James Gleick calls the flight from Europe to the United States in the mid-1930s, ‘the greatest intellectual migration in history.’ The aptness of his description struck me and I wanted to record it here. [James Gleick, Genius: Richard Feynman and Modern Physics, Abacus, London, 2006, p. 167]
- Ad Reinhardt, from the Black Paintings, 1966
On Physical Intuition, compare with Donnellan’s million muscles (here):
- Ad Reinhardt, first figure (inverted) from Symmetrical Three Figure Hatch (Male into Female), 1946
A certain kind of pragmatic, working theorist valued a style of thinking based on a kind of seeing and feeling. That was what physical intuition meant. Feynman said to Dyson, and Dyson agreed, that Einstein’s great work had sprung from physical intuition and that when Einstein stopped creating it was because “he stopped thinking in concrete physical images and became a manipulator of equations.” Intuition was not just visual but also auditory and kinesthetic.
- Ad Reinhardt, second figure (inverted) from ibid.
Those who watched Feynman in moments of intense concentration came away with a strong, even disturbing sense of the physicality of the process, as though his brain did not stop with the grey matter but extended through every muscle in his body.
- Ibid., p. 244
- Ad Reinhardt, third figure (inverted) from ibid.
the best of, one of, all possible worlds:
Even to physicists well accustomed to theoretical constructions with awkward philosophical implications, Feynman’s summings of paths – path integrals – seemed bizarre. They conjured a universe where no potential goes uncounted; where nothing is latent, everything alive; where every possibility makes itself felt in the outcome.
- Ibid., p. 249
- Ad Reinhardt, Symmetrical Two Travelers, 1946