Surely you're joking, Mr. Feynman!

Note: Whenever I read any book, I take notes to make sure I don't miss or forget its key learnings. These notes are a way for me to come back and read them to refresh them in my mind. I hope you find it useful as well

Link to book - Surely you’re joking, Mr. Feynman!

Richard Feynman was a physicist, who won a Nobel Prize in 1965. He was also instrumental in the Mantahattan Project where the atom bomb was created during World War II.

Notes & Learnings from the book -

  1. He was an accomplished physicist - a noble prize winner, yet he could find time to pursue other hobbies he enjoyed. He learnt to dance in Brazil, played drums, and painted. And in all of these skills, he would attain a level of expertise which normal people wouldn’t have.
  2. He brought his experimentative mindset to anything he’d do in life - which is a remarkable way to live. That is create a hypothesis, collect data, prove/disprove the hypothesis. He did that while trying to figure out how people dream to when he was trying to chart out the trajectories of ants.
  3. I loved how he’d create a different toolbox of integrals and calculus for himself which was a novel way of integrating functions
  4. When you’re a bit successful in the world, you get to feel the pressure of over performing because everyone now has a certain level of expectations from you. Feynman was also struggling with the same when John von Neumann told him, “You have no responsibility to live up to what other people think you ought to accomplish. You have no responsibility to be like they expect you to be. It’s their mistake, not your failing.”
  5. Feynman was always the one who used to say whatever was on his mind, not caring a bit, about what the other person would think about that.
  6. Another thing I noticed was that how ecstatic Feynman became when The Time Maganize called up and wanted to interview him, early in his career. This reminds me of Elon Musk who was also mad at the founders of Tesla because his name didn’t come up in the story that got published in a magazine. #fame
  7. The most important lesson that came out of the book and he told this to a audience in one of his speeches is this - As scientists, - you’ve got to have a kind of scientific integrity, a principle of scientific thought that corresponds to a kind of utter honesty–a kind of leaning over backwards. For example, if you’re doing an experiment, you should report everything that you think might make it invalid–not only what you think is right about it - other causes that could possibly explain your results; and things you thought of that you’ve eliminated by some other experiment, and how they worked–to make sure the other fellow can tell they have been eliminated. The first principle is that you must not fool yourself– and you are the easiest person to fool.
Written on July 14, 2020

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