R = [1/2(R)+1/2(A)] + [1/2(R)-1/2(A)]
where R & A refer to Retarded & Advanced fields. While this decomposition is algebraically trivial, it had a highly nontrivial physical interpretation since the 1st term in square brackets was related to the electromagnetic mass of the charged particle while the 2nd bracketed term, being asymmetrical in time, made the only contribution to the force of radiative reaction. Shortly thereafter, in Los Alamos, in his time during the Manhattan Project, Feynman delivered a 'public' lecture on "Some Interesting Properties of Numbers," constructing his arithmetic axiomatically from the bottom up- 'He invited his distinguished audience ("all the mighty minds," he wrote his mother a few days later) to discard all knowledge of mathematics and begin from first principles- specifically, a child's knowledge of counting in units.'- (Gleick, pp. 182-3). Those present included Oppenheimer, Bethe, Teller, etc- no ordinary 'public' lecture.
Unclear where Feynman's headed here, privileging subtraction over addition, but he no doubt enjoyed the diversion...
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