Richard Feynman (1918–1988)
Nobel Prize in Physics in 1965 (with Sin-Itiro Tomonaga and Julian Schwinger) “for their fundamental work in quantum electrodynamics, with deep-ploughing consequences for the physics of elementary particles”
In January 2016, Caltech held an event celebrating the legacy of Richard Feynman, which included a long and revered teaching career both at the Institute and through a series of lectures aimed at laypeople interested in physics.
In a blog tribute titled “The Best Teacher I Never Had” and written for the event, Bill Gates remembers how he stumbled upon Feynman’s lectures.
“A friend and I were planning a trip together and wanted to mix a little learning in with our relaxation. We looked at a local university’s film collection, saw that they had one of his lectures on physics, and checked it out. We loved it so much that we ended up watching it twice. Feynman had this amazing knack for making physics clear and fun at the same time. I immediately went looking for more of his talks, and I’ve been a big fan ever since. Years later I bought the rights to those lectures and worked with Microsoft to get them posted online for free.
“In that sense, Feynman has a lot in common with all the amazing teachers I’ve met in schools across the country. You walk into their classroom and immediately feel the energy—the way they engage their students—and their passion for whatever subject they’re teaching.”
Header image of Richard Feynman courtesy of the Caltech Archives