The Significance of ——
By Ottaviani & Myrick
——- To Me
(Not a Book Report: just what it meant to me.)
At first I was disappointed when I received the book for I thought I had ordered a serious biography of a scientist that I was aware of but only knew enough of to recognize his name and relate it to The Manhattan Project and the Challenger shuttle disaster.
The disappointment was that the style of the book is like the newspaper comics. At least that is what it looked like at first glance. I had paid good money though and I had a perfect rainy afternoon to read so I got into it. It did not take long to see that there was going to be a reporting of substance about the man’s abilities and character. In fact it did not take long to realize that the concept of background pictures along with words of individuals being presented in the usual cloud boxes and fill in info being given in rectangular text boxes provided massive amounts of information in miniscule amounts of time: proving the cliché – “A picture is worth a thousand words.”
I do not know if it is always the case but it seems that people that have a life which rises to the level of it becoming a biography start that life very early with focused interest of some kind. A very young Mr. Feynman loved to know how things worked or as another cliché would say “He had an insatiable curiosity” and the energy needed to take the mental and physical journeys which that curiosity demanded.
This book though almost makes one want to go back to school provided the professor was Mr. Feynman.
There is not a chance that I will ever grasp the fundamentals of particle physics other than to somewhat learn what the names of some of the particles are. I vaguely sometimes understand what is meant when a positive or negative polarity is assigned to them but just as soon as exceptions begin to be made and these exceptions re-state or outright change the polarity or some kind of multiple change such as being positive in a forward motion but negative when in reverse — then I am lost.
I do not loose my fascination though with those that do understand and especially those that try to find a way to explain the workings of this atomic and sub-atomic world to simple people like me.
The reading of this biography sent me scurrying to another which I read a couple of years ago: (A Brilliant Darkness by Joao Magueijo). Sure enough in this biography of a mysterious Sicilian: (Ettore Majorana) the work of Mr. Feynman in the form of the Feynman Diagrams was used extensively to describe the interaction of the atomic particles. The genius of Mr. Majorana, of course, is the central focus of A Brilliant Darkness but in the book the relationship of all the young geniuses that composed “the Via Panisperna Boys” was examined. Mr. Feynman was not a Via Panisperna Boy and without doing extensive research for this writing I do not know what his personal relationships were with some or all of these young men, his age, but my guess would be that he knew their work extensively.
So when it comes to my intent here of expressing what this book meant to me I have to simply say that here again another reading of the life of a man or woman which had certain focused objectives, focused ability and the opportunistic times to use them adds to my vague understanding of how all of us exist. Please, someday, let this puny amount of my knowledge give a ticket to the presentation which will explain -WHY WE EXIST.