Richard Feynman was an important 20th century American physicist who made important contributions to Quantum Electrodynamics.
Feynman was born in New York on May 11, 1918. From an early age, he showed interest and facility in dealing with scientific matters. He majored in Physics at MIT (Massachusetts Institute of Technology), where, as an undergraduate, he wrote and published two papers: one on cosmic rays and the other on molecular forces. His graduate degree was taken at the Institute for Advanced Study in Princeton, USA. Albert Einstein participated in studies at this institute.
He became a professor at Cornell University and the California Institute of Technology, where he served for decades. In 1959, during a lecture at the annual meeting of the American Physical Society, Feynman presented the idea of the possibility of organizing and manipulating materials at the atomic level, what we now call Nanotechnology . At the time, the physicist said:
“ The principles of physics, as far as I can see, do not speak against the possibility of manipulating things atom by atom. It would not be a violation of the law; It is something that theoretically can be done, but in practice it has never been done because we are too big.”
Feynman participated in the Manhattan Project for the development of nuclear warheads and explained the cause of the accident with the spacecraft Challenger, NASA’s space shuttle that exploded during takeoff in 1986. He stated that the reason for its fall was a defect in the seal of part of the of the propellers, which caused the explosion.
Contributions to Physics
Feynman’s main contribution to Physics was the development of Quantum Electrodynamics , a theory that proposes the quantization of fields. The method of path integrals and the development of theories of weak and strong interactions are also merits of the scientist.
Over the course of his life, Feynman wrote several books to discuss his theories, develop his ideas and talk about his own life. See three important works by the renowned scientist:
- Not always joking, Mr. Feynman;
- You must be kidding, Mr. Feynman;
- The Feynman Lectures.
Passage through Brazil
In the 50’s, Feynman taught classes at CBPF – Brazilian Center for Physics Research. In one of his works, he talks about his incredible experiences with the Brazilian language and culture and criticizes the way students saw Physics, just memorizing the equations without applying them with due reasoning and without condition of relate them to reality.
On February 15, 1988, at age 69, Richard Feynman died of cancer.