Time isn’t precious at all, because it is an illusion. What you perceive as precious is not time, but the one point that is out of time: the Now. That is precious indeed. The more you are focused on time—past and future—the more you miss the Now, the most precious thing there is."
An émigré from Nazi Germany, Hans Bethe joined Cornell’s physics department back in 1935. There, he built a remarkable career for himself. A nuclear physicist, Bethe made key contributions to the Manhattan Project during World War II. After the war, he brought stellar young physicists like Richard Feynman from Los Alamos to Ithaca and turned Cornell’s physics department into a top-notch program. In 1967, he won the Nobel Prize for “his groundbreaking work on the theory of energy production in stars.” As a tribute to Bethe, Cornell now hosts a web site called Quantum Physics Made Relatively Simple, where you can watch three lectures presented by Bethe in 1999. They’re a little different from the usual lectures you encounter online. In these videos, Bethe is 93 years old, older than your average prof. And he presents the lectures not in a Cornell classroom, but at the Kendal of Ithaca retirement community, which gives them a certain charm. You can watch them here: Lecture 1: Here Bethe “introduces quantum theory as ‘the most important discovery of the twentieth century’ and shows that quantum theory gave us ‘understanding and technology.’ He cites computers as a dramatic realization of applied quantum physics.” Lecture 2: “By the 1920s, physicists were driving to synthesize early quantum ideas into a consistent theory. In Lecture 2, Professor Bethe relates the exciting theoretical and experimental breakthroughs that led to modern quantum mechanics.”
The Sufferings of the City of New Orleans
Oil on paper, mounted on canvas, 81 x 147 cm
Musée d’Orsay, Paris
Type 1a supernovae occur in binary star systems where a dense white dwarf star accretes matter from its companion star. As the dwarf star gains mass, it approaches the limit where electron degeneracy pressure can no longer oppose the gravitational force of its mass. Carbon fusion in the white dwarf ignites a flame front, creating isolated bubbles of burning fluid inside the star. As these bubbles burn, they rise due to buoyancy and are sheared and deformed by the neighboring matter. The animation above is a visualization of temperature from a simulation of one of these burning buoyant bubbles. After the initial ignition, instabilities form rapidly on the expanding flame front and it quickly becomes turbulent. (Image credit: A. Aspden and J. Bell; GIF credit: fruitsoftheweb, source video; via freshphotons)