Thursday, November 10, 2011


Feynman should be required reading in all physics classes. I realize I don't have much credibility in making this pronouncement, as the person who just had to ask, "Is physics math or science?" Anyway, I didn't know anything about Richard Feynman before reading this graphic novel and I was missing out.

Feynman was an incredible character: Nobel prize winner, physicist, safe cracker, drummer, and fortunately, a raconteur.
Jim Ottaviani did extensive research in order to write this book, as so much of the text comes from Feynman's own work and speeches. These efforts give the reader a well-rounded picture of Feynman the man, flaws and all. In addition to his genius, the authors show his womanizing and his internal debate over the consequences of his creations. Overall, he seems like a person with whom you would like to share a meal.

I appreciate that Ottaviani did not shy away from the mathematics involved in Feynman's work. Sometimes I followed along, occasionally I just enjoyed the illustrations. A challenge that Feynman took on in his later years was to simply explain his work to a friend, which evolved into The Feynman Lectures on Physics. For what it's worth, this is the most I've ever attempted to understand anything like this. Don't judge me.

As an illustrator, Leland Myrick faced the challenge that all of his characters are real people of whom photographs exist. His drawings are realistic, while still beautifully capturing the abstract depictions of Feynman's mind.

I wish this was the first in a series of graphic novels about historical figures because Ottaviani and Myrick are an incredible team. Older teens will enjoy Feynman and feel like I do, eager for more.

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