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The Feynman Variations

28 minutes
First broadcast:
Wednesday 29 September 2010

Brian Cox presents a tribute to Richard Feynman.

Widely regarded as the finest physicist of his generation and the most influential since Einstein, Feynman did much to popularise science, through lectures, books and television, not least his revelation at a press conference in which he demonstrated the exact cause of the Challenger Shuttle explosion in 1986.

Described as the 'Mozart of physics', Feynman's amazing life and career seemingly had no end of highlights.

A student at MIT and then Princeton (where he obtained an unprecedented perfect score on the entrance exam for maths and physics), he was drafted onto the Manhattan Project as a junior scientist.

There his energy and talents made a significant mark on two of the project's leaders, Robert Oppenheimer and Hans Bethe.

The latter would become Feynman's lifelong mentor and friend.

Bethe called his student "a magician", setting him apart from other scientists as 'no ordinary genius'.

In 1965, Feynman shared a Nobel Prize for his unique contribution to the field of Quantum Electrodynamics making him the most celebrated, influential and best known American Physicist of his generation

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    He fell in love with the place but died a week before he finally got a visa to visit.

    Ilona Vinogradova from the Russian Service takes his daughter Michelle to visit the land of nomads and throat singers that her father dreamt of.

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