Feynman (1918-1988) won the 1965 Nobel Prize in Physics for his work
in quantum electrodynamics and remains a giant in his field. He is
perhaps best known in pop culture for his entertaining autobiographical
works, which Brin says all left an impact on him. "Surely You're Joking,
Mr. Feynman!" first published in 1985, is regarded as the best
introduction to these works.
"Aside from making really big contributions in his own field, he was pretty broad-minded," Brin told the Academy of Achievement.
"I remember he had an excerpt where he was explaining how he really
wanted to be a Leonardo [da Vinci], an artist and a scientist. I found
that pretty inspiring. I think that leads to having a fulfilling life."
Feynman, who created a portfolio of drawings and paintings under the pseudonym "Ofey," explained in a 1981 BBC interview
how art and science complement each other: "I have a friend who's an
artist and ... he says, 'I as an artist can see how beautiful this
[flower] is but you as a scientist take this all apart and it becomes a
dull thing,' and I think that he's kind of nutty. ...
"I could imagine the cells in there, the complicated actions inside,
which also have a beauty. I mean it's not just beauty at this dimension,
at one centimeter; there's also beauty at smaller dimensions, the inner
structure, also the processes. The fact that the colors in the flower
evolved in order to attract insects to pollinate it is interesting; it
means that insects can see the color. ... All kinds of interesting
questions, which the science knowledge only adds to the excitement, the
mystery and the awe of a flower."
Snow Crash' by Neal Stephenson
Brin said he is a big sci-fi fan, and Stephenson's acclaimed 1992 novel "Snow Crash" is one of his favorites.
In 2010, Time named it one of the 100 best novels in the English language published since the magazine's founding in 1923.
It takes place in a dystopian near future where the US has been
replaced by corporate microstates and a computer virus is killing
Within the complex, fun story Stephenson predicts the rise of online
social networks, and what would become Google Earth in 2004.
The book "was really 10 years ahead of its time," Brin said.
"It kind of anticipated what's going to happen, and I find that really interesting."