ASIDE

 

essay

An Aside

I left the house for an hour or two the other day, just to get some fresh air.

I went for a walk through the campus. The sun was going down, and the wind was moving gently through the palms. I thought about how the light looked on Mt. Lemmon during early morning hikes, and how Mt. Lemmon reminded me of hikes up Turnbull in Whittier.

I had an article by Phillip Anderson earlier that day criticizing the nuclear and particle physicists during the late 60’s, and he had a point. In the 60’s, the discipline made historic leaps over the other branches. A sense of fundamental understanding was achieved, the likes of which hadn’t been seen since the development of Q.M. during the first few decades of the 20th century. But this was also post-WWII, at the height of the Cold War, and in the middle of the space race. We were looking for better weapons, and better sources of energy. Nuclear power had shown its might via the bomb, so naturally, the government took an interest in such powerful resources. Funding went in the direction of high-concept fundamental theories of matter, leaving everyone else in the camp of, well, everything else.

It unfortunately segregated those others, i.e. Condensed Matter Physicists, Relativists, etc., into the camp of almost 2nd class scientists, when they were really not.

As the Cold War waned, however, and as the Nuclear Age slowed down and flaws became apparent in it’s edifice, and even as people got older and computers became smaller and seasons passed, things changed, as they always do.

We are now in a so called second ‘Golden Age’ of Relativity, the first Golden Age being the early 70’s of Kerr, Hawking, Penrose, et al., and though I am unsure and supremely naive, I am working slowly towards a goal, though now it seems as far as the mountains in the distance, and as faint as the light on the city streets.

This year marks the 100th anniversary of Einstein’s first draft of GR, and what it a beautiful time it is to ‘be’.

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