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Richard Feynman Talks About Light

The Daily Music Break often re-posts from earlier in the site’s run. This post originally appeared on April 24, 2012. It is the only video the site has ever posted that has nothing to do with music.

One of the great things about running your own website is that you can break any rule you want to. (That includes ending a sentence with a preposition.) The embedded video here has nothing directly to do with music. It is worth noting however, that physicist Richard Feynman — considered to be in Einstein’s class of genius — played bongos in bands to relax. Also, there is a lot of math in music.

Feynman was quite a character, and very funny. His books, Surely You’re Joking, Mr. Feynman (Adventures of a Curious Character)ย and What Do You Care What Other People Think? (Further Advetures of a Curious Character) are not primarily about math or physics.

The whole story, including the science, is told in Genius: The Life and Science of Richard Feynman by James Gleick. Assorted quotes from Feynman can be found at Wikiquote. Believe it or not, one of his great contributions aren’t numbers. Feynman diagrams are squiggles representing how subatomic particles move.

The famous Feynman Physics Lectures are here. Here is a bio of Feynman, who was born in Far Rockaway, N.Y., worked on the Manhattan Project and led the commission that investigated the explosion of the space shuttle Challenger. A couple of other shorter clips are Jiggling Atoms and The Uncertainty of Knowledge. Longer lectures in which he explains his theories to people much smarter than me are available on YouTube.

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Here’s What’s Here

The Daily Music Break explores every genre of music, from hip hop to opera. It's simple: Boundaries are dumb. It's all good. Here is more about the site and here is our index:

--A Tribe Called Quest to The Dick Hyman Trio (In other words, A to H)

--Indigo Girls to Queen Ida (I to Q)

--Radiohead to ZZ Top (R to Z)

Reading Music

The stories of the great bands and musicians are fascinating. Musicians as a group are brilliant, but often troubled. The combination of creativity and drama makes for great reading.

Here are some books to check out.

Duke Ellington brought class, sophistication and style to jazz which, until that point, was proudly unpolished and raucous. His story is profound. The author, Terry Teachout, also wrote "Pops," the acclaimed bio of Louis Armstrong. Click here or on the image.


What else is there to say? Here is the story behind every song written by The Beatles. Click here or on the image.


The Grateful Dead don't get enough credit for the profound nature of its lyrics. Many of the band's songs are driven by a deep and literate Americana ("I'm Uncle Sam/That's who I am/Been hidin' out/In a rock and roll band" and "Majordomo Billy Bojangles/Sit down and have a drink with me/What's this about Alabama/Keeps comin' back to me?").

David Dodd's exhaustive study tells the story, song by song. Click here or on the image.