Surely You’re Joking Mr. Feynman. Adventure of a Curious mind | Richard Feynman

Surely You’re Joking Mr Feynman Adventures of a Curious Character

🚀 The Book in 3 Sentences

🎨 Impressions

How I Discovered It

Who Should Read It?

☘️ How the Book Changed Me

How my life / behaviour / thoughts / ideas have changed as a result of reading the book.

✍️ My Top 3 Quotes

📒 Ideas

On knowledge

Knowledge is so fragile

  • We still try to learn something in the most counterintuitive way, through rote memorization.
    • And we miss the key ingredient of any knowledge – understanding.
    • That’s what essential!

Simple question

  • The simpler the question, the harder is the answer.
    • [[Глупый вопрос]]
    • The same approach for discovery Da Vinci used.
    • It’s a virtue of any man who considers himself a scholar.
      • Curiosity.
    • Feynman took a class in biology, where he put some cell under microscope that under the reaction from sugar began moving. So he asked a question. “How do they move?” “What pushes them around?”
      • Nobody knew.

Don’t trust the “real guys”

  • Check it for yourself.
    • Even when something sounds reasonable, it doesn’t mean that it is.
    • Nice looking guy in a suit, well respected influencer, official representative from any agency, they are all just men. Nothing extraordinary.
    • They all make mistakes. Especially if they themselves believe in what they say.
    • A painter once told Feynman that of you mix white and red, you get yellow.
      • Feynman, who at that moment was studying light, said that it was impossible.
      • If you mix white and red, you get pink. But the master painter insisted that he get yellow.
      • So when Feynman asked to show him that, out of curiosity, not of spite, painter could produce yellow, only when he added to white and red some yellow pigment.
    • So the conclusion might be only this. Check everything.
    • [[Critical thinking#From data to knowledge via fake news]]

Self-taught is better than just taught. It arms you with a completely different tool box

  • The same idea is described in [[Antifragile Things that gain form disorder]] which book, though, need to look up.
    • Taleb speculated that if you study and a bare minimum to pass synthetic test, then you have time to self-teaching and studying what fascinates you.
    • He suggests to keep three books in rotation, so you won’t get bored.
  • Feynman adds something else. When you are self-taught, you are not used to doing things in the usual way.
    • He gives an example from Calculus, he taught himself to do integral i peculiar way, not they way it used to back then.
    • So when his fellow student stuck with the equation, Feynman helped him by applying his strange approach.
  • So why a successful student couldn’t do what Feynman did? Because they had prefabricated by school tool box.
    • Feynman made his tools himself and could change anything on demand. Or in accordance with situation.

Images are faster than words

  • When somebody tells a new concept, that hasn’t been known before, the best way to comprehend and grasp the idea is by imagining it.
    • And if what you are imagining doesn’t make sense, then with high level of probability it is false and could be invalidated.
    • Actually, there was a certain amount of genuine quality to my guesses. I had a scheme, which I still use today when somebody is explaining something that I’m trying to understand: I keep making up examples. For instance, the mathematicians would come in with a terrific theorem, and they’re all excited. As they’re telling me the conditions of the theorem, I construct something which fits all the conditions. You know, you have a set (one ball)—disjoint (two halls). Then the balls turn colors, grow hairs, or whatever, in my head as they put more conditions on. Finally they state the theorem, which is some dumb thing about the ball which isn’t true for my hairy green ball thing, so I say, “False!“

Simplification of books

  • Often editors for the sake of the reader simplify things too much, which turns out to be not a great thing.
    • This process leaves outside the picture important peaces of information, that might be crucial to some research, but not critical at the moment.
    • I’ve found the reason I don’t respect services such as Blinkist.
      • It simplifies too much. High jacks the joy of drying watery text, and do not present an opportunity for personal discovery.
      • Every summary presents the text through the lens of a person who has written it. He shows the world under the light he wants it to be, not what it is.

[[Чем сервисы blinkist и makeright плохи]]

Prankster Feynman

  • Censors got often confused by him.
    • During his time in Los Alamos, and work on atomic bomb, he had high level of security, and in order to maintain it. His letters has been read, so they, with his wife, invented a game.
    • Code cracking game, where his wife sends him a coded message and he has to break the code.
  • Playing games has been a great time killing activity.

On memory

[[Память и речь Виды памяти передача информации]]

  • Feynman had terrible memory but in a state of deep work, short memory boosts, and you can remember all crazy stuff.
    • Is it true? Is it how it works?

The simple question, again

  • What happen is this valve goes off?
    • The simple question, apparently meaningless, could be important.
    • Don’t waste your time, deciding, should you ask or not, just ask.

Stand up to anybody

  • When someone has a crazy idea, you don’t need to be intimidated by authority.
    • Just scrutinize as well as you can, at the limits of your ability.
    • There is nothing to do with authority, the only thing that is critical: true or false?
    • Ask a question, don’t be afraid, provide actionable feedback.
    • [[Навык обратной связи 4A]]
    • Bohr and his son.
      • [[A Mind for numbers How to excell at Math and Science#^1046c5]]

Fiddling with obsessions

  • Feynman always played with locks, safe lock or keylock, he grown to vbe known as a notorious safecraker.
    • But it wasn’t because he was proficient, not at all. He just played and busied he mind.
    • What are my obsession that I constantly play with?
    • English?
    • PKM?
    • Note-taking?
    • Book club?
  • Where I practice peeking for new ways? Gain the feeling of what should be done and how?

Teaching is an essential part of my life

  • The same as Feynman, I don’t know if I could live without teaching.
    • Yes, sometimes it’s taxing, in some part tiring, but never boring.
    • Students for me is the source of inspiration.
  • I can’t imagine myself, sitting in a cabin in the forest and working, I need interruption from repetitive process, and kids provide me with it.
  • I spend more time not working on great ideas than working on them. So time of idleness must be cared out cautiously. Free time must be planned, and you can’t plan such a great amount. [[Deep Work#^a04d41]]
  • My students are also a great source of inspiration. Often than not, they return me to a previously forgotten topic, or the idea that I think is not important at the moment.

Human’s brain is a unique biological construct

  • The tougher the problem, the better it suits for solving.
    • No amount of calculative power can substitute the spark of creativity a human get from a little thinking.
      • [[What is a creative solution and how you can get there]]
    • Abacus can solve simple arithmetic, but as soon as we get to roots, and integrals, its abilities rend.
    • We can approximate, extrapolate, compare. See shortcuts to the solution. Can choose a different way, not the single proposed to us by the givens.
  • [[Harry Potter and the methods of rationality#The most intricate and complex magic in the world]] constraints force us ti be creative.

No hurry

  • When I used to work in corporation, I was in a state of constant haste.
    • It was a survival race with life, and I lost. But there are places in the world where it is considered not an achievement, but disadvantage.
    • In Brazil, Azerbaijan, Italy, Spain, etc.
    • As far as I can see, this state of affairs is only in industrials countries.
      • Russia, USA, GB, Japan, etc. China (maybe) and South Korea.
  • Today I’ve found for myself a balance, which helps me sustain a precarious equilibrium between my life and work, wherever in previous life I couldn’t afford it.
    • [[Antifragile books 2 and 3#Growth and development]] classic barbell condition.
    • The gap between extreme business and leisure must be as wide as possible.
  • Even when you are offered extremely generous compensation for you effort, you must be careful with your decisions.
    • More money, means more opportunities.
    • More opportunities mean less time for what you really desire to do.
    • If I had a choice to do several things for any given day, I as any human being would choose to do as much as I could, thus rending efficiency and efficacy for all activities to zero.
    • Due to that, the less we have, the better we are set.
      • [[Essentialism The Disciplined Pursuit of Less#^8394f4]]

Be an artist not an instructor

  • When we face with the dilemma of what to teach and how to teach, we are inclined to giving detailed explanation of what is what and how to proceed.
    • Children with an excellent sense of language are told how to compose an essay, what should be included and what must be left outside the composition.
    • Chemists, physics, mathematicians are all, give detailed instruction how to solve certain type of tasks.
    • It all sets borders and puts mind in specific frame, where it can’t tell compare radius on an wheel and radius on a paper. This approach lacks fuctionality.
    • Artists on the other hand don’t give detailed instructions, instead of that they explain basic principles, the rest is left for students to work out.
  • [[Прочь из менеджмента! Если не знаешь этих правил – Константин Мухортин#^a05879]]
    • That’s what it means, to know principles instead of facts.
    • Teaching scientifically is to teach understanding cause and effect.
      • [[Critical thinking could not be taught#^d8a9d8]]
  • Once, I had a guest in [[Борисова Натальная Евгеньевна]], and on this meeting she told that teaching chemistry is easy, teaching thinking like a chemist is hard.
  • To think like a scientist or like an artist, you need to leave your mind roam.
    • Put at peace and allow doing wild things, without worries about the result.
    • Play with ideas and concepts, forms and colours.
    • Loosen up by doing sloppy drawings and lousy tests and experiments.
      • Like Fleming, enjoyed patters he got from messing with temperature and from the mess of the laboratory.
      • In the end, penicillin is an accidental discovery, as is the case with all groundbreaking breakthroughs.