The Science and Legacy of Richard Feynman

Avinash Dhar, Apoorva D. Patel, Spenta R. Wadia
This year is the 100th birth anniversary of Richard Philips Feynman. This article commemorates his scientific contributions and lasting legacy.

… He influenced the way physicists think about physics, especially physical processes whose description requires the quantum theory. Feynman’s approach to physics was to show how the solution to a problem unravels, aided by a visual language that encapsulates complicated mathematical expressions. James Gleick put this very succinctly, “Feynman’s reinvention of quantum mechanics did not so much explain how the world was, or why it was that way, as to tell how to confront the world. It was not knowledge of or knowledge about. It was knowledge how to.” He went to the heart of the problem he was working on, built up the solutions from simple ground rules in a step by step nuts and bolts way, articulating the steps as he built up the solution, keeping in mind that science is highly constrained by the fact that it is a description of the natural world. He laid bare the strategy of the solution, and was explicit about the various difficulties that need to be surmounted, perhaps now or in the next attempt to solve the problem: “In physics the truth is rarely perfectly clear.” Feynman’s attitude to ‘fundamental physics’ is well put in the collection, ‘The Pleasure of Finding Things Out’: “People say to me, ‘Are you looking for the ultimate laws of physics?’ No, I’m not, I’m just looking to find out more about the world, and if it turns out there is a simple ultimate law which explains everything, so be it, that would be very nice to discover.” …

Read more at https://arxiv.org/pdf/1810.07409.pdf

The Making of a Genius: Richard P. Feynman


Christian Forstner
In 1965 the Nobel Foundation honored Sin-Itiro Tomonaga, Julian Schwinger, and Richard Feynman for their fundamental work in quantum electrodynamics and the consequences for the physics of elementary particles. In contrast to both of his colleagues only Richard Feynman appeared as a genius before the public. In his autobiographies he managed to connect his behavior, which contradicted several social and scientific norms, with the American myth of the “practical man”. This connection led to the image of a common American with extraordinary scientific abilities and contributed extensively to enhance the image of Feynman as genius in the public opinion. Is this image resulting from Feynman’s autobiographies in accordance with historical facts? This question is the starting point for a deeper historical analysis that tries to put Feynman and his actions back into historical context. The image of a “genius” appears then as a construct resulting from the public reception of brilliant scientific research….
Read more: arxiv.org/ftp/arxiv/papers/1208/1208.0215.pdf

Richard Feynman – My Favourite Scientist

Richard Feynman was a brilliant Nobel Prize winning physicist with a “rock ‘n roll” personality


Richard Feynman was a talented mathematician and Nobel-prize winning physicist whose startlingly clear answers to questions earned him the unofficial title, the “Great Explainer”.

As a student at Far Rockaway High School in Queens, a borough of New York City, Feynman learned differential and integral calculus. As a sophomore at Massachusetts Institute of Technology, he applied his interest in mathematics; he took every physics course offered. After receiving his PhD in physics from Princeton University, he participated in the Manhattan Project at Los Alamos during World War II, a secret project with the goal to develop the atomic bomb before Nazi Germany. Later, Dr Feynman was asked by the President of the United States to help investigate the space shuttle Challenger disaster. His conclusions regarding the general lack of communication between NASA’s managers and engineers were punctuated with the sharp rebuke; “For a successful technology, reality must take precedence over public relations, for Nature cannot be fooled.”

In addition to being a talented scientist, Dr Feynman was a devoted teacher. His guiding principle was that if a topic could not be explained in a freshman lecture, it was not yet fully understood — a sentiment that I was often told whilst a graduate student. Whilst at the California Institute of Technology, Dr Feynman spent three years improving the teaching of physics, which resulted in a series of lectures that are now known as the Feynman Lectures on Physics. These lectures were published in book form and are still recognised as the best “additional readings” for physics students in the United States.

Those who have visits from the “black dog” will be interested to know that Dr Feynman also suffered bouts of depression throughout his life. Despite his great intellect, these depressions affected the choices he made. For example, it is thought that depression was the reason that Dr Feynman turned down an offer designed especially for him to conduct research at the Institute for Advanced Study whilst also teaching at nearby Princeton University. Despite his depressions, it is possible that his intense curiosity is what kept him active and engaged, even during these dark times.

Here is a brief look at Richard Feynman’s life by a fellow scientist at Nottingham Trent University:

http://youtu.be/qoYWfytx5QA
Read more: www.guardian.co.uk

Feynman Path Integral approach …

… to electron diffraction for one and two slits, analytical results

Schematic depiction of the apparatus with the source, the two-slits and the screen. We have represented four differents paths going through the slits, from the source to the screen. The dashed lines represent three classical paths and the thin dashed line a curved path. The Feynman path Integral formulation allows one to compute the propagator summing over all different paths

Mathieu Beau (STP-DIAS)
In this article we present an analytic solution of the famous problem of diffraction and interference of electrons through one and two slits (for simplicity, only the one-dimensional case is considered).
It can thus be considered a complement to a recent article [S. Fraboni et al, Am. Journ. Phys.  79 (6), 615–618 (2011)] about the two- and three slit problem from an experimental/computational point of view.
In addition to exact formulas, we exhibit various approximations of the electron distribution which facilitate the interpretation of the results.
Our derivation is based on the Feynman path integral formula and this work could therefore also serve as an interesting pedagogical introduction to Feynman’s formulation of quantum mechanics for university students dealing with the foundations of quantum mechanics….
Read more: http://arxiv.org/pdf