Richard Feynman was a scientific genius with – in his words – a “limited intelligence”. This dichotomy is just one of the characteristics that made him a fascinating subject. The Pleasure of Finding Things Out exposes us to many more of these intriguing attributes by featuring an extensive conversation with the acclaimed Nobel Prize winner.
During the course of the interview, which was conducted in 1981, Feynman uses the undeniable power of the personal to convey otherwise challenging scientific theories. His colorful and lucid stories make abstract concepts tangible, and his warm presence is sure to inspire interest and awe from even the most reluctant student of science. His insights are profound, but his delivery is anything but dry and ostentatious.
Heralded as one of the greatest physicists of all time, his curiosity was nurtured by his military father, who encouraged him to explore and comprehend the world around him in a manner that transcended textbooks and grade school teachings. Armed with a restless thirst for knowledge, he felt constrained as a young boy by an educational system that favored memorization techniques over true learning. His observations of early boyhood experiences – when he questioned everything from the composition of a flower to the nature of inertia – clue us in on the birth and evolution of a great mind.
The film isn’t all about childhood wonder and the innocence of discovery, however. After having established himself as an undeniable talent in the world of physics, his expertise was called upon to assist in the development of the atom bomb during World War II. His essential involvement in the Manhattan Project, and the catastrophic loss of life it eventually wrought, left him severely tormented. His self-doubt soon rectified itself in the form of historic research and theory development, influential teaching assignments, and from achieving the top prize in his field – the Nobel Prize in physics.
Filmed just seven short years prior to his untimely death, The Pleasure of Finding Things Out is a highly engrossing tribute to a towering intellect, and a valuable reminder of how the complex beauty and potential consequences of science impact us all.