Who Is Feynman?

“I have to understand the world, you see.”

Dr. Richard Feynman

Richard P. Feynman was a scientist, teacher, raconteur, and musician. He participated in the Manhattan Project, aided in the understanding of quantum electrodynamics, nanotechnology and computing, translated Mayan hieroglyphics, played bongos in the San Francisco Symphony, and cut to the heart of the Challenger Disaster. But beyond all of that, Richard Feynman was a unique, multi-faceted individual with an insatiable love for life and an uncanny ability to solve problems.

Richard Feynman wrote several books within his discipline as well as many others for the general public. For general reading, some of our favorites are the following.

“Think Different”

One of Apple’s most successful advertising campaigns celebrated figures in history who changed the world by thinking differently. Richard Feynman was among the chosen figures. An excerpt from Apple’s campaign commercial pronounced,

"Here's to the crazy ones, the misfits, the rebels, the troublemakers, the round pegs in the square holes, the ones who see things differently. They're not fond of rules and they have no respect for the status quo. You can quote them, disagree with them, glorify or vilify them... about the only thing you can't do is ignore them, because they change things, they push the human race forward; and while some may see them as the crazy ones, we see genius, because the people who are crazy enough to think they can change the world are the ones who do."
Feynman Poster
Feynman Poster #2

Feynman Stamp

On August 14, 2004 the USPS (United States Postal Service) announced that their 2005 stamp program would include a special commemorative stamp honoring Richard Feynman. This stamp was to be part of a special issue commemorating four American scientists. The stamps were dedicated in a special ceremony on May 4, 2005 at Yale University in New Haven, CT.

Feynman Stamp

Feynman Commemorative Cancel

A special postal cancel was authorized by the USPS (United States Postal Service) to honor the 80th birthday of Richard Feynman. This cancel was used in Lake Worth, Florida. For this special day the post office was renamed "Feynman Station."

Feynman Postal Cancel
Feynman Diagram

The Feynman Diagram used for the postal cancel on this envelope depicts what is known as a "bubble process." It shows a high energy particle, for example, a cosmic ray (a) from a distant supernova, which emits a high energy photon, for example, a gamma ray (b). The photon, in turn, creates a particle (c) and an anti-particle (d) that exists for a brief moment and then recombines.

As Feynman liked to point out, an anti-particle is the same thing as a particle with negative energy traveling backward in time (which is why the arrow at (d) points backwards, i.e. to the left). So you could say the photon created only one particle that, at first, traveled forward in time (the bottom semi-circle) and then reversed and went back in time (the top semi-circle) and annihilated itself! By inventing diagrams like this, Richard Feynman made it much easier to understand what is going on in the interactions between sub-atomic particles without getting lost in tremendous amounts of tedious math