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Richard Phillips Feynman

(1918—1988) American theoretical physicist


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(1918–1988)

US physicist, who was awarded the 1965 Nobel Prize for Physics for his work as one of the founders of quantum electrodynamics (QED) and the inventor of Feynman diagrams.

Educated at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and Princeton, where he gained his PhD in 1942, Feynman moved immediately to Los Alamos to work on the development of the atomic bomb. After the war Feynman taught at Cornell until 1950, when he was appointed to the chair of physics at California Institute of Technology.

In the late 1940s Feynman claimed that he could not understand the version of quantum mechanics presented in the textbooks. Consequently, he developed his own much simpler version, which enabled calculations that had previously taken weeks to be completed in hours. The results were also more accurate and enabled physical processes that lay beyond the scope of conventional quantum theory to be tackled. Feynman's approach uses a number of simple diagrams and a series of rules; manipulating them correctly enables the theory to describe with great precision the behaviour of electrons and other particles in all their complex interactions.


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