Unpacking the mystery of Feynman’s reference amplifier (Vol. 51, No. 1)

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A review of lectures given by Feynman between 1946 and 1971 showcase the strong influence that his involvement in the Manhattan Project held on his research, while revealing an intriguing mystery surrounding one particular amplifier device.

Richard Feynman was one of the 20th century’s most celebrated physicists. In 1943, he began his career in the Manhattan Project, where one of his tasks was to develop a device which could count the neutrons produced by nuclear reactions. Neutron signals emerging from counters must be strongly amplified to achieve this, but in the 1940s, practical amplification devices were hindered by their distorted signals. To overcome the issue, Feynman proposed a theoretical ‘reference amplifier’, which could provide amplifiers with a standard signal to be compared with. Through analysis published in EPJ H, researchers at the University of Naples, Italy, propose that this line of research exemplifies the influence which Feynman’s involvement in the Manhattan Project held over his later teaching and research.

V. d’Alessandro, S. Daliento, M. Di Mauro, S. Esposito, A. Naddeo, Searching for a response: the intriguing mystery of Feynman’s theoretical reference amplifier, European Physical Journal H 44, 331 (2019)