faust in copenhagen

 


 

On July 4, 2016, my entrance fee paid

I peered out Albert Einstein’s window in Bern,

to see the old watchtower I’d read influenced

 his Special Theory of Relativity in 1905,

his so-called Miracle Year, and I regretted

not being Dr. Who, able to chat with young Albert,

then teleport over to Denmark in 1932, (which physicists

 called their miracle year, it being when they discovered

 neutrons and positrons), and as a fly on the wall,

attend the annual Copenhagen Convention, hosted

by Nobel Prize winner, Niels Bohr,

for other great physicists, minus Einstein that year,

who left Europe to avoid the Nazis, and Wolfgang Pauli,

who opted for a rest, but including ‘elders’ like Paul Ehrenfest,

and Lisa Meitner, the only woman invited, plus the young upstarts,

such as Werner Heisenberg and Paul Divac, all of whom spent hours

 debating physics’ loftiest concepts, coming to terms

 with the fledgling standard model,

 (still scientists best explanation for reality)

and after days of heady exchanges, on that 100th

anniversary of Wolfgang Von Goethe’s death in 1832,

closed the gathering with a spoof of Faust, Goethe’s famous

 and tragic play about a man who makes a deal with the devil—

theirs written and performed by physics young turks

good naturedly mocking their elders and the era’s

latest discoveries and mysteries, celebrating

the mighty atom, their new favorite toy,

a source of infinite joy.

 

Soon after, Meitner hit upon the key

 to nuclear fission, turning the atom

 into a weapon of mass destruction,

and physics became a bargain, Faustian,

the spoof in Copenhagen an ironic premonition.

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