Feynman Visits Tuva!
Tuva Online reports that Michelle Feynman, daughter of Richard Feynman, has realized her father's ambition of visiting Tuva. The full article is at their WWW site ( http://en.tuvaonline.ru/2009/06/14/0921_michelle.html ). We reproduce the bulk of the article by Dina Oyun, translated by Heda Jindrak, here.
Michelle Feynman, whose father was Richard Feynman (1918-1988), laureate of Nobel Prize for physics, and one of the participants in the atom bomb project, came to Tuva on June 8.
She is accompanied by Ilona Vinogradova, a BBC correspondent. This visit is expected to result in a radio program about the dream of the scientist – to visit the republic in the center of Asia, which Feynman had been trying to visit for almost 20 years.
Feynman and his friend, mathematics teacher Ralph Leighton, who were both passionate admirers of Tva, bombarded Intourist and The Academy of Sciences with petitions; they sent letters to Tuvan addresses found in ecyclopedias; they wrote messages with the help of a Tuvan-Mongolian-Russian phrase book and a Russian-English dictionary; they attacked Moscow radio, which broadcast in English, with a single plea: “Help us get to Tuva.”.
They received formal responses, but without an answer to their main question.
The two friends founded the organization “Friends of Tuva in America”, they observed Tuvan national holidays, and performed virtual travels through the streets of Kyzyl or Chadan.
Feynman never managed to get to Tuva. He died in 1988. Instead of him, the trip was realized by his daughter Michelle.
During this visit, Michelle Feynman met with throat singers, and with relatives of the famous folklorist Ondar Kishchalaevich Darymaa (he became the first Tuvan whom the two friends contacted, when they found his address in a scientific publication after a long search in various libraries).
On June 10, Michelle Feynman met with the head of the republic, Sholban Kara-ool. During the BBC interview, the Tuvan Premier answered questions on the subject of why Tuva is so attractive to hundreds of foreigners, and how to utilize the energy and potential of the people, who are “obsessed” with Tuva like Feynman, for the good of the republic and for its development.
All the adventures that the two American fans of Tuva met during their desperate attempts to visit the center of Asia are described in Ralph Leighton’s book “Tuva or Bust”.
Posted June 14, 2009