Wednesday, Jan 6, 2021

Poem: Thinking of Michael Faraday

Books & Poetry

Poet’s Corner’s first contribution for 2021, from Erica Jolly, pays tribute to one of history’s most influential scientists.Compiled by John MilesPrint article

Thinking of Michael Faraday

while thanking Australia’s ABC

Your gentle voice is silent now
but as I search and seek to find
the source of this wonder I learn
it is in electromagnetic waves.

Without your genius,
these voices would not be here
with me today. Once called wireless,
could you foretell its worth to me

bringing me the world outside?
Voices from bedrooms, not studios,
offering me music, stories, science.
And sharp voices asking questions.

So easy, in this past year of isolation,
to feel lost to all that feeds our lives.
Despite that awful denial of support,
performers in the arts touch hearts.

They reach me on this wavelength.
Engineers, recorders and presenters
unite the sciences and humanities
in broadcasts reviving my spirits.

Editor’s note: Physicist, chemist, mathematician, inventor and internationally-awarded professor Michael Faraday (1791–1867) is considered one of the most influential scientists of history, despite having received little formal education. His experiments contributed greatly to the understanding of electromagnetism. Albert Einstein kept a picture of Faraday on his study wall, and Ernest Rutherford called him one of the greatest scientific discoverers of all time.

Erica Jolly graduated from the University of Adelaide with honours in history and gained her Masters in English Literature from Flinders University. She taught and held curriculum positions in secondary schools for 40 years, has been elected to the Flinders University Governing Council and Academic Senate, helped combine various faculties and schools there, and supported the recognition of teaching. She has authored five books, two on South Australian educational history, two of her poetry, and ‘Challenging the Divide: Approaches to Science and Poetry.’

Wednesday, May 26, 2021

Poem: A kind of love
Books & Poetry

Acclaimed Italian theoretical physicist and writer Carlo Rovelli is the subject of this week’s Poet’s Corner contribution from Erica Jolly of Adelaide.Compiled by John Miles Print article

Image: Wallpoper/Wikimedia Commons

A kind of love

For Carlo Rovelli
and ‘Seven Brief Lessons on Physics’
translated by Simon Carnell and Erica Segre

He treats me with courtesy,
knows I am here to learn,
respects that fact
and is kind.

There’s no condescension
and no man-made chasm.
I need to feel his joy
and share his love.

Great teachers are like this.
He is careful with his pace,
rejects – more than that –
denies any cultural divide.

Translated from Italian
he brings me connections.
With Ludwig Boltzmann
will come Beethoven.

He is moving me to chance,
probability and uncertainty
but always, with humanity,
connecting me with Nature.

Finally, ‘In closing’ he speaks
of ‘Ourselves’, tells me we all
find our being in and with Nature.
Each ‘a node in the network’.

A theoretical quantum physicist,
he has brought me to the mystery. With him,
I’m in awe of the beauty at this frontier,
at the edge of the ‘ocean of the unknown’.

Erica Jolly has been a contributor to Poet’s Corner since its Independent Weekly print days. A graduate from Adelaide University with honours in history, she gained her Masters in English Literature from Flinders University. Teaching and holding curriculum positions in secondary schools for 40 years, she has been elected to the Flinders University Governing Council and Academic Senate, and helped combine various faculties and schools there. She has authored five books, two on South Australian educational history, two of her poetry, and from Adelaide’s Lythrum Press in 2010 and launched by Robyn Williams, ‘Challenging the Divide: Approaches to Science and Poetry.’

Imagine such a future

I now have a wheelchair.

I’m too slow. It’s too far to reach

the Economic Botany Museum.

There is this sense of urgency.

This is the last day it is open.

Friends feel my need to see it.

‘Shared Reckonings’ – its title.

We are in luck. The artist is here.

Catherine Truman, a friend of Ian’s.

Once a neuro-scientist, now poet,

video poet. ‘Floodtide’ is in Finland.

This artist works across disciplines.

They live in the world we need.

Humanity, art, science together.

I take in what Catherine is saying.

Behind each lens – an eye, a mind,

a heart – the possibility of the new

and a deeper level of understanding.

We are seeing through a magnified

drop of water on a nasturtium leaf,

the back of it, the detail of the veins.

We are taken near the optic nerve,

inside the eye. Are we close to Iris,

once the messenger of the gods?

So much is worthwhile for us in life.

When curiosity and creativity unite

the ego has no place in the meeting.

                                                                        Erica Jolly

Considering Chinese culture in science and mathematics

Christopher Pyne, this Coalition Minister for Education 2013

 sees no value in the interdisciplinary approach that makes

              connections between Asian cultures

              and separate subject domains.

He has established a new Colombo Plan

one where our top students will travel

enter their universities often

without their language or

feeling for their culture

just for our profit.

He sees no need, if they study in China,

for students to feel admiration for all

those inventions that came often

along the Silk Road to change

life in Europe for everyone

in navigation, books, war.

Not just the compass, printing, gunpowder.

With the abacus and shadow clock they

might have recorded a solar eclipse

in 2137 BC or BCE as it is now.

The Chinese abacus transferred

fingers to beads on a frame.

And who needs to admire curiosity

and the capacity for adaptation

the way another nation finds

to use its natural vegetation –

bamboo to make rods for

counting before 400 BCE?

What else will he leave out to

increase our general level

of ignorance as well as

arrogance in the new

national curriculum

he will establish?

                                                                        Erica Jolly