* OCR: "the real caterpillar".

--------


        by Richard P. Feynman


     "Surely You're Joking, Mr Feynman!"
     A Bantam Book
     published by arrangement with
     W.W. Norton Company, Inc.
     PRINTING HISTORY
     W.W. Norton edition published February 1985
     9 printings through March 1985
     A selection of Book-of-the-Month Club/Science April 1985 and
     Macmillan Book Clubs April 1985.

     Portions of this book appeared in Science '84 magazine December
     1984 and in Discover magazine November 1984.
     Bantam edition February 1986
     Cover photo by Floyd Clark / Caltech.
     All rights reserved.

     Copyright (c) 1985 by Richard P. Feynman and Ralph Leighton.
     This book may not be reproduced in whole or in part,  by mimeograph  or
any other means, without permission.
     For information address: W.W. Norton Company, Inc., 500 Fifth Ave., New
York, NY 10110.
     ISBN 0-553-25649-1
     Published simultaneously in the United States and Canada



--------


     The stories in this book were collected  intermittently  and informally
during seven years of very enjoyable drumming with  Richard Feynman.  I have
found each story by itself to  be amusing, and the collection taken together
to  be amazing: That one person could have so many wonderfully crazy  things
happen to him  in one  life is sometimes  hard to believe.  That one  person
could invent so much innocent mischief in one life is surely an inspiration!
     Ralph Leighton



--------


     I  hope these won't be  the only memoirs  of Richard Feynman. Certainly
the reminiscences here give a true picture of  much of his character --  his
almost compulsive need  to  solve puzzles,  his provocative mischievousness,
his indignant impatience with pretension and  hypocrisy,  and his talent for
one-upping anybody who tries  to  one-up him! This book  is  great  reading:
outrageous, shocking, still warm and very human.
     For all that, it only skirts the keystone of his life: science.  We see
it  here  and there, as  background material in one  sketch or  another, but
never  as the focus of his existence, which  generations of his students and
colleagues  know it to be. Perhaps nothing else is possible. There may be no
way to construct such  a series of delightful stories about himself  and his
work:  the challenge and frustration, the excitement that caps  insight, the
deep  pleasure  of scientific understanding  that has been the wellspring of
happiness in his life.
     I remember when I was his student how it was when  you walked  into one
of his lectures. He would be standing in front of the hall smiling at us all
as we came in, his fingers tapping out a complicated rhythm on the black top
of the demonstration bench that crossed the  front  of the  lecture hall. As
latecomers took their  seats,  he picked up  the chalk and began spinning it
rapidly through his  fingers  in  a manner of a professional gambler playing
with a poker chip, still smiling happily as if at some secret joke. And then
--  still  smiling  --  he talked  to  us about  physics,  his diagrams  and
equations helping us to share his understanding. It was  no secret joke that
brought  the  smile and the sparkle in his eye,  it was physics.  The joy of
physics! The joy was contagious. We are fortunate who caught that infection.
Now here  is your opportunity to be exposed to the joy  of life in the style
of Feynman.
 	Albert R. Hibbs
 	Senior Member of the Technical Staff,
 	Jet Propulsion Laboratory,
 	California Institute of Technology



--------


     Some facts about my timing: I  was born  in 1918 in a small town called
Far  Rockaway, right  on  the outskirts of New  York,  near the sea. I lived
there until  1935, when I was seventeen. I went  to  MIT for four years, and
then I went to  Princeton, in about 1939. During the time I was at Princeton
I  started to work  on the Manhattan Project, and  I ultimately  went to Los
Alamos in April 1943,  until something like October or November 1946, when I
went to Cornell.
     I  got married to Arlene  in 1941, and she died of tuberculosis while I
was at Los Alamos, in 1946.
     I was at  Cornell until  about  1951. I visited Brazil in the summer of
1949 and spent  half a year  there in 1951, and then went to Caltech,  where
I've been ever since.
     I went to Japan at the end of  1951 for a  couple  of  weeks,  and then
again, a year or two later, just after I married my second wife, Mary Lou.
     I am now married to Gweneth, who is English, and we have two  children,
Carl and Michelle.
 	R. P. F.




--------





--------


     When I  was about  eleven  or twelve I set up  a  lab in  my house.  It
consisted of an  old wooden packing box  that  I put shelves  in.  I  had  a
heater, and I'd put  in fat and cook  french-fried potatoes all the  time. I
also had a storage battery, and a lamp bank.
     To  build the lamp  bank I went down  to  the five-and-ten and got some
sockets you can screw down to  a wooden base, and connected them with pieces
of bell wire. By  making different combinations of switches --  in series or
parallel  --  I  knew I could  get  different  voltages.  But what  I hadn't
realized was  that a bulb's  resistance depends on its  temperature,  so the
results of my calculations weren't the  same as the stuff  that came  out of
the  circuit. But it was  all  right, and when the bulbs were in series, all
half-lit, they would gloooooooooow, very pretty -- it was great!
     I had a fuse in  the  system  so  if I shorted anything, the fuse would
blow. Now  I had to have a fuse that  was weaker than the fuse in the house,
so I made  my  own fuses by taking  tin foil  and wrapping it around  an old
burnt-out fuse. Across my fuse I had a five-watt bulb, so when my fuse blew,
the load  from the  trickle charger that  was  always  charging  the storage
battery  would light up the  bulb. The bulb was on the  switchboard behind a
piece of brown candy paper (it looks red  when a light's behind it) -- so if
something went off, I'd look up to the  switchboard and there would be a big
red spot where the fuse went. It was fun!
     I enjoyed radios.  I started with a crystal  set  that I bought at  the
store, and  I used  to listen to it  at night  in bed while  I was going  to
sleep, through a pair of earphones. When my mother and father went out until
late at night,  they would come  into  my room and take the earphones off --
and worry about what was going into my head while I was asleep.
     About  that  time  I  invented  a  burglar  alarm,  which  was  a  very
simple-minded thing:  it was just a  big  battery and a bell connected  with
some wire. When the door  to my room opened, it pushed the  wire against the
battery and closed the circuit, and the bell would go off.
     One  night my mother and father came home from  a  night out and  very,
very quietly, so as not to disturb the child, opened  the  door to come into
my room to take my earphones off. All of a sudden this tremendous  bell went
off with a helluva racket -- BONG BONG BONG BONG BONG!!! I jumped out of bed
yelling, "It worked! It worked!"
     I had a Ford coil -- a spark coil from an automobile --  and I  had the
spark terminals  at the top of my  switchboard. I  would  put  a Raytheon RH
tube, which had argon  gas  in it, across the terminals, and the spark would
make a purple glow inside the vacuum -- it was just great!
     One day I was playing with the Ford coil, punching  holes in paper with
the  sparks, and the paper caught  on fire. Soon I couldn't hold it any more
because  it  was  burning  near  my  fingers,  so  I dropped  it in a  metal
wastebasket which had a lot of newspapers in  it. Newspapers burn fast,  you
know, and the flame looked pretty big inside the room. I shut the door so my
mother  -- who was  playing  bridge with some friends in  the living room --
wouldn't find  out there was a  fire in my  room,  took a magazine that  was
lying nearby, and put it over the wastebasket to smother the fire.
     After the fire  was out I took the magazine off, but now the room began
to fill up with smoke. The wastebasket was still too hot to handle, so I got
a pair of pliers, carried it across the room, and held it out the window for
the smoke to blow out.
     But because it was breezy outside, the wind lit the fire again, and now
the magazine was  out of  reach. So I pulled the flaming wastebasket back in
through the window to get the magazine, and I noticed there were curtains in
the window -- it was very dangerous!
     Well, I got  the magazine, put the fire out  again,  and this time kept
the magazine with me while I shook the  glowing coals out of  the wastepaper
basket  onto the street, two  or three floors  below. Then  I went out of my
room, closed the door behind  me, and said to my mother, "I'm going  out  to
play," and  the  smoke went out slowly through the windows. I also  did some
things with  electric motors  and built an amplifier for a photo cell that I
bought that could make a bell ring when I put my hand in  front of the cell.
I didn't get to do as much as I wanted to, because my mother kept putting me
out all the time, to play. But I was  often in  the house, fiddling  with my
lab.
     I  bought  radios  at rummage  sales. I  didn't have  any money, but it
wasn't very expensive -- they were old, broken radios,  and I'd buy them and
try to fix them. Usually they were broken  in some simple-minded way -- some
obvious wire was hanging loose, or a coil was broken or partly unwound -- so
I could get some of them going. On one of these  radios one night I got WACO
in Waco, Texas -- it was tremendously exciting!
     On this same tube radio up in my lab I was able to hear a station up in
Schenectady  called  WGN. Now, all of us kids -- my two cousins, my  sister,
and the  neighborhood kids -- listened on the radio downstairs to  a program
called  the  Eno Crime Club -- Eno effervescent  salts -- it  was the thing!
Well, I discovered  that I could hear this  program up in my lab on  WGN one
hour before it was broadcast in New York! So  I'd discover what was going to
happen,  and then, when  we were  all sitting  around  the radio  downstairs
listening to the Eno Crime Club, I'd say,  "You know, we haven't heard  from
so-and-so in a long time. I betcha he comes and saves the situation."
     Two seconds later,  bup-bup, he comes! So  they all  got  excited about
this, and I  predicted a couple of other  things.  Then  they  realized that
there must  be some trick to it -- that I must know, somehow. So I owned  up
to what it was, that I could hear it upstairs the hour before.
     You know what the result was, naturally. Now they couldn't wait for the
regular hour. They all had to sit upstairs in my lab with this little creaky
radio for half an hour, listening to the Eno Crime Club from Schenectady.
     We lived at that time in a big house;  it was left by my grandfather to
his children, and they didn't have much money aside from the house. It was a
very large, wooden house, and I  would run wires all around the outside, and
had plugs in  all the  rooms, so  I could always  listen to my radios, which
were upstairs in my lab. I also had a loudspeaker -- not  the whole speaker,
but the part without the big horn on it.
     One  day,  when  I  had my  earphones  on,  I  connected  them  to  the
loudspeaker, and I  discovered something: I put my finger in the speaker and
I could hear it in the earphones; I scratched the speaker and I'd hear it in
the earphones. So I discovered that the speaker could act like a microphone,
and  you  didn't  even  need  any batteries. At school we were talking about
Alexander Graham Bell,  so I  gave  a demonstration  of  the speaker and the
earphones. I didn't know  it at the time,  but I think  it was  the type  of
telephone he originally used.
     So now I  had  a  microphone, and I  could  broadcast from upstairs  to
downstairs, and  from downstairs  to  upstairs,  using  the amplifiers of my
rummage-sale radios. At that time my sister Joan, who was nine years younger
than I was, must  have been about two  or three, and there was  a guy on the
radio called Uncle Don that she  liked to listen  to. He'd sing little songs
about "good  children," and so on,  and  he'd read cards  sent in by parents
telling  that  "Mary  So-and-so is  having a birthday  this  Saturday at  25
Flatbush Avenue."
     One day my cousin Francis and I sat Joan down and said that there was a
special program she should listen to. Then we ran upstairs and we started to
broadcast: "This  is Uncle Don. We know a very nice  little girl named  Joan
who lives on New Broadway; she's  got a birthday  coming --  not  today, but
such-and-such. She's a cute girl." We  sang a little song,  and then we made
music:  "Deedle  leet deet,  doodle  doodle  loot  doot; deedle deedle leet,
doodle loot doot doo..."  We went  through the whole deal,  and then we came
downstairs: "How was it? Did you like the program?"
     "It was good,"  she said, "but  why  did  you make the music  with your
mouth?"

     One day I got a telephone call: "Mister, are you Richard Feynman?"
     "Yes."
     "This is a hotel. We have a radio that doesn't work, and would like  it
repaired. We understand you might be able to do something about it."
     "But I'm only a little boy," I said. "I don't know how --"
     "Yes, we know that, but we'd like you to come over anyway."
     It was a hotel that my aunt was running, but I didn't know that. I went
over there with -- they still tell the story -- a big screwdriver in my back
pocket. Well, I was small, so any screwdriver looked big in my back pocket.
     I went up to  the  radio and tried  to fix  it. I  didn't know anything
about it, but there was also a handyman at the hotel, and either he noticed,
or  I noticed, a  loose knob on the  rheostat -- to turn up the volume -- so
that it wasn't turning the shaft. He went off and filed something, and fixed
it up so it worked.
     The next radio I tried to  fix didn't work  at all.  That was easy:  it
wasn't plugged in right. As the repair jobs got more and more complicated, I
got better and better, and more elaborate. I bought myself a milliammeter in
New York and converted  it into a voltmeter that  had different scales on it
by using the right lengths (which I calculated) of very fine copper wire. It
wasn't very accurate,  but it was good enough to tell whether things were in
the right ballpark at different connections in those radio sets.
     The main  reason people  hired me was the Depression. They didn't  have
any money to fix their  radios,  and they'd hear about this kid who would do
it for less. So I'd climb on roofs to fix antennas, and all  kinds of stuff.
I  got  a series of  lessons of ever-increasing difficulty. Ultimately I got
some job like converting a DC set into an AC set,  and it was very  hard  to
keep the hum from going  through  the system, and  I didn't  build  it quite
right. I shouldn't have bitten that one off, but I didn't know.
     One  job  was  really  sensational. I was  working at  the  time  for a
printer, and a man who  knew that  printer knew  I  was trying to  get  jobs
fixing  radios, so he sent a  fellow around to the print shop to pick me up.
The guy is obviously poor -- his car is a complete wreck -- and we go to his
house which is in  a cheap  part of  town.  On the way,  I say, "What's  the
trouble with the radio?"
     He says, "When I turn  it on  it makes  a noise, and after a while  the
noise stops and everything's  all right, but  I don't like the noise at  the
beginning."
     I think to myself: "What the hell!  If he  hasn't got any  money, you'd
think he could stand a little noise for a while."
     And all the time, on the way to his house, he's saying things like, "Do
you know anything about radios? How do  you know about radios -- you're just
a little boy!"
     He's  putting  me down the whole way,  and I'm thinking, "So what's the
matter with him? So it makes a little noise."
     But when we got there I went over to the radio and turned it on. Little
noise? My God! No wonder the poor guy couldn't stand it.  The thing began to
roar and wobble --WUH BUH BUH BUH BUH -- A tremendous amount of noise.  Then
it quieted down and  played correctly. So I  started to think: "How can that
happen?"
     I start walking back and forth, thinking, and I realize that one way it
can happen is that the tubes  are heating up in the wrong  order -- that is,
the amplifier's all  hot,  the tubes are ready  to  go, and there's  nothing
feeding in, or there's some back circuit feeding in, or  something wrong  in
the beginning  part  --  the RF part -- and therefore it's  making a lot  of
noise, picking up something.  And when the RF circuit's finally  going,  and
the grid voltages are adjusted, everything's all right.
     So the  guy  says, "What are you doing? You  come to fix the radio, but
you're only walking back and forth!"
     I say, "I'm  thinking!"  Then I said to  myself,  "All right, take  the
tubes out, and reverse the order completely in the set." (Many radio sets in
those days  used  the same tubes in different places -- 212's, I think  they
were, or  212-A's.) So I changed  the tubes around, stepped to the front  of
the radio, turned the thing on,  and it's as quiet as a lamb: it waits until
it heats up, and then plays perfectly -- no noise.
     When a  person has been negative to you, and then you do something like
that,  they're  usually  a  hundred  percent  the  other  way,  kind  of  to
compensate.  He  got  me  other  jobs,  and  kept telling everybody  what  a
tremendous genius I  was, saying,  "He fixes radios  by thinking!" The whole
idea of thinking, to  fix  a radio --  a little  boy  stops and  thinks, and
figures out how to do it -- he never thought that was possible.
     Radio circuits were much  easier  to understand  in those  days because
everything was out in  the open. After you took the set  apart (it was a big
problem to find the right screws), you could see this was a resistor, that's
a condenser, here's a this, there's  a that; they were  all labeled.  And if
wax had been dripping from the condenser, it was too hot and you could  tell
that  the  condenser was burned out. If  there  was charcoal on one  of  the
resistors  you knew where the trouble was. Or, if you couldn't tell what was
the  matter by  looking at  it,  you'd test  it with your  voltmeter and see
whether voltage  was coming through. The sets were simple, the circuits were
not complicated. The voltage on the grids was always about one and a half or
two volts  and the voltages on the plates were one hundred  or  two hundred,
DC. So it wasn't hard for me to fix a radio by  understanding what was going
on inside, noticing that something wasn't working right, and fixing it.
     Sometimes it took quite a while. I remember one particular time when it
took  the  whole  afternoon  to  find a  burned-out  resistor that  was  not
apparent. That particular time it happened to be a friend of my mother, so I
had  time -- there  was  nobody on my back  saying,  "What  are  you doing?"
Instead, they were saying,  "Would you like a little milk, or some cake?"  I
finally fixed it because I had, and still have, persistence. Once I get on a
puzzle, I can't get  off. If my mother's friend had  said, "Never mind, it's
too much work,"  I'd  have blown  my  top, because  I want to beat this damn
thing, as long as I've gone this far. I can't just leave it after I've found
out so much  about it. I  have  to keep going to find out ultimately what is
the matter with it in the end.
     That's  a puzzle drive. It's what accounts  for my  wanting to decipher
Mayan hieroglyphics,  for  trying to open  safes. I remember in high school,
during first period a guy would come to me  with  a puzzle in  geometry,  or
something which  had been assigned in his  advanced math class.  I  wouldn't
stop until I  figured the damn  thing  out -- it would  take  me fifteen  or
twenty minutes. But  during the day, other guys would  come to  me with  the
same problem, and I'd do it for them  in  a flash. So for one guy,  to do it
took me twenty  minutes, while  there were  five  guys who  thought I  was a
super-genius.
     So I got a fancy reputation. During high school  every puzzle  that was
known to man must have come to me. Every damn,  crazy conundrum that  people
had invented, I knew. So when I got to MIT there was a dance, and one of the
seniors had his girlfriend there, and she knew a lot of puzzles,  and he was
telling her that I was  pretty good at them. So  during  the  dance she came
over to me and said, "They say you're a smart guy, so here's one  for you: A
man has eight cords of wood to chop..."
     And I said, "He  starts  by  chopping every other one in  three parts,"
because I had heard that one.
     Then  she'd go away and come back with another one, and I'd always know
it.
     This went on for quite a while, and finally, near the end of the dance,
she came over, looking as if she was going to get me for sure this time, and
she said, "A mother and daughter are traveling to Europe..."
     "The  daughter got the bubonic plague." She collapsed! That was  hardly
enough clues to get the answer to that one: It was  the long story about how
a mother and  daughter stop at a hotel and  stay in  separate rooms, and the
next day the mother goes to the daughter's room and there's nobody there, or
somebody else is there, and she says, "Where's  my daughter?" and the  hotel
keeper says, "What daughter?" and the register's got only the mother's name,
and so on, and so on, and there's  a  big  mystery as to  what happened. The
answer is, the daughter got  bubonic  plague, and  the hotel, not wanting to
have to close up, spirits the  daughter away, cleans up the room, and erases
all evidence of her having  been there. It was a long  tale, but I had heard
it, so when the girl started out with, "A mother  and daughter are traveling
to  Europe,"  I knew one thing  that started that way,  so I took  a  flying
guess, and got it.
     We had a thing at high school called the algebra  team, which consisted
of  five kids, and we would  travel to different schools  as a team and have
competitions. We would sit in one row of seats and the other  team would sit
in another  row. A teacher,  who was running the contest, would take out  an
envelope, and on the envelope it says "forty-five seconds." She opens it up,
writes the  problem on the blackboard, and says, "Go!" -- so you really have
more than forty-five seconds because while she's writing you  can think. Now
the game was  this: You  have a piece of paper,  and  on  it you  can  write
anything, you can do anything.  The only  thing that counted was the answer.
If the answer was "six books," you'd have to write "6," and put a big circle
around it. If what was in the circle was right,  you won; if  it wasn't, you
lost.
     One thing was for sure: It was practically impossible to do the problem
in any  conventional, straightforward way, like putting  "A is the number of
red books, B is  the number of blue books," grind,  grind, grind, until  you
get "six books." That would take you fifty seconds, because  the people  who
set up the timings on  these  problems had made them all a  trifle short. So
you had to think, "Is there a way to see  it?" Sometimes you could see it in
a flash, and sometimes you'd have to invent another way to do it and then do
the algebra  as fast  as  you could.  It was wonderful  practice,  and I got
better and  better, and I  eventually got to be the  head of the team.  So I
learned to do algebra very quickly, and it came in handy in college. When we
had a problem in calculus, I was very quick to see where it was going and to
do the algebra -- fast.
     Another thing I did in high school was to invent problems and theorems.
I  mean,  if I  were doing any mathematical thing at all, I would  find some
practical  example  for  which  it  would  be  useful.  I invented a set  of
right-triangle  problems. But instead of  giving  the lengths of  two of the
sides  to find the third, I gave the  difference of the two sides. A typical
example was: There's a flagpole, and there's a rope that comes down from the
top. When you hold the rope straight  down, it's three feet longer than  the
pole, and when you pull  the rope out tight, it's five feet from the base of
the pole. How high is the pole?
     I developed some  equations  for  solving problems like that, and as  a
result I noticed some connection -- perhaps it was sin^2 + cos^2 = 1 -- that
reminded me  of  trigonometry. Now, a few years earlier, perhaps when I  was
eleven  or twelve, I had read a book on trigonometry that I had checked  out
from the library, but the book was by now long gone.  I remembered only that
trigonometry  had something to do  with relations between sines and cosines.
So I began to work out  all the relations by drawing triangles, and each one
I  proved, by  myself. I  also calculated  the sine, cosine, and tangent  of
every  five degrees, starting  with  the sine of five degrees  as given,  by
addition and half-angle formulas that I had worked out.
     A few years later, when we studied  trigonometry in school, I still had
my notes and I saw that my demonstrations were often different from those in
the  book. Sometimes,  for a thing where  I didn't notice a simple way to do
it,  I  went all over  the place till I got it. Other times, my way was most
clever  -- the standard demonstration in the book was much more complicated!
So sometimes I had 'em beat, and sometimes it was the other way around.
     While I was doing all this trigonometry, I  didn't like the symbols for
sine, cosine, tangent, and so on. To me, "sin f" looked like s times i times
n times f! So I invented another symbol, like a square root sign, that was a
sigma with a long arm  sticking out  of  it, and I put the f underneath. For
the  tangent it was a  tau with  the top of  the  tau extended, and for  the
cosine I made a kind  of gamma,  but it looked  a little bit like the square
root sign.
     Now the inverse sine was the same sigma, but left-to-right reflected so
that it started with the horizontal line with the value underneath, and then
the sigma.  That was the inverse sine, NOT sin^-1 f -- that was crazy!  They
had that in books! To me, sin^-1 meant 1/sine, the reciprocal. So my symbols
were better.
     I didn't like f(x) -- that  looked  to me like f times x. I also didn't
like dy/dx -- you have a tendency to cancel the d's -- so I made a different
sign, something like an & sign.  For logarithms it was  a big L extended  to
the right, with the thing you take the log of inside, and so on.
     I thought my symbols were just as good, if not better, than the regular
symbols --  it doesn't make any difference  what  symbols you  use --  but I
discovered later that it does make a  difference. Once when I was explaining
something to another kid in high school,  without thinking I started to make
these  symbols, and he said, "What the hell are those?" I realized then that
if I'm going to talk to anybody else, I'll have to use the standard symbols,
so I eventually gave up my own symbols.
     I had also invented a set  of symbols  for the typewriter, like fortran
has  to do, so I could type equations. I also  fixed typewriters, with paper
clips and rubber bands (the rubber bands didn't break down like they do here
in Los Angeles), but I wasn't a professional repairman; I'd just fix them so
they would work. But 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.


--------


     I must have been seventeen or eighteen when  I worked  one summer  in a
hotel run by my aunt. I don't know how much  I got --  twenty-two dollars  a
month, I think -- and I  alternated  eleven hours one day and  thirteen  the
next as a desk  clerk  or  as a  busboy  in the restaurant.  And during  the
afternoon, when you were desk clerk, you had  to bring milk  up to Mrs. D--,
an invalid woman who never gave us a tip.  That's the way the world was: You
worked long hours and got nothing for it, every day.
     This was  a  resort hotel,  by the beach, on the outskirts of New  York
City. The husbands would go to  work  in the city and leave the wives behind
to  play cards, so you would always have to get the bridge tables out.  Then
at night the guys would play poker,  so  you'd get the tables ready for them
--  clean out  the ashtrays and so on. I was always up  until late at night,
like two o'clock, so it really was thirteen and eleven hours a day.
     There were certain things I didn't like, such as tipping. I thought  we
should be paid more, and not have to have any tips. But when I proposed that
to the  boss, I  got  nothing but  laughter. She  told  everybody,  "Richard
doesn't want his tips, hee, hee, hee; he doesn't want his tips, ha, ha, ha."
The world is  full of  this kind  of dumb smart-alec who  doesn't understand
anything.
     Anyway, at one stage there was a group  of  men  who, when  they'd come
back from working in  the  city, would right away want ice for their drinks.
Now the other guy working with me had really been a desk clerk. He was older
than I was, and  a lot more  professional. One time he  said to me, "Listen,
we're always bringing  ice up to that guy  Ungar and he never gives us a tip
-- not even  ten cents. Next  time, when they ask for ice,  just don't  do a
damn thing.  Then they'll call you  back, and when  they  call you back, you
say, 'Oh, I'm sorry. I forgot. We're all forgetful sometimes.'"
     So  I did it, and Ungar gave  me fifteen cents! But  now, when I  think
back on  it, I  realize that  the other desk  clerk, the  professional,  had
really known what  to do -- tell  the other guy to take  the risk of getting
into trouble. He put me to the  job of training this fella to give tips.  He
never said anything; he made me do it!
     I had to clean up tables in the dining room as a  busboy.  You pile all
this stuff from the  tables on to a tray at the side, and when  it gets high
enough you  carry it into the kitchen.  So you get  a new  tray,  right? You
should do it in two steps -- take the old tray away, and put in a new one --
but I thought, "I'm going to do it in one step." So I tried to slide the new
tray under, and pull the old tray out at the  same  time,  and it slipped --
BANG!  All the stuff  went on the floor. And then, naturally,  the  question
was, "What were  you doing? How did it fall?" Well, how could I explain that
I was trying to invent a new way to handle trays?
     Among  the desserts there was some  kind of coffee  cake that  came out
very  pretty on a doily, on a little plate. But if you would go in  the back
you'd see  a  man  called the  pantry man. His  problem was to get the stuff
ready  for desserts. Now this  man must have  been a miner, or  something --
heavy-built, with very stubby,  rounded, thick fingers. He'd take this stack
of doilies, which  are  manufactured by some sort of stamping  process,  all
stuck together,  and he'd take these  stubby fingers and try to separate the
doilies  to put them on the  plates. I always  heard  him  say,  "Damn  deez
doilies!" while he was doing this, and I remember thinking, "What a contrast
-- the person sitting at  the table gets this nice cake on a  doilied plate,
while the pantry man back there with the stubby thumbs is saying, 'Damn deez
doilies!'"  So  that was the difference  between the real world  and what it
looked like.
     My first day on the job the pantry lady explained that she usually made
a ham sandwich, or something, for the guy who  was on the late shift. I said
that I liked desserts, so if there was a dessert left  over from supper, I'd
like that. The next night I was on the late shift till 2:00  a.m. with these
guys playing poker. I was sitting around with nothing  to do, getting bored,
when suddenly I remembered  there  was a  dessert to eat. I went over to the
icebox and  opened it  up, and  there she'd  left six desserts!  There was a
chocolate pudding, a piece  of cake, some peach slices,  some  rice pudding,
some jello -- there was everything! So I sat there and  ate the six desserts
-- it was sensational!
     The next day she said to me, "I left a dessert for you..."
     "It was wonderful," I said, "abolutely wonderful!"
     "But I left you six desserts because I didn't know which one you  liked
the best."
     So  from that  time  on  she left six  desserts.  They  weren't  always
different, but there were always six desserts.
     One time when I was desk  clerk a girl left a book by  the telephone at
the desk while she  went to eat dinner, so I looked at. it.  It was The Life
of Leonardo, and I couldn't resist: The girl let me borrow it and I read the
whole thing.
     I slept in a little room in the  back  of the hotel, and there was some
stew about turning out the lights when you leave your room, which I couldn't
ever remember to do. Inspired by the Leonardo book, I made this gadget which
consisted of a system of  strings and weights  -- Coke bottles full of water
-- that would operate when I'd open the door, lighting  the pull-chain light
inside.  You open the door, and things  would go, and light the light;  then
you close  the  door behind  you,  and the light would go out.  But my  real
accomplishment came later.
     I  used to cut  vegetables in the  kitchen. String beans had to be  cut
into one-inch pieces. The  way  you were supposed to do it was: You hold two
beans in one  hand, the knife in the other, and you  press the knife against
the beans and your thumb, almost cutting yourself. It was a slow process. So
I put my mind to it, and I got a pretty good idea.  I sat down at the wooden
table outside  the  kitchen, put  a  bowl in my lap, and stuck a  very sharp
knife into the table at a forty-five-degree angle away from me. Then I put a
pile of the string beans on each side, and I'd pick out a bean, one in  each
hand, and bring it towards me with enough speed that it would slice, and the
pieces would slide into the bowl that was in my lap.
     So I'm slicing  beans  one  after the other -- chig, chig, chig,  chig,
chig  -- and everybody's  giving me the beans, and I'm going like sixty when
the boss comes by and says, "What are you doing?"
     I say, "Look at the way  I have of cutting  beans!" -- and just at that
moment I put a finger through instead of a bean. Blood  came out and went on
the  beans,  and there was a  big excitement: "Look  at  how many  beans you
spoiled! What a stupid way to do things!"  and so on. So I was never able to
make any  improvement, which  would  have  been easy  --  with  a  guard, or
something -- but no, there was no chance for improvement.
     I  had  another  invention, which had  a similar difficulty. We had  to
slice potatoes after they'd been cooked, for some kind of potato salad. They
were sticky  and wet, and difficult  to handle. I thought of a  whole lot of
knives, parallel  in  a rack, coming down and  slicing the  whole  thing.  I
thought about this a long  time, and finally I  got  the idea of wires  in a
rack.
     So  I  went  to the  five-and-ten to buy some  knives or wires, and saw
exactly the  gadget I wanted: it was  for slicing eggs.  The  next  time the
potatoes came out I got my little egg-slicer out and sliced all the potatoes
in no time, and sent them back  to the chef. The  chef was a German, a great
big guy who was King of the Kitchen, and he came storming out, blood vessels
sticking out of  his neck, livid red. "What's the matter with the potatoes?"
he says. "They're not sliced!"
     I had them sliced, but they were all  stuck together. He says, "How can
I separate them?"
     "Stick 'em in water," I suggest.
     "IN WATER? EAGHHHHHHHHHHH!!!"
     Another  time I had a really  good idea. When I was desk clerk I had to
answer the telephone. When a call came in, something buzzed, and a flap came
down on the switchboard so you could tell which line it was. Sometimes, when
I was helping the women with the bridge tables or sitting on the front porch
in the middle of the afternoon (when there were very few calls), I'd be some
distance from the switchboard when suddenly it would go. I'd come running to
catch it, but the way the desk was made, in order to get  to the switchboard
you  had to go quite  a distance  further down, then around, in  behind, and
then back up to see where the call was coming from -- it took extra time.
     So I got a good idea. I  tied threads to the flaps on  the switchboard,
and strung them over the top  of  the desk and  then down, and at the end of
each thread I tied a little piece of paper. Then I put the telephone talking
piece up on top of the desk, so I could reach it from the front. Now, when a
call came, I could tell which flap was down by which piece of paper was  up,
so I could answer the phone appropriately, from the front, to  save time. Of
course  I  still had to  go around back to switch it in, but  at least I was
answering it. I'd say, "Just a moment," and then go around to switch it in.
     I thought  that  was perfect, but  the boss  came by  one day,  and she
wanted  to  answer  the  phone,  and  she couldn't  figure  it  out  --  too
complicated.  "What are all these papers doing? Why is the telephone on this
side? Why don't you... raaaaaaaa!"
     I tried to  explain --  it was my  own aunt -- that there was no reason
not to do  that, but you can't say  that to anybody who's  smart, who runs a
hotel! I learned there that innovation is a very difficult thing in the real
world.


--------


     At MIT the different fraternities all had "smokers" where they tried to
get  the  new freshmen to be their pledges, and  the summer before I went to
MIT  I was invited  to a meeting in  New  York of Phi Beta  Delta, a  Jewish
fraternity. In  those  days, if you were  Jewish  or brought up in  a Jewish
family, you didn't have a chance in any other fraternity. Nobody else  would
look at you. I wasn't particularly looking to be  with  other Jews, and  the
guys from the Phi Beta Delta fraternity didn't care how Jewish I was  --  in
fact, I  didn't believe anything about that  stuff, and was certainly not in
any  way religious.  Anyway,  some guys  from  the fraternity asked  me some
questions and gave me a little bit  of advice --  that  I ought to take  the
first-year  calculus exam  so I wouldn't  have to take  the  course -- which
turned  out to be good advice. I liked the fellas who came down to  New York
from the  fraternity, and the two guys who talked me into it, I later became
their roommate.
     There  was another Jewish fraternity at  MIT,  called  "SAM," and their
idea was  to give  me a ride  up to Boston and  I could  stay  with them.  I
accepted the ride, and stayed upstairs in one of the rooms that first night.
     The next morning I looked out the window and  saw the two guys from the
other  fraternity (that  I met  in New York) walking up the steps. Some guys
from  the  Sigma  Alpha Mu  ran out to  talk  to  them and there  was a  big
discussion.
     I yelled out the window, "Hey, I'm supposed to be with those guys!" and
I  rushed  out of  the  fraternity  without  realizing  that they  were  all
operating, competing for my pledge. I didn't have any feelings  of gratitude
for the ride, or anything.
     The  Phi  Beta Delta fraternity had almost  collapsed the  year before,
because there  were two different cliques  that had split the  fraternity in
half.  There was a group  of socialite  characters, who liked to have dances
and fool around in their cars afterwards, and  so on,  and there was a group
of guys who did nothing but study, and never went to the dances.
     Just before I came to the fraternity they had had a big meeting and had
made an important compromise. They were going to get together  and help each
other out. Everyone had  to have a grade level of at least such-and-such. If
they were sliding behind, the guys who studied all the time would teach them
and help them do their work. On the other side, everybody had to go to every
dance. If a guy didn't know how to get  a date, the other guys would get him
a date. If the guy didn't know how to dance, they'd teach  him to dance. One
group  was  teaching the  other  how to  think,  while the  other guys  were
teaching them how to be social.
     That was just right for me, because I was not very good socially. I was
so  timid that  when I had to  take the mail out and walk  past some seniors
sitting  on the steps with some girls, I was petrified: I didn't know how to
walk past them! And  it didn't help  any when a  girl  would say,  "Oh, he's
cute!"
     It  was only  a little  while  after that the  sophomores brought their
girlfriends and their girlfriends' friends  over  to teach us to dance. Much
later, one of the guys taught me how to drive his car. They worked very hard
to get us intellectual characters to socialize and be more relaxed, and vice
versa. It was a good balancing out.
     I  had  some  difficulty understanding what  exactly  it  meant  to  be
"social." Soon  after these social guys had  taught  me how to meet girls, I
saw a nice waitress in a restaurant  where I  was eating  by myself one day.
With great effort I  finally got up enough nerve to ask her to be my date at
the next fraternity dance, and she said yes.
     Back at the fraternity,  when we  were  talking about the dates for the
next dance, I  told the guys I didn't need a date this  time  -- I had found
one on my own. I was very proud of myself.
     When  the upperclassmen found out  my date was  a  waitress,  they were
horrified. They told me that was not possible; they  would get me a "proper"
date. They  made me  feel as  though I had  strayed, that I was  amiss. They
decided  to take over  the situation. They went to the restaurant, found the
waitress, talked her out of it, and got me another girl. They were trying to
educate their  "wayward son," so to  speak, but they  were wrong, I think. I
was only  a freshman then, and I didn't have  enough confidence yet  to stop
them from breaking my date.
     When I became  a  pledge  they had various  ways  of hazing. One of the
things they did was to take us, blindfolded, far out into the countryside in
the dead of winter and leave us by a frozen lake about a hundred feet apart.
We were in  the middle of absolutely nowhere -- no houses, no nothing -- and
we  were  supposed to find our way back  to the fraternity. We were a little
bit scared,  because we were young, and we didn't say much -- except for one
guy, whose name was Maurice Meyer: you couldn't stop him from joking around,
making  dumb  puns, and  having this  happy-go-lucky  attitude  of  "Ha, ha,
there's nothing to worry about. Isn't this fun!"
     We  were  getting mad at Maurice. He was  always walking  a  little bit
behind and laughing at the whole situation, while the rest of us didn't know
how we were ever going to get out of this.
     We came to an intersection not far from the lake -- there were still no
houses or anything -- and the rest of us were discussing  whether  we should
go this  way or that way,  when Maurice caught  up to us and said,  "Go this
way."
     "What  the  hell do you  know,  Maurice?" we  said, frustrated. "You're
always making these jokes. Why should we go this way?"
     "Simple: Look at the telephone lines.  Where  there's more wires,  it's
going toward the central station."
     This guy,  who  looked like he wasn't paying attention to anything, had
come up with a terrific idea! We walked straight into town without making an
error.
     On the following day there was going to be a schoolwide freshman versus
sophomore mudeo (various forms of wrestling and tug of wars that  take place
in the mud). Late in the evening, into our fraternity comes a whole bunch of
sophomores --  some  from our fraternity  and some from  outside -- and they
kidnap us: they want us to be tired the next day so they can win.
     The sophomores tied up all the freshmen relatively easily -- except me.
I didn't want the  guys in the fraternity to find out that I was  a "sissy."
(I was never any  good in sports.  I was always terrified if  a tennis  ball
would come over  the fence  and land near  me, because I never could  get it
over the  fence --  it  usually  went about  a  radian off of  where it  was
supposed to  go.) I figured this  was  a  new situation, a  new world, and I
could  make a new reputation. So in order that I wouldn't look like I didn't
know how to fight, I fought like a son of a gun as best I could (not knowing
what I was doing), and  it  took three  or four guys many tries  before they
were finally able to tie me  up. The sophomores took us to a house, far away
in the woods, and tied us all down to a wooden floor with big U tacks.
     I tried all sorts of ways to escape, but there were sophomores guarding
us,  and none of my tricks worked. I remember distinctly one young man  they
were  afraid  to  tie down because  he  was so  terrified: his face was pale
yellow-green  and  he  was  shaking. I found out later he was from Europe --
this was in the early thirties -- and he didn't realize that  these guys all
tied down to the floor was some kind of a joke; he knew what kinds of things
were going on in  Europe. The  guy  was frightening to  look at,  he was  so
scared.
     By  the  time the night  was  over,  there  were  only three sophomores
guarding twenty of us freshmen, but we didn't  know that. The sophomores had
driven their  cars in and out a few times to make it sound as if there was a
lot of activity, and we didn't notice it was  always the same cars  and  the
same people. So we didn't win that one.
     My father and mother happened to come up that morning  to see how their
son was doing in Boston, and the fraternity  kept putting  them off until we
came  back  from  being  kidnapped.  I was  so  bedraggled  and  dirty  from
struggling so hard  to  escape and from lack of sleep that  they were really
horrified to discover what their son looked like at MIT!
     I had also gotten a  stiff neck,  and I  remember standing in  line for
inspection that afternoon at ROTC, not  being able to look straight forward.
The commander grabbed my head and turned it, shouting, "Straighten up!"
     I winced, as my shoulders went at an angle: "I can't help it, sir!"
     "Oh, excuse me!" he said, apologetically.
     Anyway, the  fact that I fought so long and hard not to be tied up gave
me a terrific reputation, and I never had to worry about that sissy business
again -- a tremendous relief.

     I often listened to my roommates -- they were both seniors  -- studying
for their theoretical physics course.  One day they were working pretty hard
on something  that seemed pretty clear to me,  so I said, "Why don't you use
the Baronallai's equation?"
     "What's that!" they exclaimed. "What are you talking about!"
     I explained to them what I meant and how it worked in this case, and it
solved the problem. It turned out it was  Bernoulli's equation that I meant,
but I had read all this stuff in the encyclopedia without talking to anybody
about it, so I didn't know how to pronounce anything.
     But  my roommates were very  excited,  and from then on  they discussed
their physics problems with me -- I wasn't so lucky with many of them -- and
the next year,  when I took the course, I  advanced rapidly. That was a very
good way to get educated, working on the senior problems and learning how to
pronounce things.
     I liked to go to a place called the Raymor and Playmore Ballroom -- two
ballrooms  that were connected  together -- on Tuesday nights. My fraternity
brothers didn't go to these "open" dances; they preferred their  own dances,
where the girls  they brought were upper crust ones they had met "properly."
I  didn't  care, when I  met somebody, where they were  from, or  what their
background was, so I would  go to these dances -- even  though my fraternity
brothers  disapproved (I  was a junior by this  time, and they couldn't stop
me) -- and I had a very good time.
     One time I danced with a certain girl a few times, and didn't say much.
Finally, she said to me, "Who hants vewwy nice-ee."
     I couldn't quite make it  out -- she  had some difficulty in  speech --
but I thought she said, "You dance very nicely."
     "Thank you," I said. "It's been an honor."
     We went over to a table where a friend of hers had  found a boy she was
dancing with and we sat, the four of us, together. One girl was very hard of
hearing, and the other girl was nearly deaf.
     When the two girls conversed they would  do a large amount of signaling
very rapidly  back and forth, and  grunt a little bit.  It didn't bother me;
the girl danced well, and she was a nice person.
     After a few more dances, we're sitting at the table again, and  there's
a  large amount of signaling back and forth, back and forth, back and forth,
until finally she says something to me which I gathered means, she'd like us
to take them to some hotel.
     I ask the other guy if he wants to go.
     "What do they want us to go to this hotel for?" he asks.
     "Hell, I don't know.  We didn't talk  well enough!" But I don't have to
know. It's just fun, seeing what's going to happen; it's an adventure!
     The other  guy's afraid, so  he says no. So I take the two  girls in  a
taxi to the hotel, and discover that there's a  dance  organized by the deaf
and dumb, believe  it or not. They all belonged to a club. It turns out many
of them  can feel the  rhythm enough to dance  to the music  and applaud the
band at the end of each number.
     It was very, very interesting! I felt as if  I was in a foreign country
and couldn't speak the  language:  I could speak,  but nobody could hear me.
Everybody  was  talking  with  signs  to  everybody  else,  and  I  couldn't
understand anything! I asked my girl to teach me some signs and I learned  a
few, like you learn a foreign language, just for fun.
     Everyone  was so  happy and  relaxed with each  other, making jokes and
smiling all the time; they didn't seem  to have any real difficulty  of  any
kind  communicating with each  other. It  was  the same  as  with  any other
language, except for one thing: as they're making signs to each other, their
heads were  always turning from one side to the other. I realized what  that
was. When someone wants  to make  a  side remark or interrupt  you, he can't
yell, "Hey, Jack!" He can only  make a signal, which you won't catch  unless
you're in the habit of looking around all the time.
     They were completely comfortable  with each other. It was my problem to
be comfortable. It was a wonderful experience.
     The dance went on for a long time, and when it closed down we went to a
cafeteria.  They were  all ordering things by pointing to them.  I  remember
somebody asking in signs, "Where-are-you-from?"  and  my  girl  spelling out
"N-e-w Y-o-r-k." I still  remember  a guy signing  to me "Good sport!" -- he
holds his thumb up, and then touches an imaginary lapel, for "sport." It's a
nice system.
     Everybody was sitting around, making  jokes, and getting me into  their
world very nicely. I wanted to buy a bottle of milk, so I went up to the guy
at the counter and mouthed the word "milk" without saying anything.
     The guy didn't understand.
     I made the symbol for "milk,"  which is  two fists moving as if  you're
milking a cow, and he didn't catch that either.
     I tried to point to  the sign that  showed  the  price of milk,  but he
still didn't catch on.
     Finally, some stranger nearby ordered milk, and I pointed to it.
     "Oh! Milk!" he said, as I nodded my head yes.
     He handed me the bottle, and I said, "Thank you very much!"
     "You SON of a GUN!" he said, smiling.

     I often liked to play  tricks on people when I was at MIT. One time, in
mechanical drawing  class,  some joker  picked up a French curve (a piece of
plastic for drawing smooth curves -- a curly, funny-looking thing) and said,
"I wonder if the curves on this thing have some special formula?"
     I  thought for a moment  and said,  "Sure they do. The curves  are very
special curves. Lemme show ya," and I picked up my French curve and began to
turn it slowly. "The  French  curve is  made  so that at the lowest point on
each curve, no matter how you turn it, the tangent is horizontal."
     All  the  guys in  the  class were  holding  their  French curve  up at
different angles, holding  their  pencil up to  it at  the  lowest point and
laying  it  along,  and  discovering  that,  sure  enough,  the  tangent  is
horizontal. They  were all excited by this "discovery" --  even  though they
had  already  gone through  a certain  amount  of calculus  and had  already
"learned" that the derivative (tangent) of the minimum (lowest point) of any
curve is  zero  (horizontal).  They didn't  put two  and two  together. They
didn't even know what they "knew."
     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!
     I did the same kind of trick four years  later at  Princeton when I was
talking with an experienced character,  an assistant  of Einstein,  who  was
surely working  with  gravity all  the time. I gave him a problem: You blast
off  in  a  rocket which  has a clock  on board, and  there's a clock on the
ground.  The idea is that  you have to be back  when the clock on the ground
says one hour has passed. Now you  want it  so that when you come back, your
clock is  as  far ahead as  possible.  According to Einstein, if you go very
high,  your  clock  will go  faster,  because  the higher something is in  a
gravitational field, the  faster its clock  goes. But if you try  to go  too
high, since  you've only got  an hour,  you have to go so fast  to get there
that the speed slows your clock down. So you can't go too high. The question
is, exactly what program of speed and height should you make so that you get
the maximum time on your clock?
     This assistant  of  Einstein  worked  on it for quite  a bit  before he
realized  that  the answer  is  the real  motion  of  matter. If  you  shoot
something up in  a normal way, so that the time it  takes the shell to go up
and come down is an  hour, that's the correct  motion. It's  the fundamental
principle of Einstein's gravity -- that is, what's called the "proper  time"
is at a  maximum for the actual curve. But when I  put  it  to  him, about a
rocket with a  clock, he didn't recognize it.  It was just like the  guys in
mechanical drawing class, but this time  it  wasn't dumb  freshmen. So  this
kind of fragility is, in fact, fairly common, even with more learned people.

     When I was a junior or senior I  used to eat at a certain restaurant in
Boston.  I went there by myself, often on successive evenings. People got to
know me, and I had the same waitress all the time.
     I noticed that they were always in a hurry, rushing around, so one day,
just for fun, I left my  tip, which  was usually ten cents (normal for those
days),  in two nickels, under  two glasses: I filled  each glass to the very
top, dropped a nickel  in, and with a card over it, turned it over so it was
upside down on the table.  Then I slipped out  the card (no water leaks  out
because no air can come in -- the rim is too close to the table for that).
     I put  the  tip under  two glasses because I knew they were always in a
hurry. If the tip was a dime in one glass, the waitress, in her haste to get
the table ready for the  next customer, would pick  up the glass, the  water
would spill out, and that  would be the end of it. But  after  she does that
with  the first glass, what the hell is she going to do with the second one?
She can't just have the nerve to lift it up now!
     On  the  way out  I said  to my  waitress,  "Be  careful,  Sue. There's
something funny about the glasses you gave  me --  they're filled in  on the
top, and there's a hole on the bottom!"
     The next day I came back, and I had a new waitress. My regular waitress
wouldn't  have anything  to do with  me. "Sue's very angry  at you,"  my new
waitress said. "After she  picked up the first glass and water went all over
the place, she called  the boss out. They studied  it a little bit, but they
couldn't spend all day figuring out what to do,  so  they finally  picked up
the other one, and  water  went out again,  all  over the  floor. It  was  a
terrible mess; Sue slipped later in the water. They're all mad at you."
     I laughed.
     She said, "It's not funny! How would you like it if someone did that to
you -- what would you do?"
     "I'd get a soup plate and then  slide the glass  very carefully over to
the  edge  of the table, and  let the  water run into the soup plate  --  it
doesn't have to run onto the floor. Then I'd take the nickel out."
     "Oh, that's a goood idea," she said.
     That evening I left my tip under a coffee cup, which I left upside down
on the table.
     The next night I came and I had the same new waitress.
     "What's the idea of leaving the cup upside down last time?"
     "Well, I thought that even though you were in a hurry, you'd have to go
back into the kitchen and get a soup plate; then you'd have to sloooowly and
carefully slide the cup over to the edge of the table..."
     "I did that," she complained, "but there was no water in it!"
     My masterpiece  of mischief happened  at the fraternity. One  morning I
woke up very early, about five o'clock, and couldn't go back to  sleep, so I
went downstairs from the sleeping rooms and discovered some signs hanging on
strings which said things like "DOOR! DOOR!  WHO STOLE THE DOOR?" I saw that
someone had taken a door off its  hinges, and in its  place they hung a sign
that said,  "PLEASE CLOSE THE DOOR!" -- the sign that used to be on the door
that was missing.
     I immediately figured out what  the idea  was. In that room a guy named
Pete Bernays and a  couple of other guys liked to work very hard, and always
wanted it  quiet. If you wandered into their room looking  for something, or
to  ask them  how  they  did problem such and such, when you would leave you
would always hear these guys scream, "Please close the door!"
     Somebody had  gotten tired of  this, no doubt,  and had  taken the door
off. Now  this room, it so happened, had two doors, the way it was built, so
I  got an idea: I took the other door off its hinges, carried it downstairs,
and hid  it in the basement behind the oil  tank. Then  I quietly went  back
upstairs and went to bed.
     Later in the morning I  made  believe I  woke up and came downstairs  a
little late. The other guys were milling  around,  and Pete and  his friends
were all upset: The doors to their room were missing, and they had to study,
blah, blah,  blah,  blah.  I was coming  down  the  stairs  and  they  said,
"Feynman! Did you take the doors?"
     "Oh, yeah!" I said. "I took the door.  You can see  the scratches on my
knuckles here, that  I got when  my hands  scraped against the wall as I was
carrying it down into the basement."
     They weren't satisfied with my answer; in fact, they didn't believe me.
     The  guys who  took the  first door  had left  so  many  clues  --  the
handwriting on the signs,  for instance -- that they were soon found out. My
idea was that  when it  was  found out who  stole the  first door, everybody
would think they also stole  the other door.  It worked  perfectly: The guys
who  took the  first  door  were  pummeled  and  tortured  and worked  on by
everybody, until  finally, with  much pain and  difficulty,  they  convinced
their tormentors that they had only taken one door, unbelievable as it might
be.
     I listened to all this, and I was happy.
     The other door stayed missing for a whole  week, and it became more and
more important to the guys who were trying to  study in that room  that  the
other door be found.
     Finally, in order to solve the problem, the president of the fraternity
says at the dinner table, "We  have to solve this problem of the other door.
I haven't been able to solve the problem myself, so I would like suggestions
from the rest of you as to how to straighten this out, because  Pete and the
others are trying to study."
     Somebody makes a suggestion, then someone else.
     After a little while,  I get up and make a suggestion.  "All  right," I
say in  a  sarcastic voice,  "whoever  you are who stole the  door,  we know
you're wonderful.  You're so clever! We can't figure out who you are, so you
must be some  sort of  super-genius. You  don't have to tell us who you are;
all we want  to know is  where the door is.  So  if you will  leave  a  note
somewhere, telling us where the door is, we will honor you and admit forever
that  you  are a super-marvel, that you are so smart that you could take the
other door without our  being able to figure out who you  are. But for God's
sake, just leave  the note somewhere, and we will be forever grateful to you
for it."
     The next guy makes his suggestion:  "I have another  idea," he says. "I
think that  you, as  president, should ask  each  man on  his  word of honor
towards the fraternity to say whether he took the door or not."
     The president says, "That's a very good idea. On the fraternity word of
honor!"  So he goes around the table, and asks each guy,  one by one: "Jack,
did you take the door?"
     "No, sir, I did not take the door."
     "Tim: Did you take the door?"
     "No, sir! I did not take the door!"
     "Maurice. Did you take the door?"
     "No, I did not take the door, sir."
     "Feynman, did you take the door?"
     "Yeah, I took the door."
     "Cut it  out, Feynman; this is  serious! Sam! Did you take the door..."
-- it went all the way around. Everyone was shocked. There must be some real
rat in the fraternity who didn't respect the fraternity word of honor!
     That night I left  a note with a little picture of the oil tank and the
door next to it, and the next day they found the door and put it back.
     Sometime later I finally admitted  to taking  the other door, and I was
accused by everybody of lying. They  couldn't remember what I  had said. All
they  could  remember  was  their  conclusion  after  the  president  of the
fraternity  had  gone around  the table  and  asked  everybody,  that nobody
admitted taking the door. The idea they remembered, but not the words.
     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!


--------


     There was an Italian radio station  in Brooklyn, and as a boy I used to
listen to it all the time. I LOVed the ROLLing SOUNds going over me, as if I
was in the  ocean, and the waves weren't very  high. I used to sit there and
have  the  water come  over me,  in  this BEAUtiful  iTALian. In the Italian
programs there was always  some kind of  family  situation where  there were
discussions and arguments between the mother and father:
     High voice: "Nio teco TIEto capeto TUtto..."
     Loud, low voice: "DRO tone pala TUtto!!" (with hand slapping).
     It was  great!  So I learned to make all these emotions: I could cry; I
could laugh; all this stuff. Italian is a lovely language.
     There were a number of Italian people living near  us in New York. Once
while I was  riding  my bicycle, some  Italian truck driver got upset at me,
leaned out of his truck, and, gesturing, yelled something like,  "Me aRRUcha
LAMpe etta TIche!" 
     I felt like a crapper. What did he say to me? What should I yell back?
     So I asked an Italian friend of mine at school, and he said, "Just say,
'A te! A te!' -- which means 'The same to you! The same to you!' "
     I  thought   it  was  a  great  idea.  I  would  say  "A  te!  A   te!"
back-gesturing,  of  course.  Then,  as I  gained confidence, I developed my
abilities further.  I  would be riding  my bicycle,  and some lady would  be
driving in her  car and get in  the way, and I'd say, "PUzzia a la maLOche!"
-- and she'd  shrink! Some terrible Italian boy had cursed a terrible  curse
at her!
     It was not so easy to recognize it as fake Italian. Once, when I was at
Princeton, as  I was going into  the parking lot at Palmer  Laboratory on my
bicycle, somebody got in the way. My habit was always the same: I gesture to
the guy, "oREzze caBONca MIche!", slapping the back of one hand against  the
other.
     And  way  up  on the other  side of a long area  of grass,  there's  an
Italian gardner putting in some plants. He stops, waves, and shouts happily,
"REzza ma LIa!"
     I call back, "RONte BALta!",  returning the greeting. He didn't  know I
didn't know, and I didn't know what he said, and he didn't know what I said.
But  it  was  OK! It  was  great! It works!  After  all,  when they hear the
intonation, they recognize it immediately  as Italian  --  maybe it's Milano
instead of Romano, what the hell.  But he's an iTALian! So  it's just great.
But  you have  to have absolute confidence. Keep right on going, and nothing
will happen.
     One time  I came home from college  for a vacation,  and  my sister was
sort  of   unhappy,   almost  crying:  her  Girl  Scouts   were   having   a
father-daughter  banquet, but  our  father  was  out  on  the  road, selling
uniforms. So I said I  would  take  her, being the brother (I'm  nine  years
older, so it wasn't so crazy).
     When we got there, I sat among the fathers for a while, but soon became
sick of them. All these fathers bring  their  daughters  to this nice little
banquet, and all they talked  about was  the stock market -- they don't know
how to talk to their own children, much less their children's friends.
     During the  banquet the girls  entertained  us  by doing  little skits,
reciting  poetry,  and  so on.  Then  all  of a sudden  they bring  out this
funny-looking  apronlike  thing,  with a hole at  the top  to put your  head
through. The girls  announce that  the  fathers  are now going to  entertain
them.
     So  each father  has  to  get  up and stick  his head through  and  say
something -- one guy recites "Mary Had a Little Lamb" -- and they don't know
what to do. I didn't know what to do either, but by the time I got up there,
I told them that  I was  going to recite a little  poem,  and I'm sorry that
it's not in English, but I'm sure they will appreciate it anyway:

        A TUZZO LANTO
        --Poici di Pare

     TANto SAca TULna TI, na PUta TUchi PUti TI la.
     RUNto CAta CHANto CHANta MANto CHI la TI da.
     YALta CAra SULda MI la CHAta PIcha PIno TIto BRALda
        pe te CHIna nana CHUNda lala CHINda lala CHUNda!
     RONto piti CA le, a TANto CHINto quinta LALda
     O la TINta dalla LALta, YENta PUcha lalla TALta!

     I  do this for three or four  stanzas, going through all  the  emotions
that I  heard on Italian radio,  and the kids are unraveled, rolling in  the
aisles, laughing with happiness.
     After  the banquet was  over, the scoutmaster and a  schoolteacher came
over and  told me they had been discussing my poem. One of  them thought  it
was  Italian, and the other  thought it was  Latin. The schoolteacher  asks,
"Which one of us is right?"
     I  said,  "You'll  have  to go  ask the girls --  they understood  what
language it was right away."


--------


     When I  was a student at MIT I was interested only in science; I was no
good at  anything  else. But at MIT there was a  rule: You have to take some
humanities  courses  to  get  more  "culture."  Besides  the English classes
required were  two electives, so I looked through the list, and right away I
found  astronomy  -- as  a  humanities course!  So that year  I escaped with
astronomy. Then  next  year I  looked further  down  the list,  past  French
literature and courses  like that, and found  philosophy. It was the closest
thing to science I could find.
     Before I tell  you what happened in  philosophy, let  me tell you about
the English class. We  had  to write a number of themes. For  instance, Mill
had written something on liberty, and we had to criticize it. But instead of
addressing myself to political liberty, as Mill did, I wrote  about  liberty
in social occasions -- the problem of having to  fake and lie in order to be
polite, and does this perpetual game of faking in social situations  lead to
the  "destruction of  the moral fiber of society." An interesting  question,
but not the one we were supposed to discuss.
     Another essay we had to criticize was by Huxley, "On a Piece of Chalk,"
in which he describes how  an ordinary  piece of chalk he is holding  is the
remains  from animal  bones, and the forces inside the earth lifted it up so
that it became part of the White Cliffs, and then it was quarried and is now
used to convey ideas through writing on the blackboard.
     But again, instead of  criticizing the essay  assigned to us, I wrote a
parody called, "On  a Piece of Dust," about how dust makes the colors of the
sunset and  precipitates the  rain, and so on. I was always  a faker, always
trying to escape.
     But when we  had to write  a theme  on Goethe's Faust, it was hopeless!
The work was too long to make a parody  of it or to invent something else. I
was storming back and forth in  the fraternity  saying, "I can't do  it. I'm
just not gonna do it. I ain't gonna do it!"
     One of my fraternity  brothers  said, "OK, Feynman, you're not gonna do
it. But the professor will think you didn't do it because you  don't want to
do  the work. You oughta write a  theme on something -- same number of words
-- and hand it in with a note  saying  that you just couldn't understand the
Faust, you haven't got the heart for it, and that it's impossible for you to
write a theme on it."
     So I did that. I wrote  a long theme, "On the Limitations of Reason." I
had  thought about scientific techniques for solving problems, and how there
are certain  limitations:  moral  values  cannot be  decided  by  scientific
methods, yak, yak, yak, and so on.
     Then another fraternity brother offered some more advice. "Feynman," he
said, "it ain't gonna work, handing in a theme that's got nothing to do with
Faust. What you oughta do is work that thing you wrote into the Faust."
     "Ridiculous!" I said.
     But the other fraternity guys think it's a good idea.
     "All right, all right!" I say, protesting. "I'll try."
     So I  added half  a  page to what I  had already written, and said that
Mephistopheles  represents  reason,  and  Faust represents  the spirit,  and
Goethe is trying to show the limitations of reason. I stirred it up, cranked
it all in, and handed in my theme.
     The professor had us each come in individually  to discuss our theme. I
went in expecting the worst.
     He said, "The introductory material is fine, but  the Faust material is
a bit too brief. Otherwise, it's very good -- B+ ." I escaped again!
     Now  to the philosophy  class.  The course was taught by an old bearded
professor named Robinson, who always mumbled.  I  would go to the class, and
he would  mumble  along, and I couldn't understand a thing. The other people
in the class seemed to  understand him  better, but  they didn't seem to pay
any  attention. I happened to have a small  drill, about one-sixteenth-inch,
and to pass the time in that class, I would twist it between my  fingers and
drill holes in the sole of my shoe, week after week.
     Finally one day at the end of the class, Professor Robinson went "wugga
mugga mugga wugga wugga..." and everybody got excited! They were all talking
to each other and discussing, so I figured he'd said something  interesting,
thank God! I wondered what it was?
     I asked somebody, and they said, "We have to write a theme, and hand it
in in four weeks."
     "A theme on what?"
     "On what he's been talking about all year."
     I was stuck. The  only thing that I had  heard  during that entire term
that  I  could  remember  was  a  moment  when  there  came this  upwelling,
"muggawuggastreamofconsciousnessmuggawugga," and phoom! -- it sank back into
chaos.
     This "stream of consciousness" reminded me  of  a problem my father had
given to me many years before. He said, "Suppose some  Martians were to come
down to  earth,  and  Martians never  slept,  but  instead  were perpetually
active. Suppose they didn't have this crazy phenomenon that we have,  called
sleep. So they ask you the question: 'How does  it feel to go to sleep? What
happens when you go to sleep?  Do  your thoughts suddenly stop,  or do  they
move  less aanndd lleeessss  rraaaaapppppiidddddllllllllyyyyyyyyyyyyyy?  How
does the mind actually turn off?"
     I  got interested. Now  I  had to  answer  this question: How  does the
stream of consciousness end, when you go to sleep?
     So every afternoon for the next four weeks I  would work on my theme. I
would pull down the shades in my room, turn off the lights, and go to sleep.
And I'd watch what happened, when I went to sleep.
     Then at night, I'd  go to sleep again, so I had two times each day when
I could make observations -- it was very good!
     At first  I noticed a lot of  subsidiary things that had  little  to do
with  falling  asleep. I noticed, for instance, that I did a lot of thinking
by speaking to myself internally. I could also imagine things visually.
     Then, when  I was  getting  tired, I noticed that I  could think of two
things at  once. I discovered this when I  was  talking internally to myself
about something, and while I was doing this,  I was idly imagining two ropes
connected to  the  end of my bed, going through  some  pulleys,  and winding
around a turning cylinder, slowly lifting the bed. I wasn't aware that I was
imagining these  ropes until I  began to worry that one rope would  catch on
the other rope, and they wouldn't wind up  smoothly. But I said, internally,
"Oh, the tension  will take care of  that," and  this  interrupted the first
thought I was having, and made me aware that I was thinking of two things at
once.
     I also  noticed  that as  you  go to sleep the ideas continue, but they
become less and less logically interconnected. You don't notice that they're
not  logically connected until you  ask  yourself,  "What  made me  think of
that?"  and you try to work your way back, and often you can't remember what
the hell did make you think of that!
     So you get every illusion of logical connection, but the actual fact is
that the thoughts  become  more  and more cockeyed until they're  completely
disjointed, and beyond that, you fall asleep.
     After  four  weeks  of  sleeping all the  time,  I wrote my  theme, and
explained the observations I had made. At the end of the theme I pointed out
that all of these observations  were made while  I  was watching myself fall
asleep,  and I don't really know what it's like to  fall asleep when I'm not
watching myself. I concluded the theme with a little verse I  made up, which
pointed out this problem of introspection:

        I wonder why. I wonder why.
        I wonder why I wonder.
        I wonder why I wonder why
        I wonder why I wonder!

     We hand in our themes, and the next time our class meets, the professor
reads one  of them: "Mum  bum  wugga mum bum..." I can't tell what  the  guy
wrote.
     He reads another theme: "Mugga  wugga mum  bum wugga wugga..."  I don't
know what that guy wrote either, but at the end of it, he goes:

        Uh wugga wuh. Uh wugga wuh.
        Uh wugga wugga wugga.
        I wugga wuh uh wugga wuh
        Uh wugga wugga wugga.

     "Aha!" I say. "That's my  theme!" I honestly didn't recognize  it until
the end.
     After I had  written the theme  I continued  to be  curious, and I kept
practicing this  watching myself as I went to sleep. One night,  while I was
having a dream, I realized I was observing myself in the dream. I had gotten
all the way down, into the sleep itself!
     In the  first  part  of the  dream  I'm on top of  a  train  and  we're
approaching a tunnel. I  get  scared, pull  myself down,  and we go into the
tunnel --  whoosh! I say to myself, "So you can get the feeling of fear, and
you can hear the sound change when you go into the tunnel."
     I also noticed  that  I could see colors. Some people had said that you
dream in black and white, but no, I was dreaming in color.
     By  this time  I was inside one  of the train cars, and  I can feel the
train lurching about. I say to myself,  "So you can get kinesthetic feelings
in a  dream." I walk with some difficulty down to the end of the car, and  I
see a  big  window,  like a  store  window.  Behind  it  there  are  --  not
mannequins,  but three live  girls in  bathing suits,  and they  look pretty
good!
     I continue walking into the next car, hanging  onto the straps overhead
as I go, when I say to myself, "Hey! It would be interesting  to get excited
--  sexually -- so I think  I'll go back into  the other car."  I discovered
that I could turn around, and walk back through the train -- I could control
the direction of my dream. I get back  to the car with  the  special window,
and I see three old guys playing violins -- but they turned back into girls!
So I could modify the direction of my dream, but not perfectly.
     Well,  I  began  to get excited, intellectually  as  well as  sexually,
saying things like, "Wow! It's working!" and I woke up.
     I made some other observations while dreaming. Apart from always asking
myself, "Am I really dreaming in color?" I  wondered, "How accurately do you
see something?"
     The next time I had a dream, there was a girl lying in tall grass,  and
she had red hair.  I tried to see  if I  could  see each hair. You know  how
there's a little area of color  just where  the  sun  is  reflecting --  the
diffraction effect, I  could see that! I could see each hair as sharp as you
want: perfect vision!
     Another  time I  had  a dream  in  which  a  thumbtack was  stuck in  a
doorframe. I see the tack, run my fingers down the doorframe, and I feel the
tack. So the "seeing  department" arid the "feeling department" of the brain
seem to be connected. Then I say to myself, Could it be that they don't have
to be connected? I look at the doorframe again, and there's no thumbtack.  I
run my finger down the doorframe, and I feel the tack!
     Another  time  I'm  dreaming  and I  hear  "knock-knock;  knock-knock."
Something  was happening in  the dream that made  this knocking fit, but not
perfectly --  it seemed  sort of foreign. I thought:  "Absolutely guaranteed
that this knocking is coming from outside my dream, and  I've  invented this
part of the dream to  fit with it. I've got to wake up and find out what the
hell it is."
     The knocking  is still going, I wake up, and... Dead silence. There was
nothing. So it wasn't connected to the outside.
     Other people have told  me that they have incorporated external  noises
into their dreams, but  when I had this experience, carefully "watching from
below," and sure the noise was coming from outside the dream, it wasn't.
     During the time  of making  observations  in  my dreams, the process of
waking up was a rather fearful one. As you're beginning to wake up there's a
moment when  you feel rigid  and tied  down,  or  underneath many layers  of
cotton batting. It's hard to  explain, but there's a moment when you get the
feeling you can't get out; you're not sure you can wake up. So I would  have
to tell  myself -- after  I was  awake -- that that's ridiculous. There's no
disease I know of where a  person falls asleep naturally  and can't wake up.
You can always wake up. And after talking to myself many times like that,  I
became less  and less  afraid, and in fact I found the process of  waking up
rather  thrilling -- something like a roller  coaster:  After a while you're
not so scared, and you begin to enjoy it a little bit.
     You might like to know how this process of observing my dreams  stopped
(which it has for the most part; it's happened just a few times since).  I'm
dreaming one night as usual,  making observations,  and I see on the wall in
front of  me  a pennant. I  answer  for  the  twenty-fifth  time,  "Yes, I'm
dreaming in color," and then I realize that I've been sleeping with the back
of my head against a brass rod. I put my hand behind my head and I feel that
the  back  of my head is soft. I think,  "Aha! That's why I've been able  to
make  all these observations in  my dreams:  the brass  rod has disturbed my
visual cortex. All I have to do is sleep with a brass rod under my head, and
I can make these observations any time  I want. So I think I'll  stop making
observations on this one, and go into deeper sleep."
     When  I  woke up later, there was no brass rod, nor was  the back of my
head soft. Somehow I had become tired of making  these observations,  and my
brain had invented some false reasons as to why I shouldn't do it any more.
     As a result of these observations I began to get  a little  theory. One
of  the reasons that  I liked to look at dreams was that I was curious as to
how you  can  see  an image, of a person,  for  example, when your eyes  are
closed, and nothing's coming in. You say it might be random, irregular nerve
discharges, but you can't  get the nerves to  discharge in exactly the  same
delicate patterns when you are sleeping  as when you are awake,  looking  at
something. Well then, how could I "see" in color, and in better detail, when
I was asleep?
     I decided  there must be  an "interpretation department." When you  are
actually looking at something -- a man, a lamp, or  a wall -- you don't just
see  blotches  of  color.  Something  tells  you  what it  is;  it has to be
interpreted. When  you're dreaming,  this interpretation department is still
operating,  but it's all slopped up. It's telling  you  that you're seeing a
human hair in the greatest detail, when it isn't true. It's interpreting the
random junk entering the brain as a clear image.
     One other thing about dreams.  I had a friend named Deutsch, whose wife
was  from a family  of psychoanalysts in  Vienna. One evening, during a long
discussion about dreams, he told me that dreams have significance: there are
symbols  in dreams that  can  be  interpreted psychoanalytically.  I  didn't
believe most of this stuff, but that night I had an interesting dream: We're
playing a game on a billiard table with three balls -- a white ball, a green
ball, and a gray  ball --  and the name of the game is  "titsies." There was
something about trying to get the balls into the  pocket: the white ball and
the  green ball are easy to  sink into the pocket, but the gray one, I can't
get to it.
     I wake up, and  the dream is very  easy to interpret:  the name  of the
game gives it away,  of  course --  them's girls! The white ball was easy to
figure out,  because I was going  out, sneakily,  with  a married  woman who
worked at the time as a cashier in a cafeteria and wore a white uniform. The
green one was also easy, because I had gone out about two nights before to a
drive-in movie with a girl  in a green dress. But the  gray one --  what the
hell  was the gray one? I knew  it had to be somebody; I felt  it. It's like
when you're trying to  remember a name, and it's on the tip of  your tongue,
but you can't get it.
     It took me half a day before I remembered that I had said  goodbye to a
girl I  liked  very much, who  had gone to Italy about  two  or three months
before. She was a very nice girl, and I  had decided that when she came back
I was going to see her again. I don't  know if she  wore a gray suit, but it
was perfectly clear, as soon as I thought of her, that she was the gray one.
     I went back to  my friend Deutsch, and I told him  he must  be right --
there  is  something  to  analyzing dreams.  But  when  he  heard  about  my
interesting dream, he said, "No,  that one was too perfect  -- too  cut  and
dried. Usually you have to do a bit more analysis."


--------


     After I finished at MIT I wanted to get a summer job. I had applied two
or three times to the Bell Labs, and had gone out a few times to visit. Bill
Shockley, who knew me from the  lab at MIT, would show  me around each time,
and I enjoyed those visits terrifically, but I never got a job there.
     I had letters from some of my professors to two specific companies. One
was to the Bausch  and  Lomb  Company  for tracing rays through lenses;  the
other was to  Electrical Testing Labs in New  York. At that time nobody knew
what a physicist even was, and  there weren't  any positions in industry for
physicists.  Engineers, OK; but physicists  -- nobody knew how  to use them.
It's interesting that very soon, after  the war, it  was the exact opposite:
people  wanted  physicists  everywhere.  So I  wasn't getting anywhere  as a
physicist looking for a job late in the Depression.
     About that time I met an old  friend of mine on the  beach at our  home
town of Far  Rockaway, where we  grew up  together.  We  had gone  to school
together when we were about eleven or twelve, and were very good friends. We
were  both  scientifically  minded.  He had  a  "laboratory,"  and I  had  a
"laboratory." We often played together, and discussed things together.
     We used to put on magic shows -- chemistry magic -- for the kids on the
block. My friend was a pretty good showman, and I kind of liked that too. We
did our tricks on a little table, with Bunsen burners at  each end going all
the time. On the burners  we had watch glass plates (flat  glass discs) with
iodine  on them, which made a beautiful purple  vapor  that went  up on each
side  of the  table while the show  went  on. It  was great! We did a lot of
tricks, such as turning "wine" into water, and other chemical color changes.
For our finale,  we did a trick that used something which we had discovered.
I would put  my hands (secretly) first into  a sink of  water, and then into
benzine. Then I would "accidentally" brush by one of the Bunsen burners, and
one  hand  would light up. I'd clap my hands, and  both hands would  then be
burning.  (It  doesn't  hurt  because it  burns fast and the  water keeps it
cool.) Then I'd wave my hands, running  around  yelling, "FIRE!  FIRE!"  and
everybody  would get all  excited. They'd run out  of the room, and that was
the end of the show!
     Later on  I told  this story  at college  to my fraternity brothers and
they said, "Nonsense! You can't do that!"
     (I often  had this  problem of demonstrating  to these fellas something
that they didn't believe  -- like  the  time  we got into an  argument as to
whether urine just ran out of you by gravity, and I had to demonstrate  that
that wasn't the case by showing them that you can pee standing on your head.
Or the time when  somebody claimed  that  if you took aspirin and  Coca-Cola
you'd fall over in a dead faint directly. I told them I thought it was a lot
of baloney, and  offered to take  aspirin  and Coca-Cola together. Then they
got into an argument whether you  should have the  aspirin before  the Coke,
just after the  Coke, or mixed in  the Coke. So I had  six aspirin and three
Cokes, one  right after  the other. First, I  took aspirins and then a Coke,
then we dissolved two aspirins in a Coke and I took that, and then I  took a
Coke and two  aspirins. Each time the  idiots who believed  it were standing
around me,  waiting  to catch me when I  fainted. But nothing happened. I do
remember that I didn't sleep very well that night, so I got up and did a lot
of  figuring,  and worked out some of the formulas  for what is  called  the
Riemann-Zeta function.)
     "All right, guys," I said. "Let's go out and get some benzine."
     They got the benzine  ready,  I stuck my hand in  the water in the sink
and then into the benzine and lit it... and  it hurt  like hell! You see, in
the  meantime  I had grown hairs on the  back of my hand, which  acted  like
wicks and held the benzine in place while it burned, whereas when I had done
it earlier I had no hairs on the back of my hand. After I did the experiment
for my fraternity brothers, I didn't have any hairs  on the back of my hands
either.
     Well,  my pal  and I  met on  the  beach,  and he told me that he had a
process for  metal-plating  plastics.  I  said that was impossible,  because
there's no  conductivity; you can't attach  a wire.  But  he  said he  could
metal-plate anything, and I still  remember him picking  up a peach pit that
was in the sand, and  saying he could  metal-plate that -- trying to impress
me.
     What was nice was that he offered me a job at his little company, which
was on  the top floor of a  building in New York. There were only about four
people in the  company.  His father  was  the  one who was getting the money
together and  was, I  think,  the "president." He  was the "vice-president,"
along with another fella who was  a  salesman.  I  was  the  "chief research
chemist,"  and  my  friend's  brother,  who was not  very  clever,  was  the
bottle-washer. We had six metal-plating baths.
     They  had this process for metal-plating plastics,  and the scheme was:
First,  deposit  silver on the object by  precipitating silver from a silver
nitrate bath with  a  reducing agent (like you make mirrors); then stick the
object, with silver on it as  a  conductor, into an electroplating bath, and
the silver gets plated.
     The problem was, does the silver stick to the object?
     It doesn't. It peels  off easily. So  there was  a  step in between, to
make the silver stick better to the object. It depended on the material. For
things like  Bakelite, which  was an  important  plastic in  those days,  my
friend  had found that if  he  sandblasted it first,  and then soaked it for
many hours in stannous hydroxide, which  got into the pores of the Bakelite,
the silver would hold onto the surface very nicely.
     But it worked only on  a  few plastics, and new  kinds of plastics were
coming  out  all  the  time,  such  as  methylmethacrylate  (which  we  call
plexiglass, now),  that we couldn't plate, directly, at first. And cellulose
acetate, which was  very cheap, was another one we couldn't  plate at first,
though  we finally  discovered that  putting it  in  sodium  hydroxide for a
little while before using the stannous chloride made it plate very well.
     I was pretty successful as a "chemist" in the company. My advantage was
that my pal had done no chemistry  at all; he had  done no  experiments;  he
just knew how to do something once. I set to work putting lots  of different
knobs  in  bottles,  and  putting  all kinds  of  chemicals  in.  By  trying
everything and keeping track of everything  I found ways of plating a  wider
range of plastics than he had done before.
     I was  also  able to  simplify his  process. From looking  in  books  I
changed  the reducing agent from glucose  to  formaldehyde, and was  able to
recover 100 percent of the silver immediately,  instead of having to recover
the silver left in solution at a later time.
     I also got  the stannous hydroxide  to dissolve in  water  by  adding a
little bit  of hydrochloric  acid -- something  I  remembered from a college
chemistry course --  so a step  that used  to take hours now took about five
minutes.
     My experiments were always being interrupted by the salesman, who would
come back with some plastic from a prospective customer. I'd have  all these
bottles lined up, with everything marked, when all  of  a sudden, "You gotta
stop the experiment to do a 'super job' for the sales department!" So, a lot
of experiments had to be started more than once.
     One time  we  got into one  hell of  a lot  of trouble. There  was some
artist who  was trying  to make a picture for the cover of  a magazine about
automobiles. He had very carefully built a wheel out of plastic, and somehow
or other this salesman  had told him we could plate anything,  so the artist
wanted us  to metal-plate the hub, so  it would be a shiny, silver  hub. The
wheel  was  made of a new plastic that we didn't know very well how to plate
--  the  fact  is, the salesman never  knew  what we could  plate, so he was
always promising things -- and it didn't work the first time.  So, to fix it
up we had to get the old silver  off, and  we couldn't get it off easily.  I
decided to use concentrated nitric acid on it, which took the silver off all
right, but  also made  pits and holes in the plastic. We were really  in hot
water that time! In fact, we had lots of "hot water" experiments.
     The other fellas in the company decided we should run advertisements in
Modern Plastics magazine.  A  few  things we metal-plated were very  pretty.
They looked  good in the advertisements. We also had a  few  things out in a
showcase in front, for  prospective customers  to look at, but  nobody could
pick up the things in  the advertisements or in the showcase to see how well
the plating stayed on. Perhaps some of them were, in fact, pretty good jobs.
But they were made specially; they were not regular products.
     Right after I left  the company  at the  end  of  the summer  to go  to
Princeton, they got a  good  offer  from  somebody who wanted to metal-plate
plastic pens.  Now people  could have silver pens that were light, and easy,
and cheap. The pens immediately sold, all  over, and it  was rather exciting
to see  people  walking around everywhere  with these  pens --  and you knew
where they came from.
     But  the  company  hadn't had much experience  with  the material -- or
perhaps with the filler that was used  in the  plastic (most plastics aren't
pure; they have a "filler," which in those days wasn't very well controlled)
-- and the darn things would  develop a  blister. When you have something in
your  hand  that has a little blister that  starts  to peel, you can't  help
fiddling with it. So everybody was fiddling with all the peelings coming off
the pens.
     Now the company had this emergency problem to fix the pens, and my  pal
decided he needed a big microscope, and so on.  He  didn't know what he  was
going  to look  at,  or why, and it cost his company a lot of money for this
fake  research.  The  result  was,  they had trouble: They  never solved the
problem,  and the company  failed, because  their  first big job was  such a
failure.
     A few  years later I  was in  Los Alamos,  where there was  a man named
Frederic de Hoffman, who was a sort of scientist; but more, he was also very
good at administrating. Not highly trained, he liked mathematics, and worked
very hard; he  compensated for  his lack of training  by hard work. Later he
became the president or vice president of General Atomics  and  he was a big
industrial  character after  that. But  at the  time  he  was  just  a  very
energetic, open-eyed, enthusiastic  boy, helping along  with  the Project as
best he could.
     One day we  were eating at the Fuller Lodge, and he told me he had been
working in England before coming to Los Alamos.
     "What kind of work were you doing there?" I asked.
     "I was working on  a process for  metal-plating plastics. I  was one of
the guys in the laboratory."
     "How did it go?"
     "It was going along pretty well, but we had our problems."
     "Oh?"
     "Just as we were beginning  to develop our process, there was a company
in New York..."
     "What company in New York?"
     "It was called the  Metaplast Corporation. They were developing further
than we were."
     "How could you tell?"
     "They were advertising all the time in  Modern Plastics  with full-page
advertisements showing all the things they could plate, and we realized that
they were further along than we were."
     "Did you have any stuff from them?"
     "No,  but  you could tell  from the advertisements  that they were  way
ahead of what we could do. Our  process was pretty good, but it was  no  use
trying to compete with an American process like that."
     "How many chemists did you have working in the lab?"
     "We had six chemists working."
     "How many chemists do you think the Metaplast Corporation had?"
     "Oh! They must have had a real chemistry department!"
     "Would you describe for me what you think the chief research chemist at
the Metaplast Corporation  might look  like, and  how his  laboratory  might
work?"
     "I  would guess they must have twenty-five  or fifty chemists,  and the
chief research chemist has his own office  -- special, with glass. You know,
like  they have in the movies -- guys  coming in  all the time with research
projects that they're doing, getting his advice, and  rushing off to do more
research, people coming in  and  out all the time. With twenty-five or fifty
chemists, how the hell could we compete with them?"
     "You'll be interested  and amused to know that  you are  now talking to
the  chief  research  chemist of  the  Metaplast  Corporation,  whose  staff
consisted of one bottle-washer!"

--------





--------


     When I was an undergraduate at MIT I loved it. I thought it was a great
place, and I wanted to go to graduate school there too, of course. But  when
I went to Professor Slater and told him of my intentions, he said, "We won't
let you in here."
     I said, "What?"
     Slater said,  "Why do  you think you should  go  to  graduate school at
MIT?"
     "Because MIT is the best school for science in the country."
     "You think that?"
     "Yeah."
     "That's why you should go to some other school. You should find out how
the rest of the world is."
     So I decided to go to  Princeton. Now Princeton had a certain aspect of
elegance. It was an imitation  of an English school, partly. So  the guys in
the fraternity, who knew  my rather rough, informal manners, started  making
remarks like "Wait till  they find  out who they've got coming to Princeton!
Wait till they  see the mistake they  made!" So I decided to try to be  nice
when I got to Princeton.
     My  father  took me to Princeton in his car, and I got my room,  and he
left. I hadn't been there an hour  when I was met by a man: "I'm the Mahstah
of Residences heah, and I should like to tell you that the Dean  is having a
Tea this aftanoon,  and he  should like to have all of you come. Perhaps you
would be so kind as to inform your roommate, Mr. Serette."
     That was my introduction to  the graduate "College" at Princeton, where
all the  students  lived. It was like an  imitation  Oxford or Cambridge  --
complete with accents (the master of residences was a  professor of  "French
littrachaw"). There was a porter downstairs, everybody  had  nice rooms, and
we ate all our meals together, wearing academic gowns, in a great hall which
had stained-glass windows.
     So the very  afternoon I  arrived in Princeton I'm going to the  dean's
tea, and  I didn't even know  what a "tea"  was, or why!  I  had  no  social
abilities whatsoever; I had no experience with this sort of thing.
     So I come up  to the door, and there's Dean Eisenhart, greeting the new
students: "Oh, you're  Mr. Feynman," he  says. "We're glad to  have you." So
that helped a little, because he recognized me, somehow.
     I  go through the door, and there are some ladies, and some girls, too.
It's all very formal and I'm  thinking  about where to sit down and should I
sit next to this girl, or not, and how  should I behave, when I hear a voice
behind me.
     "Would you like  cream  or lemon in your tea,  Mr. Feynman?" It's  Mrs.
Eisenhart, pouring tea.
     "I'll  have both, thank you," I say,  still looking for where I'm going
to sit, when suddenly I hear "Heh-heh-heh-heh-heh. Surely you're joking, Mr.
Feynman."
     Joking? Joking? What the hell did  I just say? Then I  realized what  I
had done. So that was my first experience with this tea business.
     Later on,  after I had been  at Princeton longer,  I  got to understand
this "Heh-heh-heh-heh-heh." In  fact it  was  at  that first tea,  as  I was
leaving, that I realized  it meant "You're making a social  error."  Because
the next time  I  heard this same cackle,  "Heh-heh-heh-heh-heh,"  from Mrs.
Eisenhart, somebody was kissing her hand as he left.
     Another time, perhaps a year  later,  at another tea, I was talking  to
Professor Wildt,  an  astronomer  who had  worked out  some theory about the
clouds  on Venus. They were supposed to be formaldehyde  (it's wonderful  to
know what we once  worried  about)  and he  had it all figured out, how  the
formaldehyde was precipitating, and so on. It  was extremely interesting. We
were talking about all this stuff, when a little lady came up and said, "Mr.
Feynman, Mrs. Eisenhart would like to see you."
     "OK, just a minute..." and I kept talking to Wildt.
     The little lady came back again  and said, "Mr. Feynman, Mrs. Eisenhart
would like to see you."
     "OK, OK!" and I go over to Mrs. Eisenhart, who's pouring tea.
     "Would you like to have some coffee or tea, Mr. Feynman?"
     "Mrs. So-and-so says you wanted to talk to me."
     "Heh-heh-heh-heh-heh.  Would  you like to  have  coffee,  or  tea,  Mr.
Feynman?"
     "Tea," I said, "thank you."
     A few  moments later  Mrs.  Eisenhart's  daughter and a schoolmate came
over,  and  we  were  introduced  to  each other.  The  whole  idea  of this
"heh-heh-heh" was: Mrs. Eisenhart didn't want to talk to me,  she wanted  me
over there getting tea when her daughter and friend came over, so they would
have someone to talk to. That's the way it worked. By  that time I knew what
to do when I  heard "Heh-heh-heh-heh-heh." I didn't say, "What do you  mean,
'Heh-heh-heh-heh-heh'?";  I knew  the "heh-heh-heh"  meant "error,"  and I'd
better get it straightened out.
     Every night we wore academic gowns to dinner. The first night it scared
the life  out of  me, because I didn't  like formality. But I  soon realized
that the  gowns were a  great  advantage. Guys  who were out  playing tennis
could rush into their  room, grab  their academic gown,  and put it on. They
didn't have to  take time off to  change their  clothes or take a shower. So
underneath  the   gowns  there   were   bare  arms,   T-shirts,  everything.
Furthermore,  there was a rule that you never cleaned the gown, so you could
tell  a first-year man from a second-year man, from a third-year man, from a
pig! You never cleaned the gown and you never repaired it, so the first-year
men  had very nice, relatively clean gowns,  but by the  time you got to the
third  year or so, it was nothing but  some  kind of cardboard thing on your
shoulders with tatters hanging down from it.
     So when I got to Princeton, I went to  that tea on Sunday afternoon and
had dinner that evening in an academic gown at the "College." But on Monday,
the first thing I wanted to do was to see the cyclotron.
     MIT had built a  new cyclotron while I was  a student there, and it was
just  beautiful! The cyclotron itself was in one room, with the  controls in
another room. It was beautifully  engineered. The wires ran from the control
room to the cyclotron underneath in conduits, and there was  a whole console
of buttons and meters. It was what I would call a gold-plated cyclotron.
     Now I  had read  a  lot  of papers on cyclotron experiments, and  there
weren't many from MIT. Maybe they were just starting. But there were lots of
results from  places like Cornell, and  Berkeley, and above  all, Princeton.
Therefore what I  really wanted to  see,  what I was looking forward to, was
the PRINCETON CYCLOTRON. That must be something.
     So  first  thing on Monday,  I go into the physics  building  and  ask,
"Where is the cyclotron -- which building?"
     "It's downstairs, in the basement -- at the end of the hall."
     In  the  basement? It was an old building.  There was no  room  in  the
basement for a cyclotron. I walked down to the end of the hall, went through
the door, and in ten seconds I learned why Princeton was right for me -- the
best  place for me to go to school. In this room there were wires strung all
over the  place! Switches  were hanging from the  wires,  cooling  water was
dripping  from the valves, the room was full  of stuff, all out in the open.
Tables piled  with tools were everywhere; it was the most godawful  mess you
ever  saw. The whole cyclotron  was there in one  room, and it was complete,
absolute chaos!
     It reminded me of my lab at  home. Nothing at MIT had ever reminded  me
of  my  lab at home.  I suddenly realized why Princeton was getting results.
They were working with the instrument. They built  the instrument; they knew
where everything was, they knew how everything worked, there was no engineer
involved, except maybe  he was working  there too. It  was much smaller than
the cyclotron at MIT, and "gold-plated"? -- it was  the exact opposite. When
they wanted to fix a vacuum, they'd drip glyptal on it,  so there were drops
of glyptal on the floor. It was wonderful! Because they worked with it. They
didn't have to sit in another room and push buttons! (Incidentally, they had
a fire in  that  room, because of all the chaotic mess that they had  -- too
many  wires -- and it destroyed the cyclotron. But I'd better not tell about
that!)
     (When I  got  to Cornell I  went to look  at the cyclotron there.  This
cyclotron hardly required a room: It was about a yard across -- the diameter
of the whole thing.  It was the world's smallest cyclotron, but they had got
fantastic  results. They had all kinds of  special techniques and tricks. If
they wanted to  change something  in the "D's" --  the D-shaped half circles
that  the particles go around -- they'd take a screwdriver,  and remove  the
D's by hand, fix  them, and put them back. At Princeton it was a lot harder,
and at MIT you had  to take  a crane  that came rolling  across the ceiling,
lower the hooks, and it was a hellllll of a job.)
     I learned  a lot of different things from different schools. MIT  is  a
very good place; I'm not trying to put it down. I was  just in love with it.
It has developed  for  itself a  spirit, so that  every member  of the whole
place thinks  that it's the  most wonderful place in  the world -- it's  the
center, somehow,  of scientific and technological development  in the United
States,  if not the world. It's like a New Yorker's view of  New  York: they
forget  the rest of  the country.  And while you don't get a  good sense  of
proportion there, you do get  an excellent sense of being with it and in it,
and having motivation and desire to keep on -- that you're specially chosen,
and lucky to be there.
     So MIT was  good, but Slater was  right  to  warn  me to go  to another
school  for my graduate  work. And I often  advise my students the same way.
Learn what the rest of the world is like. The variety is worthwhile.
     I once did an experiment in the cyclotron laboratory at  Princeton that
had some startling results. There was a problem in a hydrodynamics book that
was being discussed by all the  physics students. The  problem is this:  You
have an S-shaped lawn sprinkler --  an S-shaped pipe on a pivot  -- and  the
water squirts out at right angles to the axis and makes it spin in a certain
direction.  Everybody knows which way it goes around; it backs away from the
outgoing water.  Now the question is this:  If  you had a lake,  or swimming
pool -- a big supply of water -- and you put the  sprinkler completely under
water, and sucked the water in, instead of squirting it out, which way would
it turn?  Would it turn  the same way as  it  does when you squirt water out
into the air, or would it turn the other way?
     The answer is perfectly clear at first sight. The trouble was, some guy
would think it  was perfectly clear one  way, and another guy would think it
was perfectly  clear the  other  way.  So  everybody  was  discussing it.  I
remember at one particular seminar, or tea,  somebody went up  to Prof. John
Wheeler and said, "Which way do you think it goes around?"
     Wheeler said, "Yesterday, Feynman convinced me that it went  backwards.
Today, he's convinced  me equally well that it  goes around the other way. I
don't know what he'll convince me of tomorrow!"
     I'll  tell you an  argument that  will make you think it's one way, and
another argument that will make you think it's the other way, OK?
     One argument  is that  when  you're sucking  water  in, you're sort  of
pulling  the water  with  the  nozzle, so  it will go  forward, towards  the
incoming water.
     But then another guy comes along and  says,  "Suppose we hold  it still
and ask what kind of a torque we need to  hold it still. In the case of  the
water going out,  we all know  you  have to hold it  on the outside  of  the
curve, because of the centrifugal force of the water going around the curve.
Now, when the water goes around the same curve the other way, it still makes
the same centrifugal  force  toward the outside of the  curve. Therefore the
two  cases  are the same,  and the sprinkler will go  around the  same  way,
whether you're squirting water out or sucking it in."
     After some thought, I finally made  up my mind what the answer was, and
in order to demonstrate it, I wanted to do an experiment.
     In the  Princeton cyclotron  lab  they had a  big carboy  --  a monster
bottle of water. I thought this was just  great for the experiment. I  got a
piece of copper tubing and bent it  into  an S-shape. Then  in  the middle I
drilled a hole,  stuck  in a piece of rubber hose, and  led it up through  a
hole in a cork  I  had put in  the top  of the  bottle. The cork had another
hole, into which I put another piece of rubber hose, and connected it to the
air  pressure supply  of the  lab.  By blowing air into the  bottle, I could
force water into the copper tubing exactly as if I were sucking it  in. Now,
the S-shaped tubing wouldn't turn around, but it would twist (because of the
flexible rubber  hose), and I  was  going to measure the  speed of the water
flow by measuring how far it squirted out of the top of the bottle.
     I got it all set up, turned on the  air supply, and it went "Puup!" The
air pressure blew the cork out of the bottle. I wired it in very well, so it
wouldn't jump  out. Now the experiment  was going pretty good. The water was
coming  out, and the hose was twisting, so I put  a little  more pressure on
it, because  with a higher speed, the measurements would be more accurate. I
measured the angle very  carefully, and measured the distance, and increased
the pressure  again,  and suddenly the whole thing just blew glass and water
in all directions throughout the laboratory. A guy who had come to watch got
all wet  and had to go home and change his clothes (it's a miracle he didn't
get  cut  by the glass),  and lots of cloud  chamber  pictures that had been
taken patiently using the cyclotron were all wet, but for  some reason I was
far enough away, or in some  such position  that I didn't  get very wet. But
I'll always remember how the great Professor Del Sasso, who was in charge of
the cyclotron, came over  to me and said  sternly, "The freshman experiments
should be done in the freshman laboratory!"


--------


     On  Wednesdays at the Princeton Graduate College, various  people would
come in  to give  talks.  The speakers  were  often interesting,  and in the
discussions after the talks we  used to have a lot of fun. For instance, one
guy  in our  school  was  very  strongly anti-Catholic,  so  he  passed  out
questions in advance for people to  ask a religious speaker, and we gave the
speaker a hard time.
     Another time somebody  gave a talk about  poetry.  He talked  about the
structure  of  the  poem  and the  emotions that  come  with  it; he divided
everything  up into certain kinds of classes.  In the  discussion  that came
afterwards, he said, "Isn't that the same as in mathematics, Dr. Eisenhart?"
     Dr. Eisenhart was the dean of the graduate school and a great professor
of mathematics. He  was also very clever.  He said, "I'd like to  know  what
Dick  Feynman thinks  about it  in reference to theoretical physics." He was
always putting me on in this kind of situation.
     I  got  up  and said,  "Yes, it's very closely related. In  theoretical
physics, the  analog of the word is the  mathematical formula, the analog of
the  structure  of  the poem  is  the interrelationship  of the  theoretical
bling-bling with  the so-and-so"  -- and  I went  through the  whole  thing,
making a perfect analogy. The speaker's eyes were beaming with happiness.
     Then I said, "It seems to me that  no matter what you say about poetry,
I could find a way  of making up an  analog with any subject, just as I  did
for theoretical physics. I don't consider such analogs meaningful."
     In  the great big dining  hall  with  stained-glass  windows,  where we
always ate,  in  our steadily  deteriorating academic gowns, Dean  Eisenhart
would  begin each  dinner by  saying grace  in Latin. After dinner  he would
often get up and make some announcements. One night Dr. Eisenhart got up and
said, "Two  weeks  from now, a professor  of psychology  is coming to give a
talk about hypnosis. Now,  this professor thought it would be much better if
we had a real demonstration of hypnosis instead of just  talking  about  it.
Therefore he would like some people to volunteer to be hypnotized..."
     I get all excited: There's no question  but  that I've  got to find out
about hypnosis. This is going to be terrific!
     Dean Eisenhart  went on to say that it  would  be good if three or four
people would volunteer so that the hypnotist could try them out first to see
which ones would be able  to be hypnotized,  so he'd  like to urge very much
that we apply for this. (He's wasting all this time, for God's sake!)
     Eisenhart was  down at one  end of the hall, and I  was way down at the
other end,  in the back. There  were hundreds  of guys there.  I  knew  that
everybody was going to want to do this, and I was terrified that he wouldn't
see  me  because  I  was  so far  back.  I  just  had  to  get  in  on  this
demonstration!
     Finally Eisenhart said, "And so I would like to ask if there  are going
to be any volunteers..."
     I raised my hand and shot out of my seat, screaming as loud as I could,
to make sure that he would hear me: "MEEEEEEEEEEE!"
     He heard me  all right,  because there  wasn't  another soul. My  voice
reverberated throughout the hall  -- it  was  very embarrassing. Eisenhart's
immediate reaction  was, "Yes, of  course,  I knew you would  volunteer, Mr.
Feynman, but I was wondering if there would be anybody else."
     Finally  a  few   other  guys  volunteered,  and  a   week  before  the
demonstration the man came to practice on us, to see if  any of us would  be
good  for hypnosis. I knew about  the phenomenon, but  I didn't know what it
was like to be hypnotized.
     He started to work on me and soon I got into a position  where he said,
"You can't open your eyes."
     I said to  myself,  "I bet I could  open my eyes, but  I  don't want to
disturb the situation:  Let's see how  much  further  it goes."  It  was  an
interesting situation: You're only slightly fogged out, and  although you've
lost a  little  bit, you're pretty sure  you could  open  your eyes. But  of
course, you're not opening your eyes, so in a sense you can't do it.
     He went through a lot of stuff and decided that I was pretty good.
     When  the real  demonstration came he  had  us walk on  stage,  and  he
hypnotized us in front of the whole  Princeton Graduate College.  This  time
the effect was stronger; I guess I had learned how to become hypnotized. The
hypnotist  made various demonstrations, having me do  things that I couldn't
normally  do,  and at  the  end he said that after I came  out  of hypnosis,
instead of returning to my seat directly, which was the natural way to go, I
would walk all the way around the room and go to my seat from the back.
     All through the demonstration I was vaguely aware of what was going on,
and cooperating with the things the hypnotist said, but this time I decided,
"Damn it, enough is enough! I'm gonna go straight to my seat."
     When  it was  time to get up and go off  the stage, I  started  to walk
straight to my seat. But  then  an annoying feeling came  over me: I felt so
uncomfortable that  I couldn't continue.  I  walked all  the way  around the
hall.
     I was hypnotized in another situation some time later by a woman. While
I  was hypnotized she  said, "I'm going to light a match, blow  it out,  and
immediately touch the back of your hand with it. You will feel no pain."
     I thought, "Baloney!"  She  took  a  match, lit it, blew  it  out,  and
touched it to  the back  of my hand. It felt  slightly  warm.  My eyes  were
closed throughout all of this, but I was thinking, "That's easy. She lit one
match,  but touched  a different match to  my hand. There's nothin' to that;
it's a fake!"
     When I came  out of the  hypnosis and looked at the back of my hand,  I
got the biggest surprise: There was a burn  on  the back  of my hand. Soon a
blister grew, and it never hurt at all, even when it broke.
     So I found hypnosis to be a very interesting  experience.  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.


--------


     In  the Graduate College dining room at Princeton everybody used to sit
with his own group. I sat with the physicists, but after a bit I thought: It
would be nice to see what the rest of the world is doing, so  I'll sit for a
week or two in each of the other groups.
     When  I  sat with  the philosophers  I  listened to them  discuss  very
seriously a book  called  Process and Reality by Whitehead. They were  using
words in a funny way, and I couldn't quite understand what they were saying.
Now I  didn't  want to  interrupt them  in their  own conversation  and keep
asking them  to  explain  something, and on  the few  occasions that  I did,
they'd  try to  explain it to me, but I still didn't  get  it. Finally  they
invited me to come to their seminar.
     They had a  seminar that was like a  class. It  had been meeting once a
week to discuss a new chapter out of  Process and  Reality -- some guy would
give a report on it  and then  there would be a discussion.  I went to  this
seminar  promising myself  to keep  my mouth  shut,  reminding myself that I
didn't know anything about the subject, and I was going there just to watch.
     What happened there was typical -- so typical that it was unbelievable,
but true. First of all, I sat there without saying anything, which is almost
unbelievable,  but also true. A student  gave a report on the chapter  to be
studied that week. In it  Whitehead  kept using the words "essential object"
in  a particular technical  way that presumably he had defined, but  that  I
didn't understand.
     After  some  discussion  as  to  what  "essential  object"  meant,  the
professor  leading  the seminar said something meant  to clarify  things and
drew  something  that  looked like  lightning  bolts on the blackboard. "Mr.
Feynman," he said, "would you say an electron is an 'essential object'?"
     Well, now I was in trouble. I  admitted that I hadn't read the book, so
I  had no  idea  of what Whitehead meant by  the phrase;  I had only come to
watch. "But," I  said,  "I'll try to  answer the professor's question if you
will first answer a question from  me,  so I can have a better idea  of what
'essential object' means. Is a brick an essential object?"
     What I  had  intended  to  do  was  to  find  out  whether they thought
theoretical constructs were essential objects. The electron is a theory that
we use; it  is so useful in understanding the  way nature works  that we can
almost call it real. I wanted to make the idea of a theory clear by analogy.
In the case of the brick, my  next question was going to be, "What about the
inside of the brick?" -- and I  would then point out  that no  one  has ever
seen the inside of a brick. Every time you break the brick, you only see the
surface. That the brick has  an  inside  is a  simple  theory which helps us
understand things better. The  theory  of electrons is analogous. So I began
by asking, "Is a brick an essential object?"
     Then the  answers came out. One man stood up  and said,  "A brick as an
individual, specific brick. That  is what Whitehead  means  by  an essential
object."
     Another  man said,  "No,  it  isn't  the  individual  brick that  is an
essential object; it's the  general character that all bricks have in common
-- their 'brickness' -- that is the essential object."
     Another guy got up and  said,  "No, it's not in the  bricks themselves.
'Essential object' means the idea in the mind that you get when you think of
bricks."
     Another guy got up, and another, and I tell you I have never heard such
ingenious different  ways of looking at  a brick before.  And, just  like it
should in all stories  about philosophers, it ended up in complete chaos. In
all their previous  discussions they  hadn't  even asked themselves  whether
such a simple object as a  brick,  much less an electron, is  an  "essential
object."
     After that I went  around to the biology  table at dinner time.  I  had
always  had  some  interest  in  biology,  and the guys  talked  about  very
interesting things. Some  of them invited  me to come to a course they  were
going to have in  cell physiology.  I knew something about biology, but this
was a graduate course. "Do you think I can handle it? Will the professor let
me in?" I asked.
     They asked  the instructor,  E.  Newton Harvey,  who had  done a lot of
research on light-producing bacteria. Harvey said I could join this special,
advanced course provided  one thing --  that I  would do all  the  work, and
report on papers just like everybody else.
     Before the first class meeting, the guys who had invited me to take the
course wanted to show me some  things under  the microscope.  They had  some
plant cells in  there,  and you could  see  some little green  spots  called
chloroplasts (they make sugar when light shines on them) circulating around.
I  looked at them and then looked  up: "How do  they circulate? What  pushes
them around?" I asked.
     Nobody knew. It  turned out that it was not understood at that time. So
right away I found out  something about biology: it was very easy to find  a
question  that was very interesting, and that nobody knew the answer  to. In
physics  you had to go a  little deeper before you could find an interesting
question that people didn't know.
     When the course began, Harvey  started  out by  drawing  a  great,  big
picture of a cell on the blackboard and labeling all the  things that are in
a cell. He then talked about them, and I understood most of what he said.
     After the lecture, the guy who had invited  me said, "Well, how did you
like it?"
     "Just fine," I said. "The  only part  I didn't understand  was the part
about lecithin. What is lecithin?"
     The guy begins to explain in a monotonous voice: "All living creatures,
both  plant  and  animal,  are  made  of  little  bricklike  objects  called
'cells'..."
     "Listen," I said, impatiently,  "I know all that; otherwise  I wouldn't
be in the course. What is lecithin?"
     "I don't know."
     I had to report on papers along with everyone else, and the first one I
was  assigned was on  the effect of  pressure on cells -- Harvey chose  that
topic for me because it had something  that had to do with physics. Although
I understood  what I was doing,  I  mispronounced everything when I  read my
paper, and the class was always  laughing hysterically when I'd  talk  about
"blastospheres" instead of "blastomeres," or some other such thing.
     The  next  paper  selected  for  me  was  by  Adrian  and  Bronk.  They
demonstrated that nerve impulses were sharp,  single-pulse  phenomena.  They
had  done experiments with  cats  in  which they  had  measured  voltages on
nerves.
     I began to read the paper. It kept talking about extensors and flexors,
the gastrocnemius muscle, and so on. This and  that muscle were named, but I
hadn't  the foggiest idea  of  where  they were  located  in relation to the
nerves or to the cat. So I went to  the librarian in the biology section and
asked her if she could find me a map of the cat.
     "A map of the cat,  sir?" she  asked, horrified. "You mean a zoological
chart!" From then on  there  were rumors  about  some  dumb biology graduate
student who was looking for a "map of the cat."
     When it came  time for me to give my talk on the subject, I started off
by drawing an outline of the cat and began to name the various muscles.
     The other students in the class interrupt me: "We know all that!"
     "Oh,"  I say, "you do? Then no  wonder I can catch up with you  so fast
after you've had  four years  of  biology." They  had wasted all their  time
memorizing stuff like that, when it could be looked up in fifteen minutes.
     After the war, every  summer I would go traveling by  car somewhere  in
the United  States.  One  year,  after  I was at Caltech,  I thought,  "This
summer,  instead of  going to a different  place,  I'll  go  to  a different
field."
     It was  right  after Watson and Crick's  discovery  of the  DNA spiral.
There were some very good biologists at Caltech because Delbrück had his lab
there,  and Watson came  to  Caltech  to give  some  lectures on  the coding
systems  of DNA.  I went to  his lectures and  to  seminars in  the  biology
department and  got full  of  enthusiasm. It  was  a  very exciting  time in
biology, and Caltech was a wonderful place to be.
     I didn't think I was up to doing actual  research in biology, so for my
summer visit to the field of biology I thought  I would just hang around the
biology  lab and "wash dishes," while I watched what they were doing. I went
over  to the biology lab to tell  them my  desire,  and  Bob  Edgar, a young
post-doc who was sort of in charge there, said  he  wouldn't let me do that.
He said,  "You'll  have to  really do some research,  just  like a  graduate
student, and we'll give you a problem to work on." That suited me fine.
     I  took  a  phage  course, which  told  us  how  to  do  research  with
bacteriophages (a phage is a virus that contains DNA  and attacks bacteria).
Right  away I found  that I was saved a  lot of trouble because  I knew some
physics and mathematics.  I knew how atoms  worked in liquids,  so there was
nothing mysterious about how the centrifuge worked. I knew enough statistics
to understand the statistical errors  in counting little spots in a dish. So
while all the biology guys  were trying to understand  these "new" things, I
could spend my time learning the biology part.
     There  was one useful lab  technique I  learned in that  course which I
still use today. They taught us how to hold a test tube and take its cap off
with one hand  (you  use  your middle and index fingers), while leaving  the
other hand  free to do  something else  (like  hold  a  pipette that  you're
sucking cyanide up into). Now, I  can hold my toothbrush in  one  hand,  and
with the other hand, hold the tube of toothpaste, twist the cap off, and put
it back on.
     It  had  been discovered that phages could  have  mutations which would
affect their ability to attack bacteria, and we were supposed to study those
mutations. There  were also some phages  that  would have a  second mutation
which would reconstitute their ability to attack bacteria. Some phages which
mutated  back were exactly  the same as they were before. Others  were  not:
There was a slight difference in their effect on bacteria -- they would  act
faster or slower than normal, and the bacteria would grow slower  or  faster
than normal. In other  words, there were "back mutations," but they  weren't
always perfect; sometimes the  phage would recover  only part of the ability
it had lost.
     Bob Edgar suggested that I do an experiment which would try to find out
if the back  mutations occurred in the  same  place on the DNA  spiral. With
great care and a lot of tedious  work I was able to  find three examples  of
back  mutations  which had  occurred  very close  together  --  closer  than
anything  they had  ever  seen  so far -- and  which partially  restored the
phage's ability  to function. It was a slow job. It was  sort of accidental:
You had to wait around until you got a double mutation, which was very rare.
     I kept  trying to think of  ways to make a  phage mutate more often and
how to detect mutations more quickly, but before I could come up with a good
technique the  summer was over, and I  didn't feel like  continuing  on that
problem.
     However, my sabbatical year was coming up, so  I decided to work in the
same biology lab but  on a different subject. I worked with Matt Meselson to
some extent, and  then with a nice fella from England named J. D. Smith. The
problem had to  do with ribosomes, the  "machinery" in  the cell that  makes
protein from what  we now call messenger  RNA. Using radioactive substances,
we demonstrated that  the RNA  could come out of  ribosomes and could be put
back in.
     I did a very careful job in measuring and trying to control everything,
but it took me eight  months  to  realize that there was one  step that  was
sloppy. In preparing the bacteria, to get the ribosomes out, in  those  days
you ground it up with alumina in  a mortar. Everything else was chemical and
all under control, but  you could never repeat the way you pushed the pestle
around when you  were  grinding  the bacteria. So nothing  ever  came of the
experiment.
     Then  I  guess  I have to tell  about the time  I tried with Hildegarde
Lamfrom to discover whether peas could use the  same ribosomes as  bacteria.
The question  was  whether the  ribosomes  of  bacteria can  manufacture the
proteins  of humans or  other organisms. She had just developed a scheme for
getting the ribosomes out of peas and giving them messenger RNA so that they
would make pea  proteins. We  realized  that a very  dramatic and  important
question was whether ribosomes from bacteria, when given the peas' messenger
RNA,  would make  pea  protein or  bacteria  protein.  It was  to be a  very
dramatic and fundamental experiment.
     Hildegarde said, "I'll need a lot of ribosomes from bacteria."
     Meselson and I had  extracted enormous quantities of ribosomes from  E.
coli  for  some other  experiment.  I said,  "Hell, I'll  just give  you the
ribosomes we've got. We have plenty of them in my refrigerator at the lab."
     It would have been a fantastic and vital discovery if I had been a good
biologist. But  I  wasn't  a good  biologist.  We  had a  good  idea, a good
experiment, the right  equipment, but I screwed  it up: I  gave her infected
ribosomes  --  the  grossest  possible  error  that  you  could  make  in an
experiment like that. My ribosomes had been in the refrigerator for almost a
month, and  had  become contaminated  with  some other living  things. Had I
prepared those  ribosomes  promptly over again and given them to  her  in  a
serious and careful  way,  with everything  under  control, that  experiment
would have  worked,, and we  would  have  been the  first to demonstrate the
uniformity of life:  the machinery of making proteins, the ribosomes, is the
same in every  creature. We were there at the right place, we were doing the
right things, but I was doing things as an amateur -- stupid and sloppy.
     You  know what  it reminds me  of?  The  husband  of  Madame  Bovary in
Flaubert's book,  a dull country doctor who had some idea of how to fix club
feet, and all he did was screw people up.  I was similar to that unpracticed
surgeon. The other work on the phage I never wrote up  -- Edgar kept  asking
me to write it up, but I never got around to it. That's the trouble with not
being in your own field: You don't take it seriously.
     I did write something informally on it. I sent it to Edgar, who laughed
when he  read it. It wasn't in the  standard  form  that  biologists  use --
first, procedures, and so forth. I spent a  lot  of  time  explaining things
that all the biologists knew. Edgar made a shortened version, but I couldn't
understand  it. I don't think they ever published it.  I never  published it
directly.
     Watson thought  the  stuff I had done with phages was of some interest,
so  he invited  me to go to Harvard. I gave a talk to the biology department
about the double mutations which occurred so close together.  I told them my
guess was that one mutation made  a change in  the protein, such as changing
the  pH of an amino acid, while the other  mutation made the opposite change
on a different amino acid in the same protein, so that it partially balanced
the first mutation  -- not perfectly, but enough to  let  the  phage operate
again. I thought they were two changes in the same protein, which chemically
compensated each other.
     That  turned out not to be the case. It was found out a few years later
by people who undoubtedly developed a  technique for producing and detecting
the mutations  faster, that  what  happened  was,  the first  mutation was a
mutation in which an entire DNA base was missing. Now the "code" was shifted
and could  not  be  "read" any more.  The  second mutation was either one in
which an extra base was put  back  in, or two more  were taken out.  Now the
code  could be read again.  The closer the  second  mutation occurred to the
first, the less  message  would be altered by the double mutation,  and  the
more  completely the phage would recover its  lost abilities. The fact  that
there are three "letters" to code each amino acid was thus demonstrated.
     While I was at Harvard that week, Watson suggested something and we did
an experiment together for a few days. It was an incomplete experiment,  but
I learned some new lab techniques from one of the best men in the field.
     But that  was my big moment: I gave a seminar in the biology department
of Harvard! I always do that, get into something and see how far I can go.
     I learned a lot of things in biology, and I gained a lot of experience.
I got better  at pronouncing  the  words,  knowing  what not to include in a
paper or a seminar,  and detecting a  weak technique in an experiment. But I
love physics, and I love to go back to it.


--------


     While  I  was still  a graduate student  at Princeton,  I  worked  as a
research assistant  under John Wheeler. He gave me a problem to work on, and
it got hard, and I wasn't getting anywhere. So I went back to an idea that I
had  had earlier,  at  MIT.  The  idea  was  that  electrons  don't  act  on
themselves, they only act on other electrons.
     There was this problem: When you shake an electron, it radiates energy,
and  so there's a loss. That means there must be a  force  on it. And  there
must be a different force when it's charged than when  it's not charged. (If
the force were exactly the same when it was charged and not charged,  in one
case it would lose energy, and in the other it  wouldn't. You can't have two
different answers to the same problem.)
     The standard theory was that it  was the electron acting on itself that
made  that  force  (called the force  of radiation reaction), and I had only
electrons  acting  on  other  electrons.  So  I  was  in some difficulty,  I
realized, by that time. (When  I was at MIT, I got the idea without noticing
the problem, but by the time I got to Princeton, I knew that problem.)
     What I thought was: I'll shake  this electron. It will make some nearby
electron shake, and the effect back  from  the nearby electron would be  the
origin of the force  of radiation reaction. So  I did some calculations  and
took them to Wheeler.
     Wheeler, right  away, said, "Well, that  isn't right  because it varies
inversely as  the square of the distance of the other electrons,  whereas it
should not  depend  on  any  of  these  variables at  all. It'll also depend
inversely upon the  mass of the other electron; it'll be proportional to the
charge on the other electron."
     What bothered  me  was, I thought he must have done  the calculation. I
only realized later that a man like  Wheeler could  immediately see all that
stuff when you give him the problem. I had to calculate, but he could see.
     Then he said, "And it'll  be delayed -- the wave returns late -- so all
you've described is reflected light."
     "Oh! Of course," I said.
     "But wait,"  he said. "Let's  suppose  it  returns by advanced waves --
reactions backward in time -- so it comes back at the right time. We saw the
effect varied inversely as the square of the distance, but suppose there are
a lot of electrons, all over space: the number is proportional to the square
of the distance. So maybe we can make it all compensate."
     We found out we could do that. It  came  out very  nicely, and fit very
well. It was a classical theory that could be right, even though it differed
from Maxwell's standard, or Lorentz's  standard theory.  It didn't have  any
trouble with  the infinity  of  self-action,  and it was  ingenious.  It had
actions  and  delays,  forwards  and  backwards  in  time  -- we  called  it
"half-advanced and half-retarded potentials."
     Wheeler  and I thought  the  next problem  was  to turn to the  quantum
theory of  electrodynamics,  which  had difficulties  (I  thought)  with the
self-action  of  the  electron.  We  figured  if  we could  get  rid  of the
difficulty first in classical physics, and then make a quantum theory out of
that, we could straighten out the quantum theory as well.
     Now that we had got the classical theory right, Wheeler said, "Feynman,
you're a young  fella -- you  should  give  a  seminar  on  this.  You  need
experience in giving talks. Meanwhile, I'll work out the quantum theory part
and give a seminar on that later."
     So it  was to be my first technical talk, and Wheeler made arrangements
with Eugene Wigner to put it on the regular seminar schedule.
     A day  or two before the  talk I saw  Wigner in the hall. "Feynman," he
said, "I think that work you're doing with Wheeler  is very  interesting, so
I've invited Russell to  the  seminar."  Henry Norris  Russell, the  famous,
great astronomer of the day, was coming to the lecture!
     Wigner  went  on.  "I  think  Professor  von  Neumann   would  also  be
interested." Johnny von Neumann was  the greatest mathematician around. "And
Professor Pauli is visiting from Switzerland, it so happens, so I've invited
Professor Pauli to come" -- Pauli was a very famous physicist -- and by this
time, I'm  turning yellow.  Finally, Wigner said, "Professor  Einstein  only
rarely  comes to our weekly seminars, but your  work  is so interesting that
I've invited him specially, so he's coming, too."
     By this time  I must have turned green, because Wigner  said, "No,  no!
Don't worry! I'll just warn you, though:  If Professor Russell  falls asleep
-- and he will undoubtedly fall  asleep -- it doesn't mean that the  seminar
is bad; he falls asleep in all the seminars. On the other hand, if Professor
Pauli is nodding all the time, and seems to  be in agreement as  the seminar
goes along, pay no attention. Professor Pauli has palsy."
     I went back to Wheeler and named  all the big,  famous people  who were
coming to the talk he got me to give, and told him I was uneasy about it.
     "It's  all  right,"  he   said.  "Don't  worry.  I'll  answer  all  the
questions."
     So I  prepared  the talk, and  when  the day  came, I went  in  and did
something that young men who have had no experience in giving talks often do
--  I put too  many equations up on the blackboard. You see,  a young  fella
doesn't know how to say, "Of course, that  varies inversely, and  this  goes
this way..." because everybody listening already knows; they can see it. But
he doesn't know. He can only make it come out  by actually doing the algebra
-- and therefore the reams of equations.
     As I was writing these equations all over the blackboard ahead of time,
Einstein came  in and  said  pleasantly, "Hello, I'm coming to your seminar.
But first, where is the tea?"
     I told him, and continued writing the equations.
     Then the time came to give  the talk, and here are these monster  minds
in front  of me,  waiting!  My  first  technical  talk  --  and  I have this
audience!  I mean they  would put me through the  wringer!  I remember  very
clearly  seeing my hands  shaking as they were pulling  out  my notes from a
brown envelope.
     But then a  miracle occurred, as it has occurred again  and again in my
life,  and  it's  very  lucky for me: the moment I start to  think about the
physics,  and  have  to  concentrate  on what  I'm  explaining, nothing else
occupies  my  mind -- I'm  completely immune  to  being nervous. So  after I
started to go, I just didn't know who was in the room. I was only explaining
this idea, that's all.
     But then the end  of the seminar came, and it was time  for  questions.
First off, Pauli, who was sitting  next to Einstein, gets up and says, "I do
not sink dis teory  can be  right, because of dis, and dis, and dis," and he
turns to Einstein and says, "Don't you agree, Professor Einstein?"
     Einstein says,  "Nooooooooooooo," a nice, German-sounding "No," -- very
polite. "I find only that it would be very difficult to make a corresponding
theory for gravitational interaction." He  meant for the  general  theory of
relativity, which  was  his baby. He  continued: "Since we have at this time
not a great deal  of experimental evidence, I am not absolutely  sure of the
correct  gravitational  theory." Einstein appreciated  that things might  be
different from what his theory stated; he was very tolerant of other ideas.
     I wish I  had remembered what  Pauli said, because  I  discovered years
later  that the  theory  was  not  satisfactory when  it came  to making the
quantum theory. It's possible  that that  great man  noticed  the difficulty
immediately and explained it to me in the question, but I was so relieved at
not  having  to  answer the  questions that I didn't really  listen to  them
carefully. I do remember walking up the steps of  Palmer Library with Pauli,
who  said to me, "What is Wheeler going to say about the quantum theory when
he gives his talk?"
     I said, "I don't know. He hasn't told me. He's working it out himself."
     "Oh?" he said. "The man works and doesn't  tell his assistant what he's
doing on the  quantum theory?"  He  came closer to  me and  said  in  a low,
secretive voice, "Wheeler will never give that seminar."
     And  it's true. Wheeler didn't give the seminar. He thought it would be
easy to  work out  the quantum  part; he  thought he  had it, almost. But he
didn't. And by the time the seminar came around, he realized he  didn't know
how to do it, and therefore didn't have anything to say.
     I  never  solved it,  either  --  a  quantum  theory  of half-advanced,
half-retarded potentials -- and I worked on it for years.


--------


     The reason  why I  say I'm "uncultured" or "anti-intellectual" probably
goes all the way back to  the time when I was in high  school. I  was always
worried about being  a  sissy; I didn't  want  to be too delicate. To me, no
real man ever paid any attention to poetry and such things.  How poetry ever
got written  -- that  never struck me!  So  I developed a  negative attitude
toward the guy who studies French literature, or studies too much  music  or
poetry -- all those "fancy"  things. I admired better the  steel-worker, the
welder, or the machine  shop man. I always thought the guy who worked in the
machine  shop and could make  things,  now he  was a real  guy!  That was my
attitude.  To be a  practical  man was,  to me,  always  somehow  a positive
virtue, and to be "cultured" or "intellectual" was not. The first was right,
of course, but the second was crazy.
     I  still  had  this  feeling  when I  was doing  my  graduate study  at
Princeton,  as you'll see.  I used to eat often in a nice  little restaurant
called Papa's Place. One day,  while I  was eating there, a  painter  in his
painting clothes came down from an upstairs room he'd been painting, and sat
near me.  Somehow we struck up a  conversation and he  started talking about
how you've got to learn a lot to be in the painting business. "For example,"
he said, "in this restaurant, what colors would  you use to paint the walls,
if you had the job to do?"
     I  said  I didn't know,  and  he  said, "You  have a dark  band  up  to
such-and-such a height, because, you see, people  who sit  at the tables rub
their elbows against the walls, so you don't want a nice, white wall  there.
It  gets dirty  too easily.  But above that, you do  want it white to give a
feeling of cleanliness to the restaurant."
     The guy  seemed to know  what he  was doing, and I was  sitting  there,
hanging on his words, when he said, "And you also have  to know about colors
-- how to get different colors when  you  mix  the paint. For example,  what
colors would you mix to get yellow?"
     I didn't know how to  get  yellow by  mixing paints. If it's light, you
mix  green  and red, but I knew he was talking paints. So I said,  "I  don't
know how you get yellow without using yellow."
     "Well," he said, "if you mix red and white, you'll get yellow."
     "Are you sure you  don't mean pink?" "No," he said, "you'll get yellow"
-- and I believed that he got yellow, because he was a professional painter,
and I always admired guys like that. But I still wondered how he did it.
     I got an idea. "It must be some kind of chemical change. Were you using
some special kind of pigments that make a chemical change?"
     "No," he  said, "any  old  pigments  will  work.  You  go down  to  the
five-and-ten and  get some  paint -- just a regular  can of red  paint and a
regular  can of white  paint -- and I'll mix 'em, and I'll show how you  get
yellow."
     At this juncture  I was thinking,  "Something  is  crazy. I know enough
about paints to know you won't get yellow, but he must know that you  do get
yellow, and therefore something interesting happens. I've got to see what it
is!" So I said, "OK, I'll get the paints." The painter went back upstairs to
finish his painting job, and the restaurant owner came over  and said to me,
"What's the idea of arguing with that man? The man is a painter; he's been a
painter all his life, and he says he gets yellow. So why argue with him?"
     I felt embarrassed. I didn't know what to say. Finally I  said, "All my
life,  I've been studying  light. And I think that with  red  and white  you
can't get yellow -- you can only get pink."
     So I went to the five-and-ten and got the paint, and brought it back to
the restaurant.  The  painter came down from  upstairs,  and  the restaurant
owner  was  there too. I put the  cans of paint on an  old  chair,  and  the
painter  began to mix the paint. He  put a  little more red, he put a little
more white -- it  still looked pink to me -- and he mixed some more. Then he
mumbled something  like, "I  used  to have a little tube  of yellow  here to
sharpen it up -- a bit -- then this'll be yellow."
     "Oh!" I said. "Of course!  You add  yellow, and you can get yellow, but
you couldn't do it without the yellow."
     The painter went back upstairs to paint.
     The restaurant owner said, "That guy has his nerve, arguing  with a guy
who's studied light all his life!"
     But that shows you how much I trusted  these  "real guys."  The painter
had told me  so much  stuff  that was reasonable that  I was ready to give a
certain  chance  that  there  was  an  odd phenomenon I didn't know.  I  was
expecting  pink,  but my  set of thoughts were, "The only way  to get yellow
will be something new and interesting, and I've got to see this."
     I've  very often made mistakes in  my physics  by thinking  the  theory
isn't as good as it really is, thinking that there are lots of complications
that are going to spoil it -- an attitude that anything can happen, in spite
of what you're pretty sure should happen.


--------


     At the Princeton  graduate school, the physics department  and the math
department shared  a  common lounge, and every day at four o'clock we  would
have  tea.  It  was a  way of  relaxing  in the  afternoon, in  addition  to
imitating  an  English  college.  People  would sit  around  playing  Go, or
discussing theorems. In those days topology was the big thing.
     I still  remember  a guy  sitting on the couch, thinking very hard, and
another guy standing in  front of him,  saying, "And therefore such-and-such
is true."
     "Why is that?" the guy on the couch asks.
     "It's trivial! It's  trivial!"  the standing guy says, and  he  rapidly
reels  off a series of logical steps: "First you assume thus-and-so, then we
have Kerchoff's this-and-that; then there's Waffenstoffer's Theorem,  and we
substitute this and construct that. Now you put the vector which goes around
here and  then thus-and-so..."  The  guy  on  the  couch  is  struggling  to
understand  all  this stuff, which goes on at high speed for  about  fifteen
minutes!
     Finally the  standing  guy comes out the other end, and the guy  on the
couch says, "Yeah, yeah. It's trivial."
     We physicists were laughing, trying to figure them out. We decided that
"trivial" means  "proved."  So we joked  with the mathematicians: "We have a
new  theorem -- that mathematicians can prove only trivial theorems, because
every theorem that's proved is trivial."
     The mathematicians didn't like that theorem, and  I  teased  them about
it. I  said  there are never any surprises --  that  the mathematicians only
prove  things that  are  obvious. Topology was not  at  all  obvious  to the
mathematicians.  There were  all kinds  of  weird  possibilities  that  were
"counterintuitive."  Then  I  got an idea. I challenged  them: "I  bet there
isn't a single theorem that you can tell me  -- what the assumptions are and
what  the theorem  is  in terms  I can understand -- where I  can't tell you
right away whether it's true or false."
     It often  went  like this: They would explain  to  me,  "You've got  an
orange, OK? Now you cut  the orange into a  finite number of pieces, put  it
back together, and it's as big as the sun. True or false?"
     "No holes?"
     "No holes."
     "Impossible! There ain't no such a thing."
     "Ha! We  got him!  Everybody gather around! It's So-and-so's theorem of
immeasurable measure!"
     Just when they think they've  got  me, I remind them,  "But you said an
orange! You can't cut the orange peel any thinner than the atoms."
     "But we have the condition of continuity: We can keep on cutting!"
     "No, you said an orange, so I assumed that you meant a real orange."
     So I always won. If I guessed it right, great. If I guessed  it  wrong,
there  was always  something I could find in their  simplification that they
left out.
     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 balls). 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!"
     If it's true, they get all excited, and I let them go  on  for a while.
Then I point out my counterexample.
     "Oh. We forgot to tell you that it's Class 2 Hausdorff homomorphic."
     "Well, then,"  I say, "It's trivial! It's trivial!" By that time I know
which way  it goes,  even  though  I don't  know what Hausdorff  homomorphic
means.
     I guessed right most of  the time  because  although the mathematicians
thought their topology  theorems were counterintuitive,  they weren't really
as  difficult  as  they looked. You can get used to  the funny properties of
this ultra-fine cutting business and do a pretty good job of guessing how it
will come out.
     Although I  gave  the mathematicians a lot of trouble, they were always
very kind to me. They were a happy bunch of boys who were developing things,
and  they  were terrifically excited about  it.  They  would  discuss  their
"trivial" theorems, and always try to explain something  to you if you asked
a simple question.
     Paul Olum and  I shared  a bathroom. We  got to be good friends, and he
tried to  teach me mathematics. He got me up to homotopy groups, and at that
point I gave up. But the things below that I understood fairly well.
     One thing I never did learn was contour integration.  I  had learned to
do integrals by various methods shown in a book that my high school  physics
teacher Mr. Bader had given me.
     One day  he told me to stay after class.  "Feynman," he said, "you talk
too much and you make too much noise. I know why. You're bored. So I'm going
to give  you a book. You go  up there in the back, in the corner,  and study
this book,  and when  you know everything that's  in this book, you can talk
again."
     So every  physics class, I paid no attention to what was going  on with
Pascal's Law, or whatever they  were  doing. I was up in the back with  this
book: Advanced Calculus, by Woods. Bader knew I had studied Calculus for the
Practical Man a little  bit,  so he  gave me the real works  -- it was for a
junior or senior course in college. It had Fourier series, Bessel functions,
determinants, elliptic  functions -- all  kinds  of  wonderful stuff  that I
didn't know anything about.
     That  book also  showed  how  to  differentiate  parameters  under  the
integral  sign -- it's  a certain  operation. It turns out that's not taught
very much in the universities; they don't  emphasize it. But I caught on how
to  use  that method,  and I used  that one  damn  tool again and  again. So
because I was  self-taught using that book, I had peculiar  methods of doing
integrals.
     The result was,  when guys  at  MIT or Princeton  had  trouble doing  a
certain  integral,  it was  because they  couldn't  do  it with the standard
methods  they had  learned in school.  If it was contour  integration,  they
would have found it; if it  was a  simple series expansion,  they would have
found it. Then I come along and try differentiating under the integral sign,
and  often it worked. So I got a great reputation for  doing integrals, only
because my box of tools  was different from  everybody else's, and  they had
tried all their tools on it before giving the problem to me.


--------


     My  father was always  interested  in magic  and  carnival  tricks, and
wanting  to  see  how  they  worked. One of  the  things he knew  about  was
mindreaders.  When  he was  a little boy, growing up in a small town  called
Patchogue, in  the middle of Long Island, it was announced on advertisements
posted all  over that a  mindreader  was coming  next Wednesday. The posters
said that some respected citizens -- the mayor, a judge, a banker  -- should
take a  five-dollar bill and hide it somewhere, and when the mindreader came
to town, he would find it.
     When he came, the people gathered  around to watch  him do his work. He
takes  the hands of the banker and the judge, who had hidden the five-dollar
bill, and starts to walk down the street. He gets to an intersection,  turns
the corner, walks down another  street, then another, to the correct  house.
He goes with  them, always  holding  their hands, into the house, up to  the
second floor, into the right room,  walks up  to a  bureau, lets go of their
hands,  opens  the  correct drawer, and there's the  five-dollar bill.  Very
dramatic!
     In  those days  it  was  difficult  to  get  a  good education,  so the
mindreader was hired as a tutor for my father. Well, my father, after one of
his lessons, asked the  mindreader how he was able to find the money without
anyone telling him where it was.
     The mindreader explained that you hold  onto their hands, loosely,  and
as you move, you jiggle a little bit. You come to an intersection, where you
can go forward, to the left, or to the right. You jiggle a little bit to the
left, and if  it's  incorrect, you  feel  a  certain amount  of  resistance,
because  they don't expect you to  move  that way. But when you  move in the
right direction, because they  think you might be able to  do it, they  give
way more easily, and there's no resistance. So you must always be jiggling a
little bit, testing out which seems to be the easiest way.
     My father told me the story and said he  thought it  would still take a
lot of practice. He never tried it himself.
     Later, when I was doing graduate work at Princeton, I decided to try it
on  a fellow  named Bill  Woodward.  I  suddenly  announced  that  I  was  a
mindreader, and could read his  mind. I told him to go into the "laboratory"
-- a big room  with rows of tables covered with equipment of  various kinds,
with electric circuits, tools,  and  junk all over the place  -- pick  out a
certain object, somewhere, and  come out.  I  explained, "Now I'll read your
mind and take you right up to the object."
     He went into the  lab, noted a particular object,  and came out. I took
his hand and started jiggling. We went down this aisle, then that one, right
to the object. We tried  it three times. One time I got the object  right on
-- and it was in the  middle of a whole bunch of stuff.  Another time I went
to the  right place but  missed the object by a few  inches -- wrong object.
The third  time, something went wrong. But it  worked better than I thought.
It was very easy.
     Some time after that, when I was about twenty-six  or so, my father and
I went to  Atlantic City,  where  they had  various carnival things going on
outdoors.  While  my  father  was  doing  some  business,  I went to  see  a
mindreader.  He was  seated on  the stage with  his back  to  the  audience,
dressed  in robes and  wearing a great  big  turban. He had an assistant,  a
little guy who was running around through  the audience, saying things like,
"Oh, Great Master, what is the color of this pocketbook?"
     "Blue!" says the master.
     "And oh, Illustrious Sir, what is the name of this woman?"
     "Marie!"
     Some guy gets up: "What's my name?"
     "Henry."
     I get up and say, "What's my name?"
     He doesn't answer.  The other guy  was obviously  a confederate,  but I
couldn't  figure out how the  mindreader  did the other tricks, like telling
the color of the pocketbook. Did he wear earphones underneath the turban?
     When I met up with my father, I told  him about it. He said, "They have
a code worked out, but I don't know what it is. Let's go back and find out."
     We went back to the place, and  my  father  said  to me, "Here's  fifty
cents. Go get your fortune read in the booth back there, and I'll see you in
half an hour."
     I knew what he was doing. He was going to tell the man a story,  and it
would go smoother if his  son wasn't there going,  "Ooh, ooh!" all the time.
He had to get me out of the way.
     When  he  came  back  he  told me  the whole code: "Blue is  'Oh, Great
Master,' Green is 'Oh, Most Knowledgeable One,'" and so forth. He explained,
"I went  up  to  him,  afterwards,  and  told  him I used  to do  a  show in
Patchogue, and we had a code, but it couldn't do many numbers, and the range
of colors was shorter. I asked him, 'How do you carry so much information?'"
     The mindreader was so proud  of his code that he sat down and explained
the  whole works to my  father.  My father was a salesman. He could set up a
situation like that. I can't do stuff like that.


--------


     When I was  a kid I  had a "lab." It  wasn't a laboratory in the  sense
that I would measure, or do important experiments.
     Instead,  I would play: I'd make a motor, I'd make a  gadget that would
go off when something passed a photocell. I'd play  around with selenium;  I
was piddling around all the  time. I did calculate a little bit for the lamp
bank, a  series  of switches  and bulbs  I  used  as  resistors  to  control
voltages. But all that was for application. I never did  any laboratory kind
of experiments.
     I also had a microscope and loved to watch things under the microscope.
It took patience:  I would get  something under the  microscope  and I would
watch it interminably. I saw many interesting things, like everybody sees --
a diatom slowly making its way across the slide, and so on.
     One day I was watching a paramecium  and  I  saw something that was not
described in the books I got in school  -- in  college,  even.  These  books
always simplify  things so the world will be more  like they want it  to be:
When they're talking  about the behavior of animals, they  always  start out
with,  "The  paramecium is  extremely simple;  it has a  simple behavior. It
turns as its slipper shape moves through the water until  it hits something,
at  which  time  it recoils,  turns through  an  angle, and then starts  out
again."
     It isn't really right. First of all, as everybody knows, the paramecia,
from  time to time, conjugate  with each other  -- they  meet  and  exchange
nuclei. How do they decide when it's time  to  do  that? (Never mind; that's
not my observation.)
     I watched these paramecia hit something, recoil, turn through an angle,
and  go again. The idea that it's  mechanical, like a computer program -- it
doesn't look that way. They go  different distances, they  recoil  different
distances,  they turn through angles that  are  different  in various cases;
they  don't always  turn to the  right;  they're  very  irregular.  It looks
random, because you don't know what they're hitting; you  don't know all the
chemicals they're smelling, or what.
     One of the things I wanted  to watch was what happens to the paramecium
when the water that it's in dries up. It was claimed that the paramecium can
dry up into  a sort  of hardened seed. I had a  drop of  water  on the slide
under my microscope, and  in  the drop of  water  was  a paramecium and some
"grass" --  at  the  scale of the  paramecium, it looked  like a  network of
jackstraws. As the  drop  of  water  evaporated, over  a time of fifteen  or
twenty minutes, the  paramecium got into a  tighter and  tighter  situation:
there was  more and more of this  back-and-forth until it could hardly move.
It was stuck between these "sticks," almost jammed.
     Then I saw something I had  never seen or heard of: the paramecium lost
its  shape. It could flex itself, like  an amoeba. It  began  to push itself
against  one  of  the sticks, and began dividing into  two prongs  until the
division was about halfway  up the paramecium, at which time it decided that
wasn't a very good idea, and backed away.
     So my  impression  of these animals is that their behavior is much  too
simplified in the  books. It is not so utterly mechanical or one-dimensional
as they  say.  They should  describe  the behavior  of these simple  animals
correctly. Until we see  how many  dimensions of  behavior even a one-celled
animal  has, we won't  be able  to  fully  understand  the behavior  of more
complicated animals.
     I also  enjoyed watching bugs.  I had an insect book  when  I was about
thirteen. It said that dragonflies are not harmful; they don't sting. In our
neighborhood it  was well known that "darning  needles," as  we called them,
were  very  dangerous  when they'd sting.  So if  we were outside  somewhere
playing baseball, or  something, and one of  these  things would fly around,
everybody  would  run for  cover,  waving  their arms,  yelling, "A  darning
needle! A darning needle!"
     So one day I was  on the beach, and I'd  just read  this book that said
dragonflies  don't sting. A  darning  needle came  along, and everybody  was
screaming and running around, and I just  sat there.  "Don't worry!" I said.
"Darning needles don't sting!"
     The thing landed on my  foot. Everybody was yelling  and it  was  a big
mess, because  this darning needle was sitting on my foot. And there I  was,
this scientific wonder, saying it wasn't going to sting me.
     You're sure  this is a story that's going to come out that it stings me
-- but it didn't. The book was right. But I did sweat a bit.
     I also had a little  hand  microscope. It was a toy microscope,  and  I
pulled the  magnification piece out of it, and would hold it in my hand like
a magnifying glass, even though it was a microscope of forty or fifty power.
With care you could hold the focus. So I could go around and look  at things
right out in the street.
     So when I was in graduate school at Princeton, I once took it out of my
pocket to look  at some ants that were crawling around on some ivy. I had to
exclaim out  loud, I was so  excited. What  I saw  was an  ant and an aphid,
which ants  take care of -- they carry them from plant to plant if the plant
they're on  is dying. In return the ants get partially digested aphid juice,
called "honeydew." I knew  that; my father had  told me about it,  but I had
never seen it.
     So here  was this aphid and sure enough, an  ant came along, and patted
it with its feet -- all around the aphid, pat,  pat, pat, pat, pat. This was
terribly  exciting! Then the juice came  out of the  back  of the aphid. And
because it was magnified, it looked  like a big, beautiful, glistening ball,
like  a balloon,  because of the  surface tension.  Because  the  microscope
wasn't  very  good,  the  drop  was  colored  a  little  bit from  chromatic
aberration in the lens -- it was a gorgeous thing!
     The  ant took this ball in its two front feet, lifted it off the aphid,
and  held it. The world is  so different at that scale that you can  pick up
water and hold it!  The ants  probably have  a  fatty or greasy  material on
their legs that doesn't break  the  surface tension of the  water when  they
hold it up. Then the ant broke  the surface of the  drop with its mouth, and
the  surface  tension collapsed the  drop right into  his gut. It  was  very
interesting to see this whole thing happen!
     In my room at Princeton I had a bay window with a U-shaped  windowsill.
One day some ants came  out on the windowsill and wandered around  a  little
bit. I got curious as to how they found things. I wondered, how do they know
where to go? Can they tell each other where food is,  like bees can? Do they
have any sense of geometry?
     This is  all amateurish; everybody knows the  answer, but I didn't know
the answer, so the first thing I did was to stretch some string across the U
of the bay window and hang a piece of folded cardboard with sugar on it from
the string. The idea of this was to isolate the sugar from the ants, so they
wouldn't find it accidentally. I wanted to have everything under control.
     Next I made a lot of little strips of paper and put  a fold in them, so
I could pick up ants  and ferry them from one  place  to another. I put  the
folded  strips  of paper in two places: Some were by the sugar (hanging from
the string), and the  others were near the ants in a  particular location. I
sat there all afternoon, reading and watching, until an ant happened to walk
onto  one of  my little paper ferries.  Then  I took him over to  the sugar.
After  a  few  ants  had been  ferried  over  to  the  sugar,  one  of  them
accidentally walked onto one of the ferries nearby, and I carried him back.
     I wanted to  see how  long it would  take  the  other ants  to  get the
message  to  go  to the "ferry terminal."  It  started slowly,  but  rapidly
increased until I was going mad ferrying the ants back and forth.
     But suddenly, when everything was going strong, I began  to deliver the
ants from the  sugar to a different spot. The question now was, does the ant
learn to go back to where it just came from, or does it go where it went the
time before?
     After a while there were practically no ants going  to  the first place
(which  would take them to the sugar), whereas there were many ants  at  the
second place,  milling around, trying to find the sugar. So I figured out so
far that they went where they just came from.
     In another experiment, I laid out a lot of glass microscope slides, and
got  the ants to walk on them,  back and  forth,  to some sugar I put on the
windowsill. Then,  by  replacing  an  old  slide  with  a  new  one,  or  by
rearranging  the slides, I  could demonstrate that  the ants had no sense of
geometry: they couldn't figure out where something was. If they  went to the
sugar one way, and there was a shorter way back, they would never figure out
the short way.
     It was also pretty clear from rearranging  the  glass  slides  that the
ants left some sort of trail. So then came a lot of easy experiments to find
out how long it takes a trail to dry up, whether it can be easily wiped off,
and  so on. I also found out the trail wasn't directional. If I'd pick up an
ant on a piece of paper, turn him  around and around, and then put  him back
onto the trail, he  wouldn't know that he was going  the wrong way  until he
met  another ant. (Later, in Brazil, I  noticed  some leaf-cutting ants  and
tried the  same experiment  on them. They could tell,  within a  few  steps,
whether they were going toward  the  food or away from it -- presumably from
the trail, which might be a series of smells in a pattern: A,  B, space,  A,
B, space, and so on.)
     I  tried at one point to make  the ants go around  in  a  circle, but I
didn't have enough patience to set it up. I could see no reason,  other than
lack of patience, why it couldn't be done.
     One thing  that made experimenting difficult  was that breathing on the
ants made them scurry. It  must be an  instinctive thing against some animal
that eats them  or disturbs  them. I don't know  if  it was the  warmth, the
moisture, or the smell of my breath that  bothered them, but I always had to
hold my  breath and  kind  of look to  one  side  so  as not to confuse  the
experiment while I was ferrying the ants.
     One question  that I  wondered about  was  why  the ant trails look  so
straight and  nice. The  ants look as if they know what they're doing, as if
they have a good sense of geometry. Yet the experiments that I did to try to
demonstrate their sense of geometry didn't work.
     Many  years later, when I was at Caltech and lived in a little house on
Alameda Street, some ants came out around the bathtub. I thought, "This is a
great  opportunity."  I put some sugar on the other  end of the bathtub, and
sat there  the whole  afternoon until  an ant finally found the  sugar. It's
only a question of patience.
     The moment the ant found the sugar, I picked up a colored pencil that I
had ready (I  had previously done experiments indicating that the ants don't
give a damn about pencil  marks -- they walk right over them -- so I  knew I
wasn't disturbing anything), and behind where the ant went I drew a line  so
I could tell where his trail was. The ant wandered a little bit wrong to get
back to the hole, so the line was quite wiggly, unlike a typical ant trail.
     When  the  next  ant to find the  sugar began to go back,  I marked his
trail with another color. (By the way, he  followed the first  ant's  return
trail back, rather  than his own  incoming trail. My theory is  that when an
ant has found some food, he leaves a much stronger trail than when he's just
wandering around.)
     This second ant was in  a great hurry and followed,  pretty  much,  the
original trail. But because  he was going so  fast he would go straight out,
as if he were coasting,  when the  trail was  wiggly. Often, as the ant  was
"coasting," he would find the trail  again. Already it was apparent that the
second ant's return was  slightly straighter. With successive ants  the same
"improvement"  of  the  trail  by  hurriedly and carelessly  "following"  it
occurred.
     I followed eight or ten ants with my pencil until their trails became a
neat line right along the bathtub. It's something like sketching: You draw a
lousy  line  at  first; then you  go over it a few times and it makes a nice
line after a while.
     I remember that when I was a kid  my father would tell me how wonderful
ants are, and how they cooperate. I would watch very carefully three or four
ants carrying a little  piece  of chocolate  back to  their  nest. At  first
glance it looks like efficient, marvelous, brilliant cooperation. But if you
look at it carefully, you'll see that it's  nothing of the kind: They're all
behaving as if  the chocolate is held up by something else. They  pull at it
one way or the  other  way. An ant may crawl over it while it's being pulled
at by the  others.  It wobbles, it wiggles, the directions are all confused.
The chocolate doesn't move in a nice way toward the nest.
     The Brazilian leaf-cutting ants, which are otherwise so marvelous, have
a very interesting  stupidity associated with them that I'm surprised hasn't
evolved out. It takes considerable work for the ant to cut the circular  arc
in  order to  get  a piece  of  leaf. When the cutting  is done,  there's  a
fifty-fifty chance that  the  ant will  pull on the  wrong side, letting the
piece he just cut fall to the  ground. Half the  time, the ant will yank and
pull and yank and pull on the wrong part of  the leaf, until it gives up and
starts to cut another piece. There is no attempt to pick up a piece that it,
or any other ant,  has already cut. So it's quite obvious, if you watch very
carefully, that it's not a brilliant business of cutting leaves and carrying
them away; they go to a leaf, cut an arc, and  pick the wrong  side half the
time while the right piece falls down.
     In Princeton the ants  found my larder, where I had jelly and bread and
stuff,  which was quite a  distance from  the window.  A long line  of  ants
marched along the floor across the living room. It was during the time I was
doing these experiments on the ants, so I thought to myself, "What can I  do
to stop  them from coming to my larder  without killing any ants? No poison;
you gotta be humane to the ants!"
     What  I did was this: In preparation, I put a bit of sugar about six or
eight inches from  their  entry point  into the room, that  they didn't know
about. Then I made those  ferry things again, and whenever  an ant returning
with food walked onto my little ferry, I'd carry him over and put him on the
sugar. Any  ant coming toward the larder that walked onto  a  ferry  I  also
carried over to  the sugar.  Eventually the  ants found  their way from  the
sugar  to  their hole, so  this new trail was being doubly reinforced, while
the old trail was being used  less and less. I knew that after half  an hour
or so the old trail would dry up, and in an hour they were out of my larder.
I didn't wash the floor; I didn't do anything but ferry ants.



--------





--------


     When the war  began in  Europe  but  had  not yet been declared  in the
United  States,  there was  a lot  of  talk  about getting  ready and  being
patriotic. The newspapers had big articles on businessmen volunteering to go
to Plattsburg, New York, to do military training, and so on.
     I began to think I  ought to make some kind of contribution, too. After
I finished up at MIT, a friend of mine from the  fraternity,  Maurice Meyer,
who was  in the Army Signal Corps, took  me to see a colonel at  the  Signal
Corps offices in New York.
     "I'd like to aid my  country, sir,  and since  I'm  technically-minded,
maybe there's a way I could help."
     "Well, you'd  better just  go  up  to  Plattsburg to  boot camp and  go
through basic training. Then we'll be able to use you," the colonel said.
     "But isn't there some way to use my talent more directly?"
     "No;  this  is the way the army is  organized. Go  through  the regular
way."
     I  went outside and sat in the  park  to think  about it. I thought and
thought: Maybe the best way to make a contribution is to go along with their
way. But fortunately, I thought a little more,  and said,  "To hell with it!
I'll wait awhile. Maybe something will  happen  where they  can  use me more
effectively."
     I went to Princeton to do graduate work, and in  the spring I went once
again to  the  Bell Labs in New York to  apply for a summer job.  I loved to
tour the Bell Labs. Bill Shockley,  the guy who  invented transistors, would
show me around. I remember  somebody's room where they had marked  a window:
The George Washington Bridge was being built, and these guys in the lab were
watching its  progress.  They had plotted the original  curve  when the main
cable was  first put up, and they could measure the small differences as the
bridge was being suspended  from it, as the curve turned into a parabola. It
was  just the  kind of thing I would like to  be able to  think  of doing. I
admired those guys; I was always hoping I could work with them one day.
     Some guys from  the  lab  took  me  out  to this seafood restaurant for
lunch, and  they  were all pleased that  they were  going to have oysters. I
lived by the  ocean and I couldn't look at this stuff; I couldn't  eat fish,
let alone oysters.
     I thought to myself, "I've gotta be brave. I've gotta eat an oyster."
     I took an oyster, and it was absolutely terrible. But I said to myself,
"That doesn't really prove you're a man. You didn't know how terrible it was
gonna be. It was easy enough when it was uncertain."
     The others kept  talking about  how  good the oysters  were,  so  I had
another oyster, and that was really harder than the first one.
     This time,  which  must have been my fourth  or fifth  time touring the
Bell Labs, they accepted me. I was very happy. In  those days it was hard to
find a job where you could be with other scientists.
     But then there was a  big excitement at Princeton. General Trichel from
the  army  came around  and spoke  to  us;  "We've got  to have  physicists!
Physicists are very important to us in the army! We need three physicists!"
     You  have to understand that, in those days, people  hardly knew what a
physicist was. Einstein was known  as a mathematician, for instance -- so it
was rare that anybody  needed physicists. I thought, "This is my opportunity
to make a contribution," and I volunteered to work for the army.
     I  asked the Bell Labs  if  they would let me  work  for the army  that
summer, and they said they had war work, too, if that was what I wanted. But
I was caught up in  a patriotic fever and lost a  good opportunity. It would
have been much smarter to work in the Bell Labs. But one gets a little silly
during those times.
     I  went  to the  Frankfort Arsenal,  in Philadelphia,  and worked on  a
dinosaur: a mechanical computer for directing artillery. When airplanes flew
by,  the  gunners would watch  them  in  a  telescope, and  this  mechanical
computer, with gears and cams and so forth, would try to predict  where  the
plane was going to be. It was a most beautifully designed and built machine,
and one of  the important ideas  in it  was non-circular gears -- gears that
weren't circular, but would  mesh anyway. Because of  the changing  radii of
the gears, one shaft would turn as  a function of  the other.  However, this
machine  was  at the  end  of  the  line.  Very soon  afterwards, electronic
computers came in.
     After saying all this stuff about how physicists  were  so important to
the army,  the first thing they had me doing  was checking gear  drawings to
see if  the numbers  were  right.  This  went on for quite  a  while.  Then,
gradually, the guy in charge of the department began to see I was useful for
other things, and as the summer went on, he would spend more time discussing
things with me.
     One mechanical engineer at Frankfort was always trying to design things
and could never get everything right.  One  time  he designed a box  full of
gears,  one  of which was a big, eight-inch-diameter gear wheel that had six
spokes. The fella says excitedly, "Well, boss, how is it? How is it?"
     "Just fine!"  the boss replies. "All  you have to do is specify a shaft
passer  on  each of the spokes,  so the gear  wheel  can turn!"  The guy had
designed a shaft that went right between the spokes!
     The boss  went  on to tell us that  there was such a thing  as a  shaft
passer (I thought  he must have been joking). It was invented by the Germans
during  the war to keep  the  British minesweepers  from catching the cables
that  held the  German  mines floating  under water at a certain depth. With
these shaft passers,  the German cables could  allow  the  British cables to
pass through as if they were  going  through  a  revolving door.  So it  was
possible to put shaft passers on  all the  spokes, but the boss  didn't mean
that  the machinists should go  to all  that trouble; the guy should instead
just redesign it and put the shaft somewhere else.
     Every once in a while the army  sent down a  lieutenant to check on how
things were going. Our boss told us that  since we  were a civilian section,
the lieutenant was higher in rank than any of us. "Don't tell the lieutenant
anything,"  he said. "Once he  begins  to think he knows  what we're  doing,
he'll be giving us all kinds of orders and screwing everything up."
     By that  time I was designing some things, but when the lieutenant came
by, I pretended I didn't know  what I was  doing, that I  was only following
orders.
     "What are you doing here, Mr. Feynman?"
     "Well,  I draw a sequence  of lines at successive  angles, and then I'm
supposed to measure out  from  the  center different distances according  to
this table, and lay it out..."
     "Well, what is it?"
     "I think it's a cam." I had actually designed the thing, but I acted as
if somebody had just told me exactly what to do.
     The lieutenant  couldn't get any information from anybody,  and we went
happily   along,   working  on  this  mechanical   computer,   without   any
interference.
     One  day the  lieutenant  came  by,  and  asked  us a  simple question:
"Suppose that the observer is not at the same  location as the gunner -- how
do you handle that?"
     We got a terrible shock. We had designed the whole business using polar
coordinates, using angles and the radius distance. With X and Y coordinates,
it's easy to correct  for  a  displaced observer.  It's simply  a matter  of
addition or subtraction. But with polar coordinates, it's a terrible mess!
     So it turned out that this lieutenant whom we were trying  to keep from
telling us anything ended up telling us something very important that we had
forgotten in the design of this device: the possibility that the gun and the
observing station are not at  the same  place! It was a big mess  to fix it.
Near the end of the summer I  was given my first  real design job: a machine
that  would  make a continuous curve out  of a set of  points  --  one point
coming in every fifteen seconds -- from a new invention developed in England
for  tracking airplanes, called "radar."  It was the  first  time I had ever
done any mechanical designing, so I was a little bit frightened.
     I went over  to one of the other  guys and  said, "You're a  mechanical
engineer; I don't know how  to do any mechanical engineering, and I just got
this job..."
     "There's nothin' to it," he  said.  "Look, I'll  show  you. There's two
rules you  need to  know to  design these machines. First,  the friction  in
every bearing is so-and-so much, and in every gear junction, so-and-so much.
From that,  you can figure out how  much force you need to drive  the thing.
Second,  when you  have a  gear  ratio, say  2 to  1, and  you are wondering
whether you should make  it 10 to 5 or 24 to  12  or 48 to 24, here's how to
decide:  You look in the Boston Gear Catalogue, and select those gears  that
are in the middle of the  list. The ones at the high end have  so many teeth
they're hard to make, if they could make gears with even finer teeth, they'd
have made the list go even higher. The gears at the low end of the list have
so few teeth they break  easy. So the best design uses gears from the middle
of the list."
     I had a  lot of fun designing  that machine.  By simply  selecting  the
gears from the middle of the list and adding up the little torques  with the
two numbers he gave me, I could be a mechanical engineer!
     The army didn't want me to go  back to Princeton to work  on my  degree
after that summer.  They kept giving me this patriotic  stuff, and offered a
whole project that I could run, if I would stay.
     The  problem was  to design a machine like the  other one --  what they
called a director -- but this time I thought the problem was easier, because
the  gunner  would be  following  behind  in  another airplane  at the  same
altitude. The gunner would  set into my machine his altitude and an estimate
of  his distance behind the other airplane.  My  machine would automatically
tilt the gun up at the correct angle and set the fuse.
     As director  of this project, I would be  making trips down to Aberdeen
to get the firing tables. However, they already had some preliminary data. I
noticed that for most of the higher altitudes where these airplanes would be
flying, there wasn't  any  data. So I called up to find out why there wasn't
any  data and it turned out that the fuses  they were  going to use were not
clock fuses, but powder-train fuses, which didn't work at those altitudes --
they fizzled out in the thin air.
     I  thought  I  only  had  to  correct the air  resistance  at different
altitudes. Instead, my job was to invent a machine that would make the shell
explode at the right moment, when the fuse won't burn!
     I decided that was too hard for me and went back to Princeton.


--------


     When I was at Los Alamos and would get a little time off, I would often
go visit my wife, who  was in a  hospital in Albuquerque, a few  hours away.
One time I went to visit her and couldn't go in right away, so I went to the
hospital library to read.
     I read an  article  in Science  about  bloodhounds, and  how they could
smell so very well. The authors  described the various experiments that they
did  --  the  bloodhounds could  identify which  items  had  been touched by
people, and so on -- and I began to think:  It  is very remarkable how  good
bloodhounds are  at smelling, being able to follow trails of people, and  so
forth, but how good are we, actually?
     When the time came that I could visit my wife, I went to see her, and I
said, "We're  gonna do an experiment. Those Coke bottles over there (she had
a six-pack of empty Coke bottles that she was saving to send out) -- now you
haven't touched them in a couple of days, right?"
     "That's right."
     I took the six-pack over to her without touching the bottles, and said,
"OK. Now I'll go out, and  you take out one of  the  bottles, handle  it for
about  two minutes, and then put it back. Then I'll come in, and try to tell
which bottle it was."
     So I went out, and she took out one of the  bottles and  handled it for
quite  a while  -- lots of time, because I'm no bloodhound! According to the
article, they could tell if you just touched it.
     Then I came back, and it  was absolutely obvious! I didn't even have to
smell the damn thing, because, of course, the temperature was different. And
it was also obvious from the smell. As soon as you put it up near your face,
you  could smell it was  dampish and warmer. So  that experiment didn't work
because it was too obvious.
     Then I looked  at  the bookshelf  and said,  "Those  books you  haven't
looked at for a while, right?  This time,  when I go out, take one book  off
the shelf, and just open it -- that's all -- and close it again; then put it
back."
     So I went  out again, she took a book, opened it and closed it, and put
it back. I  came in -- and nothing  to  it! It was easy. You just  smell the
books. It's  hard to explain, because we're not  used to saying things about
it. You put  each book up  to your nose and  sniff a  few times, and you can
tell.  It's very different. A book that's been  standing there a while has a
dry, uninteresting kind of smell. But when a hand has touched it,  there's a
dampness and a smell that's very distinct.
     We did  a few more experiments, and I discovered that while bloodhounds
are indeed quite capable, humans are not as  incapable as  they  think  they
are: it's just that they carry their nose so high off the ground!
     (I've noticed that my dog can correctly tell which way I've gone in the
house, especially if I'm barefoot, by smelling my  footprints. So I tried to
do that: I crawled around the rug on my hands and knees, sniffing, to see if
I could tell the difference between where I walked and where I didn't, and I
found it impossible. So the dog is much better than I am.)
     Many years later, when I  was first at Caltech, there  was a  party  at
Professor Bacher's  house, and  there were a  lot of people  from Caltech. I
don't know  how it came up, but I was telling them this story about smelling
the  bottles  and  the books. They didn't believe a word, naturally, because
they always thought I was a faker. I had to demonstrate it.
     We  carefully took  eight or nine books off  the shelf without touching
them directly with our hands, and  then I  went out.  Three different people
touched three different books: they picked one up, opened it, closed it, and
put it back.
     Then I came back, and  smelled everybody's hands,  and smelled  all the
books -- I don't  remember  which I  did first -- and found all three  books
correctly; I got one person wrong.
     They still didn't believe me; they  thought it was  some sort  of magic
trick. They  kept trying to figure out how I did it. There's a famous  trick
of  this kind, where  you have  a confederate in  the  group  who gives  you
signals as  to  what  it  is, and they  were  trying to  figure out who  the
confederate was. Since then I've often thought that it would be  a good card
trick to take a  deck of cards and tell  someone to  pick a card and put  it
back, while you're in the other  room. You  say, "Now  I'm going to tell you
which card it is, because I'm  a bloodhound: I'm  going  to smell all  these
cards and tell you  which card you picked." Of  course,  with  that  kind of
patter, people wouldn't  believe for a  minute  that  that's  what  you were
actually doing!
     People's hands  smell very different --  that's why  dogs can  identify
people; you have to try  it!  All hands have  a  sort of  moist smell, and a
person who smokes has a very  different smell on his hands from a person who
doesn't;  ladies often  have different  kinds  of  perfumes, and so  on.  If
somebody  happened to  have  some coins  in his  pocket and happened  to  be
handling them, you can smell that.


--------


     * Adapted from a talk given in the  First Annual Santa Barbara Lectures
on Science and Society at the University of California  at Santa Barbara  in
1975. "Los Alamos from Below" was one of nine lectures in a series published
as Reminiscences of Los  Alamos, 1943-1945, edited by  L. Badash et al., pp.
105-132.  Copyright  (c)  1980  by D. Reidel  Publishing Company, Dordrecht,
Holland.

     When I say "Los Alamos from below," I mean  that. Although in  my field
at  the present  time I'm a slightly  famous man,  at  that  time I  was not
anybody  famous at all. I didn't even have a degree  when  I started to work
with  the Manhattan Project. Many of the other people who tell you about Los
Alamos  --  people in higher echelons -- worried about some big decisions. I
worried about no big decisions. I was always flittering about underneath.
     I was working  in my room  at Princeton one day when Bob Wilson came in
and  said that he  had been funded  to  do a job  that was  a secret, and he
wasn't supposed to tell anybody, but he was going to tell me because he knew
that as  soon as I knew what  he was  going  to do, I'd see that I had to go
along with  it.  So he  told  me about the  problem of separating  different
isotopes  of uranium  to  ultimately  make a  bomb.  He  had a  process  for
separating  the  isotopes  of uranium (different  from  the  one  which  was
ultimately used) that he wanted to try to develop. He told me  about it, and
he said, "There's a meeting..."
     I said I didn't want to do it.
     He  said, "All  right, there's a meeting at three o'clock. I'll see you
there."
     I said, "It's all  right that  you  told me the secret because I'm  not
going to tell anybody, but I'm not going to do it."
     So I went back to work on my thesis -- for  about three minutes. Then I
began to pace the  floor and think about  this thing. The Germans had Hitler
and the possibility  of  developing  an  atomic  bomb was obvious,  and  the
possibility that  they would develop  it before we  did was very  much  of a
fright. So I decided to go to the meeting at three o'clock.
     By four  o'clock  I  already had  a desk in  a  room and  was trying to
calculate whether this particular method was limited by the total amount  of
current that you get in an ion beam, and so on. I won't go into the details.
But I had a desk, and I had paper, and I was  working as hard as I could and
as fast  as I could, so  the fellas who were building the apparatus could do
the experiment right there.
     It was like those moving pictures where you see a piece of equipment go
bruuuuup,  bruuuuup, bruuuuup. Every time I'd look up, the thing was getting
bigger. What was  happening, of course, was that all the boys had decided to
work on this  and  to stop  their research in  science. All  science stopped
during the war except the little bit that was done  at Los Alamos. And  that
was not much science; it was mostly engineering.
     All  the  equipment  from different  research projects  was  being  put
together  to make  the  new  apparatus to do the  experiment  -- to  try  to
separate the isotopes of uranium. I stopped my own work for the same reason,
though I did  take a six-week vacation after a while and finished writing my
thesis. And I did  get my degree just before  I got  to  Los Alamos -- so  I
wasn't quite as far down the scale as I led you to believe.
     One of  the  first  interesting  experiences I had  in  this project at
Princeton was meeting great men. I had never met very many great men before.
But there was an evaluation committee that  had to try to help us along, and
help us ultimately  decide  which way we were going to separate the uranium.
This committee had men like Compton and Tolman  and Smyth and Urey and  Rabi
and Oppenheimer on it. I would sit in because I understood the theory of how
our  process of separating isotopes worked, and so they'd ask  me  questions
and talk about it. In  these discussions one man would  make  a  point. Then
Compton, for example, would explain a  different point of view. He would say
it  should  be this way, and he was perfectly  right. Another guy would say,
well, maybe, but  there's this other possibility we have to consider against
it.
     So  everybody is  disagreeing, all around the table. I am surprised and
disturbed  that Compton doesn't repeat and emphasize his point.  Finally, at
the  end,  Tolman,  who's  the chairman, would say, "Well,  having heard all
these  arguments, I guess it's true that  Compton's argument is  the best of
all, and now we have to go ahead."
     It was such a shock to me to see that a committee of  men could present
a whole lot  of ideas, each one thinking  of a  new facet, while remembering
what the other fella said,  so that, at the end, the decision  is made as to
which idea was  the best --  summing  it all up -- without  having to say it
three times. These were very great men indeed.
     It was ultimately decided that this project was  not to be the one they
were going to use to  separate uranium. We were told then that we were going
to stop, because in  Los  Alamos, New  Mexico,  they  would be  starting the
project that would actually make the bomb. We would all go out there to make
it. There  would be experiments that we  would have  to do, and  theoretical
work to do. I was in the theoretical work. All the rest of the  fellas  were
in experimental work.
     The  question was -- What to do  now? Los Alamos wasn't ready  yet. Bob
Wilson tried to make use of this time by, among  other things, sending me to
Chicago  to find out all that  we could  find out about  the  bomb  and  the
problems. Then,  in our laboratories, we  could  start  to  build equipment,
counters of various  kinds,  and so  on, that would be useful when we got to
Los Alamos. So no time was wasted.
     I was sent to Chicago with the instructions to  go to each group,  tell
them I was going to work with them, and have them tell me about a problem in
enough  detail that  I  could actually sit down and start to  work on it. As
soon as I got that  far, I was  to go  to another  guy  and  ask for another
problem. That way I would understand the details of everything.
     It was a very good idea,  but my conscience  bothered me  a little  bit
because they would all work so hard to explain things to me, and I'd go away
without  helping them.  But  I  was  very  lucky. When one  of the  guys was
explaining a problem, I said, "Why don't  you do it by differentiating under
the  integral  sign?" In half an hour he  had  it solved,  and  they'd  been
working on it for three months. So, I did something, using my "different box
of tools." Then I  came back from Chicago, and I described  the situation --
how much  energy was  released,  what the bomb was going  to be like, and so
forth.
     I  remember  a  friend  of  mine  who  worked  with me,  Paul  Olum,  a
mathematician, came up to me afterwards  and said,  "When they make a moving
picture about  this, they'll have the guy  coming  back from Chicago to make
his report to the Princeton  men about the bomb. He'll be wearing a suit and
carrying a briefcase  and so on -- and here you're in dirty shirtsleeves and
just telling us  all about it,  in spite of  its  being  such a serious  and
dramatic thing."
     There still seemed to be a delay, and Wilson went to Los Alamos to find
out  what  was  holding things up.  When  he  got there,  he found  that the
construction company was working very hard and had finished the theater, and
a  few  other  buildings  that  they  understood,  but  they  hadn't  gotten
instructions clear  on how to build a laboratory -- how many pipes for  gas,
how much  for water.  So  Wilson  simply stood around and decided, then  and
there,  how  much water, how much gas, and so  on,  and  told them  to start
building the laboratories.
     When he came back  to  us, we were all ready to go and  we were getting
impatient. So they all  got together  and  decided we'd go out there anyway,
even though it wasn't ready.
     We were recruited, by the way, by Oppenheimer and other  people, and he
was very patient.  He  paid attention  to everybody's problems.  He  worried
about my wife, who had TB, and whether there would be a  hospital out there,
and everything. It was the first time I met him in such a  personal way;  he
was a wonderful man.
     We were  told to  be  very careful -- not to  buy our  train ticket  in
Princeton, for example, because Princeton was  a very small station,  and if
everybody bought  train  tickets to Albuquerque, New  Mexico,  in Princeton,
there would  be  some suspicions  that something  was  up. And so  everybody
bought  their  tickets somewhere else,  except  me,  because  I  figured  if
everybody bought their tickets somewhere else...
     So when  I went  to the  train  station  and said, "I  want  to  go  to
Albuquerque, New Mexico," the man says, "Oh, so all this stuff is  for you!"
We had been  shipping  out crates full of  counters  for weeks and expecting
that they didn't notice the address was Albuquerque. So at least I explained
why  it  was  that  we were shipping all  those crates; I  was going  out to
Albuquerque.
     Well, when we arrived, the houses and dormitories  and things like that
were not  ready. In fact, even the laboratories weren't quite ready. We were
pushing  them by  coming down  ahead of time. So  they  just  went crazy and
rented ranch houses  all around  the neighborhood. We  stayed at first in  a
ranch house and would drive in in the morning. The first morning I drove  in
was tremendously impressive. The beauty of the scenery, for  a  person  from
the East who didn't travel much, was sensational. There are the great cliffs
that you've probably seen in pictures. You'd come up from below  and be very
surprised to  see this high  mesa. The most impressive thing to me was that,
as I was going up, I said that maybe there had been Indians living here, and
the guy who was driving stopped the  car and walked  around  the  corner and
pointed out some Indian caves that you could inspect. It was very exciting.
     When I got to the site the first time, I saw there was a technical area
that  was  supposed to  have a fence  around it ultimately, but it was still
open. Then  there  was supposed to  be a town, and  then a big fence further
out, around the town. But they were still building, and my friend Paul Olum,
who was my assistant,  was standing at  the gate with  a clipboard, checking
the trucks coming in and out and telling them which way to go to deliver the
materials in different places.
     When I went into  the laboratory,  I would meet men I had  heard of  by
seeing their papers in the  Physical Review and so on.  I had never met them
before. "This  is John Williams," they'd say. Then  a guy  stands up  from a
desk that is covered  with blueprints,  his sleeves  all rolled up, and he's
calling  out  the windows, ordering  trucks and  things  going in  different
directions   with  building  material.  In  other  words,  the  experimental
physicists had nothing to do until their buildings and apparatus were ready,
so they just built the buildings -- or assisted in building the buildings.
     The theoretical  physicists,  on  the other  hand, could  start working
right away, so it was decided that they wouldn't  live in  the ranch houses,
but would live up at the site. We started working immediately. There were no
blackboards except for  one on wheels, and we'd  roll  it around and  Robert
Serber would explain to us all the things that they'd thought of in Berkeley
about  the atomic  bomb, and nuclear physics, and all these things. I didn't
know very much about it; I had been doing other kinds of things. So I had to
do an awful lot of work.
     Every day I would study and read, study and read. It was a  very hectic
time. But I  had some luck. All the big shots except for Hans Bethe happened
to  be away at the time, and what Bethe  needed was someone to  talk  to, to
push his ideas against. Well, he comes in to this little squirt in an office
and starts to argue,  explaining his  idea. I say, "No,  no,  you're  crazy.
It'll go like this." And he says, "Just a moment," and explains how he's not
crazy, I'm crazy. And we keep on going like this. You see, when I hear about
physics, I just think about physics, and I don't know who I'm talking to, so
I  say dopey things like "no, no, you're  wrong," or "you're crazy."  But it
turned out  that's exactly what  he needed.  I  got a notch up on account of
that, and I ended up as a group leader under Bethe with four guys under me.
     Well, when I was first there, as I said, the dormitories weren't ready.
But the theoretical  physicists had to stay up there anyway. The first place
they put us was in an old school building  -- a  boys' school that had  been
there previously. I  lived  in  a thing called the Mechanics' Lodge. We were
all  jammed in there in bunk beds, and it wasn't organized very well because
Bob Christy and his wife had to go  to the bathroom through our  bedroom. So
that was very uncomfortable.
     At last the dormitory was built. I went  down to  the place where rooms
were assigned, and  they  said, you can pick your room now. You know what  I
did? I looked to  see where  the girls' dormitory was,  and  then I picked a
room that looked right  across  -- though later I discovered a big tree  was
growing right in front of the window of that room.
     They told  me there would be two people in a room,  but that would only
be  temporary.  Every two rooms would share  a bathroom,  and there would be
double-decker bunks in each room. But I didn't want two people in the room.
     The night I got there, nobody else was there, and I  decided to  try to
keep my  room to myself. My  wife was sick with TB in Albuquerque, but I had
some  boxes of stuff of hers. So I  took  out a little nightgown, opened the
top bed, and threw the nightgown carelessly on it. I took out some slippers,
and I threw some  powder on the floor in the  bathroom. I  just made it look
like somebody else was there. So, what happened? Well, it's supposed to be a
men's dormitory, see? So I came home that night, and  my pajamas are  folded
nicely, and put under  the pillow at the  bottom, and my slippers put nicely
at the bottom of the bed. The lady's  nightgown  is nicely folded under  the
pillow, the  bed is  all fixed up  and  made, and  the slippers are put down
nicely.  The powder  is cleaned from the bathroom and nobody is  sleeping in
the upper bed.
     Next night, the same thing. When I  wake up, I rumple up the top bed, I
throw the nightgown on it  sloppily  and scatter the powder in  the bathroom
and so  on. I went on like this for  four nights until everybody was settled
and  there was  no more  danger  that they would put a second person in  the
room.  Each night,  everything was set out very neatly, even though it was a
men's dormitory.
     I  didn't know  it  then, but this  little  ruse  got  me  involved  in
politics.  There  were  all  kinds  of factions  there,  of  course  --  the
housewives' faction, the mechanics' faction, the technical peoples' faction,
and so on. Well, the bachelors and bachelor girls who lived in the dormitory
felt  they  had to  have  a  faction  too,  because  a  new  rule  had  been
promulgated:  No  Women  in  the  Men's   Dorm.  Well,  this  is  absolutely
ridiculous! After all, we are  grown people! What kind of nonsense  is this?
We had to have political action. So we debated this stuff, and I was elected
to represent the dormitory people in the town council.
     After I'd been in it for about a year and a half, I was talking to Hans
Bethe  about something. He was on the  big  governing council all this time,
and  I  told him  about  this trick with my  wife's  nightgown  and  bedroom
slippers. He started to laugh. "So that's how you got on  the town council,"
he said.
     It turned  out that what happened was  this.  The woman who cleans  the
rooms in  the dormitory opens this  door,  and  all  of  a  sudden  there is
trouble: somebody is sleeping with one of the guys! She reports to the chief
charwoman,  the chief charwoman reports to  the  lieutenant, the  lieutenant
reports to the major. It  goes  all the way  up  through the generals to the
governing board.
     What are they going  to do?  They're  going to  think about it,  that's
what! But,  in the meantime, what instructions go down through the captains,
down through the majors, through the lieutenants,  through the chars' chief,
through the charwoman? "Just put things back the way they are, clean 'em up,
and see what happens." Next day, same report. For four days, they worried up
there about  what they were going to do. Finally they promulgated a rule: No
Women in the  Men's  Dormitory! And that caused such a stink down below that
they had to elect somebody to represent the...

     I would like  to  tell you something  about the censorship that we  had
there. They decided to do  something utterly  illegal and censor the mail of
people inside the United States -- which they have no right to do. So it had
to be  set up very delicately  as a  voluntary thing. We would all volunteer
not to seal the envelopes of the letters we  sent out, and  it  would be all
right  for  them  to  open letters  coming in  to us;  that was  voluntarily
accepted by us. We would leave our letters open; and they would seal them if
they were  OK.  If they weren't  OK  in their opinion,  they would send  the
letter back to us with a note that there was a violation of  such and such a
paragraph of our "understanding."
     So, very delicately  amongst all these liberal-minded scientific  guys,
we  finally  got the censorship set up, with many rules. We were allowed  to
comment on the character of  the administration if we wanted to, so we could
write our senator and tell him we didn't  like the way things  were run, and
things  like  that. They said  they  would  notify  us  if  there  were  any
difficulties.
     So  it  was all  set up, and here  comes the  first day for censorship:
Telephone! Briiing!
     Me: "What?"
     "Please come down."
     I come down.
     "What's this?"
     "It's a letter from my father."
     "Well, what is it?"
     There's lined paper, and  there's these lines  going  out with  dots --
four dots  under,  one dot above, two dots under, one  dot  above, dot under
dot...
     "What's that?"
     I said, "It's a code."
     They said, "Yeah, it's a code, but what does it say?"
     I said, "I don't know what it says."
     They said, "Well, what's the key to the code? How do you decipher it?"
     I said, "Well, I don't know."
     Then they said, "What's this?"
     I said, "It's a letter from my wife -- it says TJXYWZ TW1X3."
     "What's that?"
     I said, "Another code."
     "What's the key to it?"
     "I don't know."
     They said, "You're receiving codes, and you don't know the key?"
     I said, "Precisely. I have a game.  I challenge them to  send me a code
that I can't decipher, see? So they're making up codes at the other end, and
they're sending them in, and they're not going to tell me what the key is."
     Now one of the rules  of the censorship  was that they  aren't going to
disturb  anything that you would ordinarily send in  the mail. So they said,
"Well, you're going to have to tell  them please to send the key in with the
code."
     I said, "I don't want to see the key!"
     They said, "Well, all right, we'll take the key out."
     So we had that arrangement. OK? All right. Next day I get a letter from
my wife  that  says,  "It's  very difficult writing because I feel that  the
--------
splotch made with ink eradicator.
     So I went down to the bureau, and I said, "You're not supposed to touch
the incoming mail if you don't like it. You  can  look at it, but you're not
supposed to take anything out."
     They said, "Don't be  ridiculous. Do  you think  that's the way censors
work -- with ink eradicator? They cut things out with scissors."
     I said OK. So I wrote a letter  back to  my wife and said, "Did you use
ink  eradicator  in  your  letter?" She  writes back, "No, I didn't  use ink
eradicator in my letter, it must have  been the _____" -- and there's a hole
cut out of the paper.
     So  I went back to  the  major who was supposed to be  in charge of all
this  and  complained. You know, this took a  little time, but  I felt I was
sort of the  representative to get the  thing straightened  out.  The  major
tried to  explain to me that these people who  were  the  censors  had  been
taught how to do  it, but they didn't understand this new way that we had to
be so delicate about.
     So, anyway, he said,  "What's the matter, don't you  think I  have good
will?"
     I  said, "Yes, you have  perfectly good will but I don't think you have
power." Because, you see, he had already been on the job three or four days.
     He said, "We'll see about that!" He grabs the telephone, and everything
is straightened out. No more is the letter cut.
     However,  there were a number of other difficulties.  For example,  one
day I got a letter from my wife and a note from the censor that said, "There
was a code enclosed without the key, and so we removed it."
     So when I went to see my wife in Albuquerque that day, she said, "Well,
where's all the stuff?"
     I said, "What stuff?"
     She said, "Litharge, glycerine, hot dogs, laundry."
     I said, "Wait a minute -- that was a list?"
     She said, "Yes."
     "That  was a  code,"  I  said.  "They  thought it was a  code-litharge,
glycerine, etc."  (She wanted litharge and glycerine to make a cement to fix
an onyx box.)
     All  this went  on in  the first  few weeks  before  we  got everything
straightened  out. Anyway, one day  I'm  piddling around with  the computing
machine, and I notice something very peculiar. If you take 1  divided by 243
you get .004115226337... It's quite cute: It goes  a  little cockeyed  after
559 when  you're carrying but it soon  straightens itself  out  and  repeats
itself nicely. I thought it was kind of amusing.
     Well,  I put that in the mail, and it comes back  to me.  It doesn't go
through,  and  there's  a little note: "Look at  Paragraph  17B." I  look at
Paragraph 17B. It says, "Letters are to be written only in English, Russian,
Spanish,  Portuguese, Latin, German, and  so forth.  Permission  to use  any
other language must be obtained in writing." And then it said, "No codes."
     So I wrote back to the censor a little note included in my letter which
said  that I  feel that  of course this cannot be  a  code, because  if  you
actually do divide 1 by  243,  you do, in fact,  get all that, and therefore
there's no more information in the number .004115226337...  than there is in
the number 243 -- which is  hardly any information  at all. And  so forth. I
therefore  asked for permission to use Arabic  numerals  in my letters. So I
got that through all right.
     There was  always  some kind of difficulty  with the letters going back
and  forth.  For example, my  wife kept  mentioning  the  fact that she felt
uncomfortable writing with the feeling that the censor is  looking over  her
shoulder. Now, as a rule,  we  aren't  supposed to  mention  censorship.  We
aren't, but how can they  tell her? So they keep  sending me  a note:  "Your
wife mentioned  censorship."  Certainly,  my  wife mentioned  censorship. So
finally  they  sent me a note  that  said,  "Please inform your  wife not to
mention  censorship in her  letters."  So  I  start  my letter: "I have been
instructed to  inform you not to mention censorship in your letters." Phoom,
phoooom, it comes  right back! So I write, "I have been instructed to inform
my  wife  not to  mention  censorship. How in the heck am I going  to do it?
Furthermore, why do I have to instruct her not  to  mention censorship?  You
keeping something from me?"
     It is very interesting that  the  censor himself has to tell me to tell
my wife not to tell me that she's... But they had an answer. They said, yes,
that  they  are  worried  about  mail  being  intercepted on  the  way  from
Albuquerque, and that someone might find  out that there  was  censorship if
they looked in the mail, and would she please act much more normal.
     So I  went down the next time to Albuquerque, and I talked to her and I
said,  "Now, look, let's not mention  censorship."  But  we  had had so much
trouble that we at last worked out a code, something illegal. If I would put
a dot at the end  of my signature, it meant I had had trouble again, and she
would move on to the next of the moves that she had concocted. She would sit
there all  day long, because  she was ill,  and she would think of things to
do. The last thing  she did  was to send me an advertisement which she found
perfectly legitimately.  It  said, "Send your boyfriend a letter on a jigsaw
puzzle. We sell  you the  blank,  you  write the letter  on it, take  it all
apart, put it in a  little sack, and  mail it." I received  that  one with a
note saying, "We do not have  time to play games. Please instruct your  wife
to confine herself to ordinary letters."
     Well, we were ready  with the one more dot, but  they straightened  out
just in time  and we didn't  have to use it. The thing we had  ready for the
next one was  that the letter  would start, "I hope you  remembered  to open
this  letter carefully because I have included the Pepto-Bismol  powder  for
your stomach  as we arranged." It would be a  letter full of powder. In  the
office we expected they  would open it quickly, the powder would go all over
the floor, and  they  would  get  all  upset because you are not supposed to
upset anything.  They'd  have to  gather up all this Pepto-Bismol...  But we
didn't have to use that one.
     As a result of all  these experiences  with the  censor, I knew exactly
what could  get through and what  could not get through. Nobody else knew as
well as I. And so I made a little money out of all of this by making bets.
     One day I discovered that the workmen who  lived further out and wanted
to come in were too lazy to go around through the gate, and  so they had cut
themselves a hole  in the fence. So  I went out  the gate, went  over to the
hole and came in, went out again, and  so on, until the sergeant at the gate
began to wonder  what was  happening.  How come this guy is always going out
and never coming in? And,  of  course, his natural reaction was to call  the
lieutenant and try to put me in jail for doing this. I explained  that there
was a hole.
     You see, I was always trying to straighten people out. And so I made  a
bet with somebody that I could tell about the hole in the fence in a letter,
and mail it  out. And sure enough,  I did. And  the way I did it was I said,
You  should see  the  way they  administer this place (that's  what  we were
allowed to  say). There's a  hole in the fence  seventy-one  feet away  from
such-and-such  a place, that's  this size and  that size, that you can  walk
through.
     Now, what can they do? They can't say to me that there is no such hole.
I mean,  what  are they going to do? It's  their own  hard luck that there's
such a hole. They should fix the hole. So I got that one through.
     I also got through a letter  that  told  about how  one of the boys who
worked in one of my groups,  John Kemeny, had been wakened up  in the middle
of the night and grilled  with lights in front  of him by some idiots in the
army  there because  they found  out  something  about his  father,  who was
supposed to be a communist or something. Kemeny is a famous man now.
     There were  other things.  Like the hole in  the  fence,  I  was always
trying to  point these things out in  a non-direct  manner.  And  one of the
things I wanted to point out was this  -- that  at the very beginning we had
terribly  important secrets;  we'd worked out lots of stuff about bombs  and
uranium and  how it  worked, and so on; and all this  stuff was in documents
that  were  in  wooden filing cabinets  that had  little,  ordinary,  common
padlocks on them.  Of course,  there were  various things  made by the shop,
like a rod  that  would  go  down and then a padlock to  hold it, but it was
always just a padlock. Furthermore, you could get the stuff out without even
opening the  padlock. You  just tilt the  cabinet over backwards. The bottom
drawer has  a little  rod that's supposed  to  hold the papers together, and
there's a long wide hole in the wood underneath. You can pull the papers out
from below.
     So I used to pick the locks all the time and point out that it was very
easy to do. And every time we had a meeting of everybody  together, I  would
get up and say that we have important secrets and  we shouldn't keep them in
such things; we need better locks. One day Teller got up at the meeting, and
he said to me, "I don't keep my most important secrets in my filing cabinet;
I keep them in my desk drawer. Isn't that better?"
     I said, "I don't know. I haven't seen your desk drawer."
     He was  sitting near the  front of the meeting, and I'm sitting further
back. So  the meeting continues, and I sneak out and go down to see his desk
drawer.
     I don't  even have to pick the lock  on the  desk drawer.  It turns out
that if you  put your  hand  in  the back, underneath, you can  pull out the
paper  like  those toilet paper  dispensers.  You pull  out  one,  it  pulls
another, it pulls another... I emptied the whole damn drawer, put everything
away to one side, and went back upstairs.
     The meeting was just ending, and everybody was coming out, and I joined
the crew and ran to catch up with Teller, and I said, "Oh,  by the  way, let
me see your desk drawer."
     "Certainly," he said, and he showed me the desk.
     I looked at it and said, "That looks pretty  good to me. Let's see what
you have in there."
     "I'll be very glad to show it to  you," he said, putting in the key and
opening the drawer. "If," he said, "you hadn't already seen it yourself."
     The trouble with  playing a trick on a highly intelligent man like  Mr.
Teller is that the time it takes him  to figure out  from the moment that he
sees there  is something wrong till he understands exactly what  happened is
too damn small to give you any pleasure!

     Some  of  the  special  problems  I  had  at  Los  Alamos  were  rather
interesting. One thing had to do with the safety of  the plant at Oak Ridge,
Tennessee. Los Alamos was going to make the bomb, but at Oak Ridge they were
trying to  separate the isotopes of  uranium -- uranium 238 and uranium 235,
the  explosive one. They  were just beginning  to  get infinitesimal amounts
from an experimental thing of 235, and at the same time they were practicing
the chemistry.  There was going to  be  a big plant, they were going to have
vats of the stuff, and then they were going  to take the  purified stuff and
repurify and  get it ready  for the next  stage. (You have to  purify it  in
several stages.) So they were practicing on the one hand, and they were just
getting  a  little  bit  of  U235  from  one  of  the  pieces  of  apparatus
experimentally on the other hand. And they were trying to learn how to assay
it, to determine  how much uranium 235 there  is in it. Though we would send
them instructions, they never got it right.
     So finally Emil Segre said that the  only possible way  to get it right
was for him to go down there and see what they were doing.  The  army people
said, "No, it is our policy to keep all the information of Los Alamos at one
place."
     The people in  Oak  Ridge didn't know  anything about what it was to be
used for; they just  knew  what  they were trying  to  do. I mean the higher
people knew they were separating uranium, but they didn't  know how powerful
the bomb was, or exactly  how it  worked or anything. The people  underneath
didn't know at all what they were doing. And the army wanted to keep it that
way. There  was  no information  going  back  and forth.  But Segre insisted
they'd never get the assays right, and the whole thing would go up in smoke.
So he finally  went down to see what they were doing, and as he  was walking
through he saw them wheeling a tank carboy of water, green water -- which is
uranium nitrate solution.
     He said,  "Uh, you're going  to  handle it like that when it's purified
too? Is that what you're going to do?"
     They said, "Sure -- why not?"
     "Won't it explode?" he said.
     Huh! Explode?
     Then the army said, "You see! We shouldn't have let any information get
to them! Now they are all upset."
     It turned  out that the army had realized how much stuff we  needed  to
make a bomb -- twenty kilograms or whatever it was -- and they realized that
this much material, purified, would never  be in the plant, so there was  no
danger. But they  did  not  know  that  the  neutrons  were enormously  more
effective when they are slowed down in water. In water it takes less than  a
tenth -- no,  a  hundredth -- as much material to make a reaction that makes
radioactivity. It kills people around and so  on. It was very dangerous, and
they had not paid any attention to the safety at all.
     So a telegram goes from  Oppenheimer  to Segre:  "Go through the entire
plant.  Notice where  all the concentrations  are supposed  to be,  with the
process  as they  designed  it. We  will  calculate in the meantime how much
material can come together before there's an explosion."
     Two  groups started  working  on  it. Christy's  group worked on  water
solutions  and my group worked  on dry powder  in boxes. We calculated about
how much material they could accumulate safely.  And Christy was going to go
down and tell them  all at  Oak Ridge what the situation  was, because  this
whole thing is  broken down and we  have to go down and  tell them now. So I
happily gave all my numbers to Christy and said, you have  all the stuff, so
go. Christy got pneumonia; I had to go.
     I had never traveled on  an airplane before. They  strapped the secrets
in  a little thing  on my back! The  airplane in  those days was like a bus,
except the  stations were  further apart. You stopped  off every  once  in a
while to wait.
     There was  a guy  standing  there  next  to me swinging a chain, saying
something like, "It must be terribly difficult to fly without a priority  on
airplanes these days."
     I couldn't resist. I said, "Well, I don't know. I have a priority."
     A little bit later he tried  again.  "There  are  some generals coming.
They are going to put off some of us number threes."
     "It's all right," I said. "I'm a number two."
     He probably wrote to  his congressman  --  if he  wasn't a  congressman
himself -- saying, "What are they  doing sending  these little  kids  around
with number two priorities in the middle of the war?"
     At any  rate,  I arrived at Oak Ridge.  The  first thing I did was have
them take me to the plant, and I said nothing. I just  looked at everything.
I  found out that the situation was even  worse than Segre reported, because
he  noticed certain boxes in big lots in a room, but he didn't  notice a lot
of  boxes in another room on the  other  side of the same wall -- and things
like that. Now, if you have too much stuff together, it goes up, you see.
     So I went through the entire plant. I  have a very bad memory, but when
I work intensively I  have a good short-term memory, and so I could remember
all kinds of crazy things like building 90-207, vat number so-and-so, and so
forth.
     I went to  my  room  that  night,  and went  through  the  whole thing,
explained where all the dangers were,  and what you would  have to do to fix
this. It's rather easy. You  put cadmium in solutions to absorb the neutrons
in  the  water, and  you separate  the boxes  so  they are  not  too  dense,
according to certain rules.
     The next day there was going  to be a big meeting. I forgot to say that
before I left Los Alamos Oppenheimer said to me, "Now,  the following people
are technically  able  down  there  at  Oak  Ridge:  Mr.  Julian  Webb,  Mr.
So-and-so, and  so on. I want you to make sure that  these people are at the
meeting, that you tell them  how the thing can  be made safe,  so  that they
really understand."
     I said, "What if they're not at the meeting? What am I supposed to do?"
     He  said,  "Then  you   should  say:  Los  Alamos  cannot   accept  the
responsibility for the safety of the Oak Ridge plant unless...!"
     I said, "You  mean me, little Richard, is going to go  in there and say
--?"
     He said, "Yes, little Richard, you go and do that."
     I really grew up fast!
     When  I  arrived, sure enough, the big  shots in  the  company  and the
technical people that I wanted were there, and the generals and everyone who
was interested in this very serious problem. That was good because the plant
would have blown up if nobody had paid attention to this problem.
     There was a Lieutenant Zumwalt who took care of me. He told me that the
colonel said I shouldn't tell them how the neutrons work and all the details
because we want  to keep things separate,  so just tell  them what  to do to
keep it safe.
     I said, "In my  opinion it is  impossible for  them to obey a  bunch of
rules unless they  understand how  it works. It's  my opinion that it's only
going   to  work   if  I  tell  them,  and  Los  Alamos  cannot  accept  the
responsibility for  the safety of the Oak Ridge  plant unless they are fully
informed as to how it works!"
     It was  great.  The lieutenant  takes me to  the colonel and repeats my
remark.  The colonel  says, "Just  five  minutes," and then  he  goes to the
window and he stops and thinks. That's what they're  very  good at -- making
decisions. I thought it was very remarkable how  a problem of whether or not
information as to how the bomb works should be in the Oak Ridge plant had to
be decided and could be  decided in five minutes. So  I have a great deal of
respect  for these military guys, because I never  can decide  anything very
important in any length of time at all.
     In five minutes he said, "All right, Mr. Feynman, go ahead."
     I sat down and I told them all about neutrons, how they  worked, da da,
ta  ta ta,  there are  too many neutrons  together, you've  got  to keep the
material apart,  cadmium absorbs,  and slow neutrons are more effective than
fast neutrons,  and yak  yak -- all of  which  was elementary stuff  at  Los
Alamos, but they  had  never  heard  of any  of it, so  I appeared to  be  a
tremendous genius to them.
     The result was that they decided to set up little groups to make  their
own calculations to learn how to do it. They started to redesign plants, and
the designers of  the plants  were  there,  the  construction designers, and
engineers, and chemical engineers for the new plant that was going to handle
the separated material.
     They told me  to come back in  a few months,  so  I came back when  the
engineers had finished the design of the plant. Now it was for me to look at
the plant.
     How do  you  look  at a plant that  isn't  built  yet?  I  don't  know.
Lieutenant  Zumwalt, who was always coming around  with me  because I had to
have an escort everywhere, takes me into this room where there are these two
engineers  and  a  loooooong  table  covered  with  a  stack  of  blueprints
representing the various floors of the proposed plant.
     I took mechanical drawing when I was  in  school, but I  am not good at
reading  blueprints. So they  unroll the stack  of  blueprints and start  to
explain it to me, thinking I am a genius. Now, one of the things they had to
avoid in the  plant was accumulation. They had problems like when there's an
evaporator  working, which  is trying to  accumulate the stuff, if the valve
gets stuck  or something  like that and  too much stuff  accumulates,  it'll
explode. So they explained to me  that this plant is designed so that if any
one  valve gets stuck  nothing  will happen.  It needs at  least two  valves
everywhere.
     Then they explain how it works. The carbon tetrachloride comes in here,
the uranium nitrate from here comes in here, it goes up and down, it goes up
through the floor,  comes  up  through  the pipes, coming up from the second
floor, bluuuuurp -- going through the stack of blueprints,  down-up-down-up,
talking very fast, explaining the very, very complicated chemical plant.
     I'm completely  dazed.  Worse, I  don't  know  what the  symbols on the
blueprint  mean! There is some kind of a thing that  at  first I  think is a
window. It's a  square with a little cross in the middle, all  over the damn
place. I think it's a window, but no, it can't be a window, because it isn't
always at the edge. I want to ask them what it is.
     You must  have been in  a  situation like this when you didn't ask them
right away. Right away it would have been OK. But now they've been talking a
little bit too long. You hesitated too long. If  you  ask them  now  they'll
say, "What are you wasting my time all this time for?"
     What  am I going to  do? I get an idea. Maybe it's  a valve.  I take my
finger and  I put  it down  on one of the mysterious  little crosses in  the
middle of one of the blueprints on page three,  and  I say, "What happens if
this  valve  gets stuck?" -- figuring they're going  to say, "That's  not  a
valve, sir, that's a window."
     So one looks at the other and says, "Well, if that valve gets stuck --"
and he goes up and down on the blueprint, up and down, the other guy goes up
and down, back and forth, back and forth, and they both  look at each other.
They  turn around to me and they open their mouths like  astonished fish and
say, "You're absolutely right, sir."
     So they rolled up the blueprints and away they  went and we walked out.
And  Mr. Zumwalt,  who had  been  following  me all  the  way through, said,
"You're a genius. I got the idea you were a genius when you went through the
plant once and you could tell them about evaporator  C-21 in building 90-207
the  next  morning," he says, "but what you have just done is so fantastic I
want to know how, how do you do that?"
     I told him you try to find out whether it's a valve or not.
     Another kind  of problem I worked on  was this.  We had to  do lots  of
calculations,  and we did them on Marchant calculating machines. By the way,
just to give you an idea of what Los Alamos was like:  We had these Marchant
computers  --  hand  calculators  with  numbers.  You push  them,  and  they
multiply,  divide, add, and so on, but  not easy like they do now. They were
mechanical  gadgets,  failing  often,  and they  had  to be sent back to the
factory  to be repaired. Pretty soon you were running out of machines. A few
of us started to  take the  covers off  (We weren't supposed  to. The  rules
read: "You take the covers off, we cannot be responsible...") So we took the
covers off and we got a  nice series  of lessons on how  to fix them, and we
got better and better at it as we got more and more  elaborate repairs. When
we got something too complicated, we sent  it back to the factory,  but we'd
do  the  easy  ones and kept the  things  going.  I ended up  doing all  the
computers  and  there  was  a  guy in  the  machine  shop who  took care  of
typewriters.
     Anyway, we decided that  the  big problem -- which  was  to  figure out
exactly what  happened during  the bomb's implosion, so  you can figure  out
exactly  how much  energy  was released  and  so  on  --  required much more
calculating than we were capable of. A clever fellow by the name of  Stanley
Frankel  realized that it could possibly  be done on IBM  machines. The  IBM
company  had  machines  for  business  purposes,  adding   machines   called
tabulators  for listing sums, and a multiplier that you put  cards in and it
would take two  numbers  from a  card and  multiply  them.  There were  also
collators and sorters and so on.
     So  Frankel figured  out  a  nice  program. If we got  enough of  these
machines in  a room, we could take the cards and put them  through  a cycle.
Everybody who does numerical calculations now knows exactly what I'm talking
about, but this  was  kind  of a  new  thing then --  mass  production  with
machines. We had done  things  like this on adding  machines. Usually you go
one step  across, doing everything yourself. But this was different -- where
you go first to the adder, then to the multiplier, then to the adder, and so
on.  So Frankel designed this system and ordered the machines  from the  IBM
company, because we realized it was a good way of solving our problems.
     We needed  a man  to repair  the  machines,  to  keep  them  going  and
everything. And the army was  always going to send this fellow they had, but
he was always delayed. Now, we always were in a hurry. Everything we did, we
tried to do as quickly as possible. In  this particular case,  we worked out
all  the numerical steps that the machines were supposed to  do --  multiply
this, and then  do this, and subtract that. Then  we worked out the program,
but we didn't have any  machine to test it on. So we set  up  this room with
girls in it. Each one had a Marchant:  one  was the multiplier,  another was
the adder. This one cubed -- all  she did was cube a number on an index card
and send it to the next girl.
     We went  through our cycle  this way until we got all  the bugs out. It
turned out that the speed at which we were able to do it was a hell of a lot
faster than  the other way, where every single person did all the steps.  We
got speed with this system that was the predicted speed for the IBM machine.
The only difference is that the IBM machines didn't get tired and could work
three shifts. But the girls got tired after a while.
     Anyway,  we  got the  bugs out during  this  process, and  finally  the
machines arrived,  but not  the  repairman.  These  were some  of  the  most
complicated  machines of the  technology of those days, big things that came
partially disassembled, with  lots of wires and blueprints of what to do. We
went down  and we put  them together, Stan Frankel and I and another fellow,
and we had our troubles. Most of the trouble was the big shots coming in all
the time and saying, "You're going to break something!"
     We put them together, and sometimes they would work, and sometimes they
were put together wrong and  they didn't work. Finally I was working on some
multiplier  and I saw a  bent part inside, but I was afraid to straighten it
because it might snap  off  -- and they were always telling us we were going
to  bust  something  irreversibly. When the repairman finally  got there, he
fixed the machines we hadn't got ready, and everything was going. But he had
trouble with the one that I had had trouble with.  After three days  he  was
still working on that one last machine.
     I went down. I said, "Oh, I noticed that was bent."
     He said, "Oh, of course.  That's  all there is to it!" Bend! It was all
right. So that was it.
     Well, Mr.  Frankel, who started  this program, began to suffer from the
computer disease that anybody who works with computers now knows about. It's
a  very  serious disease  and it  interferes completely with the  work.  The
trouble with  computers  is you play with  them. They are  so wonderful. You
have  these switches -- if it's an even  number you do  this, if it's an odd
number you  do that  -- and pretty  soon  you can do more and more elaborate
things if you are clever enough, on one machine.
     After a  while the whole  system broke down. Frankel wasn't paying  any
attention;  he wasn't supervising anybody.  The system was  going very, very
slowly --while  he  was sitting  in  a room  figuring out  how to  make  one
tabulator automatically print arc-tangent X, and then it would start  and it
would  print  columns  and  then  bitsi,  bitsi, bitsi,  and  calculate  the
arc-tangent automatically by integrating as  it went along and make a  whole
table in one operation.
     Absolutely useless. We had tables  of arc-tangents. But if  you've ever
worked  with computers, you understand the disease -- the delight  in  being
able to see how much you can do. But he got the disease for the first  time,
the poor fellow who invented the thing.
     I was asked to stop working on the stuff I was doing in my group and go
down and  take over the IBM group,  and I tried to  avoid the disease.  And,
although they had done only three problems in nine months, I had a very good
group.
     The real trouble was that no one had ever told these  fellows anything.
The army had selected  them from  all over the  country  for  a thing called
Special  Engineer  Detachment  --  clever  boys  from  high school  who  had
engineering ability.  They sent  them  up to Los  Alamos.  They put  them in
barracks. And they would tell them nothing.
     Then  they  came to  work, and what  they had  to  do  was work  on IBM
machines -- punching holes, numbers that they didn't understand. Nobody told
them what it was.  The  thing  was going very slowly. I said  that the first
thing  there has to be is that these technical guys know  what  we're doing.
Oppenheimer went and talked to the security and got special  permission so I
could give  a  nice lecture  about  what  we were  doing, and  they were all
excited: "We're  fighting a  war! We see what it  is!"  They knew  what  the
numbers meant. If  the pressure came out higher,  that meant there was  more
energy released, and so on and so on. They knew what they were doing.
     Complete transformation! They began to invent ways  of doing it better.
They improved the scheme. They worked at night. They didn't need supervising
in the night; they didn't  need anything. They  understood  everything; they
invented several of the programs that we used.
     So my boys really came through, and all that had to be done was to tell
them what it was. As a result, although it took them nine months to do three
problems before, we did nine problems  in  three months, which is nearly ten
times as fast.
     But  one of  the secret ways we did our problems was this. The problems
consisted of a bunch of cards that  had to  go  through a cycle.  First add,
then multiply  -- and so it went through the cycle of machines in this room,
slowly, as it went around and around. So we figured a way to put a different
colored set of cards through a cycle too, but out of  phase. We'd do  two or
three problems at a time.
     But this got  us  into another  problem.  Near the end of the  war, for
instance, just  before  we  had to  make a test in Albuquerque, the question
was: How much energy would be released? We had been calculating  the release
from various  designs, but we hadn't computed for  the specific  design that
was ultimately  used. So Bob Christy came down and said, "We  would like the
results for how  this thing is going  to work in one  month" -- or some very
short time, like three weeks.
     I said, "It's impossible."
     He  said, "Look,  you're putting  out nearly  two  problems a month. It
takes only two weeks per problem, or three weeks per problem."
     I said, "I know.  It really  takes much longer to  do the problem,  but
we're  doing them in parallel. As they  go through, it takes a long time and
there's no way to make it go around faster."
     He went out, and I began to think. Is there a way to make  it go around
faster? What  if we did nothing  else  on the machine, so  nothing  else was
interfering?  I  put a challenge to the boys on the  blackboard -- CAN WE DO
IT?  They all  start yelling, "Yes,  we'll work  double  shifts,  we'll work
overtime," all this kind of thing. "We'll try it. We'll try it!"
     And so the rule was: All other problems  out. Only one problem and just
concentrate on this one. So they started to work.
     My wife,  Arlene,  was  ill  with  tuberculosis  -- very ill indeed. It
looked as if  something  might happen at any minute,  so I arranged ahead of
time with a  friend  of mine  in  the  dormitory  to borrow his  car  in  an
emergency so I  could get  to Albuquerque quickly. His name was Klaus Fuchs.
He was the  spy, and he  used his automobile to take the atomic secrets away
from Los Alamos down to Santa Fe. But nobody knew that.
     The emergency arrived. I borrowed Fuchs's car and picked up a couple of
hitchhikers,  in case  something  happened  with  the  car  on  the  way  to
Albuquerque.  Sure enough, just  as  we were driving into Santa Fe, we got a
flat tire.  The  two guys  helped me  change  the tire, and just as  we were
leaving Santa Fe, another tire went  flat. We pushed  the car  into a nearby
gas station.
     The gas station guy was repairing somebody else's car, and it was going
to take  a  while  before  he  could  help us. I  didn't even  think  to say
anything, but  the two hitchhikers went over to the gas station man and told
him the situation. Soon we had a new tire (but no  spare -- tires were  hard
to get during the war).
     About thirty miles  outside Albuquerque a third  tire  went flat,  so I
left the car on the road and we hitchhiked the  rest  of the way. I phoned a
garage  to go out and get  the car while  I went to the  hospital  to see my
wife.
     Arlene died a few  hours after I got there. A nurse came in to fill out
the death certificate, and went out again. I spent  a little  more time with
my wife. Then I looked at the clock I had given her seven years before, when
she had first become sick with tuberculosis. It was something which in those
days was very  nice:  a digital clock whose numbers would change  by turning
around mechanically. The  clock was very delicate and often stopped for  one
reason or another -- I had  to repair it from time to time -- but I kept  it
going  for  all those years. Now, it had stopped once more  --  at 9:22, the
time on the death certificate!
     I remembered the time I was in my fraternity house at MIT when the idea
came into my head completely out  of the blue that  my grandmother was dead.
Right after that there was a telephone call, just like that. It was for Pete
Bernays --  my  grandmother  wasn't  dead.  So  I remembered  that,  in case
somebody told  me a  story that  ended  the other way.  I figured that  such
things can  sometimes happen by luck --  after all, my grandmother was  very
old  --  although  people  might  think  they  happened  by  some   sort  of
supernatural phenomenon.
     Arlene had  kept this clock by her bedside  all the time she  was sick,
and now it stopped the moment she died. I  can  understand  how a person who
half  believes  in  the possibility  of  such things,  and who  hasn't got a
doubting  mind  --  especially  in  a  circumstance  like  that  --  doesn't
immediately try to figure  out  what happened, but  instead explains that no
one touched the clock, and there was no possibility of explanation by normal
phenomena. The clock simply stopped. It would  become a dramatic example  of
these fantastic phenomena.
     I saw that the light in  the  room was low, and then I  remembered that
the nurse had picked up the clock  and turned it toward the light to see the
face better. That could easily have stopped it.
     I went for a walk  outside.  Maybe  I  was fooling  myself,  but  I was
surprised how I didn't feel what I thought people would expect to feel under
the  circumstances. I  wasn't delighted, but  I didn't feel terribly  upset,
perhaps  because I had known for seven years that  something  like this  was
going to happen.
     I didn't know how I  was going to face all my friends up at Los Alamos.
I didn't want people with long faces talking to me about it. When I got back
(yet another tire went flat on the way), they asked me what happened.
     "She's dead. And how's the program going?"
     They caught on right away that I didn't want to moon over it.
     (I had  obviously done something to myself psychologically: Reality was
so  important  --  I  had  to understand what  really  happened  to  Arlene,
physiologically -- that I didn't cry  until a number of months later, when I
was in  Oak Ridge. I was walking past a department store with dresses in the
window, and I thought Arlene would like  one of them.  That was too much for
me.)
     When I went back to work  on the  calculation program, I  found it in a
mess:  There were  white cards,  there  were blue cards,  there  were yellow
cards, and  I started to say,  "You're  not  supposed  to do  more  than one
problem -- only one problem!" They said, "Get out, get out, get out. Wait --
and we'll explain everything."
     So  I waited, and  what  happened was this.  As the cards went through,
sometimes the machine made a mistake, or they put a wrong number in. What we
used to  have to do when that  happened was to go back and do it over again.
But they noticed that a mistake made at some point in one cycle only affects
the nearby numbers, the next cycle affects the nearby numbers, and so on. It
works its  way through the  pack of cards. If  you have fifty  cards and you
make  a  mistake  at  card  number  thirty-nine,  it  affects  thirty-seven,
thirty-eight,  and  thirty-nine.  The  next,  card thirty-six, thirty-seven,
thirty-eight, thirty-nine, and  forty.  The  next time  it  spreads  like  a
disease.
     So they found an  error  back a  way,  and they got an idea. They would
only  compute a small deck of ten cards  around the error. And  because  ten
cards could be put through the machine faster than the deck of fifty  cards,
they would go rapidly through with this other deck while they continued with
the  fifty cards with  the  disease  spreading.  But  the  other  thing  was
computing faster, and they would seal it all up and correct it. Very clever.
     That was the  way  those  guys worked to get speed. There  was no other
way. If they had to stop to try to fix it, we'd have  lost time. We couldn't
have got it. That was what they were doing.
     Of  course, you know what happened while  they were  doing  that.  They
found an error in the blue deck. And so they had a yellow deck with a little
fewer cards; it was  going around  faster than the blue deck. Just when they
are going crazy --  because  after they get this straightened out, they have
to fix the white deck -- the boss comes walking in.
     "Leave us alone," they say.  I left them alone and everything came out.
We solved the problem in time and that's the way it was.

     I was an underling at the beginning. Later I became a group leader. And
I met some very great men. It is one of the great experiences  of my life to
have met all these wonderful physicists.
     There  was, of course, Enrico Fermi. He came down once from Chicago, to
consult a little bit, to help us if we had some  problems. We had a  meeting
with him, and I  had been  doing some calculations and  gotten some results.
The calculations  were so elaborate -- it was very difficult. Now, usually I
was the expert at this; I could always tell you what the answer was going to
look like,  or when I  got it  I could explain  why.  But this  thing was so
complicated I couldn't explain why it was like that.
     So I told Fermi I was doing this problem, and I started to describe the
results. He said, "Wait,  before you tell me the  result, let me think. It's
going to come out like this (he was right), and it's  going to come out like
this because of so and so. And there's a  perfectly  obvious explanation for
this --"
     He was doing what I was supposed to be  good at, ten times better. That
was quite a lesson to me.
     Then there was John von Neumann, the great mathematician. We used to go
for walks  on Sunday.  We'd walk  in  the canyons,  often with Bethe and Bob
Bacher. It was a  great pleasure. And von  Neumann  gave  me an  interesting
idea: that you don't have to be responsible for the world that you're in. So
I  have  developed a  very powerful  sense of  social irresponsibility as  a
result  of von Neumann's advice. It's  made me  a very happy man ever since.
But  it was  von  Neumann who  put  the  seed  in that  grew  into my active
irresponsibility!
     I also met Niels  Bohr. His name was  Nicholas Baker in those days, and
he came to Los Alamos  with Jim  Baker, his  son, whose name is really  Aage
Bohr. They came from Denmark, and they were very  famous  physicists, as you
know. Even to the big shot guys, Bohr was a great god.
     We were at a meeting once, the first time he came, and everybody wanted
to  see  the great Bohr. So there  were a  lot of people  there, and we were
discussing the  problems  of the  bomb. I was back in a corner somewhere. He
came and went, and all I could see of him was from between people's heads.
     In the morning of the day he's due to come next time, I get a telephone
call.
     "Hello -- Feynman?"
     "Yes."
     "This is Jim Baker." It's his son. "My father and I would like to speak
to you."
     "Me? I'm Feynman, I'm just a --"
     "That's right. Is eight o'clock OK?"
     So, at eight o'clock in  the morning, before anybody's awake, I go down
to the place. We  go into  an office in the technical area and he says,  "We
have been thinking how we could make the bomb more efficient and we think of
the following idea."
     I say, "No, it's not  going to work. It's not efficient...  Blah, blah,
blah."
     So he says, "How about so and so?"
     I said, "That sounds a  little  bit better, but it's got this damn fool
idea in it."
     This went on for about two  hours, going back and forth  over  lots  of
ideas,  back and forth, arguing. The great Niels kept lighting his pipe;  it
always  went  out.  And  he talked in a  way that  was  un-understandable --
mumble, mumble, hard to understand. His son I could understand better.
     "Well," he said finally, lighting his pipe, "I guess we can call in the
big shots  now." So then they called all the other guys and had a discussion
with them.
     Then the son told me  what happened.  The last time  he was there, Bohr
said  to his son, "Remember the name of that little fellow in the  back over
there? He's the only guy who's not afraid of me, and will say  when I've got
a crazy idea. So next time when we want to discuss ideas, we're not going to
be able to do  it with these guys who say everything is  yes, yes, Dr. Bohr.
Get that guy and we'll talk with him first."
     I was always dumb in that way. I never knew who I was talking to. I was
always worried about the physics. If the idea looked lousy, I said it looked
lousy. If it looked good, I said it looked good. Simple proposition.
     I've always  lived that way. It's nice, it's pleasant  -- if you can do
it. I'm lucky in my life that I can do this.
     After  we'd made the  calculations, the  next  thing that happened,  of
course, was the test. I was actually at home  on a  short  vacation  at that
time, after my  wife died,  and so I got a  message that said,  "The baby is
expected on such and such a day."
     I flew back, and I arrived just when the buses were leaving,  so I went
straight out to the site and we waited out there, twenty miles away.  We had
a radio, and they  were supposed to tell us when the  thing  was going to go
off and  so forth,  but the radio wouldn't work, so we never  knew  what was
happening. But just a few minutes before it was supposed to go off the radio
started to work, and they told  us there was twenty seconds or something  to
go, for people who were far away like we were. Others were closer, six miles
away.
     They gave out dark glasses  that you could watch it with. Dark glasses!
Twenty miles away, you couldn't see a damn  thing through dark glasses. So I
figured the  only thing  that could  really hurt your eyes (bright light can
never hurt your eyes) is ultraviolet light. I got behind a truck windshield,
because the ultraviolet  can't go through glass, so that would be  safe, and
so I could see the damn thing.
     Time comes, and  this  tremendous  flash out there is so  bright that I
duck,  and I  see this  purple splotch on the floor  of  the truck.  I said,
"That's not it. That's  an  after-image." So I look back up, and  I see this
white  light  changing  into yellow  and then  into orange.  Clouds form and
disappear again -- from the compression and expansion of the shock wave.
     Finally, a big ball of orange, the center that was so bright, becomes a
ball of orange that starts to rise and billow a little bit and get a  little
black  around the  edges,  and then you see  it's a big  ball of smoke  with
flashes on the inside, with the heat of the fire going outwards.
     All  this took about one  minute.  It was a series from bright to dark,
and  I had seen it. I am about the only guy who actually  looked at the damn
thing -- the first  Trinity test. Everybody  else had dark glasses, and  the
people at six miles couldn't see it because they were all told to lie on the
floor. I'm probably the only guy who saw it with the human eye.
     Finally, after about a minute and a half, there's suddenly a tremendous
noise -- BANG, and then a rumble, like thunder -- and  that's what convinced
me.  Nobody  had said  a word during  this  whole thing.  We were  all  just
watching  quietly.  But  this  sound  released   everybody  --  released  me
particularly because the  solidity of the sound at that distance meant  that
it had really worked.
     The man standing next to me said, "What's that?"
     I said, "That was the Bomb."
     The  man  was William  Laurence.  He  was  there  to  write an  article
describing the  whole situation. I had been the one who was supposed to have
taken him around. Then it was found that it was too  technical  for him, and
so later H. D. Smyth came and I showed him around. One thing we did, we went
into  a  room  and  there  on the  end of  a narrow  pedestal  was  a  small
silver-plated ball.  You could  put  your hand on  it. It was  warm.  It was
radioactive. It  was  plutonium. And  we  stood  at  the door  of this room,
talking about  it. This  was a  new element that was made  by man, that  had
never existed on the earth before, except  for a very short period  possibly
at the very  beginning. And here it was all isolated and radioactive and had
these properties. And we had made it. And so it was tremendously valuable.
     Meanwhile, you know how people do when they talk -- you  kind of jiggle
around and so forth. He was kicking the doorstop, you see, and I said, "Yes,
the doorstop  certainly is appropriate for  this  door." The doorstop was  a
ten-inch hemisphere of yellowish metal-gold, as a matter of fact.
     What had  happened was that  we needed to do an  experiment  to see how
many neutrons were reflected by different  materials, in order  to  save the
neutrons so we didn't use  so much  material. We had  tested  many different
materials.  We had tested platinum, we had tested zinc, we had tested brass,
we had tested gold. So,  in  making  the tests with  the gold,  we had these
pieces of gold  and somebody had the clever idea of using that great ball of
gold for a doorstop for the door of the room that contained the plutonium.
     After  the  thing  went  off,  there  was tremendous  excitement at Los
Alamos. Everybody had parties, we all ran around. I sat on the end of a jeep
and beat drums and  so  on.  But one man, I remember, Bob  Wilson, was  just
sitting there moping.
     I said, "What  are you moping about?" He said, "It's  a terrible  thing
that  we made." I said, "But you started it. You got us into  it." You  see,
what happened to me -- what happened to the rest  of us -- is we started for
a good  reason,  then you're  working very hard to  accomplish something and
it's a  pleasure, it's excitement. And you stop thinking, you know; you just
stop. Bob Wilson was  the only one  who was still thinking about it, at that
moment.
     I returned to civilization shortly after  that and went  to Cornell  to
teach, and my first impression was a very strange one. I can't understand it
any more, but I felt very strongly  then. I sat in a restaurant in New York,
for example, and I  looked out  at  the buildings and I began  to think, you
know,  about how  much the radius  of the  Hiroshima  bomb damage was and so
forth...  How far from here was  34th Street?...  All those  buildings,  all
smashed -- and so on. And I would go along and I would see people building a
bridge, or they'd be making a new road,  and I  thought, they're crazy, they
just don't  understand,  they  don't  understand. Why  are  they making  new
things? It's so useless.
     But, fortunately,  it's been useless for almost forty years now, hasn't
it? So  I've been wrong about  it  being useless making bridges and I'm glad
those other people had the sense to go ahead.


--------


     I  learned  to pick locks from a guy named Leo Lavatelli.  It turns out
that picking ordinary tumbler locks  -- like Yale  locks -- is easy. You try
to turn the lock by putting a screwdriver in the hole (you have to push from
the side in order to leave the hole open). It doesn't turn because there are
some pins  inside which have to be lifted to just the  right height (by  the
key). Because it is  not made  perfectly, the  lock is  held more by one pin
than the others. Now, if you push a little wire gadget -- maybe a paper clip
with a slight bump at the end -- and jiggle it  back and  forth  inside  the
lock, you'll eventually push that one pin that's doing the most  holding, up
to  the right height. The lock  gives, just a  little bit, so the first  pin
stays up -- it's caught on the edge. Now most of the load is held by another
pin,  and you repeat the same random process  for a few more minutes,  until
all the pins are pushed up.
     What  often  happens is  that  the  screwdriver will slip and  you hear
tic-tic-tic, and it makes you mad.  There are little springs  that  push the
pins  back down when a key is  removed, and you can hear them click when you
let  go of  the  screwdriver. (Sometimes you  intentionally let  go  of  the
screwdriver to  see  if you're getting  anywhere -- you might be pushing the
wrong way, for instance.) The process is  something  like  Sisyphus:  you're
always falling back downhill.
     It's a simple process, but  practice helps a lot. You learn how hard to
push on things -- hard enough so the pins will stay up, but not so hard that
they won't go up in the first place. What is not really appreciated  by most
people  is  that  they're  perpetually  locking  themselves  in  with  locks
everywhere, and it's not very hard to pick them.
     When we  started  to work  on the  atomic bomb  project  at Los Alamos,
everything was in such a hurry that it  wasn't really ready. All the secrets
of the project -- everything about the  atomic bomb  -- were kept in  filing
cabinets which, if they had locks at  all, were locked with  padlocks  which
had maybe only three pins: they were as easy as pie to open.
     To improve security the shop outfitted every filing cabinet with a long
rod that went down through  the handles of the drawers and that was fastened
by a padlock.
     Some guy said to me, "Look at this new thing the shop put on -- can you
open the cabinet now?"
     I looked at  the  back  of  the cabinet and saw that the drawers didn't
have  a solid bottom. There was a slot with a wire rod in each one that held
a slidable piece (which holds  the papers up inside the  drawer). I poked in
from the back, slid the piece back, and began pulling the papers out through
the slot. "Look!" I said. "I don't even have to pick the lock."
     Los  Alamos  was  a  very  cooperative   place,  and  we  felt  it  our
responsibility  to  point  out  things  that should  be improved.  I'd  keep
complaining that the stuff was unsafe, and although everybody thought it was
safe because there  were  steel rods  and padlocks,  it  didn't  mean a damn
thing.
     To  demonstrate  that  the  locks  meant  nothing,  whenever  I  wanted
somebody's report and they weren't around, I'd just go in their office, open
the filing cabinet, and take it  out. When I was  finished  I  would give it
back to the guy: "Thanks for your report."
     "Where'd you get it?"
     "Out of your filing cabinet."
     "But I locked it!"
     "I know you locked it. The locks are no good."
     Finally some  filing cabinets  came which had combination locks on them
made by the Mosler  Safe Company.  They had  three  drawers. Pulling the top
drawer out would release the other drawers by  a catch.  The top drawer  was
opened by turning a  combination wheel to  the left, right, and left for the
combination, and then right to  number ten,  which would  draw  back  a bolt
inside. The  whole filing  cabinet could  be locked  by  closing  the bottom
drawers first,  then the top drawer, and spinning the combination wheel away
from number ten, which pushed up the bolt.
     These new  filing cabinets  were an immediate  challenge,  naturally. I
love puzzles. One guy tries to make something to keep another guy out; there
must be a way to beat it!
     I had first to understand how the lock worked, so I took apart the  one
in my office. The  way it worked is this: There are three  discs on a single
shaft, one behind the other; each has a notch in a different place. The idea
is to line up the notches so that when you turn the wheel to ten, the little
friction drive will draw  the  bolt  down into  the slot  generated  by  the
notches of the three discs.
     Now, to turn the discs, there's a pin sticking out from the back of the
combination wheel, and a  pin sticking up  from the first disc  at the  same
radius. Within one turn of the combination wheel, you've picked up the first
disc.
     On the back of the first disc there's a pin at the same radius as a pin
on the front  of the second disc, so by the time you've spun the combination
wheel around twice, you've picked up the second disc as well.
     Keep turning the wheel, and  a pin on the back of the  second disc will
catch  a  pin on the front of the third disc,  which  you  now set into  the
proper position with the first number of the combination.
     Now you have to turn the combination  wheel the other way one full turn
to  catch  the  second disc from  the other  side, and then continue  to the
second number of the combination to set the second disc.
     Again you reverse direction and set the first disc to its proper place.
Now the notches  are lined up, and by turning the wheel to ten, you open the
cabinet.
     Well, I  struggled,  and I couldn't  get anywhere. I bought a couple of
Safecracker books,  but they were all the same. In the beginning of the book
there are some  stories of the fantastic  achievements  of the  safecracker,
such as  the woman caught  in a meat refrigerator who is  freezing to death,
but the safecracker,  hanging upside down, opens it in two minutes. Or there
are some precious furs or gold bullion under water, down in the sea, and the
safecracker dives down and opens the chest.
     In the second  part  of the book, they tell  you how to  crack a  safe.
There are all kinds of ninny-pinny, dopey  things, like "It might be  a good
idea to try a date for the combination, because  lots of people like to  use
dates." Or "Think of  the  psychology  of the owner of the safe, and what he
might use for the combination." And "The secretary is often worried that she
might forget the combination of the safe, so  she might write it down in one
of the following  places -- along the edge of her desk drawer, on a  list of
names and addresses..." and so on.
     They did  tell me something sensible  about how to open ordinary safes,
and it's easy to understand.  Ordinary safes have an extra handle, so if you
push  down on the handle while you're turning  the combination wheel, things
being  unequal  (as with locks), the force  of the handle trying to push the
bolt down  into the notches (which are not lined up) is held up more by  one
disc than another. When the notch on that disc comes under the bolt, there's
a tiny click that you can  hear with  a stethoscope, or a slight decrease in
friction that you  can  feel (you don't have to sandpaper  your fingertips),
and you know, "There's a number!"
     You don't know whether it's the first, second, or third number, but you
can get a pretty good idea of that by finding out how many times you have to
turn  the wheel the other way to hear the same click again. If it's a little
less  than once, it's the first disc; if it's a little less than twice, it's
the  second disc (you  have to  make a  correction for the thickness of  the
pins).
     This useful trick only works on ordinary  safes, which  have  the extra
handle, so I was stymied.
     I tried all  kinds  of subsidiary  tricks  with the cabinets,  such  as
finding out how to release the latches on the lower drawers, without opening
the  top  drawer, by taking off a screw  in front  and poking around with  a
piece of hanger wire.
     I  tried spinning the combination wheel very rapidly and then going  to
ten, thus putting a little friction on, which I hoped would stop a  disc  at
the  right  point in  some  manner.  I  tried  all kinds  of  things. I  was
desperate.
     I also  did a certain  amount  of  systematic  study.  For  instance, a
typical combination  was 69-32-21. How far off could a number be when you're
opening the safe? If the number was 69, would 68 work? Would 67 work? On the
particular locks we had, the answer was yes for  both, but 66 wouldn't work.
You could be  off by two in either direction. That meant you only had to try
one out of five  numbers, so you could try  zero, five, ten, fifteen, and so
on. With twenty such numbers on  a wheel of 100, that was 8000 possibilities
instead of the 1,000,000 you  would  get  if  you had  to  try  every single
number.
     Now  the question  was, how  long  would  it take me  to try  the  8000
combinations? Suppose I've got the first two numbers  right of a combination
I'm trying to  get. Say  the numbers are 69-32,  but I don't know it -- I've
got  them as  70-30. Now I can try the twenty possible third numbers without
having to  set up the first  two numbers each time. Now let's suppose I have
only the first  number of the combination right.  After  trying  the  twenty
numbers on the third disc,  I move the  second wheel only a little bit,  and
then do another twenty numbers on the third wheel.
     I practiced  all the time on my own safe so I could  do this process as
fast as I could and not get lost in my mind as to which number I was pushing
and mess up the first  number. Like a guy  who  practices sleight of hand, I
got it  down  to  an absolute  rhythm so I could try the  400 possible  back
numbers in  less  than half an hour.  That meant I could  open a  safe  in a
maximum of eight hours -- with an average time of four hours.
     There was  another guy there at Los  Alamos named  Staley who  was also
interested in locks. We talked about it from  time to time,  but we  weren't
getting  anywhere  much. After I  got this  idea how  to  open a safe  in an
average  time of four hours, I wanted to show Staley how to do it, so I went
into a guy's office over in the computing department and asked, "Do you mind
if I use your safe? I'd like to show Staley something."
     Meanwhile some guys  in the computing department came around and one of
them  said, "Hey, everybody; Feynman's gonna show Staley how to open a safe,
ha,  ha, ha!" I wasn't going to  actually open the safe; I was just going to
show Staley this way of quickly trying the back  two numbers  without losing
your place and having to set up the first number again.
     I  began. "Let's  suppose  that the first number is  forty,  and  we're
trying fifteen for the second number. We go back and  forth, ten;  back five
more  and  forth, ten; and so on.  Now we've  tried all  the  possible third
numbers. Now we try twenty for the second number: we go back and forth, ten;
back five  more  and forth, ten;  back five  more and forth, CLICK!"  My jaw
dropped: the first and second numbers happened to be right!
     Nobody  saw my  expression  because  my  back was towards  them. Staley
looked very surprised, but  both of us caught  on  very quickly as  to  what
happened, so I pulled  the  top drawer out  with a flourish  and  said, "And
there you are!"
     Staley said, "I see  what  you mean; it's a very good scheme" -- and we
walked out. Everybody was amazed. It  was complete  luck. Now I really had a
reputation for opening safes.
     It took me  about a year and a half to get that far (of course,  I  was
working on the bomb, too!) but I figured that I had the safes beaten, in the
sense that if there was a real  difficulty -- if somebody was lost, or dead,
and nobody else knew the combination but the stuff in the filing cabinet was
needed  --  I  could open  it.  After  reading what preposterous  things the
safecrackers   claimed,   I  thought   that   was   a   rather   respectable
accomplishment.
     We had no  entertainment  there  at Los Alamos,  and  we had  to  amuse
ourselves somehow, so fiddling with the Mosler lock on my filing cabinet was
one of my  entertainments. One  day I made an interesting observation:  When
the lock is opened and the drawer  has been pulled out and the wheel is left
on ten (which is what people do when they've opened their filing cabinet and
are  taking  papers out of it), the bolt  is still  down. Now what does that
mean, the bolt is still down? It  means the bolt is  in the slot made by the
three discs, which are still properly lined up. Ahhhh!
     Now, if I turn the wheel away from ten a little bit, the bolt comes up;
if  I immediately go back to ten,  the bolt goes back down  again, because I
haven't  yet disturbed the  slot. If I keep going away from ten in steps  of
five, at some point the  bolt won't go back  down when I go back to ten: the
slot has just  been disturbed. The number  just  before, which still let the
bolt go down, is the last number of the combination!
     I realized that I could do the same thing to find the second number: As
soon as I know the  last  number, I can turn the wheel around the  other way
and again, in lumps of  five, push the second disc bit by bit until the bolt
doesn't go down. The number just before would be the second number.
     If  I were very patient I would be able  to  pick up all three  numbers
that way, but the amount of work involved in picking up the  first number of
the combination by this elaborate scheme would be much more than just trying
the  twenty  possible  first  numbers with  the other two  numbers that  you
already know, when the filing cabinet is closed.
     I practiced and I  practiced until I could get the last two numbers off
an  open filing  cabinet, hardly looking at the dial.  Then, when I'd  be in
some guy's office discussing  some  physics  problem,  I'd lean against  his
opened  filing  cabinet,   and  just  like   a   guy  who's   jiggling  keys
absent-mindedly while he's talking, I'd just wobble the dial back and forth,
back and forth.  Sometimes I'd put my finger  on the bolt so I wouldn't have
to look to see if it's coming up.  In this way  I  picked off the  last  two
numbers  of various filing cabinets. When I got  back to  my office  I would
write  the two numbers down on a piece of  paper that I kept inside the lock
of my filing cabinet. I  took the lock apart each time to get the paper -- I
thought that was a very safe place for them.
     After  a while my reputation  began  to sail, because things  like this
would happen:  Somebody would say, "Hey, Feynman! Christy's out of town  and
we need a document from his safe -- can you open it?"
     If it was a safe I knew I didn't  have the last two numbers of, I would
simply say, "I'm sorry, but I can't do it  now;  I've  got this work  that I
have to do." Otherwise, I would  say, "Yeah, but  I  gotta get  my tools." I
didn't need any tools, but I'd go back to my office, open my filing cabinet,
and look at  my little piece of paper: "Christy --  35, 60." Then  I'd get a
screwdriver  and go  over  to Christy's office and close the door behind me.
Obviously not everybody is supposed to be allowed to know how to do this!
     I'd be in there alone and I'd open the safe in a few minutes. All I had
to  do  was  try  the first  number at most twenty times,  then sit  around,
reading a magazine or something, for fifteen or twenty minutes. There was no
use trying to make it look too easy; somebody would figure  out  there was a
trick to it! After a while I'd open the door and say, "It's open."
     People  thought  I  was  opening the  safes  from scratch. Now  I could
maintain the idea, which began with that accident with Staley, that  I could
open safes cold. Nobody figured out that I was picking the last two  numbers
off their safes, even though  -- perhaps because  -- I  was doing it all the
time, like a card sharp walking around all the time with a deck of cards.
     I often went  to Oak Ridge  to  check up on  the safety of  the uranium
plant. Everything was always in a hurry because it was wartime, and one time
I had to go there on a weekend. It was Sunday, and  we were in this  fella's
office -- a general, a head or a vice president of some company, a couple of
other big  muck-a-mucks, and  me. We were  gathered  together  to  discuss a
report that  was  in the fella's  safe -- a secret safe  -- when suddenly he
realized that he didn't know the combination. His secretary was the only one
who knew it,  so he  called  her home and it turned out she  had  gone on  a
picnic up in the hills.
     While all this was going on, I asked, "Do you mind if I fiddle with the
safe?"
     "Ha,  ha, ha -- not at all!" So I went over to  the safe and started to
fool around.
     They began to  discuss how they could  get a  car  to try to  find  the
secretary, and the  guy was getting more and more embarrassed because he had
all these people waiting and  he  was such  a jackass he didn't  know how to
open  his own safe. Everybody  was all  tense  and getting mad at him,  when
CLICK! -- the safe opened.
     In  10  minutes I  had opened  the safe that  contained all  the secret
documents about the  plant. They were astonished. The safes  were apparently
not very safe. It was  a terrible  shock: All  this "eyes  only" stuff,  top
secret, locked in  this wonderful secret safe,  and this guy opens it in ten
minutes! Of course I was able to open the safe because of my perpetual habit
of taking the last two numbers  off. While in Oak Ridge the month  before, I
was in the  same office when the safe was open and I took the numbers off in
an  absent-minded way -- I  was  always practicing my obsession.  Although I
hadn't written them down,  I was able  to vaguely  remember  what they were.
First I tried 40-15, then 15-40,  but neither of those  worked. Then I tried
10-45 with all the first numbers, and it opened.
     A  similar thing  happened on another weekend  when I  was visiting Oak
Ridge. I had written a report that had  to be OKed by a  colonel, and it was
in his safe. Everybody else keeps documents in filing cabinets like the ones
at Los Alamos, but he was a colonel, so he had a much fancier, two-door safe
with big handles that pull four  3/4-inch-thick steel bolts from  the frame.
The great brass doors swung open and he took out my report to read.
     Not having had an opportunity to  see  any really good safes, I said to
him, "Would you mind,  while you're  reading my  report, if I looked at your
safe?"
     "Go right ahead," he said, convinced that there was nothing I could do.
I looked at the back of one of  the solid brass doors, and I discovered that
the combination wheel was connected to a little lock that looked exactly the
same as the little  unit that was on my filing cabinet at Los  Alamos.  Same
company, same  little bolt, except  that when the bolt  came down,  the  big
handles on the safe could then move  some rods sideways, and with a bunch of
levers  you could pull back all those 3/4-inch  steel rods.  The whole lever
system, it  appeared, depends on  the  same little bolt  that  locks  filing
cabinets.
     Just for the sake of professional  perfection, to make  sure it was the
same, I took the two numbers off the same way I  did with the filing cabinet
safes.
     Meanwhile, he was reading the  report. When he'd finished he said, "All
right,  it's fine." He put the report in the safe, grabbed  the big handles,
and swung the great brass doors together. It sounds so good when they close,
but I know  it's all psychological,  because  it's nothing but the same damn
lock.
     I couldn't help but needle him a little bit (I always had a thing about
military guys, in  such wonderful  uniforms)  so I said, "The  way you close
that safe, I get the idea that you think things are safe in there."
     "Of course."
     "The only  reason you  think they're safe in there is because civilians
call it a 'safe.' " (I put the word "civilians" in there to make it sound as
if he'd been had by civilians.)
     He got very angry. "What do you mean -- it's not safe?"
     "A good safecracker could open it in thirty minutes."
     "Can you open it in thirty minutes?"
     "I said a good safecracker. It would take me about forty-five."
     "Well!" he said. "My wife is waiting  at home for me  with supper,  but
I'm gonna stay here and watch you, and  you're gonna sit down there and work
on that  damn thing for forty-five minutes and not open  it!" He sat down in
his big leather chair, put his feet up on his desk, and read.
     With complete confidence  I picked up a  chair, carried it  over to the
safe and sat down in front of it. I began to turn the  wheel at random, just
to make some action.
     After  about five minutes, which is quite  a long time when you're just
sitting  and waiting,  he lost  some  patience:  "Well,  are you  making any
progress?"
     "With a thing like this, you either open it or you don't."
     I  figured one or two  more minutes would be about time, so I  began to
work in earnest and two minutes later, CLINK -- it opened.
     The colonel's jaw dropped and his eyes  bugged  out. "Colonel," I said,
in a serious tone, "let  me  tell you  something about these locks: When the
door to the safe or the top drawer of the filing  cabinet is left open, it's
very easy  for someone  to get the combination. That's what I did while  you
were reading my  report, just to  demonstrate  the danger. You should insist
that  everybody  keep  their filing  cabinet  drawers locked  while  they're
working, because when they're open, they're very, very vulnerable."
     "Yeah! I see what you mean! That's  very interesting!"  We were  on the
same side after that.
     The next time  I went to Oak Ridge, all  the secretaries and people who
knew who I was were telling me, "Don't come through here! Don't come through
here!"
     The colonel had sent a note around to everyone in the plant which said,
"During his last visit, was  Mr. Feynman  at  any time in  your office, near
your office,  or walking through your  office?"  Some  people answered  yes;
others said  no. The ones  who said yes got another note: "Please change the
combination of your safe."
     That  was his solution: I was  the danger. So they  all  had to  change
their combinations on  account of me.  It's a pain in the  neck to change  a
combination and remember the new one, so they were all mad  at me and didn't
want me to  come near them: they might have to change their combination once
again. Of course, their filing cabinets were still left open while they were
working!
     A  library at Los Alamos held all of the documents we  had ever  worked
on: It  was  a  solid,  concrete room with a big, beautiful door which had a
metal wheel that  turns  --  like a safe-deposit vault. During the war I had
tried to  look at  it closely. I  knew the girl who was the librarian, and I
begged her to let me play  with it a little bit. I was fascinated by  it: it
was the  biggest  lock I ever saw! I  discovered that  I could never use  my
method of picking off the last two numbers to get in. In fact, while turning
the  knob while the door was open, I made the lock close, so it was sticking
out, and they couldn't close  the door again until the  girl came and opened
the lock again.  That was  the end of my  fiddling around  with that lock. I
didn't  have  time to  figure  out  how it worked;  it  was  much  beyond my
capacity.
     During the summer after  the war I had some documents to write and work
to finish up,  so I went back to Los Alamos from Cornell, where I had taught
during the year. In the middle of my work I had  to refer to a document that
I had written before but couldn't remember, and it was down in the library.
     I went down to get the document, and  there was  a soldier walking back
and forth, with a gun. It was a  Saturday, and after the war the library was
closed on Saturdays.
     Then I remembered what a good friend of mine, Frederic de Hoffman,  had
done. He  was in  the Declassification Section. After  the war the army  was
thinking of declassifying some documents, and he had to go back and forth to
the library so much -- look at this document,  look  at that document, check
this, check that --  that  he was going  nuts!  So he  had a  copy of  every
document -- all the secrets to the atomic bomb -- in nine filing cabinets in
his office.
     I went  down  to his office, and the lights  were  on. It  looked as if
whoever was there -- perhaps his secretary -- had just stepped out for a few
minutes,  so I waited. While I  was waiting I started to  fiddle around with
the combination  wheel on one of the filing cabinets. (By  the way, I didn't
have the last two numbers for de Hoffman's safes; they were put in after the
war, after I had left.)
     I started to play with one of the combination wheels and began to think
about  the  safecracker books.  I thought to  myself, "I've never  been much
impressed by the tricks described in those books, so I've never tried  them,
but let's see if we can open de Hoffman's safe by following the book."
     First  trick,  the secretary:  she's  afraid she's  going to forget the
combination, so  she writes  it down somewhere. I started to look in some of
the places  mentioned in the book. The desk drawer was locked, but it was an
ordinary lock like Leo Lavatelli taught me how to open -- ping! I look along
the edge: nothing.
     Then I looked through the secretary's  papers. I found a sheet of paper
that all the secretaries had,  with the  Greek  letters carefully made -- so
they could recognize them  in mathematical formulas -- and named. And there,
carelessly written along the top of the paper, was pi = 3.14159. Now, that's
six digits, and why does a secretary have to know the numerical value of pi?
It was obvious; there was no other reason!
     I went over to the filing cabinets  and tried the  first one: 31-41-59.
It didn't open.  Then  I  tried  59-41-31. That  didn't  work  either.  Then
95-14-13. Backwards,  forwards, upside down, turn  it this way, turn it that
-- nothing!
     I closed  the desk drawer and  started to walk  out  the door,  when  I
thought of the safecracker books again:  Next, try the  psychology method. I
said  to  myself,  "Freddy de Hoffman  is just  the  kind  of guy  to  use a
mathematical constant for a safe combination."
     I went back to the first filing cabinet and tried 27-18-28 -- CLICK! It
opened! (The mathematical constant second in importance to pi is the base of
natural logarithms, e:2.71828...) There were nine filing cabinets, and I had
opened the  first one, but the document I wanted was  in another one -- they
were in  alphabetical order by  author. I tried the  second filing  cabinet:
27-18-28 -- CLICK! It opened with the same, combination. I thought, "This is
wonderful! I've opened the secrets to the atomic bomb, but if I'm ever going
to  tell  this story, I've  got to make  sure that  all the combinations are
really the  same!" Some of the filing cabinets were  in  the next room, so I
tried 27-18-28 on one of them, and it opened.  Now I'd opened three safes --
all the same.
     I thought to myself, "Now I could write  a  safecracker book that would
beat  every one, because at the beginning I would  tell how  I  opened safes
whose  contents  were bigger  and more  valuable  than  what any safecracker
anywhere  had opened -- except for a life, of course -- but compared  to the
furs  or  the gold bullion, I have them  all beat: I opened the safes  which
contained  all  the secrets  to  the  atomic  bomb:  the  schedules for  the
production  of the plutonium, the purification procedures, how much material
is needed,  how the bomb  works, how  the  neutrons  are generated, what the
design  is, the dimensions -- the entire  information that was  known at Los
Alamos: the whole shmeer!"
     I went  back to  the second filing  cabinet and took out the document I
wanted. Then I took a red grease pencil and a piece of yellow paper that was
lying around in the  office and  wrote,  "I borrowed  document no. LA4312 --
Feynman the safe-cracker." I put the note on top of the papers in the filing
cabinet and closed it.
     Then I went to the first one I had opened and wrote another note: "This
one was no  harder  to open than the other  one -- Wise  Guy" and  shut  the
cabinet.
     Then in the  other  cabinet,  in  the  other  room, I wrote, "When  the
combinations are all the same, one is no harder to open than another -- Same
Guy" and I shut that one. I went back to my office and wrote my report.
     That evening  I went to the cafeteria and ate supper.  There was Freddy
de Hoffman. He said he was going over to his office to work, so just for fun
I went with him.
     He started to work, and soon he went into the other room to open one of
the  filing cabinets in  there -- something  I hadn't counted  on  -- and he
happened to open the filing  cabinet I had put the third note in,  first. He
opened the  drawer, and  he saw this foreign object in there --  this bright
yellow paper with something scrawled on it in bright red crayon.
     I had read in books that when somebody is afraid, his face gets sallow,
but I had never seen it  before. Well, it's absolutely true. His face turned
a gray, yellow green -- it was really frightening to see. He  picked  up the
paper, and his hand was shaking. "L-l-look at this!" he said, trembling.
     The note said, "When  the  combinations are all the  same,  one  is  no
harder to open than another -- Same Guy."
     "What does it mean?" I said.
     "All the c-c-combinations of my safes are the s-s-same!" he stammered.
     "That ain't such a good idea."
     "I-I know that n-now!" he said, completely shaken.
     Another effect of the blood draining  from the  face must  be  that the
brain doesn't  work right. "He signed who  it was! He signed who it was!" he
said.
     "What?" (I hadn't put my name on that one.)
     "Yes,"  he  said,  "it's the same  guy  who's  been  trying to get into
Building Omega!"
     All during the war, and  even after, there were these perpetual rumors:
"Somebody's been trying to get into Building Omega!" You see, during the war
they were doing experiments for the bomb in which  they wanted to get enough
material together for  the chain  reaction to  just get started.  They would
drop one  piece of material  through  another, and when it went through, the
reaction  would start  and they'd measure how many  neutrons  they  got. The
piece would  fall through so  fast that nothing should build up and explode.
Enough of  a reaction would begin, however,  so they could tell that  things
were really starting correctly, that the  rates were  right, and  everything
was going according to prediction -- a very dangerous experiment!
     Naturally, they were  not  doing this experiment in  the middle of  Los
Alamos, but off several miles, in a canyon several mesas over, all isolated.
This  Building Omega had its  own fence around it with guard towers. In  the
middle of the night when  everything's  quiet, some  rabbit comes out of the
brush and smashes against the fence and makes a noise. The guard shoots. The
lieutenant in charge comes  around. What's the guard going to say -- that it
was  only  a rabbit?  No. "Somebody's been trying to get into Building Omega
and I scared him off!"
     So de Hoffman was pale and shaking,  and he didn't  realize there was a
flaw in  his logic: it was not clear that the same guy  who'd been trying to
get into  Building Omega  was the same guy who was standing next  to him. He
asked me what to do. "Well, see if any documents are missing." "It looks all
right," he said.  "I don't see  any missing." I tried  to  steer  him to the
filing cabinet I took my document out of. "Well, uh, if all the combinations
are the same, perhaps he's taken something from another drawer."
     "Right!" he said, and he went back into his office and opened the first
filing  cabinet and found the second note I wrote: "This  one  was no harder
than the other one -- Wise Guy."
     By that time it didn't make any difference whether it was "Same Guy" or
"Wise Guy": It was  completely  clear to  him that it  was the  guy  who was
trying to  get into Building Omega. So  to convince  him to open  the filing
cabinet with  my first  note in it was  particularly difficult, and I  don't
remember how I talked him into it.
     He started to  open it, so I began to walk down the hall, because I was
a little bit afraid that when he found out who did it to him, I was going to
get my throat cut!
     Sure enough,  he came  running down  the hall after me,  but instead of
being angry, he  practically  put  his  arms  around  me  because he was  so
completely  relieved that  this terrible burden  of the atomic secrets being
stolen was only me doing mischief.
     A few days later  de  Hoffman  told me  that  he needed something  from
Kerst's safe. Donald Kerst had gone back to Illinois and was hard to  reach.
"If you can open  all  my  safes using the psychological method," de Hoffman
said (I had told him how I did it),  "maybe you could open Kerst's safe that
way."
     By now the story  had gotten around, so several  people  came  to watch
this fantastic process where I was going to open Kerst's safe -- cold. There
was no need for  me  to be alone.  I  didn't  have the last two  numbers  to
Kerst's safe, and to use the  psychology method I  needed people  around who
knew Kerst.
     We all went over to Kerst's office and I checked the drawers for clues;
there was nothing.  Then  I asked them, "What kind  of a  combination  would
Kerst use -- a mathematical constant?"
     "Oh, no!" de Hoffman said. "Kerst would do something very simple."
     I tried 10-20-30, 20-40-60, 60-40-20, 30-20-10. Nothing.
     Then I said, "Do you think he would use a date?"
     "Yeah!" they said. "He's just the kind of guy to use a date."
     We tried various  dates: 8-6-45, when the bomb went off; 86-19-45; this
date; that date; when the project started. Nothing worked.
     By this time most  of the people  had drifted off. They didn't have the
patience to  watch me  do this, but  the  only way to solve such a  thing is
patience!
     Then  I  decided to try everything  from around  1900  until now.  That
sounds  like a  lot, but it's not: the first number is a month, one  through
twelve, and I can  try  that using only three numbers: ten, five, and  zero.
The second number is a day, from one to thirty-one, which I can try with six
numbers. The third number is the year, which was only forty-seven numbers at
that time, which I could try with nine numbers. So the 8000 combinations had
been reduced to 162, something I could try in fifteen or twenty minutes.
     Unfortunately I  started with the  high  end  of  the  numbers for  the
months, because when I finally opened it, the combination was 0-5-35.
     I  turned to de  Hoffman.  "What happened  to Kerst  around  January 5,
1935?"
     "His daughter  was born in  1936,"  de Hoffman  said. "It must  be  her
birthday."
     Now  I had  opened  two  safes  cold. I  was getting  good.  Now  I was
professional.
     That same summer after the war, the guy  from the  property section was
trying  to take back some  of the things  the government had bought, to sell
again as surplus. One  of the things was a Captain's safe. We all knew about
this  safe.  The Captain,  when he arrived  during the war, decided that the
filing cabinets weren't safe enough for the secrets he was going  to get, so
he had to have a special safe.
     The  Captain's  office was on  the second floor  of  one of  the flimsy
wooden buildings that we all had our offices in, and the safe he ordered was
a heavy steel  safe. The workmen had to put  down platforms of  wood and use
special  jacks to get it up the steps. Since there wasn't much amusement, we
all  watched this big safe being moved  up to his office with great  effort,
and we all made  jokes  about what  kind of secrets  he was going to keep in
there. Some fella said we oughta put our stuff in his safe, and  let him put
his stuff in ours. So everyone knew about this safe.
     The property section man wanted it for Surplus, but first it had to  be
emptied, and the only people who knew the combination were  the Captain, who
was in Bikini, and Alvarez, who'd forgotten it. The man asked me to open it.
     I went up to his old office and said to the  secretary,  "Why don't you
phone the Captain and ask him the combination?"
     "I don't want to bother him," she said.
     "Well, you're  gonna bother  me  for maybe eight  hours. I won't do  it
unless you make an attempt to call him."
     "OK, OK!" she said.  She picked  up the telephone  and  I went into the
other room to look at the safe. There it was, that huge, steel safe, and its
doors were wide open.
     I went back to the secretary. "It's open."
     "Marvelous!" she said, as she put down the phone.
     "No," I said, "it was already open."
     "Oh! I guess the property section was able to open it after all."
     I went down to the man in the property section.  "I went up to the safe
and it was already open."
     "Oh,  yeah," he said; "I'm sorry I didn't tell you. I  sent our regular
locksmith  up there to  drill it, but before he  drilled it he tried to open
it, and he opened it."
     So! First information: Los Alamos now has  a regular  locksmith. Second
information: This man knows how to  drill safes, something  I  know  nothing
about. Third information:
     He  can  open  a  safe  cold  --  in a  few  minutes.  This is  a  real
professional, a real source of information. This guy I have to meet.
     I found out he was a locksmith they had hired after the  war (when they
weren't as concerned about security) to take  care of such things. It turned
out that he didn't have enough work to do opening safes, so he also repaired
the Marchant calculators we had used. During the war I repaired those things
all the time -- so I had a way to meet him.
     Now I have never been surreptitious or tricky about meeting somebody; I
just go right up and introduce myself. But in this case it  was so important
to meet this man, and I knew that before he would tell me any of his secrets
on how to open safes, I would have to prove myself.
     I  found out where his room was -- in  the  basement of the theoretical
physics section, where I worked -- and I knew he worked in the evening, when
the machines weren't being used. So, at first I would walk past  his door on
my way to my office in the evening. That's all; I'd just walk past.
     A few nights later, just a "Hi." After a while, when he saw it was  the
same guy walking past, he'd say "Hi," or "Good evening."
     A few weeks of this slow process and I see he's working on the Marchant
calculators. I say nothing about them; it isn't time yet.
     We gradually say a little more: "Hi! I see you're working pretty hard!"
     "Yeah, pretty hard" -- that kind of stuff.
     Finally, a  breakthrough: he invites me for  soup. It's going very good
now.  Every evening  we have soup together. Now I begin to talk a little bit
about the adding machines, and  he  tells me  he has  a problem.  He's  been
trying to put a succession of spring-loaded wheels back onto a shaft, and he
doesn't have  the right tool,  or something; he's  been working  on it for a
week. I tell him that I  used to work on those machines  during the war, and
"I'll tell you what: you just leave the machine out tonight, and I'll have a
look at it tomorrow."
     "OK," he says, because he's desperate.
     The next day I looked at the damn thing and tried to load it by holding
all the wheels in my hand. It kept snapping back. I thought to  myself,  "If
he's been trying the same thing  for a week, and I'm trying it and can't  do
it, it  ain't the way to do  it!" I stopped and looked at it very carefully,
and  I noticed that each wheel had a little hole -- just a little hole. Then
it dawned on me: I sprung the first one; then I put a piece of  wire through
the little hole. Then I sprung the second  one and put the wire through  it.
Then the next one, the next one  -- like putting beads on a string  -- and I
strung the whole thing the first time I tried it, got it all in line, pulled
the wire out, and everything was OK.
     That night I showed him the little hole and how I did it, and from then
on we talked  a lot  about machines; we  got to be good friends. Now, in his
office there were a lot of little cubbyholes that contained locks half taken
apart,  and pieces from safes,  too. Oh, they were  beautiful! But  I  still
didn't say a word about locks and safes.
     Finally, I figured the day was coming, so I decided to put out a little
bit of  bait  about safes: I'd tell  him the only thing worth  a damn that I
knew about  them  -- that you can take the last  two numbers off  while it's
open. "Hey!" I said,  looking over at the  cubbyholes. "I see you're working
on Mosler safes."
     "Yeah."
     "You know, these locks are weak. If they're open, you can take the last
two numbers off..."
     "You can?" he said, finally showing some interest.
     "Yeah."
     "Show me how," he said. I showed him how to do it, and he turned to me.
"What's your name?" All this time we had never exchanged names.
     "Dick Feynman," I said.
     "God! You're Feynman!"  he  said  in awe. "The great safecracker!  I've
heard about you; I've wanted to meet you for so long! I want to learn how to
crack a safe from you."
     "What do you mean? You know how to open safes cold."
     "I don't."
     "Listen, I heard about the Captain's safe, and I've been working pretty
hard all  this time because I wanted to meet  you. And you tell me you don't
know how to open a safe cold."
     "That's right."
     "Well you must know how to drill a safe."
     "I don't know how to do that either."
     "WHAT?" I exclaimed. "The guy in the property  section said  you picked
up your tools and went up to drill the Captain's safe."
     "Suppose you had a job as  a locksmith," he said, "and a guy comes down
and asks you to drill a safe. What would you do?"
     "Well,"  I  replied,  "I'd make a  fancy  thing  of  putting  my  tools
together, pick them up and take them to the safe. Then  I'd put  my drill up
against the safe somewhere at random  and I'd go vvvvvvvvvvv, so I'd save my
job."
     "That's exactly what I was going to do."
     "But you opened it! You must know how to crack safes."
     "Oh, yeah. I knew that the locks come  from  the factory set at 25-0-25
or 50-25-50, so I thought, 'Who knows; maybe the guy didn't bother to change
the combination,' and the second one worked."
     So I did learn something  from him -- that he cracked safes by the same
miraculous methods  that I  did.  But even funnier was  that  this  big shot
Captain had  to have  a super, super safe, and  had people  go  to all  that
trouble to hoist the thing  up into his office, and he didn't even bother to
set the combination.
     I went  from office to office in my building, trying those  two factory
combinations, and I opened about one safe in five.


--------


     After the war the army was scraping the bottom of the barrel to get the
guys for the  occupation forces in Germany. Up until then  the army deferred
people for some reason other than  physical first (I was deferred because  I
was working on the bomb), but now they reversed  that and gave  everybody  a
physical first.
     That  summer I  was working  for  Hans  Bethe  at General  Electric  in
Schenectady,  New  York, and I remember that I had to go some distance --  I
think it was to Albany -- to take the physical.
     I get to  the draft place, and I'm handed  a lot  of forms to fill out,
and then I start going around to all these different booths. They check your
vision at  one, your  hearing  at another, they take  your blood  sample  at
another, and so forth.
     Anyway, finally you  come to booth number thirteen: psychiatrist. There
you wait,  sitting on one of the  benches,  and while I'm waiting I  can see
what is happening.  There are three  desks, with  a psychiatrist behind each
one, and  the "culprit" sits across  from the psychiatrist in  his  BVDs and
answers various questions.
     At that  time there  were  a  lot of movies  about  psychiatrists.  For
example, there was Spellbound, in which a woman who used to be a great piano
player has her hands stuck in some awkward position and she can't move them,
and  her  family  calls  in  a psychiatrist  to  try to  help her,  and  the
psychiatrist goes upstairs into a room  with her, and you see the door close
behind them, and downstairs the family is discussing what's going to happen,
and then  she  comes  out  of  the room, hands still stuck  in  the horrible
position,  walks dramatically down the stairs  over  to  the piano  and sits
down, lifts  her hands  over the keyboard,  and suddenly --  dum  diddle dum
diddle dum, dum, dum -- she can play again. Well, I can't stand this kind of
baloney,  and I had decided  that psychiatrists are  fakers, and  I'll  have
nothing to  do with them. So that was the mood I was in  when it was my turn
to talk to the psychiatrist.
     I sit down at the desk, and the psychiatrist starts  looking through my
papers. "Hello, Dick!" he says in a cheerful voice. "Where do you work?"
     I'm thinking,  "Who does he think he is, calling me  by my first name?"
and I say coldly, "Schenectady."
     "Who do you work for, Dick?" says the psychiatrist, smiling again.
     "General Electric."
     "Do you like your work, Dick?" he says, with that same big smile on his
face.
     "So-so." I just wasn't going to have anything to do with him.
     Three  nice questions, and then the fourth one is completely different.
"Do you think people talk about you?" he asks, in a low, serious tone.
     I light up and say, "Sure! When I go home, my mother often tells me how
she  was  telling  her  friends  about   me."  He  isn't  listening  to  the
explanation; instead, he's writing something down on my paper.
     Then again, in a low, serious tone, he says, "Do you think people stare
at you?"
     I'm all ready to say no, when he says, ''For instance, do you think any
of the boys waiting on the benches are staring at you now?"
     While  I had been waiting  to talk  to the psychiatrist, I had  noticed
there  were  about  twelve  guys  on  the  benches  waiting  for  the  three
psychiatrists, and they've got nothing  else to  look at, so I divide twelve
by three -- that makes four each --  but I'm conservative, so I say,  "Yeah,
maybe two of them are looking at us."
     He  says,  "Well just  turn around  and  look"  --  and  he's not  even
bothering to look himself!
     So I turn around, and sure enough, two guys are looking. So I  point to
them and I say, "Yeah --  there's that guy, and that guy  over there looking
at us." Of course, when I'm turned around and pointing like that, other guys
start to look at us, so I say, "Now him, and those two over there -- and now
the  whole bunch." He still doesn't look up to check. He's busy writing more
things on my paper.
     Then he says, "Do you ever hear voices in your head?"
     "Very rarely," and I'm about  to describe the two occasions on which it
happened when he says, "Do you talk to yourself?"
     "Yeah, sometimes when I'm  shaving, or thinking; once in a while." He's
writing down more stuff.
     "I see you have a deceased wife -- do you talk to her?"
     This  question  really  annoyed  me, but I  contained myself and  said,
"Sometimes, when I go up on a mountain and I'm thinking about her."
     More  writing.  Then he asks,  "Is  anyone  in  your family in a mental
institution?"
     "Yeah, I have an aunt in an insane asylum."
     "Why do you call it an insane asylum?" he says, resentfully. "Why don't
you call it a mental institution?"
     "I thought it was the same thing."
     "Just what do you think insanity is?" he says, angrily.
     "It's a strange and peculiar disease in human beings," I say honestly.
     "There's  nothing  any  more  strange   or  peculiar   about  it   than
appendicitis!" he retorts.
     "I don't think so. In appendicitis we understand the causes better, and
something about the mechanism of it, whereas with  insanity it's  much  more
complicated and mysterious."  I won't go through the whole debate; the point
is that I meant insanity is physiologically peculiar, and he thought I meant
it was socially peculiar.
     Up until this time, although I had been unfriendly to the psychiatrist,
I had nevertheless been honest in everything I said. But when he asked me to
put  out  my  hands,  I  couldn't  resist pulling  a  trick  a  guy  in  the
"bloodsucking  line" had told  me about. I figured nobody was ever going  to
get a chance to do this,  and as long as I was halfway  under water, I would
do it. So I put out my hands with one palm up and the other one down.
     The psychiatrist doesn't notice. He says, "Turn them over."
     I turn them  over.  The one that was up goes down, and the one that was
down goes up, and he still doesn't notice, because  he's always looking very
closely at one hand to see if it is shaking. So the trick had no effect.
     Finally, at the end  of all these questions, he becomes friendly again.
He lights up and says, "I see you have a Ph.D., Dick. Where did you study?"
     "MIT and Princeton. And where did you study?"
     "Yale and London. And what did you study, Dick?"
     "Physics. And what did you study?"
     "Medicine."
     "And this is medicine?"
     "Well, yes. What do you think it is? You go and sit down over there and
wait a few minutes!"
     So I sit on  the bench again, and  one of the other guys waiting sidles
up to me and says, "Gee! You  were in there twenty-five minutes!  The  other
guys were in there only five minutes!"
     "Yeah."
     "Hey," he  says. "You wanna know how  to fool the psychiatrist? All you
have to do is pick your nails, like this."
     "Then why don't you pick your nails like that?"
     "Oh," he says, "I wanna get in the army!"
     "You wanna fool the psychiatrist?" I say. "You just tell him that!"
     After a  while I was called over  to  a  different desk to see  another
psychiatrist.  While  the  first psychiatrist  had  been  rather  young  and
innocent-looking,  this  one  was  gray-haired and distinguished-looking  --
obviously the superior psychiatrist. I  figure  all of this is now  going to
get straightened  out, but no matter  what happens, I'm not going  to become
friendly.
     The new psychiatrist looks at  my papers, puts a big smile on his face,
and says, "Hello, Dick. I see you worked at Los Alamos during the war."
     "Yeah."
     "There used to be a boys' school there, didn't there?"
     "That's right."
     "Were there a lot of buildings in the school?"
     "Only a few."
     Three  questions  --  same  technique  --  and  the  next  question  is
completely different. "You said you hear voices in your head. Describe that,
please."
     "It  happens very rarely, when I've been  paying attention to  a person
with  a  foreign accent.  As I'm falling  asleep  I can hear his voice  very
clearly. The first time it happened was  while I  was  a student  at MIT.  I
could hear  old Professor  Vallarta say, 'Dee-a dee-a electric field-a.' And
the other time  was  in Chicago  during the  war, when Professor  Teller was
explaining to me how the bomb worked.  Since I'm  interested in all kinds of
phenomena,  I  wondered  how  I  could hear  these  voices  with accents  so
precisely, when I couldn't imitate them that well... Doesn't  everybody have
something like that happen once in a while?"
     The psychiatrist put  his hand  over his face, and I could  see through
his fingers a little smile (he wouldn't answer the question).
     Then  the psychiatrist checked into something  else. "You said that you
talk to your deceased wife. What do you say to her?"
     I got angry.  I figure it's none of  his  damn business,  and I say, "I
tell her I love her, if it's all right with you!"
     After  some  more bitter  exchanges  he says,  "Do  you  believe in the
supernormal?"
     I say, "I don't know what the 'supernormal' is."
     "What? You, a Ph.D. in physics, don't know what the supernormal is?"
     "That's right."
     "It's what Sir Oliver Lodge and his school believe in."
     That's not much of a clue, but I knew it. "You mean the supernatural."
     "You can call it that if you want."
     "All right, I will."
     "Do you believe in mental telepathy?"
     "No. Do you?"
     "Well, I'm keeping an open mind."
     "What? You, a psychiatrist, keeping an open mind? Ha!" It  went on like
this for quite a while.
     Then at some point near the end he says, "How much do you value life?"
     "Sixty-four."
     "Why did you say 'sixty-four'?"
     "How are you supposed to measure the value of life?"
     "No! I mean, why did you say 'sixty-four,' and not 'seventy-three,' for
instance?"
     "If  I  had said  'seventy-three,'  you  would have asked  me the  same
question!"
     The  psychiatrist finished  with three friendly questions, just  as the
other psychiatrist had done, handed me my papers, and I went off to the next
booth.
     While  I'm  waiting  in  the line, I look at the  paper which  has  the
summary of  all  the tests I've taken  so far. And just for the hell of it I
show  my  paper  to  the  guy  next  to  me,  and  I  ask  him in  a  rather
stupid-sounding voice, "Hey! What did you get in  'Psychiatric'? Oh! You got
an 'N.'  I got an 'N' in everything else, but I got a 'D'  in 'Psychiatric.'
What does that mean?" I knew what it meant: "N" is normal, "D" is deficient.
     The guy pats  me on the shoulder and says, "Buddy, it's  perfectly  all
right.  It doesn't  mean anything. Don't worry about it!" Then he  walks way
over to the other corner of the room, frightened: It's a lunatic!
     I started  looking at the papers the psychiatrists had  written, and it
looked pretty serious! The first guy wrote: Thinks people talk about him.
     Thinks people stare at him.
     Auditory hypnogogic hallucinations.
     Talks to self.
     Talks to deceased wife.
     Maternal aunt in mental institution.
     Very peculiar stare. (I knew what that  was -- that  was when  I  said,
"And this is medicine?")
     The  second  psychiatrist  was obviously  more important,  because  his
scribble was harder to read. His notes said things like "auditory hypnogogic
hallucinations confirmed."  ("Hypnogogic"  means you get  them  while you're
falling asleep.)
     He wrote  a lot of other technical-sounding  notes,  and I looked  them
over, and they looked  pretty  bad. I figured I'd have to  get  all of  this
straightened out with the army somehow.
     At the end of the whole  physical  examination  there's an army officer
who decides  whether you're  in or  you're  out.  For  instance,  if there's
something the  matter with  your  hearing, he has  to decide if it's serious
enough to keep you  out of the army. And because the  army was scraping  the
bottom of the barrel for  new recruits,  this officer  wasn't  going to take
anything from anybody. He was tough as nails. For instance, the fellow ahead
of me had two  bones sticking out  from the back of his neck -- some kind of
displaced vertebra, or something -- and this army officer had to get up from
his desk and feel them -- he had to make sure they were real!
     I  figure  this  is  the  place  I'll get  this  whole misunderstanding
straightened out. When it's my  turn, I hand  my  papers to the officer, and
I'm  ready to explain everything, but the officer doesn't look  up. He  sees
the "D" next to "Psychiatric,"  immediately reaches for the rejection stamp,
doesn't ask me any questions, doesn't say anything; he just stamps my papers
"REJECTED," and hands me my 4-F paper, still looking at his desk.
     So I went  out and got on  the  bus  for Schenectady,  and  while I was
riding on the bus I thought  about the crazy thing that had happened,  and I
started to laugh -- out loud --  and I said to myself,  "My God! If they saw
me now, they would be sure!"
     When I finally got back to Schenectady I went in to see Harts Bethe. He
was sitting  behind his desk, and he  said to me in  a  joking voice, "Well,
Dick, did you pass?"
     I made a long face and shook my head slowly. "No."
     Then he suddenly felt terrible, thinking that they had  discovered some
serious  medical  problem with me, so he said in  a concerned voice, "What's
the matter, Dick?"
     I touched my finger to my forehead.
     He said, "No!"
     "Yes!"
     He cried, "No-o-o-o-o-o-o!!!" and he laughed  so hard that  the roof of
the General Electric Company nearly came off.
     I  told the story to  many other people,  and everybody laughed, with a
few exceptions.
     When I got back to New  York, my father, mother,  and sister called for
me at the airport, and on the way home in the car I told them all the story.
At the end of it my mother said, "Well, what should we do, Mel?"
     My father said, "Don't be ridiculous, Lucille. It's absurd!"
     So that was that, but my sister told me later that when we got home and
they  were alone,  my father said, "Now,  Lucille, you  shouldn't have  said
anything in front of him. Now what should we do?"
     By  that  time  my  mother  had  sobered up,  and she said,  "Don't  be
ridiculous, Mel!"
     One  other  person  was bothered by the  story.  It  was at a  Physical
Society meeting dinner, and Professor Slater, my old professor at MIT, said,
"Hey, Feynman! Tell us that story about the draft I heard."
     I told the whole story  to all these physicists -- I didn't know any of
them except Slater -- and  they were all laughing throughout, but at the end
one guy said, "Well, maybe the psychiatrist had something in mind."
     I said resolutely, "And what profession are you, sir?"  Of course, that
was  a  dumb question,  because  we were  all physicists  at a  professional
meeting. But I was surprised that a physicist would say something like that.
     He said, "Well, uh, I'm really not supposed to be here,  but I  came as
the guest  of  my brother, who's a physicist. I'm a psychiatrist."  I smoked
him right out!
     After a while I  began to  worry. Here's a guy who's been deferred  all
during the war because  he's working on  the  bomb, and the draft board gets
letters saying he's important,  and now he gets a "D" in "Psychiatric" -- it
turns out he's a nut! Obviously he isn't a nut; he's  just trying to make us
believe he's a nut -- we'll get him!
     The situation didn't look good to me, so I had to find a way out. After
a few days, I  figured  out a solution. I wrote a letter to the draft  board
that went something like this:

     Dear Sirs:
     I  do not  think  I should  be  drafted  because I am  teaching science
students, and it is partly in the strength of our future scientists that the
national  welfare lies.  Nevertheless,  you  may  decide  that  I  should be
deferred  because of the result of  my medical report,  namely,  that  I  am
psychiatrically  unfit. I feel that no weight whatsoever should be  attached
to this report because I consider it to be a gross error.
     I am  calling this error to  your attention because I am  insane enough
not to wish to take advantage of it.
     Sincerely,
     R. P. Feynman

     Result: "Deferred. 4F. Medical Reasons."




--------





--------


     I don't believe I can really do without teaching. The reason is, I have
to  have something so that when I don't have any  ideas and  I'm not getting
anywhere I  can  say to  myself, "At  least I'm living;  at  least I'm doing
something; I'm making some contribution" -- it's just psychological.
     When I was at Princeton in the 1940s I could see what happened to those
great minds  at the Institute  for Advanced  Study,  who had been  specially
selected for their tremendous brains and were now given this opportunity  to
sit in this  lovely house by the woods there, with no classes to teach, with
no obligations whatsoever. These  poor  bastards  could  now  sit and  think
clearly all by themselves, OK? So they don't get any ideas for a while: They
have every opportunity to do something, and they're not getting any ideas. I
believe  that in a situation like this a kind of guilt  or  depression worms
inside of you, and  you  begin to worry about  not getting  any  ideas.  And
nothing happens. Still no ideas come.
     Nothing happens because there's not enough real activity and challenge:
You're  not  in contact  with the experimental guys. You don't have to think
how to answer questions from the students. Nothing!
     In any thinking process there are moments when everything is going good
and you've got wonderful ideas. Teaching is an interruption, and so it's the
greatest  pain  in  the neck  in the world. And  then there are  the  longer
periods of  time when not  much  is coming  to  you. You're not  getting any
ideas,  and if you're  doing  nothing at all,  it drives you nuts! You can't
even say "I'm teaching my class."
     If you're teaching a class, you  can  think about the elementary things
that you know very  well. These  things  are kind of  fun and delightful. It
doesn't do  any harm to think  them  over again. Is there  a  better way  to
present them? Are there any new problems associated with them? Are there any
new thoughts you  can make  about  them? The elementary things  are easy  to
think  about; if you can't think of  a  new thought, no harm done;  what you
thought about  it before is good enough  for the class.  If you  do think of
something new, you're rather pleased  that you  have a new way of looking at
it.
     The  questions  of  the  students are often the source of new research.
They often ask  profound questions that I've thought about at times and then
given up on,  so to speak, for a while. It wouldn't do  me any harm to think
about them  again and see  if I can go any further now. The students may not
be able to see the thing I want to answer, or the subtleties I want to think
about,  but  they  remind  me  of  a  problem  by  asking  questions in  the
neighborhood of that problem. It's not so easy to remind  yourself  of these
things.
     So I find that teaching and the students  keep life going, and I  would
never accept any position in which  somebody  has invented a happy situation
for me where I don't have to teach. Never.
     But once I was offered such a position.
     During the war, when I was  still in Los Alamos, Hans Bethe got me this
job at Cornell, for $3700  a year. I got an offer from  some other place for
more,  but  I like Bethe,  and I  had  decided to go  to  Cornell and wasn't
worried about the money. But Bethe was always watching out  for me, and when
he found  out that others were  offering more, he  got  Cornell to give me a
raise to $4000 even before I started.
     Cornell  told me that  I  would  be  teaching a course  in mathematical
methods of physics, and they told me what day I should come -- November 6, I
think, but it sounds funny that it could be so late in  the year. I took the
train from Los Alamos to  Ithaca, and spent  most  of  my time writing final
reports for the Manhattan Project. I still remember that it was on the night
train from Buffalo to Ithaca that I began to work on my course.
     You have to understand the pressures at Los Alamos.  You did everything
as  fast as you  could; everybody worked very, very hard; and everything was
finished at the last minute. So, working out my course on the train a day or
two before the first lecture seemed natural to me.
     Mathematical methods of physics was an ideal course for me to teach. It
was what I had done during the war -- apply  mathematics  to physics. I knew
which methods  were really  useful,  and  which were  not.  I  had  lots  of
experience by that time, working so hard for  four years  using mathematical
tricks. So I laid out the different  subjects in mathematics and how to deal
with them, and I still have the papers -- the notes I made on the train.
     I got  off the  train  in  Ithaca, carrying  my  heavy  suitcase on  my
shoulder, as usual. A guy called out, "Want a taxi, sir?"
     I had never wanted to take a taxi: I was always a young fella, short on
money, wanting  to be my  own man. But I thought to myself, "I'm a professor
-- I  must be dignified." So  I took  my  suitcase down from my shoulder and
carried it in my hand, and said, "Yes."
     "Where to?" "The hotel." "Which hotel?"
     "One of the hotels you've got in Ithaca."
     "Have you got a reservation?"
     "No."
     "It's not so easy to get a room."
     "We'll just go from one hotel to another. Stay and wait for me."
     I try the  Hotel Ithaca: no room. We go over to the  Traveller's Hotel:
they  don't have  any room  either. I say to  the taxi guy, "No use  driving
around town with me; it's gonna cost a lot of money, I'll walk from hotel to
hotel." I leave my suitcase in the  Traveller's Hotel and  I start to wander
around, looking for a room. That shows you how much preparation I had, a new
professor.
     I found  some other  guy wandering  around looking for  a  room too. It
turned out that the hotel room situation  was  utterly  impossible. After  a
while we  wandered up some sort  of a  hill,  and gradually realized we were
coming near the campus of the university.
     We saw something that looked like a rooming house, with an open window,
and you  could see  bunk  beds in there. By this time  it  was night,  so we
decided to ask if we could sleep  there. The door was  open,  but there  was
nobody in the whole place. We walked up into one of the rooms, and the other
guy said, "Come on, let's just sleep here!"
     I didn't  think that  was  so  good.  It  seemed like stealing  to  me.
Somebody had made  the  beds;  they might come home and find  us sleeping in
their  beds, and  we'd get into  trouble. So we  go  out. We  walk a  little
further,  and we see, under  a  streetlight, an enormous mass of leaves that
had been collected -- it was autumn -- from the lawns. I say, "Hey! We could
crawl  in these leaves and sleep here!" I tried it; they were rather soft. I
was tired of  walking around, it would have been perfectly all right.  But I
didn't want to  get into trouble right  away. Back at Los  Alamos people had
teased  me (when I played  drums and so  on) about what kind  of "professor"
Cornell  was going to get. They said I'd get a reputation right off by doing
something silly, so I was trying to  be  a little  dignified. I  reluctantly
gave up the idea of sleeping in the pile of leaves.
     We wandered  around a little  more, and came to a  big  building,  some
important building  of the campus. We went in, and there were two couches in
the hallway. The other guy said, "I'm sleeping here!" and collapsed onto the
couch.
     I didn't  want to get into  trouble, so I found  a janitor  down in the
basement  and asked him  whether  I  could  sleep on the  couch, and he said
"Sure."
     The next morning I woke up, found a place to eat breakfast, and started
rushing around  as fast as I could to find out when my first class was going
to be. I ran into the physics department: "What time is my first class?  Did
I miss it?"
     The guy said, "You have nothing to worry about. Classes don't start for
eight days."
     That was a shock to me! The  first thing I said was, "Well, why did you
tell me to be here a week ahead?"
     "I thought you'd like to come and get acquainted, find a  place to stay
and settle down before you begin your classes."
     I was back to civilization, and I didn't know what it was!
     Professor Gibbs  sent me to the Student Union  to find a place to stay.
It's a big place, with lots of students milling  around.  I go  up to a  big
desk that says HOUSING and I say, "I'm new, and I'm looking for a room."
     The  guy  says, "Buddy,  the  housing situation in Ithaca  is tough. In
fact, it's so  tough that, believe it or not, a professor  had to sleep on a
couch in this lobby last night!"
     I look around, and it's the same lobby! I turn to him and I say, "Well,
I'm that professor, and the professor doesn't want to do it again!"
     My early days  at  Cornell as  a new  professor  were  interesting  and
sometimes  amusing. A few days  after I got there, Professor Gibbs came into
my  office and explained to me that ordinarily we don't accept students this
late in the term, but in a few cases, when the applicant is very, very good,
we can accept him. He handed me an application and asked me to look it over.
     He comes back: "Well, what do you think?"
     "I think he's  first rate, and I think we ought to accept  him. I think
we're lucky to get him here."
     "Yes, but did you look at his picture?"
     "What possible difference could that make?" I exclaimed.
     "Absolutely none, sir! Glad to hear you say that.  I wanted to see what
kind of  a  man  we had for  our new professor." Gibbs liked  the way I came
right  back at  him  without  thinking  to myself, "He's  the  head  of  the
department,  and I'm  new here,  so  I'd  better  be careful what I say."  I
haven't got  the  speed  to think like that; my first reaction is immediate,
and I say the first thing that comes into my mind.
     Then another guy came  into  my office. He wanted to talk to  me  about
philosophy, and I can't really quite remember what he said, but he wanted me
to join  some kind of  a  club  of professors. The  club  was some  sort  of
anti-Semitic club that thought the Nazis weren't so bad. He tried to explain
to me how there were too many Jews  doing this and that -- some crazy thing.
So I waited until he got all finished, and said to him, "You  know, you made
a big mistake: I was brought up in a Jewish  family."  He went out, and that
was  the beginning of my loss  of respect for some of  the professors in the
humanities, and other areas, at Cornell University.
     I was starting over, after my  wife's death, and I wanted to meet  some
girls. In those days there was a lot of social dancing. So there  were a lot
of dances  at Cornell,  mixers  to  get people together,  especially for the
freshmen and others returning to school.
     I remember the first dance that I  went  to.  I hadn't been dancing for
three  or  four  years while  I was  at  Los  Alamos;  I hadn't even been in
society. So I went to this dance and danced as best I could, which I thought
was reasonably  all right. You can usually  tell somebody's dancing with you
and they feel pretty good about it.
     As we danced I would talk with the girl a little bit; she would ask  me
some questions  about  myself, and I would  ask  some about her. But when  I
wanted to dance with a girl I had danced with before, I had to look for her.
"Would you like to dance again?"
     "No, I'm  sorry;  I need  some air."  Or,  "Well,  I have to go  to the
ladies' room" -- this and that excuse, from  two  or three girls  in  a row!
What was the matter with me? Was my dancing lousy? Was my personality lousy?
     I danced  with another  girl, and again came the  usual questions: "Are
you  a student, or a graduate student?"  (There  were a lot of  students who
looked old then because they had been in the army.)
     "No, I'm a professor."
     "Oh? A professor of what?"
     "Theoretical physics."
     "I suppose you worked on the atomic bomb."
     "Yes, I was at Los Alamos during the war."
     She said, "You're a damn liar!" -- and walked off. That relieved  me  a
great deal.  It  explained everything.  I had been telling all the girls the
simple-minded, stupid truth, and I never knew what the  trouble was. It  was
perfectly obvious that  I was being shunned by one girl after another when I
did everything perfectly nice and  natural and was polite,  and answered the
questions.  Everything  would look  very  pleasant,  and  then thwoop --  it
wouldn't work. I didn't understand it until this woman fortunately called me
a damn liar.
     So then I  tried  to avoid all the questions,  and it had the  opposite
effect:
     "Are you a freshman?"
     "Well, no."
     "Are you a graduate student?"
     "No."
     "What are you?"
     "I don't want to say."
     "Why won't you tell us what you are?"
     "I  don't want to..." -- and they'd keep talking to me! I ended up with
two girls over at my  house and one of them told me that I  really shouldn't
feel uncomfortable about  being a freshman; there were plenty of guys my age
who were  starting out  in college, and it  was really  all right. They were
sophomores, and were being quite motherly, the two of them. They worked very
hard on my psychology, but I  didn't want the situation to get  so distorted
and so misunderstood, so I let them know I was  a  professor. They were very
upset that I had fooled them. I had a lot of trouble being a young professor
at Cornell.
     Anyway, I began to teach the course in mathematical methods in physics,
and  I  think  I also taught another  course  -- electricity  and magnetism,
perhaps. I also intended to do research. Before the war, while I was getting
my degree, I had  many ideas: I had  invented new  methods of  doing quantum
mechanics with path integrals, and I had a lot of stuff I wanted to do.
     At Cornell, I'd work on preparing my courses, and I'd  go  over to  the
library a  lot and read through the Arabian  Nights and ogle the girls  that
would go by. But when it came time to do  some research, I  couldn't  get to
work. I was  a little  tired; I was not interested; I  couldn't do research!
This went on for  what  I felt  was  a  few years,  but when I go  back  and
calculate  the  timing,  it couldn't have been that long. Perhaps nowadays I
wouldn't think it was such a long  time, but then, it seemed to  go on for a
very  long time.  I simply couldn't get started on any  problem: I  remember
writing one or two  sentences  about  some problem in  gamma rays and then I
couldn't  go any further. I was convinced that  from the  war and everything
else (the death of my wife) I had simply burned myself out.
     I now understand  it  much better.  First  of  all, a young man doesn't
realize how much time it takes to prepare good lectures, for the first time,
especially -- and to give the lectures, and to make up exam problems, and to
check  that  they're sensible ones. I was giving  good courses, the  kind of
courses where I put a lot of thought into each lecture. But I didn't realize
that that's a lot of work! So here I was, "burned out," reading the  Arabian
Nights and feeling depressed about myself.
     During  this period  I  would  get  offers  from  different  places  --
universities and industry -- with salaries higher than my own. And each time
I got something like that I would get a little more  depressed. I  would say
to myself, "Look, they're giving  me  these wonderful offers, but they don't
realize that  I'm burned out! Of course I can't accept them. They  expect me
to  accomplish  something,  and I  can't  accomplish  anything!  I  have  no
ideas..."
     Finally there  came in the  mail an invitation from  the Institute  for
Advanced  Study:  Einstein... von  Neumann...  Wyl... all these great minds!
They write  to  me,  and  invite me to  be a professor there! And not just a
regular professor. Somehow they knew  my feelings about  the  Institute: how
it's too theoretical; how there's not enough real activity and challenge. So
they  write,  "We  appreciate  that  you  have  a  considerable interest  in
experiments  and in  teaching, so we  have  made  arrangements to  create  a
special type  of professorship, if you  wish:  half  professor  at Princeton
University, and half at the Institute."
     Institute for Advanced Study! Special exception! A position better than
Einstein, even! It was ideal; it was perfect; it was absurd!
     It was absurd. The other  offers had made me feel worse, up to a point.
They were  expecting me to  accomplish  something.  But  this  offer was  so
ridiculous, so  impossible for me ever to live up to, so ridiculously out of
proportion.  The other  ones were just mistakes;  this  was  an absurdity! I
laughed at it while I was shaving, thinking about it.
     And then  I thought to  myself, "You know, what they think of you is so
fantastic,  it's impossible  to live up to it. You have no responsibility to
live up to it!"
     It was a  brilliant idea: 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.
     It  wasn't  a failure on my part that  the Institute for Advanced Study
expected me to be that good; it was impossible. It was clearly  a mistake --
and the  moment I appreciated  the possibility that they  might be wrong,  I
realized that  it was  also  true of all the other places, including my  own
university. I am what  I  am, and if they expected me to be good and they're
offering me some money for it, it's their hard luck.
     Then, within the day, by  some strange miracle  -- perhaps he overheard
me talking about it,  or maybe he just  understood me -- Bob Wilson, who was
head of  the laboratory there at Cornell, called me in to see  him. He said,
in a serious tone, "Feynman, you're teaching your classes well; you're doing
a good job,  and we're very satisfied. Any other expectations we  might have
are a matter of luck. When we hire  a professor, we're taking all the risks.
If  it  comes out good, all right. If it doesn't, too bad. But you shouldn't
worry about what  you're doing  or  not doing." He said  it much better than
that, and it released me from the feeling of guilt.
     Then I had another thought: Physics disgusts me a little bit now, but I
used to enjoy doing physics. Why  did I enjoy it? I  used to play with it. I
used to do whatever I felt  like doing -- it didn't have to do  with whether
it was important  for the development of nuclear physics, but whether it was
interesting and amusing for me to  play with. When I was in high school, I'd
see water running out of a  faucet growing narrower,  and  wonder if I could
figure  out what determines that curve. I  found it was rather easy to do. I
didn't  have  to do it; it  wasn't important  for  the  future  of  science;
somebody  else had  already  done it.  That didn't make any  difference: I'd
invent things and play with things for my own entertainment.
     So  I got this  new  attitude. Now that  I am burned out and I'll never
accomplish  anything, I've got this nice position at the university teaching
classes which I  rather enjoy, and just  like I  read the Arabian Nights for
pleasure,  I'm  going to  play  with physics,  whenever  I want to,  without
worrying about any importance whatsoever.
     Within  a week  I was in  the cafeteria and  some guy,  fooling around,
throws a plate  in the air. As the plate went up in the air I saw it wobble,
and I noticed the red medallion of Cornell on the plate going around. It was
pretty  obvious  to  me that the  medallion  went  around  faster  than  the
wobbling.
     I  had  nothing to do, so  I  start  to figure out  the  motion  of the
rotating plate. I discover that when the angle is very slight, the medallion
rotates twice as fast  as the wobble rate  -- two to  one. It came  out of a
complicated equation! Then I thought, "Is there some way I can see in a more
fundamental way, by looking at the  forces or the dynamics, why it's two  to
one?"
     I  don't remember  how I did  it, but I ultimately worked  out what the
motion of  the mass particles is, and how all the  accelerations balance  to
make it come out two to one.
     I still  remember going to Hans Bethe and saying, "Hey, Hans! I noticed
something  interesting. Here the plate goes  around so, and  the reason it's
two to one is..." and I showed him the accelerations.
     He says, "Feynman, that's pretty interesting, but what's the importance
of it? Why are you doing it?"
     "Hah!" I say. "There's no importance whatsoever.  I'm just doing it for
the fun of it."  His reaction didn't discourage me; I had made up my mind  I
was going to enjoy physics and do whatever I liked.
     I went on to  work out  equations of wobbles.  Then I thought about how
electron orbits start to move in relativity. Then there's the Dirac Equation
in electrodynamics. And then quantum electrodynamics.  And  before I knew it
(it  was a very  short time) I was "playing" --  working, really -- with the
same  old problem that I loved so much, that I had stopped working on when I
went  to Los  Alamos:  my  thesis-type problems;  all  those  old-fashioned,
wonderful things.
     It was effortless.  It was easy to play with these things. It  was like
uncorking  a bottle: Everything flowed out effortlessly.  I almost  tried to
resist it! There was no importance to what I was doing, but ultimately there
was. The diagrams and the whole business that I got the Nobel Prize for came
from that piddling around with the wobbling plate.


--------


     When I was at Cornell I was asked to  give a series of lectures once  a
week  at  an  aeronautics  laboratory   in  Buffalo.  Cornell  had  made  an
arrangement with the laboratory which included evening  lectures in  physics
to  be given  by  somebody  from the  university. There was some guy already
doing it, but there were complaints, so the physics department came to me. I
was a young professor at the time  and  I couldn't say no very easily, so  I
agreed to do it.
     To get to Buffalo they had me go on a little airline which consisted of
one  airplane.  It was  called  Robinson  Airlines  (it  later became Mohawk
Airlines) and  I remember the first time I flew to Buffalo, Mr. Robinson was
the pilot. He knocked the ice off the wings and we flew away.
     All in  all, I didn't enjoy the idea of going to Buffalo every Thursday
night. The university was  paying me $35 in addition to my expenses. I was a
Depression kid, and I figured  I'd save the $35, which was a  sizable amount
of money in those days.
     Suddenly I got an idea: I realized  that the purpose of the $35  was to
make the trip to Buffalo more attractive, and the way to do that is to spend
the  money. So I  decided to spend the  $35 to entertain myself each time  I
went to Buffalo, and see if I could make the trip worthwhile.
     I didn't  have much experience with  the rest of the world. Not knowing
how to get  started, I asked the taxi driver who picked me up at the airport
to guide  me through the ins and outs of entertaining myself in  Buffalo. He
was very helpful, and  I still remember his name --  Marcuso,  who drove car
number  169. I  would always ask  for him  when  I came into the airport  on
Thursday nights.
     As  I was  going to  give my first lecture I asked Marcuso, "Where's an
interesting bar where lots of things  are going  on?"  I thought that things
went on in bars.
     "The Alibi Room," he said. "It's a lively place where you can meet lots
of  people.  I'll take you  there after  your lecture."  After  the  lecture
Marcuso picked me up and drove me to  the  Alibi Room. On  the  way,  I say,
"Listen, I'm gonna have to ask for some kind of drink. What's  the name of a
good whiskey?"
     "Ask for Black and White, water  on the side," he  counseled. The Alibi
Room was an  elegant place with lots of  people and  lots of  activity.  The
women  were dressed  in  furs, everybody was  friendly,  and the phones were
ringing all the time. I walked up to the bar and ordered my Black and White,
water  on the  side.  The  bartender  was  very  friendly, quickly  found  a
beautiful woman to sit next to me, and  introduced her. I bought her drinks.
I liked the place and decided to come back the following week.
     Every Thursday night I'd  come to Buffalo  and be driven in  car number
169 to my  lecture  and then to the  Alibi Room. I'd walk into  the bar  and
order my  Black and White, water on  the side. After a few  weeks of this it
got to the point where as soon as I would come in, before I reached the bar,
there would be a Black and White, water on the side, waiting  for me.  "Your
regular, sir," was the bartender's greeting.
     I'd take the whole shot glass down at once, to show I was  a tough guy,
like I  had  seen in the  movies, and then  I'd  sit around for about twenty
seconds before  I drank the  water.  After a  while I  didn't even need  the
water.
     The  bartender always  saw  to it that the empty chair next to mine was
quickly  filled  by  a  beautiful woman,  and everything would start off all
right, but just before the  bar  closed, they all had to go off somewhere. I
thought it was possibly because I was getting pretty drunk by that time.
     One time, as the Alibi Room was closing, the girl I  was buying  drinks
for that night suggested  we go  to another place  where she knew  a lot  of
people. It was on the second floor of some other building which gave no hint
that there was a  bar upstairs. All the bars in Buffalo  had to close at two
o'clock, and all the people in the bars would  get sucked into this big hall
on the second floor, and keep right on going -- illegally, of course.
     I tried  to figure out a way that I  could stay in bars  and watch what
was going on without getting drunk. One  night I noticed a guy who had  been
there a lot go up to the bar and order a glass of milk. Everybody knew  what
his problem was: he had an ulcer, the poor fella. That gave me an idea.
     The next time I come  into the Alibi  Room  the  bartender  says,  "The
usual, sir?"
     "No. Coke.  Just  plain  Coke," I say, with  a disappointed look on  my
face.
     The other guys gather around and sympathize: "Yeah, I was  on the wagon
three weeks  ago," one says.  "It's really  tough, Dick, it's really tough,"
says another.
     They  all honored me.  I was  "on the wagon" now,  and had the guts  to
enter that  bar, with all its "temptations," and just order Coke -- because,
of course, I had to see my friends. And I maintained that for a month! I was
a real tough bastard.
     One time I was in the men's  room of the bar and there was a guy at the
urinal. He was kind of drunk, and said to  me  in a mean-sounding voice,  "I
don't like your face. I think I'll push it in."
     I was scared green. I replied in an equally mean voice,  "Get out of my
way, or I'll pee right through ya!"
     He said something else,  and I figured it was getting pretty close to a
fight now. I had never been in a fight. I didn't know what  to  do, exactly,
and I was afraid  of getting  hurt. I  did think of one thing: I  moved away
from the wall, because I figured  if I got hit, I'd get  hit  from the back,
too. Then  I felt a sort of funny crunching in my eye -- it didn't hurt much
-- and  the next  thing I  know, I'm slamming the son of  a gun right  back,
automatically. It  was remarkable for me  to discover that I didn't have  to
think; the "machinery" knew what to do.
     "OK. That's one for one," I said. "Ya wanna keep on goin?"
     The  other guy backed off and left. We would have  killed each other if
the other guy was as dumb as I was.
     I went  to wash  up,  my  hands are shaking, blood is leaking out of my
gums -- I've got a weak place in my gums -- and  my eye hurt. After I calmed
down I  went back into the bar and swaggered up to the bartender: "Black and
White, water on the side," I said. I figured it would calm my nerves.
     I didn't realize it, but the guy I socked in the men's room was over in
another part  of the bar,  talking  with  three other guys. Soon these three
guys -- big, tough guys -- came over to  where I was sitting and leaned over
me.  They looked down threateningly, and said, "What's the idea of pickin' a
fight with our friend?"
     Well I'm so dumb I don't realize I'm being intimidated; all I  know  is
right  and wrong. I simply whip around and snap  at them, "Why don't ya find
out who started what first, before ya start makin' trouble?"
     The big guys were so  taken aback  by the fact that  their intimidation
didn't work that they backed away and left.
     After a while one of the guys came  back and said to me, "You're right,
Curly's always doin'  that. He's always gettin' into fights and askin' us to
straighten it out."
     "You're damn  tootin' I'm right!" I said, and the  guy sat down next to
me.
     Curly and the other two fellas came over and sat down on the other side
of me, two seats  away. Curly said something about  my  eye  not looking too
good, and I said his didn't look to be in the best of shape either.
     I continue talking tough, because I figure that's the way a real man is
supposed to act in a bar.
     The situation's getting tighter and  tighter, and people in the bar are
worrying about what's going to happen.  The bartender says, "No  fighting in
here, boys! Calm down!"
     Curly hisses, "That's OK; we'll get 'im when he goes out."
     Then a genius comes by.  Every field  has its  first-rate experts. This
fella comes over to me and says, "Hey, Dan! I didn't  know you were in town!
It's good to see you!"
     Then he says to Curly, "Say,  Paul! I'd like you to  meet a good friend
of mine, Dan, here.  I think you  two guys would like each other.  Why don't
you shake?"
     We shake hands. Curly says, "Uh, pleased to meet you."
     Then the genius leans over to  me and  very  quietly whispers, "Now get
out of here fast!"
     "But they said they would..."
     "Just go!" he says.
     I  got my coat and went  out quickly.  I walked along near the walls of
the buildings, in case they went looking for me. Nobody came out, and I went
to  my hotel. It  happened to  be  the night of the last lecture, so I never
went back to the Alibi Room, at least for a few years.
     (I  did go back to the Alibi Room about ten years later, and it was all
different. It wasn't nice and polished like it was before; it was sleazy and
had  seedy-looking  people  in  it.  I  talked to the bartender,  who  was a
different man,  and told  him about the old days. "Oh,  yes!" he said. "This
was the bar where all  the bookmakers and their  girls used to  hang out." I
understood  then why there were so  many friendly and elegant-looking people
there, and why the phones were ringing all the time.)
     The next morning, when I got up and looked in the mirror, I  discovered
that a black  eye  takes  a few hours  to develop fully. When  I got back to
Ithaca that day,  I went to deliver some stuff over  to the dean's office. A
professor  of  philosophy saw my black eye and exclaimed, "Oh,  Mr. Feynman!
Don't tell me you got that walking into a door?"
     "Not at all," I said. "I got it in a  fight in the men's room of a  bar
in Buffalo."
     "Ha, ha, ha!" he laughed.
     Then there was the problem of giving the lecture to my regular class. I
walked into the  lecture hall with my head down,  studying my notes. When  I
was ready to start,  I lifted my head and looked straight  at them, and said
what I always said before  I began my lecture -- but this time, in a tougher
tone of voice: "Any questions?"


--------


     When I was at  Cornell I would often come back home to Far Rockaway  to
visit. One time when  I happened to be home, the telephone rings:  it's LONG
DISTANCE, from California. In those  days, a long distance call meant it was
something  very  important,  especially  a  long  distance  call  from  this
marvelous place, California, a million miles away.
     The guy  on the  other end says, "Is this Professor Feynman, of Cornell
University?"
     "That's right."
     "This is Mr. So-and-so from the Such-and-such Aircraft Company." It was
one of the big airplane companies in  California, but unfortunately I  can't
remember which one. The guy continues: "We're planning to start a laboratory
on nuclear-propelled  rocket  airplanes.  It  will  have an annual budget of
so-and-so-many million dollars..." Big numbers.
     I said,  "Just a moment, sir; I don't know  why  you're telling  me all
this."
     "Just let me speak to you," he says; "just  let  me explain everything.
Please let me do it my way." So he goes on a little  more, and says how many
people are going to  be  in  the laboratory,  so-and-so-many people  at this
level, and so-and-so-many Ph.D.'s at that level...
     "Excuse me, sir," I say, "but I think you have the wrong fella."
     "Am I talking to Richard Feynman, Richard P. Feynman?"
     "Yes, but you're..."
     "Would you  please  let me present  what I  have to say, sir,  and then
we'll discuss it."
     "All right!" I sit down and sort of close my eyes to listen to all this
stuff,  all  these details about this big project,  and I still  haven't the
slightest idea why he's giving me all this information.
     Finally,  when he's  all finished,  he says, "I'm telling you about our
plans because  we want to know if you would like to  be the director of  the
laboratory."
     "Have  you  really  got the right  fella?" I  say.  "I'm a professor of
theoretical physics. I'm not  a rocket engineer, or an airplane engineer, or
anything like that."
     "We're sure we have the right fellow."
     "Where did you get my name then? Why did you decide to call me?"
     "Sir, your name  is on the patent for nuclear-powered, rocket-propelled
airplanes."
     "Oh,"  I  said, and I realized why my name was  on the patent, and I'll
have to tell you the story. I  told the man, "I'm sorry, but I would like to
continue as a professor at Cornell University."
     What had  happened was, during the war  at Los Alamos, there was a very
nice  fella in charge of the patent office for the government, named Captain
Smith. Smith sent around a notice to everybody that said something like, "We
in the patent office would like to patent every idea you have for the United
States  government, for which  you are  working now. Any  idea you  have  on
nuclear energy or its application that you  may think everybody knows about,
everybody doesn't know about: Just come to my office and tell me the idea."
     I see Smith at lunch, and as we're walking back to the  technical area,
I say  to him, "That note you sent around:  That's kind of crazy to  have us
come in and tell you every idea."
     We discussed it back and forth -- by this time we're  in  his office --
and  I say,  "There are  so many  ideas about  nuclear  energy that  are  so
perfectly obvious, that I'd be here all day telling you stuff."
     "LIKE WHAT?"
     "Nothin' to it!"  I say.  "Example:  nuclear  reactor... under water...
water goes in... steam goes  out  the other side...  Pshshshsht  --  it's  a
submarine. Or: nuclear reactor... air comes rushing in  the front...  heated
up  by nuclear reaction... out the  back it goes... Boom! Through the air --
it's  an  airplane. Or: nuclear reactor... you have hydrogen go  through the
thing... Zoom! -- it's a  rocket.  Or: nuclear  reactor...  only instead  of
using ordinary uranium,  you  use enriched uranium,  with beryllium oxide at
high  temperature to make it  more  efficient...  It's an  electrical  power
plant. There's a million ideas!" I  said, as  I  went  out the door. Nothing
happened.
     About  three  months  later,  Smith  calls me in  the office and  says,
"Feynman, the  submarine has already been taken.  But the  other  three  are
yours." So when the guys at the  airplane company in California are planning
their laboratory, and try  to  find out who's an expert in  rocket-propelled
whatnots, there's nothing  to it: They  look at  who's got the patent on it!
Anyway, Smith told  me to  sign some papers for the three ideas I was giving
to the government to patent. Now, it's some dopey legal thing,  but when you
give the  patent to the  government,  the document  you sign  is not a legal
document unless there's some exchange, so the paper I signed  said, "For the
sum  of  one  dollar,  I,  Richard   P.  Feynman,  give  this  idea  to  the
government..."
     I sign the paper.
     "Where's my dollar?"
     "That's just a formality," he says. "We haven't got any funds set up to
give a dollar."
     "You've got it all set  up that I'm signing for the dollar,"  I say. "I
want my dollar!"
     "This is silly," Smith protests.
     "No, it's not," I say. "It's a legal document. You made me sign it, and
I'm an honest man. There's no fooling around about it."
     "All right, all right!" he says, exasperated. "I'll give you a  dollar,
from my pocket!"
     "OK."
     I take the dollar, and I realize what I'm going to do. I go down to the
grocery store, and I buy a  dollar's worth -- which was pretty good, then --
of cookies and goodies, those  chocolate goodies with marshmallow inside,  a
whole lot of stuff.
     I  come back to the theoretical laboratory, and I give them out: "I got
a prize, everybody! Have a  cookie! I got a prize! A dollar for my patent! I
got a dollar for my patent!"
     Everybody who  had  one of those  patents -- a lot of  people had  been
sending them in -- everybody comes down  to  Captain  Smith: they want their
dollar!
     He  starts shelling them out of his pocket, but soon realizes that it's
going to be a hemorrhage! He  went  crazy  trying to set up a fund where  he
could get the dollars these guys  were  insisting on. I  don't  know how  he
settled up.


--------


     When I was first at Cornell I corresponded with a girl I had met in New
Mexico  while  I was  working  on  the  bomb.  I  got  to thinking, when she
mentioned some other fella she knew,  that I had better go out there quickly
at the end  of the school year and try to save the situation. But when I got
out there, I found it was too late, so I ended up in  a motel in Albuquerque
with a free summer and nothing to do.
     The Casa Grande Motel  was on  Route 66, the main highway through town.
About three places further down the road  there was  a little nightclub that
had  entertainment. Since I  had nothing to do, and since I enjoyed watching
and meeting people in bars, I very often went to this nightclub.
     When I first went there I was talking with some guy at the  bar, and we
noticed  a whole table  full of nice young ladies -- TWA hostesses,  I think
they were --who were having some sort of birthday party. The other guy said,
"Come on, let's get up our nerve and ask them to dance."
     So we asked two of them to dance, and afterwards they invited us to sit
with  the  other girls at the  table. After  a few drinks,  the waiter  came
around: "Anybody want anything?"
     I liked  to imitate being drunk, so although I was  completely sober, I
turned  to the girl I'd been dancing with and asked her in  a drunken voice,
"YaWANanything?"
     "What can we have?" she asks.
     "Annnnnnnnnnnnything you want -- ANYTHING!"
     "All right! We'll have champagne!" she says happily.
     So  I say  in a loud voice  that everybody  in the bar  can  hear, "OK!
Ch-ch-champagne for evvverybody!"
     Then I hear my friend talking to my girl, saying  what a dirty trick it
is to  "take all  that dough from him because he's drunk," and I'm beginning
to think maybe I made a mistake.
     Well, nicely enough, the waiter comes over  to me, leans down, and says
in a low voice, "Sir, that's sixteen dollars a bottle."
     I decide to  drop the  idea of champagne for everybody, so I say in  an
even louder voice than before, "NEVER MIND!"
     I was therefore  quite surprised when, a few moments  later, the waiter
came back to the table with all his fancy stuff  --  a white  towel over his
arm,  a tray  full of  glasses, an ice bucket  full of ice, and a bottle  of
champagne. He thought I meant, "Never mind the  price," when I meant, "Never
mind the champagne!"
     The  waiter served  champagne  to everybody,  I  paid  out the  sixteen
dollars, and  my friend was mad at my girl because he thought she had got me
to pay all this dough. But as far as I was concerned, that was the end of it
-- though it turned out later to be the beginning of a new adventure.
     I went  to  that  nightclub quite often and  as the weeks  went by, the
entertainment changed. The performers were  on a circuit  that  went through
Amarillo and a lot of other places in Texas, and God knows where else. There
was also a permanent singer who was at the nightclub, whose name was Tamara.
Every time  a  new group  of  performers  came  to  the  club,  Tamara would
introduce me to one of the girls from the group. The girl would come and sit
down with me at my  table, I would buy her a drink, and we'd talk. Of course
I would have liked to do more than just talk, but there was always something
the matter at the last minute. So I could never understand why Tamara always
went to the trouble  of introducing me to  all  these nice girls, and  then,
even  though things  would start out all right, I would always end up buying
drinks, spending the evening talking, but that was it. My friend, who didn't
have the advantage of Tamara's introductions, wasn't getting anywhere either
-- we were both clunks.
     After  a few weeks  of different  shows and different girls, a new show
came, and  as usual Tamara introduced me to  a girl  from the  group, and we
went  through the  usual thing -- I'm buying her drinks,  we're talking, and
she's being very nice.  She went and did her  show, and afterwards  she came
back to me at my table, and I felt pretty good. People would look around and
think, "What's he got that makes this girl come to him?"
     But  then, at  some stage  near  the  close  of  the evening, she  said
something that by this time I had heard many times before: "I'd like to have
you come  over to my  room tonight, but  we're  having a party,  so  perhaps
tomorrow night..."  --  and I knew what this "perhaps tomorrow night" meant:
NOTHING.
     Well, I noticed  throughout the evening that this girl -- her name  was
Gloria -- talked quite often with the master of ceremonies, during the show,
and on  her  way to and  from the ladies' room. So one time, when she was in
the ladies' room and the master of ceremonies happened to be walking near my
table, I impulsively took a guess and said to him, "Your wife is a very nice
woman."
     He said, "Yes, thank you," and  we started to talk a little. He figured
she  had told me.  And when Gloria returned,  she figured he had told me. So
they  both  talked to me  a  little bit, and  invited me to go over to their
place that night after the bar closed.
     At two  o'clock in the  morning I went over to their motel  with  them.
There wasn't any party, of course, and we talked a long time. They showed me
a  photo album with pictures  of Gloria when her husband  first  met  her in
Iowa, a cornfed, rather fattish-looking woman; then other pictures of her as
she reduced, and now she looked really nifty! He had taught her all kinds of
stuff, but he couldn't  read  or  write,  which  was  especially interesting
because he had the job, as master of ceremonies, of reading the names of the
acts and the performers who were in the  amateur  contest, and I hadn't even
noticed that he couldn't read what he was "reading"! (The next night  I  saw
what  they did. While  she  was bringing a person  on or  off the stage, she
glanced at the slip of paper in his hand and whispered the names of the next
performers and the title of the act to him as she went by.)
     They  were  a  very  interesting,  friendly  couple,  and  we had  many
interesting conversations. I recalled  how we had met, and I asked  them why
Tamara was always introducing the new girls to me.
     Gloria replied, "When Tamara  was about to  introduce  me  to you,  she
said, 'Now I'm going to introduce you to the real spender around here!' "
     I had to think  a moment  before I  realized  that  the  sixteen-dollar
bottle of champagne bought  with  such a vigorous  and misunderstood  "never
mind!"  turned out to be a good investment. I apparently had the  reputation
of being some kind of eccentric who always came in not dressed up,  not in a
neat suit, but always ready to spend lots of money on the girls.
     Eventually I told  them  that I was  struck by something:  "I'm  fairly
intelligent," I said,  "but  probably only about  physics. But in  that  bar
there  are lots of  intelligent guys --  oil  guys, mineral  guys, important
businessmen, and  so forth  -- and  all  the  time  they're buying the girls
drinks,  and  they  get nothin' for it!"  (By  this time I  had decided that
nobody else was getting anything out of all those drinks either.) "How is it
possible," I  asked, "that an 'intelligent' guy  can be such  a goddamn fool
when he gets into a bar?"
     The  master  said, "This  I  know all about. I know  exactly how it all
works. I will give you lessons, so that hereafter you can get something from
a  girl in a  bar  like this. But  before  I give  you the  lessons, I  must
demonstrate that I really know what I'm talking about. So to do that, Gloria
will get a man to buy you a champagne cocktail."
     I say, "OK," though I'm thinking, "How the hell are they gonna do it?"
     The master continued: "Now you must do exactly as we tell you. Tomorrow
night  you  should sit  some distance from Gloria in the  bar,  and when she
gives you a sign, all you have to do is walk by."
     "Yes," says Gloria. "It'll be easy."
     The next night I go to the bar and sit in the corner, where I can  keep
my eye on Gloria from a distance.  After a while, sure  enough, there's some
guy sitting with her, and after a  little  while  longer the guy's happy and
Gloria gives me a wink. I  get up and  nonchalantly saunter by.  Just as I'm
passing, Gloria turns around and  says  in a real friendly and bright voice,
"Oh, hi, Dick! When did you get back into town? Where have you been?"
     At this moment the  guy turns around to  see who this "Dick"  is, and I
can see in his eyes something I  understand completely, since I have been in
that position so often myself.
     First look:  "Oh-oh,  competition coming up. He's gonna  take her  away
from me after I bought her a drink! What's gonna happen?"
     Next look: "No, it's just a casual friend. They seem to know each other
from some time back."  I could see all  this. I could read it on his face. I
knew exactly what he was going through.
     Gloria turns  to him and says, "Jim, I'd like you to meet an old friend
of mine, Dick Feynman."
     Next  look: "I know  what I'll do;  I'll be kind  to  this  guy so that
she'll like me more."
     Jim turns to me and says, "Hi, Dick. How about a drink?"
     "Fine!" I say.
     "What'll ya have?"
     "Whatever she's having."
     "Bartender, another champagne cocktail, please."
     So it was easy;  there was  nothing  to  it. That night after  the  bar
closed  I went again  over  to  the  master and  Gloria's  motel.  They were
laughing and smiling, happy with how it  worked  out. "All right,"  I  said,
"I'm absolutely convinced  that you  two  know exactly what  you're  talking
about. Now, what about the lessons?"
     "OK," he says. "The  whole principle  is this: The  guy  wants  to be a
gentleman.  He  doesn't  want  to  be  thought of  as  impolite,  crude,  or
especially  a cheapskate. As long as the girl  knows the  guy's  motives  so
well, it's easy to steer him in the direction she wants him to go.
     "Therefore," he continued, "under no  circumstances be a gentleman! You
must  disrespect the girls. Furthermore, the very first rule is, don't buy a
girl anything -- not even a package of cigarettes -- until  you've asked her
if she'll sleep with you, and you're convinced that she will, and that she's
not lying."
     "Uh... you mean... you don't... uh... you just ask them?"
     "OK,"  he says, "I know this is your  first lesson, and it may be  hard
for  you to be so blunt. So you  might buy her one  thing -- just one little
something --  before you  ask. But on the  other  hand, it will only make it
more difficult."
     Well,  someone only has to give me the principle,  and  I get the idea.
All during the next day  I built up my psychology differently: I adopted the
attitude that those  bar  girls are  all  bitches, that  they  aren't  worth
anything, and all they're in there for is to get you  to buy  them  a drink,
and they're not going  to give  you a  goddamn thing; I'm not  going to be a
gentleman to such  worthless bitches, and  so on. I  learned it till  it was
automatic.
     Then that night I was ready to try  it out. I go into the bar as usual,
and  right away my friend says, "Hey, Dick! Wait'll  you see  the girl I got
tonight! She had to go change her clothes, but she's coming right back."
     "Yeah, yeah,"  I say, unimpressed, and I sit at  another table to watch
the  show.  My  friend's  girl  comes in just  as  the show starts,  and I'm
thinking, "I don't give a damn how pretty she is; all she's doing is getting
him to buy her drinks, and she's going to give him nothing!"
     After the first act my friend says, "Hey, Dick! I want you to meet Ann.
Ann, this is a good friend of mine, Dick Feynman."
     I say "Hi" and keep looking at the show.
     A few moments later Ann says to  me, "Why don't you come and sit at the
table here with us?"
     I think to myself,  "Typical bitch: he's buying  her drinks,  and she's
inviting somebody else to the table." I say, "I can see fine from here."
     A little while  later a lieutenant from the military  base nearby comes
in, dressed in a  nice uniform. It isn't long,  before we notice that Ann is
sitting over on the other side of the bar with the lieutenant!
     Later  that evening  I'm sitting  at  the bar, Ann is  dancing with the
lieutenant, and when the lieutenant's back is toward me and she's facing me,
she  smiles very  pleasantly  to  me. I think again, "Some bitch! Now  she's
doing this trick on the lieutenant even!"
     Then  I get a good idea: I don't look  at her until the  lieutenant can
also  see me, and then I smile  back at her,  so  the  lieutenant  will know
what's going on. So her trick didn't work for long.
     A few minutes later she's not with the lieutenant any more,  but asking
the  bartender for  her coat  and handbag, saying in  a loud, obvious voice,
"I'd like to go for a walk. Does anybody want to go for a walk with me?"
     I  think to myself, "You can keep  saying  no and pushing them off, but
you can't do  it permanently, or you won't get anywhere.  There comes a time
when you have to go along." So I say coolly, "I'll  walk with you." So we go
out. We walk  down the street a  few  blocks and see a cafe,  and she  says,
"I've got an idea -- let's get some coffee and sandwiches, and go over to my
place and eat them."
     The idea sounds  pretty  good, so we go  into  the  cafe and she orders
three coffees and three sandwiches and I pay for them.
     As we're  going out of the cafe, I think to myself, "Something's wrong:
too many sandwiches!"
     On the way to  her motel she says, "You know, I won't have time to  eat
these sandwiches with you, because a lieutenant is coming over..."
     I think to myself, "See, I flunked. The master gave me a lesson on what
to do,  and I  flunked. I bought her $1.10  worth of  sandwiches, and hadn't
asked her anything, and now I know I'm gonna get nothing! I have to recover,
if only for the pride of my teacher."
     I stop suddenly and I say to her, "You... are worse than a WHORE!"
     "Whaddya mean?"
     '"You got me to buy  these sandwiches,  and what am I going to  get for
it? Nothing!"
     "Well, you cheapskate!" she says. "If that's the way you feel, I'll pay
you back for the sandwiches!"
     I called her bluff: "Pay me back, then."
     She was  astonished.  She reached  into her  pocketbook,  took out  the
little bit of money that she had and gave it to me.  I took  my sandwich and
coffee and went off.
     After I was  through  eating,  I went  back to the bar to report to the
master. I explained everything, and told him I was sorry that I flunked, but
I tried to recover.
     He said very calmly, "It's OK, Dick; it's all right. Since you ended up
not buying her anything, she's gonna sleep with you tonight."
     "What?"
     "That's  right," he said confidently; "she's  gonna  sleep  with you. I
know that."
     "But she isn't even here! She's at her place with the lieu --"
     "It's all right."
     Two o'clock  comes  around, the bar closes, and Ann hasn't  appeared. I
ask the master and his wife  if I can come over to  their  place again. They
say sure.
     Just  as we're  coming out of the bar, here  comes Ann, running  across
Route 66 toward me. She  puts her arm in mine,  and says, "Come on, let's go
over to my place."
     The master was right. So the lesson was terrific!
     When I was back at  Cornell in the fall, I was dancing  with the sister
of a grad student,  who  was visiting from Virginia. She  was very nice, and
suddenly I got this idea: "Let's go to a bar and have a drink," I said.
     On the way to the bar I was working up nerve to try the master's lesson
on  an ordinary girl. After  all, you don't feel so  bad disrespecting a bar
girl  who's trying to  get you  to buy her drinks --  but a  nice, ordinary,
Southern girl?
     We went into the bar, and before I sat down,  I said, "Listen, before I
buy you a drink, I want to know one thing: Will you sleep with me tonight?"
     "Yes."
     So it worked even  with  an ordinary girl! But no matter  how effective
the  lesson was, I  never really used it after that. I didn't enjoy doing it
that way. But it was interesting to know that things worked much differently
from how I was brought up.


--------


     One day at Princeton I was sitting  in  the lounge and  overheard  some
mathematicians talking  about the series  for ex,  which is 1 + x +  x2/2! +
x3/3! Each term you get by multiplying the preceding term by  x and dividing
by the  next number.  For example, to  get  the  next  term after  x4/4! you
multiply that term by x and divide by 5. It's very simple.
     When  I  was a  kid I was  excited by series, and  had played with this
thing. I had computed e using that series,  and had seen how quickly the new
terms became very small.
     I mumbled something about how it was easy  to calculate  e to any power
using that series (you just substitute the power for x).
     "Oh yeah?" they said. "Well, then what's e to the 3.3?" said some joker
-- I think it was Tukey.
     I say, "That's easy. It's 27.11."
     Tukey knows it isn't  so easy to compute  all that in your head.  "Hey!
How'd you do that?"
     Another  guy says,  "You  know Feynman, he's just faking  it.  It's not
really right."
     They go to get a  table, and while they're doing  that,  I put on a few
more figures: "27.1126," I say.
     They find it in the table. "It's right! But how'd you do it!"
     "I just summed the series."
     "Nobody can sum the series that fast. You must just happen to know that
one. How about e to the 3?"
     "Look," I say. "It's hard work! Only one a day!"
     "Hah! It's a fake!" they say, happily.
     "All right," I say, "It's 20.085."
     They look  in  the book as I  put  a few more  figures on. They're  all
excited now, because I got another one right.
     Here are these great  mathematicians of  the day, puzzled at how I  can
compute e to any power! One of them says, "He just can't be substituting and
summing  -- it's too  hard. There's some trick. You couldn't do just any old
number like e to the 1.4."
     I say, "It's hard work, but for you, OK. It's 4.05."
     As  they're  looking  it up, I put on a few more digits  and say,  "And
that's the last one for the day!" and walk out.
     What  happened  was  this: I  happened  to  know  three numbers --  the
logarithm  of 10  to the base e (needed to convert numbers  from  base 10 to
base e), which is  2.3026 (so I knew that e to the 2.3 is very close to 10),
and because of radioactivity (mean-life  and half-life), I knew the log of 2
to the base e, which  is .69315 (so I also knew that e to the .7  is  nearly
equal to 2). I also knew e (to the 1), which is 2.71828.
     The first number they gave me  was e to the 3.3, which is e  to the 2.3
-- ten-times e, or 27.18. While they were sweating about how I was doing it,
I was correcting for the extra .0026 -- 2.3026 is a little high.
     I knew I couldn't do another one; that was sheer luck. But then the guy
said e to the 3: that's e to the 2.3 times e to the .7, or ten times two. So
I  knew it was  20. something, and while they were worrying how I did it,  I
adjusted for the .693.
     Now I was sure I couldn't  do  another  one, because the last  one  was
again by  sheer luck. But  the guy said e to the 1.4, which is  e  to the .7
times itself. So all I had to do is fix up 4 a little bit!
     They never did figure out how I did it.
     When I  was at Los Alamos I found  out that Hans  Bethe was  absolutely
topnotch at calculating. For example, one time we were  putting some numbers
into  a formula, and got to 48 squared. I reach for the Marchant calculator,
and he says, "That's 2300." I begin to push the  buttons, and  he says,  "If
you want it exactly, it's 2304."
     The machine says 2304. "Gee! That's pretty remarkable!" I say.
     "Don't you know how to square numbers near 50?" he says. "You square 50
-- that's 2500 -- and subtract  100 times the difference of your number from
50  (in  this case it's 2),  so  you  have 2300. If you want the correction,
square the difference and add it on. That makes 2304."
     A few minutes later we need to take the cube root of 2 1/2. Now to take
cube  roots  on  the  Marchant  you  had  to  use  a  table  for  the  first
approximation. I  open the drawer to  get  the table  --  it  takes a little
longer this time -- and he says, "It's about 1.35."
     I try it out on the Marchant and it's right. "How did you do that one?"
I ask. "Do you have a secret for taking cube roots of numbers?"
     "Oh," he says,  "the log of 2 1/2 is  so-and-so. Now  one-third of that
log is between the logs of 1.3, which is  this, and 1.4, which is that, so I
interpolated."
     So I  found out something: first, he knows  the log tables; second, the
amount of arithmetic he did to make the interpolation alone would have taken
me longer  to do  than reach  for the table  and punch  the buttons  on  the
calculator. I was very impressed.
     After that,  I tried  to  do those things. I memorized a  few logs, and
began  to  notice  things.  For  instance, if  somebody  says, "What  is  28
squared?" you  notice that the square  root of 2 is 1.4, and 28 is 20  times
1.4, so the square of 28 must be around 400 times 2, or 800.
     If somebody comes  along and  wants to divide 1 by  1.73, you can  tell
them immediately that it's .577, because you notice that 1.73 is  nearly the
square root of  3, so 1/1.73 must be one-third of the square root of  3. And
if it's 1/1.73, that's equal to the inverse of 7/4, and you've memorized the
repeating decimals for sevenths: .571428...
     I had a lot of fun trying to do arithmetic fast, by  tricks, with Hans.
It was very rare that I'd  see something he didn't see  and beat  him to the
answer, and he'd laugh his  hearty  laugh  when I'd get  one.  He was nearly
always able  to get the answer to any problem  within a percent. It was easy
for him -- every number was near something he knew.
     One day I was feeling my oats. It was lunch time in the technical area,
and I don't know  how I got the idea, but I  announced, "I  can work out  in
sixty  seconds  the  answer to any problem  that anybody  can state  in  ten
seconds, to 10 percent!"
     People started  giving me problems they thought were difficult, such as
integrating a  function like 1/(1 + x4), which hardly changed over the range
they gave me. The hardest one somebody gave me was the binomial  coefficient
of x10 in (1 + x)20; I got that just in time.
     They  were all giving  me  problems and I was  feeling great, when Paul
Olum walked by in the hall. Paul had worked with me for a while at Princeton
before coming out to Los  Alamos, and he was always cleverer than I was. For
instance, one day I was absent-mindedly playing with one of those  measuring
tapes that snap back into your hand when you  push  a button. The tape would
always slap over  and  hit my  hand, and  it hurt  a little  bit. "Geez!"  I
exclaimed. "What a dope I  am.  I keep playing with this thing, and it hurts
me every time."
     He said, "You don't hold it right," and took the damn thing, pulled out
the tape, pushed the button, and it came right back. No hurt.
     "Wow! How do you do that?" I exclaimed.
     "Figure it out!"
     For  the next two weeks I'm walking all around Princeton, snapping this
tape back until my  hand is absolutely  raw. Finally I  can't  take  it  any
longer. "Paul! I give up! How the hell do you hold it so it doesn't hurt?"
     "Who says it doesn't hurt? It hurts me too!"
     I felt so  stupid.  He had gotten me to go around and  hurt my hand for
two weeks!
     So Paul is walking past the lunch place and these guys are all excited.
"Hey, Paul!" they call out. "Feynman's  terrific! We give him a problem that
can  be stated in  ten seconds, and  in a minute he gets  the  answer to  10
percent. Why don't you give him one?"
     Without hardly stopping, he says, "The tangent of 10 to the 100th."
     I was  sunk: you have to  divide by pi  to 100 decimal places!  It  was
hopeless.
     One time I  boasted, "I  can do by other methods  any integral  anybody
else needs contour integration to do."
     So  Paul puts  up this  tremendous  damn integral he  had  obtained  by
starting out with a complex  function that he knew the answer to, taking out
the real part of  it and leaving only the complex  part. He had unwrapped it
so it  was only possible by contour integration! He was always deflating  me
like that. He was a very smart fellow.
     The first time I was in Brazil I was eating a noon meal at I don't know
what time -- I was  always in the restaurants at the wrong time -- and I was
the only  customer  in  the  place. I  was  eating rice with steak  (which I
loved), and there were about four waiters standing around.
     A  Japanese  man  came  into  the restaurant.  I  had  seen him before,
wandering around; he was trying to sell abacuses.
     He  started  to talk to the waiters,  and  challenged them: He  said he
could add numbers faster than any of them could do.
     The  waiters didn't want to lose face,  so they said,  "Yeah, yeah. Why
don't you go over and challenge the customer over there?"
     The man came over. I protested, "But I don't speak Portuguese well!"
     The waiters laughed. "The numbers are easy," they said.
     They brought me a pencil and paper.
     The  man  asked a waiter  to  call out some numbers to add. He beat  me
hollow, because while I was writing the numbers down, he was already  adding
them as he went along.
     I suggested that the waiter write down two  identical  lists of numbers
and hand  them to us at the  same time.  It didn't make much  difference. He
still beat me by quite a bit.
     However, the man got a little bit excited: he  wanted  to prove himself
some more. "Multipliqao!" he said.
     Somebody wrote  down  a problem. He beat me again,  but  not  by  much,
because I'm pretty good at products.
     The man then made a mistake: he proposed we go on  to division. What he
didn't realize was, the harder the problem, the better chance I had.
     We both did a long division problem. It was a tie.
     This  bothered  the  hell out  of  the  Japanese  man,  because  he was
apparently very well trained on the abacus, and here he was almost beaten by
this customer in a restaurant.
     "Raios cubicos!" he says, with  a vengeance. Cube roots! He wants to do
cube roots by arithmetic! It's  hard to  find a  more difficult  fundamental
problem  in  arithmetic.  It  must  have  been  his   topnotch  exercise  in
abacus-land.
     He writes a  number  on  some  paper --  any old  number -- and I still
remember it: 1729.03.  He  starts  working on  it,  mumbling  and grumbling:
"Mmmmmmagmmmmbrrr"  --  he's working like a demon!  He's  poring away, doing
this cube root.
     Meanwhile I'm just sitting there.
     One of the waiters says, "What are you doing?"
     I point to my head.  "Thinking!" I say.  I  write down 12 on the paper.
After a little while I've got 12.002.
     The man with the abacus wipes the sweat off his forehead: "Twelve!"  he
says.
     "Oh, no!"  I  say. "More  digits! More digits!" I know that in taking a
cube root by arithmetic,  each  new digit is even more  work  than  the  one
before. It's a hard job.
     He buries  himself again, grunting, "Rrrrgrrrrmmmmmm..." while I add on
two more digits. He finally lifts his head to say, "12.0!"
     The waiters are all excited and  happy.  They  tell  the man, "Look! He
does it only by thinking, and you need an abacus! He's got more digits!"
     He  was  completely  washed  out,  and  left, humiliated.  The  waiters
congratulated each other.
     How  did  the  customer  beat  the  abacus?  The  number was 1729.03. I
happened to know that a cubic foot contains 1728 cubic inches, so the answer
is a  tiny bit more than 12.  The  excess, 1.03, is only one part  in nearly
2000,  and  I had  learned in  calculus  that  for small fractions, the cube
root's excess is one-third  of the number's excess. So all  I  had  to do is
find the  fraction 1/1728, and multiply by  4  (divide by 3 and multiply  by
12). So I was able to pull out a whole lot of digits that way.
     A few  weeks later the man came into the cocktail lounge of the hotel I
was  staying at. He recognized me and  came over. "Tell me,"  he said,  "how
were you able to do that cube-root problem so fast?"
     I  started to explain that it was an approximate method, and  had to do
with the percentage of error.  "Suppose you  had given me 28. Now, the  cube
root of 27 is 3..."
     He picks up his abacus: zzzzzzzzzzzzzzz -- "Oh yes," he says.
     I  realized  something: he doesn't  know numbers.  With the abacus, you
don't have to memorize a lot of arithmetic combinations; all you have to  do
is learn  how to  push the  little  beads up  and  down. You  don't have  to
memorize 9 + 7 = 16; you just know that when you add 9 you push a ten's bead
up and pull a one's bead down. So we're slower  at basic  arithmetic, but we
know numbers.
     Furthermore,  the  whole idea of an approximate  method was beyond him,
even though a cube root often cannot be computed exactly by any method. So I
never could teach him how I did  cube roots or  explain how lucky I was that
he happened to choose 1729.03.


--------


     One time I picked  up a hitchhiker who told  me how  interesting  South
America was, and that I ought to go there. I complained that the language is
different, but he said just go ahead and learn it -- it's no big problem. So
I thought, that's a good idea: I'll go to South America.
     Cornell had some foreign language classes which followed a  method used
during the war,  in  which small groups of about ten students and one native
speaker speak only  the foreign  language -- nothing  else.  Since I  was  a
rather young-looking professor there at Cornell, I decided to take the class
as  if  I were a  regular student. And since I didn't know  yet where  I was
going to end up in South  America, I  decided  to take  Spanish, because the
great majority of the countries there speak Spanish.
     So when  it  was time  to  register  for  the  class, we were  standing
outside,  ready to  go into the  classroom,  when this pneumatic blonde came
along. You know how once in a while you get  this  feeling, WOW?  She looked
terrific. I said to myself, "Maybe she's going to be in the Spanish class --
that'll be great!"  But  no, she walked into  the  Portuguese  class.  So  I
figured, What the hell -- I might as well learn Portuguese.
     I started walking right after her when this Anglo-Saxon attitude that I
have said, "No, that's not a good reason to decide which language to speak."
So I went back and signed up for the Spanish class, to my utter regret.
     Some time later I was at a Physics  Society meeting in New York, and  I
found myself sitting next  to Jaime Tiomno, from Brazil, and he asked, "What
are you going to do next summer?"
     "I'm thinking of visiting South America."
     "Oh! Why don't you  come  to Brazil? I'll get a position for you at the
Center for Physical Research."
     So now I had to convert all that Spanish into Portuguese!
     I  found a Portuguese graduate student at Cornell, and twice a week  he
gave me lessons, so I was able to alter what I had learned.
     On the plane  to Brazil  I  started  out  sitting  next  to a guy  from
Colombia who spoke only Spanish: so I wouldn't  talk to him because I didn't
want to get confused  again.  But sitting in front of  me were two guys  who
were  talking Portuguese. I had never heard  real Portuguese; I had only had
this teacher who  had talked very slowly and clearly. So here are  these two
guys talking a blue  streak, brrrrrrr-a-ta brrrrrrr-a-ta,  and I can't  even
hear the word for "I," or the word for "the," or anything.
     Finally, when we made a refueling  stop in Trinidad, I  went up  to the
two  fellas and  said  very  slowly  in Portuguese,  or what  I  thought was
Portuguese, "Excuse  me...  can  you understand... what I am  saying to  you
now?"
     "Pues nao, porque nao?" -- "Sure, why not?" they replied.
     So I explained  as best I could that I had been learning Portuguese for
some months now,  but I had never heard it spoken in conversation, and I was
listening to them on the airplane, but couldn't understand  a word they were
saying.
     "Oh," they  said with a laugh,  "Nao e Portugues! E Ladao! Judeo!" What
they  were speaking  was to Portuguese  as Yiddish is to  German, so you can
imagine a guy  who's  been studying German sitting behind two  guys  talking
Yiddish,  trying to figure out what's the matter. It's obviously German, but
it doesn't work. He must not have learned German very well.
     When  we got back on  the plane,  they pointed out  another man who did
speak Portuguese, so I sat next to him. He had been studying neurosurgery in
Maryland, so it was very easy to talk  with him --  as long  as it was about
cirugia neural,  o cerebreu, and other  such "complicated" things. The  long
words are  actually quite easy to translate into Portuguese because the only
difference is their  endings: "-tion" in English  is "-c,ao" in  Portuguese;
"-ly" is "-mente,"  and so  on.  But  when he looked out the window and said
something simple, I was lost: I couldn't decipher "the sky is blue."
     I got  off the plane in Recife (the  Brazilian government  was going to
pay the  part from Recife to Rio) and was met by the father-in-law of  Cesar
Lattes, who was the director of the Center for Physical Research in Rio, his
wife,  and another man. As the men  were  off  getting my luggage,  the lady
started talking  to me  in Portuguese: "You speak Portuguese?  How nice! How
was it that you learned Portuguese?"
     I  replied  slowly,  with  great effort.  "First,  I  started to  learn
Spanish... then  I discovered I was going to Brazil..." Now I wanted to say,
"So,  I learned Portuguese," but I couldn't  think  of the  word for "so." I
knew how to  make BIG words,  though, so I finished the sentence  like this:
"CONSEQUENTEMENTE, apprendi Portugues!"
     When the two men came back with the  baggage, she said, "Oh, he  speaks
Portuguese! And with such wonderful words: CONSEQUENTEMENTE!"
     Then an  announcement came over  the loudspeaker. The flight to Rio was
canceled, and there wouldn't be another one  till next Tuesday  -- and I had
to be in Rio on Monday, at the latest.
     I got all upset. "Maybe there's a cargo plane. I'll  travel in a  cargo
plane," I said.
     "Professor!" they said, "It's really quite  nice here in  Recife. We'll
show you around. Why don't you relax -- you're in Brazil."
     That evening I went for a walk in town, and came upon  a small crowd of
people standing  around a  great big rectangular hole in the road  -- it had
been dug for sewer pipes, or something -- and there, sitting exactly in  the
hole, was a car. It was marvelous:  it fitted absolutely perfectly, with its
roof level with the road. The workmen hadn't bothered to put up any signs at
the end of  the  day, and the  guy had simply driven  into it. I  noticed  a
difference: When we'd dig  a hole, there'd be all kinds of detour signs  and
flashing  lights to protect us.  There, they dig the hole, and  when they're
finished for the day, they just leave.
     Anyway, Recife was a  nice town, and I  did wait until next  Tuesday to
fly to Rio.
     When I got to Rio I met Cesar Lattes. The national TV network wanted to
make some pictures of  our meeting, so they started filming, but without any
sound. The  cameramen said,  "Act as if  you're  talking.  Say  something --
anything."
     So Lattes asked me, "Have you found a sleeping dictionary yet?"
     That  night, Brazilian TV audiences saw the director  of the Center for
Physical Research welcome the Visiting Professor from the United States, but
little did  they  know that  the subject of their conversation was finding a
girl to spend the night with!
     When  I  got  to the center,  we had  to decide  when I  would  give my
lectures -- in the morning, or afternoon.
     Lattes said, "The students prefer the afternoon."
     "So let's have them in the afternoon."
     "But  the beach is  nice in the  afternoon, so why  don't  you give the
lectures in the morning, so you can enjoy the beach in the afternoon."
     "But you said the students prefer to have them in the afternoon."
     "Don't worry about that. Do what's most  convenient for  you! Enjoy the
beach in the afternoon."
     So I learned how to look at life in a way that's different from the way
it is where I come from.  First,  they weren't in the same hurry that I was.
And second,  if it's better for you,  never mind! So I  gave the lectures in
the morning and enjoyed  the beach in the afternoon. And had I  learned that
lesson earlier,  I would have learned Portuguese in the first place, instead
of Spanish.
     I thought at  first that I would give  my lectures  in  English,  but I
noticed  something: When the students  were  explaining  something  to me in
Portuguese, I couldn't understand it very well, even though I knew a certain
amount of Portuguese. It was not exactly  clear to me  whether they had said
"increase,"  or  "decrease,"  or  "not  increase,"  or  "not  decrease,"  or
"decrease slowly." But when they struggled with English, they'd say "ahp" or
"doon," and I knew which way it was, even though the pronunciation was lousy
and the  grammar was all screwed up. So I realized that  if I  was going  to
talk to them and  try  to teach them,  it would be better for  me to talk in
Portuguese, poor as it was. It would be easier for them to understand.
     During that first time in Brazil, which lasted six weeks, I was invited
to give  a talk at  the Brazilian Academy  of  Sciences  about some work  in
quantum electrodynamics that  I  had just done.  I  thought I would give the
talk in Portuguese, and two students at the  center  said they would help me
with it.  I began  by writing out my talk in  absolutely lousy Portuguese. I
wrote  it myself, because if they had written  it, there would be  too  many
words I  didn't know and couldn't  pronounce correctly.  So  I wrote it, and
they fixed up all the grammar, fixed up the words and  made it  nice, but it
was still at the level that I could read easily and know more or less what I
was  saying. They practiced  with me  to get the  pronunciations  absolutely
right:  the "de"  should be  in between "deh" and "day" -- it had to be just
so.
     I got  to  the  Brazilian Academy of  Sciences  meeting, and the  first
speaker, a chemist, got up and gave his talk -- in English. Was he trying to
be polite, or what? I  couldn't understand  what he  was saying  because his
pronunciation  was so bad, but maybe  everybody else had the same  accent so
they  could  understand  him; I don't  know. Then the  next guy gets up, and
gives his talk in English!
     When it was my turn, I  got up and said,  "I'm sorry; I hadn't realized
that the official language of the Brazilian Academy of Sciences was English,
and therefore I did not prepare my talk in English. So please excuse me, but
I'm going to have to give it in Portuguese."
     So I read the thing, and everybody was very pleased with it.
     The next guy  to  get up said, "Following the example  of  my colleague
from the United States, I also will give my talk in Portuguese." So, for all
I know, I changed  the tradition of  what language is used in  the Brazilian
Academy of Sciences.
     Some years  later, I met a  man from Brazil who  quoted to me the exact
sentences  I  had  used  at  the  beginning of  my talk  to the  Academy. So
apparently it made quite an impression on them.
     But the  language was always difficult for me, and I kept working on it
all the time, reading the newspaper, and so on. I kept on giving my lectures
in Portuguese  -- what I call "Feynman's Portuguese," which  I knew couldn't
be  the  same as  real Portuguese, because  I  could understand  what  I was
saying,  while I  couldn't  understand what the people in  the  street  were
saying.
     Because I liked it so  much that first time in  Brazil, I went again  a
year later, this time for ten months. This time I lectured at the University
of Rio, which was supposed to pay me, but they never did, so the center kept
giving me the money I was supposed to get from the university.
     I finally ended up staying in a hotel right on the beach at Copacabana,
called the Miramar. For  a while I had a room on the thirteenth floor, where
I could look out the window at the ocean and watch the girls on the beach.
     It turned  out that this hotel was the one that the airline  pilots and
the stewardesses from Pan  American  Airlines stayed at when they would "lay
over" --  a  term that  always bothered me a little  bit.  Their rooms  were
always on the fourth floor, and late at night there would often be a certain
amount of sheepish sneaking up and down in the elevator.
     One time I  went away for a few  weeks on a trip,  and when I came back
the manager told me he  had  to book my room to somebody else,  since it was
the last available empty room, and that he had moved my stuff to a new room.
     It was a room right  over  the kitchen, that people usually didn't stay
in  very  long. The  manager must have figured that I was  the  only guy who
could see  the  advantages of that room  sufficiently clearly  that  I would
tolerate the smells  and  not  complain. I  didn't complain: It  was  on the
fourth floor, near the stewardesses. It saved a lot of problems.
     The  people from  the airlines were  somewhat  bored with their  lives,
strangely enough, and at night they would often go to bars to drink. I liked
them all, and in order  to  be sociable, I would go  with them to the bar to
have a few drinks, several nights a week.
     One day, about 3:30  in the afternoon, I was walking along the sidewalk
opposite the beach at Copacabana past a bar. I suddenly got this treMENdous,
strong feeling: "That's just what  I want; that'll fit just right. I'd  just
love to have a drink right now!"
     I started to walk into the bar, and I suddenly thought to myself, "Wait
a minute! It's the middle of  the afternoon. There's nobody here. There's no
social reason to drink. Why do you have such  a terribly strong feeling that
you have to have a drink?" -- and I got scared.
     I never drank ever again, since then. I suppose I  really wasn't in any
danger, because I found it very easy to stop. But that strong feeling that I
didn't understand frightened  me. You  see,  I get such fun out of  thinking
that I don't want to destroy this most pleasant machine that makes life such
a  big kick. It's  the same reason that, later on, I  was  reluctant  to try
experiments with LSD in spite of my curiosity about hallucinations.
     Near the end of that year in Brazil  I took one of the air hostesses --
a very  lovely  girl with  braids  -- to the museum. As we went through  the
Egyptian section, I found myself telling her things like, "The  wings on the
sarcophagus  mean such-and-such, and in these vases  they used  to  put  the
entrails,  and around  the corner there  oughta be  a  so-and-so..."  and  I
thought  to  myself, "You  know where you learned all  that stuff? From Mary
Lou" -- and I got lonely for her.
     I met Mary Lou at Cornell and later,  when I came to Pasadena,  I found
that she  had come to Westwood, nearby. I liked her for a while, but we used
to  argue a bit; finally we decided it was hopeless,  and we  separated. But
after a  year of  taking  out  these  air hostesses  and not  really getting
anywhere,  I was frustrated.  So  when I  was  telling this  girl all  these
things, I thought Mary Lou really was quite wonderful, and we shouldn't have
had all those arguments.
     I wrote a  letter to  her and proposed.  Somebody who's wise could have
told me  that was dangerous:  When  you're  away  and you've got nothing but
paper, and  you're feeling lonely, you remember all  the good things and you
can't remember the reasons  you  had the arguments. And it  didn't work out.
The arguments started again right away, and the marriage lasted for only two
years.
     There  was a man  at the U.S. Embassy  who knew I liked samba  music. I
think I told  him that when I had been in Brazil the first time, I had heard
a samba  band practicing in  the street,  and  I wanted  to learn more about
Brazilian music.
     He said a small  group, called a regional,  practiced  at his apartment
every week, and I could come over and listen to them play.
     There were three  or  four  people  -- one  was  the  janitor  from the
apartment house -- and they played rather quiet  music up in his  apartment;
they had no other place to play. One guy had a tambourine that they called a
pandeiro,  and another  guy had a small guitar. I kept hearing the beat of a
drum somewhere, but there was no drum! Finally I figured out that it was the
tambourine,  which the  guy was  playing  in a complicated way, twisting his
wrist and hitting the  skin with  his thumb.  I  found that interesting, and
learned how to play the pandeiro, more or less.
     Then the season for Carnaval began to come  around. That's  the  season
when  new music is presented. They don't put  out new  music and records all
the  time;  they  put them  all out  during  Carnaval  time, and  it's  very
exciting.
     It  turned out  that  the janitor  was  the composer for a small  samba
"school" -- not a school in the sense of education, but in the sense of fish
--  from  Copacabana  Beach,  called  Farqantes  de Copacabana, which  means
"Fakers from Copacabana," which was just right for  me, and he invited me to
be in it.
     Now this samba school  was a thing where  guys  from the favelas -- the
poor sections of the city -- would come down, and meet behind a construction
lot where some apartment houses were being built, and practice the new music
for the Carnaval.
     I chose  to play a thing called a "frigideira," which  is  a toy frying
pan  made of metal, about six inches in diameter,  with a little metal stick
to beat it with. It's an accompanying instrument which makes a tinkly, rapid
noise that goes with the main samba music and rhythm and fills  it out. So I
tried to play  this  thing  and  everything  was  going all  right.  We were
practicing, the music was  roaring along and we were going  like sixty, when
all of a sudden the head of the  batteria section, a  great  big  black man,
yelled  out, "STOP! Hold  it, hold  it  --  wait  a  minute!" And  everybody
stopped.  "Something's  wrong  with  the  frigideiras!"  he  boomed out.  "O
Americana, outra vez!" ("The American again!")
     So I felt  uncomfortable. I practiced  all the time. I'd walk along the
beach holding two sticks that I  had picked up, getting the twisty motion of
the wrists, practicing, practicing, practicing. I kept working on it, but  I
always felt inferior, that I was some kind of trouble, and  wasn't really up
to it.
     Well, it was getting closer to Carnaval time, and one evening there was
a conversation between the leader of the  band and another guy, and then the
leader started coming  around,  picking  people out:  "You!" he  said  to  a
trumpeter. "You!"  he  said to a singer. "You!"  -- and he pointed to  me. I
figured we were finished. He said, "Go out in front!"
     We went out to the front of the construction site -- the five or six of
us -- and there was an old Cadillac  convertible,  with its  top down.  "Get
in!" the leader said.
     There wasn't enough room for us all, so some of us had to sit up on the
back.  I  said to the guy  next to me, "What's  he doing -- is he putting us
out?"
     "Nao se, nao se." ("I don't know.")
     We drove off way up high on a road which ended near the edge of a cliff
overlooking the sea. The car  stopped and the leader said, "Get out!" -- and
they walked us right up to the edge of the cliff!
     And sure enough, he said, "Now line up! You first,  you next, you next!
Start playing! Now march!"
     We would  have marched off the edge of the cliff  -- except for a steep
trail  that  went down.  So our  little  group goes down  the trail  --  the
trumpet, the singer, the  guitar, the pandeiro, and the frigideira --  to an
outdoor party in the woods. We  weren't picked out because the leader wanted
to get rid of  us; he was sending us to this private party that  wanted some
samba music! And afterwards he collected money to pay for some costumes  for
our band.
     After that I  felt a little better,  because  I  realized, that when he
picked the frigideira player, he picked me!
     Another thing  happened to increase  my confidence. Some time later,  a
guy came from another samba school, in Leblon, a beach further on. He wanted
to join our school.
     The boss said, "Where're you from?"
     "Leblon."
     "What do you play?"
     "Frigideira."
     "OK. Let me hear you play the frigideira."
     So  this  guy  picked  up  his frigideira and his  metal  stick  and...
"brrra-dup-dup; chick-a-chick." Gee whiz! It was wonderful!
     The boss said to him, "You go over there and stand next to O Americana,
and you'll learn how to play the frigideira!"
     My  theory is that it's  like  a person who speaks French  who comes to
America.  At first they're making  all kinds of mistakes, and you can hardly
understand them. Then they keep on practicing until they speak  rather well,
and  you find there's a delightful twist to their way  of speaking  -- their
accent is rather nice, and you love to listen to it. So I must have had some
sort of accent playing the frigideira, because I couldn't compete with those
guys who had been playing it all their lives; it must have been some kind of
dumb  accent.  But whatever it was, I became  a rather successful frigideira
player.
     One day, shortly before  Carnaval time, the  leader of the samba school
said, "OK, we're going to practice marching in the street."
     We all went out from the construction  site to the  street, and  it was
full of  traffic. The streets of Copacabana were always a big  mess. Believe
it  or not, there was a trolley line in which the trolley cars went one way,
and the automobiles went the other way. Here it was rush hour in Copacabana,
and we were going to march down the middle of Avenida Atlantica.
     I  said to  myself, "Jesus! The boss didn't get a license, he didn't OK
it with the police, he didn't do anything. He's  decided we're just going to
go out."
     So we started to go out into the street, and everybody, all around, was
excited. Some volunteers from a group of bystanders took a rope and formed a
big  square around our  band, so the  pedestrians wouldn't walk  through our
lines. People started to  lean out  of the windows. Everybody wanted to hear
the new samba music. It was very exciting!
     As soon as we  started to  march, I  saw  a policeman, way down  at the
other end of the  road.  He  looked,  saw  what was  happening,  and started
diverting traffic! Everything  was informal.  Nobody made  any arrangements,
but it  worked fine.  The  people  were  holding  the ropes  around us,  the
policeman was diverting the traffic,  the pedestrians were crowded  and  the
traffic  was  jammed,  but  we were  going  along  great! We walked down the
street, around the corners, and all over the damn Copacabana, at random!
     Finally we ended up in a  little square in front of the apartment where
the boss's  mother lived. We  stood there in  this place,  playing,  and the
guy's mother, and aunt, and so on,  came down. They had aprons  on; they had
been working in the kitchen, and you could see their excitement -- they were
almost crying. It was really nice to do that human stuff. And all the people
leaning out of the windows -- that was terrific! And I remembered the time I
had been in Brazil  before, and had seen  one of these  samba bands -- how I
loved the music and nearly went crazy over it -- and now I was in it!
     By the way, when we were marching around the streets of Copacabana that
day,  I  saw  in a  group on the sidewalk two young ladies from the embassy.
Next week  I got a note from the embassy saying, "It's a great thing you are
doing,  yak, yak, yak..." as if my purpose was to improve relations  between
the United States and Brazil! So it was a "great" thing I was doing.
     Well, in order  to go to  these rehearsals, I didn't want to go dressed
in my regular clothes that I wore to the university. The  people in the band
were very  poor, and  had only  old,  tattered  clothes. So I  put on an old
undershirt, some old pants, and so forth,  so I wouldn't look too  peculiar.
But  then  I couldn't  walk out of my  luxury  hotel on Avenida Atlantica in
Copacabana Beach through the lobby. So I always  took  the elevator  down to
the bottom and went out through the basement.
     A  short  time  before  Carnaval,  there  was  going  to  be  a special
competition between the samba schools of the beaches -- Copacabana, Ipanema,
and Leblon; there were three or four schools, and we were one. We were going
to march  in  costume down Avenida Atlantica. I felt  a little uncomfortable
about  marching in one of  those fancy Carnaval  costumes,  since I wasn't a
Brazilian. But we were supposed to be dressed as Greeks, so I figured I'm as
good a Greek as they are.
     On the day  of the  competition, I  was eating at the hotel restaurant,
and the head waiter, who had often seen  me tapping on  the table when there
was  samba  music  playing, came over to  me and  said,  "Mr.  Feynman, this
evening there's going to be something you will love!  It's tipico Brasileiro
-- typical Brazilian: There's going to be a march of the samba schools right
in front of the hotel! And the music is so good -- you must hear it."
     I said,  "Well, I'm kind of busy tonight. I don't  know if  I  can make
it."
     "Oh!  But  you'd love  it  so  much! You must not miss it! It's  tipico
Brasileiro!"
     He was very insistent, and  as I kept telling him I didn't think I'd be
there to see it, he became disappointed.
     That evening  I  put  on my  old  clothes  and  went down  through  the
basement, as usual. We put on the costumes at the construction lot and began
marching  down  Avenida  Atlantica,  a  hundred  Brazilian  Greeks in  paper
costumes, and I was in the back, playing away on the frigideira.
     Big crowds were along both sides  of the Avenida; everybody was leaning
out of the windows, and we were coming  up to the Miramar Hotel, where I was
staying. People were standing  on  the  tables  and  chairs,  and there were
crowds and crowds of people. We were playing along, going like sixty, as our
band  started  to pass  in front of the  hotel. Suddenly  I  saw  one of the
waiters shoot up in the air, pointing  with his  arm,  and through all  this
noise I can hear him scream, "O PROFESSOR!" So the head waiter found out why
I  wasn't able to be there that  evening to  see the competition -- I was in
it!
     The next day I saw a lady I knew from meeting her on the beach all  the
time, who  had  an  apartment overlooking the  Avenida. She had some friends
over to watch the parade of the samba schools,  and  when we went by, one of
her friends exclaimed, "Listen to  that  guy  play  the  frigideira -- he is
good!" I had succeeded. I got a kick out of succeeding at something I wasn't
supposed to be able to do.
     When the  time came for Carnaval, not very many people from  our school
showed up.  There were some special  costumes that  were made  just  for the
occasion,  but  not enough people. Maybe  they  had  the  attitude  that  we
couldn't win  against the really big samba schools  from the city;  I  don't
know. I thought  we were working day  after day, practicing and marching for
the Carnaval, but when Carnaval  came, a lot of the band didn't show up, and
we didn't compete very well. Even  as we were marching around in the street,
some of the  band wandered off. Funny result! I never did understand it very
well, but maybe the main excitement and fun was trying to win the contest of
the beaches, where most people felt their  level was. And we did win, by the
way.

     During  that ten-month stay in  Brazil I got  interested  in the energy
levels of the lighter nuclei. I worked out all the theory for it in my hotel
room, but I  wanted to check how the data from the experiments  looked. This
was new stuff that was  being worked out up at the Kellogg Laboratory by the
experts at  Caltech,  so I  made  contact with them  -- the  timing  was all
arranged  -- by ham radio. I found an  amateur radio operator in Brazil, and
about  once a  week I'd go over to his house. He'd make contact with the ham
radio operator in Pasadena, and  then, because there was  something slightly
illegal about it, he'd give me  some call letters  and would say, "Now  I'll
turn  you over to WKWX,  who's sitting next to me and would  like to talk to
you."
     So I'd say, "This is WKWX. Could you please tell me the spacing between
the certain levels in boron  we talked  about last week," and so on. I would
use the data from the experiments to adjust my constants and check whether I
was on the right track.
     The first guy  went on  vacation, but he gave me  another amateur radio
operator to go to. This second  guy was blind and operated his station. They
were both very nice,  and  the contact I  had with Caltech  by ham radio was
very effective and useful to me.
     As for the physics itself, I worked out  quite a good deal, and it  was
sensible. It was  worked out and verified by other people later. I  decided,
though, that I  had so  many parameters  that  I had  to adjust -- too  much
"phenomenological adjustment of constants" to make everything fit -- that  I
couldn't be sure it was very useful. I wanted a  rather deeper understanding
of the nuclei, and I was never quite convinced it was very significant, so I
never did anything with it.

     In regard to education in Brazil, I had a very interesting  experience.
I was  teaching  a  group of  students who would ultimately become teachers,
since at that time there were not many opportunities in Brazil for a  highly
trained person in  science. These students had already had many courses, and
this was to be their most advanced  course  in  electricity and magnetism --
Maxwell's equations, and so on.
     The university was  located in various office  buildings throughout the
city, and the course I taught met in a building which overlooked the bay.
     I discovered a very  strange phenomenon: I could ask  a question, which
the students would  answer  immediately. But the next time I  would  ask the
question  -- the same subject, and the same question, as far as I could tell
--  they couldn't  answer it  at all! For instance, one  time I  was talking
about polarized light, and I gave them all some strips of polaroid.
     Polaroid  passes  only  light  whose electric vector is  in  a  certain
direction, so  I explained  how  you  could  tell which  way  the  light  is
polarized from whether the polaroid is dark or light.
     We first took two strips  of polaroid and  rotated them until  they let
the most light through.  From doing that we could tell that  the two  strips
were  now admitting  light polarized  in the  same direction  -- what passed
through one piece of polaroid could also pass through  the other. But then I
asked them how one  could tell the absolute direction of polarization, for a
single piece of polaroid.
     They hadn't any idea.
     I knew this took a certain amount of ingenuity, so I gave them  a hint:
"Look at the light reflected from the bay outside."
     Nobody said anything.
     Then I said, "Have you ever heard of Brewster's Angle?"
     "Yes, sir! Brewster's Angle is the angle  at which light reflected from
a medium with an index of refraction is completely polarized."
     "And which way is the light polarized when it's reflected?"
     "The light is polarized perpendicular to the plane of reflection, sir."
Even now, I  have to  think about it; they knew it cold! They  even knew the
tangent of the angle equals the index!
     I said, "Well?"
     Still nothing. They had just told me that light reflected from a medium
with an index, such as the bay outside, was polarized; they had even told me
which way it was polarized.
     I said, "Look at the bay outside, through the  polaroid.  Now  turn the
polaroid."
     "Ooh, it's polarized!" they said.
     After a lot of investigation,  I finally  figured out that the students
had memorized everything,  but they didn't  know what  anything  meant. When
they  heard  "light that  is  reflected from a  medium with an index,"  they
didn't know that it meant  a material  such as water. They  didn't know that
the "direction  of the light" is  the  direction in which  you see something
when you're looking at it, and so on. Everything was entirely memorized, yet
nothing had been translated into meaningful words. So  if I asked,  "What is
Brewster's Angle?" I'm  going into the computer with the right keywords. But
if I  say, "Look at  the water," nothing happens -- they don't have anything
under "Look at the water"!
     Later I attended a lecture  at the engineering school. The lecture went
like   this,  translated  into  English:   "Two   bodies...  are  considered
equivalent...  if equal torques...  will  produce... equal acceleration. Two
bodies,  are  considered  equivalent, if equal torques,  will  produce equal
acceleration." The  students were  all sitting  there  taking dictation, and
when the professor repeated the  sentence, they checked it to make sure they
wrote it down all right. Then they wrote down the next sentence,  and on and
on. I was the only one who knew the professor was talking about objects with
the same moment of inertia, and it was hard to figure out.
     I  didn't see how they were going to  learn anything from that. Here he
was talking about moments  of inertia, but there was no discussion about how
hard it is  to push a door open when you  put heavy  weights on the outside,
compared to when you put them near the hinge -- nothing!
     After the lecture, I talked to  a student: "You take all those notes --
what do you do with them?"
     "Oh, we study them," he says. "We'll have an exam."
     "What will the exam be like?"
     "Very easy.  I  can tell you now one of the questions." He looks at his
notebook and  says, " 'When are two bodies equivalent?'  And the answer  is,
'Two  bodies are considered equivalent if  equal torques will produce  equal
acceleration.' " So,  you see, they could pass the examinations, and "learn"
all  this stuff,  and  not  know  anything  at  all,  except what  they  had
memorized.
     Then  I  went  to  an  entrance  exam  for  students  coming  into  the
engineering school.  It was an oral exam, and I was allowed to listen to it.
One  of the students was absolutely super: He answered everything nifty! The
examiners asked him what diamagnetism  was,  and he  answered  it perfectly.
Then they asked, "When light comes  at  an angle through a sheet of material
with a certain thickness, and a certain index N, what happens to the light?"
     "It comes out parallel to itself, sir -- displaced."
     "And how much is it displaced?"
     "I  don't know, sir, but I can figure it out." So he figured it out. He
was very good. But I had, by this time, my suspicions.
     After the exam I went up to this bright young man, and explained to him
that I was from  the  United  States, and that  I  wanted  to  ask him  some
questions that would  not  affect the result of his examination in  any way.
The first question I ask is, "Can you  give me some example of a diamagnetic
substance?"
     "No."
     Then I  asked, "If  this book was made of glass,  and I was  looking at
something  on the table  through it,  what would  happen  to the  image if I
tilted the glass?"
     "It would be  deflected, sir, by twice the angle that you've turned the
book."
     I said, "You haven't got it mixed up with a mirror, have you?"
     "No, sir!"
     He had  just  told me  in  the  examination  that  the  light  would be
displaced, parallel to itself,  and therefore  the image  would move over to
one side, but would  not be turned by any angle. He had even figured out how
much it would be displaced, but he didn't realize that a piece of glass is a
material with an index, and that his calculation had applied to my question.
     I taught a course at the engineering school  on mathematical methods in
physics, in which I tried to show how to solve problems by trial  and error.
It's something  that people don't usually learn, so I began with some simple
examples of arithmetic  to illustrate  the method. I was surprised that only
about eight out of the eighty or so students turned in the first assignment.
So I gave a strong lecture  about having  to  actually try it, not just  sit
back and watch me do it.
     After  the lecture some students came up to me in a little  delegation,
and told me that  I  didn't understand the backgrounds that they  have, that
they can study  without doing the problems,  that they have already  learned
arithmetic, and that this stuff was beneath them.
     So  I kept  going with  the  class, and  no matter  how  complicated or
obviously  advanced the work  was becoming,  they  were never handing a damn
thing in. Of course I realized what it was: They couldn't do it!
     One  other  thing I  could  never get them to do was to ask  questions.
Finally, a student explained it to  me: "If  I ask you a question during the
lecture, afterwards everybody will be telling me, 'What are you wasting  our
time for in the class? We're trying to learn something.  And you're stopping
him by asking a question'."
     It was a kind of one-upmanship, where nobody knows what's going on, and
they'd put  the other one  down as if they did know. They all fake that they
know, and if one student admits  for a moment that something is confusing by
asking a question, the others take a high-handed attitude, acting as if it's
not confusing at all, telling him that he's wasting their time.
     I  explained  how  useful it  was  to  work together,  to  discuss  the
questions, to talk it over, but they  wouldn't do that either,  because they
would  be losing face if they had to  ask someone else. It  was pitiful! All
the work they did, intelligent  people,  but they got  themselves  into this
funny state of mind, this strange kind of self-propagating "education" which
is meaningless, utterly meaningless!
     At the end of the academic year, the students asked me to  give a  talk
about my experiences of teaching in  Brazil. At the talk there would be  not
only students,  but professors  and government  officials, so  I  made  them
promise that  I could say whatever  I wanted.  They said, "Sure.  Of course.
It's a free country."
     So I came in,  carrying the elementary physics textbook that they  used
in the  first year of  college.  They thought  this book was especially good
because  it had  different kinds  of  typeface --  bold  black  for the most
important things to remember, lighter for less important things, and so on.
     Right  away somebody said, "You're not  going to say anything bad about
the textbook, are you? The  man  who  wrote it is here, and everybody thinks
it's a good textbook."
     "You promised I could say whatever I wanted."
     The  lecture  hall was full. I started  out by  defining science  as an
understanding of the  behavior of  nature.  Then  I asked, "What  is a  good
reason for teaching  science?  Of course,  no  country can  consider  itself
civilized unless... yak, yak,  yak."  They  were all sitting there  nodding,
because I know that's the way they think.
     Then I say, "That, of course, is absurd, because  why should we feel we
have to keep up with another country? We have to do it for a good reason,  a
sensible reason; not just because other countries do."  Then  I talked about
the utility of science, and its contribution to the improvement of the human
condition, and all that -- I really teased them a little bit.
     Then I say, "The main purpose of my talk is to  demonstrate to you that
no science is being taught in Brazil!"
     I can see them stir, thinking,  "What? No  science? This  is absolutely
crazy! We have all these classes."
     So I tell them that one of the first things to strike me when I came to
Brazil was  to  see  elementary  school kids  in bookstores, buying  physics
books. There are so  many  kids  learning physics  in Brazil, beginning much
earlier than kids do  in the United States, that it's amazing you don't find
many physicists in Brazil -- why is that? So many kids are working  so hard,
and nothing comes of it.
     Then  I  gave  the  analogy of  a Greek scholar  who  loves  the  Greek
language,  who knows  that in  his  own country there  aren't  many children
studying Greek. But he comes to another country, where  he  is  delighted to
find  everybody studying Greek -- even the smaller  kids  in the  elementary
schools. He goes to  the examination of  a student who is coming  to get his
degree  in  Greek,  and   asks  him,  "What  were  Socrates'  ideas  on  the
relationship between Truth  and Beauty?"  -- and  the  student can't answer.
Then he asks  the  student, "What did  Socrates say  to Plato  in  the Third
Symposium?" the student lights up and goes, "Brrrrrrrrr-up"  -- he tells you
everything, word for word, that Socrates said, in beautiful Greek.
     But what Socrates was talking  about  in the  Third  Symposium  was the
relationship between Truth and Beauty!
     What this  Greek scholar discovers  is, the students in another country
learn Greek by first learning to pronounce the letters,  then the words, and
then sentences and paragraphs. They can recite, word for word, what Socrates
said, without  realizing that those Greek words actually mean  something. To
the student they are all  artificial sounds. Nobody has ever translated them
into words the students can understand.
     I said, "That's  how it looks to me,  when I  see you teaching the kids
'science' here in Brazil." (Big blast, right?)
     Then I  held up the elementary physics textbook they were using. "There
are no experimental results mentioned anywhere in this book, except  in  one
place where there is  a ball, rolling down an  inclined plane, in  which  it
says how  far the ball got after one second, two seconds, three seconds, and
so on. The numbers  have 'errors' in them -- that is,  if you look at  them,
you think you're looking at experimental results, because the numbers  are a
little above, or a little below, the theoretical values. The book even talks
about having to  correct the experimental errors --  very  fine. The trouble
is, when  you calculate the value  of the  acceleration constant  from these
values, you get the right answer. But a ball rolling down an inclined plane,
if it is  actually done, has an inertia to  get it to turn, and will, if you
do the experiment, produce five-sevenths of the right answer, because of the
extra  energy needed to go  into the rotation of  the ball.  Therefore  this
single example of experimental 'results' is obtained from a fake experiment.
Nobody  had rolled  such  a  ball,  or  they would  never have gotten  those
results!
     "I have discovered something else," I continued. "By flipping the pages
at random, and putting my finger in  and reading the sentences on that page,
I can show you what's the matter -- how it's not science, but memorizing, in
every circumstance. Therefore I am brave enough  to  flip  through the pages
now, in front of this audience, to  put  my finger in, to read, and to  show
you."
     So I did it. Brrrrrrrup -- I stuck my finger in, and I started to read:
"Triboluminescence. Triboluminescence is the light emitted when crystals are
crushed..."
     I said, "And there, have you got science? No! You have only told what a
word means in terms  of other words. You haven't  told anything about nature
-- what crystals produce light  when you crush them, why they produce light.
Did you see any student go home and try it? He can't.
     "But if, instead, you were to write, 'When you take a lump of sugar and
crush it with a pair of pliers in the dark, you can see a bluish flash. Some
other  crystals do  that too. Nobody  knows  why. The  phenomenon is  called
"triboluminescence." ' Then someone will go home and try it. Then there's an
experience of nature." I used that example to show them,  but it didn't make
any  difference  where I would have  put my finger in the book;  it was like
that everywhere.
     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. "However," I said, "I must be wrong.
There  were two  Students in my  class  who  did very well,  and  one of the
physicists I know was educated entirely in Brazil. Thus, it must be possible
for some people to work their way through the system, bad as it is."
     Well,  after  I  gave the  talk,  the  head  of  the  science education
department got up  and said, "Mr. Feynman has  told  us some things that are
very hard for us to hear, but it appears to be that he really loves science,
and is sincere in his criticism. Therefore, I think we should listen to him.
I came here knowing we have some sickness in our system of education; what I
have learned is that we have a cancer!" -- and he sat down.
     That gave  other people  the freedom to speak out, and  there was a big
excitement. Everybody was getting up and making  suggestions.  The  students
got some  committee together to mimeograph the lectures in advance, and they
got other committees organized to do this and that.
     Then something happened which was totally unexpected for me. One of the
students  got up  and  said, "I'm  one  of the two students whom Mr. Feynman
referred to  at  the end of  his  talk. I was not educated in  Brazil; I was
educated in Germany, and I've just come to Brazil this year."
     The other student who  had  done well in class had  a similar thing  to
say. And the professor I had mentioned got up and said, "I was educated here
in Brazil during the war, when, fortunately, all of the professors  had left
the university, so  I learned  everything by  reading alone. Therefore I was
not really educated under the Brazilian system."
     I didn't expect that. I knew the system was bad, but 100 percent --  it
was terrible!
     Since  I had  gone to Brazil under  a program sponsored  by the  United
States  Government, I was asked by the  State Department to  write  a report
about my  experiences in Brazil, so I wrote out the essentials of the speech
I had just given. I found out later through the grapevine  that the reaction
of somebody in the State Department was, "That shows you how dangerous it is
to  send somebody to  Brazil who is so  naive.  Foolish fellow; he can  only
cause trouble.  He  didn't understand the problems." Quite  the contrary!  I
think this person in the State Department was naive to think that because he
saw a university with  a list of courses  and  descriptions, that's what  it
was.


--------


     When I was in Brazil I  had struggled to learn the local  language, and
decided to  give  my  physics lectures in Portuguese.  Soon  after I came to
Caltech, I  was invited to a  party  hosted  by Professor  Bacher. Before  I
arrived at the party, Bacher  told the guests, "This guy Feynman thinks he's
smart because he learned a  little Portuguese, so let's  fix him good:  Mrs.
Smith,  here (she's completely  Caucasian), grew up in China. Let's have her
greet Feynman in Chinese."
     I walk into the party innocently, and Bacher introduces me to all these
people: "Mr. Feynman, this is Mr. So-and-so."
     "Pleased to meet you, Mr. Feynman."
     "And this is Mr. Such-and-such."
     "My pleasure, Mr. Feynman."
     "And this is Mrs. Smith."
     "Ai, choong, ngong jia!" she says, bowing.
     This is such a surprise to me that  I figure the only thing to do is to
reply  in  the  same  spirit. I  bow  politely to  her,  and  with  complete
confidence I say, "Ah ching, jong jien!"
     "Oh, my  God!"  she exclaims, losing her own  composure.  "I  knew this
would happen -- I speak Mandarin and he speaks Cantonese!"


--------


     I used to cross the United States in my automobile every summer, trying
to make  it to the  Pacific Ocean. But, for various  reasons, I would always
get stuck somewhere -- usually in Las Vegas.
     I remember the first time, particularly, I liked it very much. Then, as
now, Las Vegas made its money on the people who gamble, so the whole problem
for the hotels was to get people to come  there to gamble. So they had shows
and dinners which  were very inexpensive --  almost free. You didn't have to
make any reservations  for  anything: you could walk in, sit down at one  of
the many empty tables,  and enjoy the show. It  was just wonderful for a man
who didn't gamble, because I  was  enjoying all the advantages  -- the rooms
were inexpensive, the meals were next to nothing, the shows were good, and I
liked the girls.
     One  day I was lying around the pool at my motel,  and some guy came up
and started to talk to me. I can't remember how he got started, but his idea
was that I presumably worked  for a living, and it was really quite silly to
do that. "Look how easy it is for me," he said. "I just hang around the pool
all the time and enjoy life in Las Vegas."
     "How the hell do you do that without working?"
     "Simple: I bet on the horses."
     "I don't know anything about horses, but I don't see how you can make a
living betting on the horses," I said, skeptically.
     "Of course you can,"  he said. "That's how I live! I'll tell you  what:
I'll teach you how to do it. We'll go  down and  I'll guarantee that  you'll
win a hundred dollars."
     "How can you do that?"
     "I'll bet  you a hundred dollars that you'll win,"  he said. "So if you
win it  doesn't cost  you  anything,  and if  you  lose,  you get  a hundred
dollars!"
     So I  think, "Gee!  That's right! If  I  win  a hundred  dollars on the
horses and I have to pay him, I don't lose  anything;  it's just an exercise
-- it's just proof that  his system works. And  if he fails, I win a hundred
dollars. It's quite wonderful!"
     He takes me down to some betting place where they have a list of horses
and racetracks all over the country.  He  introduces  me to other people who
say, "Geez, he's great! I won a hunerd dollas!"
     I gradually realize that I have to put up some of my  own money for the
bets,  and I  begin to  get a little  nervous. "How much  money do I have to
bet?" I ask. "Oh, three  or four  hundred dollars." I haven't got that much.
Besides, it begins to worry me: Suppose I lose all the bets?
     So then he  says, "I'll  tell you  what: My advice will  cost  you only
fifty dollars, and  only if it works. If it doesn't work, I'll give you  the
hundred dollars you would have won anyway." I  figure, "Wow!  Now I win both
ways -- either fifty or  a hundred dollars!  How the heck can  he do  that?"
Then  I realize that if you have a reasonably even game -- forget the little
losses from the take for the moment in order  to understand it -- the chance
that you'll win a hundred dollars versus losing your four hundred dollars is
four to one. So out of five times that he tries this on somebody, four times
they're going to win  a hundred dollars, he gets two hundred  (and he points
out  to them  how  smart he is);  the  fifth time he  has to  pay  a hundred
dollars.  So he receives two  hundred, on the  average, when he's paying out
one hundred! So I finally understood how he could do that.
     This process went on for  a few days. He would invent some  scheme that
sounded like a  terrific deal at first, but  after I thought about  it for a
while  I'd  slowly  figure  out  how  it  worked.  Finally, in some  sort of
desperation  he says, "All  right,  I'll  tell you  what:  You pay me  fifty
dollars for the advice, and if you lose, I'll pay you back all your money."
     Now I can't lose on that! So I say, "All right, you've got a deal!"
     "Fine," he says. "But unfortunately, I have to go to San Francisco this
weekend, so you just mail me the results, and if you lose your  four hundred
dollars, I'll send you the money."
     The first schemes were designed to make him money by honest arithmetic.
Now, he's going to be  out of town. The only way he's going to make money on
this scheme is not to send it -- to be a real cheat.
     So I  never accepted any of his offers. But it was very entertaining to
see how he operated.
     The other thing that was  fun  in Las  Vegas was  meeting show girls. I
guess they were  supposed to  hang around the bar  between shows to  attract
customers. I met  several of them that  way, and  talked  to them, and found
them to be nice people. People who say, "Show girls,  eh?" have already made
up  their mind  what  they are! But in any group, if you look at it, there's
all kinds  of variety. For example, there was the  daughter of a dean of  an
Eastern university. She had a talent for dancing and liked to dance; she had
the summer off and dancing jobs were hard to find, so she worked as a chorus
girl  in Las Vegas. Most of  the show girls were very nice, friendly people.
They  were all beautiful, and I  just  love beautiful girls.  In fact,  show
girls were my real reason for liking Las Vegas so much.
     At first I was a little bit afraid:  the girls  were so beautiful, they
had such a reputation, and so forth. I would try to meet them, and I'd choke
a little bit  when I talked. It was difficult at first, but gradually it got
easier, and finally I had enough confidence that I wasn't afraid of anybody.
     I had a  way of having adventures which is hard to explain:  it's  like
fishing, where you put a line out and then you have to have patience. When I
would tell someone about some of my adventures, they might say, "Oh, come on
-- let's do  that!" So we would go to a bar to see if something will happen,
and they would lose patience after twenty minutes or so. You have to spend a
couple of days  before something happens, on  average. I spent a lot of time
talking to show girls. One would introduce me to another, and after a while,
something interesting would often happen.
     I  remember  one  girl  who liked  to drink Gibsons.  She danced at the
Flamingo Hotel, and I got to  know her rather well. When I'd come into town,
I'd order a Gibson put at her  table  before  she sat  down, to announce  my
arrival.
     One time I went  over and sat next to her and she said, "I'm with a man
tonight --  a high-roller from Texas." (I had already heard about this  guy.
Whenever he'd play at the craps table, everybody  would gather around to see
him  gamble.) He came back to  the table where  we were sitting, and my show
girl friend introduced me to him.
     The first thing he said to  me was, "You know somethin'?  I  lost sixty
thousand dollars here last night."
     I knew what to do: I turned to him, completely unimpressed, and I said,
"Is that supposed to be smart, or stupid?"
     We were  eating breakfast  in the dining  room. He  said, "Here, let me
sign your check. They don't charge me for all these things because I  gamble
so much here."
     "I've got enough money that I don't need to worry about who pays for my
breakfast, thank you." I kept putting him down each time he tried to impress
me.
     He tried everything: how rich he was, how much oil he had in Texas, and
nothing worked, because I knew the formula!
     We ended up having quite a bit of fun together.
     One time when we were sitting at  the bar he said to me, "You see those
girls at the table over there? They're whores from Los Angeles."
     They looked very nice; they had a certain amount of class.
     He said,  "Tell you what I'll do: I'll introduce them to you,  and then
I'll pay for the one you want."
     I didn't feel like meeting the girls, and  I knew he was saying that to
impress  me, so  I began to  tell  him  no. But then  I  thought,  "This  is
something!  This guy is trying so  hard  to  impress me, he's willing to buy
this for  me. If I'm ever going to  tell  the story..." So I  said  to  him,
"Well, OK, introduce me."
     We  went over to their table and he introduced me to the girls and then
went off for a moment. A waitress came around and asked us what we wanted to
drink. I ordered  some water, and the girl next to me said, "Is it all right
if I have a champagne?"
     "You  can have whatever you want," I  replied, coolly, "  'cause you're
payin' for it."
     "What's the matter with you?" she said. "Cheapskate, or something?"
     "That's right."
     "You're certainly not a gentleman!" she said indignantly.
     "You figured me out  immediately!" I  replied.  I had  learned  in  New
Mexico many years before not to be a gentleman.
     Pretty soon they were  offering  to  buy  me drinks -- the  tables were
turned completely! (By the way, the Texas oilman never came back.)
     After a while, one of the  girls said, "Let's go over to the El Rancho.
Maybe  things  are livelier over  there." We got in their car. It was a nice
car, and they were nice people. On the way, they asked me my name.
     "Dick Feynman."
     "Where are you from, Dick? What do you do?"
     "I'm from Pasadena; I work at Caltech."
     One  of the girls said, "Oh, isn't that  the place where that scientist
Pauling comes from?"
     I had been in Las Vegas many times, over and over, and there was nobody
who ever knew anything about  science. I had talked to  businessmen  of  all
kinds, and to them, a scientist was a nobody. "Yeah!" I said, astonished.
     "And  there's  a  fella named  Gellan, or  something  like  that  --  a
physicist." I couldn't believe it. I was riding in a car full of prostitutes
and they know all this stuff!
     "Yeah! His name is Gell-Mann! How did you happen to know that?"
     "Your pictures were in  Time  magazine."  It's  true, they had pictures
often U.S. scientists in Time magazine, for some reason. I was in it, and so
were Pauling and Gell-Mann.
     "How did you remember the names?" I asked.
     "Well,  we were looking through the  pictures, and  we  picked out  the
youngest and the handsomest!" (Gell-Mann is younger than I am.)
     We  got  to  the El Rancho Hotel and  the girls continued  this game of
acting towards me like everybody normally acts towards them: "Would you like
to gamble?" they asked. I gambled a little bit with their  money and  we all
had a good time.
     After  a while they  said, "Look, we see a  live one, so we'll have  to
leave you now," and they went back to work.
     One time I was sitting  at a  bar and I noticed two girls with an older
man.  Finally he walked away,  and  they came over and sat next  to  me: the
prettier and more active  one next to  me, and her duller friend, named Pam,
on the other side.
     Things  started  going  along  very  nicely  right away.  She  was very
friendly. Soon she was leaning against me,  and I put my arm around her. Two
men came in and sat at  a table nearby. Then, before the waitress came, they
walked out.
     "Did you see those men?" my new-found friend said.
     "Yeah."
     "They're friends of my husband."
     "Oh? What is this?"
     "You see, I just married John Big" -- she mentioned a  very famous name
--  "and we've  had a little argument.  We're on  our honeymoon, and John is
always  gambling. He doesn't pay any attention to me, so I  go off and enjoy
myself, but he keeps sending spies around to check on what I'm doing."
     She asked me to  take her  to her motel room,  so we went in my car. On
the way I asked her, "Well, what about John?"
     She said,  "Don't  worry. Just look  around for a big red car  with two
antennas. If you don't see it, he's not around."
     The  next night I took  the "Gibson girl" and a friend  of hers to  the
late show at the Silver Slipper, which had a show later than all the hotels.
The girls who worked in the other shows liked to go there, and the master of
ceremonies announced the arrival  of the various dancers as they came in. So
in I  went with these two  lovely dancers on my arm, and he  said, "And here
comes Miss So-and-so and Miss So-and-so from the Flamingo!" Everybody looked
around to see who was coming in. I felt great!
     We sat down at a table near the bar, and after a little while there was
a bit  of a flurry-waiters moving tables around, security guards, with guns,
coming in. They were making room for a celebrity. JOHN BIG was coming in!
     He came over to  the bar, right next to  our table, and right away  two
guys wanted to dance with the girls I brought. They went off to dance, and I
was sitting alone at the table when John came over and sat down at my table.
"How are yah?" he said. "Whattya doin' in Vegas?"
     I  was sure he'd  found  out  about me  and  his  wife.  "Just  foolin'
around..." (I've gotta act tough, right?)
     "How long ya been here?"
     "Four or five nights."
     "I know ya," he said. "Didn't I see you in Florida?"
     "Well, I really don't know..."
     He tried this place and that place,  and  I didn't  know  what  he  was
getting at. "I know," he said; "It was in El Morocco." (El Morocco was a big
nightclub in New York, where a lot of big operators go -- like professors of
theoretical physics, right?)
     "That must have been it," I said. I was wondering when he was going  to
get to it.  Finally he leaned over to me and said, "Hey,  will you introduce
me to those girls you're with when they come back from dancing?"
     That's all he wanted; he didn't know  me from a hole in the  wall! So I
introduced him, but my show girl friends said they  were tired and wanted to
go home.
     The next  afternoon, I saw John  Big at the Flamingo,  standing  at the
bar, talking to the  bartender about cameras and taking pictures. He must be
an amateur photographer:  He's got  all these bulbs and cameras, but he says
the dumbest things  about them. I  decided he wasn't an amateur photographer
after all; he was just a rich guy who bought himself some cameras.
     I figured by that  time that he didn't  know I had  been fooling around
with his wife; he only wanted to talk to me because of the girls I had. So I
thought I would play  a game. I'd  invent  a part  for  myself:  John  Big's
assistant.
     "Hi,  John," I  said.  "Let's  take  some  pictures.  I'll  carry  your
flashbulbs."
     I  put the flashbulbs in my pocket, and we started off taking pictures.
I'd hand him flashbulbs and give him  advice here and  there; he likes  that
stuff.
     We went over to the Last Frontier to gamble, and he started to win. The
hotels don't like  a high roller to leave,  but I could see he wanted to go.
The problem was how to do it gracefully.
     "John, we have to leave now," I said in a serious voice.
     "But I'm winning."
     "Yes, but we have made an appointment this afternoon."
     "OK, get my car."
     "Certainly, Mr. Big!" He handed me  the keys and told me what it looked
like (I didn't let on that I knew).
     I  went out to  the  parking lot,  and sure enough, there was this big,
fat, wonderful car with the two  antennas. I climbed into it and  turned the
key -- and it wouldn't start. It had  an  automatic transmission;  they  had
just  come  out  and I didn't  know  anything  about  them.  After a  bit  I
accidentally shifted it into PARK and it started. I drove it very carefully,
like a million-dollar car, to the hotel entrance, where I  got out  and went
inside  to the table where he was  still  gambling,  and said,  "Your car is
ready, sir!"
     "I have to quit," he  announced, and  we left. He had me drive the car.
"I want to go to the El Rancho," he said. "Do you know any girls there?"
     I knew one girl  there rather  well, so I said "Yeah." By this  time  I
felt confident enough that the only reason he was going along with this game
I had invented was that he wanted  to  meet some  girls, so I brought  up  a
delicate subject: "I met your wife the other night..."
     "My wife? My wife's not here in Las Vegas." I told him about the girl I
met  in the bar. "Oh! I know who you mean; I met that girl and her friend in
Los Angeles and brought them to Las Vegas. The first thing they  did was use
my phone for an hour to talk to their friends in Texas. I got mad and  threw
'em out! So  she's been going around  telling  everybody that she's my wife,
eh?" So that was cleared up.
     We went  into the El Rancho,  and the show was  going to start in about
fifteen  minutes. The place was packed;  there wasn't  a seat in the  house.
John went over to the majordomo and said, "I want a table."
     "Yes, sir, Mr. Big! It will be ready in a few minutes." John tipped him
and went off to gamble. Meanwhile I went around to the back, where the girls
were getting ready for the show, and asked for my friend. She came out and I
explained to her that John Big was with me, and he'd like some company after
the show.
     "Certainly, Dick," she said. "I'll bring some friends and we'll see you
after the show."
     I went around  to the front to find  John. He was still gambling. "Just
go in without me," he said. "I'll be there in a minute."
     There were two tables, at  the  very  front, right  at the edge of  the
stage. Every other table in the place was packed.  I sat down by myself. The
show started  before John came in, and  the show  girls came out. They could
see  me  at  the table,  all  by myself.  Before, they  thought  I was  some
small-time professor; now they see I'm a BIG OPERATOR.
     Finally John came in, and soon afterwards some people sat  down  at the
table next to us -- John's "wife" and her friend Pam, with two men!
     I leaned over to John: "She's at the other table."
     "Yeah."
     She saw  I was taking care of John, so she leaned over to  me from  the
other table and asked, "Could I talk to John?"
     I didn't say a word. John didn't say anything either.
     I waited a little while, then I leaned over to John: "She wants to talk
to you."
     Then he waited a little bit. "All right," he said.
     I waited a little more, and then I leaned over to her: "John will speak
to you now."
     She came over to our  table. She started working on  "Johnnie," sitting
very close to him. Things were beginning  to  get  straightened out a little
bit, I could tell.
     I love  to be mischievous,  so  every time they got things straightened
out a little bit, I reminded John of something: "The telephone, John..."
     "Yeah!" he said. "What's the idea, spending an hour on the telephone?"
     She said it was Pam who did the calling.
     Things improved a little bit more,  so I pointed out  that it  was  her
idea to bring Pam.
     "Yeah!" he said. (I was having  a great time playing this game; it went
on for quite a while.)
     When the show  was over, the  girls from the El Rancho came over to our
table and we  talked  to them until they had  to go back for the  next show.
Then John said, "I know a nice little bar not too far away from  here. Let's
go over there."
     I  drove  him  over to  the  bar and we went in.  "See  that woman over
there?" he said. "She's a really good lawyer. Come on, I'll introduce you to
her."
     John introduced us and excused  himself to go to the restroom. He never
came back. I think he wanted to get back with his "wife" and I was beginning
to interfere.
     I said, "Hi" to the woman and ordered a drink for myself (still playing
this game of not being impressed and not being a gentleman).
     "You know," she said to me,  "I'm one of the better lawyers here in Las
Vegas."
     "Oh,  no, you're not," I replied coolly.  "You might be a lawyer during
the  day, but you know what you  are right now?  You're just  a barfly in  a
small bar in Vegas."
     She  liked me,  and we went to a few  places  dancing. She  danced very
well, and I love to dance, so we had a great time together.
     Then, all of a sudden in the middle of a dance, my back  began to hurt.
It was  some kind  of big pain, and it started suddenly. I  know now what it
was: I had been up for three days and  nights having these crazy adventures,
and I was completely exhausted.
     She  said she would take me  home. As soon as I got into her bed I went
BONGO! I was out.
     The next morning I woke up in this beautiful bed.  The sun was shining,
and there was no sign  of her. Instead,  there was a maid. "Sir,"  she said,
"are you awake? I'm ready with breakfast."
     "Well, uh..."
     "I'll bring  it  to  you. What would you like?" and she went  through a
whole menu of breakfasts.
     I ordered breakfast and had it in bed -- in the bed of a woman I didn't
know; I didn't know who she was or where she came from!
     I asked the maid a few questions, and she  didn't  know anything  about
this mysterious  woman either: She had just been hired, and it was her first
day on the job. She thought I was the man of the house, and found it curious
that I was asking her questions. I got  dressed, finally, and left. I  never
saw the mysterious woman again.

     The first time I was in Las  Vegas I sat down and figured  out the odds
for everything, and I  discovered  that  the  odds for the crap  table  were
something like  .493. If I bet a dollar, it would only cost me 1.4 cents. So
I  thought  to  myself,  "Why  am  I  so reluctant  to bet? It  hardly costs
anything!"
     So I started  betting, and right away I lost five dollars in succession
--  one, two, three, four, five. I was  supposed to be out only seven cents;
instead,  I  was five dollars behind! I've never gambled since then (with my
own money, that is). I'm very lucky that I started off losing.
     One time I was eating lunch with one of the  show girls. It was a quiet
time  in  the afternoon;  there was not the usual  big bustle, and she said,
"See that man  over there, walking  across the lawn? That's Nick  the Greek.
He's a professional gambler."
     Now I  knew damn well what all  the odds were in Las  Vegas, so I said,
"How can he be a professional gambler?"
     "I'll call him over."
     Nick came over and she introduced us.  "Marilyn tells me  that you're a
professional gambler."
     "That's correct."
     "Well, I'd like to know how it's possible to make your living gambling,
because at the table, the odds are .493."
     "You're  right," he said, "and I'll  explain it to you. I don't  bet on
the table, or things like that. I only bet when the odds are in my favor."
     "Huh? When are the odds ever in your favor?" I asked incredulously.
     "It's really quite  easy," he  said. "I'm standing around a table, when
some  guy  says, 'It's  comin' out  nine! It's gotta  be a nine!' The  guy's
excited; he thinks it's going  to be a nine, and he wants to bet. Now I know
the odds for all the numbers inside out, so I say to him, 'I'll bet you four
to  three  it's not  a nine,' and I win in the long  run. I don't bet on the
table; instead, I bet  with  people around the  table who have prejudices --
superstitious ideas about lucky numbers."
     Nick continued: "Now that I've  got  a  reputation,  it's even  easier,
because people will bet with me  even  when they know  the  odds aren't very
good, just to have the chance of telling the story, if they win, of how they
beat Nick  the Greek.  So I  really do  make  a  living gambling,  and  it's
wonderful!"
     So Nick the Greek was really an educated character. He  was a very nice
and engaging man. I thanked him for the  explanation; now I understood it. I
have to understand the world, you see.


--------


     Cornell  had  all kinds of departments that I didn't have much interest
in. (That doesn't mean there was anything wrong with them;  it's just that I
didn't happen to have much  interest  in  them.) There was domestic science,
philosophy (the guys  from  this department  were particularly  inane),  and
there were the  cultural things -- music  and so on. There  were quite a few
people  I did enjoy  talking to, of course. In the math department there was
Professor Kac and  Professor Feller; in chemistry, Professor  Calvin; and  a
great guy in  the zoology department, Dr.  Griffin, who found  out that bats
navigate by making echoes. But it was  hard to find  enough of these guys to
talk to,  and there was all this other stuff  which  I thought was low-level
baloney. And Ithaca was a small town.
     The weather wasn't really very good. One day  I was driving in the car,
and  there came one of  those quick snow flurries that you  don't expect, so
you're not ready for it, and  you  figure, "Oh, it isn't going to  amount to
much; I'll keep on going."
     But then the snow gets deep enough that the car begins to skid a little
bit,  so you have to put  the  chains on. You  get out  of the car, put  the
chains out on the snow, and it's cold,  and you're beginning to shiver. Then
you roll  the car back onto the  chains, and you have this problem --  or we
had it  in those days; I don't know what there is now -- that there's a hook
on the inside that you have to hook first. And because the chains have to go
on pretty  tight, it's hard to get the hook  to hook. Then  you have to push
this clamp down with your fingers, which by this time are nearly frozen. And
because you're on the outside of  the tire,  and the hook is on  the inside,
and your hands  are cold, it's very difficult to control. It keeps slipping,
and it's cold, and the  snow's coming  down, and you're trying to push  this
clamp, and your hand's hurting, and the damn thing's not going down -- well,
I  remember that that  was  the  moment when I decided that  this is insane;
there must be a part of the world that doesn't have this problem.
     I  remembered  the couple of  times  I  had  visited  Caltech,  at  the
invitation of Professor Bacher, who  had  previously been at Cornell. He was
very smart when I visited.  He knew  me  inside out, so he said, "Feynman, I
have  this extra car, which  I'm  gonna  lend you. Now  here's how you go to
Hollywood and the Sunset Strip. Enjoy yourself."
     So I drove his  car  every night  down  to  the  Sunset Strip -- to the
nightclubs and the bars and  the action. It  was the kind of  stuff I  liked
from Las Vegas -- pretty girls, big operators, and so on. So Bacher knew how
to get me interested in Caltech.
     You know  the story  about  the donkey who is standing  exactly in  the
middle of two piles  of  hay,  and  doesn't  go to either  one, because it's
balanced? Well,  that's  nothing.  Cornell  and  Caltech  started  making me
offers,  and as  soon  as  I would  move, figuring  that  Caltech was really
better, they would up their offer at Cornell; and when I thought I'd stay at
Cornell, they'd  up something  at Caltech.  So you can  imagine this  donkey
between the two piles of hay, with the extra complication that as soon as he
moves toward one, the other one gets higher. That makes it very difficult!
     The argument that  finally  convinced  me was  my sabbatical  leave.  I
wanted to go  to Brazil again, this  time for ten  months,  and  I  had just
earned my sabbatical leave from Cornell. I didn't want to  lose that, so now
that I had invented a reason to come to a decision, I wrote  Bacher and told
him what I had decided.
     Caltech wrote back: "We'll hire you  immediately, and  we'll  give  you
your first year as a  sabbatical year." That's the way  they were acting: no
matter what I decided to do, they'd screw it up. So my first year at Caltech
was really spent  in Brazil. I came to Caltech to teach  on  my second year.
That's how it happened.
     Now that I have been at  Caltech since 1951, I've been very happy here.
It's  exactly the  thing for a one-sided guy  like me.  There  are all these
people who are  close to  the top,  who are very interested in what they are
doing, and who I can talk to. So I've been very comfortable.
     But one  day, when I hadn't been at  Caltech  very long, we  had  a bad
attack of  smog.  It  was worse then than it  is now  -- at  least your eyes
smarted much more. I  was standing  on a corner,  and my eyes were watering,
and  I thought to myself,  "This is crazy! This is absolutely INSANE! It was
all right back at Cornell. I'm getting out of here."
     So I called up Cornell, and asked  them if they thought it was possible
for me to come back. They said,  "Sure! We'll set  it up  and  call you back
tomorrow."
     The next day, I had  the greatest luck in making a  decision.  God must
have set it up to help me decide. I was walking to my office, and a guy came
running up to  me and said, "Hey, Feynman! Did you hear what happened? Baade
found   that  there  are   two  different  populations  of  stars!  All  the
measurements we had been making of the distances  to the galaxies  had  been
based on Cephid  variables of one  type,  but there's  another type,  so the
universe is twice, or three, or even four times as old as we thought!"
     I knew the  problem. In those days, the earth appeared to be older than
the universe. The  earth was  four and a half billion, and the universe  was
only a couple, or three billion  years old.  It was a great puzzle. And this
discovery resolved all that: The  universe  was now demonstrably  older than
was previously thought. And I got  this information right  away  --  the guy
came running up to me to tell me all this.
     I didn't even  make  it across the  campus to  get  to my office,  when
another guy came  up  -- Matt  Meselson,  a biologist  who  had  minored  in
physics. (I had been on his committee for his Ph.D.) He  had built the first
of what  they  call a density  gradient centrifuge  -- it could measure  the
density of molecules. He said, "Look at the results of  the  experiment I've
been doing!"
     He had  proved that when a bacterium makes a new one,  there's  a whole
molecule,  intact,  which  is  passed  from  one bacterium  to another  -- a
molecule  we now  know as  DNA.  You  see,  we always  think  of  everything
dividing, dividing.  So  we think everything  in the bacterium  divides  and
gives half of it to the new bacterium. But that's impossible: Somewhere, the
smallest molecule that contains genetic information can't divide in half; it
has  to make a  copy of  itself, and send one copy to the new bacterium, and
keep one copy  for the old  one.  And he had proved it in this way: He first
grew the bacteria in heavy  nitrogen, and  later  grew  them all in ordinary
nitrogen. As he went along, he weighed the molecules in his density gradient
centrifuge.
     The  first generation  of  new  bacteria had  all of  their  chromosome
molecules at a weight exactly in between the weight of  molecules made  with
heavy, and molecules  made  with ordinary, nitrogen --  a result that  could
occur if everything divided, including the chromosome molecules.
     But in succeeding generations, when one might expect that the weight of
the chromosome molecules would be one-fourth, one-eighth, and  one-sixteenth
of the difference  between  the heavy and ordinary molecules, the weights of
the  molecules fell into only two  groups.  One group was the same weight as
the  first  new generation (halfway between  the  heavier  and  the  lighter
molecules), and the other group was lighter -- the weight of molecules  made
in ordinary nitrogen. The percentage of heavier molecules was cut in half in
each succeeding  generation,  but not  their  weights. That was tremendously
exciting, and very  important  --  it was  a  fundamental  discovery.  And I
realized, as I finally got  to my office, that this is where I've got to be.
Where people from  all different fields of science  would tell me stuff, and
it was all exciting. It was exactly what I wanted, really.
     So  when Cornell  called  a little later, and  said they  were  setting
everything up, and it was nearly ready,  I said, "I'm sorry, I've changed my
mind again." But I decided then never to decide again. Nothing -- absolutely
nothing -- would ever change my mind again.
     When you're young, you have  all these things to worry about --  should
you go there, what about your mother. And you worry,  and try to decide, but
then something else comes up. It's much easier to  just  plain decide. 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. Anyway, I decided it would always be Caltech.
     One time  someone tried to change my mind about Caltech. Fermi had just
died  a  short  time before,  and  the  faculty at  Chicago were looking for
someone  to take his place.  Two people from Chicago came out  and  asked to
visit me  at my home --  I didn't know what it was about. They began telling
me all the good reasons  why I ought to go to Chicago:  I could do  this,  I
could do that, they had lots of great people there, I had the opportunity to
do all kinds of wonderful things. I didn't ask them how much they would pay,
and they kept hinting  that they  would tell me if  I  asked.  Finally, they
asked me if I  wanted to know  the  salary. "Oh, no!"  I said. "I've already
decided to stay  at Caltech.  My  wife Mary Lou is in the other room, and if
she  hears how much the salary is, we'll get into an argument. Besides, I've
decided not  to decide any more;  I'm  staying at  Caltech for  good." So  I
didn't let them tell me the salary they were offering.
     About a  month later I  was at  a meeting, and Leona Marshall came over
and said,  "It's funny  you didn't accept  our offer at Chicago.  We were so
disappointed,  and we couldn't understand  how you could  turn  down such  a
terrific offer."
     "It was easy," I said, "because I never let them tell me what the offer
was."
     A week later I  got  a  letter  from her. I  opened  it, and the  first
sentence said, "The salary they were offering was--," a tremendous amount of
money,  three  or four  times  what I  was  making.  Staggering!  Her letter
continued, "I told you the salary before you could  read any  further. Maybe
now  you want to reconsider, because they've told me  the position is  still
open, and we'd very much like to have you."
     So I wrote them  back a letter that  said,  "After reading the  salary,
I've decided that I must  refuse. The  reason I have to refuse a salary like
that  is  I would be able  to  do what I've  always  wanted to  do --  get a
wonderful mistress,  put her up in an apartment, buy her nice things... With
the salary you have offered, I could actually do that, and I know what would
happen to me.  I'd worry about her, what she's doing; I'd get into arguments
when I come home, and so on. All this bother would make me uncomfortable and
unhappy. I wouldn't be able to do  physics well, and it would be a big mess!
What I've always wanted to do would  be bad for  me, so  I've decided that I
can't accept your offer."



--------





--------


     Near  the  end of the  year I was  in  Brazil I  received a letter from
Professor  Wheeler which said that  there was  going to be  an international
meeting of theoretical physicists in Japan, and  might  I  like to go? Japan
had some famous  physicists before the war -- Professor Yukawa, with a Nobel
prize, Tomonaga, and Nishina -- but this  was the first sign of Japan coming
back to life after the war, and we all thought we ought to go and help  them
along.
     Wheeler enclosed an army phrasebook and wrote  that it would be nice if
we would all learn a little Japanese. I found a Japanese woman in  Brazil to
help  me with the  pronunciation, I practiced lifting little pieces of paper
with chopsticks, and I  read a lot about Japan. At that time, Japan was very
mysterious to me,  and I  thought  it  would be interesting  to go to such a
strange and wonderful country, so I worked very hard.
     When we got there, we were met at the airport  and  taken to a hotel in
Tokyo  designed by  Frank  Lloyd Wright.  It was an  imitation of a European
hotel, right down to  the little  guy  dressed in  an outfit like the Philip
Morris  guy. We weren't in Japan; we  might as well have  been in Europe  or
America! The guy who  showed us to our  rooms  stalled  around,  pulling the
shades up and down, waiting for a tip. Everything was just like America.
     Our  hosts had everything organized. That first  night  we were  served
dinner up at the top of the hotel by a woman dressed Japanese, but the menus
were in English. I  had gone to a lot of trouble  to learn  a few phrases in
Japanese, so near the end of the meal, I said to the waitress, "Kohi-o motte
kite kudasai." She bowed and walked away.
     My friend Marshak did a double take: "What? What?"
     "I talk Japanese," I said,
     "Oh, you faker! You're always kidding around, Feynman."
     "What are you talkin' about?" I said, in a serious tone.
     "OK," he said. "What did you ask?"
     "I asked her to bring us coffee."
     Marshak didn't believe me. "I'll make a bet with you," he said. "If she
brings us coffee..."
     The waitress appeared with our coffee, and Marshak lost his bet.
     It turned  out I was the only guy who had learned some Japanese -- even
Wheeler, who had told everybody they ought to learn Japanese, hadn't learned
any -- and I couldn't stand it any more. I had read about the Japanese-style
hotels, which were supposed to  be  very  different from the  hotel we  were
staying in.
     The  next  morning  I  called  the  Japanese  guy  who  was  organizing
everything up to my room. "I would like to stay in a Japanese-style hotel."
     "I am afraid that it is impossible, Professor Feynman."
     I had read that the Japanese  are very polite, but very  obstinate: You
have to keep  working on them. So I decided to  be as obstinate as they, and
equally polite.  It was a battle of minds: It took thirty minutes,  back and
forth.
     "Why do you want to go to a Japanese-style hotel?"
     "Because in this hotel, I don't feel like I'm in Japan."
     "Japanese-style hotels are no good. You have to sleep on the floor."
     "That's what I want; I want to see how it is."
     "And there are no chairs -- you sit on the floor at the table."
     "It's OK. That will be delightful. That's what I'm looking for."
     Finally he owns  up to  what the situation is:  "If  you're  in another
hotel, the bus will have to make an extra stop on its way to the meeting."
     "No, no!"  I say. "In the morning,  I'll come to this hotel, and get on
the bus here."
     "Well, then, OK. That's fine." That's all there  was to it -- except it
took half an hour to get to the real problem.
     He's walking over to  the telephone to make  a call to  the other hotel
when suddenly  he stops;  everything is blocked  up again. It takes  another
fifteen minutes to discover that this  time it's the mail.  If there are any
messages  from  the meeting, they already have it  arranged where to deliver
them.
     "It's OK," I say. "When I come in the morning to get the bus, I'll look
for any messages for me here at this hotel."
     "All right. That's fine." He gets on the telephone and at last we're on
our way to the Japanese-style hotel.
     As soon as I got there, I knew it was worth it: It was so lovely! There
was a place at the front  where you take your shoes off, then a girl dressed
in the  traditional outfit  -- the obi -- with sandals comes  shuffling out,
and takes your stuff; you follow  her down  a hallway which has mats  on the
floor, past  sliding doors made of paper, and  she's  going  cht-cht-cht-cht
with little steps. It was all very wonderful!
     We went into  my room and the  guy who arranged everything got all  the
way down, prostrated, and touched  his nose to the  floor; she  got down and
touched  her nose to the floor.  I felt very awkward. Should I touch my nose
to the floor, too?
     They said  greetings to  each other, he  accepted the  room for me, and
went out.  It was  a really wonderful  room.  There were  all  the  regular,
standard things that  you know of now, but it was all new to me. There was a
little  alcove  with a  painting in  it,  a  vase  with pussywillows  nicely
arranged, a table along the  floor with a cushion nearby, and at  the end of
the room were two sliding doors which opened onto a garden.
     The  lady  who was supposed to take care of me was a middle-aged woman.
She helped me undress and gave me a yukata, a simple blue and white robe, to
wear at the hotel.
     I pushed open  the doors and admired the lovely garden, and sat down at
the table to do a little work.
     I  wasn't there  more than  fifteen  or twenty  minutes when  something
caught my eye. I  looked  up, out  towards the garden, and I saw, sitting at
the entrance  to  the door, draped  in  the  corner, a very beautiful  young
Japanese woman, in a most lovely outfit.
     I  had read a lot about the customs of  Japan, and I had an idea of why
she was sent to my room. I thought, "This might be very interesting!"
     She  knew a little English.  "Would you  rike  to  see the garden?" she
asked.
     I put on the shoes that went with the yukata I was wearing, and we went
out into the garden. She took my arm and showed me everything.
     It turned out that because she knew a little English, the hotel manager
thought I would like her to show me the garden -- that's all it was. I was a
bit disappointed, of course, but this was a  meeting of cultures, and I knew
it was easy to get the wrong idea.
     Sometime later the woman  who  took  care of my  room came in and  said
something  -- in Japanese  -- about a bath. I knew that Japanese  baths were
interesting and was eager to try it, so I said, "Hai."
     I had read that Japanese baths are very complicated. They use  a lot of
water  that's heated from the outside, and  you aren't supposed to  get soap
into the bathwater and spoil it for the next guy.
     I got up and walked into the lavatory section, where the sink  was, and
I  could hear some guy in the next  section with  the  door closed, taking a
bath. Suddenly the door slides open: the  man  taking the  bath looks to see
who is intruding. "Professor!" he says to  me in English. "That's a very bad
error  to go  into  the  lavatory when someone  else has  the  bath!" It was
Professor Yukawa!
     He told  me that the woman had  no doubt asked do I want a bath, and if
so, she would get  it  ready for me and tell me when the  bathroom was free.
But of all the people in the world to make that serious social error with, I
was lucky it was Professor Yukawa!
     That Japanese-style hotel was  delightful, especially when  people came
to see me there. The other guys would come in to my room and we'd sit on the
floor  and start  to talk. We wouldn't be there  more than five minutes when
the woman who took care of my room  would come in with a tray of candies and
tea. It was as if you were a host in your own home,  and the hotel staff was
helping  you to  entertain your guests.  Here, when you have guests at  your
hotel room, nobody cares; you have to call up for service, and so on.
     Eating meals at the hotel was  also  different. The girl who brings  in
the food stays with you while you eat, so you're not alone. I couldn't  have
too  good a conversation with  her,  but it was all  right.  And the food is
wonderful. For instance, the soup comes in  a bowl  that's covered. You lift
the cover and there's a  beautiful picture: little pieces  of onion floating
in the soup just so; it's gorgeous. How the food  looks on the plate is very
important.
     I  had decided that I was  going to live Japanese as  much as  I could.
That meant eating  fish. I  never  liked fish when  I was  growing up, but I
found out in Japan that it was  a childish thing: I ate  a  lot of fish, and
enjoyed it. (When I went back to the United States the first thing I did was
go to a fish place.  It was horrible -- just like it was before.  I couldn't
stand it. I later discovered the answer: The fish has to be very, very fresh
-- if it isn't, it gets a certain taste that bothers me.)
     One time when I was eating at the Japanese-style hotel I  was served  a
round,  hard thing, about  the size of an egg yolk, in  a cup of some yellow
liquid. So far I had eaten everything  in  Japan, but this  thing frightened
me: it was all convoluted, like a brain looks. When I asked the girl what it
was, she replied "kuri." That didn't help much. I figured it was probably an
octopus egg, or something. I ate it, with some trepidation, because I wanted
to be as much in Japan as possible. (I also remembered the word "kuri" as if
my life depended on it -- I haven't forgotten it in thirty years:)
     The next day  I  asked  a  Japanese guy  at  the  conference  what this
convoluted thing was. I told him I had found  it very difficult to eat. What
the hell was "kuri"?
     "It means 'chestnut,' " he replied.

     Some of the Japanese I had learned  had quite an effect. One time, when
the bus was taking a long time to get started, some guy says, "Hey, Feynman!
You know Japanese; tell 'em to get going!"
     I said,  "Hayaku!  Hayaku! Ikimasho! Ikimasho!"  -- which means, "Let's
go! Let's go! Hurry! Hurry!"
     I realized  my Japanese was out of control. I had learned these phrases
from a  military  phrase  book, and they must  have  been very rude, because
everyone  at the  hotel began to  scurry like mice,  saying,  "Yes, sir! Yes
sir!" and the bus left right away.
     The meeting  in Japan was in two parts: one was in Tokyo, and the other
was  in Kyoto. In the bus on the way to Kyoto I told my  friend Abraham Pais
about the Japanese-style hotel, and he wanted to  try it.  We stayed  at the
Hotel  Miyako, which  had  both American-style and Japanese-style rooms, and
Pais shared a Japanese-style room with me.
     The next  morning the young woman  taking care  of our  room  fixes the
bath, which was right in our room. Sometime later she returns with a tray to
deliver breakfast. I'm  partly dressed. She turns to me and  says, politely,
"Ohayo, gozai masu," which means, "Good morning."
     Pais is just coming out of  the bath, sopping wet and completely  nude.
She  turns to  him and with  equal composure says, "Ohayo, gozai  masu," and
puts the tray down for us.
     Pais looks at me and says, "God, are  we uncivilized!" We realized that
in  America  if  the  maid was delivering breakfast  and the  guy's standing
there,  stark  naked, there would be little screams and a big fuss.  But  in
Japan they were completely used to it, and we felt  that they were much more
advanced and civilized about those things than we were.

     I had been working at that time on the theory of liquid helium, and had
figured out how the  laws of  quantum dynamics explain the strange phenomena
of super-fluidity. I was very  proud  of this achievement, and was going  to
give a talk about my work at the Kyoto meeting.
     The night before I gave my talk there was a dinner, and the man who sat
down next to me  was none other than Professor Onsager, a topnotch expert in
solid-state physics and the  problems of liquid helium. He was one  of these
guys who doesn't  say  very much,  but any  time he said  anything,  it  was
significant.
     "Well, Feynman," he  said in a gruff voice, "I hear you think you  have
understood liquid helium."
     "Well, yes..."
     "Hoompf." And that's all he said to me during the whole dinner! So that
wasn't much encouragement.
     The next day I gave my talk and  explained all about liquid  helium. At
the end, I complained that there was still something  I hadn't  been able to
figure out: that is, whether the transition between one phase and the  other
phase of liquid helium was first-order (like when a solid  melts or a liquid
boils  --  the  temperature  is  constant)  or  second-order  (like you  see
sometimes in magnetism, in which the temperature keeps changing).
     Then  Professor  Onsager  got  up  and said  in  a  dour voice,  "Well,
Professor Feynman is  new in our field, and I think he needs to be educated.
There's something he ought to know, and we should tell him."
     I thought, "Geesus! What did I do wrong?"
     Onsager said, "We  should tell Feynman that nobody has ever figured out
the order of any transition correctly from  first principles... so  the fact
that his theory does not allow him to work out the order correctly  does not
mean that  he  hasn't  understood  all  the  other  aspects of liquid helium
satisfactorily." It  turned  out to  be  a compliment,  but  from the way he
started out, I thought I was really going to get it!
     It wasn't more than a day later when I was in my room and the telephone
rang. It was Time magazine. The guy on the line said, "We're very interested
in your work. Do you have a copy of it you could send us?"
     I had never been in Time and was very excited.  I was proud of my work,
which had been received well at the meeting, so I said, "Sure!"
     "Fine. Please  send  it to  our  Tokyo bureau."  The  guy  gave  me the
address. I was feeling great.
     I repeated the address, and the guy said, "That's right. Thank you very
much, Mr. Pais."
     "Oh, no!" I said, startled. "I'm  not  Pais; it's Pais you want? Excuse
me. I'll tell him that you want to speak to him when he comes back."
     A few hours  later Pais  came  in: "Hey, Pais!  Pais!" I  said,  in  an
excited voice. "Time magazine called! They  want  you to  send 'em a copy of
the paper you're giving."
     "Aw!" he says. "Publicity is a whore!"
     I was doubly taken aback.
     I've since found out that Pais was right,  but in those days, I thought
it would be wonderful to have my name in Time magazine.
     That  was the  first time I was  in Japan. I  was eager to go back, and
said  I  would  go  to any university  they wanted me  to. So  the  Japanese
arranged a whole series of places to visit for a few days at a time.
     By  this time  I  was  married  to  Mary Lou,  and we  were entertained
wherever we went. At  one place they put on a whole  ceremony  with dancing,
usually performed only for larger groups of  tourists, especially for us. At
another place we were met right at  the boat by all the students. At another
place, the mayor met us.
     One particular place we stayed was a little, modest place in the woods,
where the  emperor would stay when he  came by. It was a  very lovely place,
surrounded by woods, just beautiful, the stream selected with care. It had a
certain calmness,  a quiet elegance. That  the  emperor  would go  to such a
place to stay showed a greater sensitivity to nature, I think, than  what we
were used to in the West.
     At all  these places  everybody  working in physics would tell  me what
they were doing and I'd discuss it with them. They would tell me the general
problem they were working on, and would begin to write a bunch of equations.
     "Wait  a minute," I would say, "Is  there a particular  example of this
general problem?"
     "Why yes; of course."
     "Good.  Give me  one example."  That was  for  me:  I  can't understand
anything in general unless I'm carrying along in my mind a specific  example
and watching it go. Some people think in the beginning that I'm kind of slow
and  I  don't understand the  problem,  because I ask a lot of these  "dumb"
questions: "Is a cathode plus or minus? Is an an ion this way, or that way?"
     But later, when  the guy's in the middle of a bunch of equations, he'll
say something and I'll say, "Wait a minute! There's an error! That can't  be
right!"
     The  guy  looks at his equations, and sure  enough, after  a while,  he
finds the  mistake and  wonders, "How  the  hell  did  this guy, who  hardly
understood  at the beginning, find  that  mistake  in the mess of all  these
equations?"
     He thinks I'm following the  steps mathematically, but  that's not what
I'm  doing. I  have the specific, physical example of what  he's  trying  to
analyze,  and I know  from  instinct  and  experience the  properties of the
thing. So  when  the equation says it should behave  so-and-so,  and  I know
that's the wrong way around, I jump up and say, "Wait! There's a mistake!"
     So in Japan I couldn't understand or discuss anybody's work unless they
could  give me  a physical  example, and  most of them couldn't find one. Of
those who could, it was often a weak example, one which could be solved by a
much simpler method of analysis.
     Since I was perpetually asking not for mathematical  equations, but for
physical circumstances of  what they were  trying  to work out, my visit was
summarized in a mimeographed paper circulated among the scientists (it was a
modest but effective  system of communication  they  had cooked up after the
war) with the title, "Feynman's Bombardments, and Our Reactions."
     After  visiting  a  number of universities I spent some  months at  the
Yukawa Institute in Kyoto. I really enjoyed working there. Everything was so
nice:  You'd come  to work, take your shoes off, and someone  would come and
serve you tea in the morning when you felt like it. It was very pleasant.
     While  in  Kyoto  I tried to learn Japanese with a  vengeance. I worked
much harder  at it, and  got to a point where I could go around in taxis and
do things. I took lessons from a Japanese man every day for an hour.
     One day he was teaching me the word for "see."
     "All right," he said. "You want to say,  'May I see  your garden?' What
do you say?"
     I made up a sentence with the word that I had just learned.
     "No, no!" he said. "When you say to someone, 'Would you  like to see my
garden?  you  use  the first 'see.'  But when you want to see someone else's
garden, you must use another 'see,' which is more polite."
     "Would you  like  to  glance at my lousy garden?"  is  essentially what
you're  saying in the first  case,  but when you  want to  look at the other
fella's garden, you have to say something like, "May I observe your gorgeous
garden?" So there's two different words you have to use.
     Then he gave me another  one: "You go to a temple, and you want to look
at the gardens..."
     I made up a sentence, this time with the polite "see."
     "No, no!" he said.  "In the temple, the gardens are  much more elegant.
So you have to say something that would be equivalent to 'May I hang my eyes
on your most exquisite gardens?'
     Three or four different words for one  idea, because when I'm doing it,
it's miserable; when you're doing it, it's elegant.
     I was learning Japanese  mainly for technical things, so I  decided  to
check if this same problem existed among the scientists.
     At the institute  the next day,  I said to the guys in the office, "How
would I say in Japanese, 'I solve the Dirac Equation'?"
     They said such-and-so.
     "OK. Now I want to say, 'Would you solve the Dirac Equation?' -- how do
I say that?"
     "Well, you have to use a different word for 'solve,' " they say.
     "Why?" I protested. "When I solve it, I do the same damn thing  as when
you solve it!"
     "Well, yes, but it's a different word -- it's more polite."
     I  gave up.  I  decided that wasn't the  language  for me, and  stopped
learning Japanese.


--------


     The problem was to find the right laws of beta decay. There appeared to
be two  particles,  which were called a tau and a theta. They seemed to have
almost exactly the same mass, but one disintegrated into two pions, and  the
other into three pions. Not  only did they  seem to  have the same mass, but
they also had the same lifetime, which is a funny  coincidence. So everybody
was concerned about this.
     At  a meeting  I went to, it was reported that when these two particles
were produced  in a cyclotron  at different  angles  and different energies,
they were always produced in the  same proportions  -- so many taus compared
to so many thetas.
     Now;  one  possibility,  of course, was that it was the  same particle,
which sometimes decayed into two pions, and sometimes into  three pions. But
nobody would allow that,  because  there  is  a law called the  parity rule,
which  is  based  on  the  assumption  that  all  the  laws  of  physics are
mirror-image-symmetrical, and  says that a thing that  can go into two pions
can't also go into three pions.
     At that  particular time I  was  not  really quite up to things:  I was
always  a little behind. Everybody seemed  to  be smart, and I didn't feel I
was keeping up.  Anyway, I was sharing a room with a guy named Martin Block,
an  experimenter.  And  one evening  he  said to me, "Why  are you  guys  so
insistent  on  this parity  rule?  Maybe the  tau and  theta  are  the  same
particle. What would be the consequences if the parity rule were wrong?"
     I thought a  minute and  said, "It would  mean that  nature's laws  are
different for the right hand and the left hand, that there's a way to define
the right hand  by physical phenomena. I don't know that that's so terrible,
though there must  be some bad consequences of  that, but I  don't know. Why
don't you ask the experts tomorrow?"
     He said, "No, they won't listen to me. You ask."
     So the next day, at the meeting, when we were discussing  the tau-theta
puzzle, Oppenheimer said, "We need to hear some new, wilder ideas about this
problem."
     So I got up and said, "I'm asking this question for  Martin Block: What
would be the consequences if the parity rule was wrong?"
     Murray Gell-Mann often teased  me about  this, saying I didn't have the
nerve to ask the question for myself.  But that's  not the reason. I thought
it might very well be an important idea.
     Lee, of Lee and  Yang, answered something complicated,  and as  usual I
didn't understand very well.  At the end of the meeting, Block asked me what
he said, and I said I didn't know, but as  far as I could tell, it was still
open -- there  was  still a possibility. I didn't think it was likely, but I
thought it was possible.
     Norm Ramsey asked me  if I  thought he  should do an experiment looking
for parity law violation, and  I  replied, "The  best  way to explain it is,
I'll bet you only fifty to one you don't find anything."
     He said, "That's good enough for me." But he never did the experiment.

     Anyway, the discovery of parity law violation was made, experimentally,
by Wu, and this opened up a  whole bunch of new possibilities for beta decay
theory. It also  unleashed a whole  host  of  experiments immediately  after
that. Some showed  electrons  coming out of the nuclei spun to the left, and
some to the  right,  and there were  all kinds of experiments, all  kinds of
interesting discoveries about parity. But the  data  were so  confusing that
nobody could put things together.
     At one  point there was a meeting in Rochester --  the yearly Rochester
Conference. I was still always behind, and  Lee was giving his  paper on the
violation of parity. He and Yang had come to the  conclusion that parity was
violated, and now he was giving the theory for it.
     During  the  conference I  was  staying  with my sister in  Syracuse. I
brought the paper  home and  said to her,  "I  can't understand these things
that Lee and Yang are saying. It's all so complicated."
     "No," she' said, "what  you mean is  not that you can't  understand it,
but that you  didn't invent it. You didn't figure it out your own way,  from
hearing the clue. What you  should do is imagine you're a student again, and
take this paper upstairs, read every  line of it, and  check  the equations.
Then you'll understand it very easily."
     I took her advice, and checked through the whole thing, and found it to
be very  obvious and simple. I  had been afraid to read  it, thinking it was
too difficult.
     It reminded  me  of something I had done a  long time ago with left and
right unsymmetrical equations. Now it became kind of clear, when I looked at
Lee's formulas, that the solution  to it all  was  much  simpler: Everything
comes out coupled to the left. For the electron and the muon, my predictions
were the same as Lee's, except I changed some signs around. I didn't realize
it at  the time,  but  Lee  had  taken  only  the simplest example  of  muon
coupling,  and hadn't  proved that  all muons would be  full  to  the right,
whereas  according   to   my  theory,  all  muons  would  have  to  be  full
automatically. Therefore, I had,  in fact, a prediction  on  top of what  he
had. I  had different  signs, but  I didn't  realize that I  also  had  this
quantity right.
     I predicted a few things that nobody had  experiments for yet, but when
it came to the neutron and proton, I couldn't make it fit well with what was
then known about neutron and proton coupling: it was kind of messy.
     The next day, when I went  back  to the meeting, a very kind man  named
Ken Case, who was going to give a paper on something,  gave me  five minutes
of his  allotted  time  to present my  idea.  I said  I was  convinced  that
everything was coupled to  the left, and that the signs for the electron and
muon  are  reversed,  but I was  struggling  with  the  neutron.  Later  the
experimenters asked me some questions about  my predictions, and then I went
to Brazil for the summer.
     When  I came  back to  the United States,  I  wanted  to know what  the
situation  was  with  beta  decay.  I went  to Professor  Wu's laboratory at
Columbia, and she wasn't there, spinning to the left in the beta decay, came
out on the right  in  some cases.  Nothing fit anything. When  I got back to
Caltech, I  asked some of the experimenters what the situation was with beta
decay. I remember three guys, Hans Jensen, Aaldert Wapstra, and Felix Boehm,
sitting me down on a little stool, and starting to tell me  all these facts:
experimental  results  from  other  parts of  the  country,  and  their  own
experimental results. Since I knew those guys, and how  careful they were, I
paid  more  attention  to their  results than to the  others. Their results,
alone, were not so inconsistent; it was all the others plus theirs.
     Finally they get all this  stuff into me, and  they say, "The situation
is so  mixed  up that even some  of the things they've established for years
are  being  questioned -- such as the beta  decay of the neutron is S and T.
It's so messed up. Murray says it might even be V and A."
     I jump up from the stool and say, "Then I understand EVVVVVERYTHING!"
     They thought I was joking. But the thing that I had trouble with at the
Rochester  meeting -- the  neutron and proton disintegration: everything fit
but  that, and if it was V  and  A instead of S  and T, that  would fit too.
Therefore I had the whole theory!
     That night I calculated all kinds of things with this theory. The first
thing I calculated was  the  rate  of  disintegration  of the  muon  and the
neutron. They should be connected together,  if this theory was right, by  a
certain relationship,  and it was right to 9 percent. That's pretty close, 9
percent.  It should  have been more  perfect  than that,  but it  was  close
enough.
     I went on and checked some other things, which fit, and new things fit,
new things fit, and I was very excited. It was  the first time, and the only
time, in my career that  I knew a  law of nature that nobody else  knew. (Of
course it wasn't true, but  finding out later that at least Murray Gell-Mann
-- and  also Sudarshan and Marshak -- had  worked out the same theory didn't
spoil my fun.)
     The other things I had done before were to take  somebody else's theory
and  improve the method  of  calculating, or take  an equation,  such as the
Schrödinger Equation, to explain a phenomenon,  such as helium. We  know the
equation, and we know the phenomenon, but how does it work?
     I thought  about  Dirac,  who had his  equation  for  a  while -- a new
equation which told how an electron behaved -- and  I  had this new equation
for beta  decay, which  wasn't  as vital as the Dirac  Equation, but  it was
good. It's the only time I ever discovered a new law.
     I called up my sister in New York to  thank her  for getting  me to sit
down  and  work  through  that paper  by  Lee  and  Yang  at  the  Rochester
Conference. After feeling uncomfortable and behind, now I was in; I had made
a discovery,  just from  what  she  suggested.  I was able to enter  physics
again, so  to speak, and I wanted  to  thank her for  that. I  told her that
everything fit, except for the 9 percent.
     I  was very excited, and kept  on calculating, and things that fit kept
on tumbling out: they  fit automatically, without  a strain. I had begun  to
forget about the 9 percent by now,  because everything  else  was coming out
right.
     I  worked very hard into  the night,  sitting at  a small table in  the
kitchen  next to a  window. It was getting later and  later -- about 2:00 or
3:00 A.M. I'm working hard, getting all these calculations packed solid with
things that fit, and I'm thinking, and  concentrating,  and  it's dark,  and
it's  quiet...  when  suddenly there's  a TAC-TAC-TAC-TAC  --  loud,  on the
window. I look, and  there's this  white  face, right  at the  window,  only
inches away, and I scream with shock and surprise!
     It was a lady I knew who was  angry at me because I had come back  from
vacation  and didn't immediately call her up  to tell her I  was back. I let
her in, and tried to explain that I  was just now very busy, that I had just
discovered something, and it was very important. I said,  "Please go out and
let me finish it."
     She said, "No,  I don't want to bother you.  I'll just sit here in  the
living room."
     I said, "Well,  all right, but it's very difficult." She didn't exactly
sit in the living room. The  best way to say it is she sort of squatted in a
corner,  holding her hands together, not wanting to  "bother" me. Of  course
her purpose  was  to  bother the hell  out  of me! And  she succeeded  --  I
couldn't ignore her. I got very angry and  upset, and I couldn't stand it. I
had to do this calculating; I was making a  big  discovery and  was terribly
excited, and somehow, it was more important to me than this lady -- at least
at that moment. I don't remember how I finally got  her out of there, but it
was very difficult.
     After working some more, it  got  to be very  late at night, and  I was
hungry. I walked up  the  main  street to a  little restaurant  five or  ten
blocks away, as I had often done before, late at night.
     On  early  occasions I was often stopped by the police, because I would
be walking along,  thinking,  and  then I'd stop -- sometimes an  idea comes
that's difficult enough that  you  can't keep walking; you have to make sure
of  something. So I'd  stop, and sometimes I'd hold my hands out in the air,
saying to  myself,  "The distance between these is  that way, and  then this
would turn over this way..."
     I'd be moving my hands,  standing in the street, when the police  would
come: "What is your name? Where do you live? What are you doing?"
     "Oh!  I was thinking.  I'm  sorry;  I live here,  and go  often  to the
restaurant..." After a bit they knew who it was, and they didn't stop me any
more.
     So I went to the restaurant, and while I'm eating I'm so excited that I
tell a lady that I just made a discovery. She starts in: She's the wife of a
fireman, or forester, or something. She's very lonely -- all this stuff that
I'm not interested in. So that happens.

     The  next  morning when I  got to  work I  went to Wapstra, Boehm,  and
Jensen, and told them, "I've got it all worked out. Everything fits."
     Christy,  who was there,  too, said, "What beta-decay constant  did you
use?"
     "The one from So-and-So's book."
     "But that's been found out to be wrong. Recent measurements  have shown
it's off by 7 percent."
     Then I remember the 9 percent. It was like a prediction for me: I  went
home  and  got this theory that says  the  neutron decay should be  off by 9
percent, and they tell me the next morning that, as a matter of fact, it's 7
percent changed. But is it changed from 9 to 16,  which is bad, or from 9 to
2, which is good?
     Just then  my sister calls from New  York: "How  about the 9 percent --
what's happened?"
     "I've just discovered that there's new data: 7 percent..."
     "Which way?"
     "I'm trying to find out. I'll call you back."
     I was so excited that I  couldn't think. It's like when  you're rushing
for an airplane, and you don't know whether you're late or not, and you just
can't make it, when  somebody says,  "It's daylight  saving time!"  Yes, but
which way? You can't think in the excitement.
     So Christy went into one room, and I went into another room, each of us
to be quiet, so we could think it  through: This  moves  this way,  and that
moves that way -- it wasn't very difficult, really; it's just exciting.
     Christy  came out, and I came  out, and we both agreed: It's 2 percent,
which is well within experimental error. After all, if they just changed the
constant  by 7 percent, the 2 percent could  have been an error. I called my
sister back: "Two percent." The theory was right.
     (Actually, it was wrong: it was off, really, by 1 percent, for a reason
we hadn't appreciated, which was only understood later by Nicola Cabibbo. So
that 2 percent was not all experimental.)
     Murray  Gell-Mann compared and combined our ideas  and wrote a paper on
the theory. The theory was rather neat; it was relatively simple, and it fit
a lot of stuff. But as I told you,  there  was an awful lot of chaotic data.
And in some cases, we even went so far as to state that the experiments were
in error.
     A good example of this was an experiment by Valentine Telegdi, in which
he  measured the  number of  electrons that go  out in each direction when a
neutron disintegrates.  Our theory had predicted that  the  number should be
the same in all directions, whereas Telegdi found that 11 percent more  came
out in one direction than the others. Telegdi was an excellent experimenter,
and very careful. And once, when he was giving a talk somewhere, he referred
to our  theory  and said, "The trouble  with  theorists  is, they never  pay
attention to the experiments!"
     Telegdi also  sent us  a  letter,  which  wasn't exactly scathing,  but
nevertheless showed he was convinced that our theory was  wrong.  At the end
he wrote, "The F-G (Feynman-Gell-Mann) theory of beta decay is no F-G."
     Murray says, "What  should we do about this? You know, Telegdi's pretty
good."
     I say, "We just wait."
     Two  days later  there's another letter from  Telegdi. He's a  complete
convert.  He  found  out  from  our  theory  that  he  had  disregarded  the
possibility that the  proton recoiling  from the neutron is  not the same in
all directions.  He had assumed it  was the same.  By putting in corrections
that our theory predicted instead of the ones he had been using, the results
straightened out and were in complete agreement.
     I knew that Telegdi was excellent, and it would  be hard to go upstream
against him. But I was convinced by  that time  that something must be wrong
with his  experiment,  and that he  would  find it  -- he's  much  better at
finding it than we would be. That's why I said we shouldn't try to figure it
out but just wait.
     I went to Professor Bacher and told him about our success, and he said,
"Yes, you come out and say that the neutron-proton coupling  is V instead of
T. Everybody used to think it  was  T.  Where  is the fundamental experiment
that  says it's T? Why  don't you look at the early experiments and find out
what was wrong with them?"
     I went out and  found the original article on  the experiment that said
the neutron-proton  coupling  is  T,  and  I  was shocked  by  something.  I
remembered reading that article once before (back  in the  days when  I read
every article  in  the  Physical Review --  it  was  small  enough).  And  I
remembered,  when  I  saw  this  article again, looking  at  that curve  and
thinking, "That doesn't prove anything!"
     You see, it depended on one or two points at the very edge of the range
of the data,  and there's a principle that a point on the edge  of the range
of the data -- the last point -- isn't very good, because if it was,  they'd
have another point  further along. And  I had realized that  the  whole idea
that neutron-proton coupling is T was based on  the last point, which wasn't
very good, and therefore it's not proved. I remember noticing that!
     And when  I became interested in beta decay, directly, I read all these
reports by  the "beta-decay experts," which said  it's T.  I never looked at
the original data; I only read those reports, like a dope. Had I been a good
physicist,  when I thought of  the  original  idea  back  at  the  Rochester
Conference I would have  immediately looked up "how  strong do  we know it's
T?"  --  that would  have  been the  sensible  thing  to  do.  I  would have
recognized  right away that I  had already noticed it  wasn't satisfactorily
proved.
     Since  then I  never  pay  any attention  to  anything by  "experts." I
calculate everything myself. When people  said the quark  theory  was pretty
good, I got two Ph.D.s, Finn Ravndal  and Mark Kislinger, to  go through the
whole works with me, just so I  could check that the thing was really giving
results  that fit fairly well,  and that it was a significantly good theory.
I'll  never make  that  mistake again,  reading  the experts'  opinions.  Of
course, you only  live one life, and you  make  all your mistakes, and learn
what not to do, and that's the end of you.


--------


     One time a science teacher from  the local city college came around and
asked me if I'd give  a talk there. He offered me  fifty dollars, but I told
him I wasn't worried about the money. "That's the city college, right?"
     "Yes."
     I thought  about how much paperwork I usually  had to get involved with
when I deal  with the government, so I  laughed and said, "I'll  be glad  to
give the talk.  There's only one condition on the whole thing" -- I pulled a
number out of a hat and continued -- "that I don't have to sign my name more
than thirteen times, and that includes the check!"
     The guy laughs too. "Thirteen times! No problem."
     So then it starts. First  I have  to sign something that says I'm loyal
to  the government, or else I can't talk in the city college. And I have  to
sign it double, OK? Then I  have to sign some kind of release to the city --
I can't remember what. Pretty soon the numbers are beginning to climb up.
     I  have  to sign  that I  was suitably  employed  as a professor --  to
ensure, of course, since  it's a city  thing, that no  jerk at the other end
was hiring his wife or a friend to come and not even give the lecture. There
were all kinds of things to ensure, and the signatures kept mounting.
     Well, the guy who started out laughing got pretty nervous, but we  just
made it.  I signed exactly twelve times. There  was  one  more left for  the
check, so I went ahead and gave the talk.
     A few days later the  guy came around to give me  the check, and he was
really sweating. He couldn't give me the money unless I signed a form saying
I really gave the talk.
     I  said,  "If I sign the  form,  I can't sign the  check.  But you were
there. You heard the talk; why don't you sign it?"
     "Look," he said, "Isn't this whole thing rather silly?"
     "No. It was an arrangement we made in the beginning. We didn't think it
was really  going to get to thirteen,  but  we agreed on it, and  I think we
should stick to it to the end."
     He  said, "I've been working very hard, calling  all around. I've  been
trying everything, and they  tell me  it's impossible. You simply can't  get
your money unless you sign the form."
     "It's OK," I said. "I've only signed twelve times, and I gave the talk.
I don't need the money."
     "But I hate to do this to you."
     "It's all right. We made a deal; don't worry."
     The next  day he  called  me up. "They  can't  not give you the  money!
They've already earmarked the money and they've  got  it  set aside, so they
have to give it to you!"
     "OK, if they have to give me the money, let them give me the money."
     "But you have to sign the form."
     "I won't sign the form!"
     They were  stuck. There  was no miscellaneous pot which  was  for money
that this man deserves but won't sign for.
     Finally, it got  straightened out. It took a long time, and it was very
complicated -- but I used the thirteenth signature to cash my check.


--------


     I don't  know why, but I'm  always very  careless, when I go on a trip,
about the address or telephone number or anything of the people  who invited
me.  I figure  I'll be met, or  somebody  else will know  where we're going;
it'll get straightened out somehow.
     One time, in 1957, I  went to a gravity conference at the University of
North Carolina. I was  supposed  to be an  expert in a different  field  who
looks at gravity.
     I landed at the airport a day  late for the conference (I couldn't make
it the first day), and I  went out  to where  the taxis were. I  said to the
dispatcher, "I'd like to go to the University of North Carolina."
     "Which do you mean," he said, "the State  University of North  Carolina
at Raleigh, or the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill?"
     Needless to  say,  I hadn't  the slightest  idea. "Where  are  they?" I
asked, figuring that one must be near the other.
     "One's north of here, and  the other  is  south of here, about the same
distance."
     I had  nothing  with  me  that  showed which  one it was, and there was
nobody else going to the conference a day late like I was.
     That gave  me  an  idea. "Listen," I said to the dispatcher. "The  main
meeting began yesterday, so there  were a  whole lot  of guys going  to  the
meeting who must have come through  here yesterday. Let me describe  them to
you:  They  would have their heads  kind of in  the air,  and  they would be
talking to each other, not paying attention to where they were going, saying
things to each other, like 'G-mu-nu. G-mu-nu.' "
     His face lit up. "Ah, yes," he said. "You mean Chapel Hill!" He  called
the  next  taxi waiting in line.  "Take this man to the university at Chapel
Hill."
     "Thank you," I said, and I went to the conference.


--------


     Once  I was at a party playing bongos, and I got going pretty well. One
of the guys was  particularly inspired by  the  drumming. He  went  into the
bathroom, took  off his shirt, smeared shaving cream  in funny  designs  all
over his chest, and came out  dancing wildly, with cherries hanging from his
ears. Naturally, this crazy  nut and I became good  friends right  away. His
name is Jerry Zorthian; he's an artist.
     We often  had  long discussions  about art  and science. I'd say things
like, "Artists are lost: they don't have any  subject! They used to have the
religious  subjects, but they lost their  religion and now  they haven't got
anything. They don't understand the technical world they live in; they don't
know anything about  the beauty of the real world -- the scientific world --
so they don't have anything in their hearts to paint."
     Jerry would reply that artists don't  need  to have a physical subject;
there are many emotions that can  be expressed through art. Besides, art can
be abstract. Furthermore,  scientists destroy the beauty of nature when they
pick it apart and turn it into mathematical equations.
     One time I was over at Jerry's for his birthday, and one of these dopey
arguments lasted until  3:00 a.m. The next morning I called him up: "Listen,
Jerry," I said,  "the reason we have these arguments that never get anywhere
is that you  don't know a damn thing  about science, and I don't know a damn
thing about  art. So, on  alternate  Sundays, I'll  give  you  a  lesson  in
science, and you give me a lesson in art."
     "OK," he said. "I'll teach you how to draw."
     "That will be impossible," I  said, because when I was in high  school,
the only thing I could draw was pyramids on deserts --  consisting mainly of
straight lines -- and from time to time I would attempt  a palm tree and put
in  a sun. I had absolutely no  talent. I  sat next to a guy who was equally
adept. When  he  was permitted to draw  anything, it consisted of two  flat,
elliptical blobs, like tires stacked on one another, with a stalk coming out
of  the top, culminating in a green triangle.  It was supposed to be a tree.
So I bet Jerry that he wouldn't be able to teach me to draw.
     "Of course you'll have to work," he said.
     I promised to work, but still bet that he couldn't teach me to draw.  I
wanted very much to learn to draw,  for a  reason that I kept to  myself:  I
wanted to  convey  an emotion  I have about the  beauty  of  the world. It's
difficult to describe because it's an emotion. It's analogous to the feeling
one has in  religion that has to do  with a  god that controls everything in
the whole universe: there's a generality aspect that you feel when you think
about how things that  appear so different and behave so differently are all
run "behind the scenes" by the  same  organization, the  same physical laws.
It's an appreciation of the  mathematical beauty of nature, of how she works
inside; a realization  that the phenomena we see  result from the complexity
of the inner workings between atoms; a feeling of how dramatic and wonderful
it  is. It's a feeling  of awe -- of scientific awe -- which I felt could be
communicated through a drawing  to someone who had also had this emotion. It
could remind him,  for a moment, of  this feeling about the glories  of  the
universe.
     Jerry turned out to be a very good teacher. He told me first to go home
and draw anything. So I tried to draw a shoe;  then I tried to draw a flower
in a pot. It was a mess!
     The next  time we met  I showed him  my attempts: "Oh,  look!" he said.
"You see, around in back here,  the line of the flower pot doesn't touch the
leaf." (I had  meant the line  to come up to  the leaf.) "That's very  good.
It's a way of showing depth. That's very clever of you."
     "And the fact  that you  don't  make all the  lines  the same thickness
(which I didn't mean to do) is good. A drawing  with all  the lines the same
thickness  is dull." It continued like that: Everything that I thought was a
mistake, he used to teach me  something  in a positive way. He never said it
was wrong; he never put me down. So I kept on trying, and I  gradually got a
little bit better, but I was never satisfied.
     To  get  more  practice I also signed up for  a  correspondence  school
course, with International Correspondence  Schools, and I must say they were
good.  They started me off drawing pyramids  and cylinders, shading them and
so  on. We covered  many areas: drawing,  pastels, watercolors,  and paints.
Near  the end I  petered out: I made an oil painting  for them, but I  never
sent it in.  They kept sending me letters urging  me to continue.  They were
very good.
     I practiced drawing  all the time, and became very interested in it. If
I  was at a  meeting that wasn't getting anywhere -- like the one where Carl
Rogers came  to Caltech  to discuss with us whether Caltech should develop a
psychology department -- I would draw the other people. I  had a little  pad
of paper  I kept  with  me and  I practiced  drawing wherever I went. So, as
Jerry taught me, I worked very hard.
     Jerry, on the other  hand, didn't learn much physics. His mind wandered
too easily. I tried to teach him something about  electricity and magnetism,
but as soon as I mentioned  "electricity,"  he'd tell me about some motor he
had  that didn't work, and how might he fix it. When I tried to show him how
an electromagnet works by making a little coil of wire and hanging a nail on
a piece of string, I put  the voltage on, the nail swung into  the coil, and
Jerry said, "Ooh! It's just like fucking!" So that was the end of that.
     So now we have a new argument-whether he's a better teacher than I was,
or I'm a better student than he was.
     I gave up the idea of trying to get an artist to appreciate the feeling
I had about nature so he could  portray it.  I would  now have to  double my
efforts in learning to draw so I could do it myself. It was a very ambitious
undertaking, and I kept the idea entirely to myself, because the odds were I
would never be able to do it.
     Early on  in the  process of learning to draw,  some lady I knew saw my
attempts and said, "You should go down to the Pasadena Art Museum. They have
drawing classes there, with models -- nude models."
     "No," I said; "I can't draw well enough: I'd feel very embarrassed."
     "You're good enough; you should see some of the others!"
     So  I worked up  enough courage to go down there. In the  first  lesson
they  told  us about newsprint -- very  large sheets of low-grade paper, the
size of a newspaper -- and the various kinds of pencils and charcoal to get.
For the second class a  model  came, and she started  off with  a ten-minute
pose.
     I started to draw the model, and by the time I'd done one leg, the  ten
minutes were  up. I  looked around and saw that everyone  else  had  already
drawn a complete picture, with shading in the back -- the whole business.
     I realized I was way  out of  my  depth.  But finally, at  the end, the
model was going  to  pose for thirty minutes.  I worked very hard, and  with
great effort I was able to draw her whole outline. This time  there was half
a hope. So  this time  I  didn't cover up my drawing, as I had done with all
the previous ones.
     We went around to look  at what the others had done, and  I  discovered
what  they could  really do:  they draw the model, with details and shadows,
the  pocketbook  that's  on  the  bench  she's  sitting  on,  the  platform,
everything! They've all gone zip, zip, zip,  zip, zip with the charcoal, all
over, and I figure it's hopeless -- utterly hopeless.
     I go back to cover up my drawing, which consists of a few lines crowded
into  the upper left-hand corner of the newsprint -- I had, until then, only
been drawing  on 8 1/2 x 11  paper  -- but  some others  in  the  class  are
standing nearby: "Oh,  look at this one,"  one of  them  says.  "Every  line
counts!"
     I didn't know what that meant, exactly, but I felt encouraged enough to
come to the next class. In the meantime, Jerry kept telling me that drawings
that  are too  full aren't any  good. His job was  to teach me not to  worry
about the others, so he'd tell me they weren't so hot.
     I noticed that the teacher didn't  tell people much (the only thing  he
told me was  my  picture was too  small on the  page). Instead, he  tried to
inspire us  to  experiment with new approaches.  I thought of  how  we teach
physics: We have so many techniques -- so  many mathematical methods -- that
we never stop telling  the students how to do things. On the other hand, the
drawing  teacher is  afraid  to tell  you anything. If your  lines are  very
heavy, the  teacher  can't say, "Your lines  are  too heavy,"  because  some
artist has figured out a way of making great pictures using heavy lines. The
teacher  doesn't want  to push  you  in  some  particular  direction. So the
drawing teacher has this problem of communicating how to draw by osmosis and
not by  instruction,  while the  physics  teacher has the  problem of always
teaching techniques, rather  than  the spirit,  of how to go  about  solving
physical problems.
     They  were  always telling me  to "loosen up,"  to  become more relaxed
about drawing. I figured that made no more  sense than telling someone who's
just learning to drive to "loosen up"  at the wheel. It isn't going to work.
Only after you know how to do it carefully can you  begin to loosen up. So I
resisted this perennial loosen-up stuff.
     One exercise they had invented for loosening us up was to draw  without
looking at the  paper. Don't take your eyes off the model;  just look at her
and make the lines on the paper without looking at what you're doing.
     One  of  the  guys  says,  "I  can't help  it.  I have to cheat. I  bet
everybody's cheating!"
     "I'm not cheating!" I say.
     "Aw, baloney!" they say.
     I finish the exercise and  they come over to look at what  I had drawn.
They found that, indeed, I was NOT cheating; at the very beginning my pencil
point had busted, and there was nothing but impressions on the paper.
     When I finally got my pencil to work, I tried it again. I found that my
drawing  had a  kind of  strength -- a  funny, semi-Picasso-like strength --
which appealed to me. The reason I felt good about that  drawing was, I knew
it was impossible to draw well that way, and therefore it didn't  have to be
good -- and that's really what the loosening up was all about. I had thought
that "loosen up"  meant "make sloppy drawings," but it really meant to relax
and not worry about how the drawing is going to come out.
     I made a lot of  progress in the class, and I was feeling  pretty good.
Up until the last session,  all the models we had  were rather heavy and out
of shape; they were rather interesting to draw. But in the last class we had
a model  who was a nifty blonde, perfectly proportioned. It was then  that I
discovered that I still didn't know  how to draw: I  couldn't  make anything
come  out that looked  anything  like this  beautiful girl! With  the  other
models,  if you draw something a little too big or bit too small, it doesn't
make  any difference because it's all out  of shape  anyway. But when you're
trying to  draw  something  that's  so  well put  together,  you can't  fool
yourself: It's got to be just right!
     During one of the breaks I overheard a guy who could really draw asking
this model whether  she posed  privately.  She  said yes. "Good. But I don't
have a studio yet. I'll have to work that out first."
     I figured  I could learn a lot from this guy, and I'd never get another
chance to draw  this nifty model unless I did something. "Excuse me," I said
to  him, "I  have a room  downstairs  in my house that  could be used  as  a
studio."
     They both agreed.  I  took  a  few of the  guy's drawings  to my friend
Jerry,  but  he  was aghast. "Those aren't  so good,"  he  said. He tried to
explain why, but I never really understood.
     Until I began to learn to draw, I was never much  interested in looking
at  art.  I had very little appreciation for things  artistic, and only very
rarely, such as once when I was in a museum  in Japan. I saw a painting done
on brown paper of bamboo, and what was  beautiful about it to me was that it
was perfectly poised between being  just some brush strokes and being bamboo
-- I could make it go back and forth.
     The  summer  after  the  drawing  class I was in  Italy for  a  science
conference and I thought I'd like  to see the Sistine  Chapel.  I  got there
very early in the morning, bought my  ticket before anybody else, and ran up
the stairs as soon as the place opened. I therefore had the unusual pleasure
of looking at the  whole  chapel for a moment, in silent awe, before anybody
else came in.
     Soon the tourists came, and there were crowds of people milling around,
talking different  languages, pointing at this and that. I'm walking around,
looking at the ceiling for a while. Then my eye came down a little bit and I
saw some  big,  framed pictures, and  I thought,  "Gee! I  never knew  about
these!"
     Unfortunately  I'd left  my  guidebook at  the hotel, but I thought  to
myself, "I know why  these panels aren't famous;  they aren't any good." But
then I looked at another one, and I said, "Wow! That's a good one." I looked
at the others. "That's  good too, so  is that one, but  that one's lousy." I
had never heard  of  these  panels, but I decided  that  they  were all good
except for two.
     I went into  a  place called the Sala de Raphael -- the Raphael Room --
and I  noticed  the  same  phenomenon. I  thought  to  myself,  "Raphael  is
irregular. He doesn't always succeed. Sometimes  he's  very  good. Sometimes
it's just junk."
     When I got back to my hotel, I  looked at  the  guidebook. In  the part
about  the Sistine Chapel:  "Below  the paintings by Michelangelo  there are
fourteen panels by Botticelli, Perugino" -- all these great  artists -- "and
two  by So-and-so,  which  are  of no significance."  This  was  a  terrific
excitement to me, that I also could  tell the difference between a beautiful
work  of art  and one that's  not, without being  able  to  define  it. As a
scientist  you  always  think you know  what  you're  doing, so you  tend to
distrust  the artist who says, "It's great," or "It's no good,"  and then is
not able to explain to you why, as Jerry did with those drawings I took him.
But here I was, sunk: I could do it too!
     In the Raphael Room the secret turned out to be  that only  some of the
paintings were made by  the great master; the rest were made  by students. I
had liked the ones by Raphael. This was a big jab for my  self-confidence in
my ability to appreciate art.
     Anyway,  the guy from the art class and the nifty model came over to my
house a number  of times and  I tried  to draw her and learn from him. After
many attempts I finally drew what I felt was a really nice picture -- it was
a portrait of her head -- and I got very excited about this first success.
     I  had  enough  confidence to  ask an old friend of  mine  named  Steve
Demitriades if his beautiful wife would pose for  me,  and in return I would
give him  the  portrait. He laughed. "If she wants  to waste her time posing
for you, it's all right with me, ha, ha, ha."
     I worked very hard on her portrait, and when he saw it,  he turned over
to my side  completely: "It's just wonderful!" he exclaimed. "Can you  get a
photographer to  make copies of it?  I want  to  send  one  to my  mother in
Greece!"  His mother  had never  seen  the  girl he  married. That was  very
exciting to  me, to  think that I  had improved  to the point  where someone
wanted one of my drawings.
     A  similar  thing happened at  a  small  art  exhibit that some guy  at
Caltech  had arranged, where I  contributed  two drawings and a painting. He
said, "We oughta put a price on the drawings."
     I thought, "That's silly! I'm not trying to sell them."
     "It makes the exhibition  more interesting. If  you don't mind  parting
with them, just put a price on."
     After  the  show  the guy told me that  a  girl had bought  one  of  my
drawings and wanted to speak to me to find out more about it.
     The  drawing  was  called "The Magnetic Field  of the  Sun."  For  this
particular  drawing I had borrowed one  of  those  beautiful pictures of the
solar prominences  taken  at  the solar  laboratory  in  Colorado. Because I
understood how the sun's magnetic field  was holding  up the flames and had,
by that time, developed  some technique for drawing magnetic field lines (it
was similar to a girl's flowing hair), I wanted  to draw something beautiful
that no artist would think  to  draw:  the  rather  complicated and twisting
lines of the magnetic field, close together here and spreading out there.
     I  explained all this to her, and showed  her the picture that  gave me
the idea.
     She told me this story:  She and her husband  had gone to  the exhibit,
and they both liked  the  drawing very  much. "Why  don't  we  buy it?"  she
suggested.
     Her husband was  the  kind of a  man who could never  do anything right
away. "Let's think about it a while," he said.
     She realized his birthday was a few months ahead,  so she went back the
same day and bought it herself.
     That night when he  came  home from work, he was depressed. She finally
got it out of him: He thought it would be  nice to buy her that picture, but
when he went back to the exhibit, he was told  that the picture had  already
been sold. So she had it to surprise him on his birthday.
     What I  got  out  of that story was something  still very new to me:  I
understood at last what art is really for, at least in  certain respects. It
gives somebody, individually, pleasure. You can make something that somebody
likes  so much that they're depressed, or they're  happy, on account of that
damn  thing you made! In  science, it's sort of general and large: You don't
know the individuals who have appreciated it directly.
     I understood that to sell a drawing is not  to  make  money,  but to be
sure that it's in the home of someone who really wants it; someone who would
feel bad if they didn't have it. This was interesting.
     So I decided  to sell my drawings. However, I didn't want people to buy
my drawings  because the professor  of physics isn't supposed  to be able to
draw,  isn't that wonderful, so I  made  up  a  false name. My friend Dudley
Wright suggested "Au Fait," which means "It is done" in French. I spelled it
O-f-e-y, which  turned out to be a  name the  blacks used for  "whitey." But
after all, I was whitey, so it was all right.
     One of my models  wanted me  to make a drawing  for her, but she didn't
have  the money. (Models  don't  have money; if they did,  they wouldn't  be
modeling.)  She  offered  to pose  three times  free if I  would give  her a
drawing.
     "On the contrary," I said. "I'll give you three drawings if you'll pose
once for nothing."
     She put one of the  drawings I gave her on the wall in her  small room,
and  soon her boyfriend noticed it.  He liked  it so much  that he wanted to
commission a  portrait of her. He would pay me sixty dollars. (The money was
getting pretty good now.)
     Then she  got  the idea to  be  my agent: She could earn a little extra
money by going  around selling my drawings, saying, "There's a new artist in
Altadena..." It  was fun to  be in a different world!  She arranged to  have
some of  my drawings put  on  display at Bullock's, Pasadena's  most elegant
department store. She  and  the  lady  from the art section picked  out some
drawings -- drawings of plants that I had made early on (that I didn't like)
-- and  had  them all framed. Then  I got a  signed document from  Bullock's
saying that they had such-and-such drawings on consignment. Of course nobody
bought any of them,  but otherwise I was a big success: I had my drawings on
sale at Bullock's! It was fun to have them  there, just so I  could  say one
day that I had reached that pinnacle of success in the art world.
     Most  of my models I got through Jerry, but I also tried to  get models
on my own. Whenever I  met  a  young  woman who  looked  as if she would  be
interesting to draw, I would ask her to pose for me. It always ended up that
I  would draw her  face, because I didn't know exactly  how to bring  up the
subject of posing nude.
     Once when  I was  over at Jerry's,  I  said to  his wife Dabney, "I can
never get the girls to pose nude: I don't know how Jerry does it!"
     "Well, did you ever ask them?"
     "Oh! I never thought of that."
     The next girl I met that I wanted to pose for me was a Caltech student.
I asked  her if she would pose  nude. "Certainly,"  she said,  and  there we
were! So it was easy. I guess there was so  much in the back of my mind that
I thought it was somehow wrong to ask.
     I've done a  lot  of drawing by now, and I've  gotten so I like to draw
nudes best. For all I know it's not art, exactly; it's a mixture. Who  knows
the percentages?
     One model I met through Jerry had been a Playboy playmate. She was tall
and  gorgeous.  However, she thought  she was  too  tall.  Every girl in the
world,  looking at her, would  have been jealous. When she would come into a
room, she'd be half stooped over. I tried to teach her, when she was posing,
to  please  stand  up,  because she  was so elegant and striking. I  finally
talked her into that.
     Then she had another worry: she's got "dents" near her groin. I  had to
get out a book of  anatomy  to show her  that  it's  the attachment  of  the
muscles to the ilium,  and to explain to her that you can't  see these dents
on everybody;  to  see  them, everything  must  be  just  right,  in perfect
proportion,  like  she was.  I learned from her that  every woman is worried
about her looks, no matter how beautiful she is.
     I wanted to draw a picture of  this model in color, in pastels, just to
experiment. I thought  I would first make a sketch in charcoal,  which would
be  later covered with  the pastel. When I got  through with  this  charcoal
drawing  that I had  made without worrying how  it  was  going  to  look,  I
realized  that it was one of the best drawings I had ever made. I decided to
leave it, and forget about the pastels for that one. My "agent" looked at it
and wanted  to  take it around.  "You  can't sell  that,"  I said, "it's  on
newsprint."
     "Oh, never mind," she said.
     A few weeks later she came back with this picture in a beautiful wooden
frame with a red band and a gold  edge. It's a  funny thing which must  make
artists, generally, unhappy -- how much improved a drawing gets when you put
a frame around it. My agent  told me that a particular lady got  all excited
about the  drawing and they  took  it to a picture framer. He told them that
there were special techniques for mounting drawings on newsprint: Impregnate
it with  plastic, do this, do that. So this lady goes  to  all that  trouble
over this drawing I had made, and then has  my agent bring it back to me. "I
think the artist would like to see how lovely it is, framed," she said.
     I certainly  did.  There was  another example  of  the direct  pleasure
somebody  got out  of  one of my pictures. So it was a real kick selling the
drawings.

     There  was  a period when there were topless restaurants  in  town: You
could go there for lunch or dinner, and the girls would dance without a top,
and after a while  without anything. One of these places, it turned out, was
only a mile and a half away from my  house, so I went there very  often. I'd
sit in one  of the  booths and  work a little physics on the paper placemats
with the scalloped edges, and sometimes I'd draw one of the dancing girls or
one of the customers, just to practice.
     My wife  Gweneth, who is English, had a good attitude about my going to
this place. She  said, "The  Englishmen have  clubs  they go to." So it  was
something like my club.
     There were  pictures hanging around the place, but I didn't  like  them
much.  They were these fluorescent colors on black velvet -- kind of ugly --
a girl taking  off  her  sweater, or  something.  Well,  I had a rather nice
drawing I had made  of my model Kathy, so  I gave  it  to  the  owner of the
restaurant to put up on the wall, and he was delighted.
     Giving him the drawing turned out to  produce some  useful results. The
owner  became  very friendly  to  me, and would give me free drinks  all the
time. Now,  every time  I would  come  in to the restaurant a waitress would
come over with my free 7-Up. I'd watch the girls dance, do a little physics,
prepare a lecture, or draw a little bit. If I  got a little tired, I'd watch
the entertainment for a while, and then do  a  little  more  work. The owner
knew I didn't want  to be disturbed, so if a drunk man came over and started
to  talk  to  me, right  away a waitress would come and get the guy  out  of
there.  If a  girl came over,  he would do  nothing.  We  had  a  very  good
relationship. His name was Gianonni.
     The other effect of my drawing on display was that people would ask him
about it. One  day  a guy came over to me  and said, "Gianonni tells  me you
made that picture."
     "Yeah."
     "Good. I'd like to commission a drawing."
     "All right; what would you like?"
     "I want a picture of a nude toreador girl  being charged by a bull with
a man's head."
     "Well, uh, it  would help me a  little if I had some idea  of what this
drawing is for."
     "I want it for my business establishment."
     "What kind of business establishment?"
     "It's for a massage parlor: you know, private  rooms,  masseuses -- get
the idea?"
     "Yeah,  I get the idea." I  didn't want to  draw a  nude toreador  girl
being charged by a bull with a man's head, so I tried to talk him out of it.
"How do you think  that looks  to the customers, and how  does  it  make the
girls  feel? The men  come  in there and  you get 'em  all excited with this
picture. Is that the way you want 'em to treat the girls?"
     He's not convinced.
     "Suppose the cops  come  in  and  they  see  this  picture, and  you're
claiming it's a massage parlor."
     "OK, OK," he says; "You're right. I've gotta change it. What I want  is
a picture that,  if  the  cops look  at  it, is  perfectly OK  for a massage
parlor, but if a customer looks at it, it gives him ideas."
     "OK," I said. We arranged it for sixty dollars, and I began  to work on
the  drawing.  First, I  had to  figure  out how to do  it. I thought and  I
thought,  and I often felt I  would  have been better off  drawing the  nude
toreador girl in the first place!
     Finally  I  figured out how  to  do it:  I would draw  a  slave girl in
imaginary Rome, massaging  some important Roman -- a senator, perhaps. Since
she's  a slave girl, she has  a  certain  look on her face. She knows what's
going to happen next, and she's sort of resigned to it.
     I worked very hard on this picture. I used Kathy as the model. Later, I
got another model  for the man. I did lots of studies, and soon the cost for
the models  was already eighty  dollars.  I didn't care about the  money;  I
liked the challenge of having to do a commission. Finally I  ended up with a
picture  of  a muscular man lying on a table with the slave  girl  massaging
him: she's  wearing a kind of toga that covers one breast-the other  one was
nude-and I got the expression of resignation on her face just right.
     I was just about ready  to deliver my commissioned  masterpiece to  the
massage parlor when Gianonni told me that the guy had been arrested and  was
in  jail.  So I asked  the girls  at the topless restaurant if they knew any
good  massage parlors around Pasadena  that would like to hang my drawing in
the lobby.
     They gave me names and locations of  places in and  around Pasadena and
told me things  like  "When you go to the Such-and-such massage  parlor, ask
for  Frank -- he's a pretty good guy. If  he's not there, don't go  in."  Or
"Don't talk to Eddie. Eddie would never understand the value of a drawing."
     The  next day I rolled up my picture, put it in the back of  my station
wagon, and my wife  Gweneth wished  me good luck as I set  out to  visit the
brothels of Pasadena to sell my drawing.
     Just before I went to  the first place on my list, I thought to myself,
"You know, before I go anywhere else, I oughta check at the place he used to
have. Maybe  it's still open, and perhaps the new manager wants my drawing."
I went over there and knocked on the door. It opened a little bit, and I saw
a girl's eye. "Do we know you?" she asked.
     "No, you  don't, but how would you like to have a drawing that would be
appropriate for your entrance hall?"
     "I'm sorry," she said, "but we've already contracted  an artist to make
a drawing for us, and he's working on it."
     "I'm the artist," I said, "and your drawing is ready!"
     It turns out that the guy, as he was going to jail, told his wife about
our arrangement. So I went in and showed them the drawing.
     The guy's wife and his sister, who were now running the place, were not
entirely  pleased with it; they wanted the girls to see it. I hung  it up on
the wall, there  in the  lobby, and all the girls came  out from the various
rooms in the back and started to make comments.
     One girl said she didn't like  the expression on the slave girl's face.
"She doesn't look happy," she said. "She should be smiling."
     I said to her, "Tell me  -- while you're massaging a guy,  and he's not
lookin' at you, are you smiling?"
     "Oh, no!" she said. "I feel exactly like she  looks! But it's not right
to put it in the picture."
     I  left it with them, but after a  week of worrying about  it  back and
forth,  they decided they didn't want it. It turned out that the real reason
that they didn't want it was the one nude breast. I tried to explain that my
drawing  was  a  tone-down  of the original  request, but they said they had
different ideas  about  it than the guy did.  I thought  the irony of people
running  such  an  establishment being  prissy  about one  nude  breast  was
amusing, and I took the drawing home.
     My businessman friend  Dudley Wright saw the drawing and I told him the
story  about it. He said, "You oughta triple its price. With art, nobody  is
really sure of its value, so people often think, 'If the price is higher, it
must be more valuable!'"
     I said, "You're crazy!" but, just for fun,  I  bought  a  twenty-dollar
frame and mounted the drawing so it would be ready for the next customer.
     Some  guy from the weather forecasting  business saw  the drawing I had
given Gianonni and asked if I had others. I invited  him and  his wife to my
"studio" downstairs  in  my  home, and  they asked  about  the newly  framed
drawing. "That one is two hundred dollars." (I had multiplied sixty by three
and added twenty for the frame.) The next day they came back  and bought it.
So  the  massage  parlor  drawing  ended  up  in  the  office of  a  weather
forecaster.
     One  day there was a police raid on Gianonni's, and some of the dancers
were arrested.  Someone  wanted to  stop  Gianonni from  putting on  topless
dancing shows,  and Gianonni  didn't want to stop. So there was  a big court
case about it; it was in all the local papers.
     Gianonni went around to all the customers and asked them if  they would
testify in support of him. Everybody had an excuse: "I run a  day  camp, and
if the parents  see that I'm going to this place, they won't send their kids
to  my  camp..."  Or,  "I'm  in  the  such-and-such  business,  and if  it's
publicized that I come down here, we'll lose customers."
     I think  to  myself,  "I'm the  only  free  man  in here. I haven't any
excuse! I like this place,  and  I'd like  to  see  it continue, I don't see
anything  wrong with topless dancing." So I said to Gianonni, "Yes,  I'll be
glad to testify."
     In  court the  big question  was, is topless  dancing acceptable to the
community -- do community standards allow it?
     The  lawyer  from  the  defense tried  to make  me  into an  expert  on
community standards. He asked me if I went into other bars.
     "Yes."
     "And how many times per week would you typically go to Gianonni's?"
     "Five,  six times a  week."  (That  got  into  the papers: The  Caltech
professor of physics goes to see topless dancing six times a week.)
     "What sections of the community were represented at Gianonni's?"
     "Nearly every section: there were guys from the real estate business, a
guy from the city  governing board,  workmen from the gas station, guys from
engineering firms, a professor of physics..."
     "So  would you say  that  topless  entertainment is acceptable  to  the
community, given  that so many sections  of it are watching it and  enjoying
it?"
     "I need to know what you mean by 'acceptable to the community.' Nothing
is  accepted by everybody, so what percentage of  the community must  accept
something in order for it to be 'acceptable to the community'?"
     The lawyer suggests a figure. The other lawyer objects. The judge calls
a  recess, and they  all  go into chambers  for  15  minutes before they can
decide that  "acceptable to the community"  means  accepted by  50%  of  the
community.
     In spite of  the  fact that  I made  them be precise,  I had no precise
numbers as evidence, so I  said, "I believe that topless dancing is accepted
by  more  than 50%  of  the  community,  and is therefore acceptable to  the
community."
     Gianonni temporarily  lost  the  case,  and his,  or  another  one very
similar to  it, went ultimately to  the Supreme Court. In the  meantime, his
place stayed open, and I got still more free 7-Ups.
     Around that time there were some attempts to develop an interest in art
at Caltech. Somebody contributed the money to convert an  old plant sciences
building into  some  art studios. Equipment  and supplies  were  bought  and
provided for the students, and  they hired an  artist from  South Africa  to
coordinate and support the art activities around Caltech.
     Various people came in to teach classes. I  got Jerry Zorthian to teach
a drawing class, and some guy came in to teach lithography, which I tried to
learn.
     The South African artist came over to my house  one time  to look at my
drawings. He said he  thought it would be fun to  have a one-man  show. This
time I was  cheating: If  I hadn't been a professor  at Caltech,  they would
have never thought my pictures were worth it.
     "Some of  my  better drawings have been sold, and I  feel uncomfortable
calling the people," I said.
     "You  don't have to worry, Mr.  Feynman,"  he reassured me.  "You won't
have  to call  them up. We will  make all the arrangements and  operate  the
exhibit officially and correctly."
     I gave him a list of people  who had bought my drawings,  and they soon
received a telephone call from him: "We understand that you have an Ofey."
     "Oh, yes!"
     "We are planning to have an exhibition of Ofeys, and we're wondering if
you would consider lending it to us." Of course they were delighted.
     The exhibition was held in the basement  of the Athenaeum, the  Caltech
faculty club.  Everything  was like  the real thing:  All  the  pictures had
titles,  and those that had been taken on consignment from their  owners had
due recognition: "Lent by Mr. Gianonni," for instance.
     One drawing was a portrait  of the beautiful blonde model  from the art
class, which  I  had originally intended to be a study of shading: I  put  a
light at the level  of her legs a bit to the side and pointed it upwards. As
she sat,  I  tried to draw the shadows as  they were  -- her  nose cast  its
shadow rather unnaturally across her face -- so they wouldn't look so bad. I
drew her torso as well, so you could also  see her breasts  and  the shadows
they  made. I stuck it in  with the other drawings in the exhibit and called
it "Madame  Curie  Observing  the  Radiations from  Radium." The  message  I
intended to  convey  was,  nobody  thinks  of  Madame Curie as  a  woman, as
feminine, with  beautiful hair, bare  breasts, and all that. They only think
of the radium part.
     A prominent  industrial  designer named Henry  Dreyfuss invited various
people to a reception at his home after the exhibition -- the woman who  had
contributed  money  to support  the  arts, the president of Caltech and  his
wife, and so on.
     One of these  art-lovers came over and started up  a conversation  with
me:  "Tell me,  Professor Feynman,  do  you draw  from  photographs or  from
models?"
     "I always draw directly from a posed model."
     "Well, how did you get Madame Curie to pose for you?"

     Around  that time the Los Angeles County  Museum of Art  had  a similar
idea to the one  I had, that  artists are far away from an  understanding of
science. My idea was that artists don't understand the underlying generality
and beauty  of nature  and her laws (and therefore  cannot  portray  this in
their  art).  The museum's  idea was  that  artists should  know more  about
technology:  they  should  become  more  familiar  with  machines and  other
applications of science.
     The art museum organized a scheme  in which they would get  some of the
really good artists of the day to  go to various companies which volunteered
some time and money to the project.  The artists would visit these companies
and snoop around until they saw something interesting that they could use in
their work. The  museum thought it might help  if someone who knew something
about technology could be a sort of liaison  with the  artists from time  to
time  as they visited  the companies.  Since they knew I was fairly  good at
explaining things to people and I wasn't a  complete jackass when it came to
art (actually, I  think they knew I was trying to learn to draw)  --  at any
rate, they asked me if I would do that, and I agreed.
     It was  lots of  fun  visiting the  companies with  the  artists.  What
typically happened was, some guy would show us a tube that discharged sparks
in beautiful blue, twisting patterns. The artists would  get all excited and
ask  me  how they  could  use it  in  an  exhibit.  What  were the necessary
conditions to make it work?
     The artists were very interesting  people. Some of  them were  absolute
fakes: they would claim to be  an artist, and everybody agreed they were  an
artist,  but  when you'd  sit  and  talk  to  them,  they'd  make  no  sense
whatsoever! One guy in particular,  the biggest faker, always dressed funny;
he  had  a  big  black  bowler  hat. He would answer  your  questions in  an
incomprehensible way, and when you'd try to find out more about what he said
by asking him  about  some of the  words  he used, off  we'd  be in  another
direction! The only thing he contributed, ultimately, to the exhibit for art
and technology was  a  portrait of  himself. Other artists I talked to would
say things that made no  sense at first, but they would go to great  lengths
to explain their ideas  to me. One time I went somewhere, as a part of  this
scheme,  with Robert Irwin. It  was a two-day trip, and after a great effort
of  discussing back and forth,  I finally understood what  he was trying  to
explain to me, and I thought it was quite interesting and wonderful.
     Then there were the artists who  had  absolutely no idea about the real
world. They  thought that scientists were some kind of  grand magicians  who
could make anything, and would say things like, "I want to make a picture in
three dimensions where  the  figure  is suspended in space and it  glows and
flickers."  They  made up the world they wanted, and had no  idea  what  was
reasonable or unreasonable to make.
     Finally  there was  an exhibit,  and I was asked to be on a panel which
judged the  works  of  art.  Although  there was some  good  stuff  that was
inspired  by the artists' visiting the companies, I thought that most of the
good works of art  were things that were turned in at the last minute out of
desperation, and didn't really have anything to  do with technology.  All of
the other  members of  the  panel  disagreed, and  I  found myself  in  some
difficulty. I'm no good at criticizing art, and I shouldn't have been on the
panel in the first place.
     There  was  a guy there at the county art museum  named Maurice Tuchman
who really knew what he was talking about when it came to  art. He knew that
I  had had this one-man show at  Caltech. He  said, "You  know, you're never
going to draw again."
     "What? That's ridiculous! Why should I never..."
     "Because you've had a one-man show, and you're only an amateur."
     Although I did draw after that, I never worked  as  hard, with the same
energy  and intensity, as  I did before. I  never sold a drawing after that,
either.  He was a smart fella, and  I learned a lot  from  him. I could have
learned a lot more, if I weren't so stubborn!


--------


     In  the early fifties  I suffered temporarily from  a disease of middle
age: I  used  to  give  philosophical  talks  about science --  how  science
satisfies curiosity, how it gives you a new world view, how it gives man the
ability to do things, how it gives him power -- and the question is, in view
of the recent development of the atomic bomb, is it a  good idea to give man
that much power? I also thought about the  relation of science and religion,
and it was about  this time when I was invited to a  conference  in New York
that was going to discuss "the ethics of equality."
     There had already been  a conference among the  older people, somewhere
on Long Island, and this  year they decided to have some younger people come
in  and  discuss  the position  papers  they  had worked  out  in  the other
conference.
     Before I got there, they sent around a list of  "books  you  might find
interesting to read, and please  send us any books you want others to  read,
and we will store them in the library so that others may read them."
     So here  comes this  wonderful  list of books. I start  down the  first
page: I haven't read a single one of  the books, and I feel very uneasy -- I
hardly  belong. I look at  the  second page: I haven't read a single  one. I
found out, after looking through the  whole list, that I haven't read any of
the books. I must  be an  idiot, an illiterate!  There were  wonderful books
there,  like Thomas Jefferson On  Freedom, or something like that, and there
were  a few  authors  I  had read. There was  a book  by Heisenberg,  one by
Schrödinger, and one by Einstein, but  they were something like Einstein, My
Later Fears and Schrödinger, What Is Life -- different from what I had read.
So I had  a feeling that I was out of my  depth, and that I shouldn't be  in
this. Maybe I could just sit quietly and listen.
     I go to the  first  big introductory  meeting, and a  guy gets  up  and
explains that we have two problems to discuss. The  first one is fogged up a
little bit -- something  about ethics and equality,  but I  don't understand
what the  problem exactly  is.  And  the second  one  is, "We  are  going to
demonstrate by our efforts a way that we can have a dialogue among people of
different fields." There was an  international lawyer, a historian, a Jesuit
priest, a rabbi, a scientist (me), and so on.
     Well, right away  my logical mind goes like this: The  second problem I
don't have to pay any attention to, because if it works, it works; and if it
doesn't work, it doesn't work -- we don't have to prove  that we can  have a
dialogue, and  discuss that  we can have  a dialogue, if  we haven't got any
dialogue to talk about! So  the primary  problem is  the first one, which  I
didn't understand.
     I  was ready to put my hand up  and say,  "Would you please define  the
problem better,"  but  then I thought, "No,  I'm  the ignoramus;  I'd better
listen. I don't want to start trouble right away."
     The subgroup I was in  was supposed to discuss the "ethics  of equality
in education." In the meetings of our subgroup the Jesuit priest was  always
talking  about "the fragmentation  of  knowledge."  He  would say, "The real
problem in  the  ethics  of equality in education is  the  fragmentation  of
knowledge." This Jesuit was looking back  into  the  thirteenth century when
the Catholic Church was in charge of all education, and  the whole world was
simple. There was  God, and everything  came from God; it was all organized.
But  today,  it's  not so  easy to understand everything.  So  knowledge has
become fragmented. I felt that "the fragmentation of knowledge" had  nothing
to do with "it," but "it" had never been defined, so there was no way for me
to prove that.
     Finally I  said,  "What  is  the ethical  problem associated  with  the
fragmentation of knowledge?"  He  would only answer me with great clouds  of
fog,  and I'd say, "I don't understand," and everybody else would  say  they
did  understand,  and  they tried to  explain it  to me,  but they  couldn't
explain it to me!
     So  the others  in  the group told  me to write down why  I thought the
fragmentation of  knowledge was not  a problem of ethics. I went back to  my
dormitory room and  I wrote out carefully, as best I  could, what I  thought
the  subject of  "the ethics of equality in education"  might be, and I gave
some examples of the kinds of  problems I thought we might be talking about.
For instance, in education,  you increase differences.  If someone's good at
something, you  try to develop his ability, which results in differences, or
inequalities. So if education increases  inequality,  is this ethical? Then,
after  giving  some  more  examples,  I  went  on  to  say that  while  "the
fragmentation of knowledge"  is a difficulty because the  complexity of  the
world makes it hard to learn things, in light  of my definition of the realm
of  the subject,  I  couldn't  see  how the  fragmentation of  knowledge had
anything to  do with anything approximating  what the ethics of equality  in
education might more or less be.
     The next  day  I brought my paper into  the meeting, and the  guy said,
"Yes, Mr. Feynman has brought up some very interesting questions we ought to
discuss, and we'll put them aside for some possible future discussion." They
completely missed  the point. I was  trying to define the problem, and  then
show how  "the fragmentation of knowledge" didn't  have anything to  do with
it. And the reason that nobody got anywhere in that conference was that they
hadn't clearly defined the subject of "the ethics of equality in education,"
and therefore no one knew exactly what they were supposed to talk about.
     There  was  a sociologist who had written a paper for us all to read --
something  he had  written ahead of time. I started to read the damn  thing,
and my eyes were coming out: I couldn't make head nor tail of it! I  figured
it was because  I hadn't  read  any of  the  books on that list. I  had this
uneasy feeling of "I'm not adequate,"  until  finally I said to myself, "I'm
gonna stop, and read one sentence slowly, so I can figure  out what the hell
it means."
     So I stopped -- at random -- and read the next sentence very carefully.
I can't  remember it  precisely,  but  it  was  very  close  to  this:  "The
individual member of the social community often receives his information via
visual, symbolic channels." I went back and forth  over  it, and translated.
You know what it means? "People read."
     Then  I  went  over  the next  sentence,  and  I realized that I  could
translate that one also. Then it became a kind of empty business: "Sometimes
people read; sometimes people listen to  the  radio," and so on, but written
in such a fancy  way  that I  couldn't  understand  it at first, and when  I
finally deciphered it, there was nothing to it.
     There was  only  one  thing that  happened  at  that meeting  that  was
pleasant or amusing. At this  conference,  every word that every guy said at
the plenary  session  was so  important  that they  had a stenotypist there,
typing every goddamn thing. Somewhere on the second day the stenotypist came
up to me and said, "What profession are you? Surely not a professor."
     "I am a professor," I said.
     "Of what?"
     "Of physics -- science."
     "Oh! That must be the reason," he said.
     "Reason for what?"
     He said, "You see, I'm  a stenotypist,  and  I type everything  that is
said here. Now,  when the other fellas  talk,  I type what they  say, but  I
don't  understand what they're saying. But every time you  get up  to  ask a
question or to say something, I understand exactly what you mean -- what the
question  is, and  what  you're  saying  --  so  I  thought  you can't be  a
professor!"
     There was a special dinner at some point, and  the head of the theology
place, a very  nice, very Jewish man, gave a  speech. It  was a good speech,
and he was  a very  good speaker,  so while it sounds  crazy now,  when  I'm
telling about it, at that  time his main idea sounded completely obvious and
true.  He  talked  about the big  differences  in  the  welfare  of  various
countries, which cause jealousy, which leads to conflict, and  now  that  we
have atomic weapons,  any war and we're doomed,  so therefore  the right way
out is to strive for peace  by  making sure there are  no  great differences
from place  to place, and since we have so  much  in the United  States,  we
should give up nearly everything  to  the other  countries until  we're  all
even. Everybody was listening to this,  and we were all full  of sacrificial
feeling, and all thinking we ought to do this. But  I came back to my senses
on the way home.
     The next day one of  the  guys in our  group said, "I think that speech
last night was so good that we should all endorse it,  and it should  be the
summary of our conference."
     I started  to say that the idea of  distributing  everything evenly  is
based on a theory that  there's  only  X amount of stuff in the  world, that
somehow we  took it away from the poorer countries in  the first  place, and
therefore we should give it back to them. But this theory doesn't take  into
account the real reason for  the differences between countries  --  that is,
the development of new  techniques  for  growing food,  the  development  of
machinery to grow  food and to  do  other things, and the fact that all this
machinery requires the concentration of capital. It isn't the stuff, but the
power  to make the  stuff, that is important.  But I  realize now that these
people  were  not  in  science;  they  didn't  understand  it.  They  didn't
understand technology; they didn't understand their time.
     The conference made me so nervous that a girl I knew in New York had to
calm  me down. "Look," she  said,  "you're shaking!  You've  gone absolutely
nuts! Just take it easy, and don't take it so seriously. Back away a  minute
and  look  at what  it is."  So I thought about the conference, how crazy it
was, and it wasn't so bad. But  if someone were to ask me to  participate in
something like that again, I'd shy away from it like mad -- I mean zero! No!
Absolutely not! And I still get invitations for this kind of thing today.
     When it came time  to evaluate the  conference at the  end, the  others
told how much they got out of it,  how successful it was, and  so  on.  When
they  asked me, I said,  "This  conference was worse than  a Rorschach test:
There's a meaningless  inkblot, and the  others ask  you  what you think you
see, but when you tell them, they start arguing with you!"
     Even worse, at  the end  of the  conference  they  were  going  to have
another meeting, but this time the public  would come, and the guy in charge
of our group has the nerve to say that since we've worked out so much, there
won't be any time for public discussion, so  we'll just tell the public  all
the things we've worked  out.  My eyes  bugged out: I  didn't  think  we had
worked out a damn thing!
     Finally,  when  we were discussing  the  question  of  whether  we  had
developed a way  of having a dialogue  among people of different disciplines
--  our  second  basic  "problem"  --   I  said  that  I  noticed  something
interesting.  Each  of  us  talked  about  what we  thought  the  "ethics of
equality"  was, from our own point of view, without paying any  attention to
the other guy's  point of view. For example, the historian proposed that the
way to understand ethical problems  is  to  look historically  at  how  they
evolved and  how they developed; the international lawyer suggested that the
way to do  it  is  to see how  in  fact people  actually  act  in  different
situations  and  make  their  arrangements; the  Jesuit  priest  was  always
referring  to  "the fragmentation  of  knowledge";  and  I, as  a scientist,
proposed that we should isolate the problem in a  way analogous to Galileo's
techniques for experiments; and so on. "So, in my opinion," I  said, "we had
no dialogue at all. Instead, we had nothing but chaos!"
     Of course I was  attacked, from all around. "Don't you think that order
can come from chaos?"
     "Uh, well,  as a general principle, or..." I didn't understand  what to
do with a question like "Can order come from chaos?" Yes, no, what of it?
     There were a  lot of fools  at that conference -- pompous  fools -- and
pompous fools drive me up the wall. Ordinary fools are  all  right; you  can
talk to them, and try  to help them  out.  But pompous fools -- guys who are
fools and are covering it all over and impressing people as to how wonderful
they are with all this hocus pocus -- THAT, I CANNOT STAND! An ordinary fool
isn't  a  faker;  an honest fool is  all  right.  But  a dishonest  fool  is
terrible! And that's what I got at the conference, a bunch of pompous fools,
and I got very upset. I'm not going to get upset like that again, so I won't
participate in interdisciplinary conferences any more.
     A  footnote: While  I  was at  the conference,  I stayed at the  Jewish
Theological  Seminary, where  young rabbis --  I think they were Orthodox --
were  studying.  Since  I  have  a Jewish background,  I knew of some of the
things they told me about the Talmud, but I had never seen  the  Talmud.  It
was very interesting.  It's  got big  pages, and in  a  little square in the
corner of the page  is the original Talmud, and then  in a sort of  L-shaped
margin,  all  around  this  square,  are commentaries  written  by different
people. The Talmud has evolved, and everything  has been discussed again and
again,  all  very  carefully,  in a medieval kind of reasoning. I think  the
commentaries  were  shut  down  around   the  thirteen-  or   fourteen-   or
fifteen-hundreds -- there hasn't been any modern commentary. The Talmud is a
wonderful  book, a great,  big potpourri of things:  trivial  questions, and
difficult questions -- for example, problems of  teachers, and  how to teach
--  and  then some trivia  again, and so  on. The students  told me that the
Talmud was never translated, something I thought was curious, since the book
is so valuable.
     One day, two or three  of  the young  rabbis came to me  and said,  "We
realize that we can't study to be rabbis in the modern world without knowing
something about science, so we'd like to ask you some questions."
     Of course there are  thousands of places to find out about science, and
Columbia University was right near there, but I wanted to know what kinds of
questions they were interested in.
     They said, "Well, for instance, is electricity fire?"
     "No," I said, "but... what is the problem?"
     They said, "In the Talmud it says you're not supposed to make fire on a
Saturday, so our question is, can we use electrical things on Saturdays?"
     I was shocked. They weren't interested in science at all! The only  way
science was influencing  their  lives was so they might be able to interpret
better the Talmud!  They weren't interested in the world outside, in natural
phenomena; they were  only interested  in resolving some question brought up
in the Talmud.
     And then one day -- I guess it was a Saturday -- I want to go up in the
elevator, and there's a  guy standing near the elevator. The elevator comes,
I go in, and he goes in with me. I  say, "Which floor?"  and my hand's ready
to push one of the buttons.
     "No, no!" he says, "I'm supposed to push the buttons for you."
     "What?"
     "Yes! The boys here can't push the buttons on Saturday, so I have to do
it for them. You see, I'm not Jewish, so it's all right for me to  push  the
buttons. I stand near the elevator, and  they tell me what floor, and I push
the button for them."
     Well,  this really  bothered me, so I decided to trap the students in a
logical discussion.  I had been brought up  in a Jewish home, so  I knew the
kind of nitpicking logic to use, and I thought, "Here's fun!"
     My  plan  went  like  this:  I'd  start off by asking,  "Is  the Jewish
viewpoint a viewpoint that any man can have? Because if it is not, then it's
certainly not something  that is  truly valuable  for humanity...  yak, yak,
yak." And then they would have to  say,  "Yes, the Jewish  viewpoint is good
for any man."
     Then  I would steer them around a little more by asking, "Is it ethical
for a man to hire  another man to do something which is unethical for him to
do? Would you hire a man to  rob for  you, for instance?" And I keep working
them into the  channel, very slowly, and very carefully, until I've got them
-- trapped!
     And do you know what happened? They're rabbinical students, right? They
were ten times better than I was! As soon as they saw I could put  them in a
hole, they went twist, turn,  twist -- I can't remember how -- and they were
free! I thought  I  had come up with an original idea -- phooey! It had been
discussed in the  Talmud for ages! So they cleaned me up just as easy as pie
-- they got right out.
     Finally  I tried  to assure the  rabbinical students that the  electric
spark that was bothering them when  they pushed the elevator buttons was not
fire. I said, "Electricity is not fire. It's not a chemical process, as fire
is."
     "Oh?" they said.
     "Of course, there's electricity in amongst the atoms in a fire."
     "Aha!" they said.
     "And in every other phenomenon that occurs in the world."
     I even  proposed a  practical solution for  eliminating the spark.  "If
that's  what's bothering you, you can put a condenser across  the switch, so
the  electricity  will go  on  and  off  without  any  spark  whatsoever  --
anywhere." But for some reason, they didn't like that idea either.
     It really  was a disappointment. Here they are, slowly coming to  life,
only to better interpret the  Talmud. Imagine! In  modern  times  like this,
guys are studying to go into society  and do  something -- to be a rabbi  --
and the only  way they  think that science  might be  interesting is because
their ancient, provincial, medieval  problems are being  confounded slightly
by some new phenomena.
     Something else happened at  that time which is  worth  mentioning here.
One of the questions the rabbinical students and I discussed at  some length
was why it is that in academic things, such as theoretical physics, there is
a higher  proportion of  Jewish kids than  their  proportion  in the general
population. The  rabbinical  students thought the reason  was that  the Jews
have a  history of respecting  learning: They respect  their rabbis, who are
really teachers, and they respect education. The Jews pass on this tradition
in their families all the time, so that if a boy  is a good student, it's as
good as, if not better than, being a good football player.
     It was  the same afternoon that I  was  reminded how  true it is. I was
invited to one of the rabbinical students' home, and he introduced me to his
mother,  who had just  come back from Washington, D.C. She clapped her hands
together,  in  ecstasy,  and said, "Oh!  My day  is complete.  Today I met a
general, and a professor!"
     I  realized that  there are  not  many people  who think it's  just  as
important, and just as nice, to  meet a professor as to meet a general. So I
guess there's something in what they said.


--------


     After the war, physicists were often asked to go to Washington and give
advice to various sections of the  government, especially the military. What
happened,  I suppose, is that since the scientists had made these bombs that
were so important, the military felt we were useful for something.
     Once I was asked to serve on a committee which was to evaluate  various
weapons for the army, and I wrote a letter  back which explained that  I was
only a theoretical physicist,  and I didn't know anything about  weapons for
the army.
     The  army  responded  that  they had  found  in their  experience  that
theoretical  physicists were  very  useful  to them in making decisions,  so
would I please reconsider?
     I wrote back  again and said I didn't really know anything, and doubted
I could help them.
     Finally I got a letter from the Secretary of the Army, which proposed a
compromise: I would come to  the first meeting, where I could listen and see
whether I could make a  contribution or not. Then I could  decide  whether I
should continue.
     I said I would, of course. What else could I do?
     I  went down  to Washington and  the first thing that I went  to  was a
cocktail party to meet everybody. There  were generals  and  other important
characters from the army, and everybody talked. It was pleasant enough.
     One guy in a uniform came to me and told me that the army was glad that
physicists were advising the military because it had  a lot of problems. One
of the problems was that tanks use up their fuel very quickly and thus can't
go very far. So the question was  how to refuel them as they're going along.
Now this  guy had the idea that, since the physicists  can get energy out of
uranium,  could I work out a way in which we  could  use silicon dioxide  --
sand, dirt -- as  a fuel?  If that were  possible, then all this  tank would
have to do would be to have a little scoop underneath, and as it goes along,
it would pick up the dirt and use it for  fuel! He thought  that was a great
idea, and that all I had to  do was to work out  the  details. That was  the
kind of problem I thought we would be talking about in the  meeting the next
day.
     I went  to the meeting and noticed that some guy  who had introduced me
to all the people at the  cocktail party was  sitting  next  to  me. He  was
apparently some flunky assigned to be at my  side at  all times. On my other
side was some super general I had heard of before.
     At the first  session of the meeting  they  talked about some technical
matters, and I made a  few  comments.  But later on,  near  the end  of  the
meeting, they began to discuss some problem of logistics, about which I knew
nothing. It  had to do  with figuring  out how much stuff you should have at
different  places at different times. And although I tried  to keep  my trap
shut, when you get into a situation like that, where you're sitting around a
table  with  all  these  "important  people"  discussing  these   "important
problems,"  you  can't  keep your mouth  shut,  even  if  you  know  nothing
whatsoever! So I made some comments in that discussion, too.
     During the next coffee break the guy  who had been assigned to shepherd
me around said, "I was  very  impressed by  the  things you said  during the
discussion. They certainly were an important contribution."
     I stopped and thought about my "contribution" to the logistics problem,
and realized  that a man like the guy who orders the stuff  for Christmas at
Macy's would be better able to figure out how  to handle problems like  that
than I.  So I concluded: a) if I had made  an important contribution, it was
sheer luck; b) anybody else could have  done as well, but most  people could
have done better, and c)  this flattery should wake me up to the fact that I
am not capable of contributing much.
     Right after  that  they  decided,  in the  meeting, that  they could do
better discussing the  organization of scientific research (such  as, should
scientific development  be under the Corps of Engineers or the Quartermaster
Division?) than  specific technical matters. I knew that if there was  to be
any hope of my making a real contribution, it would be only on some specific
technical matter, and surely not on how to organize research in the army.
     Until then I  didn't let  on any of my feelings about the  situation to
the chairman of  the meeting -- the big shot who had invited me in the first
place.  As we  were packing our bags  to leave, he  said  to me, all smiles,
"You'll be joining us, then, for the next meeting..."
     "No,  I won't." I  could see  his face  change  suddenly.  He  was very
surprised that I would say no, after making those "contributions."
     In the early  sixties, a lot of my  friends were still giving advice to
the government. Meanwhile, I was having no feeling of  social responsibility
and resisting, as much as possible, offers to go to Washington, which took a
certain amount of courage in those times.

     I was  giving a series of freshman physics lectures  at that time,  and
after  one  of  them,  Tom  Harvey,  who  assisted  me  in  putting  on  the
demonstrations,  said, "You oughta  see  what's  happening to mathematics in
schoolbooks! My daughter comes home with a lot of crazy stuff!"
     I didn't pay much attention to what he said.
     But  the next  day I  got a  telephone call from a pretty famous lawyer
here  in Pasadena, Mr. Norris, who was  at that time  on the  State Board of
Education. He asked me if I would serve on the State  Curriculum Commission,
which  had  to choose the new schoolbooks for  the  state of California. You
see, the state had a law that all of the schoolbooks used by all of the kids
in  all  of the  public  schools  have to  be chosen by the State  Board  of
Education, so they have a committee to look over the books and to  give them
advice on which books to take.
     It happened  that a lot of the  books were  on a new method of teaching
arithmetic that they called "new math," and since usually the only people to
look at the books were schoolteachers  or administrators in education,  they
thought it  would  be a  good  idea to have somebody  who  uses  mathematics
scientifically, who knows  what the end product is and what we're  trying to
teach it for, to help in the evaluation of the schoolbooks.
     I must have had, by this time, a  guilty feeling about not  cooperating
with the government, because I agreed to get on this committee.
     Immediately I  began  getting  letters  and telephone calls  from  book
publishers.  They said things like, "We're  very glad  to hear you're on the
committee because we  really wanted a scientific guy..." and "It's wonderful
to have a scientist on the committee, because our books  are  scientifically
oriented..."  But they  also said things like, "We'd like to  explain to you
what our book is about..." and "We'll be very glad to help you in any way we
can to judge our books..." That seemed to me kind of crazy. I'm an objective
scientist, and it seemed to me that  since the only thing the kids in school
are going to get is the  books  (and the teachers get the  teacher's manual,
which  I  would  also  get), any  extra explanation  from the company  was a
distortion. So I didn't want to  speak to  any of the publishers  and always
replied, "You  don't  have to  explain;  I'm  sure the books will  speak for
themselves."
     I  represented  a  certain district, which comprised  most  of the  Los
Angeles area except for the city of Los Angeles,  which was represented by a
very nice lady from the L.A. school system named Mrs. Whitehouse. Mr. Norris
suggested that  I meet her and  find  out what the committee did  and how it
worked.
     Mrs. Whitehouse started out telling me about the  stuff they were going
to talk about in the next meeting (they had  already had one meeting;  I was
appointed  late).  "They're  going to talk  about the counting  numbers."  I
didn't know what that was, but  it turned  out they were what I used to call
integers. They had different names for everything, so I had a lot of trouble
right from the start.
     She told  me how the members of  the commission normally rated the  new
schoolbooks. They would get a relatively large number of copies of each book
and  would give  them  to  various  teachers  and  administrators  in  their
district. Then they  would  get reports  back  on what these people  thought
about the books. Since I didn't know  a  lot of teachers or  administrators,
and since I felt that  I could, by reading the books myself, make up my mind
as to how  they looked to me, I  chose to read all the books  myself. (There
were  some people  in my district who had expected to look  at the books and
wanted a chance to give their  opinion. Mrs. Whitehouse offered to put their
reports  in with hers so they would feel better and I wouldn't have to worry
about their complaints. They were satisfied, and I didn't get much trouble.)
     A  few days later a guy from the book depository called me up and said,
"We're ready to send  you  the books, Mr.  Feynman;  there are three hundred
pounds."
     I was overwhelmed.
     "It's all right, Mr. Feynman; we'll get someone to help you read them."
     I couldn't  figure out how  you  do  that: you either read them or  you
don't read them. I had a  special bookshelf put in my study downstairs  (the
books  took up  seventeen  feet), and began reading all the books that  were
going to be  discussed in the  next meeting. We were going to start out with
the elementary schoolbooks.
     It was a pretty  big job, and  I worked all the  time at it down in the
basement. My wife  says that during this period  it  was like  living over a
volcano.  It  would  be  quiet for  a while,  but  then  all  of  a  sudden,
"BLLLLLOOOOOOWWWWW!!!!" -- there would be a big explosion from the "volcano"
below.  The reason  was that the books were so lousy. They were  false. They
were  hurried.  They would try to  be rigorous, but they would use  examples
(like automobiles  in the street  for "sets") which were almost  OK, but  in
which there were always some subtleties. The  definitions weren't  accurate.
Everything was a  little  bit  ambiguous --  they weren't  smart  enough  to
understand  what  was  meant by "rigor."  They  were  faking  it.  They were
teaching something they didn't understand, and  which was, in fact, useless,
at that time, for the child.
     I understood what they were trying to  do. Many people thought  we were
behind the  Russians  after  Sputnik, and some mathematicians were asked  to
give  advice on how  to teach math by using some  of the  rather interesting
modern concepts of mathematics. The  purpose was to enhance mathematics  for
the children who found it dull.
     I'll give you an  example:  They  would talk  about different bases  of
numbers -- five, six, and so on -- to show the  possibilities. That would be
interesting  for  a  kid  who could  understand base  ten  --  something  to
entertain  his mind. But what they had turned  it into, in these books,  was
that every child had to learn another base! And then the  usual horror would
come:  "Translate these  numbers, which are written in base  seven,  to base
five." Translating from one  base to another is an utterly useless thing. If
you  can  do it,  maybe it's entertaining;  if you  can't do it, forget  it.
There's no point to it.
     Anyhow,  I'm looking  at all these books, all these books, and none  of
them  has said anything  about using arithmetic in science. If there are any
examples on the  use of  arithmetic  at  all (most  of  the time  it's  this
abstract new modern nonsense), they are about things like buying stamps.
     Finally I come to a book  that says, "Mathematics is used in science in
many ways. We  will give you an example from astronomy, which is the science
of stars." I turn  the  page, and  it says, "Red stars have a temperature of
four thousand  degrees,  yellow  stars  have a  temperature of five thousand
degrees..."  --  so  far,  so  good.  It  continues:  "Green  stars  have  a
temperature of seven thousand degrees, blue stars have  a temperature of ten
thousand  degrees,  and violet  stars  have  a  temperature  of... (some big
number)." There are no green or violet stars, but the figures for the others
are roughly correct.  It's vaguely right -- but already, trouble! That's the
way everything  was: Everything was written by somebody who didn't know what
the hell he was talking about, so it was a little bit wrong, always! And how
we are  going to teach well by using books written by people who don't quite
understand what they're talking about, I  cannot  understand. I  don't  know
why, but the books are lousy; UNIVERSALLY LOUSY!
     Anyway, I'm  happy with this book, because  it's the first  example  of
applying arithmetic to science.  I'm  a bit unhappy  when I  read about  the
stars'  temperatures, but  I'm not  very  unhappy  because it's more or less
right  -- it's just an example of error. Then comes the list of problems. It
says, "John and his father go out to  look  at the stars. John sees two blue
stars and a red star. His father  sees a  green star, a violet star, and two
yellow stars. What  is the total temperature of  the stars seen  by John and
his father?" -- and I would explode in horror.
     My  wife  would  talk  about  the volcano downstairs.  That's  only  an
example: it  was perpetually  like  that. Perpetual  absurdity!  There's  no
purpose whatsoever in adding  the temperature of two stars. Nobody ever does
that except,  maybe, to then take the average temperature of the  stars, but
not to find out the total temperature of all the stars! It was awful! All it
was was a game to get you to add, and they didn't understand what they  were
talking about. It  was  like  reading sentences  with  a  few  typographical
errors, and  then  suddenly  a  whole sentence  is  written  backwards.  The
mathematics was like that. Just hopeless!
     Then I came to my first  meeting. The other members had given some kind
of ratings to some of the books,  and they asked me what my ratings were. My
rating  was often different  from  theirs, and they  would ask, "Why did you
rate that book low?"
     I would  say the  trouble with  that book was  this  and this  on  page
so-and-so -- I had my notes.
     They discovered  that  I was kind of a goldmine: I would tell them,  in
detail, what  was good and bad in  all  the books; I had a reason  for every
rating.
     I would ask them why they had rated this book so high,  and  they would
say,  "Let us  hear  what you thought about such  and such a book." I  would
never find out why they rated anything the way they did. Instead, they  kept
asking me what I thought.
     We came  to a certain  book, part of a set of three supplementary books
published by the same company, and they asked me what I thought about it.
     I said, "The  book depository didn't send  me that  book, but the other
two were nice."
     Someone  tried repeating  the question:  "What do you  think about that
book?"
     "I said they didn't send me that one, so I don't  have any  judgment on
it."
     The man from the book depository was there, and  he said, "Excuse me; I
can explain that. I didn't  send it  to you  because that book  hadn't  been
completed  yet. There's a rule that  you have  to  have every  entry in by a
certain time, and the publisher was a few days late with it. So it  was sent
to us with just  the  covers, and it's blank in between. The company  sent a
note excusing themselves and hoping they could have their set of three books
considered, even though the third one would be late."
     It turned out that the blank book  had a rating  by some of  the  other
members! They  couldn't believe it was blank,  because they had a rating. In
fact, the rating for the missing book  was a little bit higher than for  the
two  others. The fact that there was nothing in  the  book had nothing to do
with the rating.
     I believe the reason for all this  is that  the system works this  way.
When  you give books all over  the place  to people,  they're  busy; they're
careless; they think, "Well, a lot  of  people are reading this  book, so it
doesn't make any difference." And they put in some kind of number -- some of
them, at least; not  all of them, but some of them. Then  when  you  receive
your reports, you don't know why this particular book has fewer reports than
the other books -- that is, perhaps one book has ten, and this one  only has
six people reporting -- so you average the rating of those who reported; you
don't average the ones who didn't report,  so you get  a  reasonable number.
This  process of  averaging  all the time misses  the  fact  that  there  is
absolutely nothing between the covers of the book!
     I  made that  theory up because I saw what happened in  the  curriculum
commission:  For the  blank  book,  only six  out  of the ten  members  were
reporting, whereas with the other  books, eight or nine out of  the ten were
reporting. And  when they averaged the six, they got  as  good an average as
when  they averaged  with  eight  or  nine. They  were  very  embarrassed to
discover they were giving ratings to that book, and it gave  me a little bit
more confidence. It turned out the other members of the committee had done a
lot of work in  giving out the books and collecting reports, and had gone to
sessions  in which the  book publishers would explain the books before  they
read them; I was the only guy on that commission who read all  the books and
didn't get any information  from the book publishers except  what was in the
books themselves, the things that would ultimately go to the schools.
     This question of trying to figure out whether a book  is good or bad by
looking  at it carefully  or by taking the  reports of a  lot  of people who
looked  at  it carelessly  is  like  this famous  old  problem:  Nobody  was
permitted to  see the  Emperor of  China, and the question was, What  is the
length  of the Emperor  of China's nose? To find  out, you go all  over  the
country asking people  what they  think the length of the Emperor of China's
nose is, and  you average it. And that would be very "accurate"  because you
averaged so many people. But it's no way to find anything out; when you have
a  very wide range of people who contribute without looking carefully at it,
you don't improve your knowledge of the situation by averaging.
     At first we  weren't supposed to talk about the cost  of  the books. We
were told how many books  we could choose, so we  designed  a program  which
used a  lot  of supplementary  books,  because  all the  new  textbooks  had
failures of one kind or another.  The most serious failures were in the "new
math" books: there were no applications; not enough word problems. There was
no talk of selling stamps; instead there was too much talk about commutation
and abstract things and not enough translation to situations  in  the world.
What do you  do: add,  subtract, multiply, or  divide?  So we suggested some
books which  had  some of  that as supplementary --  one  or  two  for  each
classroom  -- in  addition to  a textbook  for each student. We had  it  all
worked out to balance everything, after much discussion.
     When  we took our recommendations to the Board  of Education, they told
us they didn't have as much money as they had thought,  so we'd  have to  go
over  the whole  thing and cut out  this and that, now taking  the cost into
consideration, and  ruining what was a fairly  balanced  program,  in  which
there  was a chance for  a  teacher  to  find examples  of the  things (s)he
needed.
     Now that they changed the rules about how many books we could recommend
and we had  no more chance to balance, it was a  pretty  lousy program. When
the  senate  budget committee got to  it, the program  was emasculated still
further.  Now it was  really lousy! I  was asked to appear before the  state
senators when the issue  was being discussed, but I declined:  By that time,
having  argued this  stuff  so  much,  I  was  tired.  We  had prepared  our
recommendations for the  Board of Education, and  I figured it was their job
to  present  it to the state -- which was legally right, but not politically
sound. I shouldn't have  given  up so soon, but to  have worked so  hard and
discussed  so  much about all these books to make a fairly balanced program,
and  then  to  have  the  whole  thing  scrapped  at  the  end --  that  was
discouraging! The whole thing was an unnecessary effort that could have been
turned around and done the opposite way:  start with the cost  of the books,
and buy what you can afford.
     What finally clinched  it, and made me ultimately  resign, was that the
following year we were going to discuss science books.  I thought  maybe the
science would be different, so I looked at a few of them.
     The same  thing happened: something would look  good  at first and then
turn out to be  horrifying. For example,  there was a book  that started out
with four  pictures:  first  there was  a wind-up  toy;  then  there was  an
automobile; then there was a boy riding a bicycle;  then there was something
else. And underneath each picture it said, "What makes it go?"
     I thought, "I know what it is: They're going to talk  about  mechanics,
how the springs work inside the toy; about chemistry, how  the engine of the
automobile works; and biology, about how the muscles work."
     It was the kind of thing my father would have talked about: "What makes
it  go? Everything goes because the sun is shining."  And then we would have
fun discussing it:
     "No, the toy goes because the spring is wound up," I would say.
     "How did the spring get wound up?" he would ask.
     "I wound it up."
     "And how did you get moving?"
     "From eating."
     "And food grows only because  the sun  is  shining. So it's because the
sun is shining that all these things are moving." That would get the concept
across that motion is simply the transformation of the sun's power.
     I  turned the page. The answer was, for the wind-up toy, "Energy  makes
it  go." And  for  the boy  on  the  bicycle,  "Energy  makes  it  go."  For
everything, "Energy makes it go."
     Now that doesn't  mean anything. Suppose it's "Wakalixes."  That's  the
general principle: "Wakalixes  makes it go." There's no knowledge coming in.
The child doesn't learn anything; it's just a word!
     What  they should  have  done is to look at  the wind-up  toy, see that
there are springs inside, learn about springs, learn about wheels, and never
mind "energy." Later on, when the children  know something about how the toy
actually works, they can discuss the more general principles of energy.
     It's also not even true that "energy makes it go," because if it stops,
you could say, "energy  makes  it stop"  just as  well. What they're talking
about is concentrated energy being transformed into more dilute forms, which
is a very subtle aspect of energy. Energy is neither increased nor decreased
in these examples; it's just changed from  one form to another. And when the
things stop, the energy is changed into heat, into general chaos.
     But that's  the way  all the books were:  They  said  things  that were
useless,  mixed-up,  ambiguous,  confusing,  and  partially  incorrect.  How
anybody can learn science from  these books,  I don't know, because it's not
science.
     So when I  saw all these horrifying books with the same kind of trouble
as the math books had, I saw my volcano process  starting again. Since I was
exhausted  from reading  all the math  books, and discouraged  from  its all
being  a wasted effort,  I  couldn't face another year of that,  and had  to
resign. Sometime later I heard that the energy-makes-it-go book was going to
be recommended  by the curriculum commission to the Board of Education, so I
made one  last effort.  At  each  meeting of  the commission  the public was
allowed  to make comments, so I got up and said  why I  thought the book was
bad.
     The man who replaced me on the commission said, "That book was approved
by sixty-five engineers at the Such-and-such Aircraft Company!"
     I didn't doubt that the company had some  pretty good engineers, but to
take sixty-five  engineers  is to take a wide  range  of  ability --  and to
necessarily include some pretty poor guys! It was once again  the problem of
averaging the length of  the emperor's nose, or  the ratings on a book  with
nothing  between the  covers.  It would  have been far  better to  have  the
company decide who their better engineers were, and to have them look at the
book. I couldn't claim that I  was smarter than sixty-five other guys -- but
the average of sixty-five other guys, certainly!
     I couldn't get through to him, and the book was approved by the board.
     When I was still on the commission, I had to go to San Francisco  a few
times for some of the meetings, and when  I returned to Los Angeles from the
first  trip, I stopped in the commission office to  get  reimbursed  for  my
expenses.
     "How much did it cost, Mr. Feynman?"
     "Well, I flew to San  Francisco, so it's  the airfare, plus the parking
at the airport while I was away."
     "Do you have your ticket?"
     I happened to have the ticket.
     "Do you have a receipt for the parking?"
     "No, but it cost $2.35 to park my car."
     "But we have to have a receipt."
     "I told you how much it cost. If you don't trust me,  why do you let me
tell you what I think is good and bad about the schoolbooks?".
     There  was a  big stew about that.  Unfortunately,  I had  been used to
giving lectures for some company or  university or for ordinary  people, not
for  the government. I was used to, "What were your expenses?" -- "So-and-so
much." -- "Here you are, Mr. Feynman."
     I then decided I wasn't going to give them a receipt for anything.
     After the  second trip to San  Francisco they  again  asked  me for  my
ticket and receipts.
     "I haven't got any."
     "This can't go on, Mr. Feynman."
     "When I accepted  to serve on the commission, I was told you were going
to pay my expenses."
     "But we expected to have some receipts to prove the expenses."
     "I have nothing to prove it, but  you know I live in Los Angeles  and I
go to these other towns; how the hell do you think I get there?"
     They  didn't give  in,  and  neither  did I. I feel  when  you're  in a
position like that, where you choose  not to buckle down to  the System, you
must pay  the consequences if  it doesn't work. So I'm perfectly  satisfied,
but I never did get compensation for the trips.
     It's one of  those games I play. They want  a receipt?  I'm  not giving
them a receipt. Then you're not  going to get the  money.  OK, then  I'm not
taking the  money. They don't trust me? The hell with it; they don't have to
pay me. Of course it's  absurd! I know that's  the way the government works;
well, screw the government! I feel that  human  beings  should  treat  human
beings like human beings.  And unless I'm going to be treated  like one, I'm
not going to have anything  to do with them! They feel bad? They feel bad. I
feel  bad,  too.  We'll  just  let  it  go.  I know they're "protecting  the
taxpayer," but  see how  well you think the taxpayer was being protected  in
the following situation.
     There were two books that we were  unable to come to a  decision  about
after much discussion; they were  extremely close. So we left it open to the
Board of Education  to  decide. Since the board was now taking the cost into
consideration, and  since the two  books were so  evenly matched, the  board
decided to open the bids and take the lower one.
     Then the  question came up, "Will  the schools be  getting the books at
the regular time, or could they, perhaps, get them a little earlier, in time
for the coming term?"
     One publisher's representative got up and said, "We are happy  that you
accepted our bid; we can get it out in time for the next term."
     A representative of  the publisher that lost out was also there, and he
got up and said, "Since our bids were submitted based on the later deadline,
I think  we should have  a chance to  bid again  for the  earlier  deadline,
because we too can meet the earlier deadline."
     Mr. Norris, the Pasadena lawyer on  the  board, asked the guy  from the
other publisher, "And how much would it cost for us to get your books at the
earlier date?"
     And he gave a number: It was less!
     The  first  guy got up: "If he  changes his bid,  I have the  right  to
change my bid!" -- and his bid is still less!
     Norris asked, "Well  how is that -- we get the  books earlier  and it's
cheaper?"
     "Yes,"  one  guy says. "We  can use a special offset method we wouldn't
normally use..." -- some excuse why it came out cheaper.
     The other guy agreed: "When you do it quicker, it costs less!"
     That was  really a  shock. It  ended  up two  million dollars  cheaper.
Norris was really incensed by this sudden change.
     What happened, of course,  was  that the uncertainty about the date had
opened  the  possibility  that  these  guys  could  bid against  each other.
Normally, when books were supposed to be chosen without taking the cost into
consideration, there was no  reason to lower the price;  the book publishers
could put the prices at  any place they wanted to. There was no advantage in
competing by lowering  the price; the  way you competed  was to impress  the
members of the curriculum commission.
     By  the way, whenever  our  commission had a meeting, there  were  book
publishers  entertaining  curriculum  commission  members  by taking them to
lunch and talking to them about their books. I never went.
     It seems obvious now, but I didn't  know what  was happening the time I
got a package  of dried fruit and whatnot delivered by Western Union with  a
message that read,  "From  our  family to yours, Happy Thanksgiving  --  The
Families."
     It was  from a family  I  had never  heard of in Long  Beach, obviously
someone  wanting to  send this to his friend's family who  got  the name and
address wrong,  so  I thought I'd  better straighten  it  out.  I called  up
Western Union, got the  telephone number of  the people who  sent the stuff,
and I called them.
     "Hello, my name is Mr. Feynman. I received a package..."
     "Oh, hello, Mr. Feynman, this is Pete Pamilio" and he says it in such a
friendly  way that I think I'm supposed to know who he is! I'm normally such
a dunce that I can't remember who anyone is.
     So I said,  "I'm sorry, Mr. Pamilio, but I don't quite remember who you
are..."
     It turned out he  was a representative of one  of the  publishers whose
books I had to judge on the curriculum commission.
     "I see. But this could be misunderstood."
     "It's only family to family."
     "Yes, but  I'm judging a book that you're publishing, and maybe someone
might misinterpret your kindness!" I  knew what was happening, but I made it
sound like I was a complete idiot.
     Another thing like this happened  when one of the publishers sent  me a
leather briefcase with my name nicely written in gold on it. I gave them the
same  stuff:  "I  can't  accept it; I'm  judging  some  of  the books you're
publishing. I don't think you understand that!"
     One commissioner, who had been there for the greatest length  of  time,
said, "I never accept the  stuff;  it makes me very upset.  But it just goes
on."
     But I really missed one opportunity. If I had only thought fast enough,
I could have had a very good time on that commission. I got to the hotel  in
San Francisco in the  evening to attend my  very first meeting the next day,
and I decided to  go out to wander in the town and eat something. I came out
of the elevator, and sitting on a bench in the hotel lobby were two guys who
jumped  up and said,  "Good evening, Mr.  Feynman. Where are  you going?  Is
there  something  we  can show  you  in San  Francisco?"  They were  from  a
publishing company, and I didn't want to have anything to do with them.
     "I'm going out to eat."
     "We can take you out to dinner."
     "No, I want to be alone."
     "Well, whatever you want, we can help you."
     I  couldn't resist. I  said, "Well,  I'm going out  to  get  myself  in
trouble."
     "I think we can help you in that, too."
     "No, I think I'll take care  of  that myself." Then I thought, "What an
error! I should have let all that stuff  operate  and keep a diary,  so  the
people of the state of California could find out how far the publishers will
go!" And when I found out about the two-million-dollar difference, God knows
what the pressures are!


--------


     In  Canada they  have  a big association of physics students. They have
meetings; they give papers, and so on. One time the Vancouver chapter wanted
to have me come and  talk to them. The girl in charge of it arranged with my
secretary  to  fly all the way  to Los Angeles without  telling me. She just
walked into  my office.  She  was really  cute,  a  beautiful blonde.  (That
helped; it's not  supposed to,  but  it did.) And  I was impressed that  the
students in  Vancouver  had financed  the whole  thing.  They  treated me so
nicely in Vancouver  that  now  I  know  the  secret  of  how  to really  be
entertained and give talks: Wait for the students to ask you.
     One time, a few years after I had won the  Nobel Prize,  some kids from
the Irvine students' physics club came around and wanted me to talk. I said,
"I'd love to do it. What I want to do is talk just to the  physics club. But
-- I don't want to be immodest -- I've learned from experience that there'll
be trouble."
     I  told them how I used to go over to a local high school every year to
talk  to the  physics club  about relativity,  or whatever they asked about.
Then,  after I got the Prize, I  went  over there  again, as usual,  with no
preparation, and  they stuck  me in front  of  an assembly  of three hundred
kids.
     It was a mess!
     I  got that  shock about three or four  times,  being an idiot  and not
catching  on right away. When I was  invited to Berkeley  to give a talk  on
something  in physics, I prepared something  rather technical, expecting  to
give it to the usual physics department  group. But when I got  there,  this
tremendous lecture hall is full  of people! And I know there's not that many
people in Berkeley  who  know the level  at which  I  prepared  my  talk. My
problem is, I like to please the people who  come to hear me, and I can't do
it if  everybody and  his brother wants  to  hear: I don't know  my audience
then.
     After the  students  understood  that  I  can't  just  easily  go  over
somewhere and give a talk to the  physics club,  I said,  "Let's  cook  up a
dull-sounding title and a dull-sounding  professor's name, and then only the
kids who are really interested in physics will bother to come, and those are
the ones we want, OK? You don't have to sell anything."
     A few  posters appeared  on  the  Irvine campus: Professor Henry Warren
from the University  of  Washington is going to talk about the structure  of
the proton on May 17th at 3:00 in Room D102.
     Then  I came and said, "Professor Warren had some personal difficulties
and was unable to come and speak to you today, so he telephoned me and asked
me if I would talk to you about the subject, since I've been doing some work
in the field. So here I am." It worked great.
     But  then, somehow or  other, the faculty adviser of the club found out
about the trick, and  he got very angry at  them. He said, "You know,  if it
were  known that  Professor Feynman was  coming down here, a  lot of  people
would like to have listened to him."
     The students explained, "That's just  it!" But the adviser was mad that
he hadn't been allowed in on the joke.
     Hearing that the students were in real trouble,  I  decided to  write a
letter to  the  adviser  and  explained  that it  was all my  fault, that  I
wouldn't have given the  talk unless this arrangement had been  made; that I
had told the students not to tell anyone; I'm very  sorry; please excuse me,
blah, blah, blah... That's the kind of stuff I have to go through on account
of that damn prize!
     Just  last  year I  was  invited  by the students at the  University of
Alaska  in  Fairbanks to  talk, and  had a  wonderful  time,  except for the
interviews on local television. I don't need interviews; there's no point to
it. I  came to talk  to the physics students, and that's it. If everybody in
town wants to know that, let the school newspaper tell them. It's on account
of the Nobel Prize that I've got  to  have an  interview --  I'm a big shot,
right?
     A  friend of mine who's a rich man --  he  invented some kind of simple
digital  switch -- tells  me about these people who contribute money to make
prizes or give lectures: "You always look at them carefully to find out what
crockery they're trying to absolve their conscience of."
     My friend Matt Sands was once going to write a book to be called Alfred
Nobel's Other Mistake.
     For many years  I would  look, when the time was coming  around to give
out the Prize, at who might get it. But after a while I wasn't even aware of
when it was the right "season." I therefore had no idea why someone would be
calling me at 3:30 or 4:00 in the morning. "Professor Feynman?"
     "Hey! Why are you bothering me at this time in the morning?"
     "I thought you'd like to know that you've won the Nobel Prize."
     "Yeah, but I'm sleeping! It would have been better if you had called me
in the morning."-- and I hung up.
     My wife said, "Who was that?"
     "They told me I won the Nobel Prize."
     "Oh, Richard, who was it?" I  often kid around and she is so smart that
she never gets fooled, but this time I caught her.
     The phone rings again: "Professor Feynman, have you heard..."
     (In a disappointed voice) "Yeah."
     Then I began to think, "How  can I turn this all off? I don't  want any
of this!" So the first thing was to take the telephone off the hook, because
calls were coming  one  right after  the other. I tried to go back to sleep,
but found it was impossible.
     I went down to the study to think: What am I going to do? Maybe I won't
accept the Prize. What would happen then? Maybe that's impossible.
     I put the receiver back on the hook and  the phone  rang right away. It
was a guy from Time magazine. I said to him, "Listen, I've got a problem, so
I  want  this off the record. I don't know how  to get out of this thing. Is
there some way not to accept the Prize?"
     He  said, "I'm afraid,  sir,  that  there isn't any  way  you can do it
without  making more of a fuss  than if you leave it alone." It was obvious.
We had quite a conversation,  about fifteen or twenty minutes,  and the Time
guy never published anything about it.
     I said thank you very much to the Time guy and hung  up. The phone rang
immediately: it was the newspaper.
     "Yes, you  can come up  to the house. Yes, it's  all  right.  Yes, Yes,
Yes..."
     One of  the phone calls was  a  guy from the Swedish  consulate. He was
going to  have a reception in Los Angeles. I figured that since I decided to
accept the Prize, I've got to go through with all this stuff.
     The consul said, "Make a  list of the  people you would like to invite,
and we'll make a list  of the people we are inviting. Then I'll come to your
office  and we'll compare the lists to see if  there are any duplicates, and
we'll make up the invitations..."
     So I  made up my list. It had about eight  people --  my  neighbor from
across the street, my artist friend Zorthian, and so on.
     The consul came over to my  office with his  list: the Governor of  the
State of  California, the This, the That; Getty, the oilman; some actress --
it had three hundred  people! And, needless to say, there was no duplication
whatsoever!
     Then I began to get a little bit nervous. The idea of meeting all these
dignitaries frightened me.
     The consul saw I was worried. "Oh, don't worry," he said. "Most of them
don't come."
     Well, I  had never arranged a party that I  invited people to, and knew
to expect them not to  come! I don't have to kowtow to anybody and give them
the delight of being honored with this invitation that they can refuse; it's
stupid! By the  time I  got home  I was really upset with the whole thing. I
called the consul back and said, "I've thought it over, and I realize that I
just can't  go  through  with  the  reception."  He was  delighted. He said,
"You're perfectly right."  I think he was in  the same position -- having to
set up a party for  this jerk was just a pain in  the ass. It turned out, in
the end, everybody was happy. Nobody wanted to  come, including the guest of
honor! The host was much better off, too!
     I had  a  certain  psychological difficulty all  the  way through  this
period. You see, I had been brought up by my father against royalty and pomp
(he was in  the uniforms business,  so he knew the  difference between a man
with  a uniform on,  and  with the  uniform off -- it's the same man). I had
actually learned to  ridicule this stuff  all my life, and  it was so strong
and deeply cut into me that I couldn't go  up to a king without some strain.
It was childish, I know, but I was brought up that way, so it was a problem.
     People told me that  there  was a rule  in Sweden that after you accept
the Prize, you have to back away from  the king without turning around.  You
come down some steps, accept the Prize, and then  go back up the steps. So I
said to myself, "All right, I'm gonna fix them!" -- and  I practiced jumping
up stairs, backwards, to  show how  ridiculous their custom  was. I was in a
terrible mood! That was stupid and silly, of course. I found out this wasn't
a rule any more; you could turn around when you left the king, and walk like
a normal human being, in the  direction you were intending to  go, with your
nose in front.
     I was pleased to find  that not all the people in Sweden take the royal
ceremonies as seriously as you might think. When you get there, you discover
that they're on your side. The students had, for example, a special ceremony
in which  they granted each Nobel-Prize-winner  the  special "Order  of  the
Frog." When you get this little frog, you have to make a frog noise.
     When  I was  younger  I was  anti-culture, but my  father had some good
books around. One was a book with the old Greek play The Frogs in  it, and I
glanced at it one time and I saw in there that a frog talks. It  was written
as "brek, kek, kek." I thought, "No frog ever made a sound like that; that's
a crazy way to describe it!" so I  tried it, and after practicing it awhile,
I realized that it's very accurately what a frog says.
     So  my  chance glance into  a book  by  Aristophanes turned  out to  be
useful, later on: I  could make a good frog noise  at the students' ceremony
for the  Nobel-Prize-winners!  And jumping backwards fit right in, too. So I
liked that part of it; that ceremony went well.
     While  I  had  a  lot  of fun,  I  did still  have  this  psychological
difficulty all the way through. My greatest problem was the Thank-You speech
that  you give at the King's Dinner. When they  give you the Prize they give
you some  nicely bound  books about the years before, and  they have all the
Thank-You speeches written out as if they're some big deal.  So you begin to
think it's of some importance what you say in this Thank-You speech, because
it's going to be published. What I didn't realize was that hardly anyone was
going to listen to it carefully, and nobody was going to read it! I had lost
my   sense  of  proportion:  I  couldn't  just  say  thank  you  very  much,
blah-blah-blah-blah-blah; it  would have been so easy to do  that, but no, I
have to make it honest. And the truth was, I  didn't really want this Prize,
so how do I say thank you when I don't want it?
     My wife says I was a  nervous wreck, worrying about what I was going to
say in the speech,  but I  finally figured  out a  way  to make a  perfectly
satisfactory-sounding  speech  that was nevertheless completely honest.  I'm
sure those who heard  the speech  had no idea what this guy had gone through
in preparing it.
     I started out  by saying that I had  already  received  my prize in the
pleasure I got in discovering what I did,  from the fact that others used my
work, and so on. I tried to explain that I had already received everything I
expected to  get, and the rest  was  nothing compared  to it. I had  already
received my prize.
     But then  I said I  received, all  at once, a big pile of  letters -- I
said it much better in the speech -- reminding me of all these people that I
knew: letters from  childhood  friends  who  jumped  up  when  they read the
morning newspaper and cried out, "I know him! He's that kid we  used to play
with!"  and so  on;  letters  like  that,  which  were  very  supportive and
expressed what I interpreted as a kind of love. For that I thanked them.
     The speech went fine, but I was always getting into slight difficulties
with royalty. During the King's Dinner  I was sitting next to a princess who
had gone to college in the  United States. I assumed,  incorrectly, that she
had the same attitudes as I did. I figured she was just a kid like everybody
else. I remarked on how the king and all the royalty had to stand for such a
long time, shaking  hands with all the  guests at  the reception  before the
dinner. "In America,"  I said,  "we could make this more efficient. We would
design a machine to shake hands."
     "Yes, but there wouldn't be  very much  of a  market  for it here," she
said, uneasily. "There's not that much royalty."
     "On the contrary, there'd be a very big market. At first, only the king
would have a machine, and  we  could give it to him  free. Then, of  course,
other  people would want a machine, too. The  question now becomes, who will
be  allowed to have a machine?  The prime  minister is permitted to buy one;
then the president of  the senate is  allowed  to buy one, and then the most
important  senior deputies.  So  there's  a very big, expanding  market, and
pretty soon, you wouldn't  have to go  through  the  reception line to shake
hands with the machines; you'd send your machine!"
     I also sat next to the lady who was in charge of organizing the dinner.
A waitress came by to fill my wineglass, and I said, "No, thank you. I don't
drink."
     The lady said, "No, no. Let her pour the drink."
     "But I don't drink."
     She said, "It's all right.  Just look. You see, she has two bottles. We
know that  number eighty-eight doesn't drink."  (Number  eighty-eight was on
the back of my chair.) "They look exactly the same, but one has no alcohol."
     "But how do you know?" I exclaimed.
     She smiled. "Now watch the king," she said. "He doesn't drink either."
     She told me some of the problems they had had this particular year. One
of them was, where should the Russian ambassador sit? The problem always is,
at dinners  like  this,  who sits  nearer  to  the  king. The  Prize-winners
normally  sit closer  to the king  than the  diplomatic corps  does. And the
order in which  the diplomats sit is determined according to  the length  of
time  they  have  been  in  Sweden.  Now  at  that  time, the United  States
ambassador had  been in Sweden longer than the  Russian ambassador. But that
year, the  winner of  the Nobel Prize  for Literature was Mr.  Sholokhov,  a
Russian, and the Russian ambassador wanted  to be Mr. Sholokhov's translator
-- and  therefore to  sit next to him.  So the  problem was  how to  let the
Russian  ambassador sit  closer  to  the  king without offending the  United
States ambassador and the rest of the diplomatic corps.
     She  said,  "You should  have seen what a fuss  they  went  through  --
letters back and forth, telephone  calls,  and  so on  -- before I ever  got
permission to have the ambassador  sit next to Mr. Sholokhov. It was finally
agreed  that the ambassador wouldn't officially represent the embassy of the
Soviet  Union that evening; rather, he was to be only the translator for Mr.
Sholokhov."
     After  the dinner  we  went  off into  another room, where  there  were
different conversations  going on. There was a Princess Somebody  of Denmark
sitting at a table with a number  of people around her, and  I saw  an empty
chair at their table and sat down.
     She turned to me and said, "Oh! You're one  of the Nobel-Prize-winners.
In what field did you do your work?"
     "In physics," I said.
     "Oh. Well, nobody knows anything about  that,  so I guess we can't talk
about it."
     "On  the contrary," I answered. "It's  because somebody knows something
about it that we can't talk about physics. It's the things that nobody knows
anything  about that we  can  discuss. We can talk about the weather; we can
talk about social problems; we can talk about psychology;  we can talk about
international  finance -- gold transfers  we can't talk about, because those
are understood -- so it's  the subject that nobody knows anything about that
we can all talk about!"
     I  don't  know  how  they  do  it. There's a way of  forming ice on the
surface of the face, and she did it! She turned to talk to somebody else.
     After   a  while  I  could  tell  I  was  completely  cut  out  of  the
conversation, so I got up and started away. The Japanese ambassador, who was
also  sitting  at  that  table, jumped up  and walked  after me.  "Professor
Feynman,"  he  said, "there  is something I  should  like to tell you  about
diplomacy."
     He went  into a long story  about how a young man in Japan goes to  the
university and studies international relations because he thinks he can make
a contribution  to his  country.  As a  sophomore he  begins to have  slight
twinges of doubt about what he is learning. After college he takes his first
post in an  embassy  and  has  still more doubts about his understanding  of
diplomacy,  until  he finally  realizes  that  nobody knows  anything  about
international relations. At  that  point, he can  become  an ambassador! "So
Professor Feynman,"  he said, "next  time you give examples  of  things that
everybody talks about that nobody knows about, please include  international
relations!"
     He was a very interesting man, and we got to talking. I had always been
interested in  how  it  is the  different  countries  and different  peoples
develop differently. I told the  ambassador  that there was one  thing  that
always  seemed to me to be  a remarkable phenomenon: how Japan had developed
itself so  rapidly to become such a  modern  and  important  country in  the
world. "What is the aspect and character of the Japanese people that made it
possible for the Japanese to do that?" I asked.
     The  ambassador answered in a  way I like to hear:  "I don't  know," he
said. "I might  suppose something, but I don't know if it's true. The people
of Japan believed they had only one way of moving up: to have their children
educated more than they were; that it was  very important  for them to  move
out of their peasantry to become educated. So there has been  a great energy
in the  family to encourage  the children  to do well  in school, and  to be
pushed forward. Because of this  tendency to  learn things all the time, new
ideas from  the outside  would  spread through  the  educational system very
easily.  Perhaps  that is  one  of  the reasons why  Japan  has  advanced so
rapidly."
     All in  all, I must say I  enjoyed the  visit  to  Sweden,  in the end.
Instead of coming home immediately, I  went to CERN, the European center for
nuclear research  in  Switzerland,  to  give  a talk. I  appeared  before my
colleagues in the  suit that I had worn to the  King's Dinner -- I had never
given a  talk in a suit before -- and I began  by  saying, "Funny thing, you
know; in Sweden we were sitting  around, talking about whether there are any
changes  as a result of our  having won the Nobel  Prize, and as a matter of
fact, I think I already see a change: I rather like this suit."
     Everybody says "Booooo!" and  Weisskopf jumps up and tears off his coat
and says, "We're not gonna wear suits at lectures!"
     I took my coat off, loosened my  tie, and said, "By the time I had been
through Sweden, I was beginning to like this stuff, but now that I'm back in
the world, everything's all right  again. Thanks  for straightening me out!"
They didn't want me to change.  So  it was  very quick: at  CERN  they undid
everything that they had done in Sweden.
     It's  nice that I  got some money -- I was able to buy a beach house --
but altogether, I think it would have been much  nicer not to have  had  the
Prize --  because you  never, any longer, can be taken  straightforwardly in
any public situation.
     In  a way,  the Nobel Prize has been something  of  a pain in the neck,
though there was at least one time that  I  got some fun out  of it. Shortly
after I  won  the Prize,  Gweneth and  I  received  an  invitation  from the
Brazilian  government to be the guests of honor at the Carnaval celebrations
in Rio. We gladly accepted  and had a great time. We  went from one dance to
another  and reviewed  the big street parade that featured the  famous samba
schools  playing  their  wonderful  rhythms  and music.  Photographers  from
newspapers and magazines were  taking pictures  all the time --  "Here,  the
Professor from America is dancing with Miss Brazil."
     It was fun  to be  a  "celebrity,"  but we  were  obviously  the  wrong
celebrities. Nobody was very excited about the guests  of honor that year. I
found out later how  our invitation had  come  about. Gina  Lollobrigida was
supposed to be the guest  of honor, but just before  Carnaval, she  said no.
The Minister of Tourism, who was  in charge of organizing Carnaval, had some
friends at the Center for Physical Research who knew I had played in a samba
band, and since  I  had recently won the Nobel Prize,  I was briefly  in the
news. In a  moment of panic the Minister and his friends got this crazy idea
to replace Gina Lollobrigida with the professor of physics!
     Needless to say, the Minister did such a bad job on  that Carnaval that
he lost his position in the government.


--------


     Nina Byers,  a  professor at  UCLA,  became in  charge  of  the physics
colloquium  sometime in the early seventies.  The colloquia are  normally  a
place where physicists from other universities  come and talk pure technical
stuff. But partly as a result of the atmosphere of that particular period of
time, she  got the  idea  that the  physicists needed  more culture,  so she
thought she would arrange  something along those lines: Since Los Angeles is
near Mexico, she would have a colloquium on the mathematics and astronomy of
the Mayans -- the old civilization of Mexico.
     (Remember my attitude to culture: This kind of  thing would have driven
me crazy if it were in my university!)
     She started  looking  for a professor to  lecture  on  the subject, and
couldn't  find  anybody  at UCLA  who  was  quite an expert.  She telephoned
various places and still couldn't find anybody.
     Then she remembered Professor Otto Neugebauer, of Brown University, the
great expert on Babylonian mathematics.* She telephoned him in  Rhode Island
and asked if he knew someone on  the West Coast  who could lecture on  Mayan
mathematics and astronomy.

     * When I  was a  young professor at  Cornell, Professor  Neugebauer had
come one year to give a sequence of lectures, called the Messenger Lectures,
on  Babylonian mathematics. They were  wonderful. Oppenheimer  lectured  the
next year. I remember thinking to myself,  "Wouldn't  it  be  nice  to come,
someday, and be able to give lectures like  that!" Some years later,  when I
was refusing invitations to lecture at various places, I was invited to give
the Messenger  Lectures at Cornell.  Of course I couldn't refuse, because  I
had put  that in  my  mind  so I  accepted an invitation  to go over to  Bob
Wilson's house for a weekend and we discussed various ideas.  The result was
a series of lectures called "The Character of Physical Law."

     "Yes," he  said. "I  do. He's not  a  professional  anthropologist or a
historian; he's an amateur. But he certainly knows a  lot about it. His name
is Richard Feynman."
     She nearly died! She's trying to bring some culture to the  physicists,
and the only way to do it is to get a physicist!
     The only reason I  knew anything about Mayan mathematics was that I was
getting exhausted on my honeymoon in Mexico  with  my second wife, Mary Lou.
She was greatly interested in art history, particularly  that  of Mexico. So
we went to  Mexico for our  honeymoon and we climbed  up pyramids  and  down
pyramids; she had  me following her  all over the place. She showed  me many
interesting things, such as certain  relationships in the designs of various
figures, but after  a few days (and nights)  of going up and down in hot and
steamy jungles, I was exhausted.
     In some little Guatemalan town in the middle of nowhere we went into  a
museum that  had a  case  displaying a manuscript  full of strange  symbols,
pictures, and  bars and dots. It was a copy (made by a man named Villacorta)
of the Dresden Codex, an original book made by the  Mayans found in a museum
in Dresden. I knew the bars and dots were numbers. My father had taken me to
the New  York  World's Fair  when  I was a little kid,  and there  they  had
reconstructed a Mayan temple. I remembered him telling me how the Mayans had
invented the zero and had done many interesting things.
     The museum had copies of the codex for  sale,  so I bought one. On each
page  at the left was  the  codex copy, and on the  right a  description and
partial translation in Spanish.
     I love puzzles and codes, so when I saw the  bars and dots, I  thought,
"I'm gonna have some fun!"  I covered up the Spanish with  a piece of yellow
paper and began  playing this game of deciphering the  Mayan bars and  dots,
sitting in the hotel room, while  my wife  climbed up and down  the pyramids
all day.
     I quickly  figured  out that  a bar was  equal to five  dots, what  the
symbol for zero was, and so on.  It  took  me a little longer to figure  out
that  the bars and dots always carried at  twenty  the  first time, but they
carried  at eighteen the  second time (making cycles of 360). I  also worked
out all kinds of things  about  various faces: they had surely meant certain
days and weeks.
     After we  got back home I continued to work  on  it. Altogether, it's a
lot of fun to try to decipher  something like  that, because when  you start
out you  don't  know anything -- you have  no  clue to  go by. But then  you
notice certain  numbers that appear often, and add up to other numbers,  and
so on.
     There  was  one place  in  the  codex  where the  number 584  was  very
prominent. This 584 was divided into periods of 236, 90, 250, and 8. Another
prominent number was 2920, or 584  x 5 (also 365 x 8).  There was a table of
multiples of 2920 up to  13 x 2920, then there  were multiples of  13 x 2920
for a while, and then -- funny numbers! They  were errors, as far as I could
tell. Only many years later did I figure out what they were.
     Because figures  denoting days were associated with  this 584 which was
divided up so peculiarly, I figured  if  it  wasn't some mythical period  of
some sort, it might  be something astronomical.  Finally I  went down to the
astronomy library and looked it up, and found that 583.92 days is the period
of Venus  as it appears from the  earth.  Then the  236,  90, 250,  8 became
apparent: it must  be  the  phases that Venus goes through.  It's  a morning
star, then it can't be seen (it's on the far side of the sun); then it's  an
evening  star, and finally it disappears  again (it's  between the earth and
the sun). The 90 and  the  8 are  different because Venus moves more  slowly
through  the  sky when it is on the far side of the sun compared to when  it
passes between the earth and the sun. The difference between the 236 and the
250 might indicate a difference between the  eastern and western horizons in
Maya land.
     I discovered another table nearby that had periods of 11,959 days. This
turned out to be a table for predicting lunar  eclipses. Still another table
had multiples  of 91  in descending  order.  I never did figure that one out
(nor has anyone else).
     When I had worked out as much as I could, I finally  decided to look at
the Spanish commentary  to see how much I was able  to  figure out.  It  was
complete nonsense. This  symbol was Saturn, this  symbol  was a  god  --  it
didn't make the slightest bit of sense. So I didn't have to have covered the
commentary; I wouldn't have learned anything from it anyway.
     After  that I  began to read a lot about the Mayans, and found that the
great  man in this  business was Eric Thompson, some of  whose  books I  now
have.
     When Nina Byers called me  up I realized that I had lost my copy of the
Dresden Codex. (I had lent it to Mrs. H. E. Robertson, who had found a Mayan
codex in an old trunk of an antique dealer in Paris. She had brought it back
to Pasadena for me to look at  --  I  still remember driving home with it on
the front seat of my car, thinking, "I've gotta be careful driving: I've got
the  new codex" --  but  as soon as I looked at  it carefully,  I could  see
immediately that it was a complete fake. After a little bit  of work I could
find where each picture in the new codex had come from in the Dresden Codex.
So I lent her my book to show  her,  and I eventually forgot she had it.) So
the librarians at UCLA worked very hard to find another copy of Villacorta's
rendition of the Dresden Codex, and lent it to me.
     I did all  the calculations all over again, and in fact I  got a little
bit  further than  I  did  before: I figured out  that those "funny numbers"
which  I  thought  before  were  errors  were  really  integer  multiples of
something closer to the correct period (583.923) -- the  Mayans had realized
that 584 wasn't exactly right!*

     *  While  I was studying this table of  corrections  for the period  of
Venus, I  discovered  a rare exaggeration  by Mr. Thompson. He wrote that by
looking at the table, you can deduce  how  the Mayans calculated the correct
period of Venus  -- use this number four times and that difference  once and
you  get an  accuracy  of one  day  in 4000  years, which  is  really  quite
remarkable, especially since  the  Mayans observed for  only a  few  hundred
years.
     Thompson happened to pick a  combination  which fit what he thought was
the right period for Venus, 583.92. But when you put in a more exact figure,
something like 583.923, you find the Mayans were off  by more. Of course, by
choosing  a different  combination you can get the numbers in  the table  to
give you 583.923 with the same remarkable accuracy!

     After  the colloquium at UCLA Professor Byers  presented  me  with some
beautiful  color reproductions  of  the Dresden  Codex. A few  months  later
Caltech wanted me to give the same lecture to the public in Pasadena. Robert
Rowan, a real estate man, lent me some very valuable stone carvings of Mayan
gods and ceramic  figures  for the Caltech lecture. It  was  probably highly
illegal to take something like that out of Mexico, and they were so valuable
that we hired security guards to protect them.
     A few days before  the  Caltech lecture there was a big splurge in  the
New York Times, which reported that  a new  codex had been discovered. There
were only three codices (two of which are hard to get anything out of) known
to exist at  the time -- hundreds  of  thousands had been  burned by Spanish
priests  as "works of the Devil."  My cousin was working for the  AP, so she
got  me a glossy picture copy of what the New York Times had published and I
made a slide of it to include in my talk.
     This new codex was a fake. In my lecture I pointed out that the numbers
were in the style of  the Madrid codex, but were 236, 90, 250, 8 -- rather a
coincidence! Out  of  the hundred  thousand  books  originally  made we  get
another fragment, and it has the same thing on it as the other fragments! It
was obviously, again,  one of these put-together things  which  had  nothing
original in it.
     These  people who  copy  things never  have  the  courage  to  make  up
something  really different. If you find something that is  really new, it's
got to have something different. A real hoax would be to take something like
the period of Mars, invent a mythology to go with it, and then draw pictures
associated with this mythology with numbers appropriate to Mars -- not in an
obvious fashion; rather, have tables of multiples of  the period  with  some
mysterious "errors," and so on.  The numbers should have to  be worked out a
little bit.  Then people  would say, "Geez! This has  to  do  with Mars!" In
addition,  there  should  be  a  number   of  things  in  it  that  are  not
understandable,  and are not exactly like what  has been  seen  before. That
would make a good fake.
     I  got  a  big kick  out  of  giving  my  talk  on  "Deciphering  Mayan
Hieroglyphics."  There  I was, being something I'm  not, again. People filed
into the auditorium past these glass cases, admiring the color reproductions
of the  Dresden Codex  and the authentic Mayan artifacts watched  over by an
armed guard in uniform; they heard a  two-hour lecture  on Mayan mathematics
and astronomy from an amateur expert in the field (who even told them how to
spot a fake codex), and then they went out, admiring the cases again. Murray
Gell-Mann countered  in the following weeks by giving a beautiful set of six
lectures  concerning the linguistic relations  of all  the  languages of the
world.


--------


     I gave a  series of lectures in physics that the Addison-Wesley Company
made into a book, and one time at lunch we were discussing what the cover of
the  book  should  look  like. I  thought  that since  the  lectures  were a
combination of  the real world and mathematics,  it would  be a good idea to
have a picture of a drum,  and on top  of it some mathematical  diagrams  --
circles and lines for the  nodes of  the oscillating  drumheads, which  were
discussed in the book.
     The book came out  with a plain, red cover, but for some reason, in the
preface, there's  a picture  of me  playing a  drum. I  think they put it in
there  to  satisfy  this  idea  they got  that  "the  author  wants  a  drum
somewhere." Anyway, everybody wonders  why  that picture of me playing drums
is in the  preface of the  Feynman  Lectures,  because  it doesn't  have any
diagrams on it,  or any other  things which would make it clear. (It's  true
that I like drumming, but that's another story.)
     At Los Alamos  things were  pretty  tense from  all the work, and there
wasn't any way to amuse yourself: there weren't any movies, or anything like
that.  But I  discovered some  drums that the  boys' school, which had  been
there previously, had collected: Los Alamos was in the middle of New Mexico,
where  there are lots of Indian  villages.  So I  amused myself -- sometimes
alone, sometimes with  another  guy --  just  making noise, playing on these
drums. I didn't  know any particular  rhythm, but the rhythms of the Indians
were rather simple, the drums were good, and I had fun.
     Sometimes I  would  take the  drums with  me into  the  woods  at  some
distance, so I wouldn't disturb anybody, and would beat them with  a  stick,
and sing. I remember one night walking around  a tree, looking at  the moon,
and beating the drum, making believe I was an Indian.
     One day a guy came up to  me and said, "Around Thanksgiving you weren't
out in the woods beating a drum, were you?"
     "Yes, I was," I said.
     "Oh! Then my wife was right!" Then he told me this story:
     One night he heard some  drum music  in the distance, and went upstairs
to the other  guy in the duplex house that they live in,  and the  other guy
heard it too. Remember, all these guys were from the  East. They didn't know
anything about Indians, and they were very interested: the Indians must have
been having some  kind of ceremony, or  something  exciting, and the two men
decided to go out to see what it was.
     As they walked along, the music got louder  as  they came  nearer,  and
they  began  to get  nervous.  They realized that  the Indians probably  had
scouts out watching so that nobody would disturb their ceremony. So they got
down on  their bellies and crawled along  the trail until the sound was just
over the next hill, apparently. They crawled up over the hill and discovered
to  their surprise that  it was only one Indian, doing the ceremony  all  by
himself -- dancing around a  tree, beating the  drum with a stick, chanting.
The  two guys  backed away  from him slowly,  because  they didn't  want  to
disturb him: He was probably setting up some kind of spell, or something.
     They told their  wives what they saw, and the wives said,  "Oh, it must
have been Feynman -- he likes to beat drums."
     "Don't be ridiculous!"  the  men said.  "Even Feynman wouldn't be  that
crazy!"
     So the next  week  they  set  about trying to figure out who the Indian
was. There were Indians  from the nearby reservation working  at Los Alamos,
so they asked one Indian, who was a technician in the technical area, who it
could be. The Indian asked around, but none of the other Indians knew who it
might be, except there was one Indian whom nobody could talk to.  He was  an
Indian who knew his race: He had two big braids down  his back and held  his
head  high; whenever  he walked anywhere he walked with dignity, alone;  and
nobody could talk to him.  You would  be afraid to go up  to him and ask him
anything; he had too much dignity. He  was a furnace man. So nobody ever had
the nerve to ask this Indian, and they decided it must have been him. (I was
pleased to find  that  they had discovered such  a typical  Indian,  such  a
wonderful Indian,  that  I  might  have been. It was  quite  an  honor to be
mistaken for this man.)
     So the fella  who'd been talking  to me was  just checking  at the last
minute -- husbands  always like to prove their  wives wrong -- and he  found
out, as husbands often do, that his wife was quite right.
     I got pretty good at playing the drums, and would play them when we had
parties. I didn't know what I  was doing; I just made rhythms -- and I got a
reputation: Everybody at Los Alamos knew I liked to play drums.
     When the war  was over,  and we were  going back to "civilization," the
people there at Los Alamos teased me that  I wouldn't be able  to play drums
any  more because they made too much noise. And since I was trying to become
a dignified professor in Ithaca, I  sold the drum that I had bought sometime
during my stay at Los Alamos.
     The following summer  I  went back out to New Mexico  to work  on  some
report, and when I saw the drums again, I couldn't stand it. I bought myself
another drum,  and thought, "I'll just bring  it back with me this time so I
can look at it."
     That year at Cornell I had a  small  apartment inside a bigger house. I
had the drum in there, just to look at, but one day I couldn't quite resist:
I said, "Well, I'll just be very quiet..."
     I sat on a chair and put the drum between my legs and played it with my
fingers a little bit: hup, bup, bup, huddle hup. Then a little bit louder --
after all, it was tempting me! I got a little  bit louder  and  BOOM! -- the
telephone rang.
     "Hello?"
     "This is your landlady. Are you beating drums down there?"
     "Yes; I'm sor --"
     "It sounds so good. I wonder if I could come down and listen to it more
directly?"
     So from that time on the landlady would always come down when I'd start
to drum. That  was freedom, all right. I had a very good time  from then on,
beating the drums.
     Around that time I met a  lady from the Belgian  Congo who gave me some
ethnological records. In  those days, records like that were rare, with drum
music from  the  Watusi and  other  tribes of Africa. I  really  admired the
Watusi drummers very, very much,  and I used to try  to imitate  them -- not
very accurately,  but just to sound something like them -- and I developed a
larger number of rhythms as a result of that.
     One time  I was  in  the recreation hall,  late  at  night, when  there
weren't  many people, and I picked  up a wastebasket and started to beat the
back end of it. Some guy from way downstairs came running all the way up and
said, "Hey! You play drums!" It turned out he really knew how to play drums,
and he taught me how to play bongos.
     There was  some  guy in the  music department who had  a collection  of
African  music,  and I'd  come  to  his  house  and  play drums.  He'd  make
recordings  of me,  and then  at his  parties,  he had a game that he called
"Africa or  Ithaca?" in which he'd play  some recordings of  drum music, and
the idea was  to guess whether what you were hearing was manufactured in the
continent of  Africa,  or  locally.  So  I must  have  been fairly  good  at
imitating African music by that time.
     When I came  to Caltech, I used to  go down to the Sunset  Strip a lot.
One time there was a group  of drummers  led  by  a big  fella  from Nigeria
called Ukonu, playing this wonderful drum music -- just percussion -- at one
of  the nightclubs.  The second-in-command, who  was especially  nice to me,
invited me to come up on the stage with them  and play a little. So I got up
there  with  the other guys  and played along  with  them on the drums for a
little while.
     I asked the second guy if Ukonu ever gave lessons, and  he said yes. So
I used to go down to Ukonu's place, near  Century Boulevard (where the Watts
riots later occurred) to  get lessons in  drumming. The lessons weren't very
efficient: he would stall around,  talk to other people,  and be interrupted
by  all kinds of things. But when they worked they were very exciting, and I
learned a lot from him.
     At dances near Ukonu's place, there would be only a few  whites, but it
was much  more  relaxed than  it is today.  One time  they  had  a  drumming
contest,  and I  didn't  do  very  well:  They  said  my drumming  was  "too
intellectual"; theirs was much more pulsing.
     One day when I was at Caltech I got a very serious telephone call.
     "This  is  Mr.  Trowbridge,  Mahster  of  the Polytechnic School."  The
Polytechnic School was a small, private school which was across  the  street
diagonally from Caltech. Mr. Trowbridge continued in a very formal voice: "I
have a friend of yours here, who would like to speak to you."
     "OK."
     "Hello,  Dick!"  It  was  Ukonu!  It  turned  out  the  Master  of  the
Polytechnic School was not as formal as he was making himself out to be, and
had a great sense of humor.  Ukonu  was visiting the school  to play for the
kids, so he invited  me to come over and be on the  stage with him, and play
along. So we played for the  kids together: I played  bongos (which I had in
my office) against his big tumba drum.
     Ukonu had a regular thing: He went to various schools and  talked about
the African drums and what  they meant, and  told about the music. He had  a
terrific personality and a grand smile; he was a very, very nice man. He was
just sensational on the drums -- he had records out -- and was here studying
medicine. He went back to Nigeria at  the beginning  of the war there  -- or
before the war -- and I don't know what happened to him.
     After Ukonu left I didn't do very much drumming, except at parties once
in a while, entertaining a little bit.  One time I was  at a dinner party at
the Leightons' house, and Bob's son Ralph and a friend asked me  if I wanted
to drum. Thinking that they were asking me to do a solo, I said no. But then
they started drumming on some little wooden tables, and I couldn't resist: I
grabbed  a  table too, and the  three of  us played  on these little  wooden
tables, which made lots of interesting sounds.
     Ralph and his friend Tom Rutishauser liked  playing drums, and we began
meeting every week to just ad lib, develop rhythms and work stuff out. These
two guys were real musicians: Ralph played piano,  and Tom played the cello.
All I had  done was rhythms, and I didn't  know anything about music, which,
as  far as  I could tell,  was just drumming with notes. But we worked out a
lot of good  rhythms and  played  a  few times at  some  of the  schools  to
entertain the  kids.  We also played  rhythms for a dance  class at  a local
college  --  something  I  learned  was  fun  to do when  I  was working  at
Brookhaven for a while -- and called ourselves The Three Quarks, so  you can
figure out when that was.
     One time I went to  Vancouver  to talk to the students  there, and they
had a party with a real hot rock-type band playing down in the basement. The
band  was  very nice: they had  an  extra  cowbell lying  around,  and  they
encouraged me to play it. So I started to play a little bit, and since their
music was very  rhythmic (and  the  cowbell is just an accompaniment  -- you
can't screw it up) I really got hot.
     After the party was over, the  guy who organized the party told me that
the bandleader said, "Geez! Who was that guy who came down and played on the
cowbell! He can really  knock out a rhythm  on  that thing! And by the  way,
that  big shot this party was supposed to be  for -- you know, he never came
down here; I never did see who it was!"
     Anyhow, at Caltech  there's a  group that  puts on  plays.  Some of the
actors are Caltech  students; others are from the  outside.  When  there's a
small  part, such as a policeman who's supposed to arrest somebody, they get
one  of the professors to  do it. It's  always a big  joke -- the  professor
comes on and arrests somebody, and goes off again.
     A few years  ago the  group  was doing  Guys and Dolls, and there was a
scene  where  the  main  guy takes the girl  to Havana,  and  they're  in  a
nightclub. The  director thought  it would be  a good idea to have the bongo
player on the stage in the nightclub be me.
     I went to the first rehearsal, and the  lady directing the show pointed
to the orchestra conductor and said, "Jack will show you the music."
     Well, that petrified me.  I don't know how to read music; I thought all
I had to do was get up there on the stage and make some noise.
     Jack was  sitting by the piano,  and he pointed to the  music and said,
"OK, you start here, you see, and  you  do this. Then I  play plonk,  plonk,
plonk" -- he played a few notes on the piano. He turned the page. "Then  you
play  this, and now we both pause  for  a speech,  you see,  here" -- and he
turned some more pages and said, "Finally, you play this."
     He showed  me  this "music" that  was  written  in some  kind  of crazy
pattern of little x's in the bars  and  lines.  He kept telling  me all this
stuff, thinking I was a musician, and it was completely impossible for me to
remember any of it.
     Fortunately, I got ill  the next  day, and  couldn't come  to  the next
rehearsal. I asked my friend Ralph to go for me, and since he's a  musician,
he should know what it's all about.  Ralph came back and said,  "It's not so
bad. First, at the very beginning,  you  have to do something exactly  right
because you're starting the rhythm out for  the rest of the orchestra, which
will mesh in with it. But after  the  orchestra  comes in,  it's a matter of
ad-libbing, and there will be times when  we have to pause for speeches, but
I think  we'll  be able  to  figure that out  from  the cues  the  orchestra
conductor gives."
     In the meantime I had gotten the director to accept Ralph too,  so  the
two of us would be on the stage. He'd play the tumba and I'd play the bongos
-- so that made it a helluva lot easier for me.
     So Ralph showed  me what the rhythm was. It  must have been  only about
twenty  or thirty beats, but  it had to  be  just so. I'd  never had to play
anything just so, and  it was very hard for me  to get it right. Ralph would
patiently explain,  "left  hand, and  right  hand,  and two left hands, then
right..." I worked very hard, and finally, very  slowly, I began to  get the
rhythm just right. It took me a helluva long time -- many days -- to get it.
     A week later we went to the rehearsal and found there was a new drummer
there -- the regular drummer had  quit the band to do something else  -- and
we introduced ourselves to him:
     "Hi. We're the guys who are going to be on stage for the Havana scene."
     "Oh, hi. Let me find the scene here..." and he turned to the page where
our scene was, took out his drumming stick, and said, "Oh, you start off the
scene with..." and with his stick against the side of his drum he goes bing,
bong, bang-a-bang, bing-a-bing, bang,  bang  at  full  speed,  while he  was
looking at the music! What  a shock that was to  me. I  had worked for  four
days to try to get that damn rhythm, and he could just patter it right out!
     Anyway, after practicing again and again I finally got it straight  and
played it in the show. It was pretty successful: Everybody was amused to see
the professor on stage playing the bongos, and  the music wasn't so bad; but
that part at the beginning, that had to be the same: that was hard.
     In the Havana nightclub scene some of the students had to do  some sort
of  dance that had to be choreographed. So the  director had gotten the wife
of one of the guys at Caltech, who was  a choreographer working at that time
for  Universal Studios,  to  teach the  boys  how to dance.  She  liked  our
drumming, and when the shows were  over,  she asked  us  if we would like to
drum in San Francisco for a ballet.
     "WHAT?"
     Yes. She was moving to San Francisco,  and  was choreographing a ballet
for a  small  ballet school there. She had the idea of creating  a ballet in
which the music was nothing but  percussion. She wanted Ralph and me to come
over to her house before she moved and play  the  different rhythms  that we
knew, and from those she would make up a story that went with the rhythms.
     Ralph had some  misgivings, but I encouraged him to  go along with this
adventure. I did insist, however, that she not tell anybody there that I was
a professor  of physics,  Nobel-Prize-winner, or any other baloney. I didn't
want  to do the drumming if I was doing it  because, as Samuel Johnson said,
If you see a dog walking on his  hind legs, it's not so much that he does it
well, as  that he does it at all. I didn't want to do it if  I was a physics
professor doing it at all; we were just some musicians  she had found in Los
Angeles,  who were going to come  up and  play this drum music that they had
composed.
     So we went over to her  house and played various  rhythms we had worked
out.  She took  some  notes,  and soon after,  that same night, she got this
story cooked up  in her mind and said, "OK, I want fifty-two repetitions  of
this; forty bars of that; whatever of this, that, this, that..."
     We went home, and the  next  night we made  a tape at Ralph's house. We
played all the rhythms  for a few minutes, and then Ralph made some cuts and
splices with his tape recorder to get  the various lengths right. She took a
copy of  our tape  with her when she moved,  and began training  the dancers
with it in San Francisco.
     Meanwhile we had to practice what was on that tape: fifty-two cycles of
this, forty cycles of that,  and  so on. What we had done spontaneously (and
spliced) earlier, we  now had to learn  exactly. We had to  imitate our  own
damn tape!
     The big problem was counting. I thought Ralph would know how to do that
because  he's a  musician,  but  we  both  discovered something  funny.  The
"playing department"  in our minds was also  the  "talking  department"  for
counting -- we couldn't play and count at the same time!
     When we got to our first rehearsal in San Francisco, we discovered that
by watching  the dancers  we didn't  have  to count because the dancers went
through certain motions.
     There were a  number  of things  that happened  to us  because we  were
supposed to be professional musicians  and I wasn't. For example, one of the
scenes was about  a  beggar woman who sifts through  the sand on a Caribbean
beach where the society ladies, who  had  come out  at the beginning of  the
ballet, had been. The music that the choreographer had used to  create  this
scene was made on a special drum that Ralph and his  father  had made rather
amateurishly some years before, and out of which  we had never had much luck
in getting a good tone. But we discovered that if we sat opposite each other
on  chairs and put this "crazy drum" between us  on our  knees, with one guy
beating   bidda-bidda-bidda-bidda-bidda  rapidly   with  his   two  fingers,
constantly, the other  fella could push on the drum in different places with
his    two   hands   and    change   the   pitch.    Now   it    would    go
booda-booda-booda-bidda-beeda-beeda-beeda-bidda-booda-booda-booda-badda-bidda-bidda-bidda-badda,
creating a lot of interesting sounds.
     Well, the dancer who played the beggar woman wanted the rises and falls
to coincide  with her  dance  (our tape  had been made arbitrarily for  this
scene), so she proceeded to explain to us what she was going  to do: "First,
I do four of these movements this way; then I bend down and sift through the
sand this way for eight counts; then I stand and turn this way." I knew damn
well I couldn't keep track of this, so I interrupted her:
     "Just go ahead and do the dance, and I'll play along."
     "But don't you want  to know how the  dance goes?  You see,  after I've
finished  the second sifting part, I go for eight counts over  this way." It
was no use; I  couldn't  remember  anything, and I  wanted to interrupt  her
again, but then there was  this problem: I would look like  I was not a real
musician!
     Well, Ralph covered  for me very  smoothly by  explaining, "Mr. Feynman
has a special technique for  this  type of  situation: He prefers to develop
the dynamics directly and intuitively, as  he sees you  dance. Let's try  it
once that way, and if you're not satisfied, we can correct it."
     Well,  she was a first-rate dancer, and  you could anticipate  what she
was going to do. If she was going to  dig into the sand, she would get ready
to go down into  the sand; every motion was  smooth and expected, so  it was
rather  easy to  make the bzzzzs and bshshs  and boodas and biddas  with  my
hands  quite appropriate  to what  she was doing, and she was very satisfied
with it. So we got past that moment where we might have had our cover blown.
     The ballet was kind of a success. Although there weren't many people in
the  audience, the people who came to  see the  performances  liked it  very
much.
     Before  we  went  to  San  Francisco   for   the  rehearsals   and  the
performances, we  weren't  sure  of  the whole idea. I mean,  we thought the
choreographer  was insane:  first, the ballet  has  only percussion; second,
that we're good enough to  make music for  a ballet and get  paid for it was
surely crazy! For me,  who had  never had any  "culture,"  to  end up  as  a
professional  musician for  a ballet was the height of  achievement,  as  it
were.
     We didn't think that she'd be  able to find ballet dancers who would be
willing to  dance to  our  drum music. (As  a matter of fact, there was  one
prima donna from Brazil, the wife of  the Portuguese consul, who decided  it
was beneath her to  dance to  it.) But  the other dancers seemed to like  it
very much, and my heart felt good when we played for them for the first time
in  rehearsal.  The delight they felt when they heard how our rhythms really
sounded (they had until then been using  our tape played on a small cassette
recorder) was  genuine, and I had much more confidence  when I saw  how they
reacted to our  actual playing. And from the comments of the people  who had
come to the performances, we realized that we were a success.
     The  choreographer wanted  to  do  another  ballet to our  drumming the
following spring, so we went through the same  procedure. We made a  tape of
some more rhythms, and she made up another story, this time set in Africa. I
talked to Professor Munger at Caltech  and got some real African  phrases to
sing at the beginning (GAwa baNYUma GAwa WO, or something like that), and  I
practiced them until I had them just so.
     Later, we went  up to San Francisco for a few rehearsals. When we first
got there, we found they had a problem. They couldn't figure out how to make
elephant tusks  that  looked  good on stage.  The ones they had  made out of
papier mache were so bad that some of the  dancers were embarrassed to dance
in front of them.
     We  didn't offer  any  solution, but  rather waited to  see  what would
happen  when  the  performances  came the following  weekend.  Meanwhile,  I
arranged to visit Werner Erhard, whom I had known from participating in some
conferences he had organized. I was sitting in his beautiful home, listening
to some philosophy or  idea he was trying  to  explain to me, when all of  a
sudden I was hypnotized.
     "What's the matter?" he said.
     My eyes popped out  as  I exclaimed, "Tusks!" Behind him, on the floor,
were these enormous, massive, beautiful ivory tusks!
     He lent us the tusks.  They looked  very  good  on stage (to  the great
relief of the  dancers): real elephant tusks, super size, courtesy of Werner
Erhard.
     The choreographer moved  to the  East Coast,  and  put on her Caribbean
ballet there. We heard later  that she entered that ballet  in a contest for
choreographers from all over the  United  States, and  she finished first or
second. Encouraged  by this success, she entered another  competition,  this
time  in Paris, for  choreographers from  all over the world.  She brought a
high-quality tape  we had  made in  San  Francisco  and trained some dancers
there in  France to  do  a small  section of the  ballet  --  that's how she
entered the contest.
     She did  very well. She got into the final round, where there were only
two  left -- a  Latvian group  that was doing a  standard ballet  with their
regular dancers to beautiful classical  music,  and a maverick from America,
with only the  two dancers  that  she had trained  in  France, dancing  to a
ballet which had nothing but our drum music.
     She  was  the favorite  of  the  audience, but it wasn't  a  popularity
contest, and  the judges decided  that the Latvians had won. She went to the
judges afterwards to find out the weakness in her ballet.
     "Well, Madame, the music was not really satisfactory. It was not subtle
enough. Controlled crescendoes were missing..."
     And so we were  at last found out: When we came to some really cultured
people in Paris, who knew music from drums, we flunked out.


--------


     I used  to give a lecture  every Wednesday  over at the Hughes Aircraft
Company, and one  day I  got there a little ahead of  time, and was flirting
around with the receptionist, as usual,  when about half a dozen people came
in -- a man, a  woman, and a few  others.  I had never seen them before. The
man said, "Is this where Professor Feynman is giving some lectures?"
     "This is the place," the receptionist replied.
     The man asks if his group can come to the lectures.
     "I  don't  think  you'd  like  'em  much,"  I  say.  "They're  kind  of
technical."
     Pretty soon the  woman, who  was rather clever, figured  it out: "I bet
you're Professor Feynman!"
     It  turned out the man  was John Lilly, who had earlier done  some work
with  dolphins.  He  and  his  wife  were doing  some  research  into  sense
deprivation, and had built some tanks.
     "Isn't it true that you're  supposed to  get hallucinations under those
circumstances?" I asked, excitedly.
     "That is true indeed."
     I had always had this fascination with the images from dreams and other
images that  come to the  mind that haven't got a direct sensory source, and
how  it works in the  head,  and I wanted to see hallucinations. I had  once
thought to take  drugs, but I  got kind of scared of that: I love  to think,
and  I  don't want to screw  up  the machine. But  it seemed to me that just
lying around in a sense-deprivation  tank had no  physiological danger, so I
was very anxious to try it.
     I quickly accepted the Lillys' invitation to use the tanks, a very kind
invitation on their part, and they  came to listen to the lecture with their
group.
     So  the following week I went to try the tanks. Mr. Lilly introduced me
to the  tanks as  he must have done with  other  people. There were  lots of
bulbs, like  neon lights, with  different gases in them. He  showed  me  the
Periodic Table and made up a  lot of mystic hokey-poke about different kinds
of lights that  have different kinds  of influences. He told me how you  get
ready  to go into the tank by looking at yourself  in the  mirror with  your
nose up against it -- all  kinds of wicky-wack things, all kinds of gorp.  I
didn't pay any attention to  the gorp, but I did everything because I wanted
to get into the tanks,  and I also  thought that perhaps  such  preparations
might make it  easier  to have hallucinations.  So I went through everything
according  to  the way  he said.  The  only thing that proved  difficult was
choosing what  color light I wanted, especially as the tank was supposed  to
be dark inside.
     A sense-deprivation tank  is like a big bathtub, but with  a cover that
comes down. It's completely dark  inside,  and because  the  cover is thick,
there's no sound. There's a little pump that pumps air in, but  it turns out
you don't need to worry about air because the volume of air is rather large,
and  you're only  in  there  for  two or three  hours, and  you don't really
consume a lot of  air when  you breathe  normally. Mr. Lilly  said that  the
pumps  were  there   to  put  people  at   ease,  so  I  figured  it's  just
psychological, and  asked him to turn the pump off, because it made a little
bit of noise.
     The water in the tank  has Epsom  salts in it to  make  it denser  than
normal water, so you float  in it rather easily. The temperature  is kept at
body temperature,  or 94, or something  -- he had it all figured  out. There
wasn't supposed to be  any light, any  sound, any  temperature sensation, no
nothing! Once in a while you might drift over to the side and bump slightly,
or because of condensation on the ceiling of the tank a drop of  water might
fall, but these slight disturbances were very rare.
     I must have gone about a  dozen times, each time spending about two and
a half  hours in the  tank.  The first time I didn't get any hallucinations,
but after I had been in  the tank, the Lillys introduced me  to a man billed
as a medical doctor, who told  me  about a  drug called ketamine,  which was
used as an anesthetic. I've always been  interested  in questions related to
what happens when you go to sleep, or  what happens when you get conked out,
so  they showed  me the  papers that came with the  medicine and gave me one
tenth of the normal dose.
     I got this strange kind of feeling which I've never been able to figure
out whenever I tried to characterize what the effect was.  For instance, the
drug had quite an effect on my vision; I felt  I  couldn't  see clearly. But
when I'd look  hard at something, it  would be OK. It  was sort of as if you
didn't care to look at things; you're sloppily doing this and  that, feeling
kind of woozy, but as soon as you look,  and concentrate, everything is, for
a  moment  at least, all  right. I took a book they had on organic chemistry
and looked at a table full of complicated substances, and to my surprise was
able to read them.
     I did all kinds of other things, like moving my hands toward each other
from a  distance to see if my fingers would touch each other, and although I
had a feeling of complete disorientation, a feeling  of  an inability to  do
practically anything, I never found a specific thing that I couldn't do.
     As  I  said  before, the  first  time in  the  tank  I  didn't get  any
hallucinations, and the second time I didn't get any hallucinations. But the
Lillys  were  very interesting people; I enjoyed  them very, very much. They
often gave me lunch,  and so on, and after a while we discussed  things on a
different level than the early stuff with the  lights. I realized that other
people had found  the sense-deprivation tank somewhat frightening, but to me
it was a pretty  interesting invention. I wasn't  afraid because I knew what
it was: it was just a tank of Epsom salts.
     The  third  time  there was  a man  visiting --  I met many interesting
people there --  who went  by  the name Baba Ram  Das. He was a  fella  from
Harvard who had gone to  India and had written a popular book called Be Here
Now. He related  how his guru in India told him  how to have an "out-of-body
experience"  (words  I  had  often  seen  written on  the  bulletin  board):
Concentrate on your breath, on  how  it  goes in and out of your nose as you
breathe.
     I figured  I'd try anything to get  a hallucination, and went into  the
tank. At some stage  of the game I suddenly realized that --  it's  hard  to
explain --  I'm  an inch to one side. In  other words,  where my  breath  is
going, in and out, in and out, is  not centered: My ego is off to one side a
little bit, by about an inch.
     I thought:  "Now where is the ego located? I know  everybody thinks the
seat of thinking is in the brain, but how do they know that?" I knew already
from reading things  that it  wasn't so obvious to  people  before  a lot of
psychological studies were made. The Greeks thought the seat of thinking was
in the liver, for instance. I wondered,  "Is it possible that  where the ego
is located is learned  by children  looking at people putting their  hand to
their head when they say, 'Let me think'? Therefore the idea that the ego is
located up there, behind the eyes, might be conventional!" I figured that if
I could move my ego an inch to one side, I could move it  further.  This was
the beginning of my hallucinations.
     I tried and after a while I got  my ego to go down through my neck into
the middle of my  chest.  When a  drop of water came down and hit  me on the
shoulder, I felt it "up there," above where "I"  was. Every time a drop came
I was startled a little bit,  and my ego would jump back up through the neck
to the usual place. Then I would have to work my way down again. At first it
took a lot of work to go down each time, but gradually it got easier. I  was
able to get myself all the way down to the loins, to  one side, but that was
about as far as I could go for quite a while.
     It was another time I was in the  tank when  I  decided that if I could
move myself  to my loins, I should be able  to get completely  outside of my
body. So I was  able to "sit to  one side." It's hard to explain -- I'd move
my hands and shake the water, and although I couldn't see them, I knew where
they were.  But unlike in real life, where the hands  are to each side, part
way  down,  they  were  both to one  side!  The  feeling  in my fingers  and
everything else was exactly  the  same as  normal, only my  ego  was sitting
outside, "observing" all this.
     From then on I had hallucinations  almost every  time, and  was able to
move further  and further outside of my body. It developed that when I would
move my hands I would see them as sort of mechanical  things that were going
up  and down -- they weren't flesh; they  were mechanical. But  I  was still
able to  feel everything. The feelings would be exactly  consistent with the
motion, but I also had this feeling of "he is that." "I" even got out of the
room, ultimately, and wandered about, going some distance to locations where
things happened that I had seen earlier another day.
     I had many types of out-of-the-body experiences. One time, for example,
I could "see" the back of my head, with my hands resting  against it. When I
moved my fingers, I saw  them  move, but between the fingers and the thumb I
saw  the blue sky. Of course that wasn't right;  it was a hallucination. But
the  point is  that as  I moved  my  fingers,  their  movement  was  exactly
consistent  with the  motion  that  I was  imagining that  I was seeing. The
entire  imagery  would appear, and be consistent with what you feel  and are
doing, much  like when you slowly wake  up  in the morning  and are touching
something (and you don't  know  what it is),  and  suddenly it becomes clear
what  it  is. So  the entire  imagery would  suddenly  appear,  except  it's
unusual,  in the sense that you usually would imagine the ego  to be located
in front of the back of the head, but instead you have it behind the back of
the head.
     One of the things that perpetually bothered  me, psychologically, while
I was having  a hallucination, was that I might have fallen asleep and would
therefore be only dreaming. I had already  had  some experience with dreams,
and I wanted a new experience. It  was kind  of  dopey, because  when you're
having hallucinations, and  things like that, you're not very sharp, so  you
do these  dumb things that you set your mind  to do,  such  as checking that
you're not dreaming. So I perpetually was checking that I wasn't dreaming by
-- since my hands were  often behind my head -- rubbing  my thumbs together,
back and forth, feeling them. Of course I could have been dreaming that, but
I wasn't: I knew it was real.
     After the very beginning, when the excitement of having a hallucination
made them "jump out," or  stop happening, I was  able to relax and have long
hallucinations.
     A week or two after, I  was thinking a  great deal about  how the brain
works   compared  to  how  a  computing  machine  works  --  especially  how
information is stored. One of  the interesting problems in this  area is how
memories  are  stored in  the brain:  You  can get  at  them  from  so  many
directions compared to a machine -- you don't have to come directly with the
correct address to  the  memory.  If I want to get  at the word  "rent," for
example, I can  be filling in  a crossword puzzle, looking for a four-letter
word that begins with r and ends in t; I can be thinking of types of income,
or activities  such  as borrowing and lending; this  in turn can lead to all
sorts of  other related memories or information. I was thinking about how to
make an "imitating machine," which would learn language as a child does: you
would talk to the machine. But  I couldn't figure out how to store the stuff
in an organized way so the machine could get it out for its own purposes.
     When I  went into the tank that week, and had my hallucination, I tried
to  think of  very early memories.  I kept saying to  myself, "It's gotta be
earlier; it's gotta be earlier" -- I was never  satisfied that  the memories
were early enough. When I got a very early memory -- let's say from  my home
town of  Far  Rockaway  -- then immediately would come a  whole sequence  of
memories, all  from  the  town of  Far Rockaway. If I  then  would think  of
something from another city -- Cedarhurst, or something  -- then a whole lot
of stuff that was associated with  Cedarhurst would come. And so  I realized
that  things are  stored  according  to  the  location  where  you  had  the
experience.
     I felt pretty good about this discovery, and came out of the tank,  had
a shower, got dressed,  and so forth, and started driving to Hughes Aircraft
to give my weekly lecture. It was therefore about forty-five minutes after I
came out of  the  tank that I  suddenly  realized  for the first time that I
hadn't the slightest idea of how memories are stored in the brain; all I had
was a hallucination as to  how memories are stored in the brain! What  I had
"discovered" had  nothing  to do with the  way memories  are  stored in  the
brain; it had to do with the way I was playing games with myself.
     In  our numerous discussions about hallucinations on my earlier visits,
I had been trying  to explain to  Lilly and others that the imagination that
things are real does not represent true reality.  If you see golden  globes,
or something, several times, and they  talk to you during your hallucination
and tell  you they are another intelligence, it doesn't mean they're another
intelligence; it just means that you have had this particular hallucination.
So  here I  had  this tremendous  feeling  of discovering  how memories  are
stored,  and  it's surprising  that  it  took forty-five  minutes  before  I
realized the error that I had been trying to explain to everyone else.
     One of the questions I thought  about was  whether hallucinations, like
dreams, are influenced by what you already  have in your mind -- from  other
experiences during the  day  or before, or from  things you are expecting to
see. The reason, I believe, that I had an out-of-body experience was that we
were discussing  out-of-body experiences just  before I went into the  tank.
And the  reason I had a  hallucination about how memories are  stored in the
brain was, I think, that I had been thinking about that problem all week.
     I had considerable discussion with the various people there  about  the
reality  of  experiences.  They argued that something is considered real, in
experimental  science, if the experience can be  reproduced. Thus when  many
people see golden globes that talk to them, time after time, the globes must
be real. My claim was that in such situations there  was a bit of discussion
previous to  going into the tank about the golden globes, so when the person
hallucinating, with his mind already  thinking  about golden globes when  he
went  into the  tank, sees some approximation of the globes -- maybe they're
blue, or something -- he thinks he's reproducing the experience. I felt that
I could understand the difference between the type of agreement among people
whose minds are set  to agree,  and the kind of  agreement that you  get  in
experimental  work.  It's rather  amusing  that  it's  so easy to  tell  the
difference -- but so hard to define it!
     I believe there's nothing  in  hallucinations  that has  anything to do
with  anything  external to the internal psychological  state of the  person
who's got the hallucination. But there are nevertheless a lot of experiences
by a lot of people who believe  there's reality in  hallucinations. The same
general idea may account for  a certain amount of success  that interpreters
of dreams have. For example, some psychoanalysts interpret dreams by talking
about  the  meanings  of  various  symbols. And  then,  it's not  completely
impossible that  these  symbols do appear in dreams  that follow. So I think
that,  perhaps,  the  interpretation  of  hallucinations  and  dreams  is  a
self-propagating  process:  you'll have a general, more or  less, success at
it, especially if you discuss it carefully ahead of time.
     Ordinarily  it   would   take  me  about  fifteen  minutes  to  get   a
hallucination going, but  on  a few occasions, when I smoked some  marijuana
beforehand, it came very  quickly. But  fifteen minutes was fast  enough for
me.
     One thing that often happened was that as the  hallucination was coming
on,  what you  might  describe  as "garbage"  would come: there were  simply
chaotic  images  --  complete, random junk. I tried to remember some  of the
items of the junk in order  to be able to characterize it again, but it  was
particularly difficult to remember. I think  I was getting close to the kind
of  thing that happens when you  begin to fall  asleep:  There  are apparent
logical connections, but  when  you try  to remember what made  you think of
what  you're thinking about, you can't  remember.  As  a matter of fact, you
soon forget what it is that  you're trying to  remember. I can only remember
things like  a white sign with a  pimple  on  it, in  Chicago,  and  then it
disappears. That kind of stuff all the time.
     Mr. Lilly  had a  number of different  tanks, and we  tried a number of
different experiments.  It didn't seem to  make  much difference as  far  as
hallucinations were concerned,  and I  became  convinced that the  tank  was
unnecessary.  Now  that I saw what to do, I realized that all you have to do
is  sit quietly  --  why was  it necessary  that you had to have  everything
absolutely super duper?
     So  when I'd come  home I'd turn  out the lights and  sit in the living
room in a comfortable chair, and try  and try -- it never worked. I've never
been  able  to have a hallucination outside of  the tanks. Of course I would
like to have done it at home, and  I don't doubt that you could meditate and
do it if you practice, but I didn't practice.


--------


     * Adapted from the Caltech commencement address given in 1974.

     During the Middle Ages there  were all kinds  of crazy  ideas,  such as
that a piece  of rhinoceros horn would increase  potency. Then a  method was
discovered  for  separating the ideas --  which was  to try one to see if it
worked,  and  if  it  didn't  work,  to  eliminate  it. This  method  became
organized, of course, into science. And  it developed very well, so that  we
are now in the scientific age. It is such a scientific age, in fact, that we
have difficulty in understanding how  witch doctors could ever have existed,
when  nothing that they  proposed ever really worked -- or very little of it
did.
     But even today I meet lots of  people who sooner or later get me into a
conversation  about UFOs, or astrology, or some  form of mysticism, expanded
consciousness, new types of awareness, ESP, and so forth. And I've concluded
that it's not a scientific world.
     Most  people  believe  so  many  wonderful things  that  I  decided  to
investigate why they did. And what has been referred to  as my curiosity for
investigation has landed me  in a difficulty where I found so much junk that
I'm overwhelmed.  First  I  started  out by  investigating  various ideas of
mysticism, and  mystic experiences. I went into isolation tanks and got many
hours  of hallucinations,  so I know something  about that.  Then I went  to
Esalen, which is  a hotbed of this kind of thought (it's a  wonderful place;
you should go visit there). Then I became overwhelmed. I didn't realize  how
much there was.
     At Esalen there are some  large baths fed by  hot springs situated on a
ledge  about  thirty  feet  above  the  ocean.  One  of my  most pleasurable
experiences  has been  to  sit  in one of  those  baths  and watch the waves
crashing onto the rocky shore below, to gaze into  the clear blue sky above,
and  to  study a beautiful nude as  she quietly appears and settles into the
bath with me.
     One time I  sat down in a bath where there was a beautiful girl sitting
with a guy who didn't  seem to know her. Right  away I began thinking, "Gee!
How am I gonna get started talking to this beautiful nude babe?"
     I'm trying to figure out what to  say, when the  guy says to her, "I'm,
uh, studying massage. Could I practice on you?"
     "Sure,"  she says. They  get out  of the bath and  she  lies down on  a
massage table nearby.
     I think  to myself, "What a nifty  line! I  can never think of anything
like that!" He  starts to rub her big toe. "I think I feel it," he  says. "I
feel a kind of dent -- is that the pituitary?"
     I blurt out, "You're a helluva long way from the pituitary, man!"
     They looked at me, horrified -- I had blown my cover -- and said, "It's
reflexology!"
     I quickly closed my eyes and appeared to be meditating.
     That's just an example of the kind of things that overwhelm me.  I also
looked into extrasensory perception and PSI phenomena, and  the latest craze
there was  Uri  Geller, a man who is  supposed  to be able to  bend  keys by
rubbing  them  with his  finger.  So  I went  to  his  hotel  room,  on  his
invitation, to see a demonstration of both mindreading and  bending keys. He
didn't do any mindreading  that succeeded; nobody can read my mind, I guess.
And my boy held a key  and Geller rubbed it,  and nothing  happened. Then he
told us it  works  better  under water,  and  so you can picture  all  of us
standing in the bathroom with the water turned  on and the key under it, and
him  rubbing the key with  his finger. Nothing happened.  So I was unable to
investigate that phenomenon.
     But then I began to think,  what  else is there that we believe? (And I
thought then  about  the  witch doctors, and how  easy it would have been to
check on  them by noticing that  nothing  really  worked.) So I found things
that even more people believe, such as that we have some knowledge of how to
educate. There are big schools of reading methods  and mathematics  methods,
and so forth, but if  you notice, you'll see  the reading scores keep  going
down -- or hardly going up -- in spite  of the  fact that we continually use
these same people to improve the methods. There's a witch doctor remedy that
doesn't work. It ought to be looked into; how do they know that their method
should work? Another example is  how  to treat criminals. We  obviously have
made no  progress -- lots  of theory, but no progress -- in  decreasing  the
amount of crime by the method that we use to handle criminals.
     Yet these things are said to be scientific. We study them.  And I think
ordinary   people   with   commonsense  ideas   are   intimidated   by  this
pseudoscience. A teacher who has some good idea of how to teach her children
to read is forced by the school system to do it some other way -- or is even
fooled by the school system into thinking that her method is not necessarily
a good one. Or a parent of bad boys, after  disciplining them in one  way or
another,  feels guilty for the rest of her  life because she  didn't do "the
right thing," according to the experts.
     So we really ought to look  into theories that don't work,  and science
that isn't science.
     I  think  the  educational and  psychological studies I  mentioned  are
examples of what I would like to call cargo cult science.  In the South Seas
there is a cargo cult of people. During the war they saw airplanes land with
lots  of good materials, and  they  want  the same thing to happen  now.  So
they've  arranged to make things like runways, to put fires along the  sides
of  the runways, to make a wooden hut  for a man to  sit in, with two wooden
pieces  on  his head  like headphones  and  bars of bamboo sticking out like
antennas -- he's the controller -- and they wait for the airplanes  to land.
They're doing everything  right.  The form is perfect. It looks exactly  the
way it looked  before.  But it  doesn't work. No airplanes land. So  I  call
these  things cargo cult  science,  because  they  follow  all the  apparent
precepts  and  forms  of  scientific  investigation,   but  they're  missing
something essential, because the planes don't land.
     Now it behooves me, of course, to tell you what they're missing. But it
would be just about as  difficult to explain to the  South Sea Islanders how
they have to arrange things so that they get some wealth in their system. It
is not something simple like telling them how to improve  the  shapes of the
earphones. But there  is one feature  I notice  that is generally missing in
cargo cult science. That is the  idea that we all  hope you have  learned in
studying science in school -- we never explicitly say what this is, but just
hope that  you catch on by all  the examples of scientific investigation. It
is interesting, therefore, to bring  it out now and speak of  it explicitly.
It's a kind of scientific integrity, a principle of  scientific thought that
corresponds to a kind of utter honesty -- a  kind of leaning over backwards.
For  example, if you're  doing  an experiment,  you should report everything
that you  think might  make it invalid -- not  only what  you think is right
about  it: other causes that could possibly explain your results; and things
you thought of that you've eliminated by some other experiment, and how they
worked -- to make sure the other fellow can tell they have been eliminated.
     Details that could throw doubt on your interpretation must be given, if
you know them. You must do the best you can -- if you know anything  at  all
wrong, or possibly wrong  --  to  explain it.  If  you  make  a theory,  for
example,  and advertise it, or  put it out,  then you must also put down all
the facts that disagree  with it, as well as those that agree with it. There
is also a more subtle problem. When you have put a lot of  ideas together to
make an elaborate  theory, you  want to  make  sure, when explaining what it
fits, that those things  it fits are not just  the things that  gave you the
idea for the theory; but that the  finished theory makes something else come
out right, in addition.
     In summary, the idea is  to try to give all of  the information to help
others to judge the value  of  your contribution;  not just  the information
that leads to judgment in one particular direction or another.
     The easiest way to  explain this idea is to contrast  it, for  example,
with advertising. Last  night  I heard that Wesson  oil doesn't soak through
food. Well, that's true. It's not dishonest; but the thing I'm talking about
is not just  a matter of not  being  dishonest, it's a matter  of scientific
integrity,  which  is another  level. The  fact that should be added to that
advertising  statement is that no oils  soak through food, if operated at  a
certain temperature.  If  operated at another temperature, they all will  --
including Wesson oil. So it's the implication  which has been  conveyed, not
the fact, which is true, and the difference is what we have to deal with.
     We've  learned from  experience  that  the truth will  come  out. Other
experimenters will  repeat your  experiment and  find out  whether you  were
wrong or right. Nature's phenomena will agree or they'll disagree with  your
theory. And, although  you  may gain some temporary fame and excitement, you
will not gain a  good reputation as a scientist  if you haven't tried  to be
very careful in  this kind of  work. And it's  this type  of integrity, this
kind of care not to fool yourself, that is missing to a large extent in much
of the research in cargo cult science.
     A great deal of their difficulty is, of course, the difficulty  of  the
subject  and the inapplicability of  the scientific method  to the  subject.
Nevertheless, it should be remarked that this is  not the  only  difficulty.
That's why the planes don't land -- but they don't land.
     We have learned a lot from experience  about how  to handle some of the
ways we fool ourselves.  One  example:  Millikan  measured the  charge on an
electron by an experiment with falling oil drops, and got an answer which we
now know  not to  be quite right. It's  a little bit off, because he had the
incorrect value  for  the  viscosity of air. It's interesting to look at the
history of measurements of  the charge of  the electron,  after Millikan. If
you  plot them as a function of time, you find that one is a  little  bigger
than  Millikan's, and the next one's a little bit bigger  than that, and the
next one's a little bit bigger than that, until  finally they settle down to
a number which is higher.
     Why  didn't they discover  that the new number was  higher  right away?
It's a  thing that scientists are ashamed of -- this history -- because it's
apparent that people did  things like  this: When they got a number that was
too high above Millikan's, they thought something  must be wrong -- and they
would look for and find a reason why something might be wrong. When they got
a  number closer  to Millikan's  value they didn't look so hard. And so they
eliminated  the numbers that were too  far off, and  did other  things  like
that. We've learned those tricks nowadays,  and now we don't  have that kind
of a disease.
     But this  long history  of  learning  how to not fool  ourselves  -- of
having utter scientific integrity -- is, I'm sorry to say, something that we
haven't  specifically included in any  particular course that  I know of. We
just hope you've caught on by osmosis.
     The first principle is that you  must not fool yourself -- and you  are
the easiest person to fool. So you have to be very careful about that. After
you've not fooled yourself, it's easy not to fool other scientists. You just
have to be honest in a conventional way after that.
     I would like to add something that's not essential  to the science, but
something I  kind of believe, which  is that you should  not fool the layman
when  you're talking as a scientist. I  am not trying to tell you what to do
about cheating on your  wife, or fooling your girlfriend, or something  like
that, when you're not trying  to be a  scientist,  but just  trying to be an
ordinary human being. We'll  leave those problems  up to you and your rabbi.
I'm talking about a specific, extra type of integrity that is not lying, but
bending over backwards to show how you're maybe  wrong,  that you  ought  to
have when  acting  as  a  scientist.  And  this  is  our  responsibility  as
scientists, certainly to other scientists, and I think to laymen.
     For example,  I was a little surprised when I  was talking to  a friend
who was going to go on  the radio. He does work on cosmology  and astronomy,
and he wondered  how he would  explain  what the  applications  of this work
were. "Well,"  I said, "there aren't any." He said, "Yes,  but then we won't
get  support  for more research  of  this  kind."  I  think  that's kind  of
dishonest.  If you're representing  yourself as a scientist, then you should
explain to the layman what you're doing -- and if they don't want to support
you under those circumstances, then that's their decision.
     One  example of the principle is  this: If you've made up your  mind to
test a theory, or you want to explain some idea, you should always decide to
publish  it  whichever way  it comes  out. If we only publish  results  of a
certain kind, we can make the argument look good. We must publish both kinds
of results.
     I say that's  also  important  in giving  certain  types  of government
advice. Supposing a senator asked you  for advice about whether  drilling  a
hole should be done in his state; and you decide it would be  better in some
other state. If  you don't publish such a  result, it seems to me you're not
giving scientific advice. You're  being used. If your answer happens to come
out in the direction the government or the politicians like, they can use it
as an argument  in their favor; if it comes  out the other  way,  they don't
publish it at all. That's not giving scientific advice.
     Other  kinds of errors are more characteristic of poor science. When  I
was  at  Cornell, I often talked to the people in the psychology department.
One  of  the  students  told  me  she  wanted to do an  experiment that went
something  like this -- it  had  been found  by  others that  under  certain
circumstances, X,  rats did something, A.  She was curious as to whether, if
she changed the circumstances to Y, they would still do A. So  her  proposal
was to do the experiment under circumstances Y and see if they still did A.
     I explained  to  her  that it was  necessary first  to  repeat  in  her
laboratory the experiment of the  other person -- to do it under condition X
to see  if she could also get  result  A, and then change to Y and see if  A
changed. Then she  would know  that  the real difference was  the  thing she
thought she had under control.
     She was  very delighted with this new idea, and went to  her professor.
And  his reply  was, no,  you cannot  do that, because  the  experiment  has
already been done and you would be wasting time.  This was in about  1947 or
so, and it seems to have  been  the general policy then to not try to repeat
psychological  experiments, but only  to change  the conditions and see what
happens.
     Nowadays there's a certain danger of  the same thing happening, even in
the famous field of physics. I was shocked to hear  of an experiment done at
the big accelerator at the National  Accelerator Laboratory, where  a person
used deuterium. In order to compare his heavy hydrogen results to what might
happen  with  light  hydrogen, he  had  to  use  data  from  someone  else's
experiment on light  hydrogen,  which  was done on different apparatus. When
asked  why, he said  it was  because he couldn't  get  time  on the  program
(because there's so little time and it's such expensive apparatus) to do the
experiment with  light hydrogen on this  apparatus because there wouldn't be
any new result. And so the men in charge of programs at  NAL are  so anxious
for new results,  in order to  get more money to keep  the thing  going  for
public relations  purposes, they are destroying --  possibly -- the value of
the experiments themselves, which is the  whole purpose of the thing. It  is
often  hard  for the  experimenters there to  complete  their  work as their
scientific integrity demands.
     All experiments  in  psychology are  not  of  this type,  however.  For
example, there have been many experiments running rats through  all kinds of
mazes, and so on -- with  little clear result. But in 1937 a man named Young
did a very interesting one. He had a long corridor  with doors all along one
side where  the rats came in, and doors along the other side  where the food
was. He wanted to see if  he could train the rats to go in at the third door
down from wherever he started them off. No. The rats went immediately to the
door where the food had been the time before.
     The  question was,  how did  the rats know, because the corridor was so
beautifully  built and so uniform,  that this was the same  door as  before?
Obviously  there was something about  the door that  was different from  the
other doors.  So he painted the doors very carefully, arranging the textures
on the faces of the doors exactly the same. Still the rats  could tell. Then
he  thought maybe  the rats were smelling the food, so  he used chemicals to
change the smell after each run. Still the rats could tell. Then he realized
the  rats might be able to tell  by seeing the lights and the arrangement in
the laboratory like any commonsense person. So  he covered the corridor, and
still the rats could tell.
     He finally found that they could tell by the way the floor sounded when
they ran over it.  And  he could only fix that by putting  his  corridor  in
sand. So he covered one after another of all possible clues  and finally was
able to fool the rats so that they had to learn to go in  the third door. If
he relaxed any of his conditions, the rats could tell.
     Now, from a scientific standpoint, that is  an A-number-one experiment.
That  is the experiment that makes rat-running experiments sensible, because
it uncovers the clues that  the rat is  really using  -- not what you  think
it's using. And that  is the experiment that tells  exactly what  conditions
you have to  use  in  order  to be careful  and  control  everything  in  an
experiment with rat-running.
     I  looked  into  the  subsequent history  of  this  research. The  next
experiment, and the one after that, never referred  to Mr. Young. They never
used any of his  criteria  of  putting the corridor  on sand, or  being very
careful. They just  went right on running rats in the same old way, and paid
no attention to the  great discoveries of  Mr. Young, and his papers are not
referred to, because he didn't discover anything about the rats. In fact, he
discovered  all  the things you have to do to discover something about rats.
But  not paying  attention to experiments like that is  a  characteristic of
cargo cult science.
     Another example is the ESP  experiments of Mr. Rhine, and other people.
As various  people have made criticisms  -- and they  themselves  have  made
criticisms of their own experiments  --  they improve the techniques so that
the effects  are  smaller, and smaller,  and smaller  until  they  gradually
disappear.  All the parapsychologists are  looking for some  experiment that
can  be  repeated  --  that  you  can do  again and get  the same  effect --
statistically, even. They run a million rats -- no, it's people this time --
they do a lot of things and get a certain statistical effect. Next time they
try it they don't get it  any more. And now you find a man saying that it is
an irrelevant demand to expect a repeatable experiment. This is science?
     This man also speaks about a new institution, in a talk in which he was
resigning  as Director of  the Institute of Parapsychology.  And, in telling
people what to do next, he says that one of the things they have to do is be
sure  they  only train  students who  have shown their ability  to  get  PSI
results  to  an  acceptable  extent --  not to waste  their  time  on  those
ambitious  and interested students who get  only chance results. It is  very
dangerous to have such a policy in teaching -- to teach students only how to
get certain  results, rather than  how  to do an experiment with  scientific
integrity.
     So I have just one wish for you -- the  good luck to be somewhere where
you are free to  maintain the kind of integrity I have described, and  where
you  do  not  feel  forced by  a  need  to  maintain your  position  in  the
organization or financial support, or so on, to lose your integrity. May you
have that freedom.

Популярность: 62, Last-modified: Sun, 25 Aug 2002 11:45:16 GMT