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An odd insight – Dyson on Feynman

Finished reading Freeman Dyson’s book Disturbing the Universe a few weeks back. Gained a couple unexpected insights – one about nuclear power and one about the Physics of Richard Feynman.

Before going to university I read quite a few books about science and Physics, but the local city library had very little about (then) recent Physicists. When at university I certainly heard about Feynman, who has then teaching at CalTech, not far from UCI where I was attending. In school my reading was mainly textbooks. As my interests shifted from Physics to software, my readings shifted as well. So far as I know, I have never read anything written by Feynman.

Though Physics is not my domain, occasional play with notions about Physics has always been in the back of my mind. Lacking the math needed to do real work, there is no consequence to my idle thoughts.

Rather a while ago, I settled on an odd intuitive view of Physics. The surprise in reading Dyson’s book was finding that Feynman had arrived at his own unique view of Physics, that seems to exactly match my own. Clearly Feynman was capable of doing the relevant math, and I am not. Did I at one point read something of Feynman’s, and it only recently bubbled to the surface, or did I come to the same view entirely on my own? No way to tell, for certain.

Started practicing drawing again. The only Art course I have ever taken in my life was a year at university, of which only the first few months was drawing. Picked up drawing relatively quickly, compared to those of similar experience, but was hopelessly poor compared to those who had practiced their entire (then young) lives. Always wanted to develop further, and my recent practice is a good way to trim any excess ego. (Read: I am improving, but have a long way to go!) A friend recommended an excellent book: Drawing on the Right Side of the Brain. Turns out the book has taught me nothing about drawing, exactly, as the recommended practices I had already somehow found on my own. Instead what I got from the book was a bit of enlightenment – that somehow I have always had a fully turned on “intuitive” mind. This explains some of the odd moments in my past, and how I approach my work.

Apparently Feynman was odd in the same way. Wonder what would have happened if I had encountered Feynman when in school. Would I have stayed in Physics?