Communities

I am in love.

Let me clarify.  Sir Oliver Lodge and John Tyndall are men I continue to return to, continue to be fascinated with.  Thanks to a delay at work, I have had several hours to return to a book (haphazardly and luckily thrown in my bag this morning) about the life of Lodge. 

Reading biographies always makes me re-evaluate my own life.  I’d never heard of Lodge before I began this strange pursuit of ether science.   Now I find myself reading about his life and feeling like I stumble into old friends.  

Because I have the time, here is my history with Lodge:

I stumbled on Sir Walter Rayleigh’s scattering principle while looking for a way to structure my thesis.  He charted observations of the blue sky, and the resulting image looked like the graceful arc of iris petals.  I wanted to understand why, and so I began to look into refraction and reflection, which led me to John Tyndall.  Within his transcriptions from his light lectures Tyndall talked about the humours of the eye (poem inspired is available upon request) and the ether of the sky.  As anyone who has accidently asked me what I’ve been working on can attest, I haven’t been the same since.  I know more about ether than anyone ought to–and I’m beginning to move into dark matter.  But that’s another topic.

In reading (and reading and reading) about ether, I continue to run into the same names.  This isn’t strange, but what does strike me is how often I run into the same names in different contexts.  A few weeks ago my cousin gave us tickets to Bone Portraits, a play about Edison and X-Rays.  Roentgen was one of the characters, and in reading about Lodge today, there was Roentgen.  Lodge worked with telegraphy at the same time as Marconi, but I would hazard a guess that more people would recognize the Italian.  He corresponded with J. J. Thompson (later Lord Kelvin) and had dinners with H. G. Wells.  Men whose names I remember from science class years ago inhabit these pages, but I can’t remember hearing about Lodge before two years ago.  He seems to be relegated to the “and others” part of most descriptions. 

Who will be the names remembered from the communities (scientists, artists, musicians) now, and who will become “and others”? It is an exercise in futility to project into the future who will be remembered from the past.  Creating is always an attempt at immortality, and some will succeed.  I want to say that Lodge failed, but even that isn’t really true.  I know about him now, and so do you.  Ask me about his theories and his life, and I will tell you more.  This is what I do for love.

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Time for Pumpkins

DSCN3206 The colder weather and the on-again, off-again rain mean that it’s time to start baking again.  I’ve been a bit distracted lately, but with some extra pumpkin puree in the fridge and this awesome recipe, curtsy of my sister, I had at it in the kitchen this afternoon.  Instead of circles I made owls, and I just stuck with the ginger frosting.

It’s been a long time since I’ve had scones.  Muffins and toast seem to be more my speed these days, and I’m less about sweet things.  The icing is sweet, but the scones themselves aren’t.  Sort of a nice combination, if I do say so.

In addition to baking, I’m really digging into my books about Tyndall and Sir Oliver Lodge.  I’m continually amazed by the communities that used to exist, both in the artistic and scientific communities.  The minds meeting for drinks at ale houses or teas in each other’s living rooms seems fictitious.  I am left wondering if those same meetings are happening today, and which names people, a hundred years from now, will look back on and be amazed by.  I don’t know that communities function in the same way now.  People are more spread out, communication is through email and phone calls and there isn’t quite the elaborate record that exists from the turn of the 20th century.  But I don’t think that we’re without communities and meetings of minds.  I feel like I’m part of something larger than myself these days, and thank you to everyone in Seattle who has taken me in.  It’s a year now. Glorious.

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At Night

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Autumn is a time of happening.  The weather is starting to hunker into rain, with intermittent beautiful days.  Turns out, going up the Space Needle is a lot more fun than I’d thought.  Clear evening, a new friend, and the city spread like so many treasures.  I’m learning to piece this place together, and each person I’ve met has helped in their own way.  I have found new music, I have seen new places, I have danced and been silly and been serious.  Thank you.

I’m returning to science, and I discovered today that Sir Oliver Lodge knew John Tyndall.  Lodge considered Tyndall “one of my heroes” and in the biography Sir Oliver Lodge (W P Jolly) the meeting is described as “the inspiration which changed his life.”  I bounded down to the kitchen to share this find with my house mate and received a bit of a blank stare, but I’m still a bit giddy with the knowledge of it.  These men knew each other, and the world seems at once larger and more vast and yet smaller and intricately connected.

As the weather chills there are readings again, and book clubs, movies to watch and food to cook.  We have beer brewing in our dining room, I have books on scientists piling beside my bed, and the sunsets are enough to break your heart.

Come visit. I will show it all to you.