Advertisement

 Richard Phillips Feynman

Advertisement

Richard Phillips Feynman

Birth
New York, New York County (Manhattan), New York, USA
Death 15 Feb 1988 (aged 69)
Los Angeles, Los Angeles County, California, USA
Burial Altadena, Los Angeles County, California, USA
Plot Founders Lawn, Lot 4390, Grave 11, Curb No. 1617
Memorial ID 2562 View Source
Suggest Edits

Nobel Prize in Physics Recipient. Richard Feynman received world-wide notoriety after being awarded the 1965 Nobel Prize in Physics, according to the Nobel Prize committee, "for fundamental work in quantum electrodynamics, with deep-ploughing consequences for the physics of elementary particles." He jointly shared this coveted award with Julian Schwinger and Sin-Itiro Tomonaga. Since 1956, he had received 48 nominations to be a Nobel Prize candidate. Born into a family of East European Jewish ancestry, his father at age five came to America from Minsk, Belarus, a part of the Imperial Russian Empire, and his mother's family had emigrated from Poland. Since he had his childhood in Queens, New York in a household of East Europeans, he had a language delay, thus causing his vocabulary, spelling and grammar being limited the rest of his life. He remembers his mother’s sense of humor and father’s push for him to find the answer to questions. He had a nine-year younger sister, she majored in astronomy in her education. Excelling in mathematics in high school, he was a member of the honor society and became the New York University Math Championship. He applied to Columbia University but was declined as “their quota for Jewish admissions had been met.” He attended Massachusetts Institute of Technology changing his major from mathematics to physics. While still an undergraduate student, he published two articles in the periodical, “Physical Review.” He earned his bachelor’s degree in 1939. Receiving funding from The William Lowell Putnam Mathematical Competition, he applied to Princeton University, receiving a perfect score in physics on the school’s entrance exam and outstanding in mathematics, yet nearly failing English and History on the exam. This time being Jewish helped him with his admission as a quota had to be met. He received his Ph.D. in 1942 with the thesis “The Principle of Least Action in Quantum Mechanics.” Days after graduation, he married his high school sweetheart in a civil ceremony with strangers as witness, and took his bride to the hospital as she was dying of tuberculosis. During World War II, he assisted in the development of the atomic bomb in what would become the Manhattan Project. He was eventually moved to the Los Alamos Laboratory in New Mexico, and he brought his wife there to a nearby sanatorium. He was assigned to work with Hans Bethe, who would become the 1967 Nobel Prize recipient, and the two scientists developed the Bethe-Feynman Formula for calculating the yield of a fission bomb. Some of their finds would later be used in computers. He was transferred to the Clinton Engineer Works in Oak Ridge, Tennessee, with the assignment to develop procedures for safe handling and storage of uranium to avoid critical accidents. Upon completion of this assignment, he returned to Los Alamos to continue work on the Manhattan Project working closely with 1922 Nobel Price recipient, Niels Bohr. While all of this was happening, his wife died June 16, 1945. After reviewing the job offers made, he was one of the first of the Los Alamos Laboratory's group leaders to depart, leaving for Cornell University in Ithaca, New York in October of 1945. Being depressed from his wife’s death and his father’s sudden 1946 death, he failed the United States Army draft with a 4-F ranking for mental health reasons. During this time, close colleagues, one being, Klaus Emil Julius Fuchs, at Los Alamos Laboratory were being questioning about spying for the government of the USSR. At this point, a huge file on him was made by the FBI, while Fuchs was found guilty in 1950 of spying, serving years in an English prison before going to East Germany to live. Feynman left Cornell University in July of 1949 and eventually stayed in South American for a time, before accepting a position in 1950 at California University of Technology. He married in June of 1952 but was divorced in May of 1958. He remarried for the third time on September 24, 1960, and the couple had a son and later adopted a daughter. In 1979 his health declined and he was diagnosed with liposarcoma, a rare stomach cancer, which was successfully removed, but other surgeries were performed in October of 1986 and again in October of 1987. Still having health problems, in 1986 he was made member of the Rogers Commission, investigating the Space Shuttle Challenger Disaster. He discovered the fatal flaw of the Challenger O-Rings. Battling cancer, he died in 1988. He admits that he never embraced the Jewish faith or any other faith. During his many lectures, he was known to mix humor. Besides the Nobel Prize, he holds the Albert Einstein Award in 1954 and the Ernest Orlando Lawrence Award in 1962. He was a member of the American Physical Society, the American Association for the Advancement of Science; the National Academy of Science; in 1965 he was elected a foreign member of England’s the Royal Society. In 1963 he published the textbook, “The Feynman Lectures on Physics.”

Bio by: Linda Davis


Family Members

Parents
Spouses
Siblings

Advertisement

Advertisement

How famous was Richard Phillips Feynman?

Current rating:

339 votes

Sign-in to cast your vote.

  • Maintained by: Find a Grave
  • Added: 31 Dec 2000
  • Find a Grave Memorial 2562
  • Find a Grave, database and images (www.findagrave.com/memorial/2562/richard-phillips-feynman : accessed ), memorial page for Richard Phillips Feynman (11 May 1918–15 Feb 1988), Find a Grave Memorial ID 2562, citing Mountain View Cemetery and Mausoleum, Altadena, Los Angeles County, California, USA ; Maintained by Find A Grave .