN 0-393-06471-9.
Mehra, Jagdish (1994). The Beat of a Different Drum: The Life and
Science of Richard Feynman. New York: Oxford University Press.
ISBN 0-19-853948-7. OCLC 28507544.
Oakes, Elizabeth H. (2007). Encyclopedia of World Scientists, Revised
edition. New York: Facts on File. ISBN 978-1-4381-1882-6.
Peat, David (1997). Infinite Potential: the Life and Times of David
Bohm. Reading, Massachusetts: Addison Wesley. ISBN 0-201-40635-7.
Schweber, Silvan S. (1994).
QED and the Men Who Made It: Dyson,
Feynman, Schwinger, and Tomonaga.
Princeton University Press.
ISBN 0-691-03327-7. OCLC 918243948.
Sykes, Christopher (1994). No Ordinary Genius: the Illustrated Richard
Feynman. New York: W. W. Norton. ISBN 0-393-03621-9.
Wolfram, Stephen (2002). A New Kind of Science. Champaign, Illinois:
Wolfram Media, Inc. ISBN 1-57955-008-8.
American Institute of Physics
American Institute of Physics magazine, February 1989
Issue. (Vol. 42, No. 2.)
Special Feynman memorial issue containing
non-technical articles on Feynman's life and work in physics.
Brown, Laurie M. and
Rigden, John S. (editors) (1993) Most of the Good
Stuff: Memories of
Richard Feynman Simon & Schuster, New York,
ISBN 0-88318-870-8. Commentary by Joan Feynman, John Wheeler,
Hans Bethe, Julian Schwinger, Murray Gell-Mann, Daniel Hillis, David
Goodstein, Freeman Dyson, and Laurie Brown
Dyson, Freeman (1979) Disturbing the Universe. Harper and Row.
ISBN 0-06-011108-9. Dyson's autobiography. The chapters "A
Scientific Apprenticeship" and "A Ride to Albuquerque" describe his
impressions of Feynman in the period 1947–48 when Dyson was a
graduate student at Cornell
Feynman, Michelle, ed. (2005). Perfectly Reasonable Deviations from
the Beaten Track: The Letters of Richard P. Feynman. Basic Books.
ISBN 0-7382-0636-9. (Published in the UK under the title:
Don't You Have Time to Think?, with additional commentary by Michelle
Feynman, Allen Lane, 2005, ISBN 0-7139-9847-4.)
Hillis, W. Daniel (1989). "
Richard Feynman and The Connection
Machine". Physics Today. Institute of Physics. 42 (2).
Bibcode:1989PhT....42b..78H. doi:10.1063/1.881196. Archived from the
original on July 28, 2009.
Krauss, Lawrence M. (2011). Quantum Man: Richard Feynman's Life in
W. W. Norton
W. W. Norton & Company. ISBN 0-393-06471-9.
Leighton, Ralph (2000).
Tuva or Bust!: Richard Feynman's last journey.
W. W. Norton
W. W. Norton & Company. ISBN 0-393-32069-3.
LeVine, Harry (2009). The Great Explainer: The Story of Richard
Feynman. Greensboro, North Carolina: Morgan Reynolds.
ISBN 978-1-59935-113-1. ; for high school readers
Milburn, Gerald J. (1998). The Feynman Processor: Quantum Entanglement
and the Computing Revolution. Reading, Massachusetts: Perseus Books.
Mlodinow, Leonard (2003). Feynman's Rainbow: A Search For Beauty In
Physics And In Life. New York: Warner Books.
ISBN 0-446-69251-4. Published in the United Kingdom as Some
Time With Feynman
Ottaviani, Jim; Myrick, Leland (2011). Feynman: The Graphic Novel. New
York: First Second. ISBN 978-1-59643-259-8.
Films and plays
Infinity, a movie both directed by and starring
Matthew Broderick as
Feynman, depicting his love affair with his first wife and ending with
the Trinity test. 1996.
Parnell, Peter (2002), QED, Applause Books,
ISBN 978-1-55783-592-5 (play).
Whittell, Crispin (2006), Clever Dick, Oberon Books, (play)
"The Quest for Tannu Tuva", with
Richard Feynman and Ralph Leighton.
BBC Horizon and PBS Nova (entitled "Last Journey of a Genius").
No Ordinary Genius, a two-part documentary about Feynman's life and
work, with contributions from colleagues, friends and family. 1993,
BBC Horizon and PBS Nova (a one-hour version, under the title The Best
Mind Since Einstein) (2 × 50-minute films)
The Challenger (2013), a
BBC Two factual drama starring William Hurt,
tells the story of American Nobel prize-winning physicist Richard
Feynman's determination to reveal the truth behind the 1986 Space
Shuttle Challenger disaster.
The Fantastic Mr Feynman. One hour documentary. 2013,
Los Alamos from Below on
YouTube Lecture by Feynman
The Feynman Lectures on Physics
The Feynman Lectures on Physics Website by Michael Gottlieb, assisted
by Rudolf Pfeiffer and Caltech
Feynman Online!, a site dedicated to Feynman
Feynman and the Connection Machine
Richard Feynman (Interviews, with and about) – American Institute of
Wheeler–Feynman absorber theory
Feynman slash notation
Path integral formulation
Sticky bead argument
Quantum cellular automata
"There's Plenty of Room at the Bottom" (1959)
The Feynman Lectures on Physics (1964)
The Character of Physical Law (1965)
QED: The Strange Theory of Light and Matter (1985)
Surely You're Joking, Mr. Feynman! (1985)
What Do You Care What Other People Think? (1988)
Feynman's Lost Lecture: The Motion of Planets Around the
The Meaning of It All (1999)
The Pleasure of Finding Things Out (1999)
Perfectly Reasonable Deviations from the Beaten Track (2005)
Joan Feynman (sister)
Cargo cult science
Quantum Man: Richard Feynman's Life in Science
Tuva or Bust!
QED (2001 play)
The Challenger (2013 film)
Laureates of the Nobel Prize in Physics
1902 Lorentz / Zeeman
1903 Becquerel / P. Curie / M. Curie
1906 J. J. Thomson
1909 Marconi / Braun
1910 Van der Waals
1913 Kamerlingh Onnes
1915 W. L. Bragg / W. H. Bragg
1922 N. Bohr
1924 M. Siegbahn
1925 Franck / Hertz
1927 Compton / C. Wilson
1928 O. Richardson
1929 De Broglie
1933 Schrödinger / Dirac
1936 Hess / C. D. Anderson
1937 Davisson / G. P. Thomson
1951 Cockcroft / Walton
1952 Bloch / Purcell
1954 Born / Bothe
1955 Lamb / Kusch
1956 Shockley / Bardeen / Brattain
1957 C. N. Yang / T. D. Lee
1958 Cherenkov / Frank / Tamm
1959 Segrè / Chamberlain
1961 Hofstadter / Mössbauer
1963 Wigner / Goeppert-Mayer / Jensen
1964 Townes / Basov / Prokhorov
1965 Tomonaga / Schwinger / Feynman
1970 Alfvén / Néel
1972 Bardeen / Cooper / Schrieffer
1973 Esaki / Giaever / Josephson
1974 Ryle / Hewish
1975 A. Bohr / Mottelson / Rainwater
1976 Richter / Ting
1977 P. W. Anderson / Mott / Van Vleck
1978 Kapitsa / Penzias / R. Wilson
1979 Glashow / Salam / Weinberg
1980 Cronin / Fitch
1981 Bloembergen / Schawlow / K. Siegbahn
1982 K. Wilson
1983 Chandrasekhar / Fowler
1984 Rubbia / Van der Meer
1985 von Klitzing
1986 Ruska / Binnig / Rohrer
1987 Bednorz / Müller
1988 Lederman / Schwartz / Steinberger
1989 Ramsey / Dehmelt / Paul
1990 Friedman / Kendall / R. Taylor
1991 de Gennes
1993 Hulse / J. Taylor
1994 Brockhouse / Shull
1995 Perl / Reines
1996 D. Lee / Osheroff / R. Richardson
1997 Chu / Cohen-Tannoudji / Phillips
1998 Laughlin / Störmer / Tsui
1999 't Hooft / Veltman
2000 Alferov / Kroemer / Kilby
2001 Cornell / Ketterle / Wieman
2002 Davis / Koshiba / Giacconi
2003 Abrikosov / Ginzburg / Leggett
2004 Gross / Politzer / Wilczek
2005 Glauber / Hall / Hänsch
2006 Mather / Smoot
2007 Fert / Grünberg
2008 Nambu / Kobayashi / Maskawa
2009 Kao / Boyle / Smith
2010 Geim / Novoselov
2011 Perlmutter / Riess / Schmidt
2012 Wineland / Haroche
2013 Englert / Higgs
2014 Akasaki / Amano / Nakamura
2015 Kajita / McDonald
2016 Thouless / Haldane / Kosterlitz
2017 Weiss / Barish / Thorne
Heavy water sites
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