Monday, October 18, 2010

I wanna have dinner with the Physicists

Brad Pitt—who cares? Tom Cruise—I don’t think so. George Clooney or Johnny Depp—well, maybe but still not quite. If I had to choose a man or two to have dinner with, it would not be some Hollywood entertainer, but instead, give me a physicist.

Oh! The Physicist! And while waiting for my physicists to come to dinner, I’d flutter about nervously while lighting candles and worrying over the sauce and just the right wine and what do I wear?—I don’t want to over do, you know. I want to be as beautiful as planet Saturn, as hot as the sun, as mysterious as the moon, as bright as the stars--all my clichés should be perfect for my physicists.

My first two physicist guests would have to be, ka-thump ka-thump goes my heart: Neil deGrasse Tyson and Michio Kaku. Tyson, with degrees in physics and astrophysics (oh my!), has interests that “are broad, but include star formation, exploding stars, dwarf galaxies, and the structure of our Milky Way." (Swoon) And Kaku, a theoretical physicist and best-selling author, co-founder of string field theory, is “a popularizer of science,” and “continues Einstein’s search to unite the four fundamental forces of nature into one unified theory." (Pant Pant)

Both Tyson and Kaku have a way of looking out of the TV screen that says, “I love what I do, and I love it so much I am sending that love out to you…I want you to see what I see, feel what I feel, know what I know, and I am going to show and tell you in such a beautiful and interesting way that you cannot fail to be one with me—come with me now as we explore, together.” (Shouldn’t we do this as writers, artists, musicians, too?  Yes!) And I am there with them, and I understand—well, most of the time, or even some of t, anyway.

I want to be where they are. I want to walk with them as they point to this and that and there and here, while they tell me all the wonders of our world and of the universe. Their gentle voices, their wise faces, their very intelligence, but more, their curiosity of all things--all things!--makes me long to have them here, in my house, at my table, where all the mysteries of the universe swirl about as we lift our forks to our mouths, as we sip wine, as our molecules and synaptic electrical firings off make protons and electrons and whatevertrons explode, as the warmth from human contact and interested energies swirl about the room. Oh, the physicists and scientists and theorists and all manner of ists! But mostly, to my Kaku and my Tyson, whom if one day I met face to face, I would surely blush and giggle like a silly old schoolgirl.

Who do you want to have dinner with?

Videos with deGrasse Tyson to watch

Videos with Michio Kaku



(version of this was on year of gratitude blog three years ago)


Eryl said...

Oddly enough I've met two astro-physicists recently (I'd never met any before this!). One was my young cousin from Australia who is doing her PhD here at Oxford, the other is a member of our site's paintball team. Over a burnt sausage sandwich, on the eve of a big game, a few weekends ago, he very kindly pointed out all the stars in the sky and told me all their stories. Sadly I've forgotten most of them now.

Anyway, to answer your question: I would squeak with glee if I ever got to have a philosopher over to dinner. I wouldn't mind which one.

john bord said...

In my odd ball life I've met just about every type of person in life's walk. The egg head scientists were probably the most difficult to converse with, felt like a translator was needed. A lots of them have problems with personal hygiene, they get so wrapped up in an esoteric universe that other aspects of life are nil.

Some of the more interesting people I've met are the big time industrialists. They have an easy conversational style, a broad range of knowledge/interests and are very engaging. I've also met some very big time a** holes that would rival the snootiness of the hollywood types.

Then there are the writers, sit an talk and talk till the cows come home. A bottle of vino, some muchies and comfortable chairs.

Most writers I've met have wide ranging interests and are open to discussion of about anything, even religion and politics.

Thanks for the visits and there are times when the muse opens up and rolls off the keyboard.

Enjoying the grandchild?

Marcy said...

You could always have Clooney (or Depp) over, along with the physicists. You know, add some eye candy to the table. :)

Having met many scientists and big thinkers over the years, I'd rather have dinner with Jon Stewart. The scientists I've met are a bit too dry for me. At least with Jon, you can talk about nearly anything with him. Of course it helps that he's funny, too.

Aimee L Salter said...

I'd want to meet Comedian / Musician / Intelligent Man, Tim Minchin. If I could keep him sober long enough I'd like to debate political, religious and all manner of social manners with gusto (first and foremost: Shoes. Optional?).

I'd also love to have dinner with with Jim "Robert Jordan" Rigby's wife, Harriet. I suspect her observations on the life of a writer and the construction of deep and layered world would be eye opening, to say the least.

Caroline said...

As I posted to Facebook, I think biologists are way cooler than physicists--and I include ecology and all of its subsets as a subset of biology, the science of life. My adviser (a very cool landscape ecologist)likes to say that ecology isn't rocket science; you can send a rocket to the moon and back with a single equation, there's nothing like that in biology.

A few weeks ago I joined a group of other students for a hike with Tom Wessels in the Presidentials of New Hampshire. He is super-cool; check out his books, seriously, do it right after you're done reading this! I was one of four who had ridden in his car with him, and when we went to leave the car wouldn't start. It took us a couple of hours to get AAA to come help us. Being stuck in a car for hours on end with one of the best writers and teachers of science all round was definitely a really nice problem to have!

lakeviewer said...

Kathryn, I've enjoyed this tremendously! You see, I'm married to a scientist, and my youngest is a physicist. My middle one is a musician, and my eldest is a chemist. Writers and musicians can talk about lots of things; but scientists, they can go on and on about an obscure fact, and they have no idea when they lost an audience.

Without the artists and the writers and the musicians to do the graphics, the story boards, the music for their presentations, they would be at their dark telescope charting an unknown galaxy for the rest of their lives.

They are passionate about their work, for sure.

demery bader-saye said...

I'd like to be a fly on the wall at your dinner! Your description of the passion & enthusiasm - and the drive to share our vision and our joy - is wonderful. The next time I sit down to write I'll take that image with me.

Marguerite said...

I'd like to have dinner with an intelligent, tall, handsome man, who loves to cook and dance as much as I do! If you happen to run across one, please email me! lol

Debbie said...

Since I couldn't think of one intelligent thing to say to a physicist, I think I'd have to pass on your dinner party. I so wish I was smart enough to dine with a physicist.

Christina Banks said...

I had to read your post, because I eat dinner with a physicist every evening. I agree with Lakeveiwer, scientists don't live in this world, at least they don't think like the rest of us, and they don't tend to be great conversationalists. However, if you are interested in talking obscure facts they will go on forever! Just don't ask about what kind of curtains to put up in the living room... they have no clue what you're talking about. :)

Clarissa Jo Fleming said...

Kat, this is so weird...we have the identical cartoon in our home office, only it has Architect! Funny. Now, I must admit I am not as high-minded as you...I only have two words...Sean a kilt...i will restrain myself at this point in my comment!


Sandra Leigh said...

Kat, are you a fan of the tv show "Bones"? Reading your post, I was reminded of a line from a recent episode. Dr. Brennan, asked whether the abstruse chatter of one of her staff members drove her crazy, replied, "Well, no. I find intelligence calming."

As for me, I find the company of highly intelligent people very entertaining. In some cases, I can almost see the lights flashing in their heads when they're thinking hard (and, generally, looking spaced out). I'm definitely a genius groupie.

Anonymous said...

I'm a physicist, and I found it amazing that there are women who think just like you! Most of the women I know do not show any interest in knowing how wonderful and mysterious can nature be, neither are they interested in the fact that I'm a physicist. Actually, most people I meet do not enjoy talking about the wonders of nature, or getting into a nice conversation about anything related to our universe. I'm surely passionate about our world, it would certainly be great to have a dinner with someone for whom talking about the wonders of natures may seem just as pleasing as listening to a wonderful music. I wish you good luck in finding your physicist!

Kathryn Magendie said...

Anonymous Physicist - you made my day! :-D