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

Variant names

Hide Profile

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.

Archival Resources
Role Title Holding Repository
editorOf PRESIDENTIAL COMMISSION ON THE SPACE SHUTTLE HEARING #2B, 2/6/86 National Archives at College Park
referencedIn Oral history interview with George Ogden Abell, 1977 November 14. Niels Bohr Library & Archives
referencedIn PRESIDENTIAL COMMISSION ON THE SPACE SHUTTLE HEARING #1A, 3/7/86 National Archives at College Park
referencedIn Ava Helen and Linus Pauling Papers, 1910-1994 (bulk 1922-1991) Oregon State University SpecialCollections & Archives Research Center, The ValleyLibrary
referencedIn PRESIDENTIAL COMMISSION ON THE SPACE SHUTTLE HEARING #1, (ABBEY, YOUNG, WEITZ, CRIPPEN, HARTSFIELD), 4/3/86: SPACE SHUTTLE ACCIDENT. Part 1 National Archives at College Park
referencedIn Oral history interview with William Alfred Fowler, 1972 June 8, 1973 Feb. 5, 1974 May 30. Niels Bohr Library & Archives
referencedIn Clapp, Roger Edge, 1919-1990. Papers, 1942-1991. American Institute of Physics, Niels Bohr Library
referencedIn Rubin, Vera C., 1928-. Oral history interview with Vera C. Rubin, 1995 September 21 and May 9, 1996. American Institute of Physics, Niels Bohr Library
referencedIn Mehra, Jagdish. Jagdish Mehra collection, 1924-2001 University of Houston, M.D. Anderson Library
creatorOf Feynman, Richard P. (Richard Phillips), 1918-1988. Lectures on gravitation, 1962-1963 / R. P. Feynman. American Institute of Physics, Niels Bohr Library
referencedIn Bethe, Hans A. (Hans Albrecht), 1906-2005. Hans Bethe papers, [ca. 1931]-1992. Cornell University Library
contributorOf PRESIDENTIAL COMMISSION ACCIDENT ANALYSIS PANEL, 4/16/86 National Archives at College Park
creatorOf Feynman, Richard P. (Richard Phillips), 1918-1988. Audio recordings of course lectures, 1961-1964. American Institute of Physics, Niels Bohr Library
referencedIn Elmer and Joseph Heller Collection on Richard P. Feynman, 1935-1990 California Institute of Technology. Archives.
creatorOf MARGARET GARDINER PAPERS. Vol. III (ff. 129). 'Vietnam: an American View'; 1967.includes:ff. 2, 34 Harrison Evans Salisbury, Associate Editor, 'The New York Times': Letters to Margaret Gardiner of Harrison Evans Salisbury: 1967: Signed.ff. 3, 40 ..., 1967 British Library
referencedIn Welton, Theodore Allen, 1918-. Memories, ca. 1984. American Institute of Physics, Niels Bohr Library
creatorOf American Physical Society. Annual Meeting (1972 : San Francisco, Calif.). Joint ceremonial session of the American Physical Society and the American Association of Physics Teachers [sound recording] / 1972 February 1. American Institute of Physics, Niels Bohr Library
referencedIn Marshak, Robert E. (Robert Eugene), 1916-1992. Oral history interview with Robert Marshak, 1970. American Institute of Physics, Niels Bohr Library
referencedIn Branch, Garland Marion, 1922-. Garland Branch notebooks, 1947. Cornell University Library
creatorOf Feynman, Richard P. (Richard Phillips), 1918-1988. A new approach to quantum electrodynamics, 1949 Notes on the lectures of Dr. Richard P. Feynman, Cornell University. American Institute of Physics, Niels Bohr Library
referencedIn Sands, Matthew L. (Matthew Linzee). Oral history interview with Matthew L. Sands, 1987 May 4 and 5. American Institute of Physics, Niels Bohr Library
referencedIn Jagdish Mehra Collection 1995-003., 1924-2001 Special Collections, University of Houston Libraries
referencedIn Inglis, David Rittenhouse, 1905-1995. Conversations with David Inglis, [videorecording] Feb.-May, 1989 American Institute of Physics, Niels Bohr Library
referencedIn PRESIDENTIAL COMMISSION ON THE SPACE SHUTTLE HEARING #3C, 3/7/86 National Archives at College Park
referencedIn Klema, Ernest Donald, 1920-. Response to 1981 History of Nuclear Physics Survey, ca.1983. American Institute of Physics, Niels Bohr Library
creatorOf Hartman, Paul, 1913-. Paul Hartman papers, 1944-1995. Cornell University Library
referencedIn Salpeter, Edwin E. Oral history interview with Edwin Ernest Salpeter, 1978 March 30. American Institute of Physics, Niels Bohr Library
referencedIn Stanislaw M. Ulam Papers, 1916-1984 American Philosophical Society
referencedIn Hans Bethe papers, [ca. 1931]-1995 Division of Rare and Manuscript Collections, Cornell University Library.
referencedIn PRESIDENTIAL COMMISSION ON THE SPACE SHUTTLE HEARING #1B, 2/25/86 National Archives at College Park
referencedIn PRESIDENTIAL COMMISSION ON THE SPACE SHUTTLE HEARING #4, (ABBEY, YOUNG, WEITZ, CRIPPEN, HARTSFIELD, TRULY, ALDRICH, CHARLESWORTH), 4/3/86: SPACE SHUTTLE ACCIDENT. Part 4 National Archives at College Park
creatorOf Feynman, Richard P. (Richard Phillips), 1918-1988. Papers, 1933-1988. American Institute of Physics, Niels Bohr Library
referencedIn PRESIDENTIAL COMMISSION ON THE SPACE SHUTTLE HEARING #5E, 2/6/86 National Archives at College Park
creatorOf Feynman, Richard P. (Richard Phillips), 1918-1988. Oral history interview with Richard Phillips Feynman, 1966 March 4 to 4 February 1973. American Institute of Physics, Niels Bohr Library
referencedIn Heisenberg, Werner, 1901-1976. Oral history interview with Werner Heisenberg, 1962 November 30 to 12 July 1963. American Institute of Physics, Niels Bohr Library
referencedIn Fröhlich, H. (Herbert), 1905-. Letters to H. Fröhlich, 1954-1965. American Institute of Physics, Niels Bohr Library
referencedIn Richards, Hugh T. (Hugh Taylor), 1918-. Response to 1981 History of Nuclear Physics Survey, 1990. American Institute of Physics, Niels Bohr Library
referencedIn John Archibald Wheeler Papers, 1880-2008, 1880-2008 American Philosophical Society
referencedIn Wheeler, John Archibald, 1911-2008. Letters to John A. Wheeler, 1977. American Institute of Physics, Niels Bohr Library
creatorOf Feynman, Richard P. (Richard Phillips), 1918-1988. Lectures and presentations, 1964-1992 (bulk 1979-1992) [videorecording] American Institute of Physics, Niels Bohr Library
referencedIn Feynman, Richard P. (Richard Phillips), 1918-1988. A new approach to quantum electrodynamics, 1949 Notes on the lectures of Dr. Richard P. Feynman, Cornell University. American Institute of Physics, Niels Bohr Library
referencedIn Lee A. DuBridge papers, 1932-1986 California Institute of Technology. Archives.
referencedIn Hellwarth, Robert Willis, 1930-. Oral history interview with Robert Willis Hellwarth, 1985 May 29. American Institute of Physics, Niels Bohr Library
referencedIn PRESIDENTIAL COMMISSION ON THE SPACE SHUTTLE HEARING #1A, 2/6/86 National Archives at College Park
referencedIn PRESIDENTIAL COMMISSION ON THE SPACE SHUTTLE HEARING #1C, 2/25/86 National Archives at College Park
referencedIn Alpher, Ralph. Oral history interview with Ralph Alpher and a joint interview with Robert Herman, 1983 August 11 and 12. American Institute of Physics, Niels Bohr Library
creatorOf Feynman, Richard P. (Richard Phillips), 1918-1988. Lectures on quantum electrodynamics [videorecording] : The Sir Douglas Robb lectures, 1979. American Institute of Physics, Niels Bohr Library
referencedIn Fowler, William A. Oral history interview with William A. Fowler, 1983 May 3 - May 31, 1984. American Institute of Physics, Niels Bohr Library
referencedIn Robert B. Leighton papers, 1938-1988 California Institute of Technology. Archives.
referencedIn DuBridge, Lee A. (Lee Alvin), 1901-1994. Papers, 1932-1986. American Institute of Physics, Niels Bohr Library
PRESIDENTIAL COMMISSION ON THE SPACE SHUTTLE HEARING #2B, 2/11/86 National Archives at College Park
creatorOf Feynman, Richard P. (Richard Phillips), 1918-1988. Videotapes. [videorecording] American Institute of Physics, Niels Bohr Library
referencedIn R. Buckminster Fuller papers, ca. 1920-1983 Stanford University. Department of Special Collections and University Archives
referencedIn PRESIDENTIAL COMMISSION ON THE SPACE SHUTTLE HEARING #1A, 2/11/86 National Archives at College Park
referencedIn McCrea, William Hunter. Oral history interview with William Hunter McCrea, 1978 September 22. American Institute of Physics, Niels Bohr Library
referencedIn PRESIDENTIAL COMMISSION ON THE SPACE SHUTTLE HEARING #5E, 3/7/86 National Archives at College Park
referencedIn Feynman, Richard P. (Richard Phillips), 1918-1988. Audio recordings of course lectures, 1961-1964. American Institute of Physics, Niels Bohr Library
referencedIn Niels Bohr Library. The Emilio Segrè visual archives, E-J, [ca. 1870]-9999. American Institute of Physics, Niels Bohr Library
referencedIn PRESIDENTIAL COMMISSION ON THE SPACE SHUTTLE HEARING #1E, 2/25/86 National Archives at College Park
referencedIn PRESIDENTIAL COMMISSION ON THE SPACE SHUTTLE HEARING #4D, 2/6/86 National Archives at College Park
referencedIn Schrieffer, J. R. (John Robert), 1931-. Oral history interview with John Robert Schrieffer, 1974 September 26 and 1976 January 19. American Institute of Physics, Niels Bohr Library
referencedIn PRESIDENTIAL COMMISSION ON THE SPACE SHUTTLE HEARING #1D, 2/25/86 National Archives at College Park
referencedIn Robert F. Bacher Papers, 1924-1994 California Institute of Technology. Archives.
referencedIn Bacher, Robert F. (Robert Fox), 1905-. The Papers of Robert F. Bacher, 1926-1994. American Institute of Physics, Niels Bohr Library
referencedIn Niels Bohr Library. History of physics audio-visual collection, circa 1918-1996, 1960-1988 (bulk). Campbell University, Wiggins Memorial Library
referencedIn Jagdish Mehra Collection 1995-003., 1924-2001 Special Collections, University of Houston Libraries
creatorOf American Physical Society. Meeting (1966 : Washington, D.C.). Invited papers [sound recording] : American Physical Society Meeting, 1966 April 28. American Institute of Physics, Niels Bohr Library
creatorOf Richard Phillips Feynman papers, 1933-1988 California Institute of Technology. Archives.
referencedIn Parnell, Peter. 'QED': typescript, 2001. New York Public Library System, NYPL
referencedIn PRESIDENTIAL COMMISSION ON THE SPACE SHUTTLE HEARING #4D, 3/7/86 National Archives at College Park
creatorOf Perspectives in Modern Physics (1966 : Ithaca, N.Y.). A symposium in honor of Hans A. Bethe on the occasion of his 60th birthday [sound recording] / at Cornell University, 1966 October 21. American Institute of Physics, Niels Bohr Library
referencedIn Kroll, Norman Myles 1922-. Oral History interview with Norman M. Kroll, 1986 June 28. American Institute of Physics, Niels Bohr Library
referencedIn Barschall, H. H. (Henry Herman),. Papers, 1942-1974. American Institute of Physics, Niels Bohr Library
referencedIn PRESIDENTIAL COMMISSION ON THE SPACE SHUTTLE HEARING #4D, 2/11/86 National Archives at College Park
referencedIn Feynman, Richard P. (Richard Phillips), 1918-1988. Papers, 1933-1988. American Institute of Physics, Niels Bohr Library
referencedIn Hibbs, Albert R. Papers of Albert R. Hibbs, 1884-2009. Huntington Library, Art Collections & Botanical Gardens
referencedIn Morgan, Bruce H. Bruce H. Morgan lecture notes, 1953-1954. American Institute of Physics, Niels Bohr Library
referencedIn Leighton, Robert B. Papers, 1938-1988, (1961-1988) American Institute of Physics, Niels Bohr Library
referencedIn Andreĭ Sakharov papers, 1852-2002 (inclusive), 1960-1990 (bulk). Houghton Library
referencedIn Jagdish Mehra Collection 1995-003., 1924-2001 Special Collections, University of Houston Libraries
referencedIn Klein, Oskar. Oral history interview with Oskar Benjamin Klein, 1962 September 25 to 16 July 1963. American Institute of Physics, Niels Bohr Library
referencedIn Webster, Harold Frank, 1919-. Harold F. Webster notes, 1945-1953. Cornell University Library
creatorOf Brode, Bernice. Reminiscences of Los Alamos [sound recording] : a lecture series at the University of California, Santa Barbara / 1975. American Institute of Physics, Niels Bohr Library
referencedIn PRESIDENTIAL COMMISSION ON THE SPACE SHUTTLE HEARING #CD1, 2/25/86 National Archives at College Park
referencedIn PRESIDENTIAL COMMISSION ON THE SPACE SHUTTLE HEARING #3, (ABBEY, YOUNG, WEITZ, CRIPPEN, HARTSFIELD), 4/3/86: SPACE SHUTTLE ACCIDENT. Part 3 National Archives at College Park
referencedIn Morse, Philip M. (Philip McCord), 1903-1985. Autobiographical data, ca. 1962. American Institute of Physics, Niels Bohr Library
referencedIn Pocono Conference on Physics. 1948 Mar 30-Apr 1. Conference notes prepared informally and unofficially by John A. Wheeler, 1948. American Institute of Physics, Niels Bohr Library
Role Title Holding Repository
Relation Name
associatedWith Abell, George O. (George Ogden), 1927-1983. person
associatedWith Alpher, Ralph. person
associatedWith American Physical Society. Annual Meeting (1972 : San Francisco, Calif.) corporateBody
associatedWith American Physical Society. Meeting (1966 : Washington, D.C.) corporateBody
associatedWith Bacher, Robert F. (Robert Fox), 1905- person
associatedWith Bacher, Robert F. (Robert Fox), 1905-2004 person
associatedWith Barschall, H. H. (Henry Herman), person
associatedWith Bethe, Hans A. (Hans Albrecht), 1906-2005. person
associatedWith Bohr, Niels, 1885-1962. person
associatedWith Branch, Garland Marion, 1922- person
employeeOf California Institute of Technology corporateBody
associatedWith Challenger (Spacecraft) corporateBody
associatedWith Clapp, Roger Edge, 1919-1990. person
associatedWith Clinton Engineer Works (Oak Ridge, Tenn.). corporateBody
employeeOf Cornell University. corporateBody
associatedWith DuBridge, Lee A., 1901-1994 person
associatedWith DuBridge, Lee A. (Lee Alvin), 1901-1994. person
associatedWith Fermi, Enrico, 1901-1954. person
associatedWith Feynman, Richard Phillips person
associatedWith Feynman, Richard P. (Richard Phillips), 1918-1988. person
associatedWith Fowler, William A. person
associatedWith Fröhlich, H. (Herbert), 1905- person
associatedWith Fuchs, Klaus Emil Julius, 1911-1988 person
associatedWith Fuller, R. Buckminster (Richard Buckminster), 1895-1983 person
associatedWith Gell-Mann, Murray. person
associatedWith Hartman, Paul, 1913- person
associatedWith Hawking, S. W. (Stephen W.) person
associatedWith Heisenberg, Werner, 1901-1976. person
associatedWith Heisenberg, Werner, 1901-1976. person
associatedWith Heller, Elmer W. and Joseph person
associatedWith Hellwarth, Robert Willis, 1930- person
associatedWith Hibbs, Albert R. person
associatedWith Inglis, David Rittenhouse, 1905-1995. person
associatedWith Jet Propulsion Laboratory (U.S.) corporateBody
associatedWith Klein, Oskar. person
associatedWith Klema, Ernest Donald, 1920- person
associatedWith Kroll, Norman Myles 1922- person
associatedWith Leighton, Robert B. person
associatedWith Manhattan Project (U.S.) corporateBody
associatedWith Marshak, Robert E. (Robert Eugene), 1916-1992. person
alumnusOrAlumnaOf Massachusetts Institute of Technology. corporateBody
associatedWith McCrea, William Hunter. person
associatedWith Mehra, Jagdish person
associatedWith Mehra, Jagdish person
associatedWith Mehra, Jagdish person
associatedWith Mehra, Jagdish. person
associatedWith Metropolis, N. (Nicholas), 1915- person
associatedWith Morgan, Bruce H. person
associatedWith Morinigo, Fernando B. person
associatedWith Morse, Philip M. (Philip McCord), 1903-1985 person
associatedWith Morse, Philip M. (Philip McCord), 1903-1985. person
associatedWith Niels Bohr Library. corporateBody
associatedWith Oppenheimer, J. Robert, 1904-1967. person
associatedWith Parnell, Peter. person
associatedWith Pauling, Ava Helen person
associatedWith Pauling, Linus Carl, 1901- person
associatedWith Pauli, Wolfgang, 1900-1958 person
associatedWith Perspectives in Modern Physics (1966 : Ithaca, N.Y.) corporateBody
memberOf Pi Lambda Phi corporateBody
associatedWith Pocono Conference on Physics. corporateBody
associatedWith Pocono Conference on Physics. 1948 Mar 30-Apr 1. corporateBody
alumnusOrAlumnaOf Princeton University. corporateBody
associatedWith Richards, Hugh T. (Hugh Taylor), 1918- person
associatedWith Rubin, Vera C., 1928- person
associatedWith Sakharov, Andreĭ, 1921-1989 person
associatedWith Salpeter, Edwin E. person
associatedWith Sandoval Vallarta, Manuel, 1899-1977 person
associatedWith Sands, Matthew L. (Matthew Linzee) person
associatedWith Schrieffer, J. R. (John Robert), 1931- person
associatedWith Schwinger, Julian, 1918-1994. person
associatedWith Shelter Island Conferences. corporateBody
associatedWith Smyth, Henry de Wolf 1898-1986 person
associatedWith Ulam, Stanislaw M. (Stanislaw Marcin), 1909-1985 person
associatedWith University of Auckland. Dept. of Physics. corporateBody
employeeOf University of Wisconsin--Madison corporateBody
associatedWith Wagner, William G. person
associatedWith Webster, Harold Frank, 1919- person
associatedWith Weiner, Charles, person
associatedWith Welton, Theodore Allen, 1918- person
associatedWith Wheeler, John Archibald, 1911-2008. person
associatedWith Wheeler, John Archibald, 1911-2008. person
honoredBy William Lowell Putnam Mathematical Competition corporateBody
associatedWith Wilson, Robert R., 1914-2000 person
associatedWith Yukawa, Hideki, 1907-1981. person
Place Name Admin Code Country
New York NY US
Los Angeles CA US
Subject
Aircraft accidents
Atomic bomb
Beta decay
Challenger (Space shuttle)
Computers
Field theory (Physics)
General relativity (Physics)
Gravitation
Manhattan Project (U.S.)
Mathematical physics
Nuclear fission
Nuclear physics
Particles (Nuclear physics)
Physics
Quantum chromodynamics
Quantum electrodynamics
Space shuttles
Superfluidity
Television in science education
World War, 1939-1945
Occupation
College teachers
Physicists
Activity

Person

Birth 1918-05-11

Death 1988-02-15

Americans

English

Information

Permalink: http://n2t.net/ark:/99166/w6mx38zq

Ark ID: w6mx38zq

SNAC ID: 87720889