Friday, May 11, 2018

Feynman turns 100

Today we celebrate Feynman's 100 birthday.

In a way, I did love the man. I have even spent some 3 hours in all with him.

The first interaction was professional, and while his specific advice did not help, the fear of not being able to answer Feynman's obvious question has shaped my life to this very day:

The second interaction was not the Feynman you get from the Feynman cult. Feynman the human was a very smart, forever driven kid. Who naturally bonded with other wunderkinder. Like, when were sitting together in a pizzeria in Ithaca college town, the 2 wunderkinds and 2 of us. Feynman and the other wunderkind were establishing at what age did they do Bessel functions. Something like 12, do not remember which one did the Bessels first. At that age I read "Palle Alone in the World" and my nonwunderkind friend,  being from California, watched television 12 hours a day.

They were boring us to death, so to break up this mano a mano, I asked Feynman "Do you remember receiving a small book with your portrait on it?" Feynman never read anybody else's work, so I was amazed when he said "Yes!"

At that time I used to design private editions of my books in the "Classics Illustrated" format, and had intended to have my other wunderkind acquaintance, Gerard 't Hooft's face on the cover. But try as I may, I could not sketch a recognizable portrait of t'Hooft in a comic book style. So I gave up, and drew Feynman instead. Anybody can recognize HIM. And now that I have done it, I felt I should mail him a copy.

The truth is, had I sent him the book 20 years earlier, reading it would have been good for him. Feynman got QCD right to one loop, but, being Feynman and having to build everything from ground zero every single time, he had forgotten all about Feynman path integrals, and it took an Utrecht graduate student to do it right. My book -if you ask me- is pretty good. It explains t'Hooft in large print and with lots of figures in some 100 pages. But my favorite (and as far as I know, the only) review is Feynman's.

Tuesday, March 13, 2018

Chilling out on Mother's Day

On Mother's Day C, who is in 3rd grade, came over. She told me: "Your mother is dead, S is in Chicago, and you have no children. So let's have a date."
We biked over from her house to mine, washed, dried and folded all my laundry. Then we started the grill, she prepared the potatoes, and I prepared corn on cob. We invited her family and Jonathan with his kids from across the street.
But the main thing we did was to chill out, she with young adult novels on her Kindle, and me with Pippi Longstocking. C does not multitask. She reads with the intensity of her whole being.

Friday, February 02, 2018

Pa, can I take the donkey into town?

I was not totally up front with Citizens Immigration Services on the manner of my conception. So, in celebration of us whose mothers were immaculately conceived, or, as my mother insisted, us who were born by parthenogenesis: