Office Door Items

(I am retired and no longer have an office -- so these inhabit a "virtual" office door!)

Familiar Lines

   

The boy stood on the burning deck,
His fleece was white as snow;
He stuck a feather in his hat,
John Anderson, my Jo!

 "Come back, come back," he cried in grief,
From India's coral strands,
The frost is on the pumpkin and
The village smithy stands.

 Am I a soldier of the cross
From many a boundless plain?
Should auld acquaintance be forgot
Where saints immortal reign?

Ye banks and braes o' bonny Doon
Across the sands o' Dee,
Can you forget that night in June -
My country, 'tis of thee!

 Of all sad words of tongue or pen,
We're saddest when we sing,
To beard the lion in his den -
To set before the king.

 Hark! from the tombs a doleful sound,
And phoebus gins arise;
All mimsy were the borogoves
To mansions in the skies. 

— Anonymous (N. Y. Times)


Even as geometry rises from certain slight and readily understood foundations to the highest and most difficult demonstrations, whereby the most ingenious minds ascends above the ether: so does our magnetic doctrine and science in due order first show certain facts of less rare occurence; from these proceed facts of a more extraordinary kind; at length, in a sort of series, are revealed things most secret and privy in the earth, and the causes are recognized of things that, in the ignorance of those of old or through the heedlessness of things moderns, were unnoticed or disregarded.

— William Gilbert, De Magnete


The velocity, violence, magnitude, and horrible noise of the [steam] engine give universal satisfaction to all beholders, believers or not.

—James Watt


Ode to Optimal Codes (on the occasion of the conference in
Sunny Beach, Bulgaria, June 2001)

     
Best of all codes! - We honor your clan,
Urgently seeking to measure its stock;
Looking with hope for a general plan,
Griesmer our guide and Belov our rock!
Ambient spaces become finite fields,
Residues step to the floor;
Induction as ever its potency wields,
And MacWilliams' sums tally the score!
 

The Roman Road

   
The Roman road runs straight and bare
As the pale parting line in hair
Across the heath. And thoughtful men
Contrast its days of Now and Then
And delve, and measure, and compare;

Visioning on the vacant air
Helmed legionairies, who proudly rear
The Eagle, as they pace again
The Roman Road.

But no tall brass-helmed legionaire
Haunts it for me. Uprises there
A mother's form upon my ken,
Guiding my infant steps, as when
We walked that ancient thoroughfare,
The Roman Road.

— Thomas Hardy


The Pennine Way

   
The Pennine Way winds to and fro
As would the wind-swept drifts of snow
Across the moors. And guidebooks all
Paint vivid landscapes to enthrall
And tempt us walkers with their show;

Bringing to mind how sketches flow
From Wainwright, in the book we know-
"Companion" - so might it recall
The Pennine Way.

But no accountant (long ago)
Limns it for us. We see the glow
Of fellow walkers, past the wall,
Looking back, as with a call
They hail us - "Cheers!" - to follow so,
The Pennine Way.


Hermit hoar, in solemn cell,
Wearing out life's evening gray,
Smite thy bosom, sage, and tell,
Where is bliss? and which the way?
Thus I spoke; and speaking sigh'd;
Scarce repress'd the starting tear;-
When the smiling sage reply'd-
Come, my lad, and drink some beer.

— Samuel Johnson


It rained and it rained and rained and rained,
The average fall was well maintained;
And when the tracks were simply bogs,
It started raining cats and dogs.

After a drought of half an hour,
We had a most refreshing shower;
And then the most curious thing of all —
A gentle rain began to fall.

Next day was also fairly dry,
Save for the deluge from the sky,
Which wetted the party to the skin;
And after that the rain set in!

— Postcard from the Lake District


I understand that you are writing poetry as well as working at physics.  I do not see how you can do both. In science one tries to say something that no one knew before in a way that everyone can understand. Whereas in poetry . . . .

— Paul Dirac, chiding Robert Oppenheimer


I had a feeling about Mathematics - that I saw it all. Depth beyond Depth was revealed to me - the Byss and the Abyss. I saw - as one might see the transit of Venus or even the Lord Mayor's Show - a quantity passing through infinity and changing its sign from plus to minus. I saw exactly how it happened and why the tergiversation was inevitable - but it was after dinner and I let it go.

— Winston Churchill


Take away number in all things, and all things perish.  Take calculation from the world and all is enveloped in dark ignorance, nor can one who does not know the way to reckon be distinguished from the rest of the animals.

— St. Isidore of Seville


The leading idea which is present in all our researches, and which accompanies every fresh observation, the sound which to the ears of the student of Nature seems continually echoed from every part of her works, is - Time! - Time! - Time!

— George Poulett Scrope


Heaven: Region of the atmosphere in which clouds float, winds blow, and birds fly.

— Concise OED, early editions


Disk jockey: "And now, for the twelve-inch pizza, what is the true nature of reality? I'll take the ninth correct caller . . ." (cartoon)

—Kirk (Christian Century)


Although all the atoms are in motion, their totality appears to stand totally motionless.... Indeed, even visible objects, when set at a distance, often disguise their movements.  Often on a hillside fleecy sheep, as they crop their lush pasture, creep slowly onward, lured this way or that by grass that sparkles with fresh dew, while the full-fed lambs gaily frisk and butt.  And yet, when we gaze from a distance, we see only a blur - a white patch stationary on the green hillside.

— Lucretius, De Rerum Natura


I told him it was law logic - an artificial system of reasoning, exclusively used in courts of justice, but good for nothing anywhere else.

— John Quincy Adams, to John Marshall


An ominous feature is that the notes and bibliography are not in the book, but on a website but for how long, Lord, how long??

— David Singmaster (Mathematical Reviews)


I used to go there alone to watch the sunset and contemplate suicide. I did not, however, commit suicide, because I wished to know more about mathematics.

— Bertrand Russell


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Train from UK Heritage Railways. Welsh flag from The Castles of Wales.

Last modified January 14, 2014