Richard Feynman (1918-1988) was an American physicist and teacher. He shared the 1965 Nobel Prize in physics for his work describing how light interacts with matter. He grew up in Queens, New York, and was a curious, active mind from an early age. He never lost that, nor did he lose his Queens accent -- which made him a standout character in the otherwise somewhat formal world of prestigious science.
Feynman was a scientist because of his restless curiosity about the world and how it works, at every level. He was certainly an uncommon scientific genius, but it was his passion for knowledge that drove him. This impulse to discover and learn, which is available to anyone, is the reason for this exhibition.
What I cannot create, I do not understand.
During his long career, Feynman's work touched on some of the most important events of the time. In the 1940s, he worked on the Manhattan Project. In the 1980s, using a simple courtroom experiment, he demonstrated one of the key reasons for explosion of the NASA Challenger space shuttle. His 1965 Nobel Prize was in part for the doodles that came to be known as Feynman Diagrams, and opened up whole new avenues for the study of theoretical physics. But he was also unafraid to start at the beginning on topics he knew nothing about. He encouraged others to do the same, to feel like bewildered amateurs, and enjoy it. He taught himself to play the bongos, translated Mayan codices on his vacation, and took up painting in his 40s.
Learn what the rest of the world is like. The variety is worthwhile.
Feynman believed even the most complex ideas could be made simple enough to be sketched just about anywhere – even the side of his own Dodge maxivan. His outgoing, funny style as well as his passion for discovery inspired a generation of scientists, thinkers, and inventors. Gaming entrepreneur Seamus Blackley, who bought and restored the famous "Feynman Van," partly credits Feynman with his own enthusiasm for physics, leading to his eventual co-invention of the Xbox. And arguably making Richard Feynman the grandfather of one of the world's most popular 21st-century creative art forms.
I was born not knowing and have only had a little time to change that here and there.