Lab team

A poem straight from the Lab:


I opened today the door
To trust and uncertainty
To give a chance to a future
I cannot imagine.
In every lab,
Peers and rivals
Put their word in the closing sentence
And hold shaky hands
in times of indetermination.

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“hv” a physics song

h v” by Gilbert Stead (ca. 1920)

Note:v” is the Greek letter “nu”.
To the tune “Men of Harlech” (traditional Welsh tune)

All black body radiations,
All the spectrum variations,
All atomic oscillations
Vary as “h v.”

Ultraviolet vibrations,
X- and gamma-ray pulsations,
Ordinary light sensations
All obey “h v.”

Here’s the right relation
Governs radiation,
Here’s the new,
And only true,
Electrodynamical equation;
Never mind your d/dt2,
V times e or half mv2
(If you watch the factor “c2”)
E equals “h v.”

Even matters calorific,
Such things as the heat specific
Yield to treatment scientific
If you use “h v.”

In all questions energetic
Whether static or kinetic,
Or electric, or magnetic,
You must use “h v.”


There would be a mighty clearance,
We should all be Planck’s adherents
Were it not that interference
Still defies “h v.”

With thanks to

Brief summary of the physics in this song

A poem by Richard Feynman

There are the rushing waves
mountains of molecules
each stupidly minding its own business
trillions apart
yet forming white surf in unison

Ages on ages
before any eyes could see
year after year
thunderously pounding the shore as now.
For whom, for what?
On a dead planet
with no life to entertain.

Never at rest
tortured by energy
wasted prodigiously by the Sun
poured into space.
A mite makes the sea roar.

Deep in the sea
all molecules repeat
the patterns of one another
till complex new ones are formed.
They make others like themselves
and a new dance starts.
Growing in size and complexity
living things
masses of atoms
DNA, protein
dancing a pattern ever more intricate.

Out of the cradle
onto dry land
here it is
atoms with consciousness;
matter with curiosity.

Stands at the sea,
wonders at wondering: I
a universe of atoms
an atom in the Universe.

Richard Feynman


Richard  read this poem as part of an address to the National Academy of Sciences.


Cosmic Gall

Neutrinos they are very small.
They have no charge and have no mass
And do not interact at all.
The earth is just a silly ball
To them, through which they simply pass,
Like dustmaids down a drafty hall
Or photons through a sheet of glass.
They snub the most exquisite gas,
Ignore the most substantial wall,
Cold-shoulder steel and sounding brass,
Insult the stallion in his stall,
And, scorning barriers of class,
Infiltrate you and me! Like tall
And painless guillotines, they fall
Down through our heads into the grass.
At night, they enter at Nepal
And pierce the lover and his lass
From underneath the bed – you call
It wonderful; I call it crass.


John Updike

Last Day in Space

Last Day in Space

Tomorrow we light our rocket,
we burn our engines and likewise,
burn a hole in the sky,
And thus fall toEarth.
How does one spend your last day in space?
Looking at Earth,
a blue jewel surrounded by inky blackness,
Pure Occipital Ecstasy.
Unconstrained by your girth,
you fly with vestigial wings.
The atmosphere on edge,
iridescent blue with no earthly parallel,
Electrifying Diaphanous Beauty.
Guarded by Sirens of Space,
singing saccharine songs,
beckoning you to crash on the atmos-reef
which tears you limb from limb
andscorching what remains
into cosmic croutons that sprinkle onto
the garden salad of Earth.
One last feast out the window,
A looking glass of Wonderland.
Offering both a portal to see your world,
and a translucent reflection to see yourself.
what is your place in this worldbelow,
how do you change it,
how does it change you.
We are wedded to this planet,
until mass extinction we do part.
Perhaps one planet is not enough.
You study your charts,
we prepare our spaceship,
and our minds.
We make ready our descent,
into these seemingly gentle arms.
The eager anticipation of hugging your wife,
your boys with grins followed by pouting faces,
both excited to see you but not understanding why you left.
Oh how does one spend your last day in Space.
What would you do?

Don Pettit
Node 2, Deck 5
ISS, LEO 51.603


Originally blogged at

don petit


an old writer and his words

The perigee moon
hangs heavily over the city,
clinging to the horizon
as though it wishes to flee
deep into the night,
turning away the attention
in inevitably draws.
We are pulled toward it
by some deeply felt force
that we know we dare not
question, for we must
honor the moon’s secrets
as we hope she will honor ours.

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