A poem I wrote years ago

I was fifteen- soon to be sixteen- years old ; I had been reading (important) books about science, physics, philosophy , and other similar topics,  and all those ideas in my head intermingled and inspired me to write a poem involving particle physics and particle collisions and combining elements of science and philosophy .

I wrote the poem in French , using the French alexandrine poetic meter of twelve syllables, but I didn’t follow the poetic rules very closely.

I will provide the final version of the poem here , with a line by line English translation. Different people have different tastes and opinions , I hope it will be liked .

The hydrogen-1 atom mentioned in the title of the poem is also called “protium” , but this last word is not much used in French. Protium is the most common hydrogen isotope, having one proton ( and one electron) and no neutrons.

A proton is supposed to be talking or telling the story in the poem . I think I was a little inspired by the poem ” Le Bateau ivre ” by Arthur Rimbaud .

Here it is :

Bombardement d’atomes par un proton d’hydrogène 1H
Bombardment of atoms by a proton of protium 1H

Synchrotrons , canons à électrons, cyclotrons
Synchrotrons, electron guns, cyclotrons

Soyez prêts, particules, deutons, neutrons, hélions
Be prepared, particles, deutons/deuterons, neutrons, helions

En attendant que les hommes préparent les canons
Until men prepare the guns

Le moment est arrivé, l’appareil frappe
The moment has come, the apparatus strikes

Dans son coeur vidé moi, le proton j’attrape
In its emptied heart I , the proton take

Le coup et je vais croiser les atomes en grappe
The blow and I go meet the atoms in clusters

Je fuis dans l’espace et le temps calculables
I flee in computable space and time

Ma vitesse est vertigineuse, incroyable
My speed is vertiginous, incredible

Non pas celle de la lumière, infranchissable
Not that of light, insurmountable

C’est le lieu de la relativité impie
It is the place of impious Relativity

Masses, longueurs, lois de la physique varient
Masses, lengths, physical laws vary

Ma trajectoire déterminée sera suivie
My particular/determined path will be followed

Par d’autres microcosmes malheureux
By other unfortunate microcosms

Le trajet est terminé, le choc a eu lieu
The journey is over, the shock/collision occurred

Je donne la vie à de nouveaux corps heureux
I give life to new happy/fortunate bodies

Quanta de matière utilisés pour la paix
Quanta of matter used for peace

Dans le monde de la science un pas est fait
In the world of science a step/discovery has been made

L’humanité en marche en connaît les bienfaits
Humanity in motion/advancing knows the benefits (of this discovery)


About languages I know and languages I’m getting to know

I have a problem. Could be a problem , or not.The thing is , I read a lot , and in more than one language.

At present I know three languages very well , and I’ve read literary books and various kinds of books in these languages.But I have also other books and coursebooks for learning other languages , some are in print form and others are ebooks along with online learning material I’ve downloaded . Audio files are generally  helpful while learning a new language.The three languages I know best are English , French and Arabic . I’ve studied and learned other  languages intermittently , depending on the circumstances or on how much free time I had.

For example , a few years ago I met a Russian girl and I had a relationship with her , and that gave me the incentive to learn Russian.Then I met a German girl , and that encouraged me to start learning German using a coursebook I had bought two years earlier.I have a Spanish language coursebook as well , so I’ve studied recently the first few chapters of this book.Of course the Spanish language is interesting and useful since it is spoken not only in Spain but in most of Central and South America and in many countries around the globe.



I have additionally a Portuguese language coursebook waiting to be read ,  and a Chinese language textbook for beginners and a Chinese language learning software I haven’t used yet . Now  the Portuguese and Spanish languages are more or less related to each other , but learning Chinese could be more difficult as it is a non-alphabetic language and uses characters such as logograms , pictograms and ideograms . I’ll have to see if or when I will have enough time to start learning these languages.

Moving to another group or type of languages , I’ve been using and working with the Mathematica software and the (Wolfram) Mathematica programming language for more than fifteen years , and I have occasionally used in the past programming languages such as QBasic and the BASIC-like language of the TI-92 Plus calculator. I have also studied web programming for a certain period of time  , and I got to know well a number of programming (and scripting ) languages. These include HTML , PHP (and the MySQL database management system which uses the SQL query language) and JavaScript.

However , I have to say that among the languages I know the most important one is a language called Mathematics.This is the essential and fundamental language of the exact sciences , and according to good old Galileo , the mathematical language is the one in which the great book of Nature and the Universe is written.

And if you are of the opinion that Mathematics is not as important as other languages for communicating and connecting people , think again.
From Astronomy and Astronautics to Physics and Chemistry to electronic devices and components (which use disciplines such as solid-state physics , circuit and signal analysis , differential and difference equations , Fourier analysis , etc) , to computers (which use fields such as Boolean algebra , binary logic ,  and combinatorics)  , to Biology , Psychology , Economics and business studies , Mathematics and applied math are indispensable to any  study or research in science and engineering . Programming languages are more or less related to applied , discrete and computational math and to mathematical logic. Even the social and human sciences use math and statistics to  get a reputation for exactness , precision and scientificity .

About the gamma function , math , and language dictionaries

I have a good knowledge of  English (see my literary books page) , and I have a number of  reliable language dictionaries I consult from time to time. I also know about science and mathematics (see my science books page and the problem solvers page) , and I sometimes find mathematical expressions or physics formulas interspersed between scientific definitions in dictionaries. But occasionally I have noticed that math expressions or formulas published in these reference works contain errors and inaccuracies or seem to have been published hastily and without enough care. Whether they have been published using a math writing software or html related coding , the lack of accuracy or completeness is visible.

One example from physics is that of the Schrodinger equation (HΨ = EΨ)  inserted in a scientific definition in a renowned English language dictionary .The summation sigma symbol ( ∑) in the expanded Schrodinger equation is shown followed by the index of summation  and by the lower and upper bounds of summation as if they were multiplied by it . At other times parentheses are lacking  or a plus (+) sign , a letter or variable is omitted.

In one known language dictionary there was an error in the integral definition of the gamma function. I will not name any dictionaries  here , but in any case the error remained for a few years and  was later corrected in newer editions. The gamma function is related to the factorial by :gamma-def-1

and is defined by the improper integral

gamma-true-defIn the dictionary the definition was :

gamma-changedSo the variable of integration changed from dt to dx . In the online version of the dictionary ,the same integral expression is shown with the correct variable of integration , but it is missing a minus (-) sign and a letter variable.

Out of curiosity , I had the idea to find out what the value of the integral would be with a change of variable or if more than one letter or parameter were changed.

For the integral above with dx as integration variable , exp(-t) is constant , and the solution of the integral is :

integ-sol-01A plot of the solution gives (done with Mathematica):


Here is a 3D plot of the absolute value of the function  fct-solution in the complex plane (with the help of Mathematica) :

A generalized solution of the integral with dx and with arbitrary bounds of integration is the following:

integ-sol-02Another definition of the gamma function is :

gamma-true-def-logIf we change the integration variable we get:


One could go on making variations to the gamma function definitions and finding the corresponding solutions.

That was an excursion caused by a mistake in a math definition in a dictionary . Errors can be sometimes found even in science dictionaries and they are often corrected , but I think  if language dictionaries are able to write mathematical expressions and formulas more carefully and clearly , they would become more accurate and subsequently more appreciated.

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About two book series

Throughout the years of reading and studying I have read many books of the French
encyclopedic series  “Que sais-je?” . Each book of the series consists of about 128 pages
and deals with a particular subject or field of study and is written by a specialist . The number
of books I’ve read in this series amounts to about one hundred , books related to various
subjects : science , mathematics , physics , astronomy , history , philosophy , religion ,
education , psychology , etc , or sometimes a combination of these subjects.

The first two books I read (and worked out) in the series were ‘Histoire de l’astronomie
classique ‘ (History of classical astronomy) and  ‘La Relativité’ (Relativity) by the late
astronomer Paul Couderc. I was 15 years of age at that time.

The history of astronomy book contains interesting information , but I remember  what
impressed me most was the author’s praise of the achievements of Isaac Newton and of his
great work “Philosophiæ Naturalis Principia Mathematica” or “Mathematical Principles of
Natural Philosophy”.
Here are  sample images of some of the books I have read in the “Que sais-je ?” series:

I have also read a few books of  the more recent  “Very Short Introductions” series.

The “Que sais-je ?” series has more than 3500 titles in 2014 , whereas The “Very Short
Introductions” has between 300 and 400 titles .
Another difference I have noticed between the two collections is that when it comes to
scientific subjects  the  “Very Short Introductions” series gives a  general introduction and
a good overview of the subject  ,  while the “Que sais-je?” series delves deeper into the
subject and gives more advanced details with mathematical proofs and equations when

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About ‘The Cleft’ and Doris Lessing.

I’ve had the intention of  reading The Cleft by Doris Lessing  for over  a year  , but it so happened that I started reading it a few days after I sadly learned she had passed away.

Doris LessingIt’s a story about the origins of humanity told by a Roman historian ,supposedly taken from old forgotten records.
Lessing claimed that she was inspired by a scientific article which said that female humans came first before males.Some would consider this as an inversion of the biblical creation narrative, but anyway it’s a good story to read , although  scientific evidence for it is doubtful or lacking.The story tells that first women were lonely creatures living by the sea who used to give birth to baby girls by some sort of parthenogenesis , until one girl gave birth to a baby boy.The women  were perplexed  and got rid of that first baby boy , but then more boys were born and with time they formed a tribal group of their own . Some of the women  went to meet them and got to know them despite the ban from the older females , so afterwards babies were  born as a result of sex and a normal pregnancy.With time (perhaps a long time) the females and males ( who are called respectively ‘clefts’ and  ‘squirts’, imagine why) learned to know each other better and lived together , and started exploring their surroundings.

Since I’m writing about Doris lessing I’ll take this occasion to say something related to her and to the education post I wrote earlier.
According to her biography , Doris Lessing left school at 14 years of age , and was self-educated from then on.This is an example of a famous and important writer who had to be an autodidact for a (large) period of her life and who won many important literary prizes , including the Nobel prize for Literature , without having a formal higher education or a university degree.
It’s not the (existing) educational system that makes the great writer (or great man or woman). More often than not  great thinkers or intellectuals are the ones who create , manage or reform educational systems , either by getting personally involved or by influencing that creation or transformation through their actions , teachings and writings.
Doris Lessing may have received an honorary degree at an older age , but this happened after she had to be self-educated and had to struggle and publish many books and novels in order to be recognized as a significant writer.

I’m going to mention suppositional events that could have been or could have happened , but in any case I want to note that  if (for example) Lessing had had  the possibility as a young girl to receive a convenient accelerated education and to go to college or to the university at the age of ten or eleven , she would have left formal education at the same  age of 14 but with a degree  in literature instead of no degree at all.This could be applied to many bright and able youngsters who get stuck in the educational system because of their fast intellectual development or have to leave it early for different reasons , and   I think that is one of the advantages of an adequate accelerated education.

This also reminds me of something that happened to me about a year ago . My main fields of interest tend towards science and math , and I have sometimes taught private science lessons, but have  also taught private English language lessons to students of various ages who needed it .Once I saw an ad about a school who needed an English teacher , so I called them to ask about the job requirements . I wasn’t  sure I wanted it or had the time for it but just wanted to ask . The woman started asking me if I had a degree in literature , I tried to tell her I had a good experience in teaching private lessons and a very good knowledge of English , but she  wouldn’t let me speak and insisted that I had to have a Bachelor of Arts degree in English Literature, and then we had to end the conversation . While I appreciate  people  who have college degrees and BAs , and I don’t presume to know everything ,  and there are always new things to be learned or discovered ,  I think my personal studies and readings allowed me to know English as much as someone having a BA degree , or even a little more ( you can take a  look at a list of English literary books I have read in here).

I ‘m not comparing myself to a writer such as Doris Lessing , but I couldn’t help thinking that if  Lessing or a writer of her importance (and her educational background) had had the idea to call that school like I have done , and had told them only that he or she had a very good teaching experience  and very good knowledge of the English language but no degree , they would have rejected her or would have probably hung up.

Degrees and academic credentials are useful and important but sometimes it depends within which educational system or framework they are given , and too much insistence on diplomas alone without taking other variables and factors ( experience , the age factor in education  being  relevant ones among others)  into account may turn out to  be counterproductive and inadequate.

A note about docimology

In English the word docimology is by definition “A treatise on the art of testing, as in assaying metals, etc” ,whereas in French the word docimologie has a more specific meaning: it is the  scientific field of study related to the  analysis of tests and exam results , and the ways or methods used by examiners to give marks or grades.Usually mathematics and statistics are used in this kind of study.

The French psychologist Henri Piéron defined “docimologie” as “the systematic study of exams (the ways of marking/grading , interindividual and intra-individual variability of the examiners or evaluators , subjective factors , etc).”

This discipline tries to find the factors that influence the evaluation of a written or oral work done by a student, independently of the work or the student.There are factors related to the person doing the evaluation , the conditions of the examination , and the nature of the question or problem used in the evaluation.

It is interesting to note that most languages in Europe use the word docimology with its french meaning and definition in many studies and papers , but in English speaking countries this word seems to be used in  the general and more or less loose meaning given above.