What Is Richard Feynman Famous For?


Quick Answer

Richard Feynman, an American theoretical physicist, won the Nobel prize in 1965 for his work in quantum electrodynamics, a description of how subatomic particles interact. Feynman is also well known as a member of the Manhattan project, which he joined in 1942, where he was a team leader. In 1950, Feynman joined the faculty at the California Institute of Technology, where he remained for the rest of his career.

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Full Answer

Feynman's greatest gift was the ability to simplify and explain difficult and complex problems. An extremely popular teacher, Feynman's famous lectures to the freshman and sophomore classes at Caltech in 1961 and 1962 called "The Feynman Lectures on Physics" remain classics and are still available online.

He came to public attention again in 1986 as a member of the commission studying the space shuttle Challenger disaster. During his testimony, he demonstrated the reason for the disaster simply and effectively. He placed an O-ring like those used in the Challenger into a glass of ice water, reproducing the temperature that morning, showing it would lose its resiliency as a seal if frozen.

Feynman also invented a new branch of mathematics, using diagrams instead of equations to study quantum electrodynamics, which are used all over the world to model solutions to physics problems.

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