Liam Northcott Eminent Speech Outline V2

Note: This plan may or may not get used, but (in my opinion) is a simpler, more elegant plan.


Exposition: Introductions (Name, occupation, should take about 10-15 secs)

Rising Action: Brief summary of the Challenger disaster

Climax: Act out Feynman’s O-ring experiment

Falling Action/Resolution: Just sit down for effect. It’ll have to be on the floor, as a chair would be too large a prop.


Liam Northcott’s Grade 10 Eminent Document of Learning

It’s a few weeks into the Eminent project now, and things are going pretty smoothly. I have a rough speech outline, and have successfully conducted my Eminent Interview. I’d like to talk about my research and interview for this document of learning.

As of this past weekend, I have a new source at my disposal: a biography for Richard Feynman. Some may ask what the big deal is, as I already have 5 or so autobiographies/lecture compilations by Feynman already. However, the biography has one thing all the other works don’t have: someone else’s perspective. While looking at works written by Feynman is all well and good, it’s nice to have a source that’s a little more critical of his actions. This development was well timed, as I conducted my interview the day after I got the book. The results of both the reading and the interview also shared many similarities.

For my Eminent interview, I interviewed a physics professor at SFU. I asked her questions in three main areas: “How did Richard Feynman affect science as we know it today?”, “What was Feynman’s approach to solving problems?”, and “What made Feynman great at teaching science to others?”. My take on the interview results is shown below.

Richard Feynman was one of the many great scientists working on the atomic bomb, which was a very impressive scientific achievement. Even more impressive was when he explained the extremely complex area of quantum electrodynamics with a simple diagram, now known as a Feynman Diagram. However, there was something else he brought to physics and science in general: joy. It wasn’t just the work he did that made him great, it was the way he did it. He reminded everyone that science could be fun.

Feynman’s approach to solving problems resembles something we’re being taught in English class: how to show, not tell. An example of this is when he discovered the cause behind the crash of the space shuttle Challenger. He brought one of the shuttle’s most important components, a rubber O-ring, to a meeting where the cause of the disaster was being discussed. He put it in his glass of ice water and noted that it wouldn’t spring back to normal shape after squeezing if it was cold. This was the solution, and he found it by doing a simple experiment with a glass of ice water during a meeting. Another example is Feynman diagrams: he explained a complicated subject in a simple visual. His straightforward, practical approach to problems was so easy to grasp that many non-scientists could understand them.

The three words my interviewee used to describe Feynman’s explanations are “simple”, “profound”, and “elegant”. They were simple and elegant, showing a lot of knowledge in a simple statement or diagram, but they took a very deep approach to thinking about the way the world works. Another secret to Feynman’s teaching success was his passion towards physics. His love and enthusiasm for the subject rubbed off on his audience, and his way of speaking made people actually care about the subject. His lectures were so influential, they are quoted by science teachers to this day.

My interview results fulfill some of the goals I set in the Intro post. I now have a rough idea of how he came up with his brilliant solutions. I also know why his lectures are so well known, as well as what he did to make them that way.

Well, I think that’s mostly it. I’m kind of nervous about my learning centre and speech, as the Night of the Notables is less than two weeks away now. However, I know that I can finish my work in time if I work at it. I just need to keep pressing on!

3 “Wise Nugs” from the Practice Interview – Liam Northcott

My career is nanosystems/nanotechnology engineer. It’s kind of ambiguous, as there are many types of nanotechnology. However, I think I have a good idea of what’s in store.

Wise nugs:

  1. Being really good at STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math) is a must. You should also have a good understanding of all three main areas of science (bio, chem, and physics), not just one or two.
  2. Know what a computer is capable of and take full advantage of it.
  3. Like a lot of jobs, you will constantly have to deal with “the process” (i.e. paperwork, proposals, organization, etc.) Be prepared for lots of work.

Those are the “survival tips”. There are many other points I haven’t covered, but I think these are the best points in terms of survival advice.

Liam Northcott Eminent Speech Outline

Keep in mind that this outline is a general idea, and that there will most likely be several changes made during the creation of the actual speech.


-Upbringing (Father nurtures curiosity, learning about physics at young age, science can be fun)

Early Buildup:

-MIT + Princeton (High level education, this will just be a brief mention)

-Los Alamos (Atomic bomb research, practical jokes (mention), this was the big leagues)

Late Buildup:

-Quantum Electrodynamics (complexity, brief description of what it is)

-Schwinger, Dyson, and Oppenheimer (Rivalry, debate, confusion, searching for solutions)

Climax + Falling action:

-Feynman Diagrams (Simple and elegant solution to complex problem, visualization, Feynman’s way of thinking)

-Lectures (straightforward way of speaking makes them approachable by non-scientists, shows passion for job [in the zone], maybe mention the fact that they’re quoted/referenced a lot even today)


-Challenger (O-ring experiment)

-Feynman’s last words (“I’d hate to die twice. It’s so boring.”) or a general last word about everything.

Blog Response 3: Liam Northcott

After reading Kurt Vonnegut’s “Harrison Bergeron” and watching Chandler Tuttle’s “2081”, I can safely say that both forms of media told the story effectively in their own ways. However, when asked which medium is the best based on both works, I find myself unable to make a decision one way or another. Fortunately for me, I don’t think I need to. Instead, I believe that both form of media told their own stories equally as effectively as one another, but were both superior to each other in certain aspects.

The difference in media causes an immediate change in the approach taken towards description. The film uses images to add depth to characters by showing Diana Moon Glampers’ unwavering robotic expression, while the text uses imagery to add depth to the situation when it describes the ballerina making her voice sound like a “grackle squawk” (3). However, the text and film do much more than simply change the way the story is told – they change the plot and underlying ideas behind it; the essence of the story itself. The text is a satire, and treats its plot in a blatantly ironic manner. In the text, Harrison and the ballerina exhibit superhuman strength, blinding beauty, and the ability to remain “suspended in air” through “love and pure will” (5). Immediately afterwards, in a great act of situational irony, Diana Moon Glampers comes in and shoots them both dead, quickly erasing any impact Harrison had made. However, the film interprets this scene very differently, sacrificing much of its satirical value for drama and a bittersweet ending. In the film, Harrison and the ballerina perform an elegant dance before getting shot by Diana. However, Harrison secretly turns the television signal to the studio on so that the entire country sees Diana shooting them in their moment of freedom. He also seems to take no notice of the H-G men entering the studio, suggesting that their arrival was all part of the plan. The film makes it look like Harrison expected to be shot, and was using himself as a martyr to expose the true nature of the handicapper-general.

These differences play a vital role in comparing the two forms of media. Though the main plot of both stories remained mostly the same, the ideas, actions, and motives behind both stories are drastically different at times. While both of them tell the same basic story, neither of them tell the same “single story”. If the two forms of media each tell different stories, one cannot be proven superior to the other based on medium alone.

He’s a real Feyn Man – Eminent Intro

For my Eminent project this year, I’ve decided to look at Richard Feynman, a theoretical physicist.


Feynman was born in 1918, in a town on the outskirts of New York City. He grew up with a passion for machines and studying the way the world worked, a passion reinforced by his father’s encouragement of curiosity. Some of his more notable achievements include working on the Manhattan Project (and pointing out said project’s security flaws in a humorous fashion), greatly advancing the fields of quantum and particle physics, and discovering the cause behind the spaceship Challenger‘s by putting a rubber ring in his glass of ice water.

I first learned about Feynman a few days after last year’s Night of the Notables, when my grandfather mentioned that if he did the project, he would choose Feynman. While that put Feynman on my radar, the thing that really drew me to him was one of his autobiographies, Surely You’re Joking, Mr. Feynman! 


The book contained  stories from several points in his life. Some of the stories were more technical, others were more thoughtful, but all of them were a blast to read due to his entertaining storytelling. After reading the book, I knew that Feynman would be a candidate for my project.

When I went on the library trip, I was already pretty sure I’d be studying Feynman for the Eminent project. I owned 6 books on him, all of which I brought with me. I’d started to consider the idea of doing Leonardo Da Vinci instead a few days before the trip, who  would also have been a great option. Unfortunately for me, all the books that I found on him focused on his artwork, and not on his inventions (the main reason I was drawn to him in the first place). While I do admire Da Vinci’s paintings, they don’t interest me as much as his inventions do. The lack of invention-focused books wasn’t a particularly encouraging development, to say the least, and it ended up sealing the deal for Feynman. However, I still think that Leonardo Da Vinci is an excellent Eminent person candidate, and deserves to be done again; the last and only time someone did Leonardo Da Vinci for Eminent was in 2009, which was 8 years ago.

Like Feynman, I think I’ll go into something involving physics, or at least STEM, at some point in my life. Not only are numerous job opportunities opening up in STEM-related areas, but I’ve been a science/math geek of sorts ever since I was five, and always felt it was a direction I’d inevitably end up taking, in one way or another. I don’t plan on becoming successful to the point of eminence, as that seems like a rather unrealistic goal. However, I do think that my study of Feynman will probably help me find ‘elegant solutions’ to perplexing problems, which I believe is a step in the path of eminence.

Feynman’s upbringing isn’t too different from my own. He was born and raised in the suburbs of a North American big city, in an upper middle class family. He also had a similar view on a religion: while he didn’t believe in a god, he did respect many of the core beliefs behind the scriptures. From what I’ve gathered, I think he also entertained the idea that the existence of a god was possible, though he still believed it to be highly unlikely.

Through this project, I hope to learn more about Feynman in general, but I especially want to learn about his modus operandi; his approach to problem-solving. I also want to learn how he manages to make complicated topics entertaining and relatively easy to understand. This knowledge could help me learn and present knowledge effectively, which would be beneficial in both school and normal life. I also hope to improve my Public Speaking skills through the Eminent Speech, which also happens to be one of my IEP goals.

I think Feynman will be a fun and interesting eminent person to study, and I hope my Eminent project does him justice.

Blog Response 2: Liam Northcott

I believe that the main theme shown in David Suzuki’s “Racism” is that racism and bigotry take many different forms in modern society, and that we should try to stop it even if we aren’t the targets. The new idea that I took away, however, is that just because someone is targeted by racism does not mean that they aren’t racist, and that’s what I’ll be writing about. David Suzuki experiences this when he learns that his “parents had been branded inu (dogs) and shunned, as more than 90 percent of people were convinced or coerced into signing to ‘repatriate'” (28). After being forced into camps by the Canadian government, his family now dealt with discrimination from their own people, the same ones that had experienced the struggle of the internment camps. He brings up another instance of this when he talks about a Chinese Canadian woman he’d met “who had herself experienced bigotry”, but “described Native people in a stereotypical way”, and “instead of admitting in might be bigoted to characterize all Native people the same way, she continued to justify her opinions”. While the lady has the right to voice her opinions, I feel like she would already realize the problems with racism due to the past discrimination against her, and should have at least considered Suzuki’s suggestion. I appreciate Suzuki’s message, as it reminds us that racism is real, out there, and can be found anywhere. However, I also appreciate the fact that he takes it the other way as well. In telling us about the kind Mountie and generous Chinese chef, he reminds us that for every bigot out there, there’s also someone who isn’t afraid to cross racial boundaries to help others and do the right thing.

Blog Response 2: Liam Northcott

The main idea that I took away from our discussions on these short stories/speeches is that first impressions and stereotypes are rarely accurate enough to judge by, and that looking past them will reveal a greater truth. This idea is found in works by all three covered writers. It’s found in Stuart McLean’s “Emil” when Morley decides to talk to Emil and discovers his ‘foolish compassion’. It’s also found in Budge Wilson’s “The Metaphor”, when Charlotte says that while “Miss Hancock was a birthday cake” whose flavour was so delicious that “no one who stopped to taste it could have failed to enjoy it”, “most grown-ups would have thrown it away after one brief glance at the frosting” (232, 233). As for Chimamanda Adichie’s “The Danger of a Single Story”, the name says it all: there’s rarely ever a “single story” about someone or something, the “single story” being the stereotypes and one-sided initial impressions attached to people. I believe that avoiding these “single stories” and looking deeper into people is a good habit to get into, and I plan to incorporate the idea into my life. In fact, I utilized this idea just a few days ago. During a debate in science class, the opposing side stated a point on which I agreed. Taking their argument into account, I stopped seeing the debate as a “win or lose” situation and instead tried to come up with a compromise. Interestingly enough, the opposition did the same, and both sides eventually agreed on an idea that was better than the ones we’d started with. I realized that if I keep trying to see the light in the apparent darkness of an opposing argument, the outcome will improve greatly. That’s why I’m going to try and look beyond outward appearances and immediate inferences from now on, so that I can find the truth veiled behind them.

Emil Theme Paragraph

It has often been said that “money can’t buy happiness.” But in Stuart McLean’s short story, “Emil”, Morley discovers an exception to the rule: that money can buy happiness through being given to someone else out of kindness. Early in the story, Morley offers Emil some money. When Emil turns down her money, Morley realizes that Emil doesn’t think he needs the money. She makes a further realization when Emil, after winning the lottery, gives away most of his money to “his regulars- people who gave him money. Or stopped to talk to him” (118). Her realization is that compassionately giving the money to good friends bought Emil more happiness than winning the lottery did. The rest of Emil’s money went into a television and a chair, which both ended up lost or stolen. When Morley notices that Emil’s TV and chair are gone, she asks him how he feels about it. Emil responds: “It’s OK. The battery was going anyway, and it only got Canadian channels”(120). Through that, Morley sees that with the exception of his garden, Emil doesn’t care much about his own possessions; he doesn’t feel bad when they get stolen because it means someone else gets to enjoy using them. Morley decides to use the money Emil had given her to buy some flowers for his garden, the one possession he really does care about. She wanted to give Emil something as compassionately as he had given things to her. Emil’s money bought happiness for both himself and Morley.


Independent Novel Study Paragraph 1

Book: Life of Pi


I’m impressed at how Pi (then Piscine) manages to come up with a plan to rid himself of the insulting nickname of “Pissing” while feeling the pain of being bullied by his entire school. The scene shows that while Pi is hurt by the bullying, he’s resilient enough to push through and overcome it. In his own words, it’s “time to put down Satan”. The scene highlights Pi’s creativity and cleverness when he comes up with the plan. Pi wants to be accepted as he moves to his new school, and is afraid of having to go through the misery of being bullied again. Pi has just experienced the external conflict of bullying, and is experiencing the internal conflict of knowing that “like all younger brothers, [Pi] would suffer from following in the footsteps of a popular older sibling.” I think the author portrays the development of the character quite effectively, and I like how the change of nickname is used to represent a turning point in the character’s life. I’m satisfied with the character’s actions, as he manages to overcome his hardships better than I feel I ever could. I personally connect with Pi’s bullying problems, as I was bullied several times during elementary and middle school. I tend to handle problems in a slightly different manner by using my trump card… adults. However, I admire the inner strength and ingenuity that Pi demonstrates in this scene, and would consider him a positive role model for anyone who wants to deal with bullying in a peaceful and self-reliant manner. His high level of social responsibility would also be worth emulating. For example, he builds relationships with a very diverse range of people; his list of friends include a priest, an imam, a pandit, and a hardcore atheistic biology teacher.