From the PhysicsWeb site, an article by Robert P. Crease. A while back he asked readers to send in their nominees for the most beautiful experiment in physics. Now he reports on the results: what they picked, and why. And here’s the New York Times picking up on the story.
I love this stuff. I don’t know why people are so hesitant about talking about their work—what’s cool, what gets old real fast, the constraints and requirements that drive everything else, the moments you always remember.
I once came within a hairsbreadth of disgracing myself during a Broadway performance of Tom Stoppard’s The Invention of Love. A character had just made an impassioned speech about text editing, and described that moment when you see in a garbled text the error that muddled it, and the text as it’s supposed to be; when a small change here and another one there will instantly untangle the snarl and let it run smooth. I’m not sure how I was supposed to react to it, but I just barely caught myself in time to keep from punching my fist in the air and shouting “Yes!”
As it happened, I was there in the company of a bunch of publishing people; but I doubt the rest of the audience would have been as understanding.
Usually, when people talk about the finicky bits of text editing, I apologetically say okay, it’s boring, but someone has to care about all that stuff, and aren’t you glad it isn’t you? But sometimes what I want to say is “No, you don’t understand—sometimes it’s beautiful.”