Friday, October 25, 2019

James Lincoln to Portray Richard Feynman

As part of PhysicsCon 2020 - Celebration of Physics, James Lincoln (AAPTFilms) will portray Richard Feynman, accent and all, and give a 1 hour lecture on physics – with questions. The lecture will take place in the same Caltech lecture hall that Richard Feynman delivered his famous lectures in 1962-63. Richard Feynman (1918-1988) is often regarded as the greatest teacher of physics and brought colorful stories and eccentricities along with his enthusiastic instruction. In this lecture, Lincoln celebrates the mannerisms, energy, charisma, and gusto of the Nobel-Prize-winning professor as he might have been when he stood in the same place all those years ago.

Where did you get the idea to do this?

            “I didn’t set out to set out to impersonate Richard Feynman, but I have been studying his work for a long time,” says Lincoln. “As I became a teacher myself, I learned more about Feynman the man, and I was intrigued by his work on the Challenger Investigation; an event I remember. But my favorite aspect has always been these lectures, and I wanted to actually watch one to know more about how they were made.”

How did you prepare for this lecture?

            “I already had listened to all of the original audio recordings of The Feynman Lectures on Physics, which are available on CDs, and I got at my local library. These helped me understand what it was like to attend these lectures, but also I became very familiar with the teaching style of Richard Feynman. I was always impressed by Feynman’s enthusiasm for physics and in the recordings, there are a lot of ‘Feynmanisms’ – quirks, tricks, and untold stories - that didn’t make it into the three red books. I shared some of these at a national AAPT meeting [American Association of Physics Teachers].”

What makes you think you can pull this impersonation?

“Well, during my presentation I would often have to quote him [Feynman] and I found I was able to imitate his voice and word choice quite easily. I have always done voices and impressions, and I also did plays in high school, and of course I make films. But Richard Feynman is a unique character to play because he was also a great physicist. I think it might take a physicist to get this part right. Hopefully, people will learn some physics as well as get a chance to experience one of these historic lectures. I suppose that I am mostly doing this for the fun of it, which is very much in the spirit of Feynman, and probably the only reason he might approve of such a performance.”

PhysicsCon 2020 is set to take place in the Feynman Lecture Hall of Caltech and features demo shows, workshops, and other talks on physics. 

Register to attend at