My Favorite Theoretical Physicist

You have one of your own, don't you?

A favorite Theoretical Physicist?

Not one who exists only theoretically; one knowledgeable about topics in the field of physics which are so far out there as to be difficult or impossible to prove, yet some evidence suggests a basis for the theory, until proven otherwise.

My particular favorite is a great teacher and writer who has the masterful ability to make people like me think we might actually grasp some small part of what he is trying to share. Here's a quick clip of him briefly illuminating a bit about Heisenberg's Uncertainty Principle, for example:

I bring this up because recently I was talking with my friend, the librarian (I like to think all librarians are my friends, don't you?), about books I had purchased at the used book sale. She asked, so I told her, about the largely nonfiction selections I ended up with, including: the one about the guy who became familiar and friendly with bears over six summers spent at his cabin in Minnesota; and the one J.W. Powell wrote about exploring the Colorado River and its canyons; and, also, the one about Theoretical Physics. 

It was this last one that gave my librarian friend pause. She nodded attentively about the bear book and the Grand Canyon book, but the third selection elicited a furrowed brow and "Really?"

Suddenly I felt I had revealed a horrible deformity, or some disgusting contagious condition, so I smiled and nodded and changed the subject to the Summer Reading Program and how wonderful it is that participation in our town is really quite high.  Our conversation continued without further discussion of book selection. 

But Eleanor Roosevelt told me no could make me feel small without my permission, so I am taking back my dignity by revealing here a fact which will forever delight me beyond all reason.

Over 10 years ago when I took the plunge and got my very first email account with Yahoo AOL, I immediately sent a message to Michio Kaku in New York gushing about how much a middle-aged mother of four children in the Central Valley (me) enjoyed his radio program "Explorations" which coincided with her regular Tuesday afternoon hour-long commute to grad school. (I was studying mind-numbing legal theory at the time, so listening to physics was a recreational relief.) 

You have to remember this was the very early days. "Ask Jeeves" was the hot search engine at the time; "googled" was an imaginary verb back then. I was skeptical about email. Seemed like smoke signals or channeling spirits from beyond the veil or some other ethereal communication that couldn't possibly surpass the ease and reliability of writing a letter or making a phone call, so I fully expected my message to Dr. Kaku to evaporate and never be seen again once I hit "Send".


Dr. Kaku responded.

WBAI in New York was in danger of being shut down about then, so he hoped Pacifica Radio fans like myself would rally and be vocal on behalf of saving the outlet.

Dr. Kaku and I did NOT become penpals or email buddies or have any communication beyond that one back-and-forth. I have continued to be a fan of his writings and radio program. And I am proud to state for the record that, although I have enjoyed some equally delightful emails since that one, my first will always be my favorite.

So. If you don't already have your own Favorite Theoretical Physicist, may I recommend Dr. Michio Kaku?

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