The best example to study to in this case is the P Vs NP problem. I never understood how people can spend years trying to prove P=NP or P=!NP. Unless you already know the answer to question, to begin with a goal to prove it either way is not a wise way to achieve a solution to such a problem. If you try to discover more about this problem you likely to get to a result faster than than the actual proof simply because you can't prove/disprove what is not already proved/disproved. You can only hope to 'discover' a result.
So many times playing around, having fun and trying to discover things for sheer curiosity is likely to lead to more fascinating results.
In case it bears repeating yet again to anyone who hasn't read it, read it!
His writing style is just so infectious.
edit: upon reflection I'm not sure this is actually the "affirming the consequent" fallacy after all ... but I think the point is made nevertheless. Steve Jobs took a calligraphy class. Later he built Apple using some ideas from that. This doesn't mean if you take a calligraphy class you will go on to do something useful with it.
This is awfully negative. I think most people on HN are smart enough to realize that the chances of winning a Nobel prize are very small; it doesn't need continual restatement.
I do like Feynman's attitude. I get the impression that many (not all) of today's physicists take themselves way too seriously. Looking up the old saying: "Academic politics is the most vicious and bitter form of politics, because the stakes are so low."
I think few on HN realize that the chances of building a very successful company is very small ...
Let's say one startup out of the, say, ten thousand of serious startups founded every year will make it. For simplicity's sake, let's say that its founder will be a billionaire and the others will ALL gain their money back and then declare bankruptcy. Then 10^9/10^4=100000, which is better than most programmers' payout for that year.
TL;DR: It's improbable but it's worth it.
Who here has read a biography of Dirac? One summer he got a book of differential equations and worked them through. Other than research, he would take a walk on Sundays.
He also got a Nobel Prize in Physics. But few aspire to walk in his footsteps.
Sometimes it's better to work productively on the wrong thing than bang your head against a problem.
So there is something to understanding the difference between the apparent cause of a thing and the real cause.
Still, I think you're missing the point in this particular case. Following in Feynman's footsteps wouldn't mean following one specific formula of `play' -> success, but more or keeping an open mind and letting the solution come to you. Which I think is the opposite of cargo cult science.
Why do anything if it isn't for the profit of other people? Isn't it an accepted fact that our entire self worth is judged on how much value we provide to others? This goes hand and hand with the obviously true preposition that each person should be only self interested and through complicated interactions of the perfect market, we'll ultimately be helping other people! Because we're all identical and have the same drives, as it is written. The irony of this statement only proves that it's true. hallelujah!