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“Surely You’re Joking, Mr.…
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“Surely You’re Joking, Mr. Feynman!”: Adventures of a… (original 1985; edition 2018)

by Richard P. Feynman (Author), Ralph Leighton (Editor), Bill Gates (Introduction)

MembersReviewsPopularityAverage ratingMentions
8,779154711 (4.23)152
Richard Feynman, one of the world's greatest theoretical physicists, thrived on adventure. His outrageous exploits once shocked a Princeton dean's wife to exclaim: "Surely you're joking, Mr. Feynman!" In this phenomenal national bestseller, the Nobel Prize-winning physicist recounts in his inimitable voice his experiences trading ideas on atomic physics with Einstein and Bohr and ideas on gambling with Nick the Greek, painting a naked female toreador, accompanying a ballet on his bongo drums, and much else of an eyebrow-raising and hilarious nature. Woven together with his views on science, Feynman's life story is a combustible mixture of high intelligence, unlimited curiosity, eternal skepticism, and raging chutzpah.… (more)
Member:Tom-e
Title:“Surely You’re Joking, Mr. Feynman!”: Adventures of a Curious Character
Authors:Richard P. Feynman (Author)
Other authors:Ralph Leighton (Editor), Bill Gates (Introduction)
Info:W. W. Norton & Company (2018), Edition: Reissue, 400 pages
Collections:Your library
Rating:*****
Tags:None

Work Information

Surely You're Joking, Mr Feynman! Adventures of a Curious Character by Richard Feynman (1985)

Recently added byjwhyte, Vendola, peterrush42, private library, ecb06c, rstenson, Katski, Oswestrian
Legacy LibrariesEdward St. John Gorey
  1. 80
    What Do You Care What Other People Think? by Richard P. Feynman (qball56k)
    qball56k: If you liked Surely You're Joking, you'll probably like the sequel as well. It's in many ways a more personal look at one of the most famous physicists of the 20th century.
  2. 10
    Genius: The Life and Science of Richard Feynman by James Gleick (SandraArdnas)
  3. 10
    Absolute Zero Gravity: Science Jokes, Quotes and Anecdotes by Betsy Devine (Musecologist)
  4. 22
    Kitchen Confidential: Adventures in the Culinary Underbelly by Anthony Bourdain (noise)
    noise: Both Tony Bourdain and Richard Feynman have (had) an incredible knack for writing highly informative and page turning memoirs. If you've read one but not the other, you're in for a treat.
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» See also 152 mentions

English (145)  Hungarian (2)  Spanish (1)  Swedish (1)  Hebrew (1)  German (1)  Catalan (1)  French (1)  Danish (1)  All languages (154)
Showing 1-5 of 145 (next | show all)
Feynman, Richard. “Surely You’re Joking, Mr. Feynman”: Adventures of a Curious Character. As told to Ralph Leighton. 1985. Norton, 2018.
Several years before his death in 1988, Nobel-winning physicist Richard Feynman narrated some stories of his life to a friend with a tape recorder. Most of Surely You’re Joking, Mr. Feynman is the result of these interviews. They do not create a full biography, but they do give some insight into aspects of Feynman’s personality. One realizes that he was almost always the smartest person in the room, even though he could be intimidated by the prestige of some of his colleagues. As a child he tinkered creatively with all things electronic, and one could imagine him being an excellent engineer, if he had not had such a powerful interest in the math of theoretical physics, where he made things as hands on as possible. His insistence on not accepting received wisdom until he had worked the problems out by his own methods offers a clue to his originality. His humor is everywhere apparent. He could be something of a smart-aleck and was an inveterate practical joker, cracking safes and picking locks in the paranoid environment of the Los Alamos. His satirical account of trying to talk to academic philosophers is hilarious, as is account of his trouble reading Shakespeare. But we also get some hint that music and art eventually became important to him. His chapter on how he learned to seduce women in bars suggests that he was a typical frat-boy of his era. His male chauvinism seems more playful than cruel, and he eventually became a defender of women physicists. We get little of his emotional life from these stories—how he felt about losing his first wife to tuberculosis or his divorce from his second wife. Near the end, he tells us how winning the Nobel Prize interfered with his ability to talk to his colleagues, why school textbooks and pedagogical methods in math and science are so dreadful, and what dangers lurk in what he calls “Cargo Cult Science”—a topic that seems more relevant to life in the twenty-first century than the twentieth. Feynman was, as Tom Wolfe called himself, “a man in full.” 5 stars. ( )
  Tom-e | Jan 14, 2022 |
Great title for Feynman. He is a pretty funny guy. You can read between the lines for those quirks, but this is a nice example of an autobiographical essay. It sort of peters out at the end and doesn't end up going anywhere, but the ride was interesting. ( )
  PattyLee | Dec 14, 2021 |
read many years ago ( )
  KrakenTamer | Oct 23, 2021 |
This has been on The List for a long time and finally took the time to read it. I am familiar with Feynmen's brilliance, and somewhat with his whimsy but this was enlightening. His revealed character flaws were incongruous with some of his strong character traits, but the last thing he would have wanted is deification so, warts and all, he was human. I liked the essays/articles/descriptions of his scientific investigations and his time at Los Alamos and Oak Ridge, and was entertained by his curiosity - safe-cracking? Love it!

More than anything, I liked I don’t know what’s the matter with people: they don’t learn by understanding; they learn by some other way–by rote, or something. Their knowledge is so fragile!Memorization is not understanding.

Anyway, this prompted me to pick up The Quotable Feynman, and I have decided to work my way through his massive three-volume lectures on physics. 42 years ago I started out majoring in physics, switching because I was too immature to understand that I had to have the ... understanding ... before I could get to the "good stuff". Time to close the circle. ( )
  Razinha | Oct 12, 2021 |
Definitely an interesting read (and brief) but Feynman can be repetitive and a bit of a braggart. Worth reading if you're interested in physics, science, famous scientists, or intriguing little one off stories. Personally I enjoyed a play on similar subject matter, Q. E. D., much better. This is so breezy and wacky though that it's hard to not like it. ( )
  nosborm | Oct 10, 2021 |
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» Add other authors

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Feynman, Richardprimary authorall editionsconfirmed
Leighton, RalphContributormain authorall editionsconfirmed
Hutchings, EdwardEditorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
Balibar, FrançoiseTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Bou, LuisTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Cox, Brian EdwardIntroductionsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Hibbs, Albert R.Introductionsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Klíma, JanTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
van Ryn, AudeIllustratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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When I was about eleven or twelve I set up a lab in my house.
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Richard Feynman, one of the world's greatest theoretical physicists, thrived on adventure. His outrageous exploits once shocked a Princeton dean's wife to exclaim: "Surely you're joking, Mr. Feynman!" In this phenomenal national bestseller, the Nobel Prize-winning physicist recounts in his inimitable voice his experiences trading ideas on atomic physics with Einstein and Bohr and ideas on gambling with Nick the Greek, painting a naked female toreador, accompanying a ballet on his bongo drums, and much else of an eyebrow-raising and hilarious nature. Woven together with his views on science, Feynman's life story is a combustible mixture of high intelligence, unlimited curiosity, eternal skepticism, and raging chutzpah.

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Richard P. Feynman, premio Nobel per la fisica nel 1965, è stato uno dei maggiori fisici teorici del XX secolo. La sua vita, lungi dal rimanere confinata entro i limiti dell’impegno strettamente scientifico, ci si presenta in questo libro come un’esplosiva miscela di eventi incredibili resi possibili da quell’impasto del tutto unico di acuta intelligenza, curiosità irrefrenabile, costante scetticismo e radicato umorismo che è stato l’uomo Feynman. È davvero straordinario poter ritrovare nella stessa persona un tal numero di esperienze diverse e talora contraddittorie. 
Egli ha, di volta in volta, scassinato le più sicure casseforti di Los Alamos, dove si custodivano i segreti della bomba atomica, suonato la frigideira in una scuola di samba brasiliana, illustrato la fisica a “menti mostruose” come Einstein, von Neumann e Pauli, e lavorato come suonatore di bongo con una coreografa di successo, per tacere poi della sua attività di pittore, o di biologo, o di frequentatore di case da gioco. Per dare un’idea dell’unicità del personaggio, basta pensare che il futuro premio Nobel venne scartato dall’esercito americano perché “psichicamente deficiente”. Per anni le conversazione di Richard “Dick” Feynman con l’amico musicista Ralph Leighton sono state registrate e poi trascritte senza alterarne il tono confidenziale: un tributo a un grandissimo scienziato ma prima di tutto a un uomo per il quale la vita è davvero stata un instancabile susseguirsi di ricerca e scoperta.
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