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mike js

Feynman archives on Radio 4

Radio 4 has a programme about Richard Feynman in Archive Hour on Saturday, 18th September at 8pm BST.

I hope this programme will be interesting; I know we have sometimes dicussed Feynman before. He was a wonderful communicator, I think, and many a book is based on his popular talks, his physics lectures and his adventures.

While I was looking around for this, I discovered that the BBC has now put up the 1983 TV interviews with Feynman for iPlayer. These are a series of six 10- or 12-minute turns by the great professor. I urge anyone to try these; they are not at all technical and beautifully show his energy, his clarity of thought and his sense of happy curiosity.

TV could do with an occasional return to this form - no flummery with CGI, just powerful engagement.
mike js

Apologies if I have posted this in the wrong area.

A sensible place to post it, I would think, and thanks for flagging it up - I will be listening.
mike js

An interesting programme, but it seemed a little flat, unlike the character of the man himself.

Bethe's description of Feynman as more magician than ordinary genius is arresting. Something to the effect that a genius achieves far more than you can, but in a way you can imagine; with a magician, you don't know how they do it.

Interesting to compare this with the comment that Feynman's lectures were like 'a chinese meal'; everything seemed perfectly clear when Feynman led you through his insights, but an hour later the thread was lost. I have sometimes felt something similar when reading Feynman's lectures on physics (the books edited and transcribed from his 1960s lectures to Caltech students). My own view is that this is mostly not a flaw in Feynman's technique. Rather, it is a glimpse of truly extraordinary technique in Feynman's own mind. A technique that was so successful for him in seeing and understanding something about nature, and was also happily and honestly communicated to others. I do feel a lasting sense of insight from it all, and influence on ways of thinking, albeit much more muddled in my own mind.

The short TV recordings "Fun to Imagine" on iPlayer (see my second link in the original post) are much more indicative of the spirit of Feynman than the radio programme, I think. If you have ever worried about why a mirror seems to reverse left-right and somehow knows not to reverse up/down, or worried how a train stays on the track, or why a ball doesn't keep bouncing, these little gems may help!

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