An uplifting news item, poem, thought or quotation each day.
Archive of past entries

16 January 2005

Within each of us is the capacity for a full measure of healing and renewal. For this process to be engaged, it is only necessary that we avoid the narcotics and distractions that are the primary addictions of our age.

With support and nourishment from our friends, we step out of numbness and addiction, into the bloom of our joyous, creative selves.

- Josh Mitteldorf

15 January 2005

Martin Luther King was one of the most inspiring orators in the history of the English language.  He didn't have a speech-writer.  Many quotes have found their way into our common heritage.  Here are a few of my favorites:

"Nonviolence means avoiding not only external physical violence of actions but also internal violence of spirit. You not only refuse to shoot a man, but you refuse to hate him."

"Cowardice asks the question, 'Is it safe?' Expediency asks the question, 'Is it politic?' But conscience asks the question, 'Is it right?' And there comes a time when one must take a position that is neither safe, nor politic, nor popular but because conscience tells one it is right."

"Occasionally in life there are those moments of unutterable fulfillment which cannot be completely explained by those symbols called words. Their meanings can only be articulated by the inaudible language of the heart."

"The means we use must be as pure as the ends we seek."

14 January 2005

A self-taught Indian mathematician of the early 20th century, Ramanujan had the uncanny ability to do computations instantaneously without writing anything down. He could tell you the square root of any number, or the sine of any angle to many decimal places.

"During an illness in England, Hardy visited Ramanujan in the hospital. When Hardy remarked that he had taken taxi number 1729, a singularly unexceptional number, Ramanujan immediately responded that this number was actually quite remarkable: it is the smallest integer that can be represented in two ways by the sum of two cubes: 1729=13+123 and 1729=93+103."

In a just-published book, Malcolm Gladwell proclaims that we all have a similar ability to process a great volume of data in the Blink of an eye. Itís how we can catch a ball, or run through the forest and know where to place each footstep. On first meeting, we may size up a personís character, often quite accurately, from gestures and expressions perceived subliminally...or we may be deceived by cultural prejudices into misjudging him badly.

"The power of knowing, in that first two seconds, is not a gift magically given to a fortunate few," he writes. "It is an ability we can all build for ourselves."
CS Monitor Review

13 January 2005

The ravening clouds shall not long be victorious,
They shall not long possess the sky, they devour the stars only in apparition,
Jupiter shall emerge, be patient, watch again another night, the Pleiades shall emerge,
They are immortal, all those stars both silvery and golden shall shine out again,
The great stars and the little ones shall shine out again, they endure,
The vast immortal suns and the long-enduring pensive moons shall again shine.

-Walt Whitman

 

12 January 2005

By 1919, Einstein had devised two Relativity theories: Special Relativity for electromagnetic phenomena and General Relativity for gravitation. He had already begun what was to be a lifelong quest for a Unified Theory combining the two. In that year, he received Theodore Kaluzaís suggestion: Maxwellís electromagnetic equations and Einsteinís gravitational equations could be derived from one abstract mathematical form, if the equation was written in a 4-dimensional space (+ time = 5 dimensions). 

Why, then, do we perceive the world as having only 3 dimensions (+ time=4)?  It remained for Oskar Klein to answer that question a few years later: perhaps the extra dimension exists only as a tightly-bound circle, too small to be observed, even under laboratory conditions. Just as a rope isnít really a one-dimensional object, but a cylinder so small that we often forget about its circumference; so space is really 4-dimensional, but 3 of the dimensions go off to infinity while the fourth closes in on itself in a tiny circle.

In the present-day frontiers of physics, Kaluza-Klein theory is just a beginning. "String theorists" work in a world where space-time is an 10-dimensional manifold, with 6 curled-up dimensions so that only our familiar 3 hang free.

Concerning the power of theoretical reasoning, a story is told: "Kaluza seems to be one of those theorists with a profound faith in the power of pure thought. According to his son, Kaluza senior learned to swim from a textbook. After practicing strokes on the living room couch, he walked to the nearest pool and swam across." - Michael Duff

11 January 2005

Ken Venturi's two great rules of life. (1). Never tell everything at once.

10 January 2005

Joy, O child of heaven, bright spark of the gods -
Transported in flame, we enter thy sanctuary.
Thy magic re-unites all whom human ways have parted -
Beggars become royal brothers beneath thy guardian wing.

- Friedrich Schiller