Four films on Feynman

January 8, 2012 • 2:54 am

From Open Culture we have the “Feynman Trilogy”: three films (and a bonus television show) made by Christopher Sykes about the charismatic physicist. Altogether, they’re about 3.5 hours of Feynman, and you’ll want to watch them all (well, I did, and I loved them).  I’ll put the first one up, but go to the link to see the other three.  “The Last Journey of a Genius” is both hilarious and heartbreaking.

Who couldn’t love a Nobel Laureate with a mind like Einstein and a voice like a Brooklyn cabdriver?

Many of you may have seen this video; if so, go check out the others:

15 thoughts on “Four films on Feynman

  1. Saw these when they were originally aired by the BBC in the 1980s. These had a large influence on me and I was lucky to have seen them at an early stage of my life when access to knowledge meant a trip to the local library rather than access to anything “online” as we do today.

    There have been some real gems in the Horizon series but also some real duds; the Feynman series were amongst the best.

    Good to see them again. Thanks.

  2. Quite surprisingly, I didn’t know much about Feynman beyond his eponymous diagrams until some time after I’d completed my Ph.D. in theoretical particle physics. At least my elder son is starting his physics degree without that lack.


  3. I just watched The Pleasure of Finding Things Out. He seems like a fascinating man, and I confess that I don’t know too much about him or his work, so I’m definitely going to watch the other videos as my pokey internet connection allows.

    I really liked how he suggested that a knowledge of mathematics was of vital importance to truly grasp the beauty of physics. I’ve often wished that I had acquired an advanced understanding of math, but one reason or another prevented me from learning anything more than was necessary to get my high school diploma in that regard. I should rectify that. (Let’s see if my “determined” future has more math in store for me!)

  4. Feynman is not a science idol of mine, but he is one of my science heroes alongside such strugglers like Emmy Nöther. He did some work that was very influential on both science and society, while keeping the theoretical and the experimental side alive. (Even to the point of being a member of the STS catastrophe team.)

    Einstein did that too. But the truth is that he, as relatively many other influential scientists like Eddington and Hoyle became irrelevant in their later days as they held to increasingly bizarre theories that they couldn’t, or wouldn’t (Hoyle*), test.

    To those who didn’t know Feynman, he has been characterized as “a scientist’s scientist” IIRC the wording, i.e. someone who can teach most everyone a little more on science and method. He also envisioned technology areas like nanotechnology. I haven’t read his published lecture series yet, but they come highly recommended.

    Maybe we should then call Einstein “a layman’s scientist”, considering his popular fame.

    * Maybe it is more exact to describe it that Hoyle wouldn’t listen to failed tests concerning his later ideas on cosmology and biology. I am not certain at the moment.

    However, to borrow a Star Wars euphemism, the crankhood became strong in that one.

    1. Oops. If all they did was holding to “increasingly bizarre theories” it wouldn’t have been too bad. The problem was that they more or less isolated themselves to do it. (Maybe not Eddington as much.)

  5. I’ve seen at least one and am determined to see the remainder.

    As regards Feynman’s “taxi driver” accent, if I correctly recall from reading, Murray Gell-Mann opined words to the effect that Feynman was a “showman” and played up the accent too much.

    If enthusiasm and ebullience about the numinous are a “sin,” so be it. I like watching and listening to the guy.

    “Excess of sorrow laughs; excess of joy weeps.”

    – William Blake

  6. Who couldn’t love a Nobel Laureate with a mind like Einstein and a voice like a Brooklyn cabdriver?

    A feminist.

    Oh I’m sorry, was that a rhetorical question?

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *