Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Feynman in Tuva

Richard Feynman was an extraordinary guy. From his Wikipedia page:

"...an American physicist known for 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 work in particle physics (he proposed the parton model). For his contributions to the development of quantum electrodynamics, Feynman received the Nobel Prize in Physics in 1965, together with Julian Schwinger and Sin-Itiro Tomonaga. 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 and after his death, Feynman became one of the most publicly known scientists in the world.

He assisted in the development of the atomic bomb and was a member of the panel that investigated the Space Shuttle Challenger disaster. In addition to his work in theoretical physics, Feynman has been credited with pioneering the field of quantum computing, and introducing the concept of nanotechnology (creation of devices at the molecular scale)."


Bill Gates fell in love with Feynman's 1964 Messenger Lectures at Cornell University. He purchased the rights and has put the lectures online at Project Tuva, remastered and with supplemental materials/diagrams (h/t TierneyLab). You do have to install an add-on. It's an amazing project and a great gift to lovers of physics.

(photo credit: Feynman (center) with Robert J. Oppenheimer (right) at Los Alamos during the Manhattan Project, wikipedia.org)