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Wednesday, October 24, 2007


Feynman’s Rainbow - This book is about the experience of a young Physics post-doctorate Leonard Mlodinow, who had just joined Caltech as a researcher a couple of decades ago. There he came across two ( no, three) legends of the world of atoms, photons and quarks…the legendary Richard Feynman, another Nobel laureate Murray Gell-Mann and the idiosyncratic originator of the string theory, John Schwarz.

The approaches of Feynman as against Murray is nicely described by Leonard- by using the analogies of the Babylonian and the Greek. While Murray believed in description of eternal and immutable patterns in mathematical form, Feynman worshipped nature itself…in his imaginations. The idiosyncrasies of Schwarz are almost perfect.

But what takes this book about photons, quarks and the string theory much beyond mathematical Physics is the confusion of Leonard in his life and Feynman’s answers to his confusions. Then, Feynman was terminally ill with cancer. Leonard had recorded his conversations with Feynman and after twenty years he decided to write this book.

Feynman loved to imagine….he was not religious…he believed more in biology than in God….but in his imaginations….there is an element, which can be no way categorized as just mortal. Here is a piece where he asks Leonard to think about atoms.

“Go look at an electron microscope photograph of an atom. Don’t just glance at it. It is very important that you examine it very closely. Think about what it means. And then answer this question. Does it make your heart flutter?”It’s a yes or no question. No equations allowed.”

Leonard had asked a number of questions and the final question was “Who are you as a person – and how has being a scientist influenced your character?”…. and the two page answer, given by Feynman is worth keeping in your personal diary to read again and again later.


Anonymous said...

hi sabya..
hw r u?-k.m

Just another guy said...

Hey...long time..howz life?

I am doing great....keep posting comments