Thursday, February 15, 2018

STR Inspired Eulogy of Malek (RhA)

My love of Physix is only matched or surpassed by my love for my family. Malek (RhA), my dearest of brothers, passed away on 12/06/1992. The anniversary of his passing away on 12/06/2017 matched with the days that my students were working on their STEAM projects. It is customary that I complete a similar project along with them so that I experience what they go through while completing these physics and astronomy projects.

So, I decided to make my art pieces be a couplet of poems that pay tribute to my brother in the context of Special Theory of Relativity (STR). Following are the two art pieces.

1st STEAM Piece:

Stalled at c [by Taoufik Nadji]

Your ship sailed the seas of infinite spacetime.
Zipped at 86 percent c for twenty years and nine.
My azuric ship awaited yours for five decades and seven.
When is the return?
When is the encounter?
Dear brother, 
Life is chimera without you.
Physix and fate separated me and you.
And the wall of motion forever stalled at c.

2nd STEAM Piece:

The Envy of the Firmament [Acrostic "poem" by Taoufik Nadji]

Ready? I was not! Unaware,
Eternity's door was set ajar.
Dearest of brothers,
How am I to be consoled
About your journey to the infinite?

Massless, I wish I were! So that I can 

Accompany you
Like photons of pure 
Know, heart of my heart, that my love

Restitches the very fabric of spacetime

Hoping to be forever undulated by you, by your gravitas,
And by your serene gaze that is the envy of the firmament! 

Note 1:  The first STEAM piece alludes to the concept of time dilation. I imagined that my current age and that of my dear brother, Redha Malek (RhA), when he passed away at the young age of 29 were predicated by his "spaceship" traveling at a speed that is 86% the speed of light.

Note 2:  The STEAM pieces try to address the following STR concepts, constancy of speed of light, time dilation, photons and their massless aspect, c being a universal speed limit, energetic nature of photons, spacetime, and mass. The undulation of the fabric of space time is actually a General Theory of Relativity (GTR) but it still fit nicely in the context of the poem.

Educational Notes: It is imperative, as educators, that we subject ourselves to what we expect of our students. This enables us to face their reality when we task them with projects and other kinds of work. This is why I have tried to always do a project along with my students whenever I assign them one. I wanted them to know that I care enough about them that I am subjecting myself to an experience that is as close to what they are going through as possible. In addition, it is valuable to share with our students a few aspects of our lives so that they realize that we, physics/astronomy instructors, are as human and as real as they themselves are.

Thank you for taking the time to read this post and feel free to add comments below.

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