In 1961, Caltech took a leap of faith and invitedRichard Feynman — champion of scientific culture, graphic novel hero, crusader for integrity, holder of the key to science — to teach the introductory course in physics. At the time, Feynman was a theoretical physicist with no particular interest in students — but he soon proved to be nothing short of an enchanter of the classroom. Feynman earned himself the moniker“the Great Explainer” and his lectures went on to become a cultural classic, blending brilliant yet accessible explanations of science with poignant meditations on life’s most profound questions. They were eventually collected inThe Feynman Lectures on Physics (public library) — the same indispensable intellectual treat that gave us Feynman on the one sentence to be passed on to the next generation.
Among the most beautiful is the third lecture in the series, titled “The Relation of Physics to Other Sciences,” in which Feynman, eloquent and enthralling as ever, illustrates the connectedness of everything to everything else — or what poet Diane Ackerman memorably called “the plain everythingness of everything, in cahoots with the everythingness of everything else.”
In this lovely short film for PBS, Joe Hanson of It’s Okay to be Smart — whom I have previously called a Feynman of the Tumblr era — brings Feynman’s timeless wisdom to life in a mesmerizing montage. Transcript below.