112 Facts About Richard Feynman


Richard Phillips Feynman was an American theoretical physicist, known for his work in the path integral formulation of quantum mechanics, the theory of quantum electrodynamics, the physics of the superfluidity of supercooled liquid helium, as well as his work in particle physics for which he proposed the parton model.


Richard Feynman developed a widely used pictorial representation scheme for the mathematical expressions describing the behavior of subatomic particles, which later became known as Richard Feynman diagrams.


Richard Feynman assisted in the development of the atomic bomb during World War II and became known to a wide public in the 1980s as a member of the Rogers Commission, the panel that investigated the Space Shuttle Challenger disaster.


Richard Feynman held the Richard C Tolman professorship in theoretical physics at the California Institute of Technology.


Richard Feynman was a keen popularizer of physics through both books and lectures, including a 1959 talk on top-down nanotechnology called There's Plenty of Room at the Bottom and the three-volume publication of his undergraduate lectures, The Richard Feynman Lectures on Physics.


Richard Feynman was born on May 11,1918, in Queens, New York City, to Lucille, a homemaker, and Melville Arthur Richard Feynman, a sales manager.


Richard Feynman's father was born into a Jewish family in Minsk, Belarus and emigrated with his parents to the United States at the age of five.


Richard Feynman's mother was born in the United States into a Jewish family.


Richard Feynman trained as a primary school teacher but married Melville in 1917, before taking up a profession.


Richard Feynman was a late talker and did not speak until after his third birthday.


The young Richard Feynman was heavily influenced by his father, who encouraged him to ask questions to challenge orthodox thinking, and who was always ready to teach Richard Feynman something new.


When Richard Feynman was five, his mother gave birth to a younger brother, Henry Phillips, who died at age four weeks.


Four years later, Richard Feynman's sister Joan was born and the family moved to Far Rockaway, Queens.


Richard Feynman's parents were both from Jewish families but not religious, and by his youth, Richard Feynman described himself as an "avowed atheist".


Richard Feynman saw that it contained the original text in a little square on the page, and surrounding it were commentaries written over time by different people.


Richard Feynman attended Far Rockaway High School, which was attended by fellow Nobel laureates Burton Richter and Baruch Samuel Blumberg.


When Richard Feynman was 15, he taught himself trigonometry, advanced algebra, infinite series, analytic geometry, and both differential and integral calculus.


Richard Feynman applied to Columbia University but was not accepted because of their quota for the number of Jews admitted.


Richard Feynman had his revenge a few years later, when Heisenberg concluded an entire book on cosmic rays with the phrase: "such an effect is not to be expected according to Vallarta and Richard Feynman".


In 1939, Richard Feynman received a bachelor's degree and was named a Putnam Fellow.


Richard Feynman received a PhD from Princeton in 1942; his thesis advisor was John Archibald Wheeler.


In 1941, with World War II raging in Europe but the United States not yet at war, Richard Feynman spent the summer working on ballistics problems at the Frankford Arsenal in Pennsylvania.


At the time, Richard Feynman had not earned a graduate degree.


The railroad supplied Arline with a wheelchair, and Richard Feynman paid extra for a private room for her.


At Los Alamos, Richard Feynman was assigned to Hans Bethe's Theoretical Division, and impressed Bethe enough to be made a group leader.


Richard Feynman administered the computation group of human computers in the theoretical division.


Richard Feynman invented a new method of computing logarithms that he later used on the Connection Machine.


An avid drummer, Richard Feynman figured out how to get the machine to click in musical rhythms.


On completing this work, Richard Feynman was sent to the Clinton Engineer Works in Oak Ridge, Tennessee, where the Manhattan Project had its uranium enrichment facilities.


Richard Feynman aided the engineers there in devising safety procedures for material storage so that criticality accidents could be avoided, especially when enriched uranium came into contact with water, which acted as a neutron moderator.


Richard Feynman insisted on giving the rank and file a lecture on nuclear physics so that they would realize the dangers.


Richard Feynman explained that while any amount of unenriched uranium could be safely stored, the enriched uranium had to be carefully handled.


Richard Feynman developed a series of safety recommendations for the various grades of enrichments.


Richard Feynman was told that if the people at Oak Ridge gave him any difficulty with his proposals, he was to inform them that Los Alamos "could not be responsible for their safety otherwise".


Richard Feynman was sought out by physicist Niels Bohr for one-on-one discussions.


Richard Feynman later discovered the reason: most of the other physicists were too much in awe of Bohr to argue with him.


Richard Feynman had no such inhibitions, vigorously pointing out anything he considered to be flawed in Bohr's thinking.


Richard Feynman said he felt as much respect for Bohr as anyone else, but once anyone got him talking about physics, he would become so focused he forgot about social niceties.


Richard Feynman often found that they left the lock combinations on the factory settings, wrote the combinations down, or used easily guessable combinations like dates.


Richard Feynman left notes in the cabinets as a prank, spooking his colleague, Frederic de Hoffmann, into thinking a spy had gained access to them.


Richard Feynman then immersed himself in work on the project and was present at the Trinity nuclear test.


Richard Feynman claimed to be the only person to see the explosion without the very dark glasses or welder's lenses provided, reasoning that it was safe to look through a truck windshield, as it would screen out the harmful ultraviolet radiation.


Richard Feynman's appointment was not extended when he did not commit to returning.


Richard Feynman made Feynman an offer in May 1945, but Feynman turned it down.


Richard Feynman became one of the first of the Los Alamos Laboratory's group leaders to depart, leaving for Ithaca, New York, in October 1945.


At his induction physical, Army psychiatrists diagnosed Richard Feynman as suffering from a mental illness and the Army gave him a 4-F exemption on mental grounds.


Richard Feynman's father died suddenly on October 8,1946, and Feynman suffered from depression.


Richard Feynman read the work of Sir William Rowan Hamilton on quaternions, and tried unsuccessfully to use them to formulate a relativistic theory of electrons.


Richard Feynman was not the only frustrated theoretical physicist in the early post-war years.


Richard Feynman thought that he could do this, but when he went back to Bethe with his solution, it did not converge.


Richard Feynman carefully worked through the problem again, applying the path integral formulation that he had used in his thesis.


Richard Feynman presented his work to his peers at the Pocono Conference in 1948.


Julian Schwinger gave a long presentation of his work in quantum electrodynamics, and Richard Feynman then offered his version, entitled "Alternative Formulation of Quantum Electrodynamics".


The unfamiliar Richard Feynman diagrams, used for the first time, puzzled the audience.


Richard Feynman failed to get his point across, and Paul Dirac, Edward Teller and Niels Bohr all raised objections.


Richard Feynman was convinced that Feynman's formulation was easier to understand, and ultimately managed to convince Oppenheimer that this was the case.


Dyson published a paper in 1949, which added new rules to Richard Feynman's that told how to implement renormalization.


Richard Feynman was prompted to publish his ideas in the Physical Review in a series of papers over three years.


Computer programs were later written to evaluate Richard Feynman diagrams, enabling physicists to use quantum field theory to make high-precision predictions.


Richard Feynman liked to date undergraduates, hire prostitutes, and sleep with the wives of friends.


Richard Feynman was not fond of Ithaca's cold winter weather, and pined for a warmer climate.


Richard Feynman enjoyed the house's convenience and said that "it's there that I did the fundamental work" for which he won the Nobel Prize.


Richard Feynman spent several weeks in Rio de Janeiro in July 1949.


In Brazil, Richard Feynman was impressed with samba music, and learned to play the, a metal percussion instrument based on a frying pan.


Richard Feynman was an enthusiastic amateur player of bongo and conga drums and often played them in the pit orchestra in musicals.


Richard Feynman spent time in Rio with his friend Bohm, but Bohm could not convince Feynman to investigate Bohm's ideas on physics.


Richard Feynman had become smitten by Mary Louise Bell from Neodesha, Kansas.


Richard Feynman later followed him to Caltech, where he gave a lecture.


Richard Feynman proposed to her by mail from Rio de Janeiro, and they married in Boise, Idaho, on June 28,1952, shortly after he returned.


Richard Feynman begins working calculus problems in his head as soon as he awakens.


Richard Feynman did calculus while driving in his car, while sitting in the living room, and while lying in bed at night.


Richard Feynman was considered for a seat on the President's Science Advisory Committee, but was not appointed.


When Richard Feynman found that Howarth was being paid only $25 a month, he offered her $20 a week to be his live-in maid.


Richard Feynman knew that this sort of behavior was illegal under the Mann Act, so he had a friend, Matthew Sands, act as her sponsor.


Richard Feynman made a point of dating other men, but Feynman proposed in early 1960.


Richard Feynman tried marijuana and ketamine at John Lilly's sensory deprivation tanks, as a way of studying consciousness.


Richard Feynman gave up alcohol when he began to show vague, early signs of alcoholism, as he did not want to do anything that could damage his brain.


Richard Feynman recalled protesters entering a hall and picketing a lecture he was about to make in San Francisco, calling him a "sexist pig".


At Caltech, Richard Feynman investigated the physics of the superfluidity of supercooled liquid helium, where helium seems to display a complete lack of viscosity when flowing.


Richard Feynman provided a quantum-mechanical explanation for the Soviet physicist Lev Landau's theory of superfluidity.


Richard Feynman attempted an explanation, called the parton model, of the strong interactions governing nucleon scattering.


Richard Feynman did not dispute the quark model; for example, when the fifth quark was discovered in 1977, Richard Feynman immediately pointed out to his students that the discovery implied the existence of a sixth quark, which was discovered in the decade after his death.


Richard Feynman did work on all four of the forces of nature: electromagnetic, the weak force, the strong force and gravity.


Partly as a way to bring publicity to progress in physics, Richard Feynman offered $1,000 prizes for two of his challenges in nanotechnology; one was claimed by William McLellan and the other by Tom Newman.


Richard Feynman was interested in the relationship between physics and computation.


Richard Feynman was one of the first scientists to conceive the possibility of quantum computers.


Richard Feynman suggested that the cover have a picture of a drum with mathematical diagrams about vibrations drawn upon it, in order to illustrate the application of mathematics to understanding the world.


Richard Feynman wrote about his experiences teaching physics undergraduates in Brazil.


Richard Feynman opposed rote learning or unthinking memorization and other teaching methods that emphasized form over function.


In 1974, Richard Feynman delivered the Caltech commencement address on the topic of cargo cult science, which has the semblance of science, but is only pseudoscience due to a lack of "a kind of scientific integrity, a principle of scientific thought that corresponds to a kind of utter honesty" on the part of the scientist.


In 1977, Richard Feynman supported his colleague Jenijoy La Belle, who had been hired as Caltech's first female professor in 1969, and filed suit with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission after she was refused tenure in 1974.


Many of Richard Feynman's colleagues were surprised that he took her side, but he had gotten to know La Belle and liked and admired her.


Gell-Mann often expressed frustration at the attention Richard Feynman received; he remarked: was a great scientist, but he spent a great deal of his effort generating anecdotes about himself.


Richard Feynman played an important role on the Presidential Rogers Commission, which investigated the 1986 Challenger disaster.


Richard Feynman had been reluctant to participate, but was persuaded by advice from his wife.


Richard Feynman's account reveals a disconnect between NASA's engineers and executives that was far more striking than he expected.


For instance, NASA managers claimed that there was a 1 in 100,000 probability of a catastrophic failure aboard the Shuttle, but Richard Feynman discovered that NASA's own engineers estimated the probability of a catastrophe at closer to 1 in 200.


Richard Feynman concluded that NASA management's estimate of the reliability of the Space Shuttle was unrealistic, and he was particularly angered that NASA used it to recruit Christa McAuliffe into the Teacher-in-Space program.


The first public recognition of Richard Feynman's work came in 1954, when Lewis Strauss, the chairman of the Atomic Energy Commission notified him that he had won the Albert Einstein Award, which was worth $15,000 and came with a gold medal.


Schwinger, Tomonaga and Richard Feynman shared the 1965 Nobel Prize in Physics "for their fundamental work in quantum electrodynamics, with deep-ploughing consequences for the physics of elementary particles".


Richard Feynman was elected a Foreign Member of the Royal Society in 1965, received the Oersted Medal in 1972, and the National Medal of Science in 1979.


Richard Feynman was elected a Member of the National Academy of Sciences, but ultimately resigned and is no longer listed by them.


In 1978, Richard Feynman sought medical treatment for abdominal pains and was diagnosed with liposarcoma, a rare form of cancer.


Richard Feynman was again hospitalized at the UCLA Medical Center on February 3,1988.


When Richard Feynman was nearing death, he asked his friend and colleague Danny Hillis why Hillis appeared so sad.


Hillis replied that he thought Richard Feynman was going to die soon.


Richard Feynman said that this sometimes bothered him, too, but added that he had told so many stories to so many people that he would not be completely gone even after his death.


Richard Feynman's burial was at Mountain View Cemetery and Mausoleum in Altadena, California.


Richard Feynman was portrayed by Matthew Broderick in the 1996 biopic Infinity.


Actor Alan Alda commissioned playwright Peter Parnell to write a two-character play about a fictional day in the life of Richard Feynman set two years before Richard Feynman's death.


In 2011, Richard Feynman was the subject of a biographical graphic novel entitled simply Richard Feynman, written by Jim Ottaviani and illustrated by Leland Myrick.


Two photographs of Richard Feynman were used in Apple Computer's "Think Different" advertising campaign, which launched in 1997.