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Feb 1

jtotheizzoe:

How Richard Feynman cracked the safes at Los Alamos using human behavior and simple math, in the meantime convincing everyone there he was some sort of magician and further cementing his place in my heart as coolest, cleverest dude ever.

(Numberphile via Open Culture)

Ah grande parte del libro, di cui ne ho tratto un pezzo nel post n. 11.

Surely You’re joking! 18

Qui Feynman è straordinario, comico e sempre intelligente. Problema: come rifiutare in modo deciso un po’ irriverente ma non offensivo? ecco, qui c’è un esempio.

A week later I got a letter from her. I opened it, and the first sentence said, “The salary they were offering was , a tremendous amount of money, three or four times what I was making. Staggering! Her letter continued, “I told you the salary before you could read any further. Maybe now you want to recon- sider, because they’ve told me the position is still open, and we’d very much like to have you.”

So I wrote them back a letter that said, “After reading the salary, I’ve decided that I must refuse. The reason I have to refuse a salary like that is I would be able to do what I’ve always wanted to do - get a wonderful mistress, put her up in an apartment, buy her nice things… With the salary you have offered, I could actually do that, and I know what would happen to me. I’d worry about her, what she’s doing; I’d get into arguments when I come home, and so on. All this bother would make me uncomfortable and unhappy. I wouldn’t be able to do physics well, and it would be a big mess! What I’ve always wanted to do would be bad for me, so  I’ve decided that I can’t accept your offer.”

Surely You’re joking! 17

Anche Einstein mi pare che avesse vestiti uguali tra di loro, e il motivo era lo stesso: non dover perdere tempo a decidere quale vestito doversi mettere.

Credo che i geni abbiano cervelli troppo attivi e troppo consapevoli della propria intensa attività per sopportare di dover sprecare energie mentali per decisioni così superficiali come la scelta di un vestito.

When you’re young, you have all these things to worry about -should you go there, what about your mother. And you worry, and try to decide, but then something else comes up. It’s much easier to just plain decide. Never mind - nothing is going to change your mind. I did that once when I was a student at MIT. I got sick and tired of having to decide what kind of dessert I was going to have at the restaurant, so I decided it would always be chocolate ice cream, and never worried about it again -I had the solution to that problem. Anyway, I decided it would always be Caltech.

Gen 8
therealbsmile:

Babe & Al In: The Best Sweaters Ever, Animated! Majestic Hotel - Hot Springs, AR - Feb/Mar 1922So Hall of Fame Curator Tom Shieber has researched and written an excellent piece about the great photo of Babe Ruth and Al Devormer that features their amazing NY Yankees sweaters. Everyone should check out it out here: A Majestic Mystery. He used an edit of mine (Babe & Al In: The Best Sweaters Ever) to conclude the origin of the photo, which places it as Feb/Mar 1922. So to add to the story, I had another image…that was taken just seconds apart. It lent itself to making an animated image of this seemingly unimportant time in history. So here it is… 

Con le gif anche le immagini di un tempo riprendono vita.

therealbsmile:

Babe & Al In: The Best Sweaters Ever, Animated!
Majestic Hotel - Hot Springs, AR - Feb/Mar 1922
So Hall of Fame Curator Tom Shieber has researched and written an excellent piece about the great photo of Babe Ruth and Al Devormer that features their amazing NY Yankees sweaters. Everyone should check out it out here: A Majestic Mystery. He used an edit of mine (Babe & Al In: The Best Sweaters Ever) to conclude the origin of the photo, which places it as Feb/Mar 1922. So to add to the story, I had another image…that was taken just seconds apart. It lent itself to making an animated image of this seemingly unimportant time in history. So here it is…

Con le gif anche le immagini di un tempo riprendono vita.

Surely You’re joking! 16

Una nota di colore sul come Feynman qualche volta ha conquistato una ragazza.

Just as we’re coming out of the bar, here comes Ann, running across Route 66 toward me. She puts her arm in mine, and says, “Come on, let’s go over to my place.”
The master was right. So the lesson was terrific!
When I was back at Cornell in the fall, I was dancing with the sister of a grad student, who was visiting from Virginia. She was very nice, and suddenly I got this idea: “Let’s go to a bar and have a drink,” I said.
On the way to the bar I was working up nerve to try the master’s lesson on an ordinary girl. After all, you don’t feel so bad disrespecting a bar girl who’s trying to get you to buy her drinks - but a nice, ordinary, Southern girl?

We went into the bar, and before I sat down, I said, “Listen, before I buy you a drink, I want to know one thing: Will you sleep with me tonight?”
“Yes.”

So it worked even with an ordinary girl! But no matter how effective the lesson was, I never really used it after that. I didn’t enjoy doing it that way. But it was interesting to know that things worked much differently from how I was brought up.

Surely You’re joking! 15

Dopo aver spiegato l’importanza dell’insegnamento, Feynman qui ci dà un esempio di cosa sia imparare. Apprendere è qualcosa che non può essere imposto dall’esterno, e non può avere successo se fatto unicamente in modo standardizzato.
Apprendere deve essere un desiderio interiore che nessuno ci può insegnare, e deve essere messo in pratica in modi alternativi a quelli già noti perché solo in questo modo si riesce a trovare quel qualcosa di cui prima non ci si era accorti.

Then I had another thought: Physics disgusts me a little bit now, but I used to enjoy doing physics. Why did I enjoy it? I used to play with it. I used to do whatever I felt like doing - it didn’t have to do with whether it was important for the development of nuclear physics, but whether it was interesting and amusing for me to play with. When I was in high school, I’d see water running out of a faucet growing narrower, and wonder if l could figure out what determines that curve. I found it was rather easy to do. I didn’t have to do it; it wasn’t important for the future of science; somebody else had already done it. That didn’t make any difference: I’d invent things and play with things for my own entertainment.

So I got this new attitude. Now that I am burned out and I’ll never accomplish anything, I’ve got this nice position at the university teaching classes which I rather enjoy, and just like I read the Arabian Nights for pleasure, I’m going to play with physics, whenever I want to, without worrying about any importance whatsoever.

Within a week I was in the cafeteria and some guy, fooling around, throws a plate in the air. As the plate went up in the air I saw it wobble, and I noticed the red medallion of Cornell on the plate going around. It was pretty obvious to me that. the medallion went around faster than the wobbling. […]

I still remember going to Hans Bethe and saying. “Hey, Hans! I noticed something interesting. Here the plate goes around so, and the reason it’s two to one is …” and I showed him the accelerations.
He says, “Feynman, that’s pretty interesting, but what’s the importance of it? Why are you doing it?”
“Hah!” I say. “There’s no importance whatsoever. I’m just doing it for the fun of it." His reaction didn’t discourage me; I had made up my mind I was going to enjoy physics and do whatever I liked.

I went on to work out equations of wobbles. Then I thought about how electron orbits start to move in relativity. Then there’s the Dirac Equation in electrodynamics. And then quantum electrodynamics. And before I knew it (it was a very short time) I was “playing” - working, really - with the same old problem that I loved so much. that I had stopped working on when I went to Los Alamos: my thesis-type problems; all those old-fashioned, wonderful  things.

It was effortless. It was easy to play with these things. It was like uncorking a bottle: Everything flowed out effortlessly. I almost tried to resist it! There was no importance to what I was doing, but ultimately there was. The diagrams and the whole business that I got the Nobel Prize for came from that piddling around with the wobbling plate.

Surely You’re joking! 14

Un passaggio simpatico in cui Feynman ride di se stesso.

I got off the train in Ithaca, carrying my heavy suitcase on my shoulder, as usual. A guy called out, “Want a taxi, sir?”
I had never wanted to take a taxi: I was always a young fella, short on money, wanting to be my own man. But I thought to myself, “I’m a professor-I must be dignified.” So I took my suitcase down from my shoulder and carried it in my hand, and said “Yes.”

Surely You’re joking! 13

Il senso dell’insegnamento e la sua importanza secondo Feynman.

If you’re teaching a class, you can think about the elementary things that you know very well. These things are kind of fun and delightful. It doesn’t do any harm to think them over again. Is there a better way to present them? Are there any new problems associated with them? Are there any new thoughts you can make about them? The elementary things are easy to think about; if you can’t think of a new thought, no harm done; what you thought about it before is good enough for the class. If you do think of something new, you’re rather pleased that you have a new way of looking at it. The questions of the students are often the source of new research. They often ask profound questions that I’ve thought about at times and then given up on, so to speak, for a while. It wouldn’t do me any harm to think about them again and see if I can go any further now. The students may not be able to see the thing I want to answer, or the subtleties I want to think about, but they remind me of a problem by asking questions in the neighborhood of that problem. It’s not so easy to remind yourself of these things. So I find that teaching and the students keep life going, and I would never accept any position in which somebody has invented a happy situation for me where I don’t have to teach.

Surely You’re joking! 12

Un pezzo molto importante in cui Feynman ci fa capire che l’intelligenza non è qualcosa di astratto e puro che produce risultati per i fatti propri, ma che è qualcosa di concreto e pratico e che ha bisogno di stimoli di sollecitazioni e di sfide per potersi applicare.

I don’t believe I can really do without teaching. The reason is, I have to have something so that when I don’t have any ideas and I’m not getting anywhere I can say to myself, “At least I’m living; at least I’m doing something; I’m making some contribution” - it’s just psychological.

When I was at Princeton in the 1940s I could see what happened to those great minds at the Institute for Advanced Study, who had been specially selected for their tremendous brains and were now given this opportunity to sit in this lovely house by the woods there, with no classes to teach, with no obligations whatsoever. These poor bastards could now sit and think clearly all by themselves, OK? So they don’t get an idea for a while: They have every opportunity to do something, and they’re not getting any ideas. I believe that in a situation like this a kind of guilt or depression worms inside of you. And you begin to worry about not getting any ideas. And nothing happens. Still no ideas come.
Nothing happens because there’s not enough real activity and challenge: You’re not in Contact with the experimental guys. You don’t have to think how to answer questions from the students. Nothing!

In any thinking process there are moments when everything is going good and you’ve got wonderful ideas. Teaching is an interruption, and so it’s the greatest pain in, the neck in the world. And then there are the longer periods of time when not much is coming to you. You’re not getting any ideas, and if you’re doing nothing at all, it drives you nuts! You can’t even say “I’m teaching my class.”

Surely You’re joking! 11

Grande pezzo in cui Feynman dimostra l’ottusità del pensiero militare e della burocrazia in genere.

I figured one or two more minutes would be about time. So I began to work in earnest and two minutes later, CLINK - it opened.
The colonel’s jaw dropped and his eyes bugged out.
“Colonel,” I said, in a serious tone. “let me tell you something about these locks: When the door to the safe or the top drawer ofthe filing cabinet is left open, it’s very easy for someone to get the combination. That’s what I did while you were reading my report,just to demonstrate the danger, You should insist that everybody keep their filing cabinet drawers locked while they’re working, because when they’re open, they’re very, very vulnerable.”
“Yeah! I see what you mean! That’s very interesting!” We were on the same side after that. The next time I went to Oak Ridge, all the secretaries and people who knew who I was were telling me, “Don’t come through here! Don’t come through here!”

The colonel had sent a note around to everyone in the plant which said, “During his last visit, was Mr. Feynman at any time in your office, near your oflice, or walking through your ollice?” Some people answered yes; others said no. The ones who said yes got another note: “Please change the combination of your safe.”

That was his solution: I was the danger. So they all had to change their combinations on account of me. It’s a pain in the neck to change a combination and remember the new one, so they were all mad at me and didn’t want me to come near them: they might have to change their combination once again. Of course, their filing cabinets were still left open while they were working!