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Saving the Feynman van

12 May 2014, 21:10 UTC
Saving the Feynman van
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A version of this article appeared in symmetry on May 8, 2014.
A team of Richard Feynman’s friends and fans banded together to restore the Nobel laureate’s most famous vehicle. Image courtesy of Seamus Blackley
“The game I play is a very interesting one,” says Nobel Laureate Richard Feynman in a low-resolution video posted to YouTube. “It’s imagination in a tight straitjacket.”
Feynman is describing his job as a theoretical physicist: to lay out what humanity knows about how the world works, and to search the spaces in between for what we might have missed.
The video shows more than Feynman’s way with words. It shows his approachability. One of the greatest minds that particle physics has ever known stands barefoot, lecturing in a distinct Queens, New York, accent for an audience lounging casually on the floor at the new-age Esalen Institute in Big Sur, California.
In a way, Feynman remains approachable to this day for all of the snippets of his personality left behind in books, letters and recordings of formal and informal lectures and interviews.
Recently, a more concrete bit of Feynman history came out of retirement: A small team has brought back to life the so-called “Feynman ...

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