Sunday, May 13, 2012

34. Surely You're Joking, Mr. Feynman by Richard P. Feynman

Not really an autobiography, this book is a collection of writings and speeches by Richard Feynman, an outspoken Nobel Prize-winning scientist.  While the introduction by Albert Tibbs laments the fact that the book doesn't include enough of Feynman's scientific accomplishments, I found there were more than enough for my taste.  Let's face it, I am not fascinated by details of physics.  By his own admission, Feynman is not just a brilliant physicist (he never says that about himself), but he is also a bit of a womanizer, a liberal, and a very curious guy who likes to learn about an eclectic range of subjects.  You can get an idea about Feynman's wide range of interests from the titles of the chapters.  Here's a few:  "Who Stole the Door?", "Meeeeeeeeeee!", "Safecracker Mets Safecracker", "Certainly, Mr. Big", "But Is It Art?", and "Alfred Nobel's Other Mistake." 

Here's the description from the back cover:
"Richard Feynman, who won the Nobel Prize in physics, was one fo the world's greatest theoretical physicists and thrived on outrageous adventure.  His eyebrow-raising behavior once shocked a Princeton dean's wife to exclaim:  "Surely you're joking, Mr. Feynman!"  Feynman was surely the only person in history to solve the mystery of liquid helium, to be commissioned to paint a naked female toreador, and to crack the uncrackable safes guarding the atomic bomb's most critical secrets.  He traded ideas with Einstein and Bohr, discussed gambling odds wiht Nick the Greek, and accompanied a ballet on the bongo drums.  Here, woven with his scintillating views on modern science, is Feynman's astonishing life story -- a combustible misture of high intelligence, unlimited  curiosity, eternal skepticism, and raging chutzpah."

I've enjoyed reading the biographies of Richard Oppenheimer and Albert Einstein; but I think this may be my last.  The stories were mostly humorous and interesting; but by the end, I was tired of the book.  Rating:  2.75

1 comment:

  1. I liked this one, but then I had not read biographies of Oppenheimer and Einstein. I was intrigued in Feynman because of his range of interests. He certainly wasn't the stereotypical geek scientist!