The Amateur Scientist

The Amateur Scientist

I was on my way to work, when I started
to read this interesting story and I don't deny that I was a little sceptical
in the beginning. But the more I read, the more I wanted to know about
this man and his unique ways to define Science. I finished reading it in
about 15 minutes, it literally sucked me in.

This is an attempt to analyze and explain
to the "audience," what my personal point of view is regarding this great
genius, great mind, great scientist Richard Feynman. Defined by his colleagues
as the "The brightest mind since Einstein," he explains how he used everyday
tools to make scientific discoveries. How he describes his methods in a
simple way makes science enjoyable and understandable, even to the average
reader.

I enjoyed reading the essay entitled "The

Amateur Scientist," by Nobel prize-winning physicist Richard Feynman (1918-1988).

I found it to be very interesting and felt that Mr. Feynman was very thoughtful.

Rather than explain in technical detail about his work in physics, Feynman
instead related interesting anecdotes throughout his life, as a college
student and graduate student at Princeton University, that gave to the
reader an understanding of his work as a scientist.

The writing won my attention because his
stories about his youth and his days at Princeton fascinated me. He was
always exploring his environment to learn new things about science, especially
how things worked. Feynman's thirst for clever things to do and clever
ways to do ordinary things were remarkable.

One of the best anecdotes that illustrate
this point, was his experience at Princeton detailing ants' behavior. Feynman
was constantly searching for the connection between hypothesis and truth,
so one day at Princeton he started to observe the ants' that were coming
out on his windowsill. The experiment with the ants is a reflection of
this man's mind, always in search for an answer. In this anecdote Feynman
explains how, with only a bit of sugar, and a couple of pieces of paper,
he was able to find out many things about ants' behaviors. Feynman compares
his study on the ants with the same kind of "experiment" he performed in

Brazil, observing leaf-cutting ants. The author pointed out that, although
the Brazilian ants seemed to be smarter, there are still some affinities
with domestic ants. It is remarkable how Feynman discovered that ants have
no sense of "geometry," the goal of his experiment was to determine whether
or not ants have some kind of communication and if they have the ability
to find their way back where the "food" was.

In another part of the essay, Feynman describes
how he passed his time in the "lab" when he was a young man. He enjoyed
playing, building motors, and using whatever he had at his disposal to
satisfy his curiosity as "scientist." Then he describes how, firsthand,
with only an old microscope and a lot of patience, you can observe and
find out things that are not reported in books by people who presumably,
had studied the subject. "These books always simplify things so the world
will be more like they want it to be." It was then that Feynman decided
to observe the paramecium, under different circumstances, and discovered
interesting things, which were not reflected in what books said about these
microorganisms. The point is that no matter what the science's books teach,
you must always look for answers yourself to satisfy your thirst of knowledge.

Beyond being a collection of instructive
anecdotes, there is something genuine to learn from Feynman essentially,
that you can make your way through life, especially if you are curious
to discover. I think many of us believe this to be true, but understanding
it and doing it are very different things, and Feynman showed us how to
use one's resources, and how to get the best out of them.

Despite being a theoretical physicist,

Feynman also spent a lot of time on understanding how things really work,
and on making the perfect link between the theory and reality.

The "darning needles" or dragonfly story
is an example of Feynman's methods. He read in a book that dragonflies
don't sting, and accidentally he found out, at his own risk, that what
the book said about these "darning needles" was accurate.

Feynman pointed to the fact that people
do not properly explore phenomena they encounter, arguing that scientists
have the responsibility to search for the truth. This essay is a terrific
exploration of one man's experience discovering the world of science in
an enjoyable way.