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Poems by Scientists - Poems on Science - Books

Monday, 18 May 2009

Quantum Lyrics by A Van Jordan

I have just discovered the work of A. Van Jordan and his book Quantum Lyrics from which I have posted extracts in the preceding posts. I feel that this work deserves a little more review space on my pages and have cut and pasted a very good review by Kevin Winter from Amazon Books website.

"In Quantum Lyrics, A. Van Jordan takes the reader on a ride they won't soon forget. In his collection full of lyricism, imagery, and history, Mr. Jordan examines math and science and how they relate to what it means to be human. Most of the poems settle around Einstein, and how he viewed his contributions to society - how he, Einstein, viewed human relationships from when he first got married, to the night he dreamed about his famous equation. Two poems dealing with Richard Feynman lectures, and a couple of poems about comic book heroes, the Flash and the Green Lantern are absolute joys to read. This is a unique collection of prose that take you on a journey of discovery, a journey of self-discovery. The conversations between Einstein and his future wife are interesting, for it shows how even a genius like Einstein had trouble relating to his wife, and readers may find of particular interest Einstein's love letter to his future wife, Mileva Maric. This is a book for those who love both a mixture of science and poetry and highly recommended."

Reviewed by Kevin Winter

Looking forward to reading this book soon.

The Heart and Mind of Physics - Broken Symmetrics

Broken Symmetrics
by A. Van Jordan from his book Quantum Lyrics,
Inspired by Richard P. Feynman Lecture, Broken Symmetrics

Symmetry walks between two worlds. To the hands it tries to
touch us from either side; to the feet, it simply wants us not to
stumble but to saunter; and to the heart, it gives as much as it
takes. Protons have neutrons; matter has antimatter. It's all a
negotiation of will, a charade of dominance and submission, and
we play like adults play with memories of our youth. We believe
that love is equal to hate, but nothing is perfectly symmetrical.
Why, for example, does the earth orbit elliptically, as if these old
hands had drawn the path, instead of following an elegant circle.

In the city of Nikko, Japan, stands the Yomei-mon gate.
Elaborate in design, the gate has princes and lions and nymphs
and other elements carved in -- what appears to be, at least --
perfect symmetry. But, if you look closely, you'll notice that one
of the princes is carved upside down. And if you ask the people
of Nikko why, they will tell you that it's carved so the gods
won't get jealous of the perfection of man. But I put the mirror
up to that statement and say the laws of nature are nearly
symmetrical because God didn't want to make man jealous of
her hand.

And in the mirror, the clock ticks a little slower, the heart beats a
little delayed. Watch the hand touch your face and, for a
moment, one hand brushes both cheeks at once. But then you
begin to pick the body apart: one foot is longer than the other,
one breast hangs a little lower, one eye winks and the other can
only blink, and, suddenly, you're not the woman you thought you
were. But then you look at a tree growing cherries or a flower
sating a bee and you count the branches or the petals and you
realize nothing is as beautiful as you once believed. And through
our eyes we continue coveting our reflections: The blade of
grass wants to be a rapier; the clouds want to be smoke circles
blown over the lips; the eclipse wants to bring back the light.

Poem in prose by A. Van Jordan

Sources and further links:
"The Physics of Poetry (or the Poetry of Physics)" from Laura Orem

Sunday, 17 May 2009

"The Physics of Poetry or the Poetry of Physics" from Laura Orem's blog

How many of us, scientists and non-scientists alike, know of poetic works by Nobel Physicist, Richard Phillips Feynman?

To one of his lectures, Laura Orem, tells us that Feynman added this poetic footnote, a poem in prose:

"Poets say science takes away from the beauty of the stars - mere gobs of gas atoms. Nothing is "mere."

I too can see the stars on a desert night, and feel them.

But do I see less or more?

The vastness of the heavens stretches my imagination - stuck on this carousel my little eye can catch one-million-year-old light.

A vast pattern - of which I am a part - perhaps my stuff was belched from some forgotten star,

as one is belching there. Or see them with the greater eye of Palomar, rushing all apart from some common starting point when they were perhaps all together.

What is the pattern, or the meaning, or the "why?"

It does not do harm to the mystery to know a little about it.

For far more marvelous is the truth than any artists of the past imagined!

Why do the poets of the present not speak of it?

What men are poets who can speak of Jupiter if he were like a man, but if he is an immense spinning sphere of methane and ammonia must be silent?"


"The Physics of Poetry (or the Poetry of Physics)" from Laura Orem:

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