Skip to main content

Feynman on Humility

Another memorable passage in an audiobook of Surely You’re Joking, Mr. Feynman.  I promise I’ll stop talking about Richard Feynman soon… I’m just so very, very impressed this time through his memoir, Surely You’re Joking (remember, I only listen to it when I’m doing laundry, so it’s taken a while to get through it).

Where I am right now, he’s lamenting the fact that he used to drop in on local high schools to chat with kids there about physics, maybe a handful of them (“about relativity, or whatever they asked me about”)… but after his Nobel prize, he couldn’t do that anymore.  The first time he tried, they filled the auditorium with 300 kids.  “It was a mess.”

“I got that shock about 3 or 4 times, being an idiot [!] and not catching on right away.”  Invited to Berkeley, he prepared a rather technical talk, but arrived to find a huge crowd of people who knew nothing about physics.  “I know there’s not that many people in Berkeley who know the level at which I prepared my talk.”

Finally, he realized what to do – make up a dull-sounding title and a dull-sounding professor’s name, and then only the kids who were genuinely interested in physics would come.  Now this is unique anyway because so far in his memoir he has emphasized that he almost always tells the truth, almost to a fault.  But I can imagine he was driven to this because there was simply no way he could reach the audience he was trying to reach with the Nobel hanging around his neck, so to speak, like the proverbial albatross.

So, billed as Professor Henry Warren from the University of Washington, giving a talk about The Structure of the Proton in Room D102.  On the day and time, he showed up and told the kids gathered there that Professor Warren was unable to make it, so he’d come instead.  But the kids ultimately got in trouble when faculty advisor found out, and he had to call and fall on his sword over the incident, explaining that the trick had been his idea.  “I’m very sorry, please excuse me, blah, blah, blah.”

“That’s the kind of stuff I’ve got to go through on account of that damn prize.”

Just one more, if you’ll indulge me.  Further on,  he’s talking about the reception and general pomp & circumstance surrounding the prize, and he says he was raised by his father, who was in the uniform business.  “He was in the uniforms business, so he knew the difference between a man with a uniform on, and the uniform off – it’s the same man.”

Comments

Popular posts from this blog

לימודי קודש/Limudei Kodesh Copywork & Activity Printables

Welcome to my Limudei Kodesh / Jewish Studies copywork and activity printables page.  As of June 2013, I am slowly but surely moving all my printables over to 4shared because Google Docs / Drive is just too flaky for me. What you’ll find here: Weekly Parsha Copywork More Parsha Activities More Chumash / Tanach Activities Yom Tov Copywork & Activities Tefillah Copywork Pirkei Avos / Pirkei Avot Jewish Preschool Resources Other printables! For General Studies printables and activities, including Hebrew-English science resources and more, click here . For Miscellaneous homeschool helps and printables, click here . If you use any of my worksheets, activities or printables, please leave a comment or email me at Jay3fer “at” gmail “dot” com, to link to your blog, to tell me what you’re doing with it, or just to say hi!  If you want to use them in a school, camp or co-op setting, please email me (remove the X’s) for rates. If you just want to say Thank You, here’s a

Are Jews an "underrepresented community" in children’s publishing?

I applied for a writing award yesterday. I'm not going to get it, but that's not what I wanted to share with you. Here's what I wanted to share. This box:   I stared at this box for a long, long time. And then I decided not to check it. Even though I believe people like me truly are underrepresented, we probably wouldn’t fit the definition in other people's minds. Why? Well, because we're European. Because we are white. Because as everybody knows, Jews control the media. (do we???) If anything, some people say, Jews are over -represented in publishing. And yet. Some definitions are careful not to include people like me. Like this random definition from the State of California which defines underrepresented for some very specific business purposes as: "an individual who self-identifies as Black, African American, Hispanic, Latino, Asian, Pacific Islander, Native American, Native Hawaiian, or Alaska Native, or who self-identi

Hebrew/ עברית & English General Studies Printables

For Jewish Studies, including weekly parsha resources and copywork, click here . If you use any of my worksheets, activities or printables, please leave a comment or email me at Jay3fer “at” gmail “dot” com, to link to your blog, to tell me what you’re doing with it, or just to say hi!  If you want to use them in a school, camp or co-op setting, please email me (remove the X’s) for rates. If you enjoy these resources, please consider buying my weekly parsha book, The Family Torah :  the story of the Torah, written to be read aloud – or any of my other wonderful Jewish books for kids and families . English Worksheets & Printables: (For Hebrew, click here ) Science :  Plants, Animals, Human Body Math   Ambleside :  Composers, Artists History Geography Language & Literature     Science General Poems for Elemental Science .  Original Poems written by ME, because the ones that came with Elemental Science were so awful.  Three pages are included:  one page with two po