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Saturday, June 15, 2013

Feynman's Red Book (on the Sino-Indian Frontier)

Today I bought a copy of "Feynman's Tips on Physics."   I wasn't sure about buying it, but this story in Ralph Leighton's foreword convinced me:  

"At a lonely border post high on the Himalayan frontier, Ramaswamy Balasubramanian peered through his binoculars at the People's Liberation Army soldiers stationed in Tibet ― who were peering through their scopes back at him. Tensions between India and China had been high for several years since 1962, when the two countries traded shots across their disputed border. The PLA soldiers, knowing they were being watched, taunted Balasubramanian and his fellow Indian soldiers by shaking, defiantly, high in the air their pocket-sized, bright-red copies of Quotations from Chairman Mao ― better known in the West as "Mao's Little Red Book."

Balasubramanian, then a conscript studying physics in his spare time, soon grew tired of these taunts. So one day, he came to his observation post prepared with a suitable rejoinder. As soon as the PLA soldiers started waving Mao's Little Red Book in the air again, he and two fellow Indian soldiers picked up and held aloft the three, big, bright-red volumes of The Feynman Lectures on Physics.

One day I received a letter from Mr. Balasubramanian.  His was among the hundreds I have received through the years describing the lasting impact Richard Feynman has had on people's lives.  After describing the "red-books" incident on the Sino-Indian Frontier, he wrote, 'Now, twenty years later, whose red books are still being read?' "   

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  1. http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/science-environment-13041326 The articles that are related to this one are interesting as they discuss --albeit in light terms-- the various problems and connundrums involved in transcending the numerous boundaries that prevent us from (fill in the blank)...73 RBB


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