Thomas Grissom

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Former Faculty, The Evergreen State College


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Non-Fiction, Fiction, Poetry


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From The Physicist's World:

By way of background, this work comprises the intellectual outline and synthesizing structure of a two-quarter-long, full-time academic program that I taught by myself and with Neal Nelson, a computer scientist and mathematician, for several years at The Evergreen State College in Olympia, Washington. The intended audience was undergraduate liberal arts students who otherwise might not have taken any offerings from the regular science and math curriculum. The idea was to offer science more broadly across the curriculum and to give them some intellectually engaging and honest grounding in the nature and accomplishments of the physical sciences, without trying to form them into physicists. One measure of the success of the program was the number of students who were willing to tackle conceptually challenging material and the number who went on to pursue the natural sciences and philosophy, as well as intellectual history, more deeply in the curriculum and in subsequent graduate studies. During the twenty-two weeks of the program, they read this work along with a number of selections from the list of Suggested Readings which allowed them to delve more extensively into each of the topics presented here.        

I want to thank especially my faculty colleague and teaching partner Neal Nelson for his unwavering enthusiasm and support for this narrative approach to presenting physics as the story of motion and the ultimate limits to our understanding of the world. Without his encouragement and prodding this project might well have languished and gone unfinished.    

From Parodies of the Fall:

Pardon? What do you ask? Why yes, of course you may join me. In fact, please do. No, no, I insist. I was not hesitating, I assure you; only it is difficult to hear amidst this clamor, and I did not wish to appear presumptuous.        

In truth, you are heartily welcome. It is at times like these that one most craves company, and has at last learned to appreciate and enjoy it. I can see by your face that you agree.       

Besides, what choice do you have? It seems that my little corner of this darkness is the only one not occupied. All these others are eager to be here, no doubt--they would not miss it for anything--but only if they don’t have to think too much. Although they tolerate me, they grow tired of my chatter; they are annoyed by it, like a ringing in the ears that comes and goes, or a conversation overheard, too faint to be properly understood. Every place has its eccentrics, and here they are content to accord me that role.        

Still, I don’t feel estranged. We are all part of this now, and I can see that you at least understand. Clearly, you are not like them. You have honest eyes and a steady gaze. First, one forgets how to see, and then finally no longer even bothers to look. It is reassuring that there are still some who insist on what others will not face, but cannot deny.

Additional Publications

Musings of the Heart, Vol. 1, fiction, to be published by Charles River Press, Boston
Musings of the Heart, Vol. 2, fiction, to be published by Charles River Press, Boston