Penn State

Stephane Coutu - Associate Professor of Physics and of Astronomy and Astrophysics, Penn State University Park

Book Title: Surely You're Joking, Mr. Feynman

Author: Richard Feynman

Book Description:

I first read this very enjoyable book as an undergraduate student in physics, at a time when I knew my interests lay chiefly in particle physics, leaning towards the theoretical. This book recounts some of the many colorful adventures of Dick Feynman, a towering eminence of physics in general, and particle physics in particular. For me, this retelling in Feynman's own words of his adventures put a human face on the whole scientific endeavor, which up to that point had seemed much more academic and impersonal.

More directly, after reading the book I ended up going to Caltech for my graduate studies, with some notions of becoming Feynman's student there. Unfortunately, he passed away while I was still taking some of the prerequisite courses in particle theory, so that I never had the good fortune of attending his legendary advanced classes, let alone working with him towards my doctoral degree. In fact, I eventually became an experimentalist in particle astrophysics, but Feynman's legacy and good-natured outlook towards science and the world will always be with me.

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