Surely You're Joking, Mr. Feynman! - Richard Feynman

  • August 3, 2014 · 3:00 PM
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A series of anecdotes shouldn't by rights add up to an autobiography, but that's just one of the many pieces of received wisdom that Nobel Prize-winning physicist Richard Feynman [masked]) cheerfully ignores in his engagingly eccentric book, a bestseller ever since its initial publication in 1985. Fiercely independent (read the chapter entitled "Judging Books by Their Covers"), intolerant of stupidity even when it comes packaged as high intellectualism (check out "Is Electricity Fire?"), unafraid to offend (see "You Just Ask Them?"), Feynman informs by entertaining. It's possible to enjoy Surely You're Joking, Mr. Feynman simply as a bunch of hilarious yarns with the smart-alecky author as know-it-all hero. At some point, however, attentive readers realize that underneath all the merriment simmers a running commentary on what constitutes authentic knowledge: learning by understanding, not by rote; refusal to give up on seemingly insoluble problems; and total disrespect for fancy ideas that have no grounding in the real world. Feynman himself had all these qualities in spades, and they come through with vigor and verve in his no-bull prose. No wonder his students--and readers around the world--adored him. --Wendy Smith

Thanks to Chris for the suggestion.

352 pages

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  • Elizabeth

    Caltech makes lectures & more avail free: http://feynmanlectures.caltech.edu/

    1 · August 31

  • Dave

    It was a really interesting discussion. I look forward to future meetings.

    August 3

  • Kathy

    Great discussion, insights and additional directions!

    1 · August 3

  • Leo F.

    One of the most interesting chapters in the book is the transcription of a talk he gave about his experience in the Manhattan Project. The actual talk is on YouTube: Los Alamos From Below (I posted a link on my previous comment).

    2 · August 1

    • sean d

      Thanks yet again Leo... great links

      August 2

    • Carol

      Leo, you are right the Los Alamos video was outstanding! Thanks for links

      August 2

  • Deb

    Cannot make this month. Will be there next month for sure. I miss these conversations.

    1 · August 1

  • Leo F.

    There are several great videos on YouTube related Feynman, I thought these were the best ones:

    The Last Journey of a Genius:
    http://youtu.be/Mn4_40hAAr0

    The Pleasure of Finding Things Out:
    http://youtu.be/Bgaw9qe7DEE

    Best mind since Einstein:
    http://youtu.be/cgraCYOQJl4

    Los Alamos From Below:
    http://youtu.be/0ogSC6JKkrY

    2 · August 1

  • Rita

    This appears to be a good book to begin participating in this book club. Look forward to Aug.3

    May 20, 2014

  • Elizabeth

    Feynman Art Exhibit & Cultural Event: http://www.fnal.gov/culture/NewArts/index.shtml

    April 8, 2014

    • Elizabeth

      A friend posted a video that also happens to mention reactions to the book: https://www.youtube.co...­

      1 · April 8, 2014

    • Cheryl

      Very interesting, thanks, Elizabeth! I only watched #1 of 5 so far but that was enough to whet my appetite even more for this "collection of remarkable adventures." :)

      2 · April 8, 2014

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