Richard P Feynman was one of this century's most brilliant theoretical physicists and original thinkers. Born in Far Rockaway, New York, in 1918 he studied at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, where he graduated with a BS in 1939. He went on to Princeton and received his Ph.D. in 1942 During the war years he worked at the Los Alamos Scientific Laboratory. He became Professor of Theoretical Physics at Cornell University, where he worked with Hans Bethe. He all but rebuilt the theory of quantum electrodynamics and high-energy physics and it was for this work that he shared the Nobel Prize in 1965. Feynman was a visiting professor at the California Institute of Technology in 1950, where he later accepted a permanent faculty appointment, and became Richard Chace Tolman Professor of Theoretical Physics in 1959. He had an extraordinary ability to communicate his science to audiences at all levels, and was a well-known and popular lecturer. Richard Feynman died in 1988 after a long illness. Freeman Dyson of the Institute for Advanced Study in Princeton, New Jersey, called him `the most original mind of his generation', while in its obiturary The New York Times described him as `arguably the most brilliant, iconoclastic and influential of the postwar generation of theoretical physicists'.
A number of collections and adaptations of his lectures have been published, including The Feynman Lectures on Physics, QED (Penguin, 1990) The Character of Physical Law (Penguin, 1992) Six Easy Pieces (Penguin 1998 The Meaning of It All (Penguin 1999) Six Not-So-Easy Pieces (Penguin, 1999), The Feynman Lectures on Gravitation (Penguin, 1999) and The Feynman Lectures on Computation (Penguin, 1999). His memoirs, Surely You're Joking, Mr Feynman were published in 1985.