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Richard Feynman Explains Where Trees Actually Come From and How Fire Works

How the light and heat of the sun made their way into your fireplace.

We’ve already seen that trees can be powerful purveyors of philosophy, keepers of deep time, and visual metaphors for evolution — but where do they actually come from?

There’s a reason Richard Feynmanchampion of scientific culture, graphic novel hero, crusader for integrity, holder of the key to science, adviser of future generations — earned himself the moniker “The Great Explainer.” In this short clip from BBC’s 1983 series Fun to Imagine, Feynman explains where trees actually come from the air and why the light and heat emanating from a burning fire are in fact the light and heat of the sun, “stored sun” that made its way into the fireplace via the substance of the tree:

Is this the second most astounding fact about the universe, or what?

Krulwich Wonders

Published September 27, 2012




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