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Tatsuo Tabata
Susan Stepney
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Leonard Mlodinow

Feynman's rainbow

(Note that the book I read had the alternative title Some time with Feynman)

How does a scientist decide which problem is worth working on? That was the question which faced Mlodinow when he became a researcher at Caltech. How could he live up to the expectations placed upon him? Fortunately he had Richard Feynman down the corridor to talk to, and this book is the result of their many discussions. The answer seems to be that if you need to ask the question then you shouldn't be doing physics - indeed Mlodinow eventually gave up his career in the subject. Rather you should be driven by your desire to sort out inconsistencies in the current state of things. Feynman's Rainbow is a highly readable book - I read most of it in one go, and I can recommend it to anyone who wants to find out how scientists decide to do what they do.

Feynman actually had the same sort of problems when he started research - awe of the 'Monster minds' which surrounded him and fear that he couldn't get down to working on anything worthwhile. But you'll need to read Surely you're joking Mr. Feynman to find out about that. In Feynman's Rainbow Feynman clearly dislikes the idea of nursmaiding a new researcher along, but he was willing to go on talking with Mlodinow and revealing many details of what motivated him in the process.

One thing that I found interesting was the counterintuitive way in which your sense of urgency changes with age. For a young researcher there is a need to do something significant within a couple of years. On the other hand for Feynman, although he knows he is dying of cancer, there is no sense that he must rush to do what needs to be done.

Amazon.com info
Paperback 192 pages  
ISBN: 0446692514
Salesrank: 3003135
Weight:0.55 lbs
Published: 2004 Grand Central Publishing
Amazon price $6.00
Marketplace:New from $4.99:Used from $1.00
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Amazon.co.uk info
Paperback 192 pages  
ISBN: 0141009535
Salesrank: 474116
Weight:0.26 lbs
Published: 2004 Penguin Books Ltd
Marketplace:New from £97.44:Used from £0.01
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Amazon.ca info
Paperback 192 pages  
ISBN: 0446692514
Salesrank: 2819385
Weight:0.55 lbs
Published: 2004 Grand Central Publishing
Amazon price CDN$ 19.99
Marketplace:New from CDN$ 19.99:Used from CDN$ 16.34
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Product Description
As a young physicist, Leonard Mlodinow looked for guidance from his mentor, the Nobel Prize-winning physicist Richard Feynman. Drawing on transcripts from their meetings during their time together at Cal Tech, Mlodinow shares Feynman's provocative thoughts and observations. At once a moving portrait of a friendship and an affecting account of Feynman's final, creative years, this book celebrates the inspiring legacy of one of the greatest thinkers of our time.