Fantastic Mr Feynman

May 10, 2013


This Sunday sees the broadcast of Chris Riley’s wonderful account of the life of one of the great thinkers & polymaths of our time, Richard Feynman. I’ve written the music for the film. Here’s are a couple of tracks from the score;

Feynman brilliantly embraced the concept of playing – playing with ideas until they resolved into simple models of extraordinary concepts.

“But when it came time to do some research. I couldn’t get to work. I was a little tired; I was not interested; I couldn’t do research!… And then I thought to myself, “You know, what they think of you is so fantastic, it’s impossible to live up to it. You have no responsibility to live up to it!”… Then I had another thought; Physics disgusts me a little bit now, but I used to enjoy doing physics. Why did I enjoy it? I used to play with it. I used to do whatever I felt like doing – it didn’t have to do with whether it was important for the development of nuclear physics…. So I get this new attitude… I’m going to play with physics, whenever I want to, without worrying about any importance whatsoever. Withing a week I was in the cafeteria and some guy, fooling around, throws a plate in the air…. I had nothing to do, so I start to figure out the motion of the rotating plate… And before I knew it (it was a very short time) I was ‘playing’ – working, really – with the same old problem that I loved so much, that I had stopped working on when I went to Los Alamos; my thesis-type problems; all those old-fashioned wonderful things. It was effortless. It was easy to play with these things. It was like uncorking a bottle: Everything flowed out effortlessly…. There was no importance to what I was doing, but ultimately there was. The diagrams and the whole business that I got the Nobel Prize for came from that piddling around with the wobbling plate.” –

Richard Feynman, excerpts from Surely You’re Joking, Mr Feynman


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