This article is from the Tuva FAQ, by Kerry Yackoboski email@example.com with numerous contributions by Bernard Greenberg, Bernard Dubriel, Alan Shrives, Kevin Williams, Albert Kuvezin, Dr Oliver Corff, Mike Vande Bunt, Ralph Leighton, Masahiko Todoriki, Alan Leighton, Ken Simon, and Sami Jansson.
In 1977 Nobel Laureate (Physics) and raconteur Richard Feynman asked
"What ever happened to Tannu Tuva?" One of his friends, Ralph Leighton,
helped Feynman turn their search for information on this country into a
real adventure, as explained in Leighton's book "Tuva or Bust". Feynman's
interest originated in the 1930's when Tuva, in a philatelic orgy, issued
many oddball stamps memorable for their shapes (diamonds and triangles) as
well as their scenery (men on camels racing a train, a man on horseback
with a dirigible above him, and so on).
When they looked Tuva up in the atlas, they saw that the capital was Kyzyl,
and decided that any place with a name like that must be interesting! They
also soon found out that a monument near Kyzyl marked the centre of Asia,
and that some Tuvans sang with 2 voices - one voice usually a lower drone
and the second voice a high pitched flute-like sound, both from the same
person. This information piqued their curiosity and things snowballed.