The physics community knew Richard Feynman as an extraordinary physicist. His was a brilliant mind that took nothing too seriously except the quest for understanding the natural world. His many facets have been narrated in biographies. Here, daughter Michelle Feynman reveals to the world many of his personal letters to all and sundry: to his sweetheart, the Nobel academy, crackpots, fellow physicists, and more. His sheer honesty may be seen in these letters: never a hypocritical note for the sake of politeness. His humanity and compassion also become transparent through the correspondence. Letters concerning his resignation from the National Academy of Sciences show his disregard for honors and bureaucracy. Sometimes he expresses tersely profound truths: “You cannot understand the physical world in any deep or satisfying way without using mathematical reasoning with facility.” Sometimes he is lighthearted, replying to an exuberant fan’s mail: “I am now unique–a physicist with a fan who has fallen in love with him from seeing him on TV…. I need no longer be jealous of movie stars.” It is remarkable that Feynman cared enough to take the time to answer so many letters from all over the world. Photographs spice the volume, making this a fascinating coffee-table book.
October 19, 2013