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Portrait of the Artist as a Lone Tree


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The Great Desert

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To shouts and cries and loud applause,
the theoretician posits laws,
and then the learned bursars call
to give the grant that pays for all
the stuff that blows the atom up.
And lo! they've all been sold a pup.
Some think all laws amount to three;
the universe does not agree.

(In the 1980s, physicists were very excited about various particles which were postulated to exist. Supposedly these would prove a series of contentions regarding sub-nuclear physics and the fundamental laws of the universe. Physicists got the money to look for them, but found nothing. The energy range where they were supposed to have been was then dubbed Ďthe Great Desertí. That didnít stop the theory being taught to me as if fact when I was an undergraduate - before anyone had had the chance to look. At the time I felt this was more akin to religious fervour than hard science.)

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