by Edward J Elsey
Nobel prize-winning physicist
His American connections were suspected by the authorities who were able to give him permission to travel. His contact with NASA and advice on the disastrous Challenger Mission had placed him at the centre of space research.
Feynman, being inquisitive, had to have the facts. He went to the people who put the shuttle together to help him discover the cause of the explosion; NASA said that the chance of failure was about 1 in 100,000.
Feynman found the number was actually closer to 1 in 100. He learned that the rubber used to seal the solid rocket booster joints, using
However, few know that as well as being an enthusiast drummer [as with Brian May] he was also a stamp collector. I first discovered the land of Tuva for myself as I acquired, in a bought old collection, a set of Tuva stamps.
I passed them, as a gift, to a fellow Professor friend of Richard’s, at Bristol University who values them highly in his collection. Feynman did manage to get some of his students to visit the land and he is commemorated there in a memorial.
The People’s Republic of Tannu Tuva issued postage stamps between 1926 and 1936. They were popular with stamp collectors in the Western world in the mid-twentieth century due to their obscurity and exoticism and quirky, colourful designs. The validity of many of them has been questioned by philatelists.
First issued in 1926, the first series depicted the Mongolian inscribed Buddhist wheel of life. A series of colour stamps with local scenes followed in 1927 in several shapes, including rectangles, triangles and diamonds, bearing ‘TOUVA’ and ‘postage’. From 1934 to 1936, 100 different postage stamps appeared with exotic images of Tuvan life: horse-racing, nomadic battle scenes and domestic animals, mostly cancelled-to-order.
Philatelists contend that the earlier Tuvan stamps saw limited postal use and covers do exist. Philatelic literature such as The Postal History and Stamps of Tuva by S.M. Blekhman also confirms non-philatelic commercial use of the stamps.
While the status of many Tuvan postage stamps is disputed, a number of revenue stamps were issued for Tuva in 1926, whose status is not in doubt.