4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Not Joking this time
The follow-up to the successful, "Surely you're joking Mr. Feynman" this book offers four pretty distinct parts.
First section describes how his father taught him to think about the world and his father's ambition to make young Richard a scientist. The end of the book is Feyman's case for the importance of science. In between we get the sad, but sweet story of his...
Published on Jun 16 2004 by Thomas Stamper
3.0 out of 5 stars Disappointing after "Surely You're Joking, Mr. Feynman"
After reading "Surely You're Joking, Mr. Feynman", I could not wait for this follow-up. Unfortunately, this book scrapes the barrel of Feynman-related adventures and it shows - most stories look like they were rejected for the first book. Though the Challenger disaster investigation events as experienced by Feynman could be a great idea on paper, the "plot" feels...
Published on Nov 6 2010 by Patrice Levesque
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Not Joking this time,
This review is from: What Do You Care What Other People Think: Further Adventures of a Curious Character (Hardcover)The follow-up to the successful, "Surely you're joking Mr. Feynman" this book offers four pretty distinct parts.
First section describes how his father taught him to think about the world and his father's ambition to make young Richard a scientist. The end of the book is Feyman's case for the importance of science. In between we get the sad, but sweet story of his first wife and the utterly compelling story of his time on the committee investigating the challenger explosion. It was my favorite part of the book.
The description of how government committees decide facts and make recommendations was eye opening. It was the best description of how these things work that I've ever read. Feynman was constantly up against a committee chairman that wanted to keep everyone in a room asking questions of experts. Feynman didn't like that setup. He wanted to travel out to NASA and talk to engineers, so he did.
Going to Huston and Canaveral, Feynman learned something about the nature of NASA that probably goes for any big organization. He found that NASA was a unified force when their goal was putting a man of the moon. Information was shared freely and appreciated at every level. Once that goal was met NASA became compartmentalized.
Leaders at the top spent their time reassuring Congress that NASA would achieve their goals with low costs and high safety. Engineers at the bottom realized that this wasn't entirely possible. The middle managers didn't want to hear the challenges because they would be forced to report it to the top bosses who didn't want to hear it. It was much easier for top bosses to paint a rosy picture to Congress if they were unaware of the actual challenges of making it work. The end result was that top bosses said that the likelihood of a mission death was 1-100,000 while engineers on the ground felt that the likelihood was more like 1-300.
Feynman concludes that maybe the shuttle program was a bad idea. It could never live up to the ambitious projections of the leaders and the American public was being lied to. NASA should be honest with the American people, Feynman thought, then Congress and voters can decide if they are getting enough for their money. It was a surprisingly thing to hear from an advocate of science and discovery. But Feynam reckoned that the amount of science and discovery has been little compared to the cost. He complained years after the first shuttle launch he still hadn't read any significant experiments in scientific journals.
In all, I liked this book a little better than "Surely You're Joking." It was a little more thought provoking than those fun tales.
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Feynman's last musings,
This review is from: What Do You Care What Other People Think (Paperback)Richard Feynman is one of the most famous twentieth century Physicists. He is one of those rare scientists who have managed to go beyond the success in the narrow confines of his field of research and become a public celebrity. A big part of this success comes from his persona which combined incredible brilliance with the irreverent and down-to-earth attitude to most problems in life, be they "big" ones like working on the atomic bomb, or the everyday ones that almost all of us are familiar with. It's the latter ones and his quirky and unorthodox approach to them that made Feynman endearing to the general public.
His earlier book "Surely You're Joking Mr. Feynman" was a classic and an inspiration to generations of young scientists who were shown that you can have lots of fun while pursuing a life in science. I myself had read it in single sitting, and had completely been mesmerized by Feynman's wit and irreverent attitude. "What Do You Care What Other People Think" is a further collection of stories and anecdotes from his life. Some of these had been told by others over the years, but in this book they all come together in a single volume as told by Feynman himself. Some of the events and stories presented come from the last few years of his life, and it is hard not to feel the poignancy of the fact that these were some of his last thoughts on subjects and situations that he cared about.
Almost half of the book is dedicated to the investigation of the Challenger disaster. Feynman was on the presidential commission that investigated that disaster, and here we get a full insight into what had been going on during commission's session. Many reports have made it seem that Feynman had single handedly figured out the true cause of the disaster - the faulty o-rings that were not meant to be used in really low temperatures. In this book he sets the record straight and explains that although he was the public face that brought attention to the o-rings, there had been many people behind the scenes who had suspected a problem with them for quite a while. This part of the book is also a very useful and revealing glimpse into the workings of a big governmental and scientific agency like NASA.
The book concludes with few musings on the responsibility of science for social problems. In these musings Feynman turns uncharacteristically philosophical, even almost spiritual. He might not have been the most sophisticated thinkers in these matters, but his instincts were very acute and well worth listening to.
All of those who appreciate Feynman's work and brilliance will be grateful for this honest and easy-going narrative. It is also hard not to think that with Feynman's passing a whole era of Physics had come to an end. Those of us who think that somewhere along the way theoretical Physics had lost its way and had become a caricature of its former self, may wonder if all of that could have been avoided had Feynman lived for another ten years or so. We'll just never really know.
3.0 out of 5 stars Disappointing after "Surely You're Joking, Mr. Feynman",
This review is from: What Do You Care What Other People Think (Paperback)After reading "Surely You're Joking, Mr. Feynman", I could not wait for this follow-up. Unfortunately, this book scrapes the barrel of Feynman-related adventures and it shows - most stories look like they were rejected for the first book. Though the Challenger disaster investigation events as experienced by Feynman could be a great idea on paper, the "plot" feels stretched a lot, with way too much pointless detail. Unfortunately, this "detective story" fills half of the book. Though Feynman remains a bright and smart man, the book just doesn't appear to reflect that as it did in "Surely"; we sure miss the wits a lot.
4.0 out of 5 stars Interesting follow up,
This review is from: What Do You Care What Other People Think (Paperback)This book is the follow on to the book "Surely you must be joking, Mr. Feynman". In the first book there was a time line that progressed from youth to Professor at Caltech. This book is much different in that 45% of the book describes his pre- 1986 life and 55% describes his involvement in the Challenger shuttle accident investigation. This investigation was a mere 2 years of his life (and the final 2 years as well). The same brilliant character shines through in both parts of this book. There are many interesting vignettes of this iconoclast that are not in the first book. The most interesting part is the description of his relationship with his first wife Arlene who succumbed to TB while he was still a young man. He really had a great heart for those close to him. He didn't suffer fools willingly and often was abrupt to the point of rudeness. More interesting observations are available at feynmanonline^com. Detailed there is a more balanced view of the man and his foibles.
5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent followup for Feynman,
This review is from: What Do You Care What Other People Think (Paperback)This book offers a spectrum of insights into professor Feynman's life. From his personal struggles with his wife's illness early in his life, to his role in the Challenger disaster investigation, we get a more personal view into the man behind the legends. The anecdotes dealing with his time on the Roger's commission on the Challenger disaster are truly worth reading to get an outsider's inside view on how such inquiries work. We get particular insight into the work and ideas behind the famous eureka moment demonstrating the O-ring material weakness in cold temperatures. Feynman is humble in describing the contributions that others provided in formulating his ideas during this investigation.
Clearly a gem worth reading whether or not you're familiar with the eariler book, "Surely You're Joking, Mr. Feynman!"
5.0 out of 5 stars A quest for truth in the land of politics,
This review is from: What Do You Care What Other People Think (Paperback)Dr. Feynman spent a lifetime looking for truth about physics and particularly subatomic particle physics. Then the Challenger disaster happens and he's called on to find the truth in NASA and in politics. He of course handles it superbly and we all know why it blew up. This is that story and its another good read for those who read and liked "Surely You must be joking."
If you haven't read the first book, do it is slightly better and you could read them out of chronological order but you'll wish you hadn't.
5.0 out of 5 stars Love, Science, Travel, and Life: A Brilliant Perspective,
By A Customer
This review is from: What Do You Care What Other People Think (Paperback)I had heard of Richard Feynman a few years back and never had the time to read any of his writings. I picked this book up on a whim to read on a flight to New York and since reading "What Do You Care What Other People Think?" I have picked up many of his books. His writing style is direct and should be easy to understand for almost all readers. I would suggest to readers that they start with "Surely You're Joking, Mr. Feynman!" but that is not necessary. If you are a lover of science, travel, or reading about one mans views on life this is the perfect book to read.
4.0 out of 5 stars No diminishing marginal returns here !,
This review is from: What Do You Care What Other People Think (Paperback)I just can't get enough of this guy !
Still in the spirit of the first book 'Surely you're joking', but a slightly more serious follow up with some repetitions. Here the reader sees Feynmann dealing with the love of his life- his first wife Arline, the Nobel prize and much later the investigation into the Challenger tragedy. This time the hero is better developed and we get to see a more human side of Mr Feynmann in addition to the curious character. Given that he is no longer with us, this book will be treasured as much as the first. Readers unfamilar with the first book will still be able to enjoy the adventures of this remarkable scientist.
5.0 out of 5 stars �Continuation of a curious character�,
This review is from: What Do You Care What Other People Think (Paperback)This book is a continuation and addendum of sorts to Mr. Feynman's first biography, "Surely you are joking, Mr. Feynman". The two major stories of the book involve Mr. Feynman's enormously influential first wife, Arlene and the second story involves Mr. Feynman's work in the Challenger disaster investigation. Sprinkled around these two major bookends are other humorous adventures and observations about a trip to Japan, being labeled a sexist pig by feminists, and hotel hunting in Europe to name just a few.
The Challenger investigation takes up a sizable chunk of the book and is sometimes filled with drier material. But the compelling event and frustrating insight into government bureaucracy holds some interest to make up for the technical specifications.
The first part of the book where his wife Arlene is discussed is so touching and powerful that the reader will be hard pressed not to get teary-eyed.
As noted in the review about the first biography, Mr. Feynman was an extremely curious person who explored things out of simple curiosity. His life's quest was nothing simpler than a desire to understand Nature. All the while, he tried to have the best time he could. Hopefully this reader can take away at least a little bit of that.
5.0 out of 5 stars Delightful book.,
This review is from: What Do You Care What Other People Think (Paperback)Not as entertaining as its predecessor, "Surely You're Joking, Mr. Feynman", but still quite entertaining in its own way, more than half of this book is devoted to describing the experiences of Feynman as he took part in the committee investigating the Shuttle Challenger disaster. As anyone who's read the first book can imagine, setting Feynman loose on a governmental committee is not exactly a recipe for smooth interaction; what it IS a recipe for is getting far more straight answers uncovered than the bureaucrats want.
Not to say that this book isn't funny, but if you're looking for a chuckle, read the earlier book. If, on the other hand, you're in the mood for being reminded, in a fairly lighthearted way, just why it is that bureaucracies are not a good thing, this is the book for you. In addition to the section on the Challenger investigation, there are a few biographical anecdotes, as well as a closing lecture on "The Value of Science", all of which are good reading.
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What Do You Care What Other People Think by Richard P Feynman (Paperback - Feb 1 2001)
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