“The Pleasure of Finding Things Out” by Richard Feynman

This book is a collection of short pieces by Feynman, including a number that were speeches or transcripts of interviews.  I thought there were several very interesting pieces, a bunch of repetition between different bits, and some odd choices about what things to include and in what order to present them.  An example is that the book includes Feynman’s minority report in the Challenger disaster inquiry.  This is certainly a historically interesting document, and anyone who wanted to write a biography of Feynman would want to read and write about it, but it is really not something that holds much interest as an undigested thing, in my opinion.

On a random personal note, I liked seeing family friend C.H. Bennett get some positive mentions.  Finally, Feynman is very quotable; here’s one paragraph I happened to enjoy:

I was a little surprised when I was talking to a friend who was going to go on the radio.  He does work on cosmology and astronomy, and he wondered how he would explain what the applications of his work were.  “Well,” I said, “there aren’t any.”  He said, “Yes, but then we won’t get support for more research of this kind.”  I think that’s kind of dishonest.  If you’re representing yourself as a scientist, then you should explain to the layman what you’re doing–and if they don’t want to support you under these circumstances, then that’s their decision.

(I was reading an uncorrected page proof, rather than the final published version, so I don’t know how much it changed in final editing.)

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