Richard Phillips Feynman


Richard Phillips Feynman : biography

11 May 1918 – 15 February 1988

Post-war period and his valuable contribution to science

Since 1950s Feynman worked as a researcher in California Institute of Technology. After the war and Arline’s death Feynman felt emptiness, probably that was the reason he got very surprised at receiving lots of letters offering him positions in different universities. In end he even received an offer to work in Princeton, the place where lectured genius people, just like Einstein. And Feynman, who felt weak and tired, decided that if the world wanted him, it would get him, no matter whether the expectations were going to be justified or not, because it was not Feynman’s problem. But as soon as Feynman stopped doubting in his own abilities and refused any frameworks and aims, he felt burst of energy and inspiration again. That was also the time when Feynman made up his mind that he wouldn’t work with anything that he could not play with.

So, Feynman continued to work at his own theory of quantum transformation. He also made a scientific breakthrough in understanding physical superfluidity, applying Schrodinger’s equation to the effect. That discovery, together with explanation of superconductivity, which was got by three other physicists a bit earlier, caused a new push for physics of low temperature. Besides those contributions, Feynman also worked with Murray Gell-Mann, who was the discoverer of quarks. They worked together at the theory of “weak decay”, which was shown better in beta-decay of free neutron to proton, electron and antineutrino. The job they made almost allowed discovering a new law of nature. In addition to that it was Feynman who came to the idea of quantum calculation.

In 1960s with the appeal of the Academy, Feynman spent three years for creating a new course of physics. The result was the scientist’s book “The Feynman Lectures on Physics”. The book is still supposed to be of the best textbooks on general physics for students.

Feynman also made important contribution to methodology of scientific learning, explaining students the principals of scientific honesty. He also published articles about the topic.

In 1964 Feynman gave seven popular lections on physics, called “The Character of Physical Law: The 1964 Messenger Lectures” in Cornell University. Later those lectures used as the base of the book.

Taking part in psychology experiments

In 1960s Richard Feynman took part in experiments of his friend John Lilly. The experiments were about sensory deprivation. In his book “Surely You’re Joking, Mr. Feynman!”, the scientists described his repeated striking experience of the hallucinations which he saw in the special camera with salt water, isolated from outer world. During experiments Richard Feynman even smoked marijuana and took ketamine. However, he refused to take LCD, because he was afraid of damaging his brain.

Private life

In 1950s Feynman married once again. His new wife was Mary Lou. However, pretty soon he divorced. Because he understood that he just took the strong passion he probably felt for real love. In the beginning of 1960s Feynman met a woman at one conference in Europe. The woman was English and her name was Gweneth Howarth. Later she became his third wife. The couple had one child, a boy called Carl. Later they adopted one more child; the girl was Michelle.

Afterwards Feynman was interested in arts. Just in order to understand what was the influence of art on people. He took drawing lessons. In the beginning the pictures he made were far from being attractive, but time passed and Feynman managed to learn to make good portraits. He signed his paintings with pseudonym Ofey. Ofey was the word used by afro-American to call white people. Feynman became successful at making paintings; so he was able to make his personal exhibition.

Working for the committee of investigation of the catastrophe with shuttle “Challenger”

On 28 January 1986 National aerospace agency started their space shuttle “Challenger”, which was reusable. Unfortunately the first time the shuttle was used was the last time, because it blew up 73 seconds after it broke away from the starting board. In order to investigate the reasons of the catastrophe, there was created the president committee, and Gweneth convinced Feynman to take part in the investigation. The reason was that the rocket accelerators of the first step, which were actually lifting the shuttle, consisted of cylindrical sections, the joining parts of which were protected in the place of heat-shielding coating of zinc-chrome mastics, and the metallic capsules with rubber rings. Because of low temperature of the surrounding air the mastics properties didn’t proved enough isolation of the rubber joining parts from the influence of heated gases. Besides that, because of the so-called “rotation of connection” there appeared a chink, which could not be covered by rubber rings, as they lost their flexibility because of the low temperature. Feynman was told about the defects of that constriction by the specialists Caltech laboratory of reactive accelerators. And general Kutine, who was the member of the committee, told the scientist about the low temperature that was close to 0 C degrees and lack of flexibility of the rubber rings. During the effective experiment, hold by Feynman, with a model of ring, used in the space shuttle constriction, combination pliers and a glass of ice, they came to conclusion that the ring did lose its flexibility because of the low temperature. The malfunction of airtight parts let the heated gas burn the trunk of the right accelerator and burn through its joining part with the fuel container. Turning around its upper joining part, the trunk of the accelerator hit the upper part of the fuel container, damaging it causing the explosion of liquid hydrogen. That was exactly what happened on 28 January, when the low temperature of air influenced on the quality of thermo-insulation and flexibility of the rubber parts.