Surely You’re Joking, Mr. Feynman!

feynman

Surely You’re Joking, Mr. Feynman!: Adventures of a Curious Character’ is an edited collection of reminiscences by the Nobel Prize-winning physicist, Richard Feynman. The anecdotes were edited from taped conversations that Feynman had with his close friend and drumming partner Ralph Leighton. The title derives from a woman’s response at Princeton University when, after she asked the newly arrived Feynman if he wanted cream or lemon in his tea, he naively requested both. The book, released in 1985, covers a variety of instances in Feynman’s life.

Some are lighthearted in tone, such as his fascination with safe-cracking, studying various languages, participating with groups of people who share different interests (such as biology or philosophy), and ventures into art and samba music. Others cover more serious material, including his work on the Manhattan Project (during which his first wife Arline Greenbaum died of tuberculosis) and his critique of the science education system in Brazil. The section ‘Monster Minds’ describes his slightly nervous presentation of his graduate work on the Wheeler-Feynman absorber theory in front of Albert Einstein, Wolfgang Pauli, and other major figures of the time.

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