#48: My Friend Richard, and Theories of the Universe - Leonard Susskind


Leonard Susskind is the Felix Bloch professor of Theoretical physics at Stanford University.  He is widely regarded as the father of String Theory.

In this episode, Joe joins Leonard at Stanford to remember Leonard’s friend and mentor Richard Feynman, one of the great physicists of the twentieth century. They also discuss Leonard’s famous ‘Black Hole War’ with Stephen Hawking, String Theory, the multiverse, and what it’s like to be a 78-year-old physicist.

Show notes

Selected links
Surely You’re Joking, Mr. Feynman, autobiographical anecdotes from the great man himself
The Black Hole War: My Battle with Stephen Hawking to Make the World Safe for Quantum Mechanics, by Leonard Susskind
The World as a Hologram, Leonard Susskind (1994)
The Theoretical Minimum, by Leonard Susskind
The Theoretical Minimum website and courses
Leonard Susskind’s Stanford lectures, in podcast form, on classical mechanics and quantum mechanics

Topics discussed

  • Leonard explains to his father that he won’t become a plumber. [5:00]

  • What was Richard Feynman like? [10:44]

  • Feynman’s theory about fathers in physics. [15:18]

  • Leonard’s TED experience. [17:20]

  • Leonard’s famous ‘Black Hole War’ with Stephen Hawking and the time in 1981 when he first met Hawking. [19:17]

  • The Universe is a hologram! [33:53]

  • What is String Theory, and is it a ‘Theory of Everything’? [38:45]

  • How many universes are there? [49:00]

  • The anthropic principle. [52:30]

  • Our ability to visualise more than three dimensions is constrained by our evolutionary psychology. [57:48]

  • What’s it like to be 78 year-old physicist? [1:01:24]

  • What problem in physics would Leonard love to see solved? [1:03:20]


Jolly Swagmen