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Feynman’s Epilogue

Going through all of the famous Feynman lectures may not be for you, though I do recommend many of them, but reading some of Feynman’s popular work is highly recommended as is learning a little bit more about him. I very much appreciated his comments to close his few years of teaching “Intro” physics at Caltech (intro is in quotes for good reason):

Well, I’ve been talking to you for two years and now I’m going to quit. In some ways I would like to apologize, and other ways not. I hope—in fact, I know—that two or three dozen of you have been able to follow everything with great excitement, and have had a good time with it. But I also know that “the powers of instruction are of very little efficacy except in those happy circumstances in which they are practically superfluous.” So, for the two or three dozen who have understood everything, may I say I have done nothing but shown you the things. For the others, if I have made you hate the subject, I’m sorry. I never taught elementary physics before, and I apologize. I just hope that I haven’t caused a serious trouble to you, and that you do not leave this exciting business. I hope that someone else can teach it to you in a way that doesn’t give you indigestion, and that you will find someday that, after all, it isn’t as horrible as it looks.

Finally, may I add that the main purpose of my teaching has not been to prepare you for some examination—it was not even to prepare you to serve industry or the military. I wanted most to give you some appreciation of the wonderful world and the physicist’s way of looking at it, which, I believe, is a major part of the true culture of modern times. (There are probably professors of other subjects who would object, but I believe that they are completely wrong.).

Perhaps you will not only have some appreciation of this culture; it is even possible that you may want to join in the greatest adventure that the human mind has ever begun.

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