The union of physics and poetry seems to be divided into two camps these days. Or if you prefer:
One one side of the field, you have “Physics for Poets” classes mushrooming up in universities across North America. While these classes convey the best of intentions – the melding of the grandest of theories with the most romantic of arts – they have been rumoured to contain no poet students at all. At best the course title is a purple version of “Physics 101”.
If “Poet” as code for “non-scientist who can only grasp basic math” is vaguely insulting to your ego, I would suggest finding balm in the second camp. In this tent we have Physicists with Soul huddled around a fire, wheeling away the space-time in creation of sensual analogies. Poets in love with Mathematics are also welcome, and can be seen scribbling in the corners.
I’m not entirely sure which camp Leon Lederman would be in, but having obtained recent infamy by coining the Higgs Bosun “The God Particle” (much to the annoyance of many scientists and the glee of the media), he may well have been kicked out the first camp without supper and asked not to return. In any case, his recent book Quantum Physics for Poets published by Promethus Books, may well be his golden ticket to that coveted seat by the fire next to the right hand of Alan Lightman.
Let’s follow through on this particular analogy. I’m sure that after toasting his marshmallow, Leon might offer to share it with Joanne Growney, a mathematical poet and one of the editors of Strange Attractors: Poems of Love and Mathematics.
At the peak of the night, with the campfire blazing well into the the sky, all the math-lovers and physicist-poets would rise, take hands and dance together. They would chant Pablo Neruda’s Ode to Numbers, while the embers swirled like a golden logarithmic spiral up to meet midnight.
to know how much!
how many stars in the sky!
- AUDIO: Quantum physics ‘is not difficult’ (news.bbc.co.uk)