Richard Feynman: The Pleasure of Finding Things Out

Richard Feynman: The Pleasure of Finding Things Out

1981, Science  -   60 Comments
Ratings: 8.70/10 from 1016 users.

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.

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60 Comments / User Reviews

  1. Dan

    Inspiring man . If only more people had the level of curiosity and a father ( parent/teacher) to prompt that interest

  2. MAria

    I see monit: The site does not exist.

  3. Stuartb

    "It's OK NOT to know"....

    That makes me feel better about my limited knowledge of everything... fascinating man !

    1. Stuart Little

      Ignorance is bliss. We need people from sides of the knowledge spectrum.

  4. Vedant Vijay

    Afyer watching this video , I realised how interesting the learning is !

  5. Mike

    Brilliant documentary worth watching if only for how to be a better father.I was weak at physics but watched this out of fascination with great minds that have helped shaped the world and timed in which we live and have all benefited from the hard work of such exceptional minds in one way or another.Particularly touching for me was to see the joy with which he recalled how he would explain the hidden laws of physics to his son by making a story interesting to hear.This is a divine gift many can learn from if one is to enjoy parenthood more and have a greater impact on ones children and others.

  6. Dude

    Makes me want to learn mathmatics all over again.

  7. john emmerton

    Stunning guy.........wish that I could have met him.

  8. MG

    "What's the matter with chemists?"

  9. Chax

    I think he avoided the religious questions for obvious reasons and didn't want to upset anyone. Think about the way he thinks... he hints at his view on it when he mentions the various different spiritual views.

  10. Chax

    That was great. His way of questioning whether something is true should the standard for all "facts".

  11. BT

    Interesting doc. A brilliant mind no doubt. But besides all this praise I cannot get over the fact that he helped to create the atomic bomb. He was celebrating after it went off and hundreds of thousands were killed, and many more more lives for many generations destroyed. He calls himself irrisponsible for good reason. And at the end he clearly shy's away from the mystical and unexplainable side of life or life questions and sticks to science of the explainable, so clearly there will be part of the equasion missing at the end.

    1. Steve Marples

      And he did admit to suffering with depression later though what drew him into the science. which helped to create the A bomb, was a desire to stop Hitler dominating the world.
      I don't think anyone would deny that it worked, providing a deterrent which has worked for a very long time.

    2. Tom Roberts

      True. And he suffered depression from it, to the point where he would call out to people cutting their lawns, or painting their houses, or workers building a bridge and say, 'Why are you bothering? What's the point?' Of course they had no idea what he was talking about, he said. He only knew that after seeing the destructive power of this new weapon and the fact that it was now out there in the world to be replicated, over and over, it was certain humanity was doomed.

      There were thousands of scientists, including Albert Einstein, who worked on the Manhattan Project. Are you disregarding all of them, too? I have lived in Japan for over 30 years. I've never met a Japanese from that era who did not admit that Japan would never have surrendered if not for the bomb. And who acknowledges that the bombs dropped actually saved Japanese lives in the long run. So, it's not as simple as you make it out to be. But then again, today, people like to jump to the simplest conclusions for the most complex issues.

    3. Fandaz

      He did not celebrate after the bomb. He became very concerned and depressed after the event.

  12. TK

    insight into a true genius' mind

  13. Erdaberg

    I teach Maths and Physics to secondary and high school students. Anytime I teach a subject that might include Feynman's explanations, I make my students watch excerpts from his interviews. I haven't seen any student who wasn't impressed by him and who didn't renew their interest in science.

    Especially his "lost lecture" is a must read.

  14. Bruno

    I agree particularly with him when he said that he hated honors. What he calls honor I call vanity. People do things nowadays or have ever been doing things to show off, and not necessarily because they wanted to make some progress useful and important to the world. Seemed to be a really simple and humble man. Someone devoted to science and to life, without being focused on image, fame and other common things that we see in the world. In short, he teaches to look for knowledge in the depths of things and do it seriously, not just to be recognized by society.

  15. The Sun Glider

    Very inspiring documentary. Loved the way he shared the stories of his past.

  16. Koen

    Feynman is cool, so he surely was joking with his definition of classical magnetostatics: perfectly closed on itself current loops "sourced by batteries or generators". That is impossible and unphysical.

  17. Adam

    Ads are so annoying, what site is this hosted on so I know to never visit it? Documentary is awesome though

    1. Achems Razor

      get yourself an ad-blocker

  18. danos

    Im glad he has shown recognition for people were dying while they were playing drums and partying and that after the war turned his back on that kinda research. Great man could listen to him talk and talk very interesting guy.

  19. Aurelie

    Well, I started the video just out of curiosity, to see for the first time how Richard Feynman actually was and talked.. And I only realized I didn't stop when it finished. This surprisingly made me feel happy and peaceful. How nice to "discuss" science with a great mind and get away from everything for an hour!

  20. danwalter

    Reminds me of Krishnamurti.

  21. Chigwalla

    Just watched this again on a dreary Saturday afternoon for the umpteenth time.
    Whenever anyone asks me if I "could have a conversation with anyone, living or dead", my go-to is to have Richard Feynman come back and explain the Universal Theory to my dumb ass.

  22. Eric Straayer

    So nice to have a filmmaker allow the subject, person, to just tell her/his story without interruption. I think Errol Morris does this, with a bit of intervention or intrusion, but mostly the same way. To allow the subject of the film to present the self as it is, with little interference, or none as this case is, is terrific. Certainly there is editing and there were questions asked, but the final narrative, the self exposure, is a kind of empathy, rather than some dictum. Tres bien. As it were. es

  23. lee

    so has anyone finally solved his problem that he was working on at the time of this film?

  24. Thunders

    He was a POET.Nobody thinks of Physicist as artist, only musicians or painters, but what else can be more creative than to elaborate a different view of reality or to discover an universal law that changes our technology?
    If Noah and his Arch happened today, definitely i wopuld not want politicians , economist, doctors of surgery, even architechs, they don´t know the basics laws and formulas under which their instruments work, without the physicist we definitely would go back to caves, no Internet, no electricity, no Laser, No GPS, No Mobile, No cars, No plains, no NOTHING
    We owe all our confort lifes to people like Feynmann, all others really are irrelevant.
    No sportsman, no politician, no economist, no doctor helped to advance humanity at all, they just go to congresses to learn from physicist and creative investigators new tecniques to apply them without even knowing how it works.
    You think an computer technitian knows how to really build from scratch a computer, applying all the quantum mecanics involved?
    No way

  25. SadAcademic

    This makes me sad for the state of science today.
    Feynman said it used to be the case that the university hires you so it's their risk if you fail. You're just figuring stuff out. Now it's the scientists' risk. It's now on scientists to do all the jobs: do the science, get the funding, explain to the public, teach, and take the risks.

  26. gwhosubex

    Now this is how you think like a sane, sound, rational, curious, interesting person.

  27. Taboo Brains

    How can one NOT like Richard Feynman?

  28. yoeyyutch

    I think it's so neat how he is able to pull me into his stories in such a way that my mind floats off into the world he is describing. Then every once in a while I snap back to my present reality thinking these kind of thoughts until once again he whisks me away on another little journey.

  29. jarredon1

    He has purpose, to figure out what is going on in this crazy world with his extraordinary mind. We all have the choice to make our own purpose of this life which is our purpose. I believe anyway. Good Doc!!!

    1. jaberwokky

      If only we all had the razor sharp mind and incredibly creative nature that doctor Feynman had. Ah to live but to dream ...

    2. gwhosubex

      Not to downplay Feynman, but it's much more achievable than we think. He's exceptional in part because most other people are shackled down by bad parents, bad schools, violence around them, social reinforcement of all the negative things, etc.

      We can and have, and learned a great deal about learning and mechanisms of cognition by apply science towards that.

      Hitting doesn't work. Engage and develop relationships with kids. Touching, caressing babies creates neural pathways. Teach them stuff. Enjoy and be curious and explore things together. Explicitly explain empiricism. Warn them about charlatans, inoculate their minds by teaching them what is already available to us: scientific thinking.

  30. jaberwokky

    An excellent interview with the late Richard Feynman in which is glimpsed his unique approach to teaching and learning along with a little of his personal philosophies. This is the kind of character that I could listen to all day.

  31. TimOsmand

    Helped kill like a quarter of a million people, but man, what a charmer. Love this dude.

  32. joseph orlando

    Samir Feynman is not devoid of an interest in the Humanities, rather it was not pimary as his physics were. See Feynman's letters published by his daughter.
    Feynman is a rascal and Prince among men.

  33. Winston Smith

    So awesome! Read (or listen to) 'Surely You're Joking Mr Feynman'

  34. Kristján Klausen

    Sincere and superb!

  35. shawn

    This whole doc is a bit self loathing. I'm sure he's smart as all $hit but still it's a bit lame

  36. Saif

    Unfortunately I never heard of this man until now and I know it's not physics that influenced me to watch this documentary but the simplicity of this man's words and the way he expresses things. I think he represents those human beings who want to do things in their own way rather than going for the conventional way which is to impress others and he got a great personality.
    Im sure you won't feel bad at all after watching this article.

  37. Samir

    This is the first Richard Feynman interview/documentary I've seen. I'd like to know more about Physics so I'll watch some more of his documentaries. However, I don't think he is the amazing explainer that these comments make him out to be. That is because he's only schooled in Physics and Maths which he says himself in this interview. He puts down the humanities a number of times, but most people who need an accessible Physics teacher will be from non-scientific backgrounds.

  38. Wayne

    "I can live with doubt and uncertainty and not knowing, I think it is much more interesting to live with doubt than to have answers that may be wrong" –Feynman. That is beautiful poetry, a work of Art. I ‘m impress with his intellectual integrity.

  39. SweetLeaf

    @trim - "im not impressed"

    Everyone is entitled to their own opinion, but to have one that differs from about 93% of the comments posted above and give no explanation as to why you have this wayward opinion, just seems pointless. Most of the people that come on TDF read these comments to see if the documentary is worth watching or not (at least i do this), and your comment doesn't assist one bit in one's decision. Not only am i perturbed by your comment, it also gets to me on a sort of personal level as well. I am a huge fan of Richard Feynman (the father of QED), very rarely does humanity produce such an ingenious mind, and with such an affable personality to boot. Maybe you have an admissible reason or maybe your comment was just perfunctory. That being said, next time just expand or like TRUTHSEEKER said "Please elaborate". No need to be inane.


    Please elaborate. Why not?

  41. trim

    im not impressed

  42. ber

    great doc, and great personalitie.

  43. Ted

    WOW! I almost passed this one over... very glad I didn't! This man, whom I've unfortunately never heard of, is a genius in far more than the conventional definition of the word. Extremely inspiring and thought provoking! My mind is spinning with things I could say about this film, so I will say only that i agree with almost all previous comments and feel the same as Barbara. Thanks Phil for the link; next on my "to watch" list.

  44. Eff

    The book: Surely you're joking Mister Feynman
    is a fun read. It tells of his time spent at Los Alamos
    on the big bomb project and his whimsical nature toying
    with co-workers and picking locks etc.
    Check it out your local library...2-thumbs up!

    @ Achems Razor: its rather easy to comprehend
    what's all out there...and not difficult at all!
    just imagine every possible micro-cosmic and macro-cosmic
    entity and improbable scenario in the multiverse...
    then multiply those thoughts by 10-to the exponent 10
    See! Easy Huh? Mind-over-all-that-dark-matter...LOL

    @ Jack Green: "To err is human"...
    otherwise we wouldn't need to improve on
    the damn technology. LOL

  45. Jack Green

    @Achems Razor

    That's why we invented technology. It can grow beyond ourselves.

  46. Kumar Sanghvi

    Wonderful story-telling.... very nice documentary!!

  47. Max

    Thank for the Ted link Phil.

  48. Barbara Rosales

    When this doc. ended I wondered how I could keep it with me. The knowledge, the attitude are so vital to me I feel sad I will not retain the information. ah I could add it to my iphone perhaps.

  49. Matt

    Excellent film! I feel as though my brain has expanded. :-)
    Very interesting documentary and Feynman has a very organic way of expressing technicalities and makes it fairly easy to understand. He's quite the character, very colorful.

  50. KT

    "I'm not scared of not knowing it all" he said :D how absolutely cool a statement. I like this man.

  51. Achems Razor

    An interesting talk from a top Theoretical Physicist.

    One thing Feynman said, we are just not in proportion. The size of the Earth, the size of us, are just not in proportion to the size of the Universe to fully understand everything.

    We can far from comprehend everything that is out there.

    And until we do, there will be no absolute answers.

  52. Yavanna

    After 15 minutes of this video I thought "why is this cab driver deserved of a video." I started to formulate reasons to trash it. Then it started to make sense. You must watch beyond the first 15 minutes to find out why. This guy speaks English and fluently speaks "science" He is a genius in its purist form. An ordinary guy (clearly NOT) to whom the truth just clicked.

    This doc is an excellent example of persevering beyond the veneer!

  53. Observer

    I can't believe how excellent this documentary is, he is truly a great story teller and has a quite unique way of thinking , and also a brilliant man. He looks a lot like client eastwood is this doucmentary. Don't be fooled by the low quality, worth a watch.