Poem for Richard Feynman by Wolf Elliot
by Elliot Wolf
“Poets say science takes away from the beauty of the stars — mere globs of gas atoms. Nothing is “mere.” I too can see the stars on a desert night, and feel them. But do I see less or more? The vastness of the heavens stretches my imagination — stuck on this carousel my little eye can catch one million year old light… What is the pattern, or the meaning, or the why? It does not do harm to the mystery to know a little about it. For far more marvelous is the truth than any artists of the past imagined! Why do the poets of the present not speak of it? What men are poets who can speak of Jupiter as if he were like a man, but if he is an immense spinning sphere of methane and ammonia must be silent?”
— R.P. Feynman
Copernicus, Tycho Brahe, Keplar, Isaac Newton, Galileo, Albert Einstein
These are the men who paved the superhighway to the cosmos.
The earth and the moon…is the force down here the same as the force up there?
Of course, Newton will tell you the force goes as the inverse square.
Maxwell, Max Planck, Heisenberg, Erwin Schrodinger, Bohr, Dirac and I Richard Feynman
We men penetrated the limits of infinitesimal small domains with our brains.
Particles or waves…these electrons we are seeing, it is the same.
Feynman will tell you, quantum mechanics, nobody understands it.
Born in Far Rockaway, New York,
I was morphed into a boy scientist.
Dad what kind of bird is that?
Well son it’s a Brown Throated Thrush.
In Portugese, it’s a Untalaberdo. In Italian, it’s a Chutapehda. In
Chinese, it’s a Chung-wa-tha. In Japanese, it’s a Patathedahecha.
But son, now all you know about is humans in different places and what they call the bird.
You don’t know anything about the bird.
Now, let’s go look at the bird. Think about the mechanics of flight,
Or listen to them chatter, you can extract a pattern.
Then there was MIT and Princeton,
I had my choice.
I will work for John Wheeler,
I thank Einstein for his theory of relativity.
And Dirac for quantum mechanics.
Yes I have lectured to both, exciting raised eyebrows.
I will solve the mystery, even they don’t understand, by getting rid of
My theories agree with experiment so well,
That if you were to measure the distance from New York to Los Angeles,
It would be accurate to within the thickness of a human hair.
I challenge you with that abacus.
I bet I can calculate faster in my head.
The holly grail of abacus land, the Cube Root…of 1 thousand 7 hundred and 29.
Well I just happen to know there’s one thousand seven hundred and twenty eight cubic inches in one cubic foot.
So the cube root of one thousand seven hundred twenty nine is slightly larger than twelve. The twelve comes from twelve inches in one foot.
12.002314 to be precise.
And consider this, in just 1 drop of water, there are enough molecules to reach from the sun to Pluto and back to the sun.
That’s roughly 7 billion miles,
Aquafina doesn’t have a clue.
But I am a man of love too,
My wife Arline would say, ”What do you care what other people think?”
Of course, she was right.
Arlene and I were together for 7 years.
She died from tuberculosis as I worked on the atomic bomb.
We lived life, loved and laughed in that short time,
It was only a “quantitative” difference.
Though, not everything in life involves math and science.
For instance Love. It is a beautiful thing.
Now, science is good. Surely, that doesn’t mean that which is not science is not good,
if you know how to reason.
Maybe someday we can use science to discover the governing equations of love.
Then maybe we could learn how to apply it.
I can see it now, Richard Feynman wins Nobel Prize for making Love.
Wouldn’t you like to see the diagram?
Elliot M. Wolf
January 14, 2003