A number of years ago, ten or more, possibly fifteen, I would imagine, I stumbled across a repeat (that’s “rerun”, for my American friends… if I have any left after my Only in America? post :-)) of an Horizon interview with the the now deceased Richard Feynman — scientist, storyteller, musician and flyer of kites. I was immediately captivated by his sense of wonder and his ability to share it with me. I especially liked his approach to science, his happiness in not-knowing and… well, here’s a little comment from Surely You’re Joking Mr. Feynman! that highlights what I mean:
I remembered the time I was in my fraternity house at MIT when the idea came into my head completely out of the blue that my grandmother was dead. Right after that there was a telephone call, just like that. It was for Pete Bernays — my grandmother wasn’t dead. So I remembered that, in case somebody told me a story that ended the other way. I figured that such things can sometimes happen by luck — after all, my grandmother was very old — although people might think they happened by some sort of supernatural phenomenon.
I like this. I like the quirky little twist in the story, and I like the quite simple message behind it.
If this has whetted your appetite for more Feynman, try part one of the abovementioned Horizon interview which follows. The story about the flower is a gem.