Personal


Two of my hobbies are history and physics.  Unsurprisingly, two of my favorite TV channels are History and the Science Channel.

I especially love it when my two hobbies collimate.

Probably my favorite show right now (and I have to be very choosy of the shows I watch, given my ridiculously packed schedule) is The Universe – incredible show.  One of the recurring guys on the show is Michio Kaku, who is perhaps my favorite current theoretical physicist.

Yes, I’m a physics groupie.

I have read other things by Michio, and when he became a regular on The Universe, especially on the Parallel Universes episode, I found out he’d released a new (at that time) book – Physics of the Impossible.  I had intended to buy his book – I really, really had – but for a variety of reasons put it off.

Mostly because I’m already reading several other books, including John Calvin: A Pilgrim’s Life and Starlight, Time and the New Physics, with a truckload of other books on tap (most  notably, The Race Set Before Us – thanks to Michael Newnham – and The Orthodox Church, with a smattering of books on Lutheranism, as well as painfully and slowly working my way through Summa Theologica and The Ante-Nicene FathersI have no spare time…)  Those books, while interesting, I read because they expand my thinking related to my calling as a pastor.  Physics of the Impossible is my mind-candy – something I read for the pure joy of it, a book to unwind with at the end of a hectic day.  But given that I’m (a) dirt poor [did I mention that I’m a pastor?] and (b) very extremely short on discretionary time, to add another book to my stable of “currently reading” for a long time was just too much to reasonably consider.

So it’s taken me quite some time to pull the trigger and pony up the Washingtons to buy Michio’s book.

Over a fleeting break during my day-job-to-support-my-habit, I finally bought & downloaded it.

I’m only in the preface, and I’m absolutely hooked.  Some quotes to give you the flavor:

I was just a child the day when Albert Einstein died, but I remember people talking about his life, and death, in hushed tones.  The next day I saw in the newspapers a picture of his desk, with the unfinished manuscript of his greatest, unfinished work.  I asked myself, What could be so important that the greatest scientist of our time could not finish it?  The article claimed that Einstein had an impossible dream, a problem so difficult that it was not possible for a mortal to finish it.  It took me years to find out what that manuscript was about: a grand, unifying “theory of everything.”  His dream – which consumed the last three decades of his life – helped to focus my own imagination.  I wanted, in some small way, to be a part of the effort to complete Einstein’s work, to unify the laws of physics into a single theory.

Given the remarkable advances in science in the past century, especially the creation of the quantum theory and general relativity, it is now possible to give rough estimates of when, if ever, some of these fantastic technologies may be realized.  With the coming of even more advanced theories, such as string theory, even concepts bordering on science fiction, such as time travel and parallel universes, are now being re-evaluated by physicists.  Think back 150 years to those technological advances that were declared “impossible” by scientists at the time and that have now become part of our everyday lives.  Jules Verne wrote a novel in 1863, Paris in the Twentieth Century, which was locked away and forgotten for over a century until it was accidentally discovered by his great-grandson and published for the first time in 1994.  In it Verne predicted what Paris might look like in the year 1960.  His novel was filled with technology that was clearly considered impossible in the nineteenth century, including fax machines, a world-wide communications network, glass skyscrapers, gas-powered automobiles, and high-speed elevated trains.

Not surprisingly, Verne could make such stunningly accurate predictions because he was immersed in the world of science, picking the brains of scientists around him.  A deep appreciation for the fundamentals of science allowed him to make such startling predictions.

Ironically, the serious study of the impossible has frequently opened up rich and entirely unexpected domains of science.  For example, over the centuries the frustrating and futile search for a “perpetual motion machine” led physicists to conclude that such a machine was impossible, forcing them to postulate the conservation of energy and the three laws of thermodynamics.  Thus the futile search to build perpetual motion machines helped to open up the entirely new field of thermodynamics, which in part laid the foundation of the steam engine, the machine age, and modern industrial society.

We ignore the impossible at our peril.

The purpose of this book is to consider what technologies are considered “impossible” today that might well become commonplace decades to centuries down the road.

Already one “impossible” technology is now proving to be possible: the notion of teleportation (at least at the level of atoms).  Even a few years ago physicists would have said that sending or beaming an object from one point to another violated the laws of quantum physics.  The writers of the original Star Trek television series, in fact, were so stung by the criticism from physicists that they added “Heisenberg compensators” to explain their teleporters in order to address this flaw.  Today, because of a recent breakthrough, physicists can teleport atoms across a room or photons under the Danube River.

I’m hooked.

If you’re as fascinated by these things as I am, you will love this book.

So say we all.

Great article here about fathers.

Some highlights:

Rather than being in conflict, fathers and mothers balance each other’s parenting styles – helping each other raise well-rounded children.

Fathers tend to emphasize rough and tumble play more than mothers do. Fathers’ play is likely to be both physically stimulating and mentally exciting. This form of play helps children learn about physical self-control and what is appropriate playful behavior, and what is dangerous. Through this type of play, Fathers help children learn to control their wild emotions and have fun in the midst of competition. Fathers tend to encourage competition, challenge, initiative, risk-taking, and independence.

In conversations, fathers tend to be more direct and specific – teaching children not to ‘beat around the bush’. They stress fairness and justice while mothers tend to focus more on sympathy and care. Fathers focus more on independence while mothers tend to stress community and relationships. Fathers tend to be firmer when decisions are made. Fathers are generally more apt to consider the long-term development of their children, while mothers tend to consider immediate needs.

Together, mothers and fathers show children the values and strengths of both of the genders. The social revolution of the last fifty years has greatly degraded men. Fathers help girls to appreciate and value men, and show boys their value as men.

Just got done – finally – listening to Tim Chaddick’s workshop session on the ECM. I was very deeply impressed with it; both since Tim’s very Emerging in many ways (in the good ways), and very knowledgable RE: the ECM, and since he and the two other speakers (Britt Merrick and Brian Brodersen) were very fair and balanced – took great pains to point out that:

  1. You’ve got to be really super duper careful about making any blanket statements about the ECM – you have to take each author/speaker/personality as an individual
  2. Even with the nutjobs like Brian “Orthodoxy Schmorthodoxy!” MacLaren and Rob “Jesus’ Dad Was Larry!” Bell, there’s a lot of guys in the ECM who are actually quite good (my personal favorite, Mark “Blankety-Blank” Driscoll earned an honorable mention a few times during the session by all three presenters).

It was so good, I’m making the MP3 available to the Servanthood here on the Lakeshore – it really is the best short-format treatment on the subject that I’ve encountered.

While dealing very clearly and very firmly & decisively with the problematic and outright heterodox issues with the EmergENT side of the ECM, the tenor remained fair, balanced, even-handed, non-sensational…and just plain good.

If you weren’t able to make it to the conference, you need to give Tim’s session a listening-to.

No I’m not.

But you panicked, didn’t you?

Actually, I’ll need to upload the last devo and last three sessions’ notes later – probably much later – my fellow Michigan pastors, as well as my pastor are driving some brothers up to LA to catch their flights out tonight, so the rest of us are going to hang on the beach, get California fish tacos, and basically maximize fellowship before we all head back to the mission field.

Now, how lame is this:

I’m walking out of one of the sessions – Damien’s I think – and I see one of my idols a man I worship from afar a dude I think is super-spiffy – David Guzik, whose online print and audio commentaries I have shamelessly copied into my study notes all but plagiarized used a bit…and he says to me, “Hi, Mike!”

I felt like a teenaged girl in a Menudo show. (Menudo is still groovy, right…?) He knew me! He said my name! I’m never washing these eyballs again! I–

–oh, no wait…I’m wearing a nametag.

D’oh.

What’s the saddest of all is that I thought for sure I was immune to hero worship.

Stupid flesh…


So most of my brothers-in-arms are in the workshops currently.

I can wait for the MP3s for the workshop sessions for today.

So I head back, drawn like Mark “Blankety-Blank” Driscoll to controversy, to the Overflowing Cup.

Robert Hall (who was once a Lieutenant on my ship, the USS Horne – also here – but long before I came onboard in 1992) pretty much literally knocked me out of line just as I reached the front and was ready to order…and then cruelly absconded with my bill, paying for me.

The cad.

I sit down to check e-mail,
upload my notes for David Rosales’ session (which, by the way, blew my mind – this is one that the servanthood at CC Lakeshore will listen to, definitely), enjoy my Lieutenant-bough-mocha, realize that MySpace is blocked here so I can’t update that until I get back to the lodge, and see, sitting across from me, also skipping school the workshop sessions, Tim “Doulos” Burns.

Sitting at the table directly to my left is Dennis Agajanian, encouraging a young lady who wants to get into professional music. He doesn’t know the meaning of the phrase “inside voice,” so I can’t help but to overhear…and be tremendously blessed.

Other than the fact that I miss my wife & son something fierce, and that I can’t believe I haven’t gone into the hot pools yet, it’s a pretty good day so far…

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