Sunday, December 28, 2008


"Any time two entities interact, they entangle. It doesn't matter if they are photons (bits of light), atoms (bits of matter), or bigger things made of atoms like dust motes, microscopes, cats, or people. The entanglement persists no matter how far these entities separate, as long as they don't subsequently interact with anything else--an almost impossibly tall order for a cat or a person, which is why we don't notice the effect. . . . . It starts when they interact; in doing so, they lose their separate existence" (Gilder, 2008, p. 3).

I find the conceptual implications of the above quotation (and the Wikipedia definition of entanglement) captivating. It comes from a book on the history of quantum physics which I am currently (if somewhat guiltily) enjoying. Like most non-fiction books, this one is also organized much too chronologically for my taste. However, the author has done a beautiful job of grounding the development of quantum theory in the daily lives of those through whom it was revealed to the world. She also does a brilliant job of reconstructing conversations from historical documents in a way that highlights the significant influence the scientists' personal and social "entanglements" had on theoretical developments in the field of physics.

It is interesting to consider the degree to which we are consciously aware of our "entanglement" with others, the relative strength of each of those connections, and how intensely the connections persist in the face of prolonged separation (due to death, the decay of a friendship, divorce, or simply increased absence from the realities of one another's normal, daily routines). Have you ever spent time trying to isolate and unravel the "entanglements" that are most persistent in your life? Are there people who are no longer physically part of your daily routine with whom you continue to be deeply entangled (in terms of the influence they exert on your thoughts and actions)? Do you ever wonder why THOSE particular people seem to have such a disproportionate influence within your sphere of existence?

From an alternative perspective, have you ever wondered what noticeable effect your individual existence has on the rest of the world? Do you ever ponder whether the brief comments, insignificant interactions, or trivial activities in which you engage affect anyone else in deep and lasting ways? Have you ever thought about the degree to which the effect of those tiny expressions of self may be magnified by their absence in someone else's life? Have you ever considered the effect that your unspoken musings would have on the world if you were to share "the real" you with more of the world? Conversations about the concept of entanglement merit a much greater investment than the time and space inherent in a midnight blog post. For now, I'll suffice to say that the manner in which we live would surely change if we truly believed and viewed ourselves as connected to others and our environment in physical ways.



Gilder, Louisa. (2008). The age of entanglement: When quantum physics was reborn. NY: Alfred A. Knopf.

Hearing the Harmonies

"[But it is clear] that in these muddled notes Wassermann heard the melody that hummed within him but was inaudible to those not involved. He and his co-workers listened and tuned their instruments to the point where these notes became selective and eventually the melody could be heard even by ordinary laymen" (Fleck, 2005, p. 60).

I suppose this is my quest for the coming week--to revise my dissertation until both the melody and the harmonies that support it are unmistakable to even ordinary laymen. One frustration is having to do it in words. As Gilder (2008) notes, "Nothing is better than language for drawing an intricately vague veil over truth" (p. 41). But perhaps the 3 little letters after my name will give me the systemic access I need to begin to change that.


Fleck, Ludvig. In Smith, Barbara Herrnstein. (2005). Scandalous knowledge: Science, truth, and the human. Durham, NC: Duke University Press.

Gilder, Louisa. (2008). The age of entanglement: When quantum physics was reborn. NY: Alfred A. Knopf.

Sunday, December 21, 2008


". . . and I feel like my world is changing. Again. And there's nothing subtle about it. Everything has shifted, like when a symphony suddenly modulates to a different key. And I wonder how many times the world can change in one week. I'm beginning to think that it's a large number" (Clements, 2006, p. 92).

There is no question that the harmonies of my life and the tectonic plates of my world have shifted. However, in my case, the chords haven't yet resolved, resulting in an internal dissonance that leaves me feeling just as unsettled as an audience.


Clements, Andrew. (2006). Things hoped for. NY: Philomel Books.

Saturday, December 20, 2008

My Daily Trek

I have come to the conclusion that elevators are hazardous to one's health. The elevator in my building is very slow, and heavily used. Consequently, if one wishes to use it, one must plan for at least a 5-minute wait. What that means is that every day I make the choice between learning patience and becoming more physically fit. Although I hate exercise, I hate waiting even more.

So, this is the staircase that I climb every day. The number of flights of stairs depends on whether I am coming from the basement where I teach, the parking garage where I park when I get to the office early enough to get a spot (which is not very often these days), or the main floor.

My office is on the third floor, and there are 2 sets of stairs between each floor (for a total of 6 flights). There are 2 levels of parking between the basement and the first floor (which adds up to an extra 4 flights or so). So my cardiovascular system is getting a much better workout since I moved here!

Mormon Tabernacle Choir

A very thoughtful colleague who plays in the orchestra for the Mormon Tabernacle Choir gave me two tickets to the Mormon Tabernacle Choir's Christmas Concert last Saturday night. While the whole experience was an adventure (from taking Trax, to the Christmas lights on Temple Square, to dinner at the Lion House afterwards), what I most appreciated about it were the aesthetics of the experience. The design of the building is beautiful (I especially appreciated the textured walls and the captivating design of the ceiling). The scenery for the performance was nice, and they did a lovely job of using lighting, costuming, dancers, and scenery to contribute to the intimate and festive feel of the evening. My friend, Lucia, added the sparkle of her own personality to the event. The evening was a nice respite from the cares of my everyday world!

Pomp & Circumstance

After 5 years in a doctoral program, one doesn't have much interest in big words. So, here is a very simple story about a very big day.

Mom and Dad watched me get "hooded." I wish I could say it put me out of my misery, but unfortunately, a little thing called revisions got in the way of that.

Ann & Anny, who ought to open a company called Dissertations R Us with the slogan: "We help you get 'em done!"

Punya Mishra, the professor who changed my perspective and my world (and provided evidence that true scholarship involves plenty of play).

Pomp and circumstance (in non-academese: We walked in while they played music).

The President of the University spoke. The image amuses me, even at commencement, the influence of sports cannot be escaped.Add Image

Honorary doctorates were awarded (ummm, I'd like one of those please, as I'm quite certain there are a lot fewer tears associated with them)! Steven Squyres, of the Mars ROVER project, spoke, explaining that "adventures are what happen when you don't know what you are doing." I guess I must have had a LOT of adventures over the last 5 years, then.

I graduated. It was about as anticlimactic as the sentence that I just used to state it.

I defended my dissertation. Do I look like a "real" Dr.?

Reshaping the Mess

When I first began this blog, I used it primarily as a scrapbook of sorts in which I could collect random thoughts and musings of interest to me. Later, I transferred my "professional" life into another location and started using this space to capture more personal thoughts and feelings to share with family and friends.

My dissertation has left me with little energy to produce anything worth reading. I abandoned my professional blog and although I had great intentions, I haven't managed to post anything on this one in nearly four months.

So, I'm going to reshape this mess. I am going to give myself permission to post in snippets (the 4 people who actually read what I post are probably heaving a collective sigh of relief!).