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Quantum Man: Richard Feynman's Life in Science (Great Discoveries)

Quantum Man: Richard Feynman's Life in Science (Great Discoveries) [Kindle Edition]

Lawrence M. Krauss

Kindle-Preis: EUR 8,29 Inkl. MwSt. und kostenloser drahtloser Lieferung über Amazon Whispernet

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A lively and engrossing biography of a lively and engrossing man. Krauss recounts the life and ideas of one of the century s greatest scientist with a deep understanding of both the physics and the man, presented with great lucidity and charm. --Steven Pinker, Harvard College Professor of Psychology, Harvard University, and author of "How the Mind Works"


"A worthy addition to the Feynman shelf and a welcome follow-up to the standard-bearer, James Gleick's Genius." —Kirkus Reviews

Perhaps the greatest physicist of the second half of the twentieth century, Richard Feynman changed the way we think about quantum mechanics, the most perplexing of all physical theories. Here Lawrence M. Krauss, himself a theoretical physicist and a best-selling author, offers a unique scientific biography: a rollicking narrative coupled with clear and novel expositions of science at the limits. From the death of Feynman’s childhood sweetheart during the Manhattan Project to his reluctant rise as a scientific icon, we see Feynman’s life through his science, providing a new understanding of the legacy of a man who has fascinated millions.


  • Format: Kindle Edition
  • Dateigröße: 560 KB
  • Seitenzahl der Print-Ausgabe: 368 Seiten
  • Verlag: W. W. Norton & Company; Auflage: Reprint (26. März 2012)
  • Verkauf durch: Amazon Media EU S.à r.l.
  • Sprache: Englisch
  • ASIN: B004KKXMM4
  • Text-to-Speech (Vorlesemodus): Nicht aktiviert
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  • Amazon Bestseller-Rang: #182.528 Bezahlt in Kindle-Shop (Siehe Top 100 Bezahlt in Kindle-Shop)

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Die hilfreichsten Kundenrezensionen auf (beta) 4.4 von 5 Sternen  61 Rezensionen
182 von 187 Kunden fanden die folgende Rezension hilfreich
4.0 von 5 Sternen Separating the man and his science from the legend 3. März 2011
Von A. Jogalekar - Veröffentlicht auf
Format:Gebundene Ausgabe|Verifizierter Kauf
I still remember the day when, as a kid, I first came across the irrepressible Richard Feynman's memoirs "Surely you're joking Mr. Feynman". Within a few hours I was laughing so hard that tears were coming out of my eyes. Whether he was fixing radios 'by thinking', devising novel methods of cutting string beans in a restaurant or cracking the safes at Los Alamos, Feynman was unlike any scientist I had ever come across. Feynman died in 1988 and James Gleick's engaging and masterful biography of him appeared in 1993. Jagdish Mehra's dense, authoritative scientific biography came out in 1996. Since then there has been a kind of "Feynman industry" in the form of tapes, books, transcripts, interviews and YouTube video clips. While this has kept Feynman alive, it has also turned him into a kind of larger-than-life legend who is more famous in the public mind for his pranks and other exploits than for his science. Most laymen will tell you that Feynman was a brilliant scientist but would be hard-pressed to tell you what he was famous for. It's time that we were again reminded of what most contributed to Richard Feynman's greatness- his science. Lawrence Krauss's biography fulfills this role. You could think of Gleick's biography as a kind of Renaissance painting, an elaborate piece of work where he gets everything accurate down to the eyebrows of the men, women and Gods. Krauss's biography is more like the evocative impressionistic art of the French masters, more of a lucid sketch that brings out the essence of Feynman the scientist.

The biography is essentially aimed at explaining Feynman's scientific contributions, their relevance, importance and uniqueness. Thus Krauss wisely avoids pondering over oft-repeated details about Feynman's personal life. He compresses descriptions of Feynman's childhood, the tragic story of his first wife's death and their extremely touching relationship and his time at Los Alamos into brief paragraphs; if we want to learn more we can look up Gleick or Feynman's own memoirs. What concerns Krauss more than anything else is what made Feynman such a great scientist. And he delivers the goods by diving into the science right away and by explaining what made Feynman so different. Perhaps Feynman's most unique and towering ability was his compulsive need to do things from scratch, work out everything from first principles, understand it inside out, backwards and forwards and from as many different angles as possible. Krauss does a great job in bringing out this almost obsessive tendency to divine the truth from the source. It manifested itself at a very early age when Richard was cranking out original solutions to algebra and arithmetic problems in school. And it was paramount in his Nobel Prize winning work.

Krauss succinctly explains how this intense drive to look at things in new ways allowed Feynman to do novel work during his PhD with John Wheeler at Princeton in which he formulated theories that described antiparticles as particles traveling backwards in time. Later Feynman also applied the same approach in using a novel method based on the principle of least action to explain the dizzying mysteries of quantum electrodynamics. Krauss does an admirable job in explaining the physics behind these contributions in layman's terms. Feynman's "sum over histories" prescription involved taking into consideration all of the infinite paths that a particle can take when getting from the beginning to the end point. This was a bizarre and totally new way of looking at things, but then quantum mechanics is nothing if not bizarre. As Krauss describes, the moment of revelation for Feynman came in a meeting where, using his techniques and intellectual prowess, he could finish in a few hours a complicated calculation for mesons that had taken another researcher several months. Krauss also narrates how Feynman brought the same freewheeling, maverick approach to thinking about superfluidity, beta decay, the strong nuclear force, gravity and computing and the book contains the most complete popular scientific treatments of Feynman's thoughts about these important problems that I have seen. The approach did not always work (as it did not in case of superconductivity) but it encouraged other physicists to think in new ways. In fact as Krauss lucidly narrates, Feynman's great influence on physics was not just through the direct impact of his ideas but also through the impact of his unconventional thinking which inspired students and other scientists to think outside the box.

As scientifically brilliant as Feynman was, Krauss also does not gloss over his professional and personal flaws and this biography is not a hagiography. Professionally, Feynman's independent spirit meant that he often would not read the literature and would stay away from mainstream interests which his colleagues were pursuing; while this greatly helped him, on more than one occasion it led to him being scooped. At the same time Feynman also did not care about priority and was generous in sharing credit. As for mentoring, while Feynman was a legendary teacher by way of example, unlike his own advisor John Wheeler he left few bonafide graduate students because of his compulsive tendency to solve problems himself. On a personal basis, probably the most shocking description concerns Feynman's womanizing. It's hard to say how much of it is true, but Krauss describes Feynman's affairs with colleagues' wives, his elaborate methods to seduce women in bars and the personal and emotional entanglements his womanizing caused. At least one fact is jarring; apparently when he was a young professor at Cornell, the boyish-looking Feynman used to pretend to be a graduate student so he could date undergraduates. This kind of behavior would almost certainly lead to strict disciplinary action in a modern university, if not something more drastic. In his early days Feynman was also known for not suffering fools gladly, although he mellowed as he grew older. Later on Krauss details Feynman's more publicly known activities, including his bongo playing, nude painting and his famous demonstration of the failure of the O-rings in the Challenger space shuttle disaster. Feynman's absolute insistence on honesty and truth in science and on reporting the negative results along with the positive ones also comes across, and should be a model for modern scientists. The biography does a good job of demonstrating that in science, true success needs fearlessness, determination and an unwavering belief in your ideas.

Ultimately, it's not Feynman's bongos, nude art and relentless clowning that make him a great man. However, since his death, he has often been perceived that way by the public largely due to the industry that has grown up around him. But Richard Feynman was defined first and foremost by his science and his striking intellectual originality that allowed him to look at the physical world in wholly unanticipated new ways. Krauss's biography performs a timely and valuable service in reminding us why, when we talk about Feynman, we should first talk about his physics.
60 von 63 Kunden fanden die folgende Rezension hilfreich
5.0 von 5 Sternen An essential Feynman book 23. März 2011
Von Donald E. Fulton - Veröffentlicht auf
Format:Gebundene Ausgabe
I'm an engineer. Over the years I have probably read all the popular books by and about Feynman, and like many others with an interest in physics I own his three volume 'Feynman Lectures on Physics'. I knew I had to buy this little book, when in a bookstore I opened it to a random spot and in a few seconds learned something new about Feynman. (Did I say 'little', well that was my first impression and the pages are small, but there are 320 of them.)

For years I have read about the principle of 'least action' and knew it was one of the keys to Feynman's work, but I never really understood it. Krauss's writing is so clear (even sans equations, or maybe because of it) I now understand the concept, so from this book I am not only learning a little more about Feynman, I am learning some physics too.

This is a biography that focuses on Feynman's technical work. Krauss is not a science writer, though he has done a lot of writing, he is a top rank theoretical physicist, author of 300 papers, director of the Origins Project at Arizona State Univ. I'm so impressed by this book, even though I am now only 20% into it, I had to write to tell Feynman fans ... Buy this book!
41 von 45 Kunden fanden die folgende Rezension hilfreich
5.0 von 5 Sternen A great addition to the Feynman bookshelf 2. März 2011
Von Robert Langridge - Veröffentlicht auf
Format:Gebundene Ausgabe|Verifizierter Kauf
This new volume, very well written by one of the best popular authors on physics, fills a gap in the Feynman bookshelf. At one end is the best biography of Feynman, "Genius" by James Gleick, which includes much personal history. At the other, "QED", by Sylvan Schweber, which covers the entire sweep of the work by Feynman, Dyson, Schwinger, Tomonaga and others on quantum electrodynamics, the centerpiece of Feynman's legacy.

Krauss writes a mainly scientific biography, and manages to cover this work without mathematical detail, but with well-chosen technical illustrations, which give the flavor of the work. Gleick provides much more on the personal life, and if you have the background, Schweber will fill in the details of QED. (If you want more background on Feynman diagrams, beyond the very good introduction in this book, I recommend "Drawing Theories Apart" by David Kaiser.)

Of course one must also read Feynman's own popular writings, both his own and those co-authored, and at the undergraduate level I wish I had his "Lectures on Physics" when I was a student in the early 1950's.

The new Krauss book definitely deserves 5 stars.
18 von 19 Kunden fanden die folgende Rezension hilfreich
5.0 von 5 Sternen Excellent Scientific Biography 23. März 2011
Von L. Bovard - Veröffentlicht auf
Format:Gebundene Ausgabe
I'm a big fan of Feynman and have read most of many biographies of him and read through his more technical stuff (Feynman Lectures on Gravitation, computation, statistical mechanics, and of course the lectures on physics) so I was a bit confused as to what more could be said. I was pleasantly surprised by this little (320 pages but large font) book that is not a biography of Feynman but a biography of the ideas he had. And he had many ideas!

The other reviews describe my thoughts quite well and I give it five stars for being an excellent scientific biography. It clarified a lot of what I'd heard about the ideas Feynman did and much of the historical context - I always knew Dyson was integral in QED but never quite understood what he did exactly.

My only qualm would be that the lay reader might have a challenge getting through this. My background is in physics so it made for a light read as most of the concepts I had encountered before and understand fairly well. Krauss is not afraid to use technical language (I don't think I've read a popular science book that drops the word Lagrangian so casually) and many of the concepts in this book are first encountered by physics majors at a graduate level (of course in their full glorious mathematical detail) so don't be surprised if you're re-reading sections over and over again to try and understand what is going. Saying that, the explanations are very lucid (for me at least) and well thought out.

I highly recommend this book to any aspiring physics major or working physicist. The section on Wheeler-Feynman theory is quite nifty and I've never seen it presented so clearly elsewhere. For the layman, be warned that this book is not as light-hearted and easy as Feynman's other non-technical work and can't just be read in passing.
21 von 24 Kunden fanden die folgende Rezension hilfreich
3.0 von 5 Sternen I really wanted to like it... 8. August 2011
Von Alan Charbonneau - Veröffentlicht auf
Format:Gebundene Ausgabe
Some time ago, I saw on YouTube Lawrence Krauss's lecture 'A Universe From Nothing', a lecture highlighting his forthcoming book. I very much enjoyed it and I looked forward to meeting him at James Randi's "The Amazing Meeting" (which was held in July, 2011). I met him there and I bought this book and got him to autograph it. I was eager to begin reading it.

I was expecting it to be very good, but was disappointed in it. He tries to convey how Fenyman's theories revolutionized physics and, to some extent, he succeeds. But in many instances, the explanations are very basic and in other instances, they are overly-complex. His stories jump around quite a bit and he uses more exclamation points that I have ever seen in a non-fiction book, including four of them in two consecutive paragraphs.

He does show many instances of how Fenyman's work influenced other physicists, but in some cases it looks like he may be stretching the influence. He seems to be claiming, in the latter part of the book, that since Feymnan spent some time on topic A, wrote up a few insights and moved on, and then later a bunch of physicists won Nobel Prizes for their work on the same topic, that he was the driving force behind vast new discoveries. That may be true, but it was unclear from this book how their work was influenced by him, if indeed it was.

It was not a bad book and I am glad that I have read it, but it was not a great book either. For anyone interested in Feynman, they should read his speech at the 1965 Nobel Prize ceremonies where he talked about his journey to develop Quantum Electro Dynamics. He shows mistakes, dead ends, etc, but also the successes. It is one of the most illuminating speeches that I have ever read. [...] Much of Krauss's book fills in the details of Feynman's Nobel Prize speech.
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the theoretical broadening which comes from having many humanities subjects on campus is offset by the general dopiness of the people who study these things. &quote;
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in science almost every significant new idea is wrong, either trivially wrong (there is a mathematical error) or more substantially wrong (as beautiful as the idea is, nature chooses not to exploit it). &quote;
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Now, what the least action principle states is that 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. An object somehow adjusts its motion so the kinetic energy and the potential energy are as closely matched, on average, as is possible. &quote;
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