Feynman by Jim Otiaviani, illustrated by Leland Myrick

Nov 21, 2011

My husband recently took our daughter to Science City.  I was pleased to hear she loved it, but I had to set my husband straight when he proclaimed, “Everybody loves science.”  Toto, I've a feeling we're not in Kansas anymore.  Who is my husband kidding?  Most kids I know graduate from high school without knowing how to spell the word “science” let alone how to love it.

I was always a fan of humanist science—biology, physical anthropology, psychology—the fields of science which attempt to explain how people work.  But I largely ignored the fields of science that attempt to explain how the cosmos works.  Then my husband turned me on to FeynmanVideoLectures's Channel on YouTube.  I had no idea physics could be so fun.  Here’s my favorite: http://youtu.be/7hbudvQfvWs

 For further evidence that this quirky, insatiably curious man could hold my interest, I picked up the graphic biography Feynman by Jim Ottaviani.  I hoped the visual cues would help me understand it since I don’t have a physics background.  From page one I was hooked.  It weaves through this Nobel-Prize winner’s life, covering his close relationship with his uniform salesman father in Long Island, to his work on the Manhattan Project,  to his public lectures and books that made physics more accessible to non-physicists,  and to his iconoclastic work on the Challenger disaster.  This great thinker preferred playing bongo drums, cracking safes, and using a strip club for an office to wearing a tux at award ceremonies, spending inordinate amounts of time doing traditional research, or playing sycophant to fellow theoretical physicists. 

If only more scientists were as cool as this guy, my husband would be right.  If you have an interest in hard science or you’re like me and just interested in oddly brilliant people, I can’t recommend this book highly enough. 


Reviewed by Becky C.
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