January 26, 2011

TRIUMF and Physics as a household belief system...

My father was an Electronics Technician in the RF group at TRIUMF from 1976 to 1983. His time there was a source of personal and family pride.

When I was a kid, our family went on a couple of tours there with my Dad. When I asked my Dad what he did at work that day, he'd talk about mesons and beamlines, and the Ion Stream Injection System, or being in something called "The Tank".

I didn't understand much of it, but the concepts that I did understand absolutely fascinated me: the scale of things, the smallness of the particles, the speeds of transmission (0.75 the speed of light!), and the worldwide efforts and experiments involved.

When Dad talked about these things, it was like physics suddenly became a dominant belief system in our household, full of questions and answers and the kind of mysteries that excited me in much the same way that I imagine people used to be excited when contemplating how many angels could dance on the head of a pin.

I went back and toured there with my wife a few years ago, and must admit that my feelings of wonder came back again the same as it did when I was eleven.

See Also:
TRIUMF (The Art and Science of Particle Physics) by Dr. Ron Burnett, ECUAD.

January 22, 2011

True Life: A Reader Reaches Out

A few weeks ago, I received a touching email from someone who had found my "True Life" memoir web project (http://truelife.ejohnlove.com). This person's words really touched me...

In essence, the reader wanted to let me know that the themes and experiences they read about in True Life echoed their own life experiences: parental alcoholism and depression, and personally having to take on a lot of responsibility for the family as a result.

They told me that they had spent a great deal of time feeling like they were alone in their feelings, and that it was a comfort and an inspiration to encounter someone else who'd been through similar experiences.

Back in 1998, I began my True Life web memoir as a way to organize and purge my personal experiences in a format that I could control and continue to develop on an adhoc basis, for as long as it took.

I wish my new reader all the best in their future, and I have encouraged them to write their experiences as well.

Over the years, I've only received a few messages from readers of True Life, but this person's message meant a lot to me, and made me feel like the act of writing and sharing must automatically have an element of compassion in it - it's not just a selfish activity - it's a sharing, connecting activity.