Sunday, March 09, 2008

Empty snail shell and a Feynman quote

I just had to pass this one on;

On SNAIL'S TALES, Aydin Orstan writes on The pleasure of finding a snail shell, and quotes Richard Feynman:
I don't see that it makes any point that someone in the Swedish Academy decides that his [someone's] work is noble enough to receive a prize. I've already got the prize. The prize is the pleasure of finding the thing out, the kick in the discovery, the observation of other people using it. Those are the real things, the honours are unreal to me.
This is one of my favourite quotes, and one I repeat to myself frequently. "... the pleasure of finding things out..." This pleasure, this thrill, if you will, is what keeps me prodding and poking at an insect, or Googling obscure details about tegenaria cephalothorax patterns.

I own Feynman's book by the same name; "The Pleasure of Finding Things Out". I'll add to Aydin's quote another from the same lecture, this one of special relevance to birders:
... my father had taught me. Looking at a bird, he says, "Do you know what that bird is? It's a brown-throated thrush; but in Portuguese it's a ..., in Italian a ...," he says, "in Chinese it's a ..., in Japanese a ...," etcetera. "Now," he says, "you know in all the languages you want to know what the name of that bird is and when you're finished with all that," he says, "you will know absolutely nothing whatever about the bird. You only know about humans in different places and what they call the bird. Now," he says, "let's look at the bird."
Precisely. Now go on over and look at Aydin's snail shell.

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