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Richard Feynman

Surely You're Joking, Mr. Feynman!: Adventures of a Curious Character

It is an autobiography, sort of, one that does not focus on deeds and achievements as much as it focuses on interests, “obsessions” and impressions, so after reading it, instead of feeling that I know about the man I have a feeling that I have known the man himself, that I can picture him in various situations and guess how he would have acted and reacted.

This is the man that I got to know:

A strange man, indeed. At first I “judged” him a bit arrogant, always thinking how he’s better and smarter then everyone else, those silly philosophers, biologists, mathematicians… but soon I changed my mind as I kept on reading. He does not care about being judged, and so he puts no effort at praises to himself or false modesties. He is either so sure of his place and reputation, or he does not care about them at all, that he would tell any story, however unexpected or controversial.

And he loves telling stories, and at moments you do wonder if he is joking, or making them up. I mean, can it really be a single man to take (a small) part on the development of radar, to take (a greater) part on development of atom bomb, to know and interact with some of the most famous scientist of his day, to be himself very successful scientist at several fields of physics and acknowledged by piers as such, at the same time to live the life to the full, to play in a Samba school (band) during the Rio carnival, to play bongo and other percussions and also to collaborate on writing and playing music for a ballet piece, to be an amateur painter, a one that sells, gets commissions and manages to put up a successful solo exhibition, to report that he managed to control his own dreams and managed to induce hallucinations and out of body experiences.

There are probably some aspects to Richard Feynman that I missed to mention, but even with these, he lived lives of at least ten different men all condensed into one!

“Surely You’re Joking, Mr. Feynman” is very interesting and easy to read. It’s a pity that a story on his plans to visit Tuva was not included…

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