Surely Your Joking!

FeynmanI recently re-read the autobiography, ‘Surely You’re Joking, Mr. Feynman!’ I first read this book in high school, and was fascinated by his stories of his work on the atomic bomb. Since that time, I’ve achieved my Bachelor’s degree in Physics, and it makes me laugh even more. Whether you’re a theoretical physicist or a brick layer, or anything in between, this book is full of insightful humor, only some of which is caused by a Physicist’s unique way of looking at the world and not understanding the social requirements of certain situations.

The title comes from the response of a very British woman asking if he would like milk or lemon in his tea. He asks for both. Anyone who has mixed milk and lemon juice knows it would ruin whatever tea it was added to. Who wants to drink curdled milk?

Feynman’s insights in the book range from his experience cracking safes to cutting layers of red tape and why, as well as a passionate call for a return to pure science. This section at the end had a greater impact on me now than it did in High School, all the more because it hasn’t been heeded in the intervening decades. I echo Feyman’s call for true science to make a resurgence. When science is held at the mercy of the businesses who fund it, the businesses can pick and choose the results they want, thus destroying the validity of the study altogether. If you run an experiment 100 times, you will probably find one run that indicates the opposite of the other 99.

This is a fun and interesting read, no matter what level you have at understanding Physics.

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