Microsoft Research’s Project Tuva website is up. Project Tuva is a collection of seven searchable Feynman lectures aimed at a popular audience (with extras coming online in the future.) The rights to these lectures were obtained by Bill Gates after he was entranced by them over twenty years ago. Well worth watching, especially if you’re about to give a popular science talk (I’ve always been fascinated by how Feynman uses his hands in describing physics.)
Even more interesting, in my egocentric universe, are the comments by Mr. Gates himself about Feynman:
Someone who can make science interesting is magical. And the person who did that better than anyone was Richard Feynman. He took the mystery of science, the importance of science, the strangeness of science and made it fun, and interesting, and approachable.
He makes physics fun. Some people will laugh at that phrase, but I’m not kidding when I say it.
Compare and contrast to a certain undergraduate at Caltech in a 1996 interview on CNN:
But for students of physics, Feynman is remembered most for his amazing lectures. Part actor, part storyteller, part physicist, Richard Feynman the lecturer first stood at a podium at Cal Tech [sic] in 1950. Until his death from cancer in 1988, he inspired legions of students.
Mention his name to physics students at Cal Tech [sic] today and watch their eyes light up: “One of the reasons it was easier to become a physicist was because he was so exciting and he wasn’t the typical, you know, nerd who doesn’t say anything,” said Cal Tech [sic] senior Dave Bacon.
One of the other students interviewed (and the smartest physicist in my class) attempted to get in a great double entendre involving Feynman’s “little red book” into his interview, but alas either CNN caught onto him, or they just didn’t like the quote.