Feynman, Richard P. (Richard Phillips), 1918-1988

Alternative names
Dates:
Birth 1918-05-11
Death 1988-02-15
Americans
English

Biographical notes:

Feynman (1918-1988). Physicist (quantum electrodynamics). Affiliations: Atomic Bomb Research Project, Princeton University and Los Alamos (1941-1945); on the physics faculty at Cornell University (1945-1951), and Richard Chace Tolman Professor of Theoretical Physics at California Institute of Technology from 1951 until his death. Awarded the Nobel Prize in Physics in 1965 for his work in quantum electrodynamics.

From the description of Papers, 1933-1988. (Unknown). WorldCat record id: 80830903

Feynman (1918-1988). Physicist (quantum electrodynamics). Affiliations: Atomic Bomb Research Project, Princeton University and Los Alamos (1941-1945); on the physics faculty at Cornell University (1945-1951), and Richard Chace Tolman Professor of Theoretical Physics at California Institute of Technology from 1951 until his death. Awarded the Nobel Prize in Physics in 1965.

From the description of A new approach to quantum electrodynamics, 1949 Notes on the lectures of Dr. Richard P. Feynman, Cornell University. (Unknown). WorldCat record id: 83660377

Physicist (quantum electrodynamics). Lifespan 1918-1988.

From the description of Oral history interview with Richard Phillips Feynman, 1966 March 4 to 4 February 1973. (Unknown). WorldCat record id: 82862771

Feynman (1918-1988). Physicist (quantum electrodynamics). Affiliations: Atomic Energy Research Project, Princeton University and Los Alamos (1941-1945); on the physics faculty at Cornell University (1945-1951), and California Institute of Technology from 1951; and Nobel Prize in Physics (1965).

From the description of Videotapes. [videorecording] (Unknown). WorldCat record id: 81716240

From the description of Lectures on gravitation, 1962-1963 / R. P. Feynman. (Unknown). WorldCat record id: 78291545

From the description of Lectures on quantum electrodynamics [videorecording] : The Sir Douglas Robb lectures, 1979. (Unknown). WorldCat record id: 82395931

From the description of Audio recordings of course lectures, 1961-1964. (Unknown). WorldCat record id: 82625924

From the description of Lectures and presentations, 1964-1992 (bulk 1979-1992) [videorecording] (Unknown). WorldCat record id: 78824355

Biography

Physicist Richard Feynman won his scientific renown through the development of quantum electrodynamics, or QED, a theory describing the interaction of particles and atoms in radiation fields. As a part of this work he invented what came to be known as "Feynman Diagrams," visual representations of space-time particle interactions. For this work he was awarded the Nobel Prize in physics, together with J. Schwinger and S. I. Tomonaga, in 1965. Later in his life Feynman became a prominent public figure through his association with the investigation of the space shuttle Challenger explosion and the publication of two best-selling books of personal recollections.

Feynman was born in the borough of Queens in New York City on May 11, 1918. He grew up and attended high school in Far Rockaway, New York. In 1939, he received his BS degree in physics from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. He then attended Princeton University as a Proctor Fellow from 1940 to 1942, where he began his investigation of quantum electrodynamics under the supervision of J. A. Wheeler. He was awarded his PhD in 1942 for his thesis on the least action principle.

While still at Princeton, Feynman was recruited for the atomic bomb project. He was transferred to Los Alamos in 1942, where he headed a team undertaking complicated calculations using very primitive computers. While at Los Alamos, Feynman became good friends with Hans Bethe, who at the end of the war secured a position for Feynman as an associate professor of physics at Cornell. Feynman remained at Cornell from 1945 to 1951. During this time he formalized his theory of quantum electrodynamics and began to publish his results. He also participated in the Shelter Island Conference of 1947, which helped to determine the course of American physics in the atomic age. At this conference he introduced his theory of QED to the leading American physicists.

In 1951, Feynman accepted an offer to become the Richard Chace Tolman Professor of Theoretical Physics at the California Institute of Technology, a position he filled until his death. While at Caltech Feynman continued his work at the leading edge of theoretical physics, making important contributions to the study of liquid helium, particle physics, and later quantum chromodynamics. He also began his distinguished career as a teacher and lecturer. In 1961 and 1962 he delivered to Caltech's freshmen the introductory lectures that were later published as The Feynman Lectures on Physics .

In 1986, Feynman was asked to serve on the Presidential Commission investigating the space shuttle Challenger accident. In a dramatic fashion, Feynman publicly demonstrated the inelasticity of the shuttle's O-rings at near freezing temperatures, a leading cause of the disaster. He also contributed an extended appendix to the Committee's report, highlighting the technical and administrative deficiencies of the National Aeronautics and Space Administration's space program.

Feynman's many interests outside of science, such as his fondness for codes and safecracking, his bongo drums, his theatrical appearances, his artwork, plus his experiments in out-of-body experiences, are well documented in his autobiographies, as well as in his papers at Caltech.

Feynman continued his scientific work and his lecturing activities up until his death on February 15, 1988, after a long battle with a rare form of cancer.

From the guide to the Richard Phillips Feynman papers, 1933-1988, (California Institute of Technology. Archives.)

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Subjects:

  • Physicists
  • Quantum theory
  • Quantum chromodynamics
  • Manhattan Project (U.S.)
  • Physics--Study and teaching
  • Quantum electrodynamics--Study and teaching
  • Gravitation--Research
  • Nuclear physics
  • Space shuttles--Accidents--Investigation
  • Computers
  • Challenger (Space shuttle)
  • Atomic bomb--Testing
  • Superfluidity
  • General relativity (Physics)
  • Particles (Nuclear physics)
  • Space shuttles--Accidents--Investigation--United States
  • Gravitation
  • Aircraft accidents--Investigation
  • Mathematical physics--Study and teaching
  • Nuclear fission--Technological innovations
  • Beta decay
  • Television in science education
  • Lectures and lecturing
  • World War, 1939-1945--War work
  • Quantum electrodynamics
  • Field theory (Physics)
  • Physics--History--20th century

Occupations:

  • Physicists--United States

Places:

  • United States (as recorded)
  • New Mexico (as recorded)
  • United States (as recorded)
  • United States (as recorded)