Jonah Miller’s “Shrill, Empathic Joys”

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You do know I’m a science geek, right?

The only problem being, I know very little about actual science!

It’s a field – or rather, a collection of fields – for which I have no formal training, no math foundation, no research experience.

What I do instead is read obsessively – books, magazines, blogs, and the like. Since I can’t focus on every facet of science, I gravitate toward physics.

Jonah Miller

Jonah Miller is the single best source I’ve so far found for physics news and education.

If you’re as keen as I am to keep up with what’s happening in relativity, quantum mechanics, astrophysics, cosmology, and all things related – follow Jonah!

A great place to start is his blog, From there, you can sign up for his email newsletter or follow him on social media – Facebook, Twitter, or Google Plus. (I heartily recommend the latter.)

Want the inside scoop on gravity wells and waves? Black holes? Neutron stars? Our supposed ninth planet? Jonah’s there, and you’re along for the ride.

Jonah Miller is a graduate student at the Perimeter Institute for Theoretical Physics in Ontario. He studies relativistic astrophysics and, as a member of Perimeter’s data processing team, helps other researchers make the most of advanced computing resources.

Considering the many irons he has in the fire, I don’t quite see how Jonah makes time to write for a general audience. But he somehow does, typically with one in-depth article per week. (More, if you count his in-between posts on Google Plus and other social platforms.)

Did I mention he’s really good at explaining this stuff – and making it fun?

Fair warning: The esoteric research Jonah writes about is some of the most cutting-edge, mind-bending stuff out there. In and of itself, it isn’t easy material.

Jonah makes it just about as easy as it can be made. Equally important, he does this without dumbing anything down. He puts things within reach, but you may still have to stretch to reach them. (God knows I do!)

He captures the joy of science, passing it along with passion and a sense of urgency. He writes with real empathy – something the best scientists have had in abundance (but many have not).

Jonah doesn’t just write stuff in a vacuum: He’s also the most accessible scientist and science journalist I’ve yet met. Got a question? Ask him – on his blog, on Google Plus, by email – and like as not he’ll do his best to answer it. Or he’ll find someone else who can.

These thoughts inspired me to compose a poem, entitled “Physicst Jonah Miller”. Consider it my way of saying “thanks” for the many things he’s helped me understand:

In shrill, empathic joys –
Jiminy! The scholar’s lip.
Cheapish trim, jolly sin,
Silly jam and ethnic ship.

What does this poem mean? I have no idea! Its main and possibly only point is that if you look closely, each line consists of letters that rearrange to spell “physicist Jonah Miller”.

Yes, I’m big into anagrams. For some reason, however, I never had tried my hand at anagrammatic poetry, an old wordplay standby. This is my first foray.

And perhaps Shrill, Empathic Joys might even make a great title, many decades from now, whenever Jonah gets around to writing his autobiography.


Jonah Miller’s “Shrill, Empathic Joys” — 3 Comments

  1. Dear Gary …💥💥💥
    Just so clever & funny anagram poem for Jonah …he is such a smart man 🌠
    Thanks so for all your so magic sharing …
    It’s an honor for me too to be in your blog 🌟
    And I love anagrams, so magic & so funny …
    Lovely evening & night to you & Chéri …
    Maroussia …♥

    • Maroussia, we certainly agree about Jonah Miller! He’s as smart as they come, with an incredible talent for making science easy for folks like me who are not scientists.

      On a related point: Lots of people have said lots of things about my anagrams. But you’re one of the few who repeatedly have called them “magic”. I love that! Because to me, they always have felt like a kind of magic. That’s what pulls me to create them.

      There was a time, maybe 35 or 40 years ago, when I loved learning and performing magic tricks. The kind of tricks magicians do with handkerchiefs and playing cards (mostly cards, although I had a couple of good safety-pin tricks no one could figure out). I was never really good at that, but it was fun. Probably I bored a lot of friends saying “pick a card”!

      That was then. This is now. But I find that making anagrams is a modern form of magic trick. Most people have no idea how it’s done, so it amazes them. There’s some natural talent involved — but mostly it just takes tools and techniques that anyone can learn. Some of these I’ve written about online. Like any good magician, I’ve also kept some of my best secrets to myself. After all, if everyone knows how a magician does his tricks, those tricks won’t amaze anyone anymore, will they?

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