Monday, December 25, 2017

Einstein's Clocks and Thought Experiments


 Einstein's Clocks 

 OR 
 A Flight Of Imagination  
 That Revealed The Real World
 In 1905 

 About Einstein's thought experiments
 and his ability to imagine in the moment 


shot of the Zytglogge tower in Bern Switzerland,   with the astronomical clock on the bottom and the bell at the top in the tower
Left: Full shot of the Zytglogge tower in Bern Switzerland,
 with the astronomical clock on the bottom and the bell at the top in the tower
Right: Close-up of the bell and bell ringer in the tower

Full shot of the astronomical clock (left) with the animated figures (right) 
that parade and move every hour, known as the Zytglogge bellworks

Close-up of the hour hand and Zodiac wheel
Close-up of the hour hand and Zodiac wheel

Father Time sits next to the astronomical clock   and presides over the animated figures who parade every hour
Father Time sits next to the astronomical clock 
and presides over the animated figures who parade every hour

A sketch of the Zytglogge tower and clock from 1534
                                  A sketch of the Zytglogge tower and clock from 1534                                                      

A figure representing Chronos, the Greek god of time,  who strikes the bell, that was cast in 1405, on the hour
A figure representing Chronos, the Greek god of time,
who strikes the bell, that was cast in 1405, on the hour


A shaft of light
A shaft of light

 Late one night 
 after struggling with the physics of light, 
 Albert heard the distinctive ring 
 of Bern's Zytglogge clock tower, 
 with its 500 year-old bell 
 struck by a figure 
 representing Chronos, the Greek god of time. 

 In a flash 
 he was riding a streetcar 
 at the speed of light 
 and looking back at the time 
 on the Bern clock 
 which froze 
 because the light from its later time 
 could never catch him. 
 Yet he could see the minutes 
 on his pocket watch were 
 continuing. 

 And then he knew 
 time was relative. 

A streetcar with the clock behind it   around the time Einstein lived in Bern
A streetcar with the clock behind it 
around the time Einstein lived in Bern

Bern streetcar around the time Einstein lived there
Bern streetcar around the time Einstein lived there

Streetcar interior
Streetcar interior

A Swiss pocket watch made around 1900 with Roman numerals
Left: Inner workings of a pocket watch
Right: A Swiss pocket watch made around 1900 with Roman numerals

The man who arrives at the doors of artistic creation with none of the madness of the Muses would be convinced that technical ability alone was enough to make an artist... what that man creates by means of reason will pale before the art of inspired beings.
Plato

There comes a point where the mind takes a leap 
— call it intuition or what you will — 
and comes out upon a higher plane of knowledge, 
but can never prove how it got there. 
All great discoveries have involved such a leap.
Albert Einstein


Monday, November 27, 2017

Franz Schubert's Last Sonata

Franz Schubert's Last Sonata: 
Piano Sonata No. 21 in B-flat Major, D. 960 
Franz Schubert portrait

 How amazing 
 that just before he died 
 Schubert 
 can speak to me 
 across the centuries 


Piano Sonata No. 21 in B-flat Major, D. 960 

Completed September 26, 1828

Schubert died November 19, 1828, age 31
Recording on YouTube

Franz Schubert: 1797 - 1828 

About
"...until the last weeks of his life in November 1828, he continued to compose an extraordinary amount of music, including such masterpieces as the three last sonatas."

Franz Schubert portrait


Sunday, October 1, 2017

End of the World

The End of the World

They
said
the world
was going
to end
today

so I took the day off --
and listened for the end of time

This is great I thought
we should do this more often

Just let it stop
let the future become a blank
a question we don't have to answer



Wednesday, September 6, 2017

Prometheus in the 21st Century

Prometheus in the 21st Century

Really when you think about it, our patron saint 
[of the modern technological world] 
is Prometheus who stole fire from the gods.
Eugen Weber, Professor of History, UCLA
Public Television Series: The Western Tradition

 The Greek God Prometheus, father of mankind, stealing fire from the Gods

Stealing fire from the Gods -- 
Have we taken on too much? 

(Left) A simple match (Right) A midsummer bonfire

Our fate is now
tied to our ability
to understand 
and then to manage nature

To become managers 
of planet Earth

 (Left) Fire out of control (Right) Photo of the fireball of first US atomic bomb test, Trinity

The question is:
Are we up to the task?

 (Left) NASA composite of the Earth and moon (Right) NASA Earth monitoring satellites 


No society has ever yet been able to handle the temptations of technology...
We have to learn to cherish this Earth and cherish it as something that's fragile, that's only one, it's all we have. We have to use our scientific knowledge to correct the dangers that have come from science and technology.
Margaret Mead

Sunday, August 13, 2017

I Think, Therefore I Am

What Is Existence?

What does it mean to be? To say I am? 
This Haiku-like blog is the sequel to the previous blog: 
A Chorus of Frogs After the Rain (just below this one)

"Diagram from one of RenĂ© Descartes' works." https://commons.wikimedia.org
I think, therefore I am.
René Descartes
Also: Cogito ergo sum.
Je pense, donc je suis.

Portrait of Rousseau dressed in an Armenian outfit.
I feel, therefore I am.
Jean-Jacques Rousseau
(a distillation of Rousseau's thought)

I continue, therefore I am.
Rick Doble

Yet even more fundamental than thought or feeling
is that awake or asleep we continue
and keep on going as long as we exist.



Sunday, August 6, 2017

A Chorus of Frogs After the Rain

The Rain Is Over

We know the rain is over --
the rain so hard it shook the roof,
blurred the windows,
and darkened the sky
till it was almost night --
We know the rain is over
because now
the choir of frogs
has grown
and reached a pitch
almost as loud as the rain

A chorus with that traditional song
and those old familiar words:

"I am"
"I am"
"I am"


Monday, July 31, 2017

Poem to Digital Photography

A POEM TO DIGITAL PHOTOGRAPHY

Note: In 1999 in the darkening twilight, the coarse pixels on my first digital camera, a primitive Casio, changed back and forth on the monitor from color to darker color as the sky faded and as I framed the scene for my next shot. Crude as it was, to see a photograph in real time was a miracle -- as this had never been possible during my 30 years working with film photography.

REAL TIME



On the edge of darkness
I have seen the twilight sky
do it's digital dance
in real time --
pixels pulsing from
cerulean blue to black
on my LCD screen --
van Gogh's deepest colors
outside his cafe in the evening
or his starry starry night



Rick Doble, 1999
(An early selfie -- my face was lit with a neon light.)