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Goya, ‘The Fire’, c.1793, oil on tin plate, 50 x 32 cm.
Painted after illness left him permanently deaf.
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There was an overall smell but you could separate them out the way a prism separated light. There was a smell of bark, of green branches, of nettles, of dung, of fresh earth, and stinking earth, of fungi and the Elder flower that grew profusely and was one of the chief components for the home-made wine…
The flutter of the leaves brought on your trance. Hundreds of thousands of sycamore leaves all obeying the same wind, their wide green palms opening then tightening, letting in and keeping out the light changing the prospect from indoor to outdoor to indoor, forever altering. It was the most lonesome hour just before dusk with all the colours going, all the streamers, the pinks and reds, and violets and indigoes and blues, the lovely laneways of vanquishing light.
Edna O’Brien, A Pagan Place (1970). One of the best novels about childhood (and memory, and Ireland) that I’ve ever read.
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God runs electromagnetics on Monday, Wednesday, and Friday by the wave theory, and the devil runs it by quantum theory on Tuesday, Thursday, and Saturday.
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At the age of sixteen, while in Aarau, Albert [Einstein] asked himself what a light wave would look like to someone keeping pace with it.
Compared with the other incident, this one seems inconsequential. It appears to be no achievement at all but merely an unanswered question. But this question that Albert asked himself at the age of sixteen haunted him for years. It strikingly reveals his ability to go to the heart of a problem. For the question contains the germ of the theory of relativity, and at the time no one in the world could have given a satisfactory answer. Einstein found an answer himself, but it took him ten years.
Banesh Hoffmann, Einstein (1973)
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Pleasant to me is the glittering of the sun today upon these margins, because it flickers so.
Three scientists sit inside a fire lit bat cave in Panama, August 1915.
Photograph by George Shiras, National Geographic
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I like the town on rainy nights
When everything is wet—
When all the town has magic lights
And streets of shining jet!
When all the rain about the town
Is like a looking-glass,
And all the lights are upside-down
Below me as I pass.
In all the pools are velvet skies,
And down the dazzling street
A fairy city gleams and lies
In beauty at my feet.
Irene Thompson, ‘Rainy Nights’