Sunday, April 30, 2017

Physics with Björn: Particle-wave dualism and the photoelectric effect

I continue my excavations into physics and hope that you can conclude the NaPoWriMo successfully. Coming last it’s a pleasure to bring you something challenging.

At the end of the nineteenth century physicists believed that more or less everything was solved. Newton’s mechanics governed the law of particles and bodies, while optics could be explained through Maxwell’s theories of electromagnetism. The atomic theories have started to be developed, and it seemed that we could explain everything under the sun (and even beyond). By the way, a scientific theory requires evidence, it requires consistency and coherent observations. Newton’s laws and Maxwell’s equations are still valid enough to still be used in engineering.

But sometimes we find things that required new and updated theories. You have probably all heard about quantum physics and wondered about it. So let us go back to the roots. In 1905 Albert Einstein published a paper that later gave him the Nobel Prize in 1921. With his theoretical model he could explain the so called photoelectric effect.

The effect showed up as electrons emitted when an electrode was illuminated. The revolutionary model that Einstein proposed was that he attributed a particle properties to light. which has up to that point been described only as an electromagnetic wave obeying the laws of optics. But with the attribution of particle properties to light Einstein could explain and set up equations for the photoelectric effect. If you find this to be mumbo-jumbo, just skip it. The essence of this is the shapeshifting properties of matter. The particle wave dualism.

The concept was later broadened so that also particles can be waves. Particles can be refracted just like they are waves, and you can attribute both wavelength and frequency to them, just like light can have momentum.

So it goes both ways. A particle is a wave and a wave is a particle. In some cases we see particles governed by the laws of optics, and the next moment they are like little spheres.

Today I thought you could use this shape shifting nature of nature on microscopic level for a poem. Or you can chose to write about the consequences in terms of electronics and optics of the world today. Or challenge my belief that science can predict and used to decide the world.

Saturday, April 29, 2017

Penultimatums: Voyages' End (Almost)

Eyvind Earle, A Touch of Magic, late 20th century (fair use)

Here we are, almost within sight of the end of our month-long journey in verse. What a strange road it has been! Along the way we've seen boats, sprouts, physics, children, signs, sketches, Twitterings, villains, rain, passageways, paintings, crows, bogeymen, outsiders and shoes:  If months could sing journeys, April in the Garden has been operatic.

Today we are presented with this penultimate daily challenge.

Myths tell us that the next-to-last station of a journey is often its richest, pregnant with meanings which often don't reveal themselves until we have turned some corner—given up on a quest, let go a loved one, endured through, made it home.

The penultimate is as far as we can get to perfection on this earth.  As Joseph Campbell writes in The Power of Myth, "It has been well said that mythology is the penultimate truth--penultimate because the ultimate cannot be put into words. It is beyond words. Beyond images, beyond that bounding rim of the Buddhist Wheel of Becoming. Mythology pitches the mind beyond that rim, to what can be known but not told.”

In the 12th century Dutch version of the Voyage of Saint Brendan—the survival of a tale stretching back centuries to Ireland—St. Brendan burns a book of wonders of the world, saying such things could never be true. Immediately an angel appears and tells Brendan he must pay for his offence against God. For penance he is bid to set sail for seven years to see all the things he had denied, thus to prove the veracity of the ancient manuscript.

Brendan gathers his monks and sails off into the unknown, and his discoveries are legion. There is a heathen giant; a dragon; a fish the size of an island; a magnetic sea; a hermit who has lived in the middle of the sea for centuries; Hell; a siren; Judas; burning soul-birds; a magnificent citadel atop a high mountain; and strange creatures with the head of a pig, legs of a dog and neck like a crane, dressed in silk and who say they witnessed God in heaven before Lucifer’s fall. On each isle a wonder either heavenly or monstrous, hallowed or harrowing.

But Brendan doesn’t know that the point of the tale is that he must return home and write it down—in essence, fill once again the book of wonders he had burned as untrue. In the penultimate chapter of the tale, Brendan encounters a tiny man sailing by on a leaf whose errand it is to measure the sea with a drop-sized spoon. He's been at it for a long, long time, and Brendan wonders if his errand, too, might be endless.

The saint’s ship is then becalmed in a vast misty sea, the boat’s anchor gripped by invisible people singing below. As no Christians can find Paradise on this earth, so too this is as close as mortals get to finding the Otherworld. The penultimate reveals the foolhardiness of the quest, and yet by doing so magnifies the endeavor. It whispers in one ear, you're done now, while at the same time exclaiming in the other: But what a journey it was ...

Brendan has seen enough; it's time to write that book. He is boat is set free and sails back to Ireland, setting up shop at a copyist's desk. When the book is finished Brendan dies, finding passage at last to Paradise.

If our month of poetry has been a journey, what do we find in this penultimate challenge? What is it that allows us to turn our boats finally toward home?

Write a poem that describes the penultimate in some fashion. Describe the door (or island) which opened to (or shored) a final realization. Stay with the turning of things before your vision cleared, the dream before you woke. Do you remember the next to the last kiss? What was in the foreground of that climatic event or turning point which shaped the way you see things now? And looking back, has that moment grown more fraught with meaning somehow? (OK, of course it has, you’re writing a poem.)

With home barely out of sight on the horizon ahead, help us discover what journeys as this are really all about.

Friday, April 28, 2017


Children can have very vivid imaginations - I know I did when I was young. They can conjure up fanciful notions to delight themselves or scare themselves silly. Most kids have at least one thing they fear. Some kids fear bugs. Some fear the dark. And some don't have a real name for what it is they fear waits for them in the dark. But they know it's out there. Sometimes it goes by a name - the boogeyman.

For today's prompt, I would like you to contemplate the idea of the childhood boogeyman. This is as wide open to your interpretation as you'd like. Feel free to really go wild with this. As always stop by your fellow poets and show they a little love to comfort them after contemplating the things that go bump in the night.

Thursday, April 27, 2017

Writing Shoes

Friends! It is day 27! We are almost there! Let’s race to the finish!

Photo by Marian Kent
When thinking about music to accompany this fun photo, I ended up not being able to choose between three quintessential songs by iconic artists. So I’m sharing all three: Paul Simon with Ladysmith Black Mambazo, Elvis Costello, and too-soon-gone Townes Van Zandt. Enjoy!

Your assignment is to write about shoes. Pick a song (or two or three) if you like, use the photo if you like, or whatever works for you. And then let your words race, dance, fly!

Wednesday, April 26, 2017

Outsider Art

Some of you may have noticed that I have had a hard time blogging the last few months. Part of the difficulty for me has been the feeling of being an outsider, in my own country and in the world.

Oddly, not writing so much poetry has led me to do more visual art work (a real bit of grace.)  Here, the feeling of being an outsider has been very freeing since (with no real training), I have very few expectations about my visual art. 

There is actually a long tradition of outsider art in the visual arts, that is, of unschooled  artists making of a body of work; Grandma Moses was a famous outsider artist; Simon Rodia of Watts Tower fame another.

So, the prompt today is based on the idea of the outsider.  You can approach this from any direction you wish--an outsider as refugee or exile; an outsider at a party or at school or from a clique.  

You could also use the prompt to try to write as an outsider--like someone unfamiliar with the established tools of writing (an “outsider literary artist”.)  Or you could write about simply being outside, that is, in nature.

Finally, you could use this as an ekphrastic challenge and just write about a picture made by an outsider artist. 

 Since I feel like a bit of an outsider in the art world, I offer some of my drawings for use.  Please feel no obligation to use one, but if you do, please do credit me (Karin Gustafson--all rights reserved.)  Or credit whatever outsider artist that you use. 

Most of all, have fun.  And for those who have been working on a poem a day--you are almost on the other side of that challenge!  Congrats!

Tuesday, April 25, 2017

The Tuesday Platform

Welcome to The Imaginary Garden...

Agnes Lawrence Pelton (1940)
Greetings to all poets, visitors, friends! And so we have come to the last Tuesday of poetry writing month. It has been a CHALLENGE for those who are attempting to complete 30 poems in 30 days. It has also been a celebration of our community of poets - we are so often too busy to make the effort to write on a regular basis (and I count myself in this number) but this one month of the year allows us to come together both to inspire and support the art which all of us holds so dear.

While this platform remains open to any poem you wish to share, I offer a tiny picture prompt for those who may be running out of ideas, and are looking for a spark to ignite the thought process.

The artist I am featuring today is Agnes Lawrence Pelton (1881–1961). To visit the WikiArt gallery of some of her paintings, click HERE.

When uploading an image to your blogsite, remember that we apply the Fair Use Principles:

➮It is a historically significant artwork
➮The image is only being used for informational and educational purposes
➮The image is readily available on the internet
➮The image is a low resolution copy of the original artwork and is unsuitable for commercial use

Monday, April 24, 2017

Artistic Interpretations - Beauty

Peacock at Magnolia Garden, SC
Welcome to Artistic Interpretations.  Today's theme is "Beauty"  There are many poems celebrating what is beautiful  HERE is a link to a few famous "beauty" poems.  

For this prompt, one may write about beauty or ponder the symbol of the peacock, often referred to as "the most beautiful bird in the world."  You may use my photograph above if you like.

Like the crow and raven, the peacock is often referred to in folktales, fables, myths, and superstitions.  If you don't want to write about beauty in general, feel free to write about the peacock.

HERE is a fascinating link -  A few excerpts from the link are:

* Peacocks can be traced back to biblical times and the court of King Solomon

* birds of "ill omen" -  cause of the "entrance of the devil into paradise" and expulsion of Adam and Eve from the Garden

* important symbols in Roman times, linked with early Christian belief in resurrection, the Eucharist, and the Annunciation

* feature in Greek Mythology having sprung from the blood of Argos (the hundred eyed giant)

* superstitiously believed to be heralders of death with their peculiar cry

Other interesting links:

"Fine Feathers:  A brief history of the Peacock as Decoration"

"The peacock: A symbol of royalty"

 "Peacock Symbolism and Meaning"

The entirety of "When the Peacocks Sing" video is fascinating, but at 5:23 the footage focuses on the peacock.

For today's challenge, write about "beauty" or the symbolism that represents one of the most beautiful birds of creation, the Peacock - keeping in mind not all the myths, superstitions, folktales, and beliefs are necessarily "beautiful".  Any style of poetry is acceptable, but I do prefer poems newly written for this prompt.  A reworked one is acceptable.   As always, link to Mr. Linky below and visit the other poets.  I look forward to your artistic interpretations.