Quantum Man: Richard Feynman's Life in Science

Quantum Man: Richard Feynman's Life in Science

by Lawrence M. Krauss


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Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780393064711
Publisher: Norton, W. W. & Company, Inc.
Publication date: 03/21/2011
Series: Great Discoveries Series
Pages: 350
Product dimensions: 5.80(w) x 8.10(h) x 1.20(d)

About the Author

Lawrence M. Krauss is the director of the Origins Initiative at Arizona State University and has written more than three hundred scientific publications and seven books, including The Physics of Star Trek and A Universe from Nothing. He lives in Tempe, Arizona, and Shaker Heights, Ohio.

Table of Contents

Introduction xi

Part I The Paths to Greatness

Chapter 1 Lights, Camera, Action 3

Chapter 2 The Quantum Universe 18

Chapter 3 A New Way of Thinking 36

Chapter 4 Alice in Quantumland 51

Chapter 5 Endings and Beginnings 59

Chapter 6 Loss of Innocence 76

Chapter 7 Paths to Greatness 92

Chapter 8 From Here to Infinity 108

Chapter 9 Splitting an Atom 124

Chapter 10 Through a Glass Darkly 141

Part II The Rest of the Universe

Chapter 11 Matter of the Heart and the Heart of Matter 163

Chapter 12 Rearranging the Universe 180

Chapter 13 Hiding in the Mirror 193

Chapter 14 Distractions and Delights 218

Chapter 15 Twisting the Tail of the Cosmos 233

Chapter 16 From Top to Bottom 263

Chapter 17 Truth, Beauty, and Freedom 287

Epilogue Character Is Destiny 314

Acknowledgments and Sources 321

Index 325

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Quantum Man: Richard Feynman's Life in Science 3.8 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 15 reviews.
LarryEd More than 1 year ago
Don't waste your time with this book. Feynman's own books are much better and clearer. Read Feynman's QED to get some real insight into his thinking.
nbmars on LibraryThing 10 months ago
Richard Feynman (May 11, 1918 ¿ February 15, 1988) was a colorful, eccentric (some might even say wacky), brilliant thinker who is generally considered one of the two or three leading physicists of the latter half of the twentieth century. His varied interests and delightful sense of humor have put his whimsical memoirs (Surely You¿re Joking, Mr. Feynman! and What Do You Care What Other People Think?) in continual demand. Krauss¿s new biography touches on, but does not dwell on, Feynman¿s eccentricity. Krauss is a physicist himself and devotes the preponderance of the book to the content of Feynman¿s work and its place in modern physics. The book contains no equations, but does utilize several ¿Feynman diagrams,¿ a famous, pictographic technique Feynman developed to describe nuclear reactions. However, this book is by no means an easy read, dealing as it does with such issues as virtual particles and vacuum polarization. Most of Feynman¿s scientific contributions were densely mathematical and quite abstruse. There is simply no way to explain his significance without delving into some pretty recondite material. Krauss contends that Feynman¿s passion for physics began in high school when his teacher introduced him to the subtleties of the principle of ¿least action,¿ that is, in any dynamic system, the difference between the kinetic energy of an object at any instant and its potential energy at the same instant, when calculated at each point along a path and then added up along the path, will be smaller for the actual path the object takes than for any other possible trajectory. Feynman later applied that principle to analyze certain nuclear interactions. Feynman was fascinated with the fact that there could be mathematically equivalent descriptions of identical physical phenomena. That inspired him to take ¿old¿ problems and seek new, equivalent solutions that would be more easily grasped or envisioned. He also spent a great deal of time trying to understand phenomena ¿from scratch¿ rather than consulting the existing scientific literature or other physicists. Feynman was slow to publish his ideas, and he sometimes found that other physicists were credited with making discoveries that he had already made but had not yet published. Nevertheless, Feynman received the noble prize for his work on the theory of Quantum Electrodynamics (often referred to as ¿QED¿), simplifying the mathematical analysis of relativistic effects in quantum phenomena. Feynman also contributed to physics by designing a new approach to teaching the subject. Unfortunately, most of the students at Cal Tech found his program too challenging (!!), but then, their average S.A.T. scores are barely over 1500. [Think of how that program would have been received at other alma maters!!] The materials of the course have been compiled as The Feynman Lectures on Physics, which is considered a classic in the field. He also made significant contributions to our understanding of cryogenics through his studies of the properties of liquid helium. He wrote several books directed to the ¿intelligent layman,¿ such as The Character of Physical Law. Some of his most futuristic ideas, such as quantum computing and engineering at the level of individual atoms, are only now just coming to fruition. He was somewhat frustrated in his career in that he never developed a seminal concept that could be expressed in a single equation as did Schrödinger or Dirac. Feynman captured the imagination of America¿s ¿intelligent laymen,¿ somewhat because of his oversized personality and ability to self-promote. Krauss¿s biography is an effort to help those intelligent laymen go beyond Feynman¿s personality to get to his actual intellectual contributions. It isn¿t easy, and probably requires a little more background in math and physics than most readers will have, but it is worth the effort.
bragan on LibraryThing 10 months ago
Richard Feynman was a brilliant scientist, a genuine character, and, by all accounts, a truly compelling human being, making him a hero for generations of physics students. So it's not too surprising that there have now been a number of books published about his life and his work. This one focuses very strongly on his professional, rather than his personal life, so it's definitely for people who are interested in the science. Krauss, overall, does a pretty good job of describing Feynman's work without using any actual equations, but there is a lot of mathematical thinking involved, and the subject matter can get pretty complicated and abstruse. Personally, I studied physics as an undergrad a couple of decades ago, so I do have some background in the subject, even if I've forgotten a lot of it (and, if I'm honest, never felt like I had an extremely firm grasp of quantum mechanics to begin with). Coming from that perspective, I found some of Krauss' descriptions of Feynman's work made me think, "Oh, nifty, I never really understood that that way before!", while others had me deciding I was just going to have to take his word that it all made sense. But even if I didn't thoroughly understand all the details, the book does do a pretty good job of conveying both the impact of Feynman's work and a sense of how that unique brain of his approached scientific problems.My one complaint is that it could have used better editing. There were a few typos here and there, a few malformed or half-revised sentences... and maybe someone should have asked Krauss to be a little more sparing with his use of exclamation points. Fortunately, though, there wasn't enough of that to seriously mar the reading experience.
BadgerWI More than 1 year ago
A perspective on Feynman from his scientific contributions, which can still be seen in Quantum Computing today. Seems he was busy calculating and solving problems right up to his death. Also covered his entrance into his now famous lecture series, which I now understand undergraduates were somewhat too intimidated to take (and not many passed.) I have one copy of the lecture series myself which I page through from time to time, If you have no science background, or interest in science this book is probably not for you. It delves somewhat deeply into his science and what he accomplished in that realm, and not much about his personal life,
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This book goes into (great detail) about Quantum mechanics and the BOMB. If you know what QED and QCD are then this book is for you. If not, you will learn what they are. It is (heavy reading) but has its surprises. One was how much of a womanizer Richard was, like many male celebrities. You see the O ring on the cover of the book. That has to do with the Challenger. He was a very involved scientist.
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