cover image The Meaning of It All: Thoughts of a Citizen- Scientist

The Meaning of It All: Thoughts of a Citizen- Scientist

Richard Phillips Feynman. Perseus Books Group, $22 (133pp) ISBN 978-0-201-36080-6

It requires an unusually strong intellect to remain relevant on a wide variety of social, religious and political issues after 35 years. Feynman, a Nobel Prize-winning physicist, had just such an intellect. Originally delivered as a three-part lecture series at the University of Washington in 1963, this collection touches on such far-ranging topics as the existence or nonexistence of God; the Constitution; and UFOs. At times, Feynman's comments seem uncannily prescient, as when he discusses the dumbing-down of media: ""The whole idea that the average person is unintelligent is a very dangerous idea. Even if it's true, it shouldn't be dealt with the way it's dealt with,"" he says here. As readers of his previous works (Surely You're Joking, Mr. Feynman, etc.) know, Feynman, who died in 1988, was never one to shy away from strong opinions: ""Incidentally, I must explain that because I am a scientist does not mean that I have not had contact with human beings,"" he explains. These memorable lectures confirm that Feynman's gift of insight extended from the subatomic world to the cosmic, and to the very human as well. BOMC featured selection. (May)