Wonder, Wobbles and Water

water faucetHow about that for a title?

Mr. Salamander’s latest comment describes wonder in a way that is much more eloquent than my brief anecdotes about it.

And very serendipitously, I read his comment and not but a day afterwards I came across a excerpt from Richard Feynman’s “Surely You’re Joking, Mr. Feynman” that directly relates to what Salamander was talking about.

“I had nothing to do, so I start to figure out the motion of the rotating plate.”

He saw a plate wobbling in the air and decided that he wanted to figure out how that worked. He wanted to have fun by letting his interests take him where they wanted to go. Then he got a Nobel Prize for that work.

While I was reading that excerpt, the following lines reminded me of something:

“When I was in high school, I’d see water running out of a faucet growing narrower, and wonder if I could figure out what determines that curve. … I’d invent things and play with things for my own entertainment.”

Compare that to our friend Salamander’s comment:

“The nature of physical reality is impossibly large and complex, yet it all feels like it makes sense as I watch storm runoff twist and turn down the drain. In other words, when I try to quantify the universe, I’m often baffled. When I let it all go and simply realize that the universe exists (from quarks to quasars), I’m at peace, if only for a brief moment.”

Why is it that quantifying nature baffles our amphibian comrade and letting it all go makes him feel peaceful? Only he can answer that for us.

But I can say that I feel the same way that he does sometimes. And usually it is because I am burnt out. Just like Feynman was.

I, too, feel that peace when I let it all go. But if we take Feynman’s advice, that peace can come when we are trying to figure things out also. We just have to let it all go while quantifying. Have fun with the physics (or whatever work you are doing). Keep that sense of wonder in all endeavors.

Photo courtesy of flicktoast 

One comment

  1. Serene and calm, or mind racing with thoughts, or joyfully focused and performing a task.

    Confronted with a magnificent view high above a sprawling city. When I am at a concert, feeling inspired; I want to bottle that feeling, take it home, and let it fuel me to create something. When a 25 minute pomodoro is up and I really want to keep working.

    These are some of my favorite sentient moments.

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