Why You Want a Physicist to Speak at Your Funeral

By Photograph by Oren Jack Turner, Princeton, N.J. Original image cleaned/leveled by User:Jaakobou. [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

My wife sent me this brilliant piece this morning.  The original author is Aaron Freeman.  It first appeared on NPR’s All Things Considered in 2005.  As you’ve probably figured out by now, I tend to identify myself as a somewhat religious person.  The professional language used here is not the one in which I’m trained, but I nevertheless find it beautiful and inspiring.  I would even go so far as to say that the physicist and the minister (this one, anyway) are describing, each in their own way, the same grand mystery of ultimate reality, in which we all live, move, and have our being.

You want a physicist to speak at your funeral.

You want the physicist to talk to your grieving family about the conservation of energy, so they will understand that your energy has not died. You want the physicist to remind your sobbing mother about the first law of thermodynamics; that no energy gets created in the universe, and none is destroyed. You want your mother to know that all your energy, every vibration, every Btu of heat, every wave of every particle that was her beloved child remains with her in this world. You want the physicist to tell your weeping father that amid energies of the cosmos, you gave as good as you got… (Click to read the full article)