The Nobel Prize-winning physicist Richard Feynman ploughed his own furrow. In his second volume of autobiography What Do You Care What Other People Think? he revealed that he sometimes thought, not just in terms of equations or pictures or models, but in poetry, making an emotional connection with his subject, as in this poem composed while standing at the seashore:

There are the rushing waves

mountains of molecules

each stupidly minding its own business

trillions apart

yet forming white surf in unison.


Ages on ages

before any eyes could see

year after year

thunderously pounding the shore as now.

For whom, for what?

On a dead planet

with no life to entertain.


Never at rest

tortured by energy

wasted prodigiously by the sun

poured into space.

A mite makes the sea roar.


Deep in the sea

all molecules repeat

the patterns of one another

till complex new ones are formed.

They make others like themselves

and a new dance starts.


Growing in size and complexity

living things

masses of atoms

DNA, protein

dancing a pattern ever more intricate.


Out of the cradle

onto dry land

here it is


atoms with consciousness;

matter with curiosity.


Stands at the sea,

wonders at wondering: I

a universe of atoms

an atom in the universe.

Feynman goes on “The same thrill, the same awe and mystery, comes again and again when we look at any question deeply enough.”


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