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Showing posts with label List. Show all posts

5 Talents of Richard Feynman Other Than Physics

talented richard feynman ofey rogers commission infinity physics bongo

Richard Feynman was one of the world’s greatest scientists who won a Nobel Prize for physics in 1965. But we recognize him more as an outstanding teacher, a story-teller and an everyday joker whose life, was a combination of his intelligence, curiosity and uncertainty.

Feynman had once said, "Everything is interesting once you go into it deeply enough." He used to enjoy every single aspect of life whatever it had to offer. In this post, therefore, let us look at the things Feynman excelled at, apart from physics of course.


Did you know that Feynman was an outstanding pencil artist who used to sign off his paintings with a pseudonym: ofey. The following is a portrait of fellow physicist Hans Bethe, also a Nobel Prize winner, friend of his.

hans bethe talented richard feynman ofey rogers commission infinity physics bongo

Physicist Richard Feynman had started drawing more often towards the end of his scientific career.

talented richard feynman ofey rogers commission infinity physics bongo

Bongo Playing

Feynman not only used to play bongo but also wrote songs to accompany the music. One of his famous songs was called, "Orange Juice" which he penned for his love of it.

You can just look at his old wrinkly face and wonder how and why he had so much charm even at old age?


Now this is interesting...because how many physicists do you know that loved to dress up? Well, Feynman was clearly an exception.

talented richard feynman ofey rogers commission infinity physics bongo
As queen Elizabeth II (from anonymous source at Caltech)

talented richard feynman ofey rogers commission infinity physics bongo
From Caltech archive


Did you know that Feynman wrote a long free-verse poem titled, an atom in the universe, in 1955? His command over scientific language was unmatched...which is demonstrated by how he described the whole universe in only a glass of wine:

"If we look at a glass of wine closely enough we see the entire universe. There are the things of physics: the twisting liquid which evaporates depending on the wind and weather, the reflections in the glass, and our imagination adds the atoms...

The glass is a distillation of the Earth's rocks, and in its composition we see the secrets of the universe's age, and the evolution of stars...

What strange arrays of chemicals are in the wine? How did they come to be? There are the ferments, the enzymes, the substrates, and the products. There in wine is found the great generalization: all life is fermentation..

Nobody can discover the chemistry of wine without discovering, as did Louis Pasteur, the cause of much disease. How vivid is the claret, pressing its existence into the consciousness that watches it!

If our small minds, for some convenience, divide this glass of wine, this universe, into parts: physics, biology, geology, astronomy, psychology, and so on..remember that nature does not know it!

So let us put it all back together, not forgetting ultimately what it is for. Let it give us one more final pleasure: drink it and forget it all!"


This is not a surprise...of course we know him as the great explainer, right? Even Bill Gates has said, "Feynman had this amazing knack for making physics clear and fun at the same time. He was the best teacher I never had."

talented richard feynman ofey rogers commission infinity physics bongo

The public made him an icon because he was not only a great scientist and clown but also a great human being and a guide to his students in time of trouble.


He was invited to investigate the Challenger disaster and found out the problem that caused the accident was trivial. Feynman did not shy away from blaming NASA.

He demonstrated that the material used in the shuttle's O-rings became less resilient in cold weather by compressing a sample of the material in a clamp and immersing it in ice-cold water.

talented richard feynman ofey rogers commission infinity physics bongo

NASA ultimately admitted that the disaster was caused by the primary O-ring not properly sealing in unusually cold weather at Cape Canaveral.


Apart from writing physics books, Feynman had a knack for telling anecdotes. He wrote two autobiographical accounts, one of which, titled, 'What do you care what other people think?' was adapted into 1996 movie Infinity starring ‎Matthew Broderick and Patricia Arquette.

Summing up

He was a genius in truest sense of the word. According to Robert Oppenheimer, "Feynman was a second Dirac. Only this time human." Just to let you know, Oppenheimer and Dirac were Feynman's seniors. In fact, Paul Dirac was Feynman's hero growing up, and quite opposite of what Feynman was...Dirac hardly spoke a word or two.

10 Books Recommended By Famous Scientists

popular book recommendation by scientists favorite books by physicists

Renowned astronomer and former NASA advisor Carl Sagan had once famously said, "One glance at a book and you are inside the mind of another person; perhaps someone dead for thousand of years. To read, therefore, is to voyage through time."

Maybe this is why we read and why in moments of darkness we return to books; so to find out what we do not already know; and the more we learn the more places we can go! In this post, let us look at which specific books scientists like to gorge themselves on.

Neil deGrasse Tyson

He is an American astrophysicist, director of the Hayden Planetarium and host of Cosmos: a spacetime odyssey on National Geographic. In a Reddit ask-me-anything Tyson said one of his favorite books was The Origin of Species by Charles Darwin.

He explained, "This book will help you learn our kinship with all other life on Earth. It is a seminal work of scientific literature considered to be the foundation of evolutionary biology." Included in the book is evidence to support his theory which Darwin had collected on the Beagle expedition in the 1830s.

Michio Kaku

He is an American theoretical physicist, one of the founders of string field theory and science communicator. In an interview Kaku revealed his obsession with science fiction especially with Star Trek TV and books by Isaac Asimov and Arthur C. Clarke.

He claimed, and perhaps, rightly so: "Science fiction helps to get young people interested in science. That is why I don't mind talking about science fiction. It has a real role to play: to seize the imagination."

Carl Sagan

As mentioned before, Carl was an American astronomer, former advisor to NASA and Pulitzer Prize winning author. One of his favorite books was The Republic written by ancient Greek philosopher Plato.

It has proven to be one of the world's most influential works of philosophy and political theory; both intellectually and historically. It is also the reason why Carl declared, in his disarming fashion, "Books break the shackles of Time!"

H.C. Verma

He is an Indian experimental physicist and a professor emeritus of the Indian Institute of Technology Kanpur since 1994. His field of research is nuclear physics.

He has authored graduate, undergraduate and school level textbooks. When a student asked him which book was his go-to in his own early years, Professor Verma replied, "Fundamentals of physics" by Halliday / Resnick / Walker.

This 1000-page textbook was named the most outstanding introductory physics work of the 20th century by the American Physical Society.

Brian Cox

Brian Cox is an English particle physicist, author and professor at the University of Manchester. Professor Cox has been the author or co-author of over 950 scientific publications. When asked what brought him closer to science, he said: "Cosmos by Carl Sagan."

The book is an elaborate story of cosmic evolution, science and civilization. It spent a whopping 70 weeks on the New York Times Best Seller List. The TV show of the same name was produced first by Sagan then by Tyson in 1980 and 2014 respectively.

Jim Al-Khalili

He is a British theoretical physicist, author and professor at the University of Surrey. Jim is also a regular host of various science documentaries for BBC.

He recommends Surely You're Joking Mr. Feynman in his list of favorite science books. The book covers a variety of instances in Nobel Prize winning physicist Richard Feynman's life.

The name of the book derives from a woman's response at Princeton University when, after she asked the newly arrived Feynman if he wanted cream or lemon in his tea, he absentmindedly requested both.

Philip Ball

He is a British chemist and physicist who has been the editor of Nature journal for over twenty years. Ball has also written for Chemistry World and New Scientist.

His favorite books include Hawking's A Brief History of Time and Rovelli's The Order of Time even more so.

He says, "Carlo Rovelli has emerged as physics’ current poet, and for good reason: he has a light, humble touch, an elegant style, and a genuine regard for and understanding of art and philosophy."

His own most popular book Critical Mass: How One Thing Leads to Another was winner of the 2005 Aventis Prize for Science Books.

Carlo Rovelli

He is an Italian theoretical physicist and best-selling author known for his pioneering work in loop quantum gravity. His most favorite science textbook is The Feynman Lectures on Physics.

Because of his books, Richard Feynman has often been called The Great Explainer by many fellow physicists. It is one of the most recommended books for physics undergraduates.

Brian Greene

He is an American theoretical physicist and mathematician whose work is in string theory. Greene is a professor at University of Columbia and founder of World Science Festival. He recommends The Selfish Gene by Richard Dawkins.

Brian is grateful that such books have helped to fill the knowledge gap that many physicists share in biology. "In the book," he adds, "Dawkins lays out the case for natural selection at the level of genes." In 2017, The Royal Society listed The Selfish Gene as the most influential science book of all time.

Francis Close

He is a British particle physicist and Emeritus Professor of Physics at the University of Oxford. His favorite popular science book is QED: The strange theory of light and matter. Frank says you are left with a profound recognition of the beauty of the universe.

The book has just enough quantum-mechanical mathematics to allow the solving of basic problems in quantum electrodynamics by an educated lay person.

According to Feynman, to learn quantum electrodynamics you have two choices: you can go through seven years of physics education or read this book.


10 Documentaries All Physics Students Should Watch


Great American astronomer, Carl Sagan, said in the original Cosmos: "Imagination will carry us to the worlds that never were but without it we go nowhere."

Carl Sagan was probably the first mainstream scientist who started campaigning for public understanding of science on a very large scale through media and TV.

A great many documentaries have been made for educational purposes by esteemed scientists which are watched by millions of people around the world. Following is a list of some of the best physics documentaries.

Einstein and The Theory of General Relativity

This documentary was released to mark 100 years of Einstein's famous theory of gravity. It was created by leading physicists in the world as a tribute to Albert Einstein. The experts in the field have developed new experiments with advanced technology and even hundred years after first publication, the theory still works.

Cosmos: A Personal Voyage

Thirteen episode series, rated 9.3 out of 10 on IMDb, created by Carl Sagan, based on his best-selling book of the same name. The visual effects are old but each and every topic is explained with great emphasis and detail. No doubt the show was much ahead of its time.


Cosmos: a personal voyage covers a wide range of scientific subjects, including the origin of life and a perspective of our place in the universe. Since 1980, it has been broadcast in more than 60 countries and seen by over 500 million people.

Cosmos: A Spacetime Odyssey

This much needed sequel of Cosmos, released in 2014, was created by American astrophysicist Neil deGrasse Tyson. The visuals are improved and animations have been included making it a wholesome documentary series. The show has received highly positive reviews getting a Metacritic rating of 83 out of 100 based on 19 reviews

Into The Universe

Physicist Stephen Hawking brings his vision of the universe to the screen for the first time to delve into questions like how the universe began, whether life exists on other planets, and whether time travel is possible.


Hawking appears on the show in linking scenes using his own synthesized voice while the voice over narration is provided in character as Hawking by renowned actor Benedict Cumberbatch. It was released on Discovery Channel.

Wonders of The Universe


Particle physicist Brian Cox discusses various aspects of the universe featuring a wonder related to each topic. The topics include nature of time, life cycle of stars and the effect of gravity in the creation of the universe.

Secrets of Quantum Physics

British physicist Jim Al-Khalili shows how quantum physics is in every day life such as robins navigate using quantum entanglement, how our sense of smell is influenced by quantum vibrations and that quantum physics might play a role in biological evolution. You can watch it on Amazon Prime.

The Elegant Universe

American physicist Brian Greene explains the eleven dimensions, parallel universes, and a world made out of strings. This is not science fiction; this is a proper mathematical framework called the string theory. You can watch it here.

Lise Meitner: The Mother of the Atom Bomb


Lise Meitner led the small group of scientists who first discovered nuclear fission of uranium when it absorbed an extra neutron. Her research into nuclear fission helped to pioneer nuclear reactors to generate electricity as well as the development of nuclear weapons in the second world war. This is also available on Amazon Prime.

Fun To Imagine

In 1983, BBC aired this special by Nobel laureate Richard Feynman who used physics to explain how the everyday world worked like why rubber bands are stretchy, why tennis balls can't bounce forever, and what you're really seeing when you look in the mirror.

The Amazing Science of Empty Space

How can the universe come from nothing? This question has haunted scientists and common people for a long time; different explanations have been provided throughout history. However, physicist Jim Al Khalili explores the meaning of nothing in the scientific terms. His journey ends with perhaps the most profound insight about reality that humanity has ever made: everything came from nothing. You can watch it on Amazon Prime.

Bonus: Universe In A Nutshell

This is entry level educational video produced by Big Think and hosted by Professor Michio Kaku. for the lay people. It has a holistic approach towards physics; a brief history, applications and what the future holds for physicists.

15 Famous Physicists Who Believed In God

famous theists believers in physics

This is the third post from a series of three articles in which religious views of well-known scientists are listed. If you are interested, the other two posts celebrate atheists and agnostics in the field of physics. In this post, 15 believers who excelled at physics.

First, a brief note on history: the word theism was first used in the 1600s by English theologian Ralph Cudworth who said, "we are strictly and properly called theists, who affirm, that a perfectly conscious understanding being, or mind, existing of itself from eternity, was the cause of all other things."

Robert Millikan

He was an American experimental physicist who was honored with the Nobel Prize for Physics in 1923 for his measurement of the elementary electric charge. He wrote about the reunion of science and religion in books like Evolution in Science and Religion.

famous theists believers in physics

He was the son of Reverend Silas Franklin Millikan. As an active Christian, Millikan found religious significance in his studies of the cosmic rays, as he did in his other research, concluding that the “creator is still on the job." He remained theist all his adult life.

Johannes Kepler

He was a German astronomer and mathematician who laid out the three laws of planetary motion with the help of his and Tycho Brahe's observations of the night sky. Kepler's belief that God created the cosmos in orderly fashion caused him to attempt to determine and comprehend the laws that govern the natural world.

famous theists believers in physics

He said, "Those laws of nature are within the grasp of the human mind; God wanted us to recognize them by creating us after his own image so that we could share in his own thoughts." Kepler was an outstanding mathematician especially in the studies of geometry, he once claimed, "geometry is one and eternal shining in the mind of God."

Isaac Newton

He was the most prominent scientist during the scientific revolution. By the age of 26 he had discovered the universal law of gravitation, laws of motion and invented a new branch of mathematics, calculus. Newton was a practicing Christian.

famous theists believers in physics

He said, "We account the scriptures of God to be the most sublime philosophy. I find more sure remarks of authenticity in the Bible than in any profane history whatever." Then when asked why he studied sciences, Newton replied, "He is the God of order and not of confusion."

Abdus Salam

He was a Pakistani theoretical physicist who shared the 1979 Nobel Prize in physics for his contribution to the electroweak unification theory. Abdus Salam was an Ahmadi Muslim who saw his religion as a fundamental part of his scientific work.

famous theists believers in physics

He once wrote that "the Holy Quran enjoins us to reflect on the verities of Allah's created laws of nature; however, that our generation has been privileged to glimpse a part of His design is a bounty and a grace for which I render thanks with a humble heart."

Philip Lenard

Lenard was a Hungarian-German experimental physicist and the winner of the Nobel Prize in Physics in 1905. His pioneering research on cathode rays and their properties led to the development of the early television.

famous theists believers in physics

Lenard was born and raised with Christian practices and values because his parents Phillip and Antonie were deeply religious. But he was swept along in a wave of Nazism that accompanied the World War I, became anti-semetic and hostile towards what he claimed was "Jewish Physics."

Max Born

He was a German physicist and mathematician who was influential in the development of quantum mechanics. He also made contributions to solid-state physics and optics, winner of the 1954 Nobel Prize in physics. In 1933, the Nazis came to power in Germany, and Born, who was Jewish, was suspended from his professorship.

famous theists believers in physics

Max was born to a family of Jewish descent. He had famously said, "The dance of atoms, electrons and nuclei, which in all its fury is subject to God's eternal laws." Born was baptised as a Lutheran in 1914 by the same pastor who had performed his wedding ceremony. His decision to be baptised was made due to his desire to assimilate into German society.

Galileo Galilei

He was an Italian physicist who is most noted for his many astronomical findings such as the rings on Saturn, sunspots and Jupiter's four moons with the help of a telescope he had invented. Galileo was a deeply religious man who was ordered life imprisonment for his groundbreaking discoveries.

famous theists believers in physics

Galileo was an outspoken supporter of the Copernican sun-centered model of the universe. He said, "The intention of the Holy Ghost is to teach us how one goes to heaven, not how heaven goes, and I do not feel obliged to believe that the same God who has endowed us with senses, reason, and intellect has intended us to forgo their use."

He added, "Copernicus did not ignore the Bible, but he knew very well that if his doctrine were proved, then it could not contradict the Scriptures when they were rightly understood." Apart from his astronomical observations, Galileo also discovered the law of inertia with experiment, which is why he is often called the "father of the scientific method."

Michael Faraday

He was an English physicist who contributed to the study of electricity and magnetism and ultimately their unification. Faraday discovered the laws of electromagnetic induction and electrolysis and is often called the father of electricity.

famous theists believers in physics

When asked about his speculations on life after death, Faraday replied, "Speculations? I have none. I am resting on certainties. I know whom I have believed and am persuaded that he is able to keep that which I have committed unto him against that day." He remained a devout Christian until his death.

Georges Lemaitre

He was a Jesuit trained Belgian Catholic priest and professor of physics at the Catholic University of Louvain. Lemaitre was the first to identify that the recession of nearby galaxies can be explained by a theory of an expanding universe. Then he proposed the Big Bang Theory.

famous theists believers in physics

In a 1933 interview for the New York Times, he said, "There is no conflict between science and religion. I was interested in truth from the point of view of salvation just as much as in truth from the point of view of scientific certainty. It appeared to me that there were two paths to truth, and I decided to follow both of them."

Werner Heisenberg

He was a German theoretical physicist and one of the key pioneers of quantum mechanics. Heisenberg was awarded the Nobel Prize in Physics for 1932 for the creation of matrix mechanics. He was raised and lived as a Lutheran Christian.

famous theists believers in physics

Most of his quotations about god and religion are misattributed such as this one, "the first gulp from the glass of natural sciences will turn you into an atheist, but at the bottom of the glass God is waiting for you," these repeated time after time do not really represent his original views and are completely biased.

However Heisenberg did say, "of course.. we all know that our own reality depends on the structure of our consciousness; we can objectify no more than a small part of our world. But even when we try to probe into the subjective realm, we cannot ignore the central order. In the final analysis, the central order with which we commune in the language of religion, must win out." This was his own unique and intellectual way of putting out his beliefs.

Arthur Compton

He was an American physicist who won the Nobel Prize in Physics for his 1923 discovery of the Compton effect, an increase in wavelength of X-rays or gamma rays that occurs when they are scattered, which demonstrated the particle nature of electromagnetic radiation.

famous theists believers in physics

For some time, Compton was a deacon at a Baptist church, a member who was generally associated with service of some kind. "Science can have no quarrel", he said, "..with a religion which postulates a God to whom men are as His children." Compton remained religious all his life.

Hideki Yukawa

He was a Japanese theoretical physicist who was the first Japanese citizen to win Nobel Prize in physics for his accurate prediction of the pi meson. As a child Yukawa used to read the Confucian Doctrine of the Mean, and later Lao-Tzu and Chuang-Tzu.

famous theists believers in physics

Yukawa Hideki was a devout Buddhist and believed that a Buddhist philosophical outlook influenced his research in physics. In his view, natural forces could reasonably be viewed as a somewhat random product of chance or pure contingency in mathematical terms, similar to Hindu and Buddhist notions of karma.

Victor Francis Hess

He was an Austrian-American theoretical physicist who won the 1936 Nobel Prize in physics for his discovery of the cosmic rays, highly energetic atomic nuclei which travel through space at a speed approaching that of light.

famous theists believers in physics

Hess was a practicing Roman Catholic and in 1946 wrote on the relationship between science and religion in his famous article "My Faith", in which he explained why he believed in God.

famous theists believers in physics

Arthur Eddington

He was a prominent English astronomer and physicist who is known for his groundbreaking research in astrophysics. Eddington was the first person to investigate the internal structure and evolution of stars. He correctly speculated that the source of starlight was fusion of hydrogen into helium.

famous theists believers in physics

He was born to Quaker parents and the members of the various Quaker movements are all generally united by their belief in the ability of each human being to experientially access the light within, or that of God in every one. In 1930, Arthur wrote a 64 page book titled, "Why I Believe in God: Science and Religion, as a Scientist Sees It."

James Clerk Maxwell

To him we owe the most significant discovery of our age, the theory of electromagnetism. Maxwell was a Scottish theoretical physicist who built upon Faraday's results to unify the once separate fields of electricity, magnetism and optics.

famous theists believers in physics

Maxwell said, "I have committed myself to God as the instrument of His will, not doubtfully, but in the certain hope that that Will will be plain enough at the proper time." Maxwell's intellectual understanding of his Christian faith and of science grew rapidly during his Cambridge years. His knowledge of the Bible was remarkable as his Cambridge colleagues remember.

Summing up




John Bardeen

Richard Feynman

Robert Millikan

Jagadish Chandra Bose

Niels Bohr

Johannes Kepler

Marie Curie

S. Chandrasekhar

Isaac Newton

Edwin Hubble

Louis de Broglie

Abdus Salam

Freeman Dyson

Pierre Simon Laplace

Philip Lenard

Albert Einstein

Stephen Hawking

Max Born

C.V. Raman

Francis Crick

Galileo Galilei

Rosalind Franklin

Erwin Schrodinger

Michael Faraday

Enrico Fermi

Meghnad Saha

Georges Lemaitre

Eugene Wigner

Steven Weinberg

Werner Heisenberg

Carl Sagan

Hans Bethe

Arthur Compton

Lisa Randall

Kip Thorne

Hideki Yukawa

Paul Dirac

James Franck

Victor Francis Hess

Murray Gell Mann

John Bell

Arthur Eddington

Henri Poincare

Herbert Kroemer

James Clerk Maxwell


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