After years of worshipping, the backfire is unleashed on Richard Feynman, although I don’t think he cares much now (both for the worship and the backfire).
I am twice bewildered: first by this sudden worship and second by this sudden backfire, everything happening after his death.
I was wondering why we need rockstars in science. I can understand in politics, music, sport, art: these are areas of passion. Science is the area of rationality and should not be the prey of the vile motions of our heart. Well, it is not so sure and scientists play a double game that Niietzschewould explain by the dichotomy between their Dionysian and Apollonian natures. I explain:
Science is rational: yoiu need to remove every emotion, passion to do a scientific work; your mind has to work like a computer to write a scientific paper: inputs, logical method, outputs. A cold blooded work. Any other method is sure to fail. This is the ideal way.
The problem is that, except for some individuals, our mind does not like to work like that. Yes, scientists are also human beings. They need to be driven by passion, competition, pride, ambition. This emotional part is even of utter importance if you want to survive all the traps of the scientific communities and of Nature itself. It is not easy to confront the mysteries of our environment. You can spend a lot of time in great dispair because you are not able to unlock some problems (and I don’t talk about fundamental work liek solving the quantum gravity issue but far more mundane issues like bugs on your latest model of electrical arcs). Your motivation is thus here to keep your momentum in these difficult conditions.
One way to keep or to give this motivation is to find inspiring sources, like great scientists or engineers. And the gap is quickly crossed to tranform a reference in rockstar. This is where we have to be careful: we all have dark sides. We can judge the scientific work but it is difficult to take a whole mind as model. Von Braun, Oppenheimer have, techincally speaking, provided a wonderful work. Their goals are far from being morally acceptable.
Therefore, it is important to have references but rockstars have to stay on stage playing bass.