During my High School, I came to know about Richard Feynman through his famous set books “The Feynman Lectures in Physics.” I could allude my change in plan from becoming an Electrical Engineer to a Physicist to this book. This set of three books are not any textbooks that teach you Physics, but they teach you how to think in terms of Physics, understand the working of a universe from a unique perspective, and most importantly, they guide you to develop an intuitive approach towards Physics.

## The Beginning

Richard Phillips Feynman was born on 11 May 1918 in Far Rockaway to Lucille and Melville Feynman. From an early age, Richard was highly influenced by his father, Melville, who encouraged him to ask questions to established ideas. When he was 11 or twelve, he had set up a small laboratory in his house, consisting of wooden boxes, a heater which he recalls using a lot, cooking french fries, a storage battery, and a lamp bank. During this time, he also developed quite a reputation for repairing old broken radios.

## High School to MIT

At the age of 15, Feynman was way ahead of his fellow classmates; he learned trigonometry, infinite series, higher algebra, calculus, and analytic geometry all by himself. He even created his own notation system for the trigonometric functions as he did not like the symbols generally used for these functions.

In his own words, “While I was doing all this trigonometry, I didn’t like the symbols for sine, cosine, tangent, and so on. To me, “sin f” looked like s times i times n times f! So I invented another symbol, like a square root sign, that was a sigma with a long arm sticking out of it, and I put the f underneath. For the tangent it was a tau with the top of the tau extended, and for the cosine, I made a kind of gamma, but it looked a little bit like the square root sign.”

Feynman was a member of the Arista Honor Society in his high school, and he won the New York University Math Championship. Feynman went on to the Massachusetts Institute of Technology to pursue a degree in Mathematics, but he changed his major to Electrical Engineering, finding Mathematics to be too abstract for his taste. Finally, he majored in Physics to settle somewhere in between. Feynman also won the Putnam during his undergraduate years at MIT. He also published two papers, one with Manuel Vallarta called “The Scattering of Cosmic Rays by the Stars of a Galaxy.”, another called the “Forces in Molecules.” This paper introduced what is known as the Hellmann-Feynman Theorem.

## Princeton and the Cyclotron

Feynman intended to do his Ph.D. at MIT, but upon meeting Professor John Slater to inform him of his intention, Professor Slater asked him why he chose MIT for his Graduate School, and Feynman replied, “Because MIT is the best school for science in the country.” The professor then gleefully said, “That’s why you should go to some other school. You should find out how the rest of the world is.”

So, in 1939, after Feynman graduated from MIT, he went to Princeton for his graduate school to earn a Ph.D. in Physics. He attained perfect scores in Mathematics and Physics in the Entrance Exam for the Graduate Program in Physics, an unprecedented feat during that time. On his first Monday at Princeton, Feynman went to the cyclotron at Princeton University. Before coming to Princeton, he had read many papers on the experiments in the cyclotron, and most of the papers were published by the researchers at Princeton. When he went to the basement where the cyclotron was present, he saw wires all over, with dangling switches and cooling water dripping from the valves, with tables full of equipment which Feynman describes as ” it was the most godawful mess you ever saw.”

It reminded him of his lab at home, very different from the cyclotron’s sophisticated engineering marvel at MIT. He concluded, “I suddenly realized why Princeton was getting results. They were working with the instrument. They *built *the instrument; they knew where everything was, they knew how everything worked, there was no engineer involved, except maybe he was working there too. It was much smaller than the cyclotron at MIT, and “gold-plated”?–it was the exact opposite. When they wanted to fix a vacuum, they’d drip glyptal on it, so there were drops of glyptal on the floor. It was wonderful! Because they *worked *with it. They didn’t have to sit in another room and push buttons!”