John A. Wheeler passed this week. If you haven’t heard of him, he’s the physicist who coined the word “black hole”, along with “worm hole”. Rumored to have invented the liver loaf on whole wheat, topped with quantum foam. Actually, that part I made up (although he is associated with the foam part).
Part of this peripatetic life we live is trying to keep up with the passings. Our lives are so full of the lives of so many others. They come and go each day—to our great good fortune, filling our lives, making us wholer-than-before; unfortunately, many of them never return, leaving voids which, though not quite black holes, can still suck some of the life from us.
Because our world is so vast and because there are so many passings, trying to make note of which passing is noteworthy—and why—can be a full time activity. I don’t know if you have the time, but I generally don’t. Fueling my ever-accreting sense of insensitivity and sensory overload. Thus (I guess) in the case of Wheeler, I will invest a few seconds—registered in these sentences. I can begin (and nearly end) with the obit, as physics is not my field. According to the text, Wheeler was among the major players of his age. Tabbed as physics’ “most imaginative adman. He was also science’s Zelig, seeming to be present at every important event or discovery.” Consorting, did he, with Niels Bohr, Robert Oppenheimer, Edward Teller, and Albert Einstein.
Pretty heady stuff (pun intended?) if you think about it.