Feynman anecdotes

Source: Fotuva.org, date indeterminate

Feynman on Hawking

Several conversations that Feynman and I had involved the remarkable abilities of other physicists. In one of these conversations, I remarked to Feynman that I was impressed by Steven Hawking’s ability to do path integration in his head. Ahh, that’s not so great, Feynman replied. It’s much more interesting to come up with the technique like I did, rather than to be able to do the mechanics in your head. Feynman wasn’t being immodest, he was quite right. The true secret to genius is in creativity, not in technical mechanics.

Damn it, Murray, you’re right again …

This took place just after the publication of Surely You’re Joking, Mr. Feynman. We were all sitting together at lunch talking about the success of the book, when one of the other graduate students remarked that they had not seen Murray Gell-Mann lately. I thought he had gone and started writing his own book of anecdotes. The other student remarked, Yeah, and I know what he is going to call it too, ‘Damn it Murray, You’re right again!’ At this remark, Feynman lost it, and slid under the table laughing.

Feynman Van

Feynman and I would sometimes go camping together. On these occasions he would drive his van, which had Feynman diagrams painted all over it and a license plate that said Quantum. (Murray Gell-Mann had a license plate that said Quarks.) I asked Feynman if anyone ever recognized the diagrams. Yes. Once we were driving in the midwest and we pulled into a McDonald’s. Someone came up to me and asked me why I have Feynman diagrams all over my van. I replied, ‘Because I AM Feynman! The young man went “Ahhhhh…..

Related Resources:

The Atlantic, Jul 2000

Though Feynman was essentially a loner, Gell-Mann loved the camaraderie of collaboration. And he was terrified of heading solo into the void with an idea that might turn out to be wrong. He and Feynman had been trying to understand a problem involving neutrinos, the evanescent particles that fly through planets almost as easily as through empty space. The puzzle could be explained, they surmised, if there were actually two kinds of neutrinos (they called them red and blue). Gell-Mann wanted to write up the idea, but when Feynman resisted, he didn’t have the nerve to go it alone. The theory, with others’ names on it, later turned out to be correct, and Gell-Mann added Feynman’s obstinacy to his lengthening list of grievances.

Symmetry Magazine, May 2014

“The game I play is a very interesting one,” says Nobel Laureate Richard Feynman in a low-resolution video posted to YouTube. “It’s imagination in a tight straitjacket.”



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