Sunday, July 2, 2017

Anca Mihaela Bruma writes


I want to Exist in your mind,
behind forgotten Math equations
and your favorite song lyrics ...
While you're in the middle of a sentence
about your Life,
I am posting the headlines of Tomorrow!...

 Equations and Sketches -- Richard Feynman


  1. Richard Feynman received the Nobel Prize in Physics in 1965. "Physics World" ranked him among the 10 greatest physicists of all time. His work centered on the path integral formulation of quantum mechanics (a description of quantum theory that generalizes the action principle of classical mechanics, replacing the idea of a single, unique trajectory for a system with a sum, or functional integral, over an infinity of quantum-mechanically possible trajectories to compute a quantum amplitude), the theory of quantum electrodynamics, the physics of the superfluidity of supercooled liquid helium, and his parton model of particle physics (a model of hadrons, such as protons and neutrons, considered as a composition of a number of point-like constituents, used to interpret the cascades of radiation produced from quantum chromodynamic processes and interactions in high-energy particle collisions). He also developed the Feynman diagram, a pictorial representation of the mathematical expressions governing the behavior of subatomic particles. Along with his work in theoretical physics, he pioneered the field of quantum computing and introduced the concept of nanotechnology. At 15 he taught himself trigonometry, advanced algebra, infinite series, analytic geometry, and differential and integral calculus, and before entering the Massachusetts Institute of Technology he created special symbols for logarithm, sine, cosine, and tangent functions so they did not look like three variables multiplied together and used his own notation to derive mathematical topic. His senior thesis, "The Forces in Molecules," based on an idea by John C. Slater, became the Hellmann–Feynman theorem. His Princeton University doctoral thesis, "The Principle of Least Action in Quantum Mechanics," written when he was 23, applied the principle of stationary action to problems of quantum mechanics, inspired by a desire to quantize the Wheeler–Feynman absorber theory of electrodynamics,thus laying the groundwork for the path integral formulation and the Feynman diagrams. Working on the Manhattan Project to develop the atomic bomb, he jointly developed the Bethe–Feynman formula for calculating the yield of a fission bomb, assisted in establishing a system for using IBM punched cards for computation, and invented a new method of computing logarithms that he later used on the Connection Machine, one of a series of massively parallel supercomputers, developed as an alternative to John von Neumann's computer architecture. A 1949 paper, "The Theory of Positrons," introduced the Feynman propagator, a mathematical function that specifies the probability amplitude for a particle to travel from one place to another in a given time, or to travel with a certain energy and momentum. After his friend from the Manhattan Project, Hans Fuchs, was arrested as a Soviet spy in 1950, Feynman temporarily moved to Brasil, where he learned to play the frigideira, a metal percussion instrument, and became an avid bongo player. He also married for the second time; in her divorce complaint, his wife claimed he "begins working calculus problems in his head as soon as he awakens. He did calculus while driving in his car, while sitting in the living room, and while lying in bed at night." In the 1960s the SLAC (Stanford Linear Accelerator Center) National Accelerator Laboratory conducted deep inelastic scattering experiments that showed that nucleons (protons and neutrons) contained point-like particles that scattered electrons that were interpreted to be quarks; though he sought to interpret the experimental data in a way that did not introduce additional hypotheses, Feynman did not dispute the quark model, and when a 5fth quark was discovered in 1977 he recognized that it implied the existence of a 6th (which was discovered after his death in 1988).

  2. In 1962, at 44, shortly after developing the visual language for his Feynman diagrams, he engaged in a series of amicable arguments about art vs. science with artist Jirayr “Jerry” Zorthian, leading Feynman to write, "I have a friend who’s an artist and has sometimes taken a view which I don’t agree with very well. He’ll hold up a flower and say 'look how beautiful it is,' and I’ll agree. Then he says 'I as an artist can see how beautiful this is but you as a scientist take this all apart and it becomes a dull thing,' and I think that he’s kind of nutty. First of all, the beauty that he sees is available to other people and to me too, I believe…. I can appreciate the beauty of a flower. At the same time, I see much more about the flower than he sees. I could imagine the cells in there, the complicated actions inside, which also have a beauty. I mean it’s not just beauty at this dimension, at one centimeter; there’s also beauty at smaller dimensions, the inner structure, also the processes. The fact that the colors in the flower evolved in order to attract insects to pollinate it is interesting; it means that insects can see the color. It adds a question: does this aesthetic sense also exist in the lower forms? Why is it aesthetic? All kinds of interesting questions which the science knowledge only adds to the excitement, the mystery and the awe of a flower. It only adds. I don’t understand how it subtracts." As a result of these conversations, Feynman and Zorthian agreed to exchange lessons in art and science on alternate Sundays. Feynman went on to draw until the end of his life. "I wanted very much to learn to draw, for a reason that I kept to myself: I wanted to convey an emotion I have about the beauty of the world. It’s difficult to describe because it’s an emotion. It’s analogous to the feeling one has in religion that has to do with a god that controls everything in the universe: there’s a generality aspect that you feel when you think about how things that appear so different and behave so differently are all run ‘behind the scenes’ by the same organization, the same physical laws. It’s an appreciation of the mathematical beauty of nature, of how she works inside; a realization that the phenomena we see result from the complexity of the inner workings between atoms; a feeling of how dramatic and wonderful it is. It’s a feeling of awe — of scientific awe — which I felt could be communicated through a drawing to someone who had also had that emotion. I could remind him, for a moment, of this feeling about the glories of the universe." At a friend's suggestion he decided to sell the drawings, but he resisted the idea of using his celebrity for the purpose; playing on the French "au fait" (it is done), he adopted the pseudonym "Ofey," not realizing it was a derogatory word African Americans used for whites. On his deathbed he said, "I'd hate to die twice. It's so boring."


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