Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Imagination is Way More Important than Knowledge

Peter Higgs is a theoretical physicist who imagined, back in the 60s, the existence of a sub-atomic particle at the center of our existence (aka, the God Particle).  Over 50 years later, experimental physicists confirmed the existence of that particle.

Even the most powerful microscopes cannot show this sub-atomic matter.  The only way to confirm the existence of sub-atomic particles is by colliding electrons and capturing the aftermath of that destruction. (Shown in the picture below)

What I found so incredible about this “experiment” was the scope... Biblically Huge!

CERN built a $10 billion machine that smashes electrons into one another at almost the speed of light, and employed about 4000 scientists to work on this project.

After the collision, a massive amount of data had to be analyzed!  A year and a half later, on July 4th, 2012, in the presence of Peter Higgs, CERN presented their findings.  In December 2013, Peter Higgs won the Nobel Peace Prize in Physics. 

It just makes me swell with emotion to think about the magnitude of conviction, dedication, money and resources, purely in the name of scientific curiosity, to pull this off, and validate one of the most significant and profound theories of our time.

Monday, October 13, 2014

Shiva's Dance (My Next Tattoo)

Mary and I watched a documentary called Particle Fever, about the search for the Higgs-Boson particle, also known as the God particle.  It takes place in the Large Hadron Collider at CERN in Geneva, Switzerland.

Outside that facility is a 2m tall statue of the Indian deity Shiva Nataraja, the Lord of Dance.  The statue, symbolizing Shiva's cosmic dance of creation and destruction, was given to CERN by the Indian government to celebrate the research center's long association with India.

As soon as I saw that, I said, "THAT is my next tattoo!"

The parallel between Shiva's dance and the dance of subatomic particles was first discussed by Fritjof Capra and became a central metaphor in Capra's international bestseller (and one of my favorite books) The Tao of Physics

Capra explained that "Modern physics has shown that the rhythm of creation and destruction is not only manifest in the turn of the seasons and in the birth and death of all living creatures, but is also the very essence of inorganic matter," and that "For the modern physicists, then, Shiva's dance is the dance of subatomic matter."

I’m commissioning Tattoo Temple, in Hong Kong, to do the tattoo for me.  They have a waiting list of about a year, but I will definitely leave China with a new tattoo on my back.

Mary is such a geek when it comes to watching documentaries like that, that she wants to become a physicist, and work at CERN after she graduates.  She will need to change her citizenship to something in the European Union, however, because they simply do not employ Americans.

Still... if Geneva is on my bid list in January, it will be my first choice!

Thursday, August 28, 2014

Tiny Retirement Dream

I watched a documentary called Tiny: A Story about Living Small, and, of course, I now must have a tiny house!!  But, actually, it’s got me to thinking, seriously, about retiring early from the Foreign Service, hitching a tiny house to a truck, and just travelling the US. 

What do I actually need in this world that I can’t fit into a tiny house?  As long as I have my bike, my kindle, and my cat, Mayling Dynasty, I'm golden!  
I could make the rounds; see Todd, Steph, Eli and Noah every fall for the Jackson Hole ski season, dip down to the southern beaches during the winter and spring, and visit the Johnsons of NY in the summer.  

I think it’s the most brilliant plan I’ve had all week!

The soonest I can retire from State is June 2022; not that I don’t love my job… I do!  I would just rather be on my bike, with miles of smooth, uncluttered road in front of me, and the Velodrone Playlist blasting through my headphones.