Wednesday, May 27, 2009

A Good Essay From The Past

I first read the essay by Danny Hillis about Richard Feynman and the Connection Machine about two decades ago and by chance read it again today. I still like it very much.

An Excerpt:

...For Richard, figuring out these problems was a kind of a game. He always started by asking very basic questions like, "What is the simplest example?" or "How can you tell if the answer is right?" He asked questions until he reduced the problem to some essential puzzle that he thought he would be able to solve. Then he would set to work, scribbling on a pad of paper and staring at the results. While he was in the middle of this kind of puzzle solving he was impossible to interrupt. "Don't bug me. I'm busy," he would say without even looking up. Eventually he would either decide the problem was too hard (in which case he lost interest), or he would find a solution (in which case he spent the next day or two explaining it to anyone who listened). In this way he worked on problems in database searches, geophysical modeling, protein folding, analyzing images, and reading insurance forms...

If you like science, or want to have a glimpse of how one of the finest minds of our species operated, you might want to check it out.

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