Tuesday, February 12, 2013

Observable Genius

After finishing it, I started James Gleick's biography of Richard Feynman again.  Gleick is a genius.

His personal website is called Around Dot Com (link here).  It offers the usual front page insights, a biography, and reviews of his books.

photograph of James Gleick taken before 1992 for his book "Genius" about Richard P. Feynman shows a man about 40 with medium length curly back hair.
James Gleick in 1992
I do not read much fiction. Last winter, I read Pride and Prejudice and Northanger Abbey.  Last month, I read Redshirts by John Scalzi. But in the same time, I went through a dozen non-fiction books, mostly about science, and entered quotations and observations into a notebook. The first read of Genius was so compelling that my marginalia was limited to straight lines noting text.  I had not much to add.  The work was thorough, complete, correct (afik), engaging, honest, and direct. I really appreciated the bibliographies, both the general list and the inventory of Feynman's own academic publications.

James Gleick today (from his website).
I read both of the soft Feynman autobiographies and The Character of Physical Law and I have both the Easy and Not-So-Easy Pieces.  I often recommend and cite "Cargo Cult Science."  I was granted a literary award for a biography of Newton's tenure as warden and master of the Royal Mint.  Based on that research, I placed perhaps a dozen reviews of Thomas Levenson's Newton and the Counterfeiter.  And I am not shy.  But I had nothing to add to Gleick's work.  You know when you are standing next to someone a head taller than you.

ALSO ON NECESSARY FACTS
Genius: Gleick (and others) on Feynman
The Genius of Design
She's Such a Geek!
Teaching Ethics to Student Engineers

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