The dark side of a scientific hero

The resultant problem is one of disentangling Feynman-the-great-physicist from Feynman-the-sexual-predator. His accomplishments in science will outlive all the political and social issues of our time. They are objective. His equations and calculations have been verified countless times (Some of them by me). The theory of Quantum Electrodynamics, which he, Julian Schwinger, Sin-Itiro Tomonaga, and Freeman Dyson developed has been verified to many decimal places, and set the direction for much of theoretical physics ever since. “Feynman diagrams” have been a standard technique for visualizing and calculating physical problems for well over 60 years.

One way is to remove the human element. I once looked at a Soviet era Russian physics textbook, which carefully discussed “the diagram method” (Feynman diagrams), without attribution, for reasons that have nothing to do with the issue of this post. You could do that here, but if you did it consistently you would eliminate almost all humanity from the history of science. Issues with Newton, Einstein, Schrödinger, and Marie Curie come immediately to mind.

However, the issue cannot be ignored, as this cartoon reminds us. That in turn reminded me that I once heard John Bardeen give a colloquium at Stanford. He was not nearly as good a lecturer as Feynman.

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