Dr. Feynman’s Father
Andy Dayton, Associate Web Producer
Right now I’m reading (or listening to, rather — in audio book form) The Pleasure of Finding Things Out, a collection of physicist Richard P. Feynman’s short works. Feynman was a unique and fascinating figure — not only was he a genius (he won the Nobel Prize in Physics in 1965), but he was also a skilled explainer, storyteller, prankster, and bongo player (among other things).
The video above is from a 1981 BBC interview with Feynman, and includes some of his thoughts on religion, doubt, and uncertainty. Watching this, I couldn’t help thinking of our program “A History of Doubt.” His enthusiasm lies in the act of questioning rather than in belief: “I think it’s much more interesting to live not knowing than to have answers which might be wrong.”
This same interview is also excerpted in The Pleasure of Finding Things Out, and one thing that stood out to me was how much Feynman referenced his father’s teaching. I’m excited by Feynman’s ideas, but in some ways I’m even more fascinated to hear him trace those ideas back to his father. With “The Spirituality of Parenting” broadcasting this week, it seemed fitting to share a few of these stories — to catch a glimpse of how Feynman acquired his faith in doubting, as he tells it in the following video: