Feynman, Richard Phillips

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Feynman, Richard Phillips

Feynman, Richard Phillips (fīnˈmən), 1918–88, American physicist, b. New York City, B.S. Massachusetts Institute of Technology, 1939, Ph.D. Princeton, 1942. From 1942 to 1945 he worked on the development of the atomic bomb. He taught (1945–50) at Cornell and became professor of theoretical physics at the California Institute of Technology in 1950. The Feynman diagram, proposed by him in 1949, shows the track of a particle in space and time and provides a clear means of describing particle interactions. Feynman also made significant contributions to the theories of superfluidity and quarks. In 1957 he and Murray Gell-Mann proposed the theory of weak nuclear force. Feynman shared the 1965 Nobel Prize in Physics with Shinichiro Tomonaga and J. S. Schwinger for work leading to the establishment of the modern theory of quantum electrodynamics. He wrote the influential Feynman Lectures on Physics (commemorative issue, 3 vol., 1990), Feynman Lectures on Gravitation (1994), and Feynman Lectures on Computation (1996).


See his Surely You're Joking, Mr. Feynman! (1985), What Do You Care What Other People Think? (1988), QED: The Strange Theory of Light and Matter (1988, repr. 2006), and The Meaning of It All (1998); Perfectly Reasonable Deviations from the Beaten Track: The Letters of Richard P. Feynman (2005), ed. by M. Feynman; biographies by J. Gleick (1993), J. Mehra (1994), and L. M. Krauss (2011); C. Sykes, No Ordinary Genius: The Illustrated Richard Feynman (1996); D. L. Goodstein and J. R. Goodstein, Feynman's Lost Lecture (1996); J. Gribbin and M. Gribbin, Richard Feynman (1997); G. J. Milburn, The Feynman Processor (1999).

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The following article is from The Great Soviet Encyclopedia (1979). It might be outdated or ideologically biased.

Feynman, Richard Phillips


Born May 11, 1918, in New York City. American physicist.

Feynman graduated from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in 1939 and received a Ph .D. in theoretical physics at Princeton University in 1942. He later joined the staff of the Los Alamos Scientific Laboratory and the faculty of Cornell University. In 1950 he became a professor at the California Institute of Technology in Pasadena.

Feynman’s main works deal with quantum electrodynamics, quantum mechanics, and statistical mechanics. Feynman devised a mathematical technique (see) that played an important part in the development of quantum field theory; for this achievement, he received a Nobel Prize in 1965. In statistical mechanics, he proposed the polaron theory for the case of intermediate coupling and explained the occurrence of vortices, called Feynman vortices, in superfluid helium. In quantum mechanics, he developed the method of path integration.

Together with R. Leighton and M. Sands, Feynman wrote a course of lectures for higher educational institutions, which substantially modernized the traditional account of physics (in Russian translation, Feinmanovskie lektsii po fizike, vols. 1–9, Moscow, 1965–67).


In Russian translation:
“Teoriia pozitronov.” In the collection Noveishee razvitie kvantovoi elektrodinamiki. Moscow, 1954.
“Prostranstvenno-vremennaia traktovka kvantovoi elektrodinamiki.” Ibid., pp. 161–204.
Kvantovaia elektrodinamika. Moscow, 1964.
Kvantovaia mekhanika i integraly po traektoriiam. Moscow, 1968. (With A. Hibbs.)
Statisticheskaia mekhanika. Moscow, 1975.


The Great Soviet Encyclopedia, 3rd Edition (1970-1979). © 2010 The Gale Group, Inc. All rights reserved.