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TYVANYNG ÖNGNÜKTERI / The Friends of Tuva Newsletter
Celebrating Richard Feynman's spirit of adventure

The Friends of Tuva newsletter.
Nineteenth issue: Commemorating Richard Feynman's 80th birthday, 1998.
Published by Friends of Tuva, Box 182, Belvedere CA 94920 USA.
Fax: (415) 789-1177 (If fax doesn't turn on automatically, press 33)
*see page 45 of What Do You Care What Other People Think?.

Home Page on the World Wide Web:
(from the very bottom of that page, look for a link to the Tuva Trader Online)

Feynman Stamp News
Did You See that Envelope?

If you received this newsletter in May (1998), look carefully at the postal cancel on your envelope. Envelopes like yours, as well as special souvenir envelopes (see design on other side), were mailed to Feynman fans and friends of Tuva all over the nation as well as to fans and friends around the world. The prank dreamed up by Arline Feynman during Richard's days at Los Alamos has taken on a new life and a new meaning.

If you'd like to continue the joke and send your own self-addressed, stamped envelopes to yourself or anyone else (and it is before June 1, 1998), please send them to:

Feynman Station,
c/o Postmaster,
Lake Worth FL 33461-9998.

You can also order special souvenir envelopes for $6 (even after June 1, if supplies last). Contact J. Eric Slone at:
Scientific Consulting Services,
5500 Holmes Run Parkway # 501,
Alexandria, VA 22304-2851.
Fax: (703) 751-6639;

(By the way, the souvenir envelopes are in color: the cancel is in purple; the Mayan glyphs are black on a parchment-colored background. The back of the envelope contains an explanationin the colors of the rainbow of the Feynman diagram on the front of the envelope.)


The design is a real "Feynman diagram" showing a sub-atomic particle (at left) emitting a photon, which itself creates a particle and an anti-particleor, if you prefer, a single particle that goes forwards, then backwards, in time! Invented by Guess-Who, Feynman diagrams are a road map to calculating what Nature doesand that includes taking into account remote possibilities such as the diagram depicted in the cancel. Richard Feynman learned early on that very interesting things can be found in remote areasoff the main path, so to speak. Thus it was natural for him to remember a lost land once called Tannu Tuva, decades after it had disappeared from the map.

Hats off to Ken Simon, founder of the Tannu Tuva Collector's Society, who conceived and oversaw the project, and J. Eric Slone, Feynman fan of the first order, who designed the cancel. Ken and Eric canceled most of the envelopes.

The Exploratorium Celebrates Feynman's 80th Birthday

On Saturday, May 9, 1998, the Exploratorium --- that hands-on, interactive center of great science adventure in San Francisco --- celebrated the 80th birthday of Richard Feynman. The "Chief" was briefly brought back from the dead in the form of actor Norman Parker, who told several Feynman stories to the assembled celebrants.

There was also lots of drumming (in fact, bringing drums entitled one to a $2 discount off regular admission), as well as lock picking, safe cracking, and oodles of fun experiments, including the famous underwater sprinkler that sucks in water --- which way would it turn?

Bravo to the folks at the Exploratorium for remembering our hero in such a fun way!

Spirit of RPF Citation #1
Margaret Cubberly

FoT Margaret Cubberly is a regular listener to "The Book Guys" on Public Radio, heard coast-to-coast. She entered the weekly contest in February, which asked listeners to send their idea of a romantic getaway. Here's her essay:

The most romantic place in the world is the Republic of Tuva, deep in the heart of Asiatic Russia on the border of Outer Mongolia. The great physicist, Richard Feynman, spent ten years on a wildly romantic quest: trying to get to this remote outpost of civilization off limits to foreigners until a few years ago.

Feynman's never-to-be-realized journey to Tuva is detailed in his friend Ralph Leighton's 1991 book, Tuva or Bust!. It describes how permission to travel there finally came through just days after Feynman died of cancer in 1988.

Romance is not confined to couples in love. Feynman fell in love with a dream he never realized. What a thrill it would be to follow the trail he blazed. My husband and I could sit in a yurt and drink yak butter tea, dine on fat of lamb's tail, watch the races of Tuvan horsemen, listen to "throat singers" --- unique in the world --- who perform in two voices at the same time.

Tuva was once believed to be the center of Asia and a big monument marks the spot in Kyzyl, its vowel-free capital. This tiny country may not be as lush as Tahiti, as chic as Paris, as charming as the British Cotswolds, but what a place to be alone! A handful of tourists, few hustlers and no luxury hotels.

Cuddling in Kyzyl to the beat of a shaman's drum is my idea of a romantic getaway. And you can't beat the kick of that yak butter tea.

One month later, Margaret received a bouquet of red roses, with a note from the "Book Guys," Mike and Allan: "Set your watch for Tuva time and hopefully one day soon you'll look at it and say it's time to go. Press your roses between the pages of Tuva or Bust! so they'll last as long as the romance of high adventure."

Spirit of RPF Citation #2
TUVA Astronomy Org.

A Feynman spirit award also goes to Ron Wood and the TUVA Astronomy Organization ("TUVA" stands for "Total Unlimited Vertical Access"), whose motto is, to paraphrase the Tuvans witnessed by Otto Mnchen-Helfen watching a film in Kyzyl in 1929, "We paid full price; we want to see the whole universe!" (If you don't get the joke, see Mnchen-Helfen's Journey to Tuva, pages 45-46.)

The T.A.O. is located on Mt. Feynman, near Checotah, OK. Ron Wood can be reached by e-mail (, or by snail-mail at

TUVA Observatory,
Rt 3 Box 638,
Checotah OK 74426.

(For a photo, see Newsletter #17, page 4).

A Feynman Classic
Now on Audio Cassette

Surely You're Joking, Mr. Feynman! is now available on audio cassette. It is an unabridged edition, about 12 hours of great listening, available for $59.95 from Blackstone Audiobooks. (800) 729-2665. (If you don't mind waiting a couple of weeks, you can get it for $49 from the Tuva Trader.)

THE Feynman Classic
Soon on Audio Cassette

The Feynman Lectures on Physics, delivered at Caltech in the early 1960s, will soon appear on audio cassette. I don't yet know the price, but the next edition of the FoT Newsletter will probably have more news. In the meantime, if you'd prefer to have the Lectures come out on CD (that's an audio CD, not a CD-ROM), please cast your vote by sending e-mail to Jeff Robbins, the editor in charge. His e-mail address is If you want to vote by snail-mail, the address is:

Perseus Books,
1 Jacob Way,
Reading MA

Your vote can make a difference!

A New Feynman Book

In 1955 Richard Feynman gave a speech to the National Academy of Sciences called "The Value of Science" (see What Do You Care What Other People Think?, pp. 239-248). He concluded:

It is our responsibility as scientists, knowing the great progress which comes from a satisfactory philosophy of ignorance, the great progress which is the fruit of freedom of thought, to proclaim the value of this freedom; to teach how doubt is not to be feared but welcomed and discussed; and to demand this freedom as our duty to all coming generations.

Feynman took this duty seriously, at least for a decade. (He later apparently decided that telling entertaining stories could accomplish the same goal.) Thus in 1963, he gave a series of three talks at the University of Washington, called "A Scientist Looks At Society." There were plans to publish the lectures, but Feynman apparently lost his enthusiasm for that. Only now have the lectures been published, under the title of The Meaning of It All: Thoughts of a Citizen Scientist, published by Helix Books. The slim, 133-page book has a hefty price tag (list price $22). That, combined with the fact that it was edited without consulting the original audio tapes for accuracy, force me to recommend waiting until the paperback version comes out. There is a chance the paperback will be better edited, or at least have some errors corrected. It will surely have a much more affordable price. (If you can't wait to read it, have your local library order it, if they haven't already.)

CD-ROM Featuring Feynman Still Available

Critical Mass, a CD-ROM about the development of the atomic bomb (which features Richard Feynman along with J. Robert Oppenheimer, Enrico Fermi, and Neils Bohr), is no longer available from the Tuva Trader. However, it can be ordered for about $29 by calling toll-free 1 888 464-5652.

Two New CDs

Want to hear some Tuva-inspired music performed in unusual places? How about in a water tank? Jim Cole & Spectral Voices' CD "Coalescence" is vocal "spacemusic"harmonic overtone and subharmonic singing in an enormous water tower (20-30 second reverberation). Featured on the radio program "Echoes," it made #1 on two of the first three stations to report it to New Age Voice (KKUP & WWSP). Haunting, accessible melodies, blossoming chords, meditative, intense, fascinating, and strangely beautiful.

For more information, please contact Jim Cole at: or

Those without e-mail/internet can send $15.98 (made out to Jim Cole or Spectral Spiral Music) to:

Spectral Spiral Music,
P.O. Box 466,
South Glastonbury, CT 06073.

Now, how about a CD of Tuvan music performed by Japanese aficionados in the Arena of Geijyutsu-no-Mori, Sapporo, Japan (on February 15, 1998, exactly ten years after Feynman died). "Tarbagan" has just produced a wonderful tribute to Tuvan and Mongolian traditional music, which is available through Friends of Tuva for $15. For more information, check out the website

Music and Shamanism in Tuva and Khakassia

Kira Van Deusen's excellent article has appeared in the winter 1997-8 issue of Shaman's Drum (available from the Tuva Trader). Here is an excerpt:

[Tuvan musicologist] Süzükei ultimately concluded that Tuvan music should not be analyzed in terms of Western harmony and form but in terms of the times, places, and means of playing it. She illustrates this observation through a conversation with a traditional musician. He began to play the khomus [jaw harp], and I asked, 'How do you think that melody is built? How can you describe it?' He said, How can I explain it to you? Look at those mountains over there. They have layers of brown and blue with snow on top --- different colors as it gets further away. Then, the nearer mountains --- shadow and a patch of sun --- then, shade again. And then, in the heat, everything is moving, like a mirage. You see that movement of the air with your eyes. So, there you see how the khomus sounds. And that's when it's hot and sunny. But in the evening or at night, when we start to play, you can imagine such waves moving.'

Today's Weather in Kyzyl

Yes, it's true: you can even get a five-day forecast, complete with little pictures! Check out and the weather page there.

Check Out the FoT Page

The snail-mail paper editions of the FoT Newsletter are gradually being phased out. An issue is planned for Tuva National Day (August 14), and perhaps one or two issues will appear beyond that, in increasingly long intervals. There is so much information coming from so many places that I can no longer keep up! (In addition, family and other commitments are severely limiting my time.) So for those of you interested in finding out more about Tuva and Richard Feynman, check out the award-winning FoT page:

(The page is mastered by FoT Kerry Yackoboski, and sponsored by "Dr. Bill" Riemers. Thank you, gentlemen!)

The Tuva Trader, that not-so-effective fund-raising arm of Friends of Tuva, is functioning reasonably well these days. (See partial list of items for sale, enclosed.) If you send in orders to the address below, they can now be processed within a week or two. Total turnaround time for US addresses (assuming items are in stock): about 2-3 weeks. Please send correspondence and Tuva Trader orders to:

Friends of Tuva
Box 182
Belvedere CA 94920.

Thank you!

Ralph Leighton