richa rd phi llips  feynman



what I am going to tell you about is what

we teach our physics students in the third

or fourth year of graduate school ...

it is my task to convince you not to turn away

because you don't understand it

you see my physics students don't understand it ...

that is because I don't understand it

nobody does


I think nature's imagination Is so much greater than man's

she's never going to let us relax


You can always recognize truth by its beauty and simplicity


You have no responsibility to live up

to what other people think you ought to accomplish

I have no responsibility to be like they expect me to be

It’s their mistake, not my failing


If you thought that science was certain

well, that is just an error on your part


The game I play is a very interesting one

It's imagination   in a tight straightjacket


You keep on learning and learning

and pretty soon you learn something no one has learned before



Io e mia moglie pensiamo che io sia pazzo

Non so come mai alcuni trovano la scienza noiosa e difficile

mentre altri la trovano divertente e facile

ma c' è una cosa che mi stimola parecchio, ed è che

serve un'enorme immaginazione per figurarsi com'è fatto il mondo


I would rather have questions

that can’t be answered

than answers

that can’t be questioned



 in order to progress

we must recognize our ignorance

and leave room for doubt

The scientist has a lot of experience with ignorance and doubt and uncertainty, and this experience is of

very great importance, I think .     When a scientist doesn't know the answer to a problem, he is ignorant . 

When he has a hunch as to what the result is, he is uncertain .

And when he is pretty darned sure of what the result is going to be, he is in some doubt .

We have found it of paramount importance that in order to progress

we must recognize the ignorance and leave room for doubt .

Scientific knowledge is a body of statements of varying degrees of certainty --

some most unsure, some nearly sure, none absolutely certain .



I was born not knowing

and have only had a little time to change that here and there


 learn what the rest of the world is like

the variety is worthwhile

I learned very early the difference between

knowing the name of something            

and knowing something




Science is what we have learned about how to keep from fooling ourselves


Do not remain nameless to yourself


No problem is too small or too trivial if we can really do something about it

Nessun problema è troppo piccolo o troppo banale se possiamo davvero fare qualcosa al riguardo

You say you are a nameless man.     You are not to your wife and to your child.      You will not long remain so to your immediate colleagues if you can answer their simple questions when they come into your office.    You are not nameless to me.     Do not remain nameless to yourself – it is too sad a way to be.      Know your place in the world and evaluate yourself fairly, not in terms of your naïve ideals of your own youth, nor in terms of what you erroneously imagine your teacher’s ideals are.
Best of luck and happiness.    Sincerely, Richard P. Feynman
tratto da  lettera di risposta  allo studente   koichi mano - 1966
fb/nobelprize -



The whole problem of discovering what was the matter

and figuring out what you have to do to fix it

that was interesting to me, like a puzzle


Se vogliamo risolvere un problema che non abbiamo ancora risolto

dobbiamo lasciare socchiusa la porta dell’ignoto

 In piedi davanti al mare meravigliato della propria meraviglia

io un universo di atomi

un atomo nell'universo

I ... a universe of atoms, an atom in the universe


The highest forms of understanding we can achieve

are laughter and human compassion


Il problema non è che le persone siano ignoranti

Il problema è che le persone sono istruite quel tanto che basta

per credere a ciò che è stato loro insegnato

e non abbastanza istruite per mettere in dubbio qualsiasi cosa

da ciò che è stato insegnato loro
The problem is not people being uneducated. The problem is that people are educated

just enough to believe what they have been taught, and not educated enough to question

anything from what they have been taught

I don't know what's the matter with people

they don't learn by understanding, they learn by some other way

by rote or something

Their knowledge is so fragile  !


We are trying to prove ourselves wrong as quickly as possible

because only in that way can we find progress


chi pretende di capire la teoria quantistica 

non ha capito la meccanica quantistica

If you think you understand quantum mechanics

you don't understand quantum mechanics


Quantum mechanics describes nature as absurd

from the point of view of common sense

And yet it fully agrees with experiment

So I hope you can accept nature as She is - absurd


Our imagination is stretched to the utmost, not as in fiction

to imagine things which are not really there

but just to comprehend those things which are there
in the character of physical law   -  1965 - fm/rf



never mind - nothing is going to change your mind

I did that once when I was a student at MIT. I got sick and tired of having to decide what kind of dessert I was going to have at the restaurant, so I decided it would always be chocolate ice cream, and never worried about it again - I had the solution to that problem.
surely you're joking, mr. feynman !



Fall in love with some activity  

and do it! Nobody ever figures out what life is all about, and it doesn't matter  .   Explore the world  .    Nearly everything is really interesting if you go into it deeply enough. Work as hard and as much as you want to on the things you like to do the best .     Don't think about what you want to be, but what you want to do .     Keep up some kind of a minimum with other things so that society doesn't stop you from doing anything at all .






Penso poter tranquillamente  dire che nessuno capisce la meccanica quantistica

There was a time when the newspapers said that only twelve men understood the theory of relativity .    I do not believe there ever was such a time .    There might have been a time when only one man did, because he was the only guy who caught on, before he wrote his paper .    But after people read the paper a lot of people understood the theory of relativity in some way or other, certainly more than twelve .   On the other hand, I think I can safely say that nobody understands quantum mechanics.
the character of physical law - 1965 - BBC_penguin


on science
The world looks so different after learning science 
For example, trees are made of air, primarily. When they are burned, they go back to air, and in the flaming heat is released the flaming heat of the sun which was bound in to convert the air into tree. And in the ash is the small remnant of the part which did not come from air, that came from the solid Earth, instead.
These are beautiful things, and the content of science is wonderfully full of them. They are inspiring and they can be used to inspire others.

There is no authority who decides what is a good idea

We have lost the need to go to an authority to find out whether an idea is true or not.    We can read an authority and let him suggest something; we can try it out and find out if it is true or not.  If it is not true, so much the worse - so the 'authorities' lose some of their 'authority' .
the meaning of it all - the uncertainty of science - 1998

Babbo Natale

Quando da piccoli scoprii che Babbo natale non esisteva, non ci rimasi male. Ero al contrario sollevato di sapere che un fenomeno molto più semplice spiegava come mai così tanti bambini in tutto il mondo ricevevano regali tutti la stessa notte.

Se lasciamo cadere un uovo sul marciapiede si spiaccica in tutte le direzioni.      Al contrario, se vediamo un uovo spiaccicato sul marciapiede, non ci aspettiamo che da un momento all’altro si raccolga insieme per formare un uovo intero che ci salta in mano. Sembra quindi ovvio che le leggi della fisica apparirebbero diverse invertendo la direzione del tempo .

Non sto dicendo che la mia fisica non sia degna del premio Nobel ma che io, da un punto di vista umano, non mi sento un Premio Nobel o uno Scienziato Importante. Non lo sono, tutto qua. Ero solo un ragazzino che si gingillava. Ero in pigiama sul pavimento con carta e matita, e ho scarabocchiato qualcosa, ok ?


I was terrible in English

I couldn't stand the subject.   It seemed to me ridiculous to worry about whether you spelled something wrong or not, because English spelling is just a human convention--it has nothing to do with anything real, anything from nature.    Any word can be spelled just as well a different way .

fb/rf - wikiquote

A poet once said

' The whole universe is in a glass of wine . '   We will probably never know in what sense he meant it, for poets do not write to be understood .    But it is true that if we look at a glass of wine closely enough we see the entire universe .    There are the things of physics: the twisting liquid which evaporates depending on the wind and weather, the reflection in the glass; and our imagination adds atoms .    The glass is a distillation of the earth's rocks, and in its composition we see the secrets of the universe's age, and the evolution of stars .    What strange array of chemicals are in the wine ?   How did they come to be ?   There are the ferments, the enzymes, the substrates, and the products .   There in wine is found the great generalization; all life is fermentation. Nobody can discover the chemistry of wine without discovering, as did Louis Pasteur, the cause of much disease .   How vivid is the claret, pressing its existence into the consciousness that watches it! If our small minds, for some convenience, divide this glass of wine, this universe, into parts - physics, biology, geology, astronomy, psychology, and so on - remember that nature does not know it !   So let us put it all back together, not forgetting ultimately what it is for .   Let it give us one more final pleasure;   drink it and forget it all !

I poeti dicono

che la scienza rovina la bellezza delle stelle, riducendole solo ad ammassi di atomi di gas. Solo? Anch’ io mi commuovo a vedere le stelle di notte nel deserto, ma ne vedo di meno o di più ?     La vastità dei cieli sfida la mia immaginazione; attaccato a questa piccola giostra il mio occhio riesce a cogliere luce vecchia di un milione di anni .    Vedo un grande schema, di cui sono parte, e forse la mia sostanza è stata eruttata da qualche stella dimenticata, come una, ora, sta esplodendo lassù .    Oppure vederle con il grande occhio di Palomar correre via l'una dall'altra, allontanandosi da uno stesso punto in cui erano forse riunite tutte insieme .   Qual'è lo schema, quale il suo significato, il perchè ?   Saperne qualcosa non distrugge il mistero, perchè la realtà è tanto più meravigliosa di quanto potesse immaginare nessun artista del passato !   Che uomini sono mai i poeti, che riescono a parlare di giove pensandolo simile ad un uomo, ma se è un’immensa sfera di metano e ammoniaca ammutoliscono ?
sei pezzi facili  - six easy pieces 2000




Anytime you try to teach the subjects without teachers who love the subject

it is doomed to failure and is a foolish thing to do



What do I advise ?   Forget it all .   Don't be afraid
Do what you get the most pleasure from
Is it to build a cloud chamber ?    Then go on doing things like that
Develop your talents wherever they may lead   
Damn the torpedoes - full speed ahead ! ...

If you have any talent
or any occupation that delights you,  do it,  and do it to the hilt ...

richard p. feynman to frederich hipp - april 5, 1961  -

Quello che non riesco a creare, non lo saprò mai capire
What I cannot create, I do not understand
scritto da rf sulla sua lavagna nel 1988 - da L'universo in un guscio di noce di Stephen Hawking



People often think I'm a faker but I'm usually honest, in a certain way

- in such a way that often nobody believes me !

 fb/rf adventures of a curious character

All the time you're saying to yourself

I could do that,   but I won't

which is just another way of saying that you can't


Finally, I said that I couldn’t see how anyone could be educated

by this self-propagating system in which people pass exams

and teach others to pass exams

but nobody knows anything

There are thousands of years in the past

and there is an unknown amount of time in the future

There are all kinds of opportunities, and there are all kinds of dangers

Nobody ever figures out what life is all about

and it doesn't matter .     Explore the world   

Nearly everything is really interesting if you go into it deeply enough





Study hard what interests you the most

in the most undisciplined, irreverent

and original manner possible

Studia duramente quello che ti interessa

nel modo più indisciplinato, originale e irriverente possibile




I always do that

get into something and see how far I can go


Words can be meaningless

If they are used in such a way

that no sharp conclusions can be drawn




You can know the name of that bird in all the languages of the world

but when you’re finished, you’ll know absolutely nothing whatever about the bird

You’ll only know about humans in different places, and what they call the bird

So let’s look at the bird and see what it’s doing - that’s what counts

- I learned very early the difference between knowing the name of something

and knowing something -

Tu puoi conoscere il nome di un uccello in tutte le lingue del mondo

e quando avrai finito, non saprai assolutamente nulla per quanto riguarda quell’uccello  ...

Allora guardiamo l’uccello e vediamo cosa sta facendo - questo è ciò che conta

Ho imparato molto presto la differenza tra il conoscere il nome di qualcosa e conoscere quel qualcosa -


The only way to have real success in science, the field I'm familiar with

is to describe the evidence very carefully

without regard to the way you feel it should be 
If you have a theory, you must try to explain what's good

and what's bad about it equally

In science, you learn a kind of standard integrity and honesty


Dal punto di vista del buon senso l'elettrodinamica quantistica

descrive una Natura assurda .    Tuttavia è in perfetto accordo

con i dati sperimentali  .    Mi auguro quindi che riusciate ad accettare la Natura

per quello che è :    assurda


I was an ordinary person who studied hard .     There are no miracle people

It happens they get interested in this thing and they learn all this stuff

but they’re just people


It doesn't seem to me that this fantastically marvelous universe

this tremendous range of time and space and different kinds of animals

and all the different planets, and all these atoms with all their motions, and so on

all this complicated thing can merely be a stage

so that God can watch human beings struggle for good and evil

- which is the view that religion has -

The stage is too big for the drama


The female mind is capable of understanding analytic geometry...

The difficulty may just be that we have never yet discovered

a way to communicate with the female mind

If it is done in the right way, you may be able to get something out of it


We are very lucky to be living in an age

in which we are still making discoveries

It is like the discovery of America - you only discover it once

The age in which we live is the age in which we are discovering

the fundamental laws of nature

and that day will never come again

It is very exciting, it is marvelous, but this excitement will have to go


Philosophers say a great deal about what is absolutely necessary for science

and it is always, so far as one can see, rather naive, and probably wrong



Knowledge isn't free  -   You have to pay attention


If you find science boring

you’re learning it from a wrong teacher !
se trovi la scienza noiosa la  stai imparando  dall’insegnante sbagliato !




richard phiLlips feynman

Manatthan New York 11 maggio 1918 – Los Angeles 15 febbraio 1988

grande fisico teorico - nobel 1965 .   uomo dalla straordinaria personalità ed intelligenza,  anticonformista nella vita e nel lavoro. combinava scherzi a tutti tanto da farne quasi un'occupazione.  amatissimo dai suoi studenti era un insegnante nato ma criticato dai professori classici dell'epoca.  aveva un suo modo speciale di approcciare le leggi della fisica e della visualizzazione per la comprensione dei fenomeni fisici.  i suoi diagrammi sono il risultato di una profonda ricerca sulla elettrodinamica quantistica.   lavorò alle prime fasi del Manhattan Project,  il programma atomico americano.  noto per le ricerche riguardanti la trasformazione di un fotone  in un elettrone e un positrone e per la scoperta di un metodo  di misurazione delle variazioni risultanti di carica e massa.  inoltre svolse un ruolo di primo piano nella commissione presidenziale  che indagò sull'esplosione dello space shuttle Challenger nel 1986.   l'amatissima  arlEne, malata gravemente di tubercolosi morì nel 1945.   feynman non si riprese  facilmente da questa perdita .  anni dopo si sposò altre due volte. 

morì a 69 anni COLPITO DA colpito da due rare forme di tumore: il liposarcoma e la macroglobulinemia di Waldenström.  

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