Richard Fenyman: What do you care what other people think?

The book has more stories about Fenyman, continued on from his earlier book, Surely You’re Joking, Mr. Feynman! (Adventures of a Curious Character).

In this he writes about love (the book title come’s from a letter from his wife), science, and random bits from his life, like how he became a scientist in the first place. The second half of the book is on Fenyman’s work in the commision investigating the “space shuttle Challanger disaster”: – it gives a lot of great insight as to how government and large organizations work.

The book is extremely interesting throughout, which is apt considering Fenyman was one of the most interesting characters of the 20th century.

Fenyman went to Greece in 1980 or 1981 – his observtions in a letter to his wife:

bq.. It appears the Greeks take their past very seriously. They study ancient Greek archaelogy in their elementary schools for 6 years, having to take 10 hours of that subject every week. It is a kind of ancestor worship, for they emphasize always how wonderful the ancient Greeks were – and wonderful indeed they were. When you encourage them by saying, “Yes, and look how modern man has advanced beyond the ancient Greeks” – thinking of how experimental science, the devlopement of mathematics, the art of the Renaissance, the great depth and understanding of the relative shallowness of Greek philosophy, etc., etc., – they reply, “What do you mean? What was wrong with the ancient Greeks?” They continually put their age down and the old age up, until to point out the wonders of the prsent seem to them to be an unjustified lack of appreciaiton for the past.

…What the Greeks are learning in school is to be intimidated into thinking they have fallen so far below their super ancestors.

p. The bit about Greece was interesting considering their recent predicament, and Fenyman could just as well have been talking about the Islamic world’s attitude to it’s own past glories… Greece or the Middle East certainly don”t look like it’s going to be reliving it’s past anytime soon, but they remain blinded by it.

For more about Fenyman, this is the best biography of him:

Genius: The Life and Science of Richard Feynman.

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