THE ULTIMATE PHYSICIST:
- NOTABLE QUOTES
RICHARD PHILLIPS FEYNMAN
Richard P. Feynman (May 11, 1918 - February 15, 1988) was born in Far Rockaway, Queens, New York City. His family originated from Russia and Poland; both of his parents were (non devout) Jewish. Feynman (as with the famous physicists Albert Einstein and Edward Teller) was a late talker, and had yet to utter a single word by his third birthday. As a child, Feynman was greatly influenced by his father, Melville, who encouraged him to ask questions to challenge orthodox thinking. From his mother, Lucille, he gained the sense of humor that he kept throughout his life. As a child, he had a talent for engineering and delighted in repairing radios. His sister Joan also became a professional physicist.
"Architect of quantum theories, brash young group leader on the atomic bomb project, inventor of the ubiquitous Feynman diagram, ebullient bongo player and storyteller, Richard Phillips Feynman was the most brilliant, iconoclastic, and influential physicist of modern times. He took the half-made conceptions of waves and particles in the 1940s and shaped them into tools that ordinary phisicists could use and understand. He had a lightning ability to see into the heart of the problems nature posed. Within the community of physicists, an organized, tradition-bound culture that needs heroes as much as it sometimes mistrusts them, his name took on a special luster. It was permitted in connection with Feynman to use the word genius." - James Gleick, Genius: the life and science of Richard Feynman
Feynman is credited with predicting the future of nanotechnology in 1959 at Caltech, with his visionary lecture, There's Plenty of Room at the Bottom. He stated, "The problems of chemistry and biology can be greatly helped if our ability to see what we are doing, and to do things on an atomic level, is ultimately developed - a development which I think cannot be avoided."
"If, in some cataclysm, all of scientific knowledge were to be destroyed, and only one sentence passed on to the next generation of creatures, what statement would contain the most information in the fewest words? I believe it is... All things are made of atoms-little particles that move around in perpetual motion, attracting each other when they are a little distance apart, but repelling upon being squeezed into one another. In that one sentence you will see an enormous amount of information about the world, if just a little imagination and thinking are applied." - R.P. Feynman, The Feynman Lectures on Physics, vol. 1
"Nature uses only the longest threads to weave her patterns, so that each small piece of her fabric reveals the organization of the entire tapestry."
"There are the rushing waves...
mountains of molecules,
each stupidly minding its own business...
...yet forming white surf in unison.
Ages on ages...
before any eyes could see...
year after year...
thunderously pounding the shore as now.
For whom, for what?
...on a dead planet
with no life to entertain.
Never at rest...
tortured by energy...
wasted prodigiously by the sun...
poured into space.
A mite makes the sea roar.
Deep in the sea,
all molecules repeat
the patterns of another
till complex new ones are formed.
They make others like themselves...
and a new dance starts.
Growing in size and complexity...
masses of atoms,
dancing a pattern ever more intricate.
Out of the cradle
onto dry land...
here it is standing...
atoms with consciousness
...matter with curiosity.
Stands at the sea...
wonders at wondering... I...
a universe of atoms...
an atom in the universe."
- "The Value of Science," address to the National Academy of Sciences (Autumn 1955)
"Is no one inspired by our present picture of the universe? This value of science remains unsung by singers, you are reduced to hearing not a song or poem, but an evening lecture about it. This is not yet a scientific age."