Richard Feynman at the Blackboard
(on the AdS/CFT Duality and Holographic Universe)
He scribbles pictures on the universe’s edge,
a surface receding at the speed of light.
These form galaxies, solar systems,
and the rope hung from an oak branch
you swung from many summers ago.
His doodles ARE the emptiness
you move through, the heartbeat
that measures your lifetime.
When he lifts an eraser from the chalk tray,
volumes of the universe become islands,
like cosmic Floridas breaking away from the continent;
all those Cuban sandwiches gone forever.
Look for mysticism in rocks and springs,
in atoms of space so small, peering deeper
would detonate your microscope.
The stage you stand on
is not what you think.
The warped floorboards
not wood, but weird, quantum things
on a blackboard
45 billion light years away!
These poems don’t own snow shovels.
They roll their eyes when someone says
he misses the seasons. These poems wear Birkenstocks
year-round complain and when it gets cloudy in May.
These poems take hairpin turns on roads hugging
the Pacific. They would have learned to surf
if they hadn’t spent so much time writing themselves.
These poems think your ocean’s on the wrong side.
These poems came to Hollywood to become stars
but ended up in porn. They drove 3000 miles
to meet Timothy Leary but he wouldn’t see ‘em.
Harvey Weinstein harassed these poems.
When Santa Annas carry ashes fluffy as snowflakes,
these poems ignore orders to evacuate.
These poems roll over and go back to sleep
when earthquakes toss them from their beds.
These poems hike near Yosemite waterfalls
while climbers dangle from Half Dome.
These poems saw their rents double
due to an influx of tech workers.
These poems can still see Ferlinghetti
at City Lights
The Importance of Pets When Working with Explosives
Legend has it that Zhang Li Zhi discovered black powder during the Song Dynasty when his Shar-Pei knocked charcoal into a dish of potassium nitrate when lunging for a plate of Crab Rangoon. Since then, inventors have stressed the importance of pets when working with explosives. Ascanio Sobrero’s parakeet was fond of perching on the chemist’s head. If not for her stabilizing influence, the experiments with nitroglycerin could have been tragic. Joseph Wilbrand’s German Shepherd, Rainer, fetched vials of sulfuric acid on command, proving invaluable in the invention of gun cotton. Not all animals contributed, however. Alfred Nobel’s Siamese cat, Gustof, napped through the discovery of dynamite. Hahn and Strassmann almost overlooked nuclear fission due to Trudy, the dachshund’s, desire to play fetch with the neutron source.
Everyone knows J. Robert Oppenheimer carried his hamster, Shiva, to the Trinity site in his shirt pocket but few know that General Leslie Groves’ bulldog, Major, lapped up the nation’s supply of heavy water in 1942 and nearly caused a plutonium core to go super-critical by urinating on its metal hemispheres. Edward Teller’s Vizsla, Mani, was better trained. She accompanied him to both Eniwetok and the Bikini Atoll, trotting behind the Hungarian physicist with a Geiger counter in her jaws.
As the nuclear arms race heated up, foreigners took pets to weapons labs. Igor Kurchatov kept a llama at Chelyabinsk-40, no small feat in Stalin’s Russia. Each of Andrei Sakharov’s guinea pigs died of radiation poisoning until Sakharov decided to leave pet ownership to someone else. Though reports from North Korea are hard to verify, rumors of an ant colony at the Yongbyon Nuclear Facility persist.
Given the importance of animals when working with explosives, it’s no wonder apartment complexes on nine continents have no-pet policies.