Posts Tagged ‘The Manhattan Project’

Book Review:
Today I finished my second book by Richard P. Feynman.  This one is titled:  “What Do You Care What Other People Think?”  Again, Dr. Feynman was one of the men who worked on the Manhattan Project.  Feynman’s doctorate is in Physics and he won a Nobel Prize for physics.  This was both a terribly sad and immensely amusing book.  The sad portion dealt with his growing up and the early death of his high school sweet-heart and first wife.  I freely admit to being a big crybaby and her passing and his emotional detachment (temporary) made me break down too.  The majority of the book deals with his work on the Challenger Space Shuttle commission.  There appears to be a fair amount of criticism placed on NASA’s management (which I recall from the time – 1986), but I don’t recall anyone losing their jobs because of the fallout.  The impression of NASA management in the book still rings true about many of the problems we face generally in government and in large businesses today: either management knew of the risks (and they should have) but chose to minimize (i.e. disregard) them and launch anyway;  or they knew the risks and lied to the commission about not knowing the risks;  or management didn’t know the risks (in which case they were incompetent).
The “amusing” parts of the book are little bits in each chapter which are sometimes self-deprecating, but mostly the observations of a man standing outside a system and watching it act irrationally.  Feynman is kind of a cross between Mark Twain and Will Rogers, but with a PhD in Physics.
This is a very fast read and I highly recommend it – for the emotion, the humor and for the science.
Movie Review:
On Monday night, the Giants had the day off for travel so we decided to watch a movie.  Last week, something reminded me of “Driving Miss Daisy“, so I asked Hil if she wanted to watch it.  As it’s one of her favorite movies, I was confident she’d say yes.  To tell the truth, I’ve only seen the movie twice before in its entirety, so I was able to look at it with “fresh” eyes.  Most of it I did not remember at all.  It is a terrific movie!!  Heartwarming and funny, sad and a bit cautionary all rolled into one.  I can see why it won Best Picture that year (1989).
The main storyline is about a wealthy Jewish lady and the twenty five year relationship (friendship) she has with her African-American chauffeur.  Jessica Tandy is the lead and she won Best Actress for the role.  Morgan Freeman plays the chauffeur (Golden Globe Award but not Oscar – he was robbed) and Dan Aykroyd plays the son of Miss Daisy and who is the actual employer of the chauffeur.  Well written, well acted, funny, touching – just a beautiful movie.  Highly recommended!  If you haven’t watched it lately, treat yourself and see it again.

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Book Review:
Today I finished “The Meaning Of It All – Thoughts of a Citizen-Scientist“, by Richard P. Feynman (1998©).  The book is a transcript of three lectures Dr. Feynman gave in 1963 at the University of Washington in Seattle.  The lectures are themselves titled:  “The Uncertainty of Science“, “The Uncertainty of Values“, and “This Unscientific Age“.  The lectures provide insight into the Dr. Feynman’s (a Nobel laureate in physics) views on the nature and limits of science, religion and politics.
Feynman is one of the men who worked on “The Manhattan Project” which developed the atomic bombs dropped on Japan which ended the war (WWII) in the Pacific.  Feynman’s name is mentioned frequently whenever someone talks about the greatest scientific minds of the 20th century.  It appears from this book, that he has a terrific way with words to go along with his intellect.  The speeches were fairly informal (even amusing – not quite funny), but still offered much to ponder about – particularly about science and religion.
I particularly like his openly stated views on the limits of science in explaining things – basically, science only applies when you can think of a problem and a method of testing the problem for possible solutions.  Science can’t be applied to faith and therefore not to religion.   He accepts that others can find comfort in faith.  As a believer in God, it is refreshing to not be looked down on by someone who is a scientist.  Having said this, it is, I think, important to state that lots of scientists are also religious.
Anyway, the book is fairly short (about 200 pages) and is a very fast read – although as I said, it is full of things you will find yourself thinking about later (or during) after you’ve finished the book.  I know I will.  And, yes, you’ll be seeing some quotes in the coming days.
Movie Review:
Last night, I re-watched “Percy Jackson & the Olympians“.  I’ve read the book series and saw the movie with my son quite some time back.  He saw it at the theater.  I’ve only seen it on DVD.  Anyway, I watched it again to see what I thought.  I had very mixed reactions.  I was less impressed by the acting and more impressed by the special effects.  The story in the movie was less in sync with the book (as I remember it).  All in all, I’d say it was not as good as “Transformers” and about the same as “I Am Number Four“.  Basically, okay, but not great.  Entertaining, but not “I’ll really look forward to watching that again next year.”
Other bits and bobs:
James hung around for a BBQ this evening (Sunday).  I wanted to go out, but he wanted to eat in so I went and got us a couple of pork steaks.  Hil had a beef steak and Sarah had a couple of dogs.  It was real nice just hanging out with him and chatting.
I was chatting with Hil afterwards and we’re going to miss them when they are all gone and we’re on our own.  That’s not to say I’m not looking forward to it, but time does fly and your kids are all up and grown.
Sarah has started junior college and seems to be enjoying it.  She’ll probably be there for three years with all the cutbacks in classes.  Time passes…

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