A Physic(al) Journey

I love a good adventure, and lately I’ve been on a journey of exploration into the fascinating world of physics. I didn’t get to do physics at school, probably being deemed not bright enough to be let pack my bags, to set off on that trip with some of the students who set off on that adventure; in fact, I was once told by a rather sour-faced and lightly mustachioed member of the penguin tribe we know as “The Nuns” that I was a mathematical illiterate, so that’s probably why I stayed behind to watch sunbeams slant, and dream of traveling on the dust motes that spun in lazy patterns, as I dropped out, and tuned in, to different dimensions, traveling happily on my own secret adventures of the mind, for years.

In recent years, though, I’ve tuned in again to read about the wonderful world of physics. You don’t need to be able to do maths, you see, to appreciate the beauty of physics. All you really need is a sense of awe, and a curious mind (which I’ve often been told I have, ahem) to really dig physics, and start getting dug in. Bring your spade, ‘cos you’re invited, and we’ll dig down into the dirt of matter, but make it a fun exploration, perfect for dreamers, hopefully not getting stuck in the holes. How about some music while we learn? We can have our adventures go our own way, and there won’t even be an exam at the end. Sounds fun? Off we go, then, singing merrily along the way.

What’s that you say? Not quite what you were expecting? Good. Physics is full of delightful surprises, for something that proceeds in such a logical way. The little video I made, was a classic (Newtonian) timeline visual of ideas I’d been reading about in the always easy to understand Brian Gribbin’s book “Deep Simplicity”, but, wouldn’t you know, the journey took many twists and turns along the way, as I explored some of the ideas further, enjoying the side-streets and alleys of a new town I visited.

There were so many really great explainer videos on YouTube, that helped bring the ideas home effectively, and were stunning visually as well. Philip Glass’s “Einstein on the Beach” is a favourite musical piece of mine, and I couldn’t resist gathering up some of the best videos I found, during my reading explorations of the topic of how complex systems emerge from chaos, and how chaos is, in fact, intrinsic to order. I thought, why not, then, organise the nicest bits into a kind of visual diary of my reading, and have a bit of dreamer-style fun with it. It’s OK to dream, while studying physics, I discovered. I reckon it helps you learn, as you need to be able to imagine concepts, and play around with them, in your mind, to really get the WOW factor. I took plenty of time to dream, and still haven’t come to the last chapter of the journey, because I keep putting down the book, looking out the window, as I did in my school days, and saying “WOW”. Whatta trip.

Wanna see some of the videos I used for my mashup video? These talented creators put most of the effort in, in their wonderfully explanatory and visually beautiful videos, after all. First up, let’s have a look at the main video I used for the background, and overlaid other videos on, to create the mashup vid in OpenShot (free) video software. This was a brilliant video by Stephanie Yeoh, for the music track “Knee Play 5”. I know, it was a bit cheeky of me to even think of covering up parts of this perfect video, with other graphic elements overlaid, but the nuns always said I was a cheeky little rip, as well as mathematically illiterate, so…

Next up, let’s get outta the bus, and wade right in to the river, and hoist our sails, ‘cos there are so many more lovely places to see along the way, in our journey into physics. Here are some of the other videos I enjoyed, and made use of, in my imaginative journey, with my little guide book in hand.

What? Hotel’s full, even with infinite rooms? How can that be? Never mind, let’s skip the chaos and camp out for the night. Don’t get the matches wet, ‘cos we’ll need them to get a fire going, and get the party started, under the stars.

Erm, not sure we’re going in the right direction, and not terribly certain about how we got here, but I’m sure we’ll end up somewhere, with a fixed point to refer to (pulls out compass and taps it, playing for thinking time).

(Wakes at sunrise, under a semi-chaotic collapsing tent). Wow, my back hurts. I’m in bits, but I’m sure I’ll be OK for the homeward leg of the journey. Probably. Should be pleasant to finish my adventure in an armchair, with the rest of my book. Hope you had fun as well. Parting is such sweet sorrow, and all that. I see you’re in bits too. He he. Many of the best adventures are like that. Bye bye. May the road rise with you. It does, a bit, apparently (waves at tiny dot on the horizon).

Other videos used:

Crab Canon on Mobius Strip: https://youtu.be/xUHQ2ybTejU

Ant on Mobius Strip: https://youtu.be/kMgwaeLHUTU

Starlings, Murmuration: https://youtu.be/uV54oa0SyMc

Pendulum Waves: https://youtu.be/o3Q7JYBkOHU

Chaos Pendulum: https://youtu.be/QXf95_EKS6E

Freehand Circle: https://youtu.be/oDcr0yXpkk8

Ten Dimensions in Two Minutes: https://youtu.be/hf2CxZPl7KI

N-body Orbits: https://youtu.be/_3uQqrrBcrQ

Fractal Curves, Growing the Snowflake Sweep: https://youtu.be/vZ9Oi4LV_5w

nicogetz’ “Vibrations on Singing Strings”: https://youtu.be/ttgLyWFINJI

(Other clips include Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers dancing, and an animation from a CGI movie, which I don’t know the name of, and this “Niagara” software tutorial, for particle animations https://youtu.be/31GXFW-MgQk?t=87)

ps. Had a lovely trip. Glad you were here.

From Me To You, With Love

You know, you can be very annoying but I’m kinda fond of you. Guess you could say it’s a love/hate relationship. I love all the fun you have brought into my life; meeting a few new people who have turned out to be pretty nice, finding out new things, getting involved in new avenues of discovery; all the stuff that a relationship with another human being brings. You hate me, but that’s OK. I get it; I can be irritating too, and I don’t always go along with what you want, when you want it. A lot of people find me a bit like that, and you wouldn’t be the first one that was driven mad by it. But on some matters I wish you would lighten up a bit. The world is not filled with trolls, all out to get you, and it’s not really a them or us situation; it’s all us. We’re all human. And when you are calling others trolls, you are risking looking more like a troll yourself.

It’s pretty infuriating sometimes, and I have to write it all down, or tell people about it, to keep it straight in my head. The poison threatens to infect me, and turn me into a bitter troll sometimes. It’s hard to stay nice, and tempting to become a nasty mean old troll, but I remind myself that there are rewards for being nice, like looking in the mirror in the morning, and not hating who you are; even if you don’t look as pretty on the outside as you would wish, you know that you are beautiful on the inside, and maybe the beauty will shine out, and make other people as happy as you are yourself. There’s nothing as good as making someone smile. Maybe it’s a bit sickening, but the guy with the typewriter gets it, and lots of other people do, and that makes me feel very good about life, and living.

Anger

Nobody wants you to suffer, nobody has planned it, and it is only the truly ignorant and lost who are made happy by the suffering of others; perhaps in the short term, there’s a satisfaction, but the slow soul rot that results will eventually turn up in your eyes someday when you look in your mirror, and you will find it very hard to live with yourself.

So accept that you are not perfect; after all, others can accept themselves as they are, warts and all, so how bad can you be really? Maybe you have just set your standards too high, above the rest of us ordinary folk. You are not special, in anything but being human. And in the human spirit, I wish you love now, and happiness, even if you don’t want it from me. At least take it from yourself. Life isn’t so very long, and you deserve happiness, just as everyone does. Join the human race, and enjoy the music.
Love
Donna

My Fantasies

I love listening to classical music. It can bring you to the most wonderful places in your imagination. Disney’s masterful feature animation ‘Fantasia‘ visits a good few of these places, and how gloriously imaginative is the music of the great composers like Modest Mussorgsky, whose ‘Night On Bald Mountain‘  provides a ‘musical picture’ on the theme of a St. John’s Night Witches Sabbath. Disney caught the menace in the music perfectly in the imagery and movement of the animated spectres and spooks of darkness.

Loving it as much as I am? I hope so, because this movie certainly made classical music accessible to its audience in 1940, as I hope it will for you too, if you aren’t already a classical music fan. If you fancy listening to some more, with a change in tempo, here’s some more of the magic of Disney. Ludvig van Beethoven does depressed and moody awfully well, but the Pastoral Symphony (Opus no. 68 ) is one of his sweeter, happier works.

Beethoven_sym_6_script
Beethoven’s Symphony no. 6 (Pastoral) script

Disney’s images to accompany the music are charming and sweet too. The following video features two versions of the same footage alongside each other for comparison. If you are the sort of person who likes fiddling about with reading the sleeve of the album cover too while listening, I can’t help you out, but I can provide a link to an analysis of some of the metaphors and mythological references that abound in the movie.

Satyr With A Pipe

Well, that was fun, wasn’t it? Let’s make it a night, settle down and relax in style like a satyr, pull up a log and grab a pipe to blow bubbles in order to not-think better, kick the shoes off to let the hooves breathe,  and enjoy taking a nice trip with these cute little mushrooms, who like dancing around to the Nutcracker Suite by llyich Tchaikovsky.

Is This America?

ChildishChet
Childish by badjonni flickr. Chet reproduced by Kristine flickr.

Have you seen Childish Gambino‘s ‘This is America‘ music video yet? It’s full of metaphors and works well as a piece of video art, as well as it does in a musical sense (if you are into that kind of thing  (mellow, funk or classical is more my vibe). But its  meaning is ambiguous, and may also have layers of meanings not accessible to the conscious mind at first viewing. Some good videos have been made which discuss possible meanings in the video. I thought you might like to have a look, if you have not already come across this song. Even if you have, it’s worth having another look with the analysis afterwards.

Decide for yourself; is it mainly a black/racism theme, a violence/gun theme, a gang theme, a mass-media culture/semiotics theme; maybe a political left/right theme, or all of the above, perhaps most, or what else? Part of the video’s power is that it doesn’t provide the answers for us. And that’s not a bad partial definition of art itself, which, as Picasso once said, tends to ‘elude investigation‘.

If you found your poor nerves jangled after all that tension and post-postmodern anxiety that is the staple emotional state involved in modern American culture, maybe I could suggest a soothing antidote. It’s more of a blue pill than a red one,  a musical biographical movie that features sadness, drugs and angst, along with the sublime trumpet playing of Chet Baker. And you won’t get lost in the plot.

Are you a classical nerd? Quick quiz, then. Name the following tune.

…..and other stuff.

Glaciers

John Grant’s ‘Glacier’. A great song about pain. This post is dedicated to Dave, my best bud, who put me on to John Grant’s stuff. Now follow me, you b*stard.

Here he is with the Czars, singing another one I love, ‘Angel Eyes’. He brings different layers of meaning to the original.

He can be awfully funny at times, when he is not depressed. Try this out. Bet you know one of these types.

If you love him as much as I do, here’s a whole album for you. Cool.

 

Sunday Night Fever

Hey groovy guys and gals. It’s Sunday night and I feel like getting ma groove on. Sunday’s a day for chilling out and gettin’ the good vibes goin’, and after doing some Tai Chi with a friend in the morning, and taking a nice stroll in the woods in the afternoon……..

Athena and Winnie sketch
Athena and Winnie Walk in the Woods Donna Emerald 2018 #TheWhiteGoddess

I curled up with a good book, and guess what, I fell asleep, as so often happens on a Sunday, when one has had such a busy week. I love nodding off with a book in my hand.

book
Q Luther Blisset Photo Donna Emerald

 

 

 

 

 

 

I was in such a good mood when I woke up that I thought a little dance around the living room was in order after dinner. I came across this great tutorial, and I thought I’d share it with you here. So kick off your shoes, and let’s see how MC Hammer does it, then we’ll try it ourselves. Funky, funky.

You got it, baby. You is busting out those moves now, and tearing up that dance floor. You are ready to earn your place with the all time greats of Soul Train. Get up! Look out for Chaka khan in this top 10.

Still Dancing After All These Years

The vedics believed that dance was a direct connection to the spiritual.

This dancer, Shalini Patnaik, blows me away, and it is hard to think you are not in contact with something divine when she dances. The sitar player is Anouska Shankar, daughter of the legendary Ravi Skankar, and she is no slouch in the music department either. They are all really grooving on this music, and the good vibrations are strong all round. Anoushka Shankar is an interesting gal, because she has managed to cross over into various different culture’s musical traditions, and create music with other musical artists, without sacrificing one iota of her musical integrity. The result is pure magic, time and time again.Vedic music explores the relationship between the forces of chaos and those of order. Other traditions have similar juxtapositions built in; the result is a harmonious blending of primal forces of yin/yang energies. Sometimes there is frenzy and chaos in evidence, at others the rhythm of life flows as gracefully through the music as water from a mountain top towards the sea.

Alla Kushnir dances to Setanta’s Black Magic Woman

Aren’t these ladies beautiful? I think Byron had someone like this in mind when he wrote She Walks In Beauty, in 1814.

She walks in beauty, like the night

Of cloudless climes and starry skies;

And all that’s best of dark and bright

Meet in her aspect and her eyes:

Thus mellow’d to that tender light

Which heaven to gaudy day denies.

 

 

Book at Bedtime

sleep

Heading to bed with your mug of Ovaltine? Finished that novel and looking for something to snuggle up with. You can’t beat a chuckle at bedtime, and David Sedaris tells some of the funniest stories out there. Here are ten of the best.
Listen to David Sedaris’ stories online

Too sleepy even for that? Not ready for bed, but up for something different? Garrison Keiller is one of the funniest guys out there, and his radio show,  ‘A Prairie Home Companion’ is a modern classic, full of nostalgia for a way of life lots of us never knew.

Click this link to listen.

Nite, nite. Sleep tight.

 

Shiny Happy Music

Happiness isn’t all about buying new handbags, y’know. Listening to uplifting music can make your day. Music is a really personal thing, and the same music won’t touch us all in the same way. Having said that, I wanna share some of my happy music with yez, and I hope you’ll tell me some of your favourite tunes. First up is Van……’the man’. Aptly nicknamed ‘cos only a super-talented dude like Van Morrison is capable of writing some of the happiest tunes on the planet, as well as some of the most miserable. Just ask Lester Bangs, who I have to thank for introducing me to Astral Weeks.

 

  Och, to heck with it. Let’s have another happy tune from Van. I still remember a sunny morning of perfection boppin’ along the road listening to this one. This one pulls me out of even the worst funks. I offer it now to you as an antidote to your worst crappy day. May it prove effective.

From the dark end of the street
To the bright side of the road
We’ll be lovers once again
on the Bright side of the road

Little darlin’, come with me
Won’t you help me share my load
From the dark end of the street
To the bright side of the road

Into this life we’re born
Baby sometimes we don’t know why
And time seems to go by so fast
In the twinkling of an eye

Let’s enjoy it while we can
Won’t you help me sing my song
From the dark end of the street
To the bright side of the road

From the dark end of the street
To the bright side of the road
We’ll be lovers once again
On the bright side of the road
We’ll be lovers once again  
on the bright side of the road  

More happy tunes over here.