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Richard Feynman (1918-1988), winner of the Nobel Prize in physics, thrived on outrageous adventures. Here he recounts in his inimitable voice his experience trading ideas on atomic physics with Einstein and Bohr and ideas on gambling with Nick the Greek; cracking the uncrackable safes guarding the most deeply held nuclear secrets; painting a naked female toreador - and mucRichard Feynman (1918-1988), winner of the Nobel Prize in physics, thrived on outrageous adventures. Here he recounts in his inimitable voice his experience trading ideas on atomic physics with Einstein and Bohr and ideas on gambling with Nick the Greek; cracking the uncrackable safes guarding the most deeply held nuclear secrets; painting a naked female toreador - and much else of an eyebrow-raising nature.In short, here is Feynman's life in all its eccentric glory - a combustible mixture of high intelligence, unlimited curiosity, and raging chutzpah....

Title : Surely You're Joking, Mr. Feynman!: Adventures of a Curious Character
Author :
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ISBN : 9780393316049
Format Type : Paperback
Number of Pages : 391 Pages
Status : Available For Download
Last checked : 21 Minutes ago!

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

  • Emily
    2018-11-11 06:51

    This book of anecdotes is written in a very casual, fun way that makes it easy to read. The problem is that the author, Nobel-Prize-winning physicist Dick Feynman, is annoying. All the anecdotes involve him discovering a hidden talent, using it, delighting others (or himself if that's his real goal) and then being applauded for it (sometimes only by himself). For example, he discovers that he's a great artist, musician, safecracker, and critic. Everything revolves around him showing off and being somewhat of a jerk. There were many times when I thought, yeah buddy, *you* think it's funny but no one else does. A few stories like this and it's quirky but piled on top of each other, it's annoying.I can't really recommend this book. Maybe mischevious self-aggrandizing guys would enjoy it but otherwise, I suggest a pass.

  • Otis Chandler
    2018-10-28 07:15

    This book was a pure delight. The subtitle "Adventures of a Curious Character" is spot-on. Feynman gave an amazingly human and honest view into his philosophy and take on life, thought a series of stories.One thing that struck me most deeply was his passion for learning new things. You would think a world-famous Physicist would just be passionate for Physics - but Feynman was curious about everything he saw. He dabbled in art and was successful enough to have a show, he joined a Brazilian Bongo group and competed with them, he hung out in Vegas until he grokked gambling, he spent time in strip bars in Arizona until he figured out how to pick up women, he cracked safes in Los Alamos for fun - the list goes on! My take: you should have your passions - but you should also have your hobbies. I think I need a new hobby :)I really enjoyed his lessons learned from observing the Brazilian educational system. He noted that many of the students were simply memorizing words and formulas and had no understanding of the concepts they applied to. I think this is not a unique problem in education.Another lesson learned from Feynman's studies of science is to never take any data for granted. Always always question the sources. Whenever Feynman did an experiment he would re-generate many of the numbers on his own - even if they had been published in other places. For many things we are (and not just in science) standing on the shoulders of giants. The easiest way to be led astray is if those results were never right to begin with. I think Feynman was in his heart a true educator and scientist, with real integrity. And I think it drove him nuts how many important decisions are made using unscientific principles. This book was a light-hearted attempt to point that out - not to mention, a very entertaining read.

  • Brendon Schrodinger
    2018-11-19 05:08

    “Would you like cream or lemon in your tea, Mr. Feynman?” It’s Mrs. Eisenhart, pouring tea.“I’ll have both, thank you,” I say, still looking for where I’m going to sit, when suddenly I hear “Heh-heh-heh-heh-heh. Surely you’re joking, Mr. Feynman.”The title of this collection comes from a tale that took place early in Feynman's career where he was invited for an afternoon tea with the dean of his university. The dean's wife is serving and asks him the above question. Richard never drinks tea and never moves in the same society that does, little own the society that has lemon OR cream with it. A big theme of these stories and indeed a running theme in Feynman's life is that he had no time for formalisms, rituals or societal views. He does attribute a lot of this to his upbringing. His father was a uniform maker and often dealt with clients of all types of notoriety and he knew that underneath all those uniforms were just another naked ape. He passed on his views to his children and Richard went so far as to nearly not accept his Nobel Prize. To him it was another form of bullshit and that his reward had already been awarded with other scientists using his findings.It's no argument that Feynman was a brilliant physicist, but he also had many interests. And a great proportion of these stories are about these interests or how his interests intersected with his physics work. There is only one story in this collection that is technical in any way. The collection reads as if you had somehow run into Feynman in a seedy bar in 1960s Vegas (there's a story about this time) waiting for a showgirl to finish work. He is a great orator and the origins of these stories are that they were recorded and transcribed by Ralph Leighton, a drumming pal of Richard's. Yes, Feynman played the bongos. So while you have this brilliant man, in some ways ahead of his time in the ways that he thought and how he acted, there ares some hints that he is a man of his time. Reading these stories you come to realise that Feynman was quite the womaniser. He appreciated the female form in a socially acceptable way for the time that he lived in. And so when someone from the twenty-first century reads this book he can come across as a bit sleazy. I am not going to defend his attitudes nor am I going to condone them. Personally I found nothing overtly offensive about his actions or his attitudes. But I can imagine my partner reading this and sighing at several statements made by him. The book covers times in his childhood right up until late in life. There is a nice large chapter on his time at Los Alamos working on the Manhattan Project. There are also stories about his time in Brazil and Japan and his love for immersing himself in a different way of life. There are also a couple of great chapters on education; one about the standard of students he sees while in Brazil and the other concerning a time when he was asked to be on a panel to decide high school texts for his school region. I'd recommend this read to most people. It is extremely accessible, with little jargon or technical physics. It talks more on his philosophy of living, learning and how to deal with the world around you. He is definitely a great orator and that is why his legacy lives on. This book remains a popular seller in the general sciences and recordings of his lectures and interviews are popular on youtube. It's great to know that we still have so much of him around.And for those who want more there are plenty more collections of his wisdom. There is also Feynman a biographic graphic novel.

  • William
    2018-10-30 09:00

    "Nobody ever figures out what life is all about,and it doesn't matter. Explore the world. Nearly everything is really interesting if you go into it deeply enough."(Video Review) The story of Feynman changed fundamentally, what I think about the world around me.The story of Richard and his father helped me to understand, that many parents could help their children to a more fulfilling life. Parents could pique the interest of the child very early and could give him real answers if he asks why again and again.He changed my view about scientists. He proved that the life of a scientist can be also “sexy” and interesting and the same time useful and deep activity. You rarely have a chance to meet pedagogues who can help you fall in love with learning and set the fire of science in you, as Feynman did.This book is not only interesting for physicists and scientists, but also for parents and pedagogues who want to inspire their children, students to have a better life. Elon Musk (founder of Tesla) founded a school build on the same principles what Feynman confessed. Where children have a chance to understand the thing work around us, understand the “whys”, and continuously maintain the interest of the students.Of course many people cannot afford this luxury. But also they can profit from these pedagogical principles, even if these seems to be terrifying at the first time as a parent. If you encourage your child to question anybody, you will be also questioned. If you encourage your child, not to defer to different orders, it questions basic societal values of many people and they can be stigmatized being unrespectful. But I think, you will only show a path for your child, which even can lead to the Nobel-prize, but to a happier, more interesting life. And now I am surely not joking.

  • Darwin8u
    2018-11-11 05:13

    “You have no responsibility to live up to what other people think you ought to accomplish. I have no responsibility to be like they expect me to be. It's their mistake, not my failing.” ― Richard Feynman, Surely You're Joking, Mr. Feynman!I've been circling this book, The Feynman Lectures on Physics, and Gleck's Genius: The Life and Science of Richard Feynman for awhile. This one seemed the most fun and easiest place to start. I was driving from Taos/Santa Fe back to Phoenix last week and as I drove past Los Alamos, it was just the particle collision in my brain I needed to start on Feynman.Often, memoirs are hard to read because you know a bunch of it is façade. A person is showing you a part of them for a purpose. They want to be viewed as smart, important, funny, etc. They carefully guide you through a Potemkin village of their life. Richard Feynman's memoir is different. Not that I don't think Feynman had an ego. He might have even had an agenda with the book. But, for the most part, he seemed much more interested in the stories he wanted to tell, rather than on how they would make him look. He wasn't all that worried about how he looked so much. His entire life was built around doing what he wanted, exploring what he found interesting, violating taboos, beating his own drums and cutting his own path. He was a Nobel-prize winning polymath physicist whose other talents included playing drums, teaching, drawing naked girls, picking locks, making atomic bombs, practical jokes, and telling stories. He wasn't interested in the usual trappings of success. Many of those things annoyed him. He was curious. He was a risk-taker. He was a genius.

  • Manny
    2018-10-29 08:03

    Everyone has a collection of favorite stories that they enjoy telling; but it's unusual for the stories to be so good that a friend insists on writing them down, so that other people can appreciate them too. When I read this book, I almost feel that Feynman's telling the stories himself. Well, when that happens in real life, you always want to join in; here's my personal best effort at a Feynman-type anecdote. I hope it's now far enough in the past that the people concerned will see the funny side, if they happen to stumble across this page by accident!STAR TREK AND THE PERSONAL SATELLITE ASSISTANTIt was early 2000, and I had just started working at NASA Ames Research Center in California. I was part of this little group that was supposed to be developing spoken language dialogue systems for space applications. The guy whose idea it was had started up the group, recruited me and two other people, and then left to join Microsoft Research before I'd even arrived. So everyone was looking at us suspiciously. Why did NASA need software that you could talk to?The rest of this review is available elsewhere (the location cannot be given for Goodreads policy reasons)

  • Penny
    2018-11-09 03:14

    Feynman is a physicist who taught at Cornell and Princeton, worked on the Manhattan Project and won the Nobel Prize. He's also a complete hoot. The book is a series of autobiographical stories -- pranks pulled as a student at MIT and at Los Alamos, teaching himself to paint, scientific discoveries he made, his three marriages, how he was rejected by the draft board for being mentally suspect (they asked him if he ever heard voices and he said yes he did and then went on to describe what he found interesting about that. He said that sometimes when falling in and out of sleep he'd imagine conversations with his foreign-born colleagues and the voices in his head spoke accurately with their accents -- but that if he tried to imitate such accents he could not do so at all. So how was it that one part of his brain had captured accents correctly but another hadn't? This was entirely typical of Feynman's wide ranging curiosity and intelligence, but the end result in this case was that the psychologists decided he was nuts. His colleagues at Cornell were vastly amused by this.)What I love about Feynman -- first of all, his great interest in everything and his willingness to experiment. The great joy he found in working things through (he said that the reason he'd never tried drugs, though he was tempted, was that he enjoyed thinking too much and didn't want to risk that.) Also, he's clearly so very intelligent and reading his book, his thoughts seem so easy to follow -- it makes the world of science seem accessible.

  • Roy Lotz
    2018-11-03 08:48

    I'll never make that mistake again, reading the experts' opinions. Of course, you only live one life, and you make all your mistakes, and learn what not to do, and that's the end of you.I can usually tell when I’m going to give a book 5 stars by one sign: I can’t shut up about it. Well, I couldn’t and can’t shut up about this book; it was simply great. This greatness sort of snuck up on me. I’d recently read a collection of anecdotes by a scientist (A Primate’s Memoir) and found it rather disappointing. Plus, the whole idea of reading a book of stories about a great physicist, without learning any actual physics, seemed silly. But my skepticism had withered away by the end of the first chapter; I was entranced by the man, absolutely fascinated, and remained so the whole time.The subtitle of this book is perfect, because the two meanings of the word “curious” converge to encapsulate Feynman: he was curious in the sense of being odd, as well as curious in his love of learning. I was trying to figure out a way to describe Feynman’s personality, and this is the best I’ve come up with: Feynman is Huck Finn grown up to become a physicist. The qualities that make Mark Twain’s most famous character so endearing are also the qualities that endear Feynman to me: mischievousness, curiosity, cleverness, honesty, naiveté, friendliness, frankness, and an uncompromising moral principle. Like Huck, Feynman is always getting himself into absurd situations, and getting out of them with pure quickness of mind; like Huck, Feynman likes to fool other people and play tricks, but all without a hint of malice; and like Huck, Feynman will stick his neck out for what he feels is right.There are some hilarious stories in here, which I won’t spoil. But what was more impressive to me was the amount of serious thought that could be found. Feynman’s criticism of the Brazilian school system—which relied overmuch on memorization by rote, and concentrated overmuch on passing tests, instead of teaching students how to make sense of the world around them—applies equally well to many aspects of the current U.S. school system. Equally relevant was Feynman’s chapter on the time he served on the board that oversaw the evaluation of math textbooks for the California school system; it was a Kafkaesque farce. But by far the most consistent intellectual theme that went through these reflections was an absolute distrust of pretension, reputation, convention, snobbery, prestige, and authority.In my own life, one of the most interesting, and also most difficult, lessons that I’ve had to learn is that people are not nearly as competent as they’d like you to believe. When I was a kid, I had a lot of faith in all sorts of things. I thought that if an ‘expert’ said something, it must be true; I assumed that there was a particular ‘expert’ in every type of activity, be it business or science, to ensure that things ran the way they were supposed to. In short, I had the comforting illusion that very smart people in very white lab coats were behind the scenes, ensuring that things ran smoothly. The world certainly cooperated with this illusion for a while (after all, that’s the whole basis of advertising); but it wasn’t long after meeting people in the ‘real world’ that this illusion imploded: the world is run by people underqualified and overconfident.I include this bit about myself because I don’t think I would have reacted so emotionally to this rather lighthearted book were it not that I had that experience. In a way, a distrust of all authority is Feynman’s central social message. He is constantly running into ‘experts’ who haven’t the slightest idea what they’re talking about. He goes to academic conferences full of pretentious windbags; he trusts the results of other people’s experiments, and later finds that they were seriously flawed.So any time somebody makes a claim, he decides to test it out for himself; and the few times he doesn’t do this, he gets into trouble. This realization, that most people are inclined to trust claims from authority, is integral to his almost supernatural ability to navigate unfamiliar situations; Feynman is so easily able to bluff his way through because people take his word for things. So this central insight—to always check for youself—is both the heart of his scientific attitude, as well as his way of effortlessly gliding through the world. His ability to crack safes, for example, wasn’t due to his knowing a lot about safes, but simply realizing that most people used their safes foolishly, not resetting the factory combination or setting it to something obvious. Most of us assume that we couldn’t figure out how to crack a safe; but Feynman did what he always did, and saw for himself whether he could: and he could!I honestly wish that this book was three times its length. Now, I must know more about Feynman. My favorite saints are the ones who would hate to be worshiped, and Feynman certainly would think this glowing review was nonsense. Well, perhaps it is; but the only way you’ll know for sure is by reading this book, and checking for yourself.

  • Tess J
    2018-10-23 05:54

    Listen, I read this a long time ago but here's the thing about it. I'm a big sience fan, and I've always heard how brilliant and funny Richard Feynman was, especially because of his connection to the UofC. But I loathed this book. I suppose it's a memoir, and I don't know if it's ghost written or not, but what was supposed to endear me to Mr Feynman made him revolting to me. According to this book, he treated other people like dirt and thought it was hilarious, he correlated pure intelligence with worth, and he dismissed and disrespected everyone who he felt was not as intellectual as he was (and being that he was a genius, that was most of everybody). Perhaps this is melodramatic, but he sickened me a touch. His blatant disrespect for the work of other scholars in the guise of a patronizing outlook is wholly demoralizing, and for people who wished to pursue a degree in the sciences under him I can't even imagine what it was like to deal with his pomp and ego. I know that the persona displayed in memoirs is different than the actual personality of a person, but the gleeful manner in which he presents his attitude does nothing to disprove my issues with his style.

  • Steve
    2018-10-23 03:52

    There’s presumably a rule where only smart people are awarded Nobel Prizes in Physics. Richard Feynman was no exception. This memoir is filled with anecdotes from his childhood spent fixing radios, his experiences as a young man doing bomb research at Los Alamos up through his days as a renowned professor at Cal Tech. The central theme was always that this is one smart cookie. It was interesting to pick up on his thought processes. It probably didn’t feature as much pure science as most of his other books, but at least you could appreciate his intuition into the physical world’s biggest puzzles. Rather than emphasizing the technical details of physics, most of his stories were focused on his other interests and his geeky humor.While some of the stories were entertaining, and the lumens of candle power abounded, it didn’t always work for me. I kept getting the feeling that had the same stories been told in the third person, they would have been better – less egotistical sounding. In every one of his sidelines, he was masterful. It was like he was still driving home the point of how brilliant he was even when he was slumming it. After a while, I got tired of hearing how he became fluent in Portuguese when he taught in Brazil, or impressed the locals to no end with his distinctive style of bongo playing, or could dance like a professional, or got just about any woman he wanted to sleep with him. It was this last one that left the worst taste in my mouth. Some of his tales of attraction and conquest occurred when one of his wives was on her death bed. He was probably not as bad as I’ve made him sound. Like I said, we can certainly appreciate his intellect. He had a rare ability to explain difficult concepts in laymen’s terms, too. I got a confirmation of this a week after I finished the book when we were interviewing a former student of his from Cal Tech. He mentioned the “Feynman Effect”: a phenomenon whereby someone asking him a question got answered in such a clear and intuitive way that it was only later that they realized they still didn’t know exactly how it all tied to their existing understanding.So, count me as a fan of his scientific contributions and his ability to communicate, but not of his swagger. If it had all been a bit of a joke (you know, physicist … funny hair … limited social skills … but a would-be Lothario in spite of it), I would have laughed along with him, but I don’t think that was his intention.

  • Peter Frazier
    2018-11-09 06:51

    This amusing little book of anecdotes had an alarmingly influential role in my life. It convinced me of the odd notion that it would be a good idea to go to Caltech and major in physics. In retrospect, this would have been a better idea had I been born around 1930 and was starting my scientific career around 1940, but nowadays it's a tough slog in physics, both money-wise and also discovery-wise. I think that people like Bohr and Planck and Einstein and Feynman discovered all the good stuff in physics and that future theory will be more difficult and less beautiful (though perhaps these string-theorists put my foot in my mouth). I wish I had realized all this when I was 17 rather than 24, but all is not lost: physics is wonderful training for all manner of mathematical disciplines, and all has worked out for the best. I retain a deep fondness for this book, and rereading old passages brings me comfort. If you ever have the choice between reading this book and doing something productive and worthwhile, I recommend that you read this book. All will work out for the best for you too.

  • Roberto
    2018-10-29 02:47

    Che la forza sia con teRichard Feynman è un fisico, premio Nobel nel 1965. Un uomo indubbiamente intelligente, curioso, entusiasta del mondo della tecnica e della scienza.In questo libro racconta tramite aneddoti la sua vita, fatta di studi importanti (uno per tutti la partecipazione allo sviluppo della bomba atomica a Los Alamos) ma anche di episodi curiosi o apparentemente insignificanti.Purtroppo non è sufficiente essere intelligenti per scrivere bene. Non basta essere curiosi per incuriosire. Credersi amabili non ci rende simpatici per forza. E non è detto che parlare di fisica in modo “facile” significhi divulgare e interessare.Forse Feynman parla troppo di sé, o semplicemente di quanto è tanto bravo e intelligente. Fatto sta che ho faticato (molto) a terminarlo (e tantissimo a sopportarlo).

  • Inder
    2018-10-25 10:02

    Laugh out loud funny. My dad read this outloud to us when we were kids - I'm guessing at the exact year - and the whole family literally cried with laughter many times during the performance. Feyman's other memoirs are good too, but this is the funniest. I still think of it often. For instance, every time I use a combination lock, I think of his safe-cracking phase, and how it's every child's dream to learn how to crack safes and get at all that secret and valuable stuff. Which really sums up this book - Mr. Feyman approached life with the curiosity and glee of a small boy. He never lost that childlike sense of wonder or mischief.My only caveat - Mr. Feyman was quite the ladies' man, and there is a certain old-school misogyny in his style of writing about women. Looked at in the most charitable light possible, it's a reminder that he was human, as well as a genius physicist, and frankly, not always right. It doesn't make him any less of an amazing physicist, but it does remind us that he was mortal too.And after reading all of his memoirs, I began to suspect that his cavalier attitude towards women arose at least in part from his grief at the loss of his first wife, who died of cancer at a very young age (her early 20s, if I remember correctly), while he was busy working on the nuclear bomb in Los Alamos. She is the only woman he writes tenderly about - after that, the talk shifts to conquests and getting girls naked. His descriptions of his subsequent marriages lack the warmth of that first marriage, even if there is more fodder for humor. Something about it rings hollow even in Feyman's warm, humorous, self-deprecating voice. There is a real tragedy written between the lines here.

  • Nick
    2018-11-13 02:49

    One of the problems with reading a book written by a genius is that you have to ask yourself whether any perceived deficiencies in the text are due to the author, or due to your own failure to comprehend his brilliance. That said, I wasn't thrilled by this book. On a purely technical level, it would have benefited from a stronger editor. While there's a rough chronological order to the material, there tends to be a lot of jumping around both within and between the chapters. A few times, Feynman would relate some post-WWII anecdote, only to jump back to something that happened during his time at Los Alamos in the early 1940s. He'll mention that he divorced his second wife, and then shortly thereafter tell a story set during the marriage. It gives the book a very disjointed quality.On a more personal level, Feynman just doesn't strike me as someone you'd want to spend time with. About 30% of his stories talk about a time he pulled a fast one on somebody, or how he did something arrogant and obnoxious and it developed into an incident. Reading this book feels like babysitting a very rambunctious toddler--as amusing as his antics may be, you're can't help but looking forward to it being over. And while it's perhaps unfair to judge his behavior by modern standards, some of the womanizing and borderline misogyny (as when he decides that the best way to pick up women in bars is to treat them badly and call them whores) is a bit disappointing. Feynman's scientific accomplishments may be beyond reproach, but I doubt I'll spend any more time with his memoirs.

  • Ensiform
    2018-10-24 04:00

    The Nobel prize winning physicist, acclaimed drummer, artist, expert on Mayan astronomy, safecracker, prankster, etc, etc, tells “crazy adventures” of his life. They’re really not “crazy adventures,” these anecdotes; my own father's are easily just as rich and bizarre. Feynman came off to me as a somewhat unpleasant character: he was full to the brim of himself; his false modesty (“I’m too dim to realize when to keep my mouth shut, I just say what I think”) was cloying and annoying, as were his amazement at anyone else’s talent (a professional drummer is far better than him at the drums; this “shocks” him), his claims to understand nature better than artists, and his thinly-veiled put-downs of anyone even remotely concerned with the abstract. He was just the kind of jerk who, caught up in his criticism of others’ inability to grasp his broad points, never begins to wonder whether he is the one missing the gist. Also, his anecdotes are not fleshed out with context: who exactly are the people he’s talking to? When was this? I don’t care. In all, funny and interesting at times (at Los Alamos, on a committee to select school text books), but mainly kind of mundane.

  • Elizabeth K.
    2018-11-07 06:11

    This was disappointing, because I've been wanting to read this for a while because he is so renown for being quite the hilarious character as well as a Nobel prize-winning physicist. This is a collection of essays that serves as a memoir; many are not directly related to physics, but that's definitely the theme. After reading this, my conclusion is that Feynman was mostly a world class knob. He lost me fairly early into it, when he described how you could see physics in action in the everyday world by messing with a waitress's tips. How very droll of you, Mr. Feynman. He is certainly quite the character in the same sense your annoying neighbor is quite the character, the kind who sees you unloading your groceries from the car and saunters over to give you pointless advice about his expert analysis on the best way to unload groceries without helping you, driving you to grit your teeth and nod as you flee toward your door because anything you might say in response, such as "shut UP, annoying guy!" would result in him saying "Aw shucks, I can't help it that I'm smarter than you." Many demerits for egregious overuse of the exclamation point.Grade: C-Recommended: Not really, although the essays set during his time at Los Alamos are somewhat interesting given the historical context. I suppose it's possible he really was charming and amusing in real life, but you wouldn't know it from his writing.

  • Grumpus
    2018-11-02 04:04

    If not for copyright laws, this book could easily have been entitled, “Oh, The Places You’ll Go!”. This is a captivating story of an amazing life that could not have been better had it been scripted at birth.Mr. Feynman has done it all. I loved the feeling of tagging along on this brilliant, Nobel-prize winning physicist’s life. A little eccentric yes, but the narrative flows in a very conversational manner (which is a style I like very much). From his early life, to his work on the atomic bomb, to his ability to crack safes, I could not help but admire his chutzpah and proven success. This "nerd" even had tremendous success with the ladies. Therefore, on behalf of nerds everywhere, you are our hero!He, like Robert Todd Lincoln, was always lucky enough to be at the right place at the right time in history. The difference is that Feynman tended to be around for the more auspicious historical events. Truly, there are not enough adjectives to describe his amazing talents, admirable life, and impressive success. Among the many biographies I’ve read, only one other person gets this summation, “Remarkable...a life well lived.” That person? Abigail Adams

  • Irena
    2018-10-26 04:53

    This book's been recommended to me by my boyfriend and after giving it a 5-page trial, I got sucked right into it!I partially read it, partially listened to the audiobook (which was, imho, done really well and was so pleasant to listen to while doing puzzle or gaming or whatnot).I loved the very beginning, his childhood, where he was so curious and so sweet about his early discoveries. The rest of his science-related work as well as hobbies (drumming, painting, lock-picking, math duels, pranks, school book selection and more) can be preeety much summarized to..well, this picture:Feynman was definitely no bore. I love his way of everyday thinking: so practical, stripped of any tedious theorizing and philosophical blabber. Like in that part where he visits the biology department and find out that all the students memorize so many facts by heart when they could just look it up quickly. So I went to the librarian in the biology section and asked her if she could find me a map of the cat. "A map of the cat, sir?" she asked, horrified. "You mean a zoological chart!" From then on there were rumors about some dumb biology graduate student who was looking for a "map of the cat."When it came time for me to give my talk on the subject, I started off by drawing an outline of the cat and began to name the various muscles. The other students in the class interrupt me: "We know all that!" "Oh," I say, "you do? Then no wonder I can catch up with you so fast after you had four years of biology." They had wasted all their time memorizing stuff like that, when it could be looked up in fifteen minutes."It's a really interesting, easy read - I really enjoyed this one, both in written and in audio form. And my most favourite part: When I sat with the philosophers I listened to them discuss very seriously a book called Process and Reality by Whitehead. [...]First of all, I sat there without saying anything, which is almost unbelievable, but also true. A student gave a report on the chapter to be studied that week. In it Whitehead kept using the words "essential object" in a particular technical way that presumably he had defined, but that I didn't understand. After some discussion as to what "essential object" meant, the professor leading the seminar said something meant to clarify things and drew something that looked like lightning bolts on the blackboard. "Mr. Feynman," he said, "would you say an electron is an 'essential object'?" Well, not I was in trouble. I admitted that I hadn't read the book, so I had no idea of what Whitehead meant by the phrase; I had only come to watch. "But," I said, "I'll try to answer the professor's question if you will first answer a question from me, so I can have a better idea of what 'essential object' means. Is a brick an essential object? [...] Then the answers came out. One man stood up and said, "A brick as an individual, specific brick. THAT is what Whitehead means by an essential object." Another man said "No, it isn't the individual brick that is an essential object; it's the general character that all bricks have in common - their 'brickness' - that is the essential object." Another guy got up and said, "No, it's not in the bricks themselves. 'Essential object' means the idea in the mind that you get when you think of bricks." Another guy got up, and another, and I tell you I have never heard such ingenious different ways of looking at a brick before.[image error]Now, did I mention the book gets hilarious at moments? :D Feynman was in Kyoto, trying to learn Japanese. So his lesson go like: One day he was teaching me the word for "see." "All right," he said, "You want to say, 'May I see your garden?' What do you say?" I made up a sentence with the word that I just learned. "No, no!" he said. "When you say to someone, "Would you like to see my garden? you use the first 'see.' But when you want to see someone else's garden, you must use another 'see,' which is more polite." "Would you like to glance at my lousy garden?" is essentially what you're saying in the first case, but when you want to look at the other fella's garden, you have to say something like, "May I observe your gorgeous garden?" So there's two different words you have to use.Then he gave me another one: "You go to a temple, and you want to look at the gardens..." I made up a sentence, this time with the polite "see." "No, no!" he said. "In the temple, the gardens are much more elegant. So you have to say something that would be equivalent to 'May I hang my eyes on your most exquisite gardens?'"*sigh* :'DI won't go into discussion of Feynman as a person outside of the science world. All I can conclude is that intelligence and morale do not have to coincide. Instead, I'll just troll the science a bit below :D brace yourself!

  • Lance Greenfield
    2018-11-02 02:47

    Brilliant, inspirational and very funny! There can be no argument that Richard P Feynman was a genius. He has been a hero of mine since I was very young, probably because my father also greatly admires him and spoke to me about Feynman and his unique personality from time to time.There are some great stories in this book and they will make you laugh out loud. Feynman was always so full of life and he was curious about absolutely everything from a very early age. He would always want to know, "How does that work?" or "Why is that the way it is?" or "Is there another way to do that?" He would also latch onto something and decide that he wanted to do it, and to do it really well. For example, witnessing the bongo-playing in Brazil inspired him to learn to play like that and not like some studio-taught purist. He achieved it through dedication to his objective and sheer passion.What made Feynman a genius? Well, there were lots of factors that contributed to his status, many of them discussed in other reviews of this book, but, my reason for putting him into that classification was that he was capable of explaining the most complex of matters to a five-year-old. That is TRUE genius.I have read this book many times. It is a short book and will remain amongst my collection until the day that I die. If you haven't read it already, you should. You really need to read this book. I can guarantee that it will change at least one aspect of your life!

  • Pooja Dhami
    2018-11-12 03:58

    Before I read this engaging memoir, I knew his as Richard Phillips Feynman, one of the greatest physicists that ever lived. Henceforth, this name will evoke images of a prankster, a musician, a safe cracker, a biologist, a Brazilian band member, an artist who visited several brothels to sell his painting and a man who refused to grow old. These anecdotes from his life are sure to tickle your funny bone.

  • Titas
    2018-11-21 05:50

    Physics is like sex!Today we will talk about a scientist who was an extraordinary man, known as a teacher, lover, master safe cracker (who stole papers of Manhattan Project), fan of Las Vegas’s strip clubs, exceptional liar, musician, artist and probably the most brilliant, influential, and iconoclastic figure in his field in the post-World War II era.How does one define a role model? A prodigy, hard-worker, achiever, winner in the field one is interested in, right? Well in that case the Nobel Prize winner theoretical Physicist Richard P. Feynman is a perfect candidate as role model to physicists. He was dangerously smart and an exceptional teacher. But underneath everything we generally know about him as a scientist, he had a curios and alarmingly mischievous mind that knew no boundaries.First let me just mention some of his works:During World War II Feynman was recruited to serve as a staff member of the U.S. atomic bomb project at Princeton University (1941-42). He was co-awarded the Nobel Prize for Physics in 1965 for his work. Feynman has been credited with pioneering the field of quantum computing and introducing the concept of nanotechnology.Enough with the facts already! Now lets talk about the wisdom he left behind!While stealing papers of Nuclear bombing, you should leave mysterious clues: Feynman was a master of desk wiping, lock picking and safe cracking. He even used to think about the mentality and psychology of the safe owner to crack faster. He once cracked three safes of Manhattan project and left certain clues as a mysterious mastermind. Why? Oh just for the fun of course!If you have to lie, lie with full confidence: It doesn’t matter if what you are saying is absolute truth or not. Even if you are unsure, don’t show it. Just go through it in full throttle judging the situation. Example- Feynman once got on stage and recited a jibrish with just the few words he knew in a foreign language. When one doubtfully asked if it was wrong, he replied that the man didn’t understand the depth of the recital!If you’re in Vegas and short in money, act as drunk friends of the strippers: I don’t even have the courage and experience to explain this one.Love what you do and do what you love: In his own words- “Physics is like sex: sure it may give some practical result, but that’s not why we do it.”Know yourself, find where you belong and embrace your faults: “I learned very early the difference between knowing the name of something and knowing something.”“That’s the trouble with not being in your own field: You don’t take it seriously.”“All the time you’re saying to yourself, ‘I could do that, but I won’t,’–which is just another way of saying that you can’t.”And most important of all- don’t lie to yourself: “The first principle is that you must not fool yourself and you are the easiest person to fool.”Even after being a dashing lover and romantic husband, Feynman was a phenomenal teacher (yes, this man was everything one wishes to be). His series of books The Feynman Lectures on Physics is perhaps the most popular physics book ever written which Nature described the book as having “simplicity, beauty, unity … presented with enthusiasm and insight”.Although he had experimented with LSD and Marijuana just because he was curious about the effects, he was was a damn fine fellow when it came to the meaning and purpose of life. To him the purpose was knowledge as he had described, “I was born not knowing and have had only a little time to change that here and there.”A boy who knew how radios work, a student who invented his own mathematical symbols for better understanding, an undergraduate who stole a door, the only scientist who watched Atom Bomb test (Trinity test) without wearing glasses, and the only scientist ever who had asked a reporter if he can refuse the Nobel Prize because he didn’t like to answer too many phone calls – Mr. Feynman had lived a life that we live in 4 or 5 lives summed up together. Why? For the glory of knowledge of course! He was an unique personality beyond rules and paths.Thus like many many other students of physics, if I’m asked about my role model, it is none other than R. P. Feynman- a man who understood very very early that one should focus on understanding instead of just knowing things. Reading about all his life and life’s works one wonders what an honour it would have been to see him once face to face. The man who must have been the only one to appear in the world of Physics with such energy and brilliance.Read this semi-autobiographic book to experience something like never before.In his precious word, a person should live a life “where you do not feel forced by a need to maintain your position in the organization, or financial support, or so on, to lose your integrity. May you have that freedom.”

  • Negativni
    2018-10-25 06:55

    Richard Feynman u ovoj knjizi ne piše o kvantnoj elektrodinamici, polju u kojemu je dao najveći doprinos fizici. Ovo su, kako i sam podnaslov kaže Adventures of a Curious Character, avanture znatiželjnog/neobičnog lika. Feynman ovdje piše o nekim njemu najzanimljivijim događajima iz života koji su zabavni za ispričati. O tome kako se, već kao mali, počeo interesirati kako stvari funkcioniraju. Počeo je s rastavljanjem jednog radio prijemnika, a uskoro postao majstor za njih za cijelo susjedstvo. Feynman je sudjelovao i u razvoju atomske bombe, dok je istovremeno pokušavao provaliti u sef jednog od vojnih zapovjednika - ne zato da bi nešto ukrao iz sefa, nego samo zato, jer su mu rekli da je taj sef nemoguće obiti. Taj dio je i jedan od najzanimljivijih u knjizi. Samo od toga bi se mogla napraviti dobra komedija.Mnoge stvari su ga zanimale, pa čak i kako mravi komuniciraju i kako znaju pravi put do hrane i da li se može istovremeno govoriti i brojati u sebi. Feynman je svirao i bongo bubnjeve. Bavio se i slikarstvom. I uz sve to dobio Nobelovu nagradu za fiziku. Knjiga je stvarno užitak za čitanje, ima puno zanimljivih situacija i humora. Nevjerovatno je da je to sve jedan čovjek uspio proživjeti! Rijetko je koji fizičar-teoretičar imao tako uzbudljiv život. Feynman također piše otvoreno i iskreno, pa se, uz zabavu, može saznati i nešto o samom čovjeku, njegovom karakteru, pa i o njegovim manama. Nakon čitanja knjige čini mi se da sam barem malo i upoznao samog Richarda Feynmana. Barem onako, iz viđenja.

  • Andrej Karpathy
    2018-10-24 08:53

    I love this book so much. I really want to give it 6/5. I read and re-read it often, and Feynman is one of my personal top heroes.

  • Claudia
    2018-11-04 01:50

    What a fascinating personality! To follow your dreams, make them happen, make a living out of them, ultimately all this work to be of help for others and above all to enjoy life as you wish to - this is what I call to live your life to the fullest! Mr. Feynman stories are simply wonderful! They are not just funny - they present a man which desire to learn was his motto in life (he owes this desire to his father, a very remarkable man). According to him, anything can be learned as long as you wish for - so very true. If all pupils and students would have teachers like him, the world would be a much better place... I think the saying "like father, like son" emerged from their relationship. ;)Some called him corky; others arrogant - and maybe he was. But who are we to judge? I don't think it was easy for him to work on the atomic bomb project - the pressure, the implications... even brilliant minds need a getaway of some form. Maybe when we'll do the things he did we'll get to have a word on this matter. Until then, lets just admire his passion, his dedication and his work.The book does not contain scientific language, calculations or anything alike. Even if you're not interested in physics, this book is more than worth reading. Such a life experience not many can say they had...One more thing: I came across on below interview, produced by BBC in 1981, called The Pleasure Of Finding Things Out. 50 minutes length, worth every second of it: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Bgaw9... . It is a shorter version of his memoirs presented in the book and the following fragment is a part of it: People say to me, “Are you looking for the ultimate laws of physics?” No I am not. I am just looking to find out more about the world. And if it turns out there is a simple ultimate law that explains everything so be it. That would be very nice discovery. If it turns out it’s like an onion with millions of layers and we just sick and tired of looking at the layers then that’s the way it is! But whatever way it comes out it’s nature, it’s there, and she’s going to come out the way she is.If you decide to put it on your to-read list, I hope you'll enjoy it as much as I did :)

  • Sabbir Ahmed
    2018-11-09 06:08

    Noble laureate physicist Hans Bethe বলেছিলেন, "দুই রকমের জিনিয়াস আছেন। সাধারণ জিনিয়াসেরা মহান সব কাজ করে থাকেন, কিন্তু সবসময়েই এটা চিন্তা করার সুযোগ থেকে যায় যে, যথেষ্ট পরিমাণে খাটলে আপনিও বুঝি ওটা করতে পারতেন। আরেকরকমের জিনিয়াস অনেকটা যাদুকরের মতন, আপনি কিছুতেই ভেবে উঠতে পারবেন না, তারা সেটা কিভাবে করল। ফাইনম্যান ছিলেন একজন যাদুকরী জিনিয়াস। "সেই যাদুকরের সাথে পরিচয় মিলল এই বইয়ে। রিচার্ড ফাইনম্যান একজন নোবেল বিজয়ী পদার্থবিদ বললে আসলে তার সম্পর্কে যেন কিছুই বলা হল না।একজন পদার্থবিদ পরিচয়ের পাশাপাশি তার আরও অনেক পরিচয় বিদ্যমান।ছোটবেলা থেকে তিনি রেডিও রিপেয়্যার করতে পারতেন। আগে ভাগে স্টেশন টিউন করে কাহিনী জেনে বন্ধুদের তাক লাগিয়ে দিয়েছিলেন। একজন এমনও বলেছিল যে, This kid can repair radio just by thinking. Los alamos এ তার লক ক্রাকিং এর কাহিনী তো সবারই জানা। তিনি একজন সফল চিত্রশিল্পী, ড্রামার, ক্রিপ্টোগ্রাফার।পদার্থবিদ্যার পাশাপাশি তিনি বায়োলজি এর দিকে ঝুঁকেছিলেন এবং উল্লেখযোগ্য অবদানও রেখেছিলেন। এত এত দিকে তিনি তার মেধা প্রয়োগ করেছিলেন যে, এই মুহুর্তে সবগুলো মনেও পড়ছে না।বইটি পড়ার পর শুধু একটা কথাই মাথার মধ্যে ঘুরপাক খাচ্ছে, আশি বৎসরের আয়ুস্কালে একজন মানুষ এতকিছু কিভাবে করে।Surely you're joking, Mr. Feynman!

  • david
    2018-10-31 10:14

    Richard Feynman understood physics.His reader, the cerebral and equally pulchritudinous, david, knows not a thing about physics. Okay, that is not true. “Things fall when you drop them,” I have observed, time and again. Therefore, I have an aptitude for science.I can relate.This guy won a Nobel Prize, hung with Einstein and Oppenheimer, and discovered and documented events that I do not feel like sharing, mostly because I cannot.I, unlike Feynman, garnered a trophy in wrestling. An unusual one. I was one of the few kids on any high school grappling team to have viewed the ceilings of each tournament visited (that is not a good thing in this sport). And it was not by design, but by ambivalence. If at first, you do not succeed, no one really cares.I did not know any scientists, but I did occasion ‘Feinstein & Schloppenheimer’s Deli.’ Ah, the pastrami on rye, you could just die, literally. And still, like every solid American who has learned not to enjoy anything ‘too much,’ I ripened into a vegan decades ago. Go figure. Please pass the Kombucha.A very interesting story, this was. Feynman had his tale to tell and it was atypical. He was one of the architects in the development of the nuclear bomb and was an instructor and/or a student at MIT, Caltech, Cornell, and other top schools. His take on academia for a lifetime, with a IQ that could travel the autobahn but not I-80, makes for some funny moments.He had the corny sense of humor you would expect from a full-time scientist. And much of it made for an enjoyable read, although I go deaf when it comes to jokes that include numbers.So, in conclusion, I would like to thank the members of the Academy, my school teachers who assuaged my youth with ‘C’s rather than ‘F’s and the good people of the Seychelles.Pax vobiscum and give my regards to Broadway.

  • Kartik Singhal
    2018-10-25 06:47

    This is one of those books which bring a turning point in your life, and make you reevaluate it, much like Randy Pausch's The Last Lecture and Steve Jobs bio for me. Made me take interest in physics around us again. :)Feynman was surely a man of multiple lives, how could anybody live so much? Physicist, safe cracker, artist, frigideira (an instrument used in Samba music) player, nobel prize laureate, drummer, and more. His mischievous nature and varied interests (exploration of hypnotism and sense deprivation, e.g.) were inspiring in a way.As a scientist, he leaves out important messages primarily in the chapters: O Americano, Outra Vez! (later part, pg. 211 onwards, about state of science education in Brazil at the time); Is Electricity Fire? (on Jewish (dis)interest in science); Judging Books by their Covers (review of school math books, and disappointment obtained from them); and lastly, Cargo Cult Science, the last chapter.A must read for any science-loving person.

  • Maria
    2018-11-09 09:46

    Преди да прочета тази книга, смятах че Файнман е физик, носител на Нобелова награда с голямо чувство за хумор. Тук нямаше изненади. Възхитих се обаче на начина по който той е гледал на света, по който го е изследвал забавлявайки се. Наистина се изненадах от творческите му изяви! Изключително много подкрепям мнението му за образованието, подобни възгледи срещах и при изключителния Сейгън, жалко е, че с годините нещата се влошават прогресивно в тази насока. Заради хора като него, любопитството ми към науката се разпали доста години след като беше потопено като Титаник от образователната система.

  • Yasaman
    2018-11-21 09:49

    If you think all physicists are boring and studious as hell, well then it's time you checked this book out! Richard Feynman was a genius with a super inquiring mind that is a hallmark of all great men, but what makes him so unique is that his life didn't just have one dimension. He was curious about so many fields and activities and the way he describes them in this book are so fantastic that you end up wanting to try those things out!

  • Chris
    2018-10-27 05:12

    A while back, I read another book by Feynman, The Pleasure of Finding Things Out, and I wasn't all that thrilled with it. It was kind of disappointing at the time. I knew that Feynman's fame came not only from his scientific brilliance, but from the fact that he was a genuinely interesting, funny and mischievous person. I had hoped that I could find some of that in the book, but to no avail. And so I gave it away so that someone else could get the pleasure from it that I could not.Still, I was not completely turned off Feynman. There are videos of him around the internet that really show his vibrancy, his energy and the passion with which he approached the world, and I knew there would come a time when I would have to give him a second chance. Thus, this book.Surely You're Joking, Mister Feynman! is the story - or rather a collection of stories - about what can happen to a person with immense confidence in his own abilities, an insatiable curiosity about the world, a willingness to make mistakes, all topped off with a generous helping of genius.First, as Feynman calls them at the beginning of the book, some vitals. Richard Feynman was a theoretical physicist who worked on the Manhattan Project, taught at Caltech, and won the Nobel Prize in physics for his contributions to quantum electrodynamics. He was also one hell of a bongo player, an accomplished artist, and a self-taught safecracker. He was a joker and a prankster and a ladies' man who could bluff his way into pretty much anything he wanted to do, and was often surprised that people believed his bravado. He had a passion for mysteries and puzzles and figuring out how things worked, from combination locks to the movements of electrons to why water curves the way it does when it comes out the tap, and he didn't give a good goddamn about what the rest of the world thought of him.In other words, Richard Feynman was a pretty awesome guy.This book is a collection of Feynman's stories, the kind that he might tell at a party or with a bunch of friends traveling. They're the variety of story that might begin with, "Did I ever tell you how I joined a samba band in Rio?" and just go on from there. He starts with his youth, how he was the kind of boy who just loved to tinker with things. He would take electronics apart and put them back together, and then go to junk shops to buy parts that he could build into better radios. He did experiments with ants to find out how they communicated, and dedicated himself so hard to solving puzzles that eventually all he needed was the first line, and he could immediately come back with, "He starts by chopping every other one in three parts."He was one of those kids whose curiosity was boundless, and who never even imagined that there was anything "better" he could have been doing than exploring how the world worked. I couldn't shake the feeling that if young Feynman were around today, he'd be medicated to the eyeballs just to stop him being so "weird." But you know me. Cynic.We follow him through his days at MIT, pulling pranks with friends and discovering those interesting weaknesses in human thought processes that allowed him to get away with murder when he was young. His habits of wondering how things work carried him through his participation in the Manhattan Project, his travels to countries like Brazil and Japan, and led him through a life that was never without fascinating and entertaining discoveries.Long story short (too late), Feynman is - or at least should be - a model for young people today. While the book isn't pitched towards young people, there are several lessons in it that should be taught to every child.The first is that the world is infinitely interesting. Any kid who whines that she is bored needs to be shown the million and one ways that you can combat boredom just within a ten-foot radius of where you're sitting. Look at something - anything and ask yourself, "I wonder how that works," and then go find out. The possibilities are endless, and the potential exists that you may discover a passion you never knew you had. Feynman didn't start out wondering how electrons work - he fixed his neighbors' radios just because he could. One thing led to another, and next thing you know - BAM! Nobel Prize.The second point, and it is connected to the first, is to never say No. In his essay, "But Is It Art?" he talks about how he learned to draw. It started when an artist friend offered to teach Feynman how to draw if he would teach the artist about science. While Feynman believed that he would be an absolutely atrocious artist, he still agreed to the challenge, and he stuck with it. Eventually he became well-known as a decent artist, even managing to sell some of his works. Now obviously, there are limits and caveats to "never" - there are times when saying No is the right thing to do. But when you find an opportunity to expand your abilities, to learn new things and face new challenges, the automatic "No" may deprive you of a joy that you never knew you could experience.Third, you must know who you are. One of the problems inherent in living in a society is that there's always someone trying to tell you who you are, or at least who you should be. Your parents, teachers, friends, all have an image of you in their heads, and are all trying to mold you into that image, consciously or unconsciously. Add to that the government, media, corporations, advertisements, shysters, preachers and other deliverers of hokum and propaganda who are also trying to tell you who you really are, despite having never met you and being pretty sure that you don't already know yourself. And many people, sadly, don't. But Feynman did. He knew who he was, and that was all he needed. He occasionally let people think differently about him, but the thread that runs through this book is a rock-solid self-awareness that allowed him the self-confidence to pick up showgirls or try to turn down a Nobel Prize.The caveat to this, and a corollary to the second point, is that you can always discover new things about who you are. All through the book, we see Feynman faced with a new opportunity that he thinks he can't do because it's just Not Him. Drawing, playing music, learning languages - those skills didn't fit into the mental model of who he thought he was, a flaw that all of us possess. A lot of us, without even giving it a try, might immediately discard something by saying, "Well, that's just not me." Maybe it could be. It takes courage, and the willingness to fall flat on your face, but if you can discover a new talent or a new passion, isn't it worth it?Finally, remember that everyone else around you is just as human as you are. Don't be impressed by titles and uniforms, fancy suits and impressive business cards. Don't assume that just because someone wears a soldier's uniform or a thousand dollar suit that they are somehow "better" than you. Feynman not only resisted authority in so many of these tales, he actively worked to subvert it. Whether it's trying to sneak codes past military censors or breaking into the safe that held all the secrets of the atomic bomb, he never let a title get in the way of learning or growing.One of my favorite Feynman stories related to this last point isn't actually in this book, but I'll mention it anyway. After the Challenger disaster back in 1986, NASA was called on the carpet to explain to Congress why their shiny new space shuttle went Kaboom. The NASA managers went on and on about the O-rings, filling their talk with supercilious jargon and doublespeak, hoping that their haughty attitudes and impenetrable explanations of why the cold weather made the O-rings fail would be comprehensible enough to satisfy the committee, yet obtuse enough to avoid actually admitting that they had done anything wrong. While they were doing this, Feynman put a piece of the O-ring material into a glass of ice water and let it sit there for a while. Then he took it out, stretched it, and showed that it had lost the pliability that it needed to do its job. With a simple demonstration, he not only showed the fault that led to the Challenger explosion, but at the same time put a bunch of self-aggrandizing stuffed shirts in their places.I love that story.Anyway, if you're looking for a Feynman book to read - and who isn't? - this is the one to start with. There's not much hard talk about science in it, just lots of stories about a really interesting guy. Even if it doesn't make you want to get into quantum electrodynamic theory, I hope it still makes you look at the world in a different way.