Feynman on Algebra

Happy Feynman’s Birthday!

I hope this day finds you as excited as ever about the wonders of the world that surround us every day.

In Feynman’s honor, I’ve strung three 90-second excerpts together to show what passion Feynman brought to the subject of elementary algebra.

The entire 50-minute lecture (Vol I Chapter 22 in The Feynman Lectures on Physics) is amazing: Feynman starts with simple counting, and ends up with “the most remarkable formula in mathematics” (see below).

Fig 22-2TheJewel

On the way, he invents every kind of number through “abstraction and generalization” — from positive integers, through negative integers, rational, irrational, and imaginary numbers, to complex numbers — and links them to exponents, roots, logarithms, pi, e, and even to the cosine and the sine (normally thought of as in the domain of geometry) — all in a single lecture! At the end he gives a heart-felt confessional (which didn’t make it into the books).

I think it would be a wonderful tribute to create an animated visualization of this lecture in time for Feynman’s 100th birthday a year from now, and to put it up on YouTube for all to see and appreciate.

Any ideas on how this could be accomplished, including where to get funding, would be greatly appreciated.

Feynman Lives!

Ralph Leighton

One Comment

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *