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Feynman poetry, in praise of engineers

Posted: Tue, 25 Nov 2014, 16:03
by weber
I just came across this passage from the Feynman Lectures on Physics again after many years. It still brings tears to my eyes. It describes something that modern civilisation takes for granted, but describes it in terms which are completely unfamiliar to most of us and yet are completely accurate, and thereby lets us see it anew, and appreciate the efforts of the engineers who invented and designed it, and of those who will invent and design the systems of tomorrow.

What is Boulder Dam?

http://web.iitd.ac.in/~shouri/eel101/do ... nology.pdf

Feynman poetry, in praise of engineers

Posted: Tue, 25 Nov 2014, 16:56
by a4x4kiwi
What great reading. Here is the full compliment online.


http://www.feynmanlectures.caltech.edu/

Feynman poetry, in praise of engineers

Posted: Tue, 13 Jan 2015, 17:48
by weber
Here is another physicist's unusual and brilliant view of electricity, and our present day problems:
Electricity is not like fuel or fire, but we continue to treat it as if it is.
What should governments do about energy? -- Walt Patterson

Feynman poetry, in praise of engineers

Posted: Tue, 13 Jan 2015, 20:00
by coulomb
weber wrote: Electricity is not like fuel or fire...

In a "can't help myself" moment:

Image

Owww! Fire indeed hot!

The above article does go on about the evils of fire quite a lot. An entertaining read, which seems to get most of it right (in my opinion), even if some details are a little grating.

For example, I don't put energy on my shopping list, not because I don't want it, but because it's not sold in stores, and I have to buy it on a contract like I buy mobile phone data. [ Edit: but I do agree that energy is only a means to another end, and in that sense, I don't put energy on my shopping list. But then, neither do I put light, force, transportation... on my shopping list, either. ]

Feynman poetry, in praise of engineers

Posted: Wed, 14 Jan 2015, 05:57
by weber
coulomb wrote:... even if some details are a little grating.

For example, I don't put energy on my shopping list, not because I don't want it, but because it's not sold in stores, and I have to buy it on a contract like I buy mobile phone data. [ Edit: but I do agree that energy is only a means to another end, and in that sense, I don't put energy on my shopping list. But then, neither do I put light, force, transportation... on my shopping list, either. ]

I thought his point was that you don't buy "energy" (of arbitrary kind) at all, on contract or otherwise, but you do buy fuel and you do buy electricity. One is chemical, the other physical, and this difference matters very much. Lumping them both together as "energy" obscures this, and it is in the interest of the corporations that sell them to you, to do so.

Feynman poetry, in praise of engineers

Posted: Wed, 14 Jan 2015, 16:53
by PlanB
'Fire electricity', love it. The labels we use make me smile. When I was a youngster MRI was called NMR, but the N got quietly dropped dropped because 'nuclear' has bad vibes. When I can afford to charge the Leaf from solar I was going to say the car runs on sunlight but I may change it to 'nuclear powered' now in a nod to the big fusion reactor that powers all the solar panels

Feynman poetry, in praise of engineers

Posted: Wed, 14 Jan 2015, 18:35
by weber
Kids in the future (if there is one):

"Are you seriously telling me you used to generate electricity by burning stuff!!!? How did you not figure out that was going to f**k up the atmosphere? What! You knew the whole time, but you just kept doing it! Man! What a bunch of arseholes."

There are few crimes more despicable than stealing from children.

Yes, 150 gigametres is about the right distance to keep a nuclear reactor away from living things. And even then we rely on some pretty serious shielding, both material and magnetic.

Feynman poetry, in praise of engineers

Posted: Sun, 18 Oct 2015, 00:56
by weber
Here's another Feynman rap that brings tears to my eyes for its utter intellectual honesty (I know because I have studied this physics and tried to teach it).