Hearing Feynman Speak

Richard Feynman is the coolest man who ever lived. That is all.

He was a brilliant physicist, a brilliant teacher (he’s famous for it), and a brilliant writer storyteller – and that’s not a combination you see every day. Plus, he was just cool. If you haven’t already, read Surely You’re Joking, Mr. Feynman, his auto-biography/rant/life anecdotes/life wisdom/podium of awesomeness. He died, unfortunately, in1988.

Somehow, it never occurred to me that his lectures were available on Youtube. If it had, my GPA would probably have been much lower than it is right now. I stumbled on these yesterday. He did a few BBC series, on everything from how a train stays on its tracks, to the difference between a poet’s and a scientist’s perceptions of the world.

These were done towards the end of his life; far more chilling are videos like this one, which are recordings of a young(er) Feynman either giving an interview or, as here, lecturing.

Having heard him speak, the quirks and rhythms of his book start to make sense. And, as in his book, his brilliance seeps off the screen.

I can’t even begin to describe how amazing it is to actually hear him. Cue fangirl squealing.

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1 comment
  1. Feynman was certainly a great storyteller, but he was not a writer. He disliked writing. None of his books were actually written by Feynman. For example, “Surely You’re Joking, Mr. Feynman,” which was actually written by Ralph Leighton who had tape recorded Feynman telling his stories, transcribed the tapes and edited them into the book. While the tapes are fun to listen to (you can find some at lulu.com) a straight transcript of the tapes would be practically unreadable. The “great writing” in that book and in all of other Feynman’s books, can be credited to the people who adapted Feynman’s raw verbal material to the written word.

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