The Pleasure of Finding Things Out

2010-08-25

in Books and literature, Geek stuff, Science, Writing

Probably the most problematic thing about writing associated with Richard Feynman is repetition. Both his books and books about him tend to be at least quasi-biographical, and often feature the same stories, examples, explanations, and even bits of writing.

The Pleasure of Finding Things Out certainly suffers from this flaw, at least for those who have read one or two Feynman books before. It includes, for instance, his appendix to the Challenger inquiry report, which also formed a major part of What Do You Care What Other People Think. It also features Feynman’s thoughts on ‘cargo cult science’ which have been reproduced elsewhere.

All that said, the book does contain some interesting materials that do not seem to be widely available elsewhere, particularly on the subject of nanotechnology. Going back to first principles, Feynman considers what lower size limits exist for things like motors, computer processors, and data storage systems. He concludes that there is ‘plenty of room at the bottom’ and thus enormous scope for improving our capabilities in computing and other fields by relying upon very small machinery and techniques like self-assembly.

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