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Introduction

Welcome to my web site with links to material related to science and personal interests.  Click on one of the links above to get to the various categories.  Click “About” to see why I named this web site “Word and Fire.”  Click on “Physics” or “Publications” to see my interests and papers in physics.  “Personal,” “Photography,” and “Poetry” deal with personal interests.  “Sources” is my other web site dedicated to physics. It duplicates the “Physics” and “Publications” material above.

Philosophy, Physics

Efimov’s exotic effect

Borromean rings

Most people have never heard of Vitaly Efimov or the exotic physics that he discovered as a young Russian scientist in 1970. I along with several colleagues got to meet Professor Efimov in 2014 at a dinner during a workshop in which I was participating at the Institute for Nuclear Theory of the University of Washington in Seattle. It was good to meet him. He reflected the kind of sanity and simple wisdom I associate with those deeply steeped in the ethos of science. Scientists have a natural affinity for and mutual understanding of one another when they get together, no matter where they come from. But what is so striking about Efimov physics?

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News, Science

Coronavirus and COVID-19 information site

Since March 2020, I have been maintaining a page with links to a variety of information on the Coronavirus and COVID-19. I update the page regularly to be current, focusing especially on data for Fairfax County, Virginia, where I live. I am adding this post so the information on the page can be readily accessible to anyone via this button:

Philosophy, Religion, Science, Technology

An Immanent Problem

Frontispiece of Sir Francis Bacon’s “Great Renewal,” 1620

I grew up loving science.  I still do.  The radical break I saw in the 1950s and 60s, described in my previous post, was the fruit of a very complex confluence of things driven by increasing scientific knowledge of the world that have led to an ever more rapid transitioning from former ways of life that have bound human beings to place, land and production from time immemorial.  Prior to and even after the industrial revolution, travel and communication was slow and mostly local.  Getting places was by foot or horse or boat, perhaps even by train starting around 200 years ago.   Communications was limited to the range of speaking and hearing aided by writing and the distribution of written material.  A majority of the human population was associated with agriculture and the production of food. 

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Biography, Philosophy, Technology

Roots to remember

When I was growing up in the 1950s and spending summers on my grandparents’ farm in North Carolina, I became strangely aware that we were living in truly radical times.  I say radical because that word comes from Latin radix, meaning “root.”  I could sense that the roots of our civilization were shaking beneath us, even though the civilizational tree still seemed strong and healthy.  Problems with the roots implies problems with the tree.  Dealing with that requires some “radical” thinking, that is, thinking directed to the root of things.  This Word and Fire web site hopes to take some constructive steps in that direction.

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News, Philosophy, Physics

Black holes and all that

Picture from cited Nature article

I intend to start some posting to this site, and science news is a good place to start. For science entangles the ordinary everyday course of our lives with inconceivably exotic and almost unimaginable events of our vast yet comprehensible universe. The collision of two supermassive black holes recently detected by the LIGO/VIRGO collaboration of gravitational wave astronomy made news articles in both Nature and Science and, additionally, had two NewYork Times articles( 1 and 2) about it.

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Physics, Religion, Science

The Feynman Challenge

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Physicist Richard Feynman

Richard Feynman (1918-1988) was one of the most highly regarded physicists of the 20th Century.  He had an uncanny knack for getting to the heart of a problem with simple language and insights.  His work had impact not only in fundamental physics  but he posed challenges to explore new areas such as nanotechnology or quantum computing, and also, perhaps surprisingly, science and religion.

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