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Richard P. Feynman, Teacher

Goodstein, David L.

Physics Today (1989) 


One of the principal purposes of this article is to consider Dick Feynman in his role as teacher. Let me not keep you in suspense about my conclusion. I think Dick was a truly great teacher, perhaps the greatest of his era and ours. That's not to say he was always completely successful, as he himself emphasized in his preface to The Feynman Lectures on Physics. I would contend that these lectures often failed at the level of their superficial intent: If his purpose in giving them was to prepare classes of adolescent boys to solve examination problems in physics, he may not have succeeded particularly well; if his purpose in creating those three red volumes was to provide effective introductory college textbooks, he may not have succeeded, either. If, however, his purpose was to illustrate, by example, how to think and reason about physics, then, by all indications, he was brilliantly successful. Perhaps this is why the books are genuine and lasting classics of the scientific literature and why his lectures left an enduring trace on those fortunate enough to have heard or read them. His achievement as a teacher—and as an inspiration and model for other teachers—was based on nothing less than seeing all of physics with fresh new eyes.


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Richard Feynman and the History of Superconductivity

Goodstein, David 

and Goodstein, Judith

Physics in Perspective  (2000)  


This paper deals with two topics. One is the history of superconductivity, and the other is what Richard Feynman had to do with it. The history of superconductivity can be traced back to Michael Faraday and the first liquefaction of a gas in 1823. It is a heroic tale of triumph over cold and resistance, and once the phenomenon was actually discovered in 1911, it would take almost 50 years more before a satisfactory explanation emerged. Although Richard Feynman only authored one published paper on the subject, he worked prodigiously on the problem through much of the 1950s, and his competitors, particularly Bardeen, Cooper, and Schrieffer, fully expected that he would be the one to crack the problem. It did not work out that way.

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Quantum Man: Richard Feynman’s Life in Science 

Review by David L. Goodstein

Physics Today (2011)

A review of a book by Lawrence Krauss about all of the many scientific works of Richard Feynman. Although Krauss tries to make it readable by a general audience by including no equations, it will nevertheless be read primarily by physicists. The review concludes by saying “Krauss has written a very good book whose natural audience comprises readers of Physics Today, not the general public”

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How Science Works

Reference Manual on Scientific Evidence (2011)

(National Research Council). Washington, DC: The National Academies Press (3rd Edition)

A somewhat whimsical article written for the benefit of all state and federal judges wrestling with how to make decisions in cases with scientific content under the influence of the then new Daubert decision of the Supreme Court. It includes some discussion of the history of science, a discussion of the nature of science, and the author’s view of the Daubert decision and of the Supreme Court’s take on it.

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Click here for more articles by Dr. David Goodstein.

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