QED – a poem by Kate Rauner

Bosons carry force
Among the fermions
Flying back and forth –
Colliding with the masses.
All these interactionsFeynmann_Diagram_Gluon_Radiation.svg
Exchanging many photons
Exceed our calculations –
The math beyond our grasp.
A million million histories
Are not enough to tell
The pathways are a mystery –
Too many to envision.
When all the paths are added
Results become absurd
Infinity of masses –
Of minuses and pluses.
Infinities that run to right
Infinities to left
Yield answers that are finite –
Renormalized at last.
From these results we can’t predict
The math seems somewhat dubious
But once electrons are fixed –
The method is a triumph.
Weak nuclear combines
With electromagnetism
But strong nuclear we find
Evades with gravity.
Strong nuclear is parallel
A similar approach
But gravity is physics hell
Somewhere Einstein chuckles.

I’ve read many attempts to explain quantum physics without the mathematics. I’m currently reading The Grand Design by Hawkings and Mlodinow and I like it a lot. The tone is casual, the diagrams helpful, and the many cartoons are a lighthearted touch. If you’re a non-physicist, read this book, even if you’ve read other explanations. Remember Richard Feynman once wrote “nobody understands quantum mechanics.” But it has never failed a test, and if all that testing says it’s so, then it is so. The quantum world exists outside our intuitive, common-sense experience, so forget all that and follow the proof.


Like #Houdini, James Randi Entertains and Exposes Frauds #magic #skeptic

Randi is famous for debunking psychic frauds who bend flatware

Randi is famous for debunking psychic frauds who bend flatware

I love magic – real magic done by slight of hand and misdirection, not camera tricks. There have been several TV shows recently that revealed some of the tricks of the magic trade. Penn & Teller are well known for this, and for their dislike of bullshit.

Now there’s a documentary coming out about the Amazing (James) Randi, a venerable magician who, like the famous magician Houdini, has been debunking psychics and frauds for decades. There’s a challenge on his site randi.org offering a million dollars to anyone who can prove something paranormal. Randi’s team has evaluated claims of psychic powers, ESP, dowsing, magnetic humans, astrology, faith healing, and more. He says that scientists are ill-prepared to evaluate such claims – you need a magician to catch a magician; or a well-meaning person who has fooled themselves. As Richard Feynman said, “the first principle is that you must not fool yourself and you are the easiest person to fool.” So far no one has claimed the prize, but it will truly be amazing if someone does – a breath-taking surprise to science. I’d love to see that, but sadly, so far, the paranormal is home to superstition.


James Randi

It may be harmless entertainment to read your horoscope every day, but superstition can cause harm, can even kill. What intentional frauds do is immoral, sometimes illegal, so I applaud Randi. But I do disagree with him on one point. He says, people don’t really want to know how a magic trick is done, it bums them out. Not me – I am even more amazed when I see how I have been tricked (I’m always tricked – I can never figure out magic), and still enjoy seeing the trick again. I can love magic, science fiction, and fantasy, and yet live in the real world. Reality, after all, is pretty amazing. Besides, no matter how hard you believe, reality always wins.

I don’t see the release details yet, but watch for the documentary. StrictlyDocs.com

BTW – Penn and Teller have a new TV show on the SyFy channel: Wizard Wars which promises to take “viewers behind the scenes of magic by challenging a new team of magicians each week to create the most jaw-dropping illusions.” The episodes I’ve seen so far make me realize that magicians spend a lot of time perfecting their routines – and the show doesn’t allow them that time. But I’ll keep watching.

Penn & Teller

Penn & Teller


How Can It Be So? #poetry #richardfeynman #quotes #feynman

This is the last of my poems inspired by Richard Feynman’s book Six Easy Pieces.  This poem is from Lecture 6: Quantum Behavior

How Can It Be So?

Run the tests over, with protocols tight,
Electrons alone, electrons and light.
You find it’s uncertain, day after day,
If electrons are lumps, or electrons are waves.
They’re both and they’re neither, no one can explain.
This is what happens, always the same.
It’s thoroughly proven that nature’s this way.
The math is so simple, the words fall away.
Don’t try to fit the results that you get
To your intuition,
No one’s done it yet.
“Try not to ask,
‘How can it be so?
“No one knows
How it can be so.”
By Kate Rauner

English: Picture of a Feynman diagram, inscrib...

A Feynman diagram, inscribed by Richard P. Feynman. If you can’t read the symbols, they are \gamma_\mu to \gamma_\mu and 1/q^2 (Photo credit: Wikipedia)














Falling is a Mystery #poetry #richardfeynman #feynman #quotes

Mushroom Rock

Mushroom Rock, Chiricahuas – photo by Kate Rauner

This poem was inspired by Richard Feynman’s book Six Easy Pieces, Lecture 5: Theory of Gravitation

“Some major mysteries in physics have frustrated great minds for decades, including the nature of … gravity, for which no particle has been found.”  http://bit.ly/11t0HiC


by Kate Rauner

Everything is always falling, falling everywhere.

It all seems so familiar we don’t see the mystery there.

What holds the sun together, what keeps the planets bound,

What pulls the tides through oceans, keeps my feet upon the ground.

It is the shape of space-time; through four dimensions fall.

So now we see the mystery, can it be a force at all?

Energy’s Conserved #poetry #richardfeyman #feynman #quotes #science

A poem inspired by Richard Feynman’s book, Six Easy Pieces, Lecture 4: Conservation of Energy; with an update on Einstein’s famous equation, thanks to Mike’s comment.

It’s a Fact

e=mc2 on buildingThere is a fact in nature that energy’s conserved.
The total’s always constant, changing form, but not perturbed.
Gravitational, potential, nuclear, kinetic,
Radiant and chemical, elastic and electric.
Existence gives mass energy,
Einstein got us there.
Mass and energy relate: E=mc squared;
(That’s when momentum is a null
From where you look to there.)
The energy so useful to power our machines
Is mathematical abstraction; reality as dreams.
Don’t need to understand it all to pay electric bills,
And speak of it with confidence, and calculate at will.

By Kate Rauner

The Sciences #poetry #feynamn #richardfeynman #quotes #science

English: Photo given by George Chapline (in ph...

English: Photo given by George Chapline (in photo). (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Here is a poem inspired by Richard Feynman’s book, Six Easy Pieces, Lecture 3: Relation of Physics to Other Sciences


Chemistry – Biology – We study these.
Astronomy – Geology – For tools we need.
Hydrometeorology – For lives we lead.
But physics –Curiosity demands.

by Kate Rauner

Basic Physics #Poem #richardfeynman #quotes #feynman #poetry

Here is a poem inspired by Richard Feynman’s Six Easy Pieces, Lecture 2: Basic Physics


The world we live in every day
We understand in all its ways.
We simplify, amalgamate,
But mostly know things’ speed and weight.
Know when the apple hits the ground,
Know red hot steel and waves of sound.

But all these rules are incomplete.
They can’t describe the quantum leap.
Here’s where Newton’s world goes bust,
Electric light is waves and pulse,
Space-time’s the force of gravity,
And particles move uncertainly.

When experiment tells us something’s so –
If testing shows – then it is so.
We may not want a world like that –
It’s horrible,
But that is that.

by Kate Rauner