Genius : Richard Feynman and Modern Physics Paperback
by James Gleick
Richard Feynman was the most brilliant and influential physicist of our time.
Architect of quantum theories, enfant terrible of the atomic bomb project, caustic inquisitor on the space shuttle commission, ebulent bongo-player and storyteller - Feynman played a bewildering assortment of roles in the science of the post-war era. A brilliant interweaving of Richard Feynman's colourful life and a detailed and accessible account of his theories and experiments.
- Format: Paperback
- Pages: 560 pages, Section: 16, b&w
- Publisher: Little, Brown Book Group
- Publication Date: 02/04/1994
- Category: Biography: general
- ISBN: 9780349105321
Showing 1 - 3 of 3 reviews.
Review by sharkfish
I enjoyed learning about Feynman. This is the definitive bio.
Review by Steve55
This is a fantastic book for those interested in physics, but more importantly for those interested in change. It is the biography of Richard Feynman, the talented physicist, winner of the Nobel Prize and major contributor to our understanding of particle physics. The term ‘genius’ is often used cheaply, and although Feynman would have declined the description, having read this account it is difficult to argue that he was not fully deserving of the title.I first became aware of Richard Feynman through quotations credited to him, and was intrigued to find out more about the man behind the ideas. This book deals with his life and achievements and as much of this was directed at the hidden and mysterious world and mathematics that define the inner working of atoms, you might expect a difficult read. Have no fear. James Gleick has done a brilliant job of avoiding the mathematics whilst successfully conveying the ideas that Feynman spent a lifetime working on, without belittling them through oversimplification. Instead he succeeds in graphically illuminating the world of quantum physics as a truly remarkable one where particles exist for fractions of a billionth of a second, appear capable of travelling back in time, and provide the key to unlock our understanding of the universe, gravity and time itself.‘I was born not knowing and have had only a little time to change that here and there.’ Richard Feynman.That James Gleick is able to graphically convey the work of a genius operating in this field is truly fitting since the hallmark of Feynman’s work was a single minded focus on creating and sharing understanding, to create penny dropping moments of revelation, no matter how complex the underlying concepts. His career spanned almost the entire period of the development of modern physics, through to his untimely death in 1988. His life criss-crossed the paths of an array of great scientists such as Einstein, Dirac and Fermi and includes work on the development of the atom bomb and the investigation of the Challenger Shuttle disaster. Along the way he left a trail of discoveries. ideas and people he inspired, and received the Nobel Prize in recognition of only a small part of his contribution to science.All of this is a fascinating account of a key participant and luminary at the cutting edge of scientific advance. But for me it is so much more. With an interest in the journey of change, this book provides a real insight into the thinking and approach of someone who saw change as an invitation to explore. His guiding principles were that nothing can ever be known with absolute certainty and that all knowledge was partial and temporary. For Feynman, as for Einstein, the most powerful tool in creating advance was imagination.Rather than the widespread popularly held view that science is about the known, This is a book full of insights. If you want to glimpse into the world of quantum physics and understand concepts and principles that you may have feared were beyond you, this book does the job. Beyond this the book provides an insight into the thinking of a man who was truly a genius and who defined genius as the ability to question, challenge, understand and create understanding. Feynman is quoted as saying that he never read a scientific biography that he enjoyed. I agree with the reviewer who on the back cover suggests that he would have enjoyed this one. I read it on holiday and recommend that you set aside a little time to do the same.
Review by psiloiordinary
I don't have much a track record for reading biographies, so I can't judge this book against many others. But I do know that I thoroughly enjoyed it.Having read most of Feynman's own materials (albeit stuff that was knocked into shape by others) and having viewed his messenger lectures (thanks to Bill Gates - well done Bill) like a giggling twit, you can guess that I am already a fan of the guy.I think that the fact this book took some of the gloss and polish away from some of his better known adventures just made him all the more human and likeable and certainly didn't make me feel like the wizards curtain had been pulled to one side.The book is easy to read yet comprehensive and detailed. Told with brutal honesty and yet still sensitively written and far more than a simple recounting of diary dates and events.PS the science is great too.