WEEK TWENTY-FOUR – Peter Higgs/Lord Kelvin

>> Peter Higgs

Lord Kelvin <<

Peter Higgs                   lord-kelvin-930w

Scotland does science very well – the long list of inventions and technological advances born here are witness to that. This week we feature two scientists, one of whom was a Scot born in Ireland and the other an Englishman working in Scotland, one a Victorian and the other very much a 21st Century thinker. Peter Higgs is a Nobel Laureate based at Edinburgh University whose name is known outside the scientific community, primarily for his theoretical work in predicting the existence of what has been dubbed the ‘Higgs boson’ (and more provocatively ‘The God Particle’), an elusive subatomic particle thought to contain answers to some of the key questions about the construction of the Universe, and whose existence was detected by the Large Hadron Collider in 2013. William Thomson, Lord Kelvin, was a Glasgow-based mathematical physicist and engineer of the Victorian era, most famously giving his name to a scale of temperature but also responsible for much important work in thermodynamics and marine telecommunications and navigation. Both scientists, though separated by over a century, demonstrate that science is conducted as much in the imagination as it is in the laboratory, and show what can be achieved by conceiving the improbable and pursuing the impossible.

by Chris Powici

‘The Higgs Boson is estimated…to travel less than a billionth of an inch between when it’s produced and when it decays’. (Sean Carroll, The Particle at the End of the Universe)

 ‘Grandparents’ voices uninterruptedly talking, in Eternity’. (Elizabeth Bishop, The Moose)

things happen

a bus moves slowly on a forest road
some thin mist, night coming on
the passengers talk about grandchildren
and weather and who’s died
and who’s still with us by the grace of God

a woman leans her head against the window
a moose steps from the trees

or in the Large Hadron Collider at CERN
in proton collisions glowing on a screen
the merest hint of the merest shiver
of everything there is

for a moment, the world looks back at us
fathomable, real

the trembling of a particle
a moose, moonlit and still, at the edge of a wood  ̶
things happen and are held

and are gone

everything is touch and go
communion and decay

and we’re left with  ̶  what exactly?

in a white vase on a mahogany table
the tulips are beginning to die 

rainy April light fills the dining room window 

somewhere a bird long asleep
sings its blue awakening


One Proof for Lord Kelvin’s Second Law of Thermodynamics
by Jim Carruth

Heat will not flow from a colder body to a hotter body
Heat will not flow from an older body to a hotter toddy
Heat will not flow from a gaudy folder to a shoddy jotter
Heat will not flow from a modern moulder to an orthodox potter
Heat will not flow from a smallish smoulder to a Guy Fawkes plotter
Heat will not flow from a proud householder to a soapbox squatter
Heat will not flow from a rich shareholder to a foreign slaughter
Heat will not flow from your cold shoulder
Heat will not flow from you
Heat will not know you
Heat will not glow
Heat will slow
Heat will go
Heat will
Go cold
In you


Chris PowiciChris Powici’s latest collection of poems This Weight of Light was published by Red Squirrel in 2015. Chris teaches creative writing for the University of Stirling, The Open University and gives readings and workshops for schools and writing groups. He edits the literary magazine Northwords Now, lives in Perthshire and enjoys a happy addiction to cycling.


Jim_Carruth_3Jim Carruth was appointed Glasgow Poet Laureate in 2014. He is co-founder and current chair of St Mungo’s Mirrorball and artistic adviser of StAnza: Scotland’s International Poetry Festival. His book Killochries, was shortlisted for the Fenton Aldeburgh first collection and the Saltire Scottish Poetry Book of the Year in 2015.



Images courtesy of;

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s