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Understanding (Feynman)


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An exploration of Richard Feynman's approach to understanding.

Published in: Education
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Understanding (Feynman)

  1. 1. Understanding<br />(Feynman)<br />Michael Adcock (@pimpia)<br />InfoCamp 2010<br />
  2. 2. “Hello”<br />
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  10. 10. An (over-simplified and horribly bastardized) explanation of the start of a conversation.<br />Props to the Abstruse Goose for the original idea and smoother execution!<br />
  11. 11. Richard Feynman<br />1918 – 1988<br />Physicist<br />(Image source:<br />
  12. 12. Richard Feynman<br />1918 – 1988<br />Physicist<br />Educator<br />Engineer<br />Programmer<br />Prankster<br />Musician<br />Artist<br />Poet<br />(Image source:<br />
  13. 13. Richard Feynman<br />1918 – 1988<br />Physicist<br />Educator<br />Engineer<br />Programmer<br />Prankster<br />Musician<br />Artist<br />Poet<br />(Image source:<br />
  14. 14. Labels<br />"You can know the name of a bird in all the languages of the world, but when you're finished, you'll know absolutely nothing whatever about the bird... So let's look at the bird and see what it's doing — that's what counts. I learned very early the difference between knowing the name of something and knowing something."<br />- Richard Feynman<br />
  15. 15. “philomath”<br />A philomath (pronounced /ˈfɪlɵmæθ/) is a lover of learning, from Greek philos ("beloved," "loving," as in philosophy or philanthropy) + Greek manthanein, math- ("to learn," as in polymath). It is similar to but distinguished from philosophy in that "soph," the latter suffix, specifies "wisdom" or "knowledge."<br />(Source:<br />
  16. 16. Translation<br />YouTube video…<br />
  17. 17. “shoshin”<br />Shoshin (初心) is a concept in Zen Buddhism meaning Beginner's Mind. It refers to having an attitude of openness, eagerness, and lack of preconceptions when studying a subject, even when studying at an advanced level, just as a beginner in that subject would.<br />In the beginner's mind there are many possibilities, in the expert's mind there are few.<br />(Source:<br />
  18. 18. Figuring It Out<br />“He was willing to listen to explanations of how and why things worked, but fundamentally he preferred to figure out everything himself...”<br />- W. Daniel Hillis<br />(Source:<br />
  19. 19. Critical Thinking<br />"Everybody who reasons carefully about anything is making a contribution to the knowledge of what happens when you think about something."<br />- Richard Feynman<br />(Source: The Character of Physical Law)<br />
  20. 20. Visualization<br />“… [I] have been struck by Feynman’s reliance upon visualization to make his dramatic contributions to quantum theory and other areas, and it makes me believe there’s a strong connection between visualization and the ability to solve problems that I’ve not heard mentioned often.”<br />- Robert Talbert<br />(Source:<br />
  21. 21. Feynman Diagrams<br />(Source:<br />
  22. 22. Feynman Diagrams<br />“Physicists simply could not find their way through the maze of complicated mathematics to see if the theory made sense or not. Feynman solved this problem in a different way. He developed a diagrammatic method that reduced the problem to bite-sized pieces. Using Feynman diagrams, a very complicated calculation could be assembled like a tinker-toy out of standard parts, so a really tough calculation could be done by somebody quite "stupid" like me!”<br />- Bob Jaffe, MIT<br />(Source:<br />
  23. 23. Beauty<br />YouTube video…<br />
  24. 24. Inspiration<br />"The world looks so different after learning science. For example, trees are made of air, primarily. When they are burned, they go back to air, and in the flaming heat is released the flaming heat of the sun which was bound in to convert the air into tree, and in the ash is the small remnant of the part which did not come from air that came from the solid earth, instead. These are beautiful things, and the content of science is wonderfully full of them. They are very inspiring, and they can be used to inspire others."<br />- Richard Feynman<br />(Source:<br />
  25. 25. Simplicity<br />“Nothing made him angrier than making something simple sound complicated.”<br />- W. Daniel Hillis<br />(Source:<br />
  26. 26. Teaching<br />“He was always searching for patterns, for connections, for a new way of looking at something, but I suspect his motivation was not so much to understand the world as it was to find new ideas to explain. The act of discovery was not complete for him until he had taught it to someone else.”<br />- W. Daniel Hillis<br />(Source:<br />
  27. 27. Perspective<br />“Feynman’s love of the big picture, coupled with his love for knowing first-hand of practical details – from low-level programming to lock-picking – gave him an almost unique perspective on any subject he chose to study.”<br />- Tony Hey<br />(Source:<br />
  28. 28. Example: Conservation of Energy<br /><br />Lecture #3<br />Search for “conservation of energy”<br />Take the 3rd result.<br />
  29. 29. kthxbai<br />"What I cannot create, I do not understand."<br />- Richard Feynman<br />(written on his chalkboard at his death)<br />
  30. 30. Pimpformation Architect<br />Michael Adcock<br /><br />@pimpia<br />
  31. 31. Resources<br />(video)<br />Tuva: Feynman’s Messenger Lectures from 1964<br /><br />(“extras” for lectures 2-7 coming soon!)<br />Fun to Imagine<br /><br />The Pleasure of Finding Things Out<br /><br />
  32. 32. Resources<br />(YouTube)<br />Symphony of Science - The Poetry of Reality<br /><br />Symphony of Science - We Are All Connected<br /><br />
  33. 33. Resources<br />(audio)<br />Discovery: The Feynman Variations<br /><br />Thinking in Pictures<br /><br />Visual Display of Information<br /><br />
  34. 34. Resources<br />(articles)<br />Recent (9/16/2010) BBC article on Feynman<br /><br />Richard Feynman and Computation<br /><br />The Connection Machine<br /><br />Take the World from Another Point of View (Transcript)<br /><br />