Tag Archives: Valentine’s Day Physics Poem

Valentine’s Day Physics Poem 2017

It’s that time of year again! Valentine’s Day was this week, so to continue this blog’s tradition it’s time for me to post one of my physics poems. I wrote this back before I fully understood quantum field theory, so you’ll have to excuse any inaccuracies in the metaphor (at least on the physics side 😉 ).

 

Perturbation Theory II – Going in Loops

 

In order to interact, two particles must collide.

But a particle is a small thing, moving in its own circles, covering little space in its lonely life.

So we will never interact.

 

But particles emit bosons,

Tiny messengers of force,

Tendrils of interaction.

When these find us,

As they sometimes do,

We can interact.

 

But a boson is a small thing, moving in its own circles, covering little space in its lonely life.

So we will never interact.

 

But each boson has its own retinue,

Particles and their bosons in turn,

Spawned from its self-energy, uncertainty in its own nature,

Each, unobserved, with infinite possibilities.

 

And to compensate for these infinities

The charged nature of our naked selves

Must in turn be infinitely repressed.

 

So perhaps interaction would still be understandable

For those with simple repressions,

Matching constraints.

 

But we are not such people.

Complicated beings, we spin and twirl.

We hide our charge behind an infinity of possible terms,

So we can never know

If we will interact.

 

But perhaps we are not simply isolated points.

Perhaps we have extension,

Dimension,

Reach, beyond the confines of zero-dimensional selves.

And with that reach

Perhaps we can understand.

Perhaps

We can interact.

Gravitational Waves, and Valentine’s Day Physics Poem 2016

By the time this post goes up, you’ll probably have seen Advanced LIGO’s announcement of the first direct detection of a gravitational wave. We got the news a bit early here at Perimeter, which is why we were able to host a panel discussion right after the announcement.

From what I’ve heard, this is the real deal. They’ve got a beautifully clear signal, and unlike BICEP, they kept this under wraps until they could get it looked at by non-LIGO physicists. While I think peer review gets harped on a little too much in these sorts of contexts, in this case their paper getting through peer review is a good sign that they’re really seeing something.

IMG_20160211_104600

Pictured: a very clear, very specific something

I’ll have more to say next week: explanations of gravitational waves and LIGO for my non-expert audience, and impressions from the press release and PI’s panel discussion for those who are interested. For now, though, I’ll wait until the dust (metaphorical this time) settles. If you’re hungry for immediate coverage, I’m sure that half the blogs on my blogroll have posts up, or will in the next few days.

In the meantime, since Valentine’s Day is in two days, I’ll continue this blog’s tradition and post one of my old physics poems.


 

When a sophisticated string theorist seeks an interaction

He does not go round and round in loops

As a young man would.

 

Instead he turns to topology.

 

Mature, the string theorist knows

That what happens on

(And between)

The (world) sheets,

Is universal.

 

That the process is the same

No matter which points

Which interactions

One chooses.

 

Only the shapes of things matter.

 

Only the topology.

 

For such a man there is no need.

To obsess

To devote

To choose

One point or another.

The interaction is the same.

 

The world, though

Is not an exercise in theory.

Is not a mere possibility.

And if a theorist would compute

An experiment

A probability

 

He must pick and choose

Obsess and devote

Label his interactions with zeroes and infinities

 

Because there is more to life

Than just the shapes of things

Than just topology.

 

Valentine’s Day Physics Poem 2015

In the third installment of an ongoing tradition (wow, this blog is old enough to have traditions!), I present 2015’s Valentine’s Day Physics Poem. Like the others, I wrote this one a long time ago. I’ve polished it up a bit since.

 

Perturbation Theory

 

When you’ve been in a system a long time, your state tends to settle

Time-energy uncertainty

That unrigorous interloper

Means the longer you wait, the more fixed you are

And I’ve been stuck

In a comfy eigenstate

Since what I might as well call t=0.

 

Yesterday though,

Out of the ether

Like an electric field

New potential entered my Hamiltonian.

 

And my state was perturbed.

 

Just a small, delicate perturbation

And an infinite series scrolls out

Waves from waves from waves

It’s a new system now

With new, unrealized energy

And I might as well

Call yesterday

t=0.

 

Our old friend

Time-energy uncertainty

Tells me not to change,

Not to worry.

Soon, probability thins

The Hamiltonian pulls us back

And we all return

Closer and closer

To a fixed, settled, normal state.

 

This freedom

This uncertainty

This perturbation

Is limited by Planck’s constant

Is vanishingly small.

 

Yet rigor

        And happiness

                Demand I include it.

Caltech Amplitudes Workshop, and Valentines Poem 2014

This week’s post will be a short one. I’m at a small workshop for young amplitudes-folks at Caltech, so I’m somewhat busy.

(What we call a workshop is a small conference focused on fostering discussion and collaboration. While there are a few talks to give the workshop structure, most of the time is spent in more informal discussions between the participants.)

There have been a lot of great talks, and a lot of great opportunities to bond with fellow young amplitudeologists. Also, great workshop swag!

Yes, that is a Hot Wheels Mars Rover

Yes, that is a Hot Wheels Mars Rover

Unrelatedly, to continue a tradition from last year, and since it’s Valentine’s Day, allow me to present a short physics-themed poem I wrote a long time ago, this one about the sometimes counter-intuitive laws of thermodynamics:

Thermodynamic Hypothesis

A cold object, like a hot one, must be insulated

Cut off from interaction

Immerse the subject in a bath of warmth

And I reach equilibrium

Valentine’s Day Physics Poem

In honor of Valentine’s Day, a physics-themed poem I wrote a few years ago, about unrequited love.

Measurement:

 

I once took a measurement

It was a simple, two-body problem,

Solvable. Not Poisson’s mess.

Two particles, drifting, perhaps entangled.

I wanted to know two things:

Position, and momentum:

Where they were, and where they might go.

 

I perturbed the system

Like a good scientist, I interacted, and observed,

Added input, caused change.

Then I knew their positions.

They became tightly entangled,

Bound together,

And there was no way of knowing

Any way they could change.

 

I should have remembered:

In quantum systems

The observer is always involved;

And a three-body problem

Has no solution.