Feynman’s take on prizes/Feynman takes the prizes


“Photo by Tamiko Thiel 1984*

Richard Feynman was known as much (nay, definitely more) for his personality and his approach to science as a generalist than for his contributions to quantum electrodynamics. Feynman was infamous for his skepticism concerning awards, honors, prizes, and the like.

“Interviewer: Was it worth the Nobel Prize?”

“RF: I don’t know anything the Nobel Prize, I don’t understand what it’s all about or what’s worth what. If the people in the Swedish Academy of Sciences think x,y or z wins the Nobel prize, then so be it. . .”

“. . . I’ve already got the prize! The prize is the pleasure of finding the thing out, the kick in the discovery, the observation that other people use it, those are the real things. The honors are unreal to me. . .”

Putting a scientific career over science is a mistake leading a life toward common drudgery. The jolt of discoveries, be they great or unacknowledged outside one’s own mind and notebook, is the reward. Noble season should serve as a reminder, not a distraction, from the reality that there is a deeper meaning to the work of scientist than publish or perish.

Excerpt from BBC interview with Feynman, uploaded by youtube user batxg3

Congratulations go out to this year’s winners. May that the Prize fails to occlude the science you have yet to do.

Licensing of the photograph from http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:RichardFeynman-PaineMansionWoods1984_copyrightTamikoThiel_bw.jpg
*This file is licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 Unported license.

You are free:

to share – to copy, distribute and transmit the work
to remix – to adapt the work

Under the following conditions:

attribution – You must attribute the work in the manner specified by the author or licensor (but not in any way that suggests that they endorse you or your use of the work).
share alike – If you alter, transform, or build upon this work, you may distribute the resulting work only under the same or similar license to this one.

One thought on “Feynman’s take on prizes/Feynman takes the prizes”

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.