Richard Feynman was an incredible scientist.
He spent most of his time at Caltech
the idea of quantum physics
where all these particles
are interacting in mysterious ways
he came up with a thing called Feynman diagrams
that he won the Nobel Prize for.
Perhaps even more importantly he was an amazing teacher.
He did a series of lectures
which were for people who didn’t specialize in physics.
It’s such a great example of how he could explain things
in a fun and interesting way to anyone.
And he was very funny.
Incidently at the time of Kepler,
the problem of what drove the planets around the sun
was answered by some people
by saying that there were angels behind here,
beating their wings and pushing the planet along
around in orbit.
As we see that answer is not very far from the truth,
the only difference is that
the angels sit in a different direction
and their wings go…
Dr. Feynman used a tough process on himself,
where if he didn’t really understand something,
he would push himself:
“Do I understand this boundary case?”
“Do I understand why we don’t do it this other way?”
“Do I really understand this?”
And because he had pushed himself
to have such a deep understanding,
his ability to take you through the path of the different possibilities —
Oxygen for instance in the air, would like
to be next to carbon and if they get
near each other they ’ ll snap together.
If you can get it faster, by heating
it up somehow, some way, they come
close enough to the carbon and snap in,
and that gives it a lot of jiggly motion.
Which might hit some other atoms making those go faster
so they can climb up and bump against other
carbon atoms and they jiggle and make others
jiggle and you get a terrible catastrophe.
That catastrophe is a fire.
He’s taking something that
is a little mysterious to most people
and using very simple concepts
to explain how it works.
He doesn ’ t even tell you he ’ s talking
about fire until the very end
and you feel like you ’ re kinda figuring it out together with him.
Feynman made science so fascinating,
he reminded us how much fun it is
and everybody can have a pretty full understanding,
So he’s such a joyful example
of how we’d all like to
learn and think about things.