Physics poems


looking for nuance
(punching emptiness)

as i looked into the glass
for something surging to be,
hopeful notes of some progress,
yet only the sound empty

the quantum vacuum froths with energy,
a ceaseless churn of virtuality.
particle models miss reality,
punching emptiness such futility

the question rose so naturally,
how photons and matter interact
due to gradients in density,
nothing ever really in contact

so entanglement defines the locus
for relations of relativity.
yet producing an enduring focus,
while i ponder my probability

and what’s that got to do with you & me?


Field-ly *

there were forces and objects in Newton’s day,
with x & V the interplay.
but now we have the Hamiltonian way,
and x & P get equal play.

the Hamiltonian way, the Hamiltonian way,
x & P get equal play

in space we moved from x at V,
as forces produced all the to & fro.
P derived secondarily,
matter has inertia, as you know.


so long the particular way used to be
mass times velocity to get the P.
more independent things are visionary,
as a phase space function of x & P.


look at space in a new perspective,
velocity placed as retrospective.
an equal footing, basically,
in physics we study symmetry.

now it’s all about energy, of a path,
with equations of field theory, do the math.
the Hamiltonian way, the Hamiltonian way,
hey, hey!

* See physicist Sean Carroll’s video chat series “The Biggest Ideas in the Universe” #4 – Space (Apr 14, 2020)” – on his YouTube channel.


Time-ly **

time, time, what has become of you?
Newton looked around and saw eternity –
was there really anything new?
entropy was so hard to see,
so many bits to be.

past-present-future such a totality,
a 4D map in general relativity.
time travel some possibility,
back and forth invariantly?
the present so easy to see.

we came from so different spaces,
that moment we met full of memory,
in uncertain times and real places,
only passing so inevitably,
the plan was so hard to see.

i wanted to scatter the past, no block verse,
our clocks dividing moments distinctly,
sometimes repetitious, you spoke so terse,
being together so practically,
the future was so hard to see.

did our trains pass coincidently
as coffee swirled in your cup,
or not so absolutely?
micro changes just messing up
what was so hard to see.

if we replayed our flicks backward
was everything just too free?
when did we stop moving forward
from a start in low entropy?
our trajectory was so hard to see.

like labeled ticks on our flicks
becoming full of ambiguity,
the changing scenes of our picks
passing in time’s crazy tapestry,
in the arrow of time will you remember me?

Cf. Song “A Hazy Shade of Winter” by Simon & Garfunkel.

** See physicist Sean Carroll’s video chat series “The Biggest Ideas in the Universe” #5 – Time (Apr 21, 2020)” – on his YouTube channel.


Spacetime-ly ***

we’ll circle back to an energy ride,
but first let’s talk more classically
about spacetime and the limit C.
why the idea of union counts aside
from space and time as separately.

it’s really about relativity,
theories special & general clearly.
we’ll be presenting top-down Minkowski’s 4D
(not starting with Newton’s universality)
then get back to how everyday we see.

gone Newton’s space and time so absolutely,
not just adding a coordinate to three,
when we travel from point A to B.
a new structure mathematically,
paradoxes go away conceptually.

how is going A to B in some ways
like traveling along in space 3D?
a clock’s elapse not coordinately,
and light cones demonstrate how spacetime plays,
all proper time intervals will agree.
(but order may not so easily
if moving non-inertially)

spacetime’s a dynamic,
there’s no need to panic,
when shifting into space-like,
traveling less as time-like,
moving straightly’s not the trick

maybe you’ve heard the twins paradox gaveled.
one rocketing far to Alpha Centauri,
even prized Feynman got this incorrectly –
the spacetime path distance that’s traveled,
not acceleration as the key.

so how match those cones to normality,
where coordinate time is all we see.
a light-year unit shifts dramatically,
while by second closes on horizontally,
a surface like Newton’s apparently.

the beauty of unification arises
full of various surprises:
as length contracted, time stretched,
a common origin fetched,
energy and momentum unifying.

but our vision is not yet complete,
paradigm aligned classically,
predicting where all the stuff will be.
quantum mechanics is a strange treat,
and merging gravity so trying.

*** See physicist Sean Carroll’s video chat series “The Biggest Ideas in the Universe” #6 – Spacetime (Apr 28, 2020)” – on his YouTube channel.

Copyright © 2020, 2023 John P. Healy