Wednesday, August 09, 2006

Bloga longa, vita brevis

Why no new entries? There's been very little here since March, and here it is August already. Have I given up on this whole blogging project?

No. But blogging is, by necessity, among the first things tossed overboard when a busy life gets a lot busier. And I have not been the sort of blogger that can just post a quick note in a spare moment. I prefer long essays with some thought and research behind them. To use a common blogosphere taxonomy, I'm less of a linker and more a thinker.

Among the reasons that I've been absent from the 'sphere (at least as a writer) is a new and exciting writing project. My friend Mike and I have signed a contract with a publisher to write a new quantum mechanics textbook, along very non-traditional lines. Essentially all quantum books to date have as their organizing principle spectroscopy, taking as fundamental the calculation of energy levels and transition probabilities. But quantum information science -- my own cup of tea -- has a different set of central ideas. Is it possible to lay out a different presentation of quantum physics that puts the concept of information at the center? Could such a new approach actually make everything clearer? Hope so. That's our plan, anyway.

Anyway, that's an exciting professional project, though it demands a lot of time and attention -- particularly since I'm planning to use the first part of the manuscript for my quantum mechanics class this fall. Thus I hope to harness fear and panic to get the project moving along. Two and a half weeks before classes begin, the fear and panic part, at least, is working beautifully. Stay tuned for the rest.

There have, of course, been plenty of other things to occupy time that might otherwise be spent blogging. My wife is (after more than a decade of labor) finishing her second mathematics textbook. I'm teaching my older daughter to drive. My younger daughter and I are building a tree house. I've done a lot of traveling, some of it connected to physics research and some of it for other kinds of fun. I'm serving as senior warden for my parish church, the rector of which is about to have a baby. Et cetera, et cetera.

Then there are all the other projects, in various stages of creation, that I'm ignoring -- like the great idea I have for writing a Broadway musical based on Bede's Eccesiastical History of the English People. Don't think that's going to get written this year, despite my daughter's enthusiasm for the concept. Ditto the comic book series whose heroes have superpowers based on food allergies. (They were subjects of an experimental particle-beam treatment for the various allergies, see, but the procedure went wrong and instead gave them amazing powers over the things they could not tolerate. The cool thing is that they still have their original allergies, intensified -- peanuts, if eaten by Peanut Boy, might be like kryptonite.) Unfortunately, this sort of project requires an artistic dimension in me -- as musical composer or graphic artist -- that I do not possess. Even if I were to discover some hidden talent along those lines, it requires an inconveniently large number of years to get really good at something.

Anglo-Saxon showtunes and the adventures of Gluten Girl aside, I always seem to have more things to think about and write than I can possibly get around to. Ah, well. Life is short, and then you die. In heaven, I suppose, one must be prepared to lay all such leftover trivialities aside. Or maybe it will turn out that there will be an extra century or two, a spare moment in eternity, to take care of a few of the worthier things on the list. Meanwhile, on this side of the veil, I hope I'll find time soon to write a few things here.


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