25 August 2006

Physics for Scientists and Poets

Place: The 12th annual Back-to-School night (for this parent at least):
Setting: 2nd year AP Physics Class
Timing: Mid-way through the teacher's 7 minute speech


"The text is this book. (Holds up book for viewing) It's the best text there is. Physics for Scientists and Engineers"

"Named so because it's for, well, scientists. And engineers".

(Long pause to allow teacher to do a reality check, assessing the following:
a. Parents who are not listening;
b. Those who take this W-A-Y too seriously;
c. Anyone with a dry sense of humor.

Teacher continuing....)

"As opposed to the Physics for Poets and Lovers, which is a much easier text. Too easy for your kids."

But probably better written! I think. I was the only one who laughed out loud.

Earlier in the day, I had read Jim's wonderful poem "Contemplating God in the 11th Dimension / String Theory / Mottled Ducks". In response, I was inspired to write the following poem (now slightly revised) in the comments section.

Jim, maybe one of us should write that Physics for Poets and Lovers book. What do you think?

Twisting Physics Makes a Poem
I thought about writing a poem
about a mobius strip
--or a Klein bottle
for added dimension--
No direction to start,
so I jumped right in
along the thin edge,
around and around,
until I came back to me,
twice as long again
at the beginning
and the end.

If you haven't visited Jim's site before, click on over to I Am Big. It's the Pictures That Got Small. He's a wonderful poet.


jim said...


Love the moment you recorded, first of all; flattered by the praise, second of all; and totally inspired by your suggestion, third of all. Absolutely why not Physics for Poets and Lovers?? Seems like the most necessary of books.

P.S. Note that you live in Indianapolis--I spent eight years in Bloomington, and enjoyed going up to Indy, yes, really.

Cam said...

My engineering-type partner told me that the title should have referred to Calculus rather than Physics, but I like it the way it is. Poetic license, I guess!

When I was younger and eager to escape 'Naptown', I would have said Really? to your comment about Indianapolis, but now I feel differently. It's completely understandable. Indianapolis is a nice place to live and not nearly the backwater, fly-over, place some think, conservative Midwestern politics aside.