Wednesday, May 11, 2016

BIRTH | May 11–Richard Feynman

Richard Feynman
This day in 1918 was born physicist Richard Phillips Feynman in Queens, N.Y. He went to New York City public schools. He was rejected by Columbia because his admission would have exceeded the Jewish quota of the time. 

Instead of Columbia, he went to MIT and then completed his doctorate at Princeton. He won the Nobel Prize in 1965 and is rated one of the greatest ten theoretical physicists of all time. 

He worked on the Manhattan Project to develop the nuclear bomb, and he was the youngest group leader in the project's theoretical division. When the first test bomb was detonated in 1945, he was excited and happy, but as soon as Germany ceased to be a threat to the world, he questioned his own work on the bomb. 

He made enormous contributions to the field of quantum mechanics. Feynman diagrams are now fundamental for string theory and M-theory, The world-lines of the diagrams have developed to become tubes to allow better modeling of more complicated objects such as strings and membranes. But shortly before his death, Feynman criticized string theory in an interview that is frequently quoted by critics of the theory
I don't like that they're not calculating anything. I don't like that they don't check their ideas. I don't like that for anything that disagrees with an experiment, they cook up an explanation—a fix-up to say, "Well, it still might be true."
He enjoyed his work and tried to convey the joys of physics to lay people. He said:
  • The first principle is that you must not fool yourself and you are the easiest person to fool. 
  • Science is the belief in the ignorance of experts. 
  • Physics is like sex: sure, it may give some practical results, but that's not why we do it. 
He was married three times, the third time for 28 years until his death on February 15, 1988, in Los Angeles. He is survived by a son Karl and a daughter Michelle Louise.