The Pleasure of Finding Things Out: The Best Short Works of Richard P. Feynman

Richard Phillips Feynman, Author, Jeffrey Robbins, Editor, Freeman J. Dyson, Foreword by Perseus Books Group $24 (270p) ISBN 978-0-7382-0108-5
A Nobel-winning physicist, inveterate prankster and gifted teacher, Feynman (1918-1988) charmed plenty of contemporary and future scientists with accounts of his misadventures in the bestselling Surely You're Joking, Mr. Feynman! and explained the fundamentals of physics in (among other books) Six Easy Pieces. Editor Jeffrey Robbins's assemblage of 13 essays, interviews and addresses (only one of them new to print) will satisfy admirers of those books and other fans of the brilliant and colorful scientist. Best known among the selections here is certainly Feynman's ""Minority Report to the Challenger Inquiry,"" in which the physicist explained to an anxious nation why the Space Shuttle exploded. The title piece transcribes a wide-ranging, often-autobiographical interview Feynman gave in 1981; an earlier talk with Omni magazine has the author explaining his prize-winning work on quantum electrodynamics, then fixing the interviewer's tape recorder. Other pieces address the field of nanotechnology, ""The Relation of Science and Religion"" and Feynman's experience at Los Alamos, where he helped create the A-bomb (and, in his spare time, cracked safes). Much of the work here was originally meant for oral delivery, as speeches or lectures: Feynman's talky informality can seduce, but some of the pieces read more like unedited tape transcripts than like science writing. Most often, however, Feynman remains fun and informative. Here are yet more comments, anecdotes and overviews from a charismatic rulebreaker with his own, sometimes compelling, views about what science is and how it can be done. (Oct.)
Reviewed on: 08/02/1999
Release date: 08/01/1999
Genre: Nonfiction
Paperback - 269 pages - 978-0-14-103143-9
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Paperback - 270 pages - 978-0-7382-0349-2
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