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Poetry and Physics by Laurie Everett

You don’t have to get theoretical physics to get Frank Wilczek.

I was thinking recently about the mixed messages that come through various forums about ambition and achievement. Simultaneously you hear “you can do anything” or the world is open to you, and then be told that there are dues to be paid, you must accumulate a certain number and type of “tickets” to be able to do the thing you want to do, you have to wait your turn or become a certain age before you can do anything, like change the world.

With that in mind I started thinking about The Universe is a Strange Place, a lecture given by MIT Physics Professor and Nobel Laureate Frank Wilczek. Wilczek won the Nobel Prize in Physics in 2004 at the age of 53 for work he did at the age of 21, while a graduate student at Princeton.

This is an amazing talk. You don’t have to get theoretical physics to get Frank Wilczek, as he is also a writer, poet and is known to tell a good joke or two. He shares Einstein’s favorite physics joke with the audience, and he recites his sonnet, Virtual Particles in this talk, which ends with

To be or not
the choice seems clear enough
but Hamlet vacillated
and so does this stuff.

If you find yourself pondering the question “how is it possible to construct heavy objects out of things that don’t weigh anything?” and want to see more from Wilczek, you can find 3 additional lectures The World’s Numerical Recipe, The Origins of Mass and the Feebleness of Gravity, and the Physics 2004 Nobel Colloquium on MIT World.

17 responses to “Poetry and Physics”

  1. Anonymous says:

    wow…the lectures are amazing!!!!!!

  2. Alexander says:

    Thank you Laurie, this MIT World project is amazing and groundbreaking.

  3. Monika says:

    oooh- another reason to cpome to MIT to study physics wink

  4. My Theory

    All matter is made up of infinitely condensed energy.



    1) Annihilation of matter.
    2) Radioactive Decay

  5. pradeep says:

    Blogs like this takes a great load off our mind, laurie. something refreshing just like a cool breeze!

    thanks for that!

  6. Pradeep says:

    Blogs like this takes a great load off our mind, laurie. something refreshing just like a cool breeze!

    thanks for that!

  7. .ph says:

    It is hard to understand your words because of my poor English. But I am very interested in this ‘strange place’.
    By the way, what does ‘strange’ mean, unfamiliar or unusual?
    And, ‘tickets’ means money, right?

  8. Evan Wise says:

    To Arihant K Jain:

    Einstein beat you to it by about a ninety years smile. E_r=m_0c^2 (Does MIT’s blog comment… leaver allow super and sub-scripts?)

  9. Evan Wise says:

    And, er, that “a” isn’t supposed to be there. I originally had “a hundred”, but then it was 1916 wasn’t it.

  10. Evan Wise,

    This formula also gives the quantitative relation of the quantity of mass lost from a resting body or a resting system (a system with no net momentum, where invariant mass and relativistic mass are equal), when energy is removed from it, such as in a chemical or a nuclear reaction where heat and light are removed. Then this E could be seen as the energy released or removed, corresponding with a certain amount of relativistic or invariant mass m which is lost, and which corresponds with the removed heat or light. In those cases, the energy released and removed is equal in quantity to the mass lost, times the speed of light squared. Similarly, when energy of any kind is added to a resting body, the increase in the resting mass of the body will be the energy added, divided by the speed of light squared.(Thanks to WiKi users!)

    It has never been explicitly mentioned that matter can be seen as infinitely condensed energy.

    Einstein’s equation accounted well for processes like Barrier Penetration.

  11. hmmm. poetry and physics, I don’t have any experience, but engineering enthusiast and radio jockey…. here’s my show.

  12. ttt says:

    Laurie, I have a question for you.

    MIT has a bunch of my favorite physicists, Frank Wilczek being one of them. However I’m asking of Samuel Ting, whose lectures can hardly be found on MIT world. Is prof. Ting still giving lectures at MIT? I really hope to listen to one of his talks. Thanks!

  13. Laurie says:


    Sorry to say that there are no lectures from Samuel Ting on MIT World, however, I’ll keep an eye out for his public lectures in the future. Thanks.

  14. ttt says:

    thanx for the responce!