The Inspired Perspirer

1% Inspiration, 99% Perspiration

Month: August, 2011

Quantum Field Theory – even snails can get there!

Once (and it was not yesterday), there lived a very young mole and a very young crow who, having heard of the fabulous land called Quefithe, decided to visit it. Before starting out, they went to the wise owl and asked what Quefithe was like.

Owl’s description of Quefithe was quite confusing. He said that in Quefithe everything was both up and down. If you knew where you were, there was no way of knowing where you were going and conversely, if you knew where you were going, there was no way of knowing where you were…

Clearly, if they were ever going to learn anything about Quefithe, they had to see it for themselves. And that is what they did.

After a few years had passed, the mole came back. He said that Quefithe consisted of lots of tunnels. One entered a hole and wandered through a maze, tunnels splitting and rejoining, until one found the next hole and got out. Quefithe sounded like a place only a mole would like, and nobody wanted to hear more about it.

Not much later the crow landed, flapping its wings and crowing excitedly. Quefithe was amazing, it said. The most beautiful landscape with high mountains, perilous passes and deep valleys. The valley floors were teeming with little moles who were scurrying down rutted paths. The crow sounded like he had taken too many bubble baths, and many who heard him shook their heads. The frogs kept on croaking “It is not rigorous, it is not rigorous!”… But there was something about crow’s enthusiasm that was infectious.

The most puzzling thing about it all was that the mole’s description of Quefithe sounded nothing like the crow’s description. Some even doubted that the mole and the crow had ever gotten to the mythical land. Only the fox, who was by nature very curious, kept running back and forth between the mole and the crow and asking questions, until he was sure that he understood them both. Nowadays, anybody can get to Quefithe – even snails.

~an anonymous student of Field Theory (as recounted in “Genius – The Life and Science of Richard Feynman” by James Gleick)

“Quote of the Day”

“As I’m talking, I see vague pictures of Bessel functions from Jahnke and Emde’s book, with light tan i’s, slightly violet-bluish n’s, and dark brown x’s flying around. And I wonder what the hell it must look like to the students.” ~Richard Feynman