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Genius: The Life and Science of Richard Feynman by James Gleick May 9, 2014

Posted by stuffilikenet in Applications, Books, Brilliant words, Geek Stuff, Mutants, Science.

Genius: The Life and Science of Richard Feynman is a very thorough biography of the other guy who might have thought of relativity if Einstein hadn’t beaten him to the punch by being born a full generation earlier.  It’s got embarrassing details from the days when people wrote letters with content because a long-distance call was outrageously expensive, no highways existed to speak of and nobody owned cars anyway.

Besides being  the best possible biography of a recent scientist, it has magnificent quotes from scientists of the age (“Going to MIT and suicide were not commutable operations”), fascinating anecdotes about Feynman and colleagues and a bit of history I surely did not know before: American (and expatriate European) physicists were working secretly on the Bomb long before they had US government help.  Hitler scared the crap out of them, and they knew they were onto Something Big with fission.

I do heartily recommend this book for biography buffs, history buffs, war history buffs, science buffs and science history buffs, and Gleick’s other books as well (except Faster); this one especially for the philosophical musings about the nature of genius and why we don’t seem to have any lying around anymore.


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