Today would have been the 95th birthday of the great American theoretical physicist, Richard Feynman. Not only a brilliant researcher, but also an amazing teacher who inspired generations of young minds to dream of science and knowledge, and to view the world in a unique way. Here is an example of Feynman discussing the beauty of a flower.

For those few who are reading this and don't know who he is, here are a few highlights of his life and career:

  • Earned his doctorate at Princeton working in the new field of quantum mechanics, under legendary physicist John Wheeler
  • Worked at Los Alamos during WWII on the first nuclear weapons
  • In 1948/1949 he constructed the first workable theory of quantum electrodynamics (the quantum theory of how electric fields work, and of atomic structure). Although two other physicists developed equivalent theories at the same time, it was Feynman's diagrams and methods that became the standard method taught to all physicists due to their power and simplicity.
  • Was award the 1963 Nobel Prize in physics for his work on quantum field theory
  • Presented a series of physics lectures to first year students, which included simple presentations of leading research. He was possibly the first and only Nobel Prize winner to teach introductory classes, and his lecture series is still recommended reading to physics students nearly fifty years later.
  • In 1986, he was handpicked to be on the committee investigating the Challenger shuttle disaster, and in a famous moment in history he demonstrated on live television how the rubber seal on the fuel tank had frozen by simply dropping a spare piece into a glass of ice water. He is also allegedly the only member of the panel who would not give in to political pressure to cover up the accident.
And yet perhaps his greatest achievement is in inspiring generations of young people to be interested in science, and to teach people that science can be beautiful and can be really cool. Happy Birthday!