But that does not mean he is not also right in his own way.
As Dr. Lehrl had explained it, entropy was a measure of a certain type of information that there was no point in knowing. Lehrl’s axiom was that the definitive test of the efficiency of any organization structure was information and the filtering and dissemination of information. Real entropy had zippo to do with temperature.
—David Foster Wallace, The Pale King
And I am a bit embarrassed. There is a 3-sigma bump at Fermilab that may be the Higgs!
Excerpted from Roger Rosenblatt’s upcoming book, Unless it Moves the Human Heart:
For your writing to be great—I mean great, not clever, or even brilliant, or most misleading of all, beautiful—it must be useful to the world. And for that to happen you must form an opinion of the world. And for that to happen you need to observe the world, closely and steadily, with a mind open to change. And for that to happen you have to live in the world, and not pretend that it is someone else’s world you are writing about. A tendency of modern literature is to claim, “We must love one another or die,” or “be true to one another,” or “only connect.” Sweet as such sentiments may be, they give up on the world and imply that the best way to live in it is to hide from it in one another’s embrace.
I am quite the sucker for a good rant about modern poets.
They neglected to mention all the coffee, reading, and stress.
This is exciting. The LHC’s first proton-proton collisions happened yesterday evening between two counter-circling packets of some 2 billion particles each. Though the beam energy was much lower than that optimal for searching for the Higgs or other exotica, real physics will be beginning soon. After some 3 decades of planning, 15 years of construction, and many billions of dollars, physicists have been rewarded. I, however, refuse to ever call this event “the first bang.”
From The Education of Henry Adams, proof of the longevity of ideas or, rather, their lengthy irresolution:
“He could not deny that the law of the new multiverse explained much that had been most obscure…but the staggering problem was the outlook ahead into the despotism of artificial order which nature abhorred. The physicists had a phrase for it, unintelligible to the vulgar…”
As an aesthetics-minded former physicist I quite enjoy artists who are able to convey the beauty and mystery of quantum mechanics through images. I especially admire former physicists who are able to make such art, who help us to visualize the physical world we do not see and who can communicate ideas that people such as myself have to struggle to describe through words. One such artist is Julian Voss-Andreae. Julian studied physics under Anton Zeilinger, whose work and lab I described in my article The Reality Tests, and did his graduate work on that strange border between quantum mechanics and the classical world we observe. After leaving physics, Julian became a sculptor, crafting images that similarly explore the border between what can and cannot be observed, inspired by his studies of quantum mechanics. This month, Julian begins a year-long exhibition of his works, called Quantum Objects, at the American Center for Physics in College Park, MD. Few fine artists receive such an endorsement of their technical accomplishments from scientists, and his work is definitely worth a look. If you are in the DC area, check it out. I especially like his sculpture Quantum Man, which changes form dramatically depending on how it is observed.