Monday, November 21, 2011

"If That's The World's Smartest Man, God Help Us."

I'm not the biggest fan of graphic novels, certainly not Marvel's SpiderMan, Iron Man, X-Men and whatever else Men. I do like FablesBuffyThe SandmanY: The Last ManThe Wild Party, and the sorts.

Writer Jim Ottaviani and artist Leland Myrick have teamed up to capture the intriguing mind of Feynman. Richard P. Feynman is everything! Physicist, safecracker, adventurer, musician and raconteur. (Read reviews from American Scientist, Boing Boing, Washington Post, and Earth Sky.)

Beyond the recorded fame, it's not like I understand much about the work of Richard P. Feynman. I didn't even pass Physics most times in school. It's a weird sort of language that flies right over my head. The brain ain't wired this way. A presentation in graphics about the life of Feynman is much more palatable than a book of plain words. At least I wouldn't fall asleep reading this version. It should be better (relative) than 'The Stuff of Life', especially when there isn't a pressing need to break down complicated information for the purpose of passing examinations.

The first half of the book chronicles his growing up years, his family, and his decency and commitment to his first wife Arline, etc, making it all very palatable. A rather cute few liners about his attempts at being a safecracker noted, "If Mr. Feynman has at any time been in your office or near your office, or walking through your office, please change the combination of your safe." resulting in him deciding, "That was it: I was the danger. It's a pain in the neck. To remember a new combination, so the next time I visited, nobody was happy to see me."

The second half of the book dealt with Feynman's series of lectures around the world on quantum electrodynamics (QED), which he has been hailed as one of the founding fathers of the theory of how light and matter interact agreeably between quantum mechanics and special relativity. For the academic purpose of reading this biography which promises to simplify the explanation, I didn't get up to googling. I burst out laughing at the part that concluded, "If you can't prepare an introductory lecture on something, if you can't reduce it...well, it means you don't really understand it." Which was later followed by, "New Zealand is far enough away from home for me that if my theory was wrong, it would be okay."

Understanding the impact of his theories and contributions isn't an issue. I didn't bother trying to understand those equations. Admittedly, if I do, this would have been an absolute hoot to read, instead of simply finding it enjoyable and being unable to fully comprehend the genius that is Richard P. Feynman.


Dawn said...

I liked that he actually said that some of the stuff CAN'T be explained yet - but that shouldn't put us off from looking at it.

Check out his Tuvalu videos on Youtube - wonderful stuff!

imp said...

dawn: :( me and physics...not friendly at all.