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Richard Feynman is an American physicist famous for his work on quantum mechanics and particle physics. For his contributions to quantum mechanics, Feynman jointly won the Nobel Prize in 1965 with Sin-Itiro Tomonaga and Julian Schwinger.

Who was Richard Feynman? Make Your Own

Richard Feynman

Richard Phillips Feynman was born in Queens, NY on May 11, 1918. Feynman was very successful at school, particularly in math and science. His alma mater was the Massachusetts Institute of Technology where he completed a degree in Physics. Feynman went to Princeton University after MIT to complete his PhD. He received a perfect score on the Physics entrance exam for the course.

After the Pearl Harbor attacks during World War II, Feynman was recruited to join the Manhattan Project by Robert Wilson. There he worked as part of Oppenheimer’s team to develop the first nuclear weapons. Ultimately these weapons were used to end the World War II, killing tens of thousands of people.

At the end of the Second World War, Feynman became an associated professor at Cornell University and went back to his earlier work of quantum electrodynamics. Quantum electrodynamics is the study of how light and matter interact. Feynman jointly won the nobel prize for his work on quantum electrodynamics in 1965. While working on quantum electrodynamics Feynman developed a graphical system known as Feynman diagrams. The Feynman diagram is a tool that represents interactions between elementary particles. They were developed originally to describe electron-photon interactions, but are now used to represent a wide range of particle interactions. Feynman also developed a mathematical tool, known as a path integral, that describes different quantum mechanical systems.

In the 1980s, Feynman was part of the Rogers commission, the group that looked into the Challenge Space Shuttle disaster, this further increased his fame. As well as being an exceptional theoretical physicist, Feynman was also a renowned teacher. The Feynman Lectures on Physics are books based on his Physics course which he taught at the California Institute of Technology. The books are some of the most popular physics books ever written. Feynman died in 1988 after a long battle with cancer.

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Feyman’s Significant Accomplishments

  • Nobel Prize in Physics in 1965
  • Development of Feynman Diagrams
  • Development of the Feynman path integral

Richard Feynman Quotes

“What I cannot create, I do not understand.”

“It doesn't matter how beautiful your theory is, it doesn't matter how smart you are. If it doesn't agree with experiment, it's wrong.”

“If I could explain it to the average person, I wouldn't have been worth the Nobel Prize.”

Learn more about people who have influenced history in our Picture Encyclopedia!
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