scribbled in the margins


cafegirl is a working artist and graduate student with utterly appalling work habits and a very old laptop. This blog is specifically intended for graduate school writing assignments. If you have wandered in from my other blog, please note that I am blogging anonymously. Please remember that my classmates and professors read this - so play nicely. That being said, I DO encourage comments!!

Wednesday, September 19, 2007

Happy Talk Like A Pirate Day!

In observance of the day, here is the cover of a 1678 book on pirates and piracy, including the career of Sir Henry Morgan.
We're doing rather a lot on 17th century matters in the Western Civ class and the subject of piracy during this period touches on many of the things we have been discussing, including: nationalism, commerce, colonialism, trade, slavery, exploration, warfare, technology, navigation, egalitarianism and so on.
I'm sorry that I won't be discussing piracy and privateers on this blog but I couldn't let Talk Like A Pirate Day go by, with nary a mention....could I?
(source for the image: )

Sunday, September 16, 2007

Eastern Europe

In Eastern Europe, the success of reformers varied from one locale to another. In Poland, for example, the movement began with the nobility before spreading to the general population. In areas where the movement lacked popular support, the Roman Church was more successful at reasserting its influence.

The Lutheran reforms were more successful in Hungary, where the ruling class had been weakened by the struggle with the Ottoman Empire. Hungary did not return to the Roman Church until a 17th century counter-reformation. Even then, the influence of the Hungarian Protestants remained significant into the 18th century.

Southern Europe

Protestant reform movements were unsuccessful in Southern Europe - in Italy and Spain - where the influence of the Roman Church was the strongest. In both regions, the courts of the Inquisition exercised authority.

In Spain, where nationalism had managed to force out Muslim occupation in the 15th century, a close alliance remained between the monarchy and the established church. Without popular support or the protection and sponsorship by nobility, the Protestant Reformation was unable to find a foothold.

(Image of Ignatius of Loyola from website: The World of Ignatius Loyola )

The Catholic Church's own reform movement was greatly influenced by the work of Ignatius of Loyola (1491-1556), a Spanish nobleman who founded the Society of Jesus (Jesuits). The Jesuits were instrumental in countering Protestant reform in other parts of Europe, including Poland and Hungary.


In France, the situation developed in still another way. Francis I was threatened by the challenge to his authority that Protestant reform presented. He tried to drive its advocates out of the kingdom and, in 1535, Protestantism was made illegal. One of these French Protestants was Jean Cauvin - who is probably better known as John Calvin.

In France, the Huguenot (Protestant) minority developed into a political movement that resisted the supression by the monarchy. Civil war broke out in 1562 and, in 1572, an attempt was made to reconcile the two sides by a marriage of Henry of Navarre (a Protestant) into the royal family (Roman Catholic). This resulted in widespread sectarian violence and the warfare continued for decades.

Henry Navarre eventually returned to the Catholic camp and became King Henry IV of France. His Edict of Nantes (1598) granted limited tolerance to the Huguenots. Following Henry's assassination in 1610, the tolerance lessened and the Edict was finally revoked in 1685. French Protestants fled to other parts of Europe that were under Protestant control and some sailed to the Americas.

(Image of Henry Navarre from )

The Church of England

In England, the Reformation had begun when, in 1532, Henry VIII broke with Rome, asserting his authority as the head of the Church in England. Although Henry's church was not affiliated with the German reform movement, it did open the door for the influence of Protestant reform theology in England.

(Image of Henry VIII from website: )

Edward VI's short reign (he died at the age of 15) followed the ecclesiastical reform policies of his father but was influenced by Calvinist theology, under the guidance of the Archbishop of Canterbury, Thomas Cranmer. Edward's brief reign was followed by the 9-day reign of his Protestant cousin, Lady Jane Grey.

Mary Tudor was one of Edward's sisters and a Roman Catholic and took the throne in 1553. As Queen Mary, she tried to reverse the reforms and suppress Protestantism. During her reign many English Protestants fled to sympathetic communities on the Continent - including Geneva.

The reformers began to return to England after the succession of Edward's other sister, Elizabeth Tudor, to the throne in 1558. Under Elizabeth, the Church of England integrated elements of both her father's catholic church and the Calvinist reform movement. There were Protestant critics who wanted a more purely Calvinist approach and reform akin to what had taken place in places like Geneva.

In the 17th century, this Puritan criticism of the Church of England erupted into the English Civil War, the execution of Charles I in 1649, and the institution of the Protestant Commonwealth (1649-1660). With the restoration of the monarchy (1660) a period of persecution took place and it was not until the Toleration Act of 1689 that Protestant groups outside of the Church of England were legally permitted.

John Knox (c. 1515-1572)

John Knox was one of the number of Scottish Protestants who were in exile from their home country. At the time, Scotland was ruled by Mary Stuart (Mary I), who had grown up in France and who was a supporter of the old Church. Knox visited England and eventually returned to Scotland, where he came to the fore of the mounting Protestant opposition to the Catholic Mary.

(Image of John Knox from Project Gutenberg )

Mary, who was also in line for the English throne, became entangled in combating Protestant critics at home and plots that pitted her against her cousin, Elizabeth, Queen of England. She was forced to abdicate the throne of Scotland and was finally executed for treason, after being found guilty of plots against the Protestant Elizabeth.

The Protestant Revolution

Writing Prompt: Compare and contrast the reformation in France, Scotland, England, and Southern and Eastern Europe. Note leading figures and the results of the Reformation in each place.

The Protestant Reformation in Western Europe was a widespread phenomenon. It was also varied in its character and degree of success from one part of Europe to another. The Lutheran approach to reform spread through northern Germany and Scandinavia, while Calvinism had the greatest impact on the reform movements in France, the Netherlands and even Switzerland, where Zwingli had been an early influence.

(Image of Calvin from the website: The World of Ignatius Loyola )

Compared to Luther's theoretical and somewhat experimental approach to ecclesiastical reform, John Calvin's (1509-1564) was more systematic. It was also non-hierarchical and non-ritualistic. In 1536, he published a comprehensive manual for church reform entitled: Christianae Religiois Institutio. He also founded a university in Geneva. Under the influence of Huldrich Zwingli (1484-1531), Geneva had become an urban theocracy that attracted reform-minded theology students from throughout Europe - including John Knox.

Friday, September 07, 2007

Unit 1: Merchant vs Pious Christian

Prompt: Read about the life of St. Godric. It’s interesting to note that some accounts divide his life into a merchant phase and a pious Christian phase. Then compare St Godric to a contemporary pious Christian and titan of commerce, Ken Lay, whose Methodist pastor testified to Mr. Lay’s Christian piety at the Enron trial. Which figure manifested greater integrity and why? Is it possible to be both a merchant/capitalist in the modern world and a pious Christian?

For the life of Godric, we have only some legends and the words of his hagiographer to go by. He started out life as the son of a poor farmer and opted to leave the farm and seek his fortune in the world. His career is described in some sources as merchant and in others as pirate. Where ever Godric actually operated along this continuum, the sense is that he decided that his worldly life required repentance. He evidently underwent a conversion experience and chose to leave the world to devote his remaining years to prayer and penance. He died in 1170, having spent approximately sixty years living the life of a solitary and acquiring a reputation as a holy man.

To seek salvation, Godric followed in the footsteps of the desert fathers and green martyrs that left the world behind and went into the wilds, to pray and overcome temptations. Still, in some respects, chucking it all to go stand in a freezing river for sixty years might be easier than trying to live a model Christian life while still remaining in the world, a problem which seems to have confounded businesspeople since the Reformation.

Ken Lay also began his life in humble circumstances and lived out his own rags-to riches story. Like Godric, Lay exhibited outward signs of religious piety appropriate for his era. According to his hagiographer, Godric made pilgrimages to all of the right shrines; Lay became known for his philanthropy and community/civic involvement.

One of the questions posed for this assignment was: Which man manifested greater integrity and why? The rules for Godric and Lay were different. Not only was it possible for Godric’s life to be divided into two drastically different phases, it was also something of a necessity. For one thing, the Church of Godric’s day frowned on profit-making. For another, the model of Christian piety (in case actual martyrdom wasn’t available) was adopting the religious life.

After the Reformation, the Perry text notes that this was no longer an option as “the reformers had condemned the monastery as an unnatural life”. (p 331) The emphasis of Protestant reformers was on sanctifying a life lived in the world - through civic involvement, business and family – and profit was no longer prohibited. If people were looking for an image to be the poster-boy for the Ideal Protestant Businessman in late-90’s Houston, Texas they would have probably settled on Ken Lay. Founder and former CEO of Enron, he was everything one might hope for: philanthropic, civic-minded and active in his church.

Then, in 2001, Enron began to come apart at the seams and, as it unraveled, employees and investors lost vast sums of money. During the federal investigation of the behavior of Enron executives leading up to and surrounding the company’s collapse, Lay’s own behavior came under scrutiny. It was alleged that he knew the company was in trouble and was selling off his shares while continuing to encourage investors to risk their money. Throughout his trial, Lay denied that he had done anything criminal and that others were to blame, not him. He was convicted but died before sentencing. He was eulogized in the most glowing terms as a man of faith.

Which man, then, exhibited the greater integrity? The retired pirate turned hermit? The Houston businessman who defrauded people of millions and refused to accept the responsibility? One tends to think more highly of the former pirate, if only because of an incident that is said to have occurred in his youth. Some men under Godric’s supervision were guilty of theft and, though he was not aware of their activity, he did benefit from the thefts and felt guilty about it. If a pirate can accept personal responsibility, it is not asking too much for a Houston businessman to do likewise.

The original prompt for this writing assignment asked whether or not it was possible to be both a merchant/capitalist and a pious Christian in the modern world. The Perry text describes Modern as those “historical developments in the West since the fifteenth and sixteenth centuries…”. (p G-5) If the question is considered with that timeframe in mind then the answer is that the two aims were not considered to be antithetical by the people of the merchant class during much of recent history.

It was not only possible to be both but the two identities – merchant/capitalist and pious Protestant Christian – arose during the same era. Generations of Western Christians have labored confidently under the conviction/belief/impression that the two identities were quite compatible. As the Perry text notes: “by 1750, the model Christian in northwestern Europe was no longer the selfless saint but the enterprising businessman.” (p 334) Looking back over those centuries, however, the ethics and morality exhibited by some of these pious capitalists involved eradication and displacement of native peoples, religious warfare and persecution, exploitation and a laundry list of basic human rights (not to mention environmental degradation and eradication of species) in the interests of both business and religious conviction.

If the original question is considered as “Is it still possible to be both?” then that becomes more difficult to answer. We are each accountable for our actions but it is never entirely possible to see and fully comprehend the ramifications of those actions, however minor they might be. Perhaps the most one can hope to accomplish – whatever one’s religious tradition or occupation – is to try to act in accordance with one’s principles and hope for the best.

(Text referenced for this essay Perry, Marvin. Western Civilization: Ideas, Politics & Society. Boston: Houghton Mifflin Company, 2007.)


To the Right is the very recognizable logo of the defunct corporation that went down in a maelstrom of bankruptcy and executive shenanigans.

(Source for photo:

The man in the red tie is, of course, Ken Lay. In this photo, he is on his way to the Houston courthouse where he was being tried for criminal activities associated with the collapse of Enron.

(Source for photo: )

What on earth do Ken Lay and St. Godric have in common?

Finchale Priory

This photo (which can be found at the English Heritage site) is of the ruins of Finchale Abbey. The Abbey was built on the site where St. Godrich lived as a solitary hermit.
The following is the description that accompanies the picture on the English Heritage entry: "The very extensive remains of a 13th-century priory, founded on the site of a retired pirate's hermitage. Part of it later served as a holiday retreat for the monks of Durham Cathedral. Beautifully sited by the River Wear, it can be reached from Durham via a delightful riverside and woodland walk."

Monday, August 27, 2007

A Little Housekeeping

The subject under consideration this semester will be Western Civilization.

Remember that this blog is being maintained for my grad school writing assignments and will be available to my colleagues and professor.

My usual rules apply:

1. Do not refer to me by name.
2. Do not reference any of my other blogs or identities or websites.
3. Please restrict comments to the material being discussed.
4. Do comment, if you've anything to say. Comments are enabled.
5. No pushing, shoving, horseplay or glass containers.

Tuesday, April 17, 2007

Unit 9: Hawking

Wormholes: A wormhole is what Albert Einstein and Nathan Rosen called "bridges". They said that these theoretical passages between distant regions of spacetime were permissable by General Relativity. (source: lecture) Hawking has theorized that wormholes might connect our universe with other universes. (source: lecture)

Baby Universes: In Hawking's No Boundary model, there's a way for our universe to become warped in a manner which would mimic the creation of the No Boundary universe and could potentially create a daughter universe.

Alan Guth: USA, astronomer, MIT, originator of inflationary universe theory. "Inflation is a modification of the conventional big bang theory, proposing that the expansion of the universe was propelled by a repulsive gravitational force generated by an exotic form of matter." (source: )

Martin Rees: (b. 1942), British astronomer, Cambridge; a long-time friend of Hawking, Rees has been involved in a wide range of work, including the application of anthropic reasoning in cosmology. (source: White & Gribbin, p. 216) His departmental homepage can be found at: . A concise definition of "anthropic principle" is available from the Journey Through the Galaxy website: "we see the universe the way it is because if it were different we would not be here to observe it."

Michael Green: Cambridge, Superstring theorist. His departmental homepage can be found at: . Superstring Theory combines String Theory with Supersymmetry (which is the theory that every fermion has a partner boson and vice versa).

Andre Linde: Russian, physicist, Stanford, associated with inflation theory. His departmental homepage can be found at: .

Paul Steinhardt: In our reading, he is mentioned for his work on inflation theory and for a kerfuffle with Hawking over attribution. He also is known for his work on quasi-crystals - those cool things that resemble crystals but lack the repetitive patterns of crystal growth. His departmental homepage can be found at: and there's an interesting paper on quasi-crystals at: .

Kip Thorne: USA, physicist. He was the one who came up with a way to theoretically keep a wormhole open long enough to travel through it, after Carl Sagan asked him for help with this major plot device for his novel Contact.

Quantum Chromodynamics: See "quarks".

Strings: As I understand it, it's the idea that the things we think of as points (like electrons and quarks) are strings. (White & Gribbon, p. 257)

Quarks: Protons and neutrons are composed of smaller units called "quarks". The theory that describes their interaction is called "quantum chromodynamics" because the different types of quarks have been labeled with the names of colors. (White & Gribbin, p. 255)

Graviton: If there were a quantum theory of gravity, it would need to incorporate particles to carry the gravitational force (in line with the way in which photons relate to electromagnetism). The name for this proposed particle is a graviton. (White & Gribbin, p. 256)

Einstein-Rosen Bridge: From White & Gribbin, p. 294: "a wormhole that links two black holes" and a handy way to traverse the Universe - at least, that's the way it works in Contact .

Chronology Protection Conjecture: Hawking's term for the notion that the Universe might be set up so as to avoid the classic "time paradox" problem, just in case time travel were possible.

Photo above of Quark ( from Star Trek: Deep Space Nine) from website:

Unit 8: Hawking

Newton's Theory of Gravity: describes the gravitational force between two masses as a function of the distance between them. The strength of the force decreases in proportion to the distance squared. (source: )

Einstein's General Relativity: attributes the gravitational force to the way that matter curves spacetime. It unites Newton's gravitational theory to Einstein's Special Relativity. (source: )

Special Relativity: Einstein's theory that says that the speed of light is the same for all observers, even when they are moving. (source: )

The Dynamics of Stars: The energy of stars comes from the process of nuclear fusion in which light nuclei are fused together to form heavier nuclei, in the process of which energy is released.

Black Holes (also: Event Horizon, Escape Velocity): A black hole is a body with such mass that the Escape Velocity is greater than the Speed of Light (hence, it's a "black hole" because not even light can escape from it. Escape Velocity is the minimum velocity required to escape a body's gravitational pull. The Event Horizon is the imaginary zone around a singularity where the escape velocity = the speed of light. (source: lecture notes)

Expanding Universe (Friedmann's Model): Alexander Friedmann used the Theory of Relativity to show that the Universe should be expanding. This was later supported by Hubble's observations.

"Big Bang": Hubble's work showed that the Universe is not only expanding but that the farther out a galaxy is, the faster it's moving. This suggests the behavior of fragments after an explosion. The idea that the Universe started started as an explosion was ridiculed by Fred Hoyle, who dubbed the notion the Big Bang. (source: lecture notes)

Contracting Universe ("Big Crunch"): The idea that a universe expanding from a singularity will ultimately collapse back into a singularity (mirroring the Big Bang). Hawking's No Boundary model eliminates the collapse while retaining the singularity by using the geometry of curved spacetime. (source: White & Gribbin, pp. 181-183)

Entropy (2nd Law of Thermodynamics): According to our text, "things wear out over time". Entropy is regarded as a measure of disorder. Within a closed system, entropy can only remain the same or increase. (source: White & Gribbin, p. 141)

Virtual Particles: Back in Unit 4, we saw how Heisenberg's Uncertainty Principle allowed for particles to be created out of nothing and not violate the Conservation of Energy. "An ephemeral particle allowed only by quantum mechanics; virtual particles carry the same charge as the corresponding true physical particles but have the wrong energy" (source: Randall, Warped Passages, p. 470)

Black Hole Radiation (aka "Hawking Radiation"): If pairs of virtual particles are created at the event horizon of a black hole and one of the pair falls into the black hole, the other might be able to escape as a real particle. This would be a way for a black hole to radiate and, hence, to contain entropy. (source: lecture notes)

Primordial Black Holes: This term refers to the small black holes which could have formed from free neutrons, right after the Big Bang. (source: lecture notes)

Anthropic Principle: "The reasoning that says, out of many possible universes, we could live only in a place where structure could have formed." (Randall, Warped Universes, p. 459) [By structure, Randall is referring to the constituents of matter.] Anthropic principle refers to an explanation of the universe in terms of the conditions which have given rise to and support life such as our own. As our text says: "The fact that we exist preselects, to some degree, the exact rules of physics that we will discover the Universe operates on." (source: White & Gribbin, p. 218)

Jacob Bekenstein: A Princeton researcher who, in 1947, applied the principles of thermodynamics to black holes and said that black holes had entropy. (source: )

Alexander Friedmann: (1888-1925), Russian cosmologist, mathematician. His 1920s work on the expanding universe (which was derived from Einstein's general relativity) was backed up by Hubble's observations. (source: )

Edwin Hubble: (1889-1953), USA, astronomer; Working at Mount Wilson Observatory, Hubble did pioneering observations of distant galaxies. (source: )

Friday, March 02, 2007

Unit 7: Hawking

People and Terms Used in this Unit:

Herman Bondi: (1919 - 2005), mathematician/cosmologist, lectured at Cambridge and then at Kings College, University of London. Together with Fred Hoyle and Thomas Gold, developed the Steady-State Theory which competed with the Big Bang Theory.

Fred Hoyle: (1915 - 2001), asronomer, cosmologist and author, Cambridge, rejected the model of the universe dubbed the Big Bang Theory (See Bondi).
"Space isn't remote at all. It's only an hour's drive away if your car could go straight upwards." - Fred Hoyle

Roger Penrose: (born 1931), mathematician, physicist; while at Cambridge, Penrose worked on singularities and how the collapse of a star could form a black hole. His ideas on singularities inspired Hawking's own theoretical work. They later collaborated.

Bertrand Russell: (1872 - 1970), British philosopher, mathematician, author (Nobel Laureate 1950) and social critic. One of Hawking's boyhood heroes. See: and

Denis Sciama: (1926 - 1999), British physicist, when Hawking was working on his PhD at Cambridge, Sciama was his faculty supervisor.

Renormalization: a calculation technique for trying to remove singularities and infinities (from the lecture); A renormalization group is "a calculation technique for relating quantities that apply in different energy or distance regions" (Randall, Warped Passages, p. 468)

ALS: Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis. Also known in the US as "Lou Gehrig's Disease", ALS is a progressive neurodegenerative disease that attacks the nerve cells of the brain and spine that are responsible for voluntary muscule movement, including those muscles involved in breathing. There is a lot of very useful information on the disease at the following url: . Hawking was diagnosed with ALS when he was 21.

Singularities: "A region where a mathematical description of an object breaks down because some quantity becomes infinite" (Randall, Warped Passages, p. 468) For the purposes of this unit, a singularity is the point of infinite mass at the center of a black hole.

Scientific Theories: models that describe obervations and make accurate predictions; they need to be tested, repeatedly

Predictions: statements about future events, conditions, behavior and so on. In the context of this unit, it would likely refer to an outcome forecast by an equation derived from a theory.

Arbitrary Elements: I'm not altogether certain what this term refers to, in connection with this unit. An "arbitrary constant" is defined by the Concise Oxford Dictionary of Mathematics as "a non-numerical symbol which is not a variable in a generalized operation." Since the word "arbitrary" was introduced during our discussion of Newton, I gather that the symbol in this case is "G", which is the symbol for the force of gravity. "G" stands for a very small number with a set experimental value but the actual value of "G" has not been precisely determined. (The Concise Oxford Dictionary of Mathematics. Christopher Clapham and James Nicholson. Oxford University Press, 2005. Oxford Reference Online. Oxford University Press. University of North Carolina - Greensboro. 19 April 2007

Wednesday, February 28, 2007

Unit 6: More People Connected with Feynman

Donald Kutyna: USAF;served at NORAD and with US Space Command

Ralph Leighton: Feynman's biographer, apologist, hagiographer, friend and fellow drummer. He's the son of a CalTech physicist (Robert B Leighton) and a "friend of Tuva".

William Rogers: Chair of commission that investigated the Challenger disaster. (See: for details on the reports issued by the commission.)

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Unit 5: More Feynman-related People and Things

Feynman Diagrams: These are graphic expressions Feynman used to visualize quantum field theory problems.

Faustin Bray: A musician and documentarian. (Click here for link to media company.)

Richard Davies: A physicist at JPL and a friend of Feynman

Ed Fredkin: A physicist and inventor. (Click here for website and here for the wikipedia entry.)

Murray Gell-Mann: Nobel laureate (1969, physics, for his work on elementary particles); credited with the term "quark", author of The Quark and the Jaguar. (Click here for a link to his website.)

David Goodstein: Physics professor at CalTech. (Click here for link to his page at CalTech.)

Al Hibbs: A PhD student of Feynman's; worked at JPL. (Here is a link to his obituary.)

Danny Hillis: The Thinking Machine Company (Link will take you to wikipedia article on the former super computer company.)

Richard Sherman: A PhD student of Feynman

Tom Van Sant: Founder of the Geo Sphere Project (a mapping project), Santa Monica.

Jirayr Zorthian: Born in Armenia in 1911; artist; friend of Feynman (For interesting article on Zorthian, as well as link to a website about the artist, go to: )

Kathleen McAlpine-Myers: Teacher and artists's model; modelled for Feynman

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Unit 4: Scientists and Others

Some of the people discussed in connection with Unit 4 and Feynman:

Hans Bethe: born is Strasbourg in 1906; left Germany in 1933 and wound up at Cornell. Worked at Los Alamos. In 1967, he received a Nobel Prize for his discoveries on the processes that drive the Sun and the stars.

Freeman Dyson: English; born in 1923. Came to Cornell in 1947 and became a professor at Princeton in the '50s. (See his homepage here and another interesting site here.)

Joan Feynman: Richard Feynman's sister; astrophysicist; retired from JPL in 2003.

Werner Heisenberg: The German Nobel laureate and founder of Quantum Mechanics. Famous for his "Uncertainty Principle". He was also the head of the German nuclear energy program during WWII. (link here to Copenhagen Interpretation w/ Bohr)

Marvin Minsky: A pioneer in Artificial Inteligence; MIT (Click here for web link.)

Robert Oppenheimer: The physicist who was director of the Manhattan Project

John von Neumann: Born in Hungary; worked on Manhatten Project and went on to the Institute for Advanced Study at Princeton.

John Wheeler: Studied with Bohr at Copenhagen before coming to Princeton in 1938. Credited with the term "black hole". He was Feynman's thesis advisor at Princeton.

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Concepts in Unit 4

The following is a list of concepts, terms, etc. that were discussed in Unit 4:

Dual Particle/Wave Nature of Matter: Given that we can't know both and object's velocity and its position (See Uncertainty Principle), when we consider the minute constituents of matter we can see how they exhibit both the properties of particles (if we look for their location) and those of waves (if we measure their energy/momentum).

Heisenberg Uncertainty Principle: We can't measure both the exact location of an object and its momentum at the same time.

Determinism: A mechanical view of the universe in which future events can be predicted on the basis of past events.

Quantum Theory: The quantum theory of atoms describes an electron as a probability cloud in the atom, rather than as a discreet particle (as in the Bohr model).

Sum-over-histories: Feynman's approach to quantum theory. The example given in the lecture involved a photon emitted from a candle's flame. Rather than thinking of it as having traveled a straight path from the flame to the observer's eye, consider that what we see is the sum of all of the possible paths that the photon could/did take.

Quantum Electrodynamics (QED): In the electrical force that exists between charges, the process by which virtual photons are exchanged. (QED is not to be confused with Q.E.D. "quod erat demonstratum". I am soooo much more familiar with the Latin phrase that it used to confuse the daylights out of me when I worked at a bookstore and kept seeing QED used in Physics titles. I kept thinking "What nerve!")

Nuclear Fission: The method by which nuclear energy is produced. For example: If Uranium is split into two unstable daughter elements, both will need to find a more stable state. In the process of which, energy is released.

Chain Reaction: When the Uranium is split (see above) you get the two daughter elements plus energy plus a few extra neutrons. If each of these neutrons can cause another fission (and so on) in a sustainable fashion, you'd have a critical chain reaction of the type used for nuclear power. If you were to get more than one additional fission reaction, it would be super-critical and that's when the Manhattan Project comes into the picture.

Nuclear Fusion: This is the process that runs our Sun. The idea is that two light nuclei are fused together, forming one heavy nucleus and a lot of energy.

Nuclear Weapon Design: The Manhattan Project resulted in two different designs used against the Japanese. "Little Boy" was a gun-type, with one sub-critical mass being fired at another and the fission process set off by neutrons introduced by an initiator. The design of "Fat an" had a hollow Pu core and this was compressed by using the explosive charges arrayed around it.

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