Friday, July 20, 2007

Quote of the day, van Stockum

"There is only one reason why a man will throw himself into mortal combat and that is because there is nothing else to do and doing nothing is more intolerable than the fear of death. I could stand idly by and see every painting by Rembrandt, Leonardo da Vinci and Michelangelo thrown into a bonfire and feel no more than a deep regret, but throw one small, insignificant Polish urchin on the same bonfire and, by God, I'd pull him out or else. I fight quite simply for that and I cannot see what other reasons there are. At least, I can see there are reasons, but they are not the reasons that motivate me." -- Willem Jacob van Stockum

Willem Jacob van Stockum was a Dutch Physicist and RAF pilot in WWII. He is know for his formulation of the van Stockum dust (hence the name) which was one of the first exact solutions to the Einstein Equations. It was notable because it first introduced the idea of closed timelike curves, which form the basis of the idea of time travel. The paper published in 1937 is a remarkable influential paper that is still being studied today. van Stockum was killed in action in WWII when his bomber was shot down over France on June 10, 1944, shortly after participating in bombing raids leading up to D-Day.

1 comment:

  1. That's very interesting Ryan. As the play Les Miserables ends: "To love another person is to see the face of God."


To add a link to text:
<a href="URL">Text</a>