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The Meaning Of It All by Richard Feynman

01/05/2010. Contributed by Geoff Willmetts

Buy The Meaning Of It All in the USA - or Buy The Meaning Of It All in the UK

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pub: Penguin Science. 133 page indexed paperback. Price: I picked a copy up for about 2.00 (UK). ISBN: 0-140-27635-1.

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For those not in the know, the late Richard Feynman was a renowned scientist was a physicist who worked on the Manhattan Project and main great insight into the problems of Quantum Mechanics. As part of my selection for picking books for my SF Nomenclature science chapter, I thought of having at least one of his in the bibliography would be a worthwhile endeavour. This book, 'The Meaning Of It All', originally published in 1998 were three lectures given in 1963. Interestingly, they still have much bearing today.

The opening lecture, 'The Uncertainty Of Science', shows an instant clarity by addressing what science is and how scientific laws are the theories that are applied to things that happen naturally. If anything, it's a surprise that they can be brought down to mathematical preciseness. Scientific observation is actually being thorough and ensuring that nothing is obscuring the evidence that something is so, hence all that repeat testing that you hear goes on.

The middle lecture, 'The Uncertainty Of Values' looks at the place of faith and religion with science. Considering this one was done in the early 60s, Feynman occasionally feels like he's walking on eggs on the subject but gets his message across that things work better with solid proof.

The third lecture, 'This Unscientific Age', is actually more in our line as he addresses the problems with mind-reading demonstrations and flying saucers and the needs of absolute proof. Feynman uses this lecture for a real meander and is also the longest lecture and a very compelling read about the importance of science and proof.

This is a very short book relatively speaking and even after nearly fifty years still has a lot to offer and make you think. It's easy to understand why Richard Feynman was so popular. A clear decisive speaker and getting straight to the point on many subjects. You can learn a lot from him.

GF Willmetts

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