Pleasure of Finding Things Out

Registered by miekster of Leeuwarden, Fryslân (Friesland) Netherlands on 4/6/2013
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3 journalers for this copy...
Journal Entry 1 by miekster from Leeuwarden, Fryslân (Friesland) Netherlands on Saturday, April 6, 2013
"Everything is interesting if you go into it deeply enough" says Richard P. Feynman in "The Smartest Men in the World", one of the many pieces in this collection of Feynman's best short works.

Journal Entry 2 by miekster at Leeuwarden, Fryslân (Friesland) Netherlands on Thursday, February 6, 2014
Is bij een collega.

Journal Entry 3 by paperfish at Wageningen, Gelderland Netherlands on Monday, July 7, 2014
Picked this book up from the annual BC meeting in Castricum, 2014. As a scientist (or learning-to-be-) this book drew my attention; might be fun to read.
Only now when registering I see the quote Miekster mentioned; it was as a prologue of the PhD-comics movie I recently saw (Yes, I might be a scientist-geek...)
On the to-be-read stack and/or to be released in an area with people who also enjoy the pleasure of finding things out (eg. the university).

Journal Entry 4 by paperfish at Wageningen, Gelderland Netherlands on Saturday, January 10, 2015
I read this book with much pleasure indeed, although in the beginning it was a hard start, regarding the writing style: no attention to grammar of punctuation whatsoever! Some of the chapters I really enjoyed though and were very inspirational. Other chapters were a bit less to my liking.
The book is now with a friend (also scientist). Edit --> now back with me again.

Journal Entry 5 by paperfish at Wageningen, Gelderland Netherlands on Saturday, July 25, 2015

Released 6 yrs ago (7/25/2015 UTC) at Wageningen, Gelderland Netherlands

CONTROLLED RELEASE NOTES:

Ik had hele handige dozen over - bijvoorbeeld om boeken in te kunnen versturen. Dus organiseerde ik een kleine RABCK om een paar van die dozen met een boek gevuld en al kwijt te kunnen raken, en tegelijkertijd mijn BC-kast eens op te ruimen.
Violoncellix wilde graag dit boek eens lezen: veel plezier er mee!

Journal Entry 6 by wingvioloncellixwing at on Wednesday, July 29, 2015
So the book travels on, from scientist to scientist. Many thanks for the RABCK, paperfish! I'm extra attracted to this book because I just came back from a conference in Pasadena, CA. Feynman worked there for many years as professor at CalTech. Also, I once cited this book in an article:

From time to time, people suggest to me that scientists ought to give
more consideration to social problems, especially that they should be
more responsible in considering the impact of science upon society. This
same suggestion must be made to many other scientists, and it seems
to be generally believed that if the scientists would only look at these
very difficult social problems and not spend so much time fooling with
the less vital scientifi c ones, great success would come of it.

It seems to me that we do think about these problems from time to time,
but we don't put full-time eft ort into them -- the reason being that we
know we don't have any magic formula for solving problems, that social
problems are very much harder than scienti fic ones, and that we usually
don't get anywhere when we do think about them.

I believe that a scientist looking at nonscienti fic problems is just as
dumb as the next guy-- and when he talks about a nonscientifi c matter,
he will sound as naive as anyone untrained in the matter.

Journal Entry 7 by wingvioloncellixwing at on Saturday, October 3, 2015
I had a similar experience with the book as paperfish - I had to get used to the imperfect presentation, with some strange grammar slips and little punctuation. Still, it was very interesting to get to know the important physicist Feynman a bit better.

Here's one more quote that I liked:



The scientist has a lot of experience with ignorance and doubt and uncertainty, and this experience is of very great importance, I think. When a scientist doesn’t know the answer to a problem, he is ignorant. When he has a hunch as to what the result is, he is uncertain. And when he is pretty darn sure of what the result is going to be, he is still in some doubt. We have found it of paramount importance that in order to progress we must recognize our ignorance and leave room for doubt. Scientific knowledge is a body of statements of varying degrees of certainty — some most unsure, some nearly sure, but none absolutely certain.

Now, we scientists are used to this, and we take it for granted that it is perfectly consistent to be unsure, that it is possible to live and not know. But I don’t know whether everyone realizes this is true. Our freedom to doubt was born out of a struggle against authority in the early days of science. It was a very deep and strong struggle: permit us to question — to doubt — to not be sure. I think that it is important that we do not forget this struggle and thus perhaps lose what we have gained.


Journal Entry 8 by wingvioloncellixwing at on Saturday, October 3, 2015
I had a similar experience with the book as paperfish - I had to get used to the imperfect presentation, with some strange grammar slips and little punctuation. Still, it was very interesting to get to know the important physicist Feynman a bit better.

Here's one more quote that I liked:



The scientist has a lot of experience with ignorance and doubt and uncertainty, and this experience is of very great importance, I think. When a scientist doesn’t know the answer to a problem, he is ignorant. When he has a hunch as to what the result is, he is uncertain. And when he is pretty darn sure of what the result is going to be, he is still in some doubt. We have found it of paramount importance that in order to progress we must recognize our ignorance and leave room for doubt. Scientific knowledge is a body of statements of varying degrees of certainty — some most unsure, some nearly sure, but none absolutely certain.

Now, we scientists are used to this, and we take it for granted that it is perfectly consistent to be unsure, that it is possible to live and not know. But I don’t know whether everyone realizes this is true. Our freedom to doubt was born out of a struggle against authority in the early days of science. It was a very deep and strong struggle: permit us to question — to doubt — to not be sure. I think that it is important that we do not forget this struggle and thus perhaps lose what we have gained.


I also really appreciated the preface to the book by Freeman Dyson, one of Feyman's pupils and an excellent physicist in his own right:

"I did love the man this side idolatry as much as any,” wrote
Elizabethan dramatist Ben Jonson. “The man” was Jonson’s
friend and mentor, William Shakespeare. Jonson and Shake­
speare were both successful playwrights. Jonson was learned
and scholarly, Shakespeare was slapdash and a genius. There
was no jealousy between them. Shakespeare was nine years
older, already filling the London stage with masterpieces be­
fore Jonson began to write. Shakespeare was, as Jonson said,
“honest and of an open and free nature,” and gave his young
friend practical help as well as encouragement. The most im­
portant help that Shakespeare gave was to act one of the lead­
ing roles in Jonson’s first play, “Every Man in His Humour,”
when it was performed in 1598. The play was a resounding
success and launched Jonson’s professional career. Jonson was
then aged 25, Shakespeare 34. After 1598, Jonson continued
to write poems and plays, and many of his plays were per­
formed by Shakespeare’s company. Jonson became famous in
his own right as a poet and scholar, and at the end of his life
he was honored with burial in Westminster Abbey. But he
never forgot his debt to his old friend. (…)

What have Jonson and Shakespeare to do with Richard
Feynman? Simply this. I can say as Jonson said, “I did love
this man this side idolatry as much as any.” Fate gave me the
tremendous luck to have Feynman as a mentor. I was the
learned and scholarly student who came from England to
Cornell University in 1947 and was immediately entranced
by the slapdash genius of Feynman. With the arrogance of
youth, I decided that I could play Jonson to Feynman’s
Shakespeare. I had not expected to meet Shakespeare on
American soil, but I had no difficulty in recognizing him
when I saw him.


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