Escape from Elba
Exiles of the New York Times
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weezo
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« Reply #1875 on: February 14, 2008, 10:06:56 PM »

After enjoying chocolate cake, with chocolate icing, and chocolate ice cream, I picked up the Einstein book again.

I am up to the point where Einstein attended college, and was so cocksure arrogant, that his grades were poor and he spent four years unable to get a job in academia. He had totally angered the authoritarian teacher  in his german schools, flourished in a Swiss school with an opposite philosophy, then entered a trade school for science and math and graduated with a rather low class rank. It wasn't lack of intelligence, but the lack of patience to learn the boring basics that bit him in the foot.

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Dzimas
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« Reply #1876 on: February 14, 2008, 10:34:30 PM »

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One of the things I really liked about the Oppenheimer book was the way Kai Bird portrayed the guys when there would be an exciting new discovery.  He really caught the boyishness that must have been part of the whole scene.

Yea, hoffman.  I'm reading that chapter where Weinberg comes on board, and the boys are in the midst of unlocking the power of uranium.  The authors really do capture those moments, which is why I wish there were more of them.  Somehow, when they get into all his personal problems, the book bogs down for me, as they go through all those recollections and disect his letters to try to come up with reasons for why his personal relationships weren't able to gel, when it is readily apparent that his great passion was for physics, and that he was most stimulated by those who shared in that passion.
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madupont
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« Reply #1877 on: February 15, 2008, 02:27:53 AM »

Mad...Perhaps the reason you find mathematicians and physicists emotionally unexplainable is because you don't know any of them very well.  Was the Chinese physicist you knew a good father because he was Chinese or because he was a physicist?  Do physicists have to be Chinese to be good fathers?  Would you say ALL chemists are more affable than physicists?  At parties, who drinks white and who drinks red?  or do they all go for imported beer?  Stereotyping is such fun!


By the way, aren't you a divorced liberal woman?  I wonder what inferences we might draw about that.


I knew them all frightfully well, as much as they allowed for that. The underlying premise was of course as stated at the top. That they are emotionally explainable. The physicist(like many more recently who were left in the lurch when the Bush administration decided against further experiments in alternative fuel sources because it just wasn't profitable to the family personally)would have been deported without a source of income but, this was long before that batch of Bush Republicans; it was instead immediately following "The Opening" by Henry Kissinger (who knew best, for the Nixon administration). The only thing that frightened Prince Henry,the Navigator, was Chou En-Lai. Good Heavens, think of that, kindly intelligent Uncle Chou was disdainful of the growly-voiced envoy.

It was decided that my brother and a business partner would put up the funds to buy the inventory to stock what was known as The Peoples Bookstore( after asking me, how do you run a bookstore?) for the physicist. Then I contacted my representative at the state capital and explained the Shanghai Communique to him, which was a document of intent among the four signees,Richard Nixon and Mao Tze-Tung, Henry Kissinger and Chou En-Lai.  As long as my Chinese teacher had a sponsor and an income, there was no reason for him not to receive political asylum.



Actually, I hadn't noted before that you were so busy delineating distinctions, apparently not having read the answers to your questions which were already provided, that it is you who are having such fun stereotyping; Chinese for instance do not generally drink. At parties, they drink tea.   So far your inferences are quite far off the mark, colored by your own behaviour and habits
with blanket statements are ALL chemists more affable than physicists? My cousin Jack Dupont was a chemist, and he was affable but I would not consider comparing him with physicists in general, as it was perhaps sufficient to love him for what he was.

Do you often make inferences about people you do not know very well?  Then you must be wrong more often than not.  I thought you were a divorced mother in Michigan who liked going to concerts in Ontario, according to conversations we have had in the past.   I don't know you well enough to offer a categorical opinion as to what is projection on your part as distinct from what is purely presumption. Rest assured I have never been liberal, by the current definition; how would you define it?  It has lost whatever meaning it had,long ago. Those people, who considered themselves to be liberals (when I was a very young person), have  become (or, their children have become) ultra conservative, mainly in their self-interest.  I hadn't heard the term used in years until the moderator of the book forums used the term along with another,"politically correct" which I had to ask him to define because I only know what that means in a Chinese culture. The use of the word liberal, from that point of view, or the definition liberal from the American point of view, would be considered a pejorative term.
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Dzimas
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« Reply #1878 on: February 15, 2008, 08:10:37 AM »

For whatever reason, the authors felt compelled to speculate that it was Oppie's repressed sexuality that led to some of his abberant behavior while studying in Europe, noting the "poison apple" episode that nearly cost him his place at Cambridge.  I suppose it is interesting, in a Freudian way, but do we really need to know some of this stuff?  I would have liked more focus on the work he did during this time, which formed the basis for his later work in the US.
« Last Edit: February 15, 2008, 08:17:38 AM by Dzimas » Logged
Lhoffman
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« Reply #1879 on: February 15, 2008, 11:52:38 AM »

Dzimas....I suspect the author didn't concentrate solely on what Oppenheimer did because the author doesn't understand physics, and also because he wanted to reach a wide audience. 

The author doesn't seem to agree, but I had thought that the poisoned apple was metaphoric  (and certainly takes on great significance when you compare the idea of a poison apple to the image of the gadget at Los Alamos.)
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Dzimas
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« Reply #1880 on: February 15, 2008, 12:10:43 PM »

I'm not expecting the authors to go deeply into the theories themselves, but the moments when they capture Oppenheimer at work are the ones that stick out in my mind. I suppose that is because I like to picture him this way.  It is interesting to read about all the communist activities he was associated with from the Spanish Civil War to farm workers' unions in California.  I hadn't realized he was that politically active, but I guess Tatlock steered him in this direction with her political activism.  I am enjoying the read, however, and appreciate the authors attempt to understand Oppenheimer as a person.
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Lhoffman
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« Reply #1881 on: February 15, 2008, 12:11:20 PM »

Mad...I would suspect I have known quite a few more Chinese scientists than you have.  University physics departments back in the 70's and 80's were full of them, but it's doubtful that you would have been invited to many parties with the science crowd....being involved as you were in dance, music, acting and poetry.  But it has been my experience that at parties, the Chinese hold their liquor as well as anyone else in the room.  Most teas I've seen downed are Long Island Iced, although I will grant you that when we dine in restaurants or in home, the drink of choice is hot Jasmine tea or coca-cola.

I know quite a few Chinese graduate music students, too, and they seem to have no problem tossing one or two back.

 
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« Reply #1882 on: February 15, 2008, 12:16:08 PM »

Bird does write well about the atmosphere and his approach to his work.  The movie "The Day After Trinity" depicts the whole atmosphere at Los Alamos quite well, although this is not very technical either.
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madupont
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« Reply #1883 on: February 15, 2008, 02:30:57 PM »

Mad...I would suspect I have known quite a few more Chinese scientists than you have.  University physics departments back in the 70's and 80's were full of them, but it's doubtful that you would have been invited to many parties with the science crowd....being involved as you were in dance, music, acting and poetry.  But it has been my experience that at parties, the Chinese hold their liquor as well as anyone else in the room.  Most teas I've seen downed are Long Island Iced, although I will grant you that when we dine in restaurants or in home, the drink of choice is hot Jasmine tea or coca-cola.

I know quite a few Chinese graduate music students, too, and they seem to have no problem tossing one or two back.

 


Sorry but at that period of time I was merely a member of USCPFA and was busy studying(some of it under the auspices of James Tung-shir, Custodian of Rare Books and Manuscripts at Princeton, known as the Gelb Collection). For the above named association, I did quite a bit of cooking of traditional Chinese foods(including providing what were at that time not as readily found vegetables at the US supermarket but which I grew in my kitchen garden, the size of the standard Chinese "mou"), directing the kitchen preparations to serve usually about an average of 100 people for events that were held to raise money for Delegations to travel to the PRC where their expenses there were entirely picked up by the PRC.

Most of our guest-speakers were Westerners who had spent extensive years in China, similar to Pearl Sydenstricker Buck who died in 1973 but whose home in Pennsylvania is still the center for education of children adopted from Asia and their American  parents.  They had of course been active more recently than Buck whose parents had been missionaries in China and raised her there until world events brought them back to the US (she first left China to go to college in Virginia in 1910. Later took her masters degree at Cornell. Had been married to an agricultural agronomist there until finally leaving in 1933. Ironically, Richard Nixon never permitted her a passport to travel and see her childhood homeland again before she died. Since she was not a communist but a child of Presbyterian missionaries, this was quite odd considering the arrangements he and Kissinger had made for opening relations with the PRC just shortly before her death).

On that note, I consider that in the years that you mention, you probably met a similar group of physicists and others from what is known as the "Republic of China(Taiwan)",as I did along with other exchange students in the US from the Peoples Republic of China who were of course simultaneously in the Peoples Liberation Army.  The June Fourth Movement  of students in 1989 rallied in Tienanman Square, Beijing, two years after I arrived in Princeton which meant that I observed the arrival of the dissidents there from the students democracy movement who viewed themselves as Chinese patriots, as the heirs of the May Fourth Movement for "science and democracy" of 1919.

You probably saw them on tv, carrying their version of the statue of Liberty into the square; Central Academy of Fine Arts had prepared this "Goddess of Liberty.  I had not realized that they had arrived until I went down to the Dillon Gym one Sunday for an "International Food Fair",   Serbian food was noticeably evident sold at food tables by Princeton students, when I began to notice that I recognized certain Chinese faces in the crowd because they had been on faculty at Beijing University or were students there and their photographs were usually seen in periodicals when I was studying fifteen years earlier at a time when GHW Bush had not yet been there to look it over.

Sorry, but my only contact with dancing at that time had been when feeding the troupes/troops who came down from  the university to entertain for October Moon Festival by getting together with other local Chinese in the area; and for which they thanked me in the traditional manner by giving me a standing ovation from the stage as I stood there in my long red apron and total surprise. They were approximately about the age of my former teacher, a 21 year old girl  whose  family from Shandung had evacuated to Hong Kong during the war of Japanese Imperialism. As a resident of Hong Kong, she had a strong interest in teaching me about money and the banking system and how to call in a buy by using the telephone.  The computer became more functional after the first half of the Seventies.

By the way, was not at all sure that you met as many physicists but some because of the periodical, you called to Johnr's attention to indicate your credentials as bona fides, listing the Hoffman in spectrum physics who is married to Katie Hoffman?
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« Reply #1884 on: February 15, 2008, 03:13:50 PM »

Mad....The Hoffman you refer to is Craig, who is in D.C and did positron research on deep tissue in the early nineties.  He and wife Katie would be a bit younger than we are.  My husband's work in this field was in the 70's and early 80's.  I didn't post my husband's work as bona fides, but rather because I thought John would be interested.  When I went back and re-read, I saw that my intent was not clear, and so I removed the post. 

As to your Chinese dinners, how could I have forgotten your expertise in the fields of Chinese cooking and gardening?  I am familiar with the China People's Friendship Association, and it seems that the dinners you were paid to cater would have been more traditionally oriented than western.  Probably didn't give you much of a feel for what the people were really like.  The dinners must have been quite the balancing act....show the fat cats the charm of Chinese culture while begging for money to help the poor Chinese escape. 
« Last Edit: February 15, 2008, 03:19:34 PM by Lhoffman » Logged
weezo
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« Reply #1885 on: February 15, 2008, 03:42:15 PM »

Maddie,

You really should mind your manners and let others shine in their time. Laurie is married to a physicist, so it is highly likely that she knows more physicists and knows them better than you. Serving dinner to 100 guests does not provide much opportunity to get to know your guests.

While you two wrangle over the drinking habits of others, I had an interesting read about Einstein and his illegittimate daughter by his first wife born about a year before they were married. The life of the daughter, which may have been exceptionally short, eluded the biographer, since the letters of the period among the people who would know were burned to save their reputations. Einstein could not marry the mother of this child because he couldn't get a job. When he finally got one, and they settled into a marriage, they had two sons. But the marriage was, for Einstein, just one of many.

Now, how many of your knew (or care) that Einstein had an illegittimate daughter as a young swain?

Inasmuch as somone mentioned that upon meeting Einstein, Oppenheimer was unimpressed and declared him cuckoo. Will be interesting to see if this biography mentions the other side of the meeting and whether or not Einstein considered Oppenheimer a genius, or another cuckoo.

What appeals to me in the story of Einstein so far, is his resistance to authority and his preference to think for himself. He was certainly not born into The Upper Crust, which also recommends him to me.

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madupont
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« Reply #1886 on: February 15, 2008, 04:23:26 PM »

Mad....The Hoffman you refer to is Craig, who is in D.C and did positron research on deep tissue in the early nineties.  He and wife Katie would be a bit younger than we are.  My husband's work in this field was in the 70's and early 80's.  I didn't post my husband's work as bona fides, but rather because I thought John would be interested.  When I went back and re-read, I saw that my intent was not clear, and so I removed the post. 

As to your Chinese dinners, how could I have forgotten your expertise in the fields of Chinese cooking and gardening?  I am familiar with the China People's Friendship Association, and it seems that the dinners would have been more traditionally oriented than western.  Probably didn't give you much of a feel for what the people were really like.  The dinners must have been quite the balancing act....show the fat cats the charm of Chinese culture while begging for money to help the poor Chinese escape. 






Excuse me?  I kept the copy for a closer physicist to comment upon, as I'd never claim physics is my forte.

as to "you were paid to cater", I was not paid, nor would I accept pay, this was my contribution. Any specific recipe comments that I wrote up for those interested referred to a play on words entitled, as in  the oft reminded advice,
"Serve the People".

"Probably didn't give you much of a feel for what the people were really like. "

I don't see why, although Chinese overseas at any particular time may be a minority to their majority in the world. There were certainly more of them residing in the Princeton area on a par with many major US cities, to the effect that regular delivery was made from Chinatown, in New York, by truck to the Chinese grocery within walking distance of my first apartment in Princeton (which was not a "manse" by the way, just typical student quarters, whereas the manse was in reference to the home where John McPhee was born down the street in very typical Scots Presbyterian fashion).

This current Lunar New Year celebration, I realized how I truly miss that store, which had prepared food for busy Chinese students (and physicists, since Princeton, according to present book discussion, is you might say notorious with physicists) but the seasonal supplies were wonderful, blue crabs in the barrel by June, litchi nuts, the embossed decorations for pork buns, and of course all the kitchen gear you might require if you were a student sharing a residential rental space. Chinese are remarkably good about "space". Also, I had some really good opthamalogical care by a pair of doctors who were brothers, we received free examinations for those pathologies that form gradually. 

Since the restaurants had quite a few staff to absorb, after 1989, suddenly restaurants sprang up like mushrooms after Spring rain(or, they do where I've lived since then) which meant that all the rather established restaurants served authentic Northern cuisine, which is generally how I cooked although I'll throw in Fujian style such as red chicken when required, but then, I also speak with a Northern accent. When I was back last April, the extraneous restaurants had disappeared.

"The dinners must have been quite the balancing act....show the fat cats the charm of Chinese culture while begging for money to help the poor Chinese escape."

No, the only fat cats were the ladies who showed up at the Midwestern university to learn enough of the language to buy art objects by making a trip to Hong Kong or Taiwan for instance.   Dinners in church basements are not of much interest to fat cats.  The US-China Peoples Friendship Association is less concerned with cultural charms, than experience, as I'm sure you probably saw the Womens Delegation  Shirley McClain led through various parts of the PRC, when she made the film,Women Hold Up Half the Sky.   People who  are part of a delegation trip, in typical manner are elected/that is their probability of going with a delegation is voted upon by the membership.

Actually there was no need to beg for money to help "escapes".  What you are referring to as I saw most clearly  while GHW Bush was campaigning readily at hand in an environment familiar to him (I'm more of a George Kennan person myself; or familiar with Ball) was the Republican arrangement as hosts to democracy movement students because it is in the Republican interest to have that advantage of debriefing for information they might require. They have the recent arrival at a disadvantage of having to rely upon their  hospitality, unless of course you have a kinship tie with someone elsewhere than the immediate vicinity.

Which of course again brings up the question of why I should be unfamiliar with what the Chinese are really like?  My older cousin in Texas is also widowed  but her husband died in the Chinese oilfield, as a petrologist identifying likely oil strike feasibility for the PRC. They brought her to China, took care of everything for her, and she came back  to her family members.   If anything, the Chinese are civilized, with a lot of practice at it over 5,000 years going on 6,000 eventually, I would suppose.
« Last Edit: February 15, 2008, 05:29:25 PM by madupont » Logged
Lhoffman
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« Reply #1887 on: February 15, 2008, 04:26:24 PM »

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Inasmuch as somone mentioned that upon meeting Einstein, Oppenheimer was unimpressed and declared him cuckoo. Will be interesting to see if this biography mentions the other side of the meeting and whether or not Einstein considered Oppenheimer a genius, or another cuckoo.

(Is that to be found in the Einstein biography?  If so, what page?)

The relationship between Oppenheimer and Einstein:  Bird and Sherwin comment that Oppenheimer had difficulty at Princeton because he didn't get along with the mathematicians and because he was frustrated that Einstein was a better physicist then he was.

Later, Einstein advises Oppenheimer not to testify at the HUAC hearing, even if he might to go to jail for his refusal.  

The final mention of Einstein in the book deals with the security hearings with the AEC:  "On Saturday at midday, after working all morning on his reply to the AEC charges, Oppenheimer emerged from his office, accompanied by Hobson.  'I was going to drive him to his house,' Hobson recalled.  But as they walked out to the parking lot, Einstein suddenly appeared and Oppenheimer stopped to chat with him.  Hobson sat in the car while the two men talked, and when Oppie returned to the car, he told her, 'Einstein thinks that the attack on me is so outrageous that I should just resign.'  Perhaps recalling his own experience in Nazi Germany, Einstein argued that Oppenheimer had no obligation to subject himself to the witch-hunt, that he had served his country well, and that if this was the reward she [America] offered he should turn his back on her.'  Hobson vividly remembered Oppenheimer's reaction:  'Einstein doesn't understand.'  Einstein had fled his homeland as it was about to be overwhelmed by the Nazi contagion---and he refused ever again to set foot in Germany.  But Oppenheimer could not turn his back on America.  'He loved America,' Hobson later insisted.  'And this love was as deep as his love of science.'

Einstein walked to his office in Fuld Hall, and nodding in Oppenheimer's direction, told his assistant, 'There goes a narr [fool].'  "
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madupont
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« Reply #1888 on: February 15, 2008, 05:30:31 PM »

Maddie,

You really should mind your manners and let others shine in their time. Laurie is married to a physicist, so it is highly likely that she knows more physicists and knows them better than you. Serving dinner to 100 guests does not provide much opportunity to get to know your guests.

While you two wrangle over the drinking habits of others, I had an interesting read about Einstein and his illegittimate daughter by his first wife born about a year before they were married. The life of the daughter, which may have been exceptionally short, eluded the biographer, since the letters of the period among the people who would know were burned to save their reputations. Einstein could not marry the mother of this child because he couldn't get a job. When he finally got one, and they settled into a marriage, they had two sons. But the marriage was, for Einstein, just one of many.

Now, how many of your knew (or care) that Einstein had an illegittimate daughter as a young swain?

Inasmuch as somone mentioned that upon meeting Einstein, Oppenheimer was unimpressed and declared him cuckoo. Will be interesting to see if this biography mentions the other side of the meeting and whether or not Einstein considered Oppenheimer a genius, or another cuckoo.

What appeals to me in the story of Einstein so far, is his resistance to authority and his preference to think for himself. He was certainly not born into The Upper Crust, which also recommends him to me.




I didn't wrangle. I was having an exchange of opinion with two posters neither of whom are female, when the usual  routine arrival  occurred spreading disinformation.  Perhaps you should mind your manners. Her's have nothing to do with being married to a physicist whatsoever.  If you had really paid attention prior to that, you would have seen that I posted to one of those previous posters with the link for the review of the Updike book, as I was reading it last April when I went to Princeton for my glasses and before I became a member on this site.

Now everything you have just recited in the foregoing paragraphs, I have known about since the 1950s. What else is new.  I like the time to read kai bird, myself; but  otherwise will be seldom around a week from now.
« Last Edit: February 15, 2008, 05:40:20 PM by madupont » Logged
weezo
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« Reply #1889 on: February 15, 2008, 10:08:50 PM »

Laurie,

The quote that said that Einstein was "cuckoo" was on here, somewhere, and was supposedly taken from American Prometheus, or perhaps some other source. I said, that when I get far enough in Einstein to when he meets Oppenheimer, I will see what the explanation for the other side of the exchange is.

According to Isaacson, Einstein greatly disdained authority, and did not have great respect for his teachers, nor did he feel he had much need to know higher mathematics. In later life, he would realize that he had erred on the math, as he often had to get assistance on the math as he prepared his earler papers including the one used to get his doctorate.

In any event, I am more inclined to enjoy the story of a genius born to oridinary middle class people, than the story of a genius who was born to riches, as some have said was true of Oppenheimer. It is always nice to get two points of view on an event as large as the discovery of atomic power.
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