The Inspired Perspirer

1% Inspiration, 99% Perspiration

Tag: Richard Feynman

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

The Idea

“The mind, once expanded to the dimensions of larger ideas, never returns to its original size.” ~ Oliver Wendell Holmes

You know that saying “no pain, no gain”? Well, it’s absolutely true. “Building muscle” hurts. As you workout, you’re not really “building” muscle at all – you’re ripping, shredding and DESTROYING muscle. The “building” part actually comes when you are resting and your body is repairing itself. This is why a good workout SHOULD be accompanied by some level of pain. The pain is how you know you are getting somewhere!

With this in mind, I know that my academic goal will require just as much training, struggle, commitment, and strength of will as my athletic goal of running a marathon. I am reminded of something Richard Feynman once said to a reporter… I don’t remember the exact quote, but it went along the lines of “you want to know about these big things, but you don’t even know about the small things! Go learn about the small things first!” Begin at the beginning, and start with small things… just as when I picked up running I started with “small things” – short distances.

You may be wondering why I am so inspired by a Physicist when that is not what I aim to be. The thing is, Richard Feynman never stopped learning. He saw EVERYTHING as a LEARNABLE SKILL… all you need is a teachable mind an a willingness to experiment! At one point in his studies, he took a hiatus to work in biology, ultimately making discoveries in that field. Later, with no formal training, he picked up music and art, and advanced himself in those fields as well. If, to this, all you have to say is, “of course HE did, HE was a certifiable GENIUS!” ….well, then, all I have to say to you is, “Pecans to you!! What do I care what others think?!”

I know the path ahead will be difficult. I wouldn’t have it any other way.

If there’s one thing life has taught me it’s this: the harder the struggle, the sweeter the victory.

The Seeds

“Coincidence is when God chooses to remain anonymous” ~Anonymous (ironic, huh?)

I don’t even know how I came into possession of the book “Genesis and the Big Bang,” but it created an excitement within me that I can’t recall having ever experienced before…. I could see God’s hand in the operations of math and functionings of science. Then, one summer day last year, I was wandering through the book store and just so happened to find myself in the science section. One book in particular practically leaped off the shelf at me – The Elegant Universe. This was my first introduction to Physics, written for the layperson in such a way as to increase my excitement and wonder at the world around me ten-fold.

Next up – Richard Feynman. While I waited for his book, “Surely You’re Joking, Mr. Feynman!” to come in the mail, I delighted in youtube videos of him discussing his own curiosities with the world. You know that old question, if you could invite one person, living or dead, to dinner, who would it be? My dinner guest would be Richard Feynman. His passion and enthusiasm is infectious! 

So, amidst all the toiling of our most recent athletic pursuits (mixed martial arts, running, fox hunting, my husband’s cycling and triathloning), these little intellectual seeds were sown. With my “free” time being limited by long hours at a full-time job, I had decided to take an academic break, before moving on to a university, in order to achieve some athletic goals. However, this did not mean I would put aside learning, as you can see by my choice of reading material. All of life is a learning process, and I thoroughly enjoy it! One of the most important lessons I’ve learned, though, came not by reading, but by doing. I learned that the harder I push myself, the harder I can push myself. I’m steadily pushing past and redefining my limits. And I’ve embodied the spirit of Asics – sound body, sound mind. The strengthening of my body is steeling my mind for the future.