Feynman Rocks

Liked this email I got from Uday. With his permission here it is:

I just got around to seeing one of the Feynman lectures (on photons and QED) tonight that you had posted. Even with the unrealistic expectations when knowing about the reputation and persona of Feynman, it was phenomenally good. He explained his QED notation (arrows and circles) and the basic message in a way that I probably won’t forget for life. Even the “why does an oil-film reflect different colors” question — which was a complete aside from the point he was trying to make — was put forth with such clarity and simplicity, that life after absorbing this explanation seems different from life before it!

Feynman loves to refer to history and he constantly alluded to the Mayan civilization’s reckoning of the cycles of Venus in this lecture. At some point, he mentioned that the Mayan’s amazing knowledge was gathered by us from the 3 Mayan books; which were just 3 random ones spared among several thousands that were completely detsroyed by the barbaric Spanish Conquistadors. It reminded me of the story of the Sybilline books. You have a link of it on your site (Douglas Adam’s modified version). As you know, legend records 3 of these books as having survived, buried under the temple of Jupiter.

Anyway, you mentioned to me earlier that you feel choosing the right topics very carefully to influence young person’s minds can make a tremendous impact in understanding concepts. I think these QED lectures example serve as a Q.E.D. for that principle!

I post this email because in case you haven’t seen Feynman explain QED, you have to do so one of these days.

Author: Atanu Dey


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