I get inspired by reading about Scientists and their life history. Feynman is undoubtedly one of the top person in my list. I was going through a book called “No Ordinary Genius” by Christopher Sykes and I found certain things that really induced my interest and I decided that it was worth sharing. These concepts are quite simple but yet, needs a different eye to realise it, and thus, becomes quite fascinating.

All of us have studied geometry and we have computed circumference of circle and its area for a very long time. This is how Feynman’s father, who is supposed to have had a real influence on Feynman taught him about the significance of “pi”. The circumference of a circle divided by its diameter is a constant (pi), irrespective of any circle you pick (pi*d/d). Also that, if you pick any circle and pick identical circles and place it along the periphery of the original circle, you can only place 6 such circles. When I thought about it, all that needed to be proven in this case is that, if you place 2 coins in the periphery, the length of arc covered between the 2 coins should be 2*pi*r/6 (pi*r/3), which means that it has to subtend 60 degrees at the center. This is easy to prove. If you connect the mid point of all the three circles, you will see that the triangle formed is equilateral (with sides equal to diameter) and hence the angle subtended at the center is 60-degrees. Pretty cool…isnt it?

The following is a question that feynman was asked when he was at MIT. When you look into the mirror, things seem intermingled between left and right. However, top-to-bottom stays the same. Why doesnt the top-bottom intermingle itself was the question.. Feynman made his study and came out with an answer. It is not the left-to-right or top-to-bottom, but it is front to back. If you think about it, when we look into a mirror, the real image should be that the head should be seen in the mirror. The mirror takes the nose and the face and collapses it into the front. That is why, there appears to be a left-to-right intermingling, when it is really front-to-back.

I would like to end this with a comment on Feynman by Marc Kac. “An ordinary genius is a fellow that you and I would be just as good as, if we were only many times better. There is no mystery as to how his mind works. Once we understand what they have done, we feel certain that we, too, could have done it. It is different with the magicians. They are, to use mathematical jargon, in the orthogonal complement of where we are and the working of their minds is for all intents and purposes incomprehensible. Even after we understand what they have done, the process by which they have done it is completely dark. They seldom, if ever, have students because they cannot be emulated and it must be terribly frustrating for a brilliant young mind to cope with the mysterious ways in which the magician’s mind works. Richard Feynman is a magician of the highest caliber”.

Survivor

December 13, 2005 at 10:53 pm

I have always been amazed by Feynman’s thinking and have read a few books by him including his bio, thanks to my sister who initially introduced me to his books with “Surely you are joking,Mr.Feynman”.It is amazing when he talks about Bohr, Pauli etc and the making of atom bomb, challenger destruction trial etc etc..I think that era was the most important period in technology innovation.

He is definitely an extra ordinary genius.Marc Kac has aptly put it.

BrainWaves

December 14, 2005 at 8:54 pm

Honestly, I did not understand both the above mentioned example clearly. (may be need more time to be put)

But, Feynmann is one of my favorite too after reading “Surely you are joking”.

bumblebee

December 19, 2005 at 2:17 am

The second dish on “Food for thought” was hard to digest. But I am inspired to read Feynman’s books.