Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Surely You're Joking, Mr Feynman!

I'd wanted to read Richard Feynman's book for a long while and it got sidelined for various reasons. So I finally got around to it recently, and it was nothing like anything I've ever read before.

Feynman was a very interesting person indeed. Or, as the byline of the book title reads, a very curious character. He was a professor of Physics who taught students, worked on the atomic bomb, figured out how to open safes, and did a whole lot of other interesting things. He had some remarkable ideas on what science is all about and how it should be taught. Ideas that a lot of people of his time often failed to appreciate. He toured lots of places within the United States and all over the world, delivering lectures and experiencing different cultures. The way he talks about the shortcomings of the way science was taught in Brazil at the time is quite enlightening. The problems with their education system that he talks about are exaggerated versions of the problems quite often seen in India.

He seemed to have a strong interest in studying sleep, dreams, hallucinations and out-of-body experiences. Some of his encounters with these things are quite interesting.

He doesn't talk exclusively about scientific research, though. He talks of his life outside of work as well, which includes learning to pick up girls in bars and learning to draw and play drums and other instruments.

This book does make one revise their definition of science and scientific research a little. It makes you look at the world around you differently. It makes you want to explore it further, to get to know it better.

If you have even a slightly scientific bent of mind, and haven't read this one so far, you definitely should.

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