RICHARD FEYNMAN

Richard Feynman (1918 - 1988)

Richard P. Feynman was born in Queens, New York, on May 11, 1918, to Jewish (although

non-practicing) parents. By age 15, he had mastered differential and integral

calculus, and frequently experimented and re-created mathematical topics such as

the half-derivative before even entering college. Feynman received a bachelor's

degree from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in 1939, and was named

Putnam Fellow that same year. He received a Ph.D. from Princeton University in

1942, and in his theses applied the principle of stationery action to problems

of quantum mechanics, laying the groundwork for the "path integral" approach and

Feynman diagrams.

While researching his Ph.D., Feynman married his first wife and longtime

sweetheart, Arline Greenbaum, who was already quite ill with tuberculosis. At

Princeton, Robert W. Wilson encouraged Feynman to participate in the Manhattan

Project. He did so, visiting his wife in a sanitarium in Albuquerque on weekends

until her death in July 1945. He then immersed himself in work on the project

and was present at the Trinity bomb test.

Hans Bethe made the 24 year old Feynman a group leader in the theoretical

division. Although his work on the project was relatively removed from the major

action, Feynman did calculate neutron equations for the Los Alamos "Water Boiler,"

a small nuclear reactor at the desert lab, in order to measure how close a

particular assembly of fissile material was to becoming critical. After this

work, he was transferred to the Oak Ridge facility, where he aided engineers in

calculating safety procedures for material storage so that inadvertent

criticality accidents could be avoided.

After the project, Feynman started working as a professor at Cornell University,

and then moved to Cal Tech in Pasadena, Calif., where he did much of his best

work including research in quantum electrodynamics, the physics of the

superfluidity of supercooled liquid helium, and a model of weak decay. Feynman's

collaboration on the latter with Murray Gell-Mann was seen as seminal, as the

weak interaction was neatly described. He also developed Feynman diagrams, a

bookkeeping device that helps in conceptualizing and calculating interactions

between particles in spacetime, notably the interactions between electrons and

their antimatter counterparts, positrons.

He later married Gweneth Howarth and had a son, Carl Richard, and a daughter,

Michelle Catherine. In 1965, Feynman, along with Julian Schwinger and Shinichiro

Tomonaga, shared the Nobel Prize in Physics for work in quantum electrodynamics.

Feynman's popular lection series was published in "The Feynman Lectures," while

his personal side was captured in "Surely You're Joking, Mr. Feynman!" and "What

Do You Care What Other People Think?"

Feynman is also known for his work on the Space Shuttle Challenger accident

investigation, shocking the world by demonstrating the failure of the O-Rings.

He died February 15, 1988, at the age of 69, from several rare forms of cancer.

Richard Feynman (1918 - 1988)

Richard P. Feynman was born in Queens, New York, on May 11, 1918, to Jewish (although

non-practicing) parents. By age 15, he had mastered differential and integral

calculus, and frequently experimented and re-created mathematical topics such as

the half-derivative before even entering college. Feynman received a bachelor's

degree from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in 1939, and was named

Putnam Fellow that same year. He received a Ph.D. from Princeton University in

1942, and in his theses applied the principle of stationery action to problems

of quantum mechanics, laying the groundwork for the "path integral" approach and

Feynman diagrams.

While researching his Ph.D., Feynman married his first wife and longtime

sweetheart, Arline Greenbaum, who was already quite ill with tuberculosis. At

Princeton, Robert W. Wilson encouraged Feynman to participate in the Manhattan

Project. He did so, visiting his wife in a sanitarium in Albuquerque on weekends

until her death in July 1945. He then immersed himself in work on the project

and was present at the Trinity bomb test.

Hans Bethe made the 24 year old Feynman a group leader in the theoretical

division. Although his work on the project was relatively removed from the major

action, Feynman did calculate neutron equations for the Los Alamos "Water Boiler,"

a small nuclear reactor at the desert lab, in order to measure how close a

particular assembly of fissile material was to becoming critical. After this

work, he was transferred to the Oak Ridge facility, where he aided engineers in

calculating safety procedures for material storage so that inadvertent

criticality accidents could be avoided.

After the project, Feynman started working as a professor at Cornell University,

and then moved to Cal Tech in Pasadena, Calif., where he did much of his best

work including research in quantum electrodynamics, the physics of the

superfluidity of supercooled liquid helium, and a model of weak decay. Feynman's

collaboration on the latter with Murray Gell-Mann was seen as seminal, as the

weak interaction was neatly described. He also developed Feynman diagrams, a

bookkeeping device that helps in conceptualizing and calculating interactions

between particles in spacetime, notably the interactions between electrons and

their antimatter counterparts, positrons.

He later married Gweneth Howarth and had a son, Carl Richard, and a daughter,

Michelle Catherine. In 1965, Feynman, along with Julian Schwinger and Shinichiro

Tomonaga, shared the Nobel Prize in Physics for work in quantum electrodynamics.

Feynman's popular lection series was published in "The Feynman Lectures," while

his personal side was captured in "Surely You're Joking, Mr. Feynman!" and "What

Do You Care What Other People Think?"

Feynman is also known for his work on the Space Shuttle Challenger accident

investigation, shocking the world by demonstrating the failure of the O-Rings.

He died February 15, 1988, at the age of 69, from several rare forms of cancer.