Physicist Richard Feynman has a reputation as a bongo-playing, hard-partying, flamboyant Nobel Prize laureate for his work on quantum electrodynamics theory, but this tends to obscure the fact that he was a brilliant thinker who continued making contributions to science until his death in 1988. He foresaw new directions in science that have begun to produce practical applications only in the last decade: nanotechnology, atomic-scale biology like the manipulation of DNA, lasers to move individual atoms, and quantum engineering. In the 1960s, Feynman entered the field of quantum gravity and created important tools and techniques for scientists studying black holes and gravity waves. Author Krauss (The Physics of Star Trek), an MIT-trained physicist, doesn't necessarily break new ground in this biography, but Krauss excels in his ability, like Feynman himself, to make complicated physics comprehensible. He incorporates Feynman's lectures and quotes several of the late physicist's colleagues to aid him in this process. This book is highly recommended for readers who want to get to know one of the preeminent scientists of the 20th century.
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“Seamlessly entwining colorful episodes of physics’ most ‘curious character’ with wonderfully clear descriptions of Feynman’s penetrating breakthroughs in quantum theory, Krauss’s account is both entertaining and masterly. A great read.”
“Lawrence Krauss's wonderful biography manages to combine a rolling narrative with a crystal clear explanation of Richard Feynman's science. Its lively descriptions make both electromagnetism and quantum mechanics fun, while Krauss's personal reflections on his subject add a new level of insight into the man and his scientific legacy. Quantum Man is a masterpiece.”
“Such a charismatic figure deserves a charismatic, knowledgeable, and literate physicist as his warts-and-all biographer. Lawrence Krauss fits the bill admirably and rises to the challenge with style, panache, and deep understanding.”
"Richard Feynman was a legend for a whole generation of scientists, long before anyone in the public knew who he was," writes Krauss (Physics/Arizona State Univ.;The Physics of Star Trek, 2007 etc.) in this engaging biography.
The author's first introduction to the physicist who became a hero to him occurred in high school, when a science teacher gave him Feynman's (1918–1988) popular work The Character of Physical Law. In 1974, Krauss, then an undergraduate physics major, attended a keynote address by Feynman, and a photo of him talking to the physicist appeared in a national magazine. However, it was really only after the 1986 Challenger disaster that Feynman's name became widely known—as a member of the NASA investigatory panel, he placed an O-ring in a glass of ice water, demonstrating its vulnerability to cold. This incident encapsulates Feynman's creative genius and his ability to solve puzzles by unconventional means—whether about the foundations of quantum physics or simply a matter of poor engineering. Krauss traces how he refused to accept the conventional wisdom on any subject but would scrutinize it from different points of view before coming to his own conclusion. Feynman's work has had an impact on almost every aspect of modern science today, from nanotechnology to particle physics, semi-conductors and high-temperature superconductors. In the author's view, he was arguably the most important scientist in the latter half of the 20th century, comparable to Einstein in influence, although his genius was not to achieve fundamentally new results but to look at "old things from a new viewpoint." Krauss explains the complicated scientific material in a clear, lively style that would have earned Feynman's approval.
A worthy addition to the Feynman shelf and a welcome follow-up to the standard-bearer, James Gleick's Genius (1992).
…an enlightening addition to the field…Though he couldn't resist recycling some well-worn Feynman anecdotes (and providing a couple of his own), [Krauss] concentrates on Feynman the thinker, and on the contributions that merited his fame…Other good books give a feel for this and Feynman's later accomplishments. But I understood it all better after watching over the shoulder of Krauss the physicist as he worked his way through the Feynman oeuvrenot the stories of fast times in Rio, but the scientific papers.
The New York Times
“A lively and engrossing biography of a lively and engrossing man.”