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Tuesday, January 4, 2022

How To Tell A Tale Of Library Bewilderment

Your favorite blogger now has a part time job as a quantum physicist. 

OK, not really. But four books I finished in rapid succession as 2021 drew to a close did feature quantum physics to varying degrees. Now because science has never been a strong aptitude of mine, the coincidence of several books having a similar scientific thread inspired me to do some research on the subject, which in turn partially persuaded me I might be able to graduate today from a Pre-K course in quantum physics. As long as the grading for that course used a steep curve and the teacher was asleep most of the time.   

Still, I am feeling spunky having even some rudimentary knowledge about such an esoteric subject. For example, the idea that we could be living separate lives in parallel universes at the same time would have seemed like pure fantasy to me rather than plausible science before I finished Michael Pollan's rigorously researched How To Change Your Mind. And the famous thought experiment called Schrodinger's cat - supporting some basic precepts of quantum physics, specifically that a thing can be alive and dead at the same time - was a revelation for me. That experiment and its connection to quantum physics played a significant role in the intriguing stories told by Cynthia Ozecki in A Tale For the Time Being and by Matt Haig in The Midnight Library.   

It all came full circle as I got lost in Bewilderment, the latest novel by the astonishing Richard Powers. Powers seamlessly weaves quantum physics into the fabric of his novel about the unbreakable bond between parent and child, human uniqueness and cluelessness, the pure wonder of the known world and the mysteries of the infinite and unknowable universe. Weeks later, I'm still recovering from the alchemy of this transformative book and the magic that reading invariably delivers to my life. 

Of recent books you've finished, what thread(s) have you detected connecting any of them? If you haven't uncovered any, pay more attention. I suspect you will and then I want to hear about it. 

3 comments:

  1. Thanks for sharing. I call this serendipity. I have always been fascinated by quantum physics. I missed it in high school and college. I have read The Midnight Library and look forward to reading the other books, especially Bewilderment as I loved Overstory. As a Christmas present to myself I ordered two Great Courses: The Evidence for Modern Physics, How We Know What We Know and The Theory of Everything, The Quest to Explain All Reality. They are still shrink wrapped by it is only January 5th:)!

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    1. Ines; Thanks for the comment. Always glad to share my book discoveries with a reader as open as you. As you know, I too loved "the Overstory" AND a comment you made here on my blog last year was the main impetus for me picking up "The Midnight Library". And, if those two reading "serendipities" (love that word!) don't prove you and I are learning soulmates, how about this? I own MANY Great Courses (all on CD), although none (yet) on physics. If you ever want to borrow any of mine, just say the word. In the meanwhile, maybe I'll borrow some of yours on physics when I next take a long-ish driving vacation? Can't tell you how much I look forward to your comments here; thanks for your unwavering support the last several years.

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  2. Hi learning soulmate! My Great Courses are DVDs so not so good for a road trip:). Having said that, I am happy to lend to you!

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