The Poetry Of Physics Poem by Paul Hartal

The Poetry Of Physics

Science thrives
absorbed in the myth of objectivity.
The vision of science as rigorous research
based on exact observation
and objective facts is full of holes.

Great scientists have known this for long.
According to the American physicist
Leon Lederman, a Nobel Laureate,
the essence of physics is pure faith:
“To believe something while
knowing that it cannot be proved (yet) .”

Going back in history we find
that the ancient Greek Philosopher Plato
and his pupil, Aristotle, held that symmetry,
order and proportion of form, through
the organic unity of the whole, gave rise
to beauty, expressed in art, poetry
and in the mathematical sciences.

In modern times
the French mathematician and physicist
Henri Poincare (1854-1912) believed that
a common denominator of mathematics
and art lies in the domain of creativity.
He assumed that in mathematics,
an indispensable and exact tool of physics,
the aesthetic faculty working through
imagination, illumination or intuition,
is the dominant trait of creativity.
To logic he assigned only a secondary role.

In 1922 the Danish physicist Niels Bohr said
to his young German colleague,
Werner Heisenberg:
“When it comes to atoms, language
can be used only as in poetry.”
For, “the poet, too, is not nearly
so concerned with describing facts as with
creating images and establishing
mental connections.”

Another Nobel Prize recipient in physics,
the English quantum theorist Paul Dirac
formulated a significant wave equation,
which describes the behaviour
of subatomic particles, electrons
and other fermions. It implied
the existence of antimatter.
The Dirac equation
appeared in the author’s 1928 paper
suggesting that electrons can have
both a positive and negative charge.
Four years later Carl D. Anderson
on a cloud chamber photograph
identified the antimatter counterpart
of the electron, the positron.

Paul Dirac,
the brilliant Lucasian Professor
of Mathematics at Cambridge,
was a precise, taciturn and modest
person. As a theoretician he praised
the beauty of concepts and believed
that their ontological status surpassed
the level of empirical reality.
For his part,
a beautiful mathematical formula
represents truth
even if it is not borne out
by data or experiment.

Yet Dirac has no interest in poetry and
thought it is incompatible with physics.
According to him, science aims to make
difficult things simple and clear,
whereas poetry aims to state
simple things in an incomprehensible way.

On the other hand Albert Einstein,
the greatest scientist of the 20th century,
was also an accomplished musician,
as well as a gifted poet.
“I’m enough of an artist”, he said,
“to draw fully on my imagination,
which I think is more important than
knowledge. Knowledge is limited,
imagination encircles the world.”

Wednesday, March 25, 2015
Topic(s) of this poem: poetry,science
Leon Lederman is quoted from
“What We Believe but Cannot Prove”, edited by John Brockman, NY: Harper,2006, p.25

Bohr's words appear in Paul Z. Hartal, “The Brush and the Compass”, Lanham: University Press of America,1988, p. xix

The Einstein quote originates from an Interview with Albert Einstein by George Sylvester Viereck published in “The Philadelphia Saturday Evening Post”, October 26,1929
Tushar Ray 25 March 2015

Thank you very much for bringing this deepest connectivity between science and poetry. As you mentioned, many renowned physicists tried to introduce this long ago but failed due primarily to the ignorance and prejudices of the general scientific community in. Being a health scientist (biochemist) I felt this deficiency in my field of investigation (ion-transport) for a long time until a year ago when I took a concrete step. Currently, I have been discussing the complimentary aspects of Science and Spirituality in Research Gate, and found a lot of support among the scientific community. So, I think the ice has been broken now. I have been writing poems based on the marriage between science and spirituality and publishing in Poem Hunter during the last few months. And I am so glad to read your beautiful poem. Thanks for sharing this. Please read my poems when you get a chance. Tushar

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Kelly Kurt 25 March 2015

I thoroughly enjoyed this piece. The quotes made and your observations of them bear testimony to the way that most, if not all, of life plays out. In the subjective minds of individuals with egos, biases and agendas. I am a lover of all knowledge, and the sciences, especially physics, fascinate me and spur my philosophical bent. But you are so right, that even the great minds disobey the cardinal rules of their fields. Being human, it isn't easy to refrain from emotional responses to great theoretical discoveries. Thank you for sharing this. I look forward to

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