There are two types of genius. Ordinary geniuses do great things, but they leave you room to believe that you could do the same if only you worked hard enough. Then there are magicians, and you can have no idea how they do it. Feynman was a magician. —Hans Bethe
It seems as if, once again, the week is developing its own theme. It began with Stephen Hawking’s birthday on Sunday, followed by the release of Lawrence Krauss‘ new book, A Universe from Nothing: Why There is Something Rather Than Nothing. And a couple of days ago, while looking something up for yesterday’s Shelley post, I happened upon a collection of four Richard Feynman videos. On Friday morning, the Richard Dawkins site featured a link to a series of videos on Open Culture titled “The Richard Feynman Trilogy: The Physicist Captured in Three Films.” According to site,
It’s another case of the whole being greater better than the sum of the parts. Between 1981 and 1993, documentary producer Christopher Sykes shot three films and one TV series dedicated to the charismatic, Nobel Prize-winning physicist Richard Feynman (1918-1988). We have presented these documentaries here individually before (some several years ago), but never brought them together. So, prompted by a post on Metafilter, we’re doing just that today.
In keeping with the spirit of the celebration of these great scientific minds that we’ve been looking at this week, I want to share this collection of videos with you. When we listen to them, be it Hawking, Krauss, or Feynman (or any of the others for that matter), we can’t help but be reminded to always stay curious and to never stop thinking. We should watch them and remember to have and live rich intellectual lives.
The first film is “The Pleasure of Finding things Out,” and I’ve included it here. In it, Feynman talks about his excitement about science and scientific discovery. When speaking about the film, Harry Kroto (winner of the Nobel Prize for Chemistry) stated that,
“the 1981 Feynman [production] is the best science program I have ever seen. This is not just my opinion – it is also the opinion of many of the best scientists that I know who have seen the program. It should be mandatory viewing for all students whether they be science or arts students.”
The other two films (and one television show) can be found here, and they include “Fun to Imagine: Jiggling Atoms,” “The Last Journey of a Genius,” and lastly ”No Ordinary Genius.” I spent a large part of last night watching them, and I recommend you watch, too, as you find the time.
There are also a series of short videos titled the “Feynman Series” by the creators of the “Sagan Series.” In these Feynman discusses Beauty, Curiosity, and Honors. These are short excerpts of his longer videos, and are also well worth a look.
Moreover, many of his writings and lectures have been compiled and published by his associates or students, such as Surely You’re Joking, Mr. Feynman!, What Do You Care What Other People Think?, and Classic Feynman. The Feynman Lectures on Physics, a collection of his Caltech lectures, is surely one of the most noteworthy. He’s truly a joy to read.
Stay curious and enjoy!