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Yet another brick in the altar that is being build to the greatest physicist of the last quarter of the 20th century, Feynman's Rainbow is the memoir of Leonard Mlodinow's time as a Research Fellow at Caltech, with an office down the hall from both the legend and his long-time rival, Murray Gell-Mann.

Mlodinow, fresh from a breakthrough, finds himself mouldering at CalTech, spending much of his time getting stoned and watching Columbo. In desperation, he turns to Feynman for advice and mentoring. He tapes many of these conversations, and their transcriptions pepper the book.

It is an insight to many things, from the paralysis of the sophomore slump and the process of modern physics to comments with the ring of Zen about why physicists are physicists and not doctors or lawyers or mercenaries. One of the episodes details telling his old staff advisor that he's writing a screenplay. The advisor tears him apart, saying "You owe it to yourself, and to me and a lot of people, to keep at your physics. We put countless hours into your training. Years! You can't just throw it away like that. Your talent. Your schooling. It's an insult. A disrespect! And for what? Fiction? Worthless Hollywood crap?"

Feynman, near the end of his life, teaches Mlodinow the importance of following your bliss, doing what makes you happy, whether it's investigating string theory or writing for Star Trek: The Next Generation. Mlodinow does both, and thrives, where he had been sinking under the weight of the greatest fallacy in physics -- that only the young have revolutionary ideas.

This slim volume is a nice addition to any Feynophile's library. Don't expect anything new or earthshattering, but rather a pleasant and gentle tale of physics, physicists, and a few physicians.

Node your bookcase

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