"When an old and distinguished person speaks to you, listen to him carefully and with respect – but do not believe him. Never put your trust in anything but your own intellect. Your elder, no matter whether he has gray hair or lost his hair, no matter whether he is a Nobel Laureate, may be wrong... So you must always be skeptical – always think for yourself." --Linus Pauling



Here's a couple video clips of the late physicist Richard Feynman, here and here. Oh, and this too.

I love reading and especially listening to Feynman talk about anything. There was such a sense of wonder and an earthy joie de vivre about the guy. Check out the photographs from 1965 Nobel Prize ceremony (this one's my favorite) sometime. He looks too mischievious and uncultured to be allowed among all those high society types. Heh.

So he was a genius. But he also had the ability to explain his leaps of logic in an irresistibly engaging fashion. That's a quality few have, and one of the things that must have made him such a great teacher.

Watch Feynman. He's so exuberant he comes off like a ten year old boy who's never been spanked. I've actually talked to people who doubted that he had a world class intellect. The thing is, with his common manner he made his genius look easy --like Fred Astaire dancing, or Picasso painting. It reminds me of a passage from a Sherlock Holmes story, The Red Headed League by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle:

"Beyond the obvious facts that he has at some time done manual labour, that he takes snuff, that he is a Freemason, that he has been in China, and that he has done a considerable amount of writing lately, I can deduce nothing else."

Mr. Jabez Wilson started up in his chair, with his forefinger upon the paper, but his eyes upon my companion.

"How, in the name of good-fortune, did you know all that, Mr. Holmes?" he asked. "How did you know, for example, that I did manual labour. It's as true as gospel, for I began as a ship's carpenter."

"Your hands, my dear sir. Your right hand is quite a size larger than your left. You have worked with it, and the muscles are more developed."

"Well, the snuff, then, and the Freemasonry?"

"I won't insult your intelligence by telling you how I read that, especially as, rather against the strict rules of your order, you use an arc-and-compass breastpin."

"Ah, of course, I forgot that. But the writing?"

"What else can be indicated by that right cuff so very shiny for five inches, and the left one with the smooth patch near the elbow where you rest it upon the desk?"

"Well, but China?"

"The fish that you have tattooed immediately above your right wrist could only have been done in China. I have made a small study of tattoo marks and have even contributed to the literature of the subject. That trick of staining the fishes' scales of a delicate pink is quite peculiar to China. When, in addition, I see a Chinese coin hanging from your watch-chain, the matter becomes even more simple."

Mr. Jabez Wilson laughed heavily. "Well, I never!" said he. "I thought at first that you had done something clever, but I see that there was nothing in it, after all."

"I begin to think, Watson," said Holmes, "that I make a mistake in explaining. 'Omne ignotum pro magnifico,' you know, and my poor little reputation, such as it is, will suffer shipwreck if I am so candid."

The clips are from the BBC Horizons program from 1981 I think. The entire show is out there for interested parties to find. Highly rewarding conversation.