Feynman on Knowing versus Understanding

The title of this blog is a nod to something the great physicist and Nobel laureate Richard Feynman once said. Here is a great clip one of his lectures where he talks about the difference between knowing and understanding. It gives a good insight into how a theoretical physicist can hold several different theories in their head to explain a phenomenon, but  not know which is the correct explanation.

He also gives a great example of ancient Mayan astronomers who were able to predict astronomical phenomena very accurately but had no underlying theory for what the physical reality that produced these phenomena, e.g. they did not know what the moon was but they could accurately predict its phases.

Please excuse his assumption that physicists are men – he was very much a product of a different time.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s