# Physics and Poetry

## Main Question or Discussion Point

Dirac says,

"I do not see how a man can work on the frontiers of physics and write poetry at the same time. They are in opposition. In science you want to say something that nobody knew before, in words which everyone can understand. In poetry you are bound to say ... something that everyone knows already in words that nobody can understand."

I was wondering what people in this forum thought about this quote from Dirac. Are physics and poetry really incompatible ?

Related General Discussion News on Phys.org
Bandersnatch
Nah, it's just Dirac. He was a bore.

drizzle
Gold Member
I love physics and poetry. But I fail at 'wording' in either of them.

Come to think of it, though, there aren't any physicists who are know for their poetry. A fair number did artwork, and there's Einstein and his violin, but I can't think of any physicist-poets. I would bet Oppenheimer enjoyed a poem here and there, but I haven't heard he wrote any.

Maxwell and Feynman both dabbled in poetry.
I didn't know that, thanks. Looks like Dirac's incomprehension was his own personal limitation.

kith
Schrödinger wrote lots of poems. I think he published a poetry collection and there's even research about them: http://link.springer.com/article/10.1007/s11191-013-9579-4
This is interesting about Schrodinger. Dirac and Schrodinger shared the Nobel Prize in 1933. Maybe Dirac's comment was specifically inspired by bafflement over Schrodinger's serious interest in poetry.

Bandersnatch
This is interesting about Schrodinger. Dirac and Schrodinger shared the Nobel Prize in 1933. Maybe Dirac's comment was specifically inspired by bafflement over Schrodinger's serious interest in poetry.
According to the wiki, it was Oppenhaimer's interest in poetry.

According to the wiki, it was Oppenhaimer's interest in poetry.

Maybe he wanted to say known science that no one can understand...

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Paul_Dirac#Personality

or here under "anecdotes"
http://www.dirac.ch/PaulDirac.html

Sadly, nothing more in-depth on the subject but anecdotes.
So, that gives us known interest in poetry by Maxwell, Oppenheimer, Schrodinger, and Feynman, and Dirac's puzzlement about Oppenheimer's interest in poetry is categorized as one of his (Dirac's) many extreme eccentricities.

I very much doubt the four mentioned would define science and poetry the same way Dirac did. He pretty much defines them to be in opposition, and I don't find his definitions to be very definitive. The quote is only of interest in so far as it says something about Dirac. It doesn't have much of interest to say about science or poetry.

jedishrfu
Mentor
drizzle
Gold Member
I wonder if there are more mathematicians than physicists who write poetry..

There was a young lady named Bright
Whose speed was much faster than light.
She went off one day
In a relative way,
And returned on the previous night!

Bandersnatch

DrGreg
Gold Member
I wonder if there are more mathematicians than physicists who write poetry..
$$(12 + 144 + 20 \\ + 3 \sqrt{4}) \\ \div 7 \\ + 5 \times 11 \\ = 9^2 + 0$$

Dirac says,

"I do not see how a man can work on the frontiers of physics and write poetry at the same time. They are in opposition. In science you want to say something that nobody knew before, in words which everyone can understand. In poetry you are bound to say ... something that everyone knows already in words that nobody can understand."

I was wondering what people in this forum thought about this quote from Dirac. Are physics and poetry really incompatible ?
Although science and poetry seem two opposite trades. Science is objective, rigid and fixed and Poetry is both objective and subjective it is not rigid or fixed and it has a bulk of variations.In other words true, if we say, that science deals with facts and figures and poetry deals with emotions. Looking back in the history we will find some physicist, were also Poets Schrodinger was also one of them. Physicist can also take help of poems to make the things interesting for students and people.

i cant say too much about poetry, but science and music are very much related. (Especially because it makes it easier to understand music as frequencies)
http://pocketband.net/person/GODS+ASUNDER
this is my personal work. Although this brings up the question- would people in dirac's days consider it music?
</shameless promotion>

Quasars are red
Andromeda is blue
Their frequency shifted
Their speed proportional to

phinds
Gold Member
2019 Award
Looks like Dirac's incomprehension was his own personal limitation.
Indubitably

Quasars are red
Andromeda is blue
Their frequency shifted
Their speed proportional to
The lines above describe the astronomical phenomenon . In Physics the redshift happens when light or other electromagnetic radiation from an object is increased in wavelength, or shifted to the red end of the spectrum. In general, whether or not the radiation is within the visible spectrum, "redder" means an increase in wavelength – equivalent to a lower frequency and a lower photon energy, in accordance with, respectively, the wave and quantum theories of light. Knowledge of redshifts and blueshifts has been applied to develop several terrestrial technologies such as Doppler radar and radar guns. Redshifts are also seen in the spectroscopic observations of astronomical objects. Its value is represented by the letter z.

Some redshifts are an example of the Doppler effect, familiar in the change in the apparent pitches of sirens and frequency of the sound wavesemitted by speeding vehicles. A redshift occurs whenever a light source moves away from an observer. Another kind of redshift is cosmologicalredshift, which is due to the expansion of the universe, and sufficiently distant light sources (generally more than a few million light years away) show redshift corresponding to the rate of increase in their distance from Earth. Finally, gravitational redshift is a relativistic effect observed in electromagnetic radiation moving out of gravitational fields. Conversely, a decrease in wavelength is called blueshift and is generally seen when a light-emitting object moves toward an observer or when electromagnetic radiation moves into a gravitational field. However, redshift is a more common term and sometimes blueshift is referred to as negative redshift.