The College Years

After graduating from high school, Feynman moved on to MIT. While there Feynman joined a fraternity (it's rather odd to think of a physicist as a member of a fraternity but Feynman wasn't exactly your ordinary physicist). One of my favotite stories of Feynman's come's from his time in the fraternity. The following is basically a summary of the full story taken from "Surely You're Joking Mr. Feynman!"

Early one morning Feynman was wondering around the fraternity's house because he couldn't sleep, and he noticed a door to a room missing. Instead there was a sign hanging there that said "Please shut the door!." The guys whose room it was were always in there doing work and whenever someone would come in to ask them a question, as the person left, they would always yell "Please shut the door!" So Feynman, figured someone had finally got annoyed and taken the door. This particular room, had two doors, so he took the other one and hides it downstairs behind the oil tank, and then pretended to go back to sleep.

When everyone woke up, they discovered the missing doors, and they started asking around. They got to Feynman and asked if he knew anything, he told him that he took the door, they didn't believe him.

Eventually they figured out who took the first door, but they never got who took the second one. One night while they were sitting down for dinner, the fraternity president said that they really needed to find that other door, and wanted suggestions on how to find it. Feynman stands up and basically says, that whoever did it should just leave an anonymous note saying where the door is. Then somebody else, made the suggestion that they go around the table and the president ask everyone, on their word of honor, if they took the door. So they get to Feynman, and he says "Yeah, I took the door." To which he gets the response, "Cut it out Feynman, this is serious!". The went around the entire table and nobody admitted to taking the door, they were quite upset. So the nex morning, Feynman leaves a note telling where the door is. A couple of month's later it comes out that he was the one who stole the door, everyone accused him of lying, when the entire time he told the truth. This one of the best examples of Feynman's sense of humor.

Naturally, at MIT, Feynman studied physics. One interesting note, although he excelled in the sciences he did not like liberal arts classes and got by as he put it in his book Surely You're Joking Mr. Feynman! by faking. For example, he got through several English classes by writing a parody of the work that he was asked to analyze, and some how the professor accepted his work.

Feynman enjoyed his time at MIT a lot, in fact he would have done is post-graduate work there had his advisor told him that MIT would not accept him if he applied. Not because he was a bad student, quite the contrary, Feynman's advisor merely wanted him to see that there were things happening in science outside of MIT.

Feynman from MIT in 1939, afterwardshe went back home to Far Rockaway. There Feynman ran into a childhood friend. This friend of his turned out ran a company in New York City known as the MetaPlast Corporation. He had developed a method for coating plastics with metal, and needed some help in the lab, so Feynman was hired. It turns out the company had about six employees and the Feynman was the only one working in the lab, so for a summer he served as the Chief Research Chemist for the MetaPlast Corporation for a summer

Instead of his first choice for post-graduate work, MIT, Feynman attended Princeton. While it Princeton, Feynman continued to pursue physics. He didn't just do physics, though; he dabbled in biology, argued with the mathematicians, and even discussed philosophy with the philosophy majors. He did not neglect his physics, though, while there he helped come up with a classical explanation for the energy loss that occurs when a single electron is oscillated. John Wheeler, the physicist Feynman was working under, wanted Feynman to give a speech on the explanation that he had developed. This was his first presentation. Naturally he was nervous, but then he found out who was going to attend he got more nervous. Albert Einstein and Wolfgang Pauli were among some of the scientists to attend. His presentation went just fine.

When the US became involved in WWII, and the Manhattan Project was started Feynman moved to Los Alamos to work on the project. He later finished his post-graduate work.

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