Famous Names in Science: Richard Feynman


Richard Feynman, a name known by many both inside and outside of the scientific community, a name that stirs excitement, a name that inspires. The man this name belongs to is considered to be one of the most significant theoretical physicists of all time, but who is he really?

Richard Phillips Feynman, born May 11, 1918, was a theoretical physicist primarily known for redefining the theory of quantum electrodynamics (QED for short) which later won him the Nobel Prize in Physics. On top of his work with QED, he devised a theory explaining most of the weak nuclear force, explained superfluidity with quantum mechanics, and even led a group in the theory department of the Manhattan Project. His list of accomplishments and contributions to science continues far beyond the short list above which further proves the greatness of Feynman’s scientific mind.

Although, it should not be understood that he was a stiff, serious man; Feynman was wildly charismatic and witty. He was known for his ability to captivate and humor those around him from his undergraduate days at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (1935 – 1939) to his graduate years at Princeton University (1941 – 1942) and beyond. This is one reason he was an excellent and remarkable lecturer. If fact, the California Institute of Technology hired him as a professor/lecturer in 1950. He held this position for the rest of his career and continued research in various quantum topics until his battle with abdominal cancer ended on February 15, 1988.

Even thirty-four years after his death, Feynman is celebrated for his achievements and his work remains foundational to the world’s view of modern physics. Feynman now rests in Altadena, CA leaving a legacy of a scientific triumph that others aspire to match.