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This morning I was rereading a manuscript novel by an old friend of mine, of blessed memory, who was a year ahead of me at Caltech in the '50s.  It was one of two that he had sent me for comment about 10 years after we graduated, when he had become a physicist & I an assistent editor at the Physical Review.  Toward the end of the novel, the main character, who is also a physicist, goes to a summer school in Sicily, and the hot topics he learned about are listed:

current algebras, broken symmetries, resonance phenomenology, particle supermultiplets, and Regge poles

Not that I know what most of those things are, but it took me right back:  Regge poles!  What ever became of Regge poles?  Phys. Rev. was full of them in my day, but they haven't been in the news recently.  Suddenly, a thought came into my head, fifty years after:  They are poles in the scattering amplitude as a function of angular momentum continued into the complex plane.  Wikipedia has an article on Regge theory, and damned if it isn't so!  Physicists still learn about the subject, but it has become embedded in far vaster developments.

I was critical of both MSs, and in fact they never got published.  However, after he became a professor, he did publish a book, about the campus politics of his university, and it caused some scandal.  (I must look it up.)  Then he had a heart attack on the tennis court & died.  He is one of a number of people I wish I could donate my superfluous years to.

Many times a day I am reminded of things from a long time ago, as far back as childhood (70 years).  But this one was exceptional in that it was not of something I was ashamed of.

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Here is something I wrote to him in 1967:

I am afraid I wouldn't make a very good agent for your novel....

On the other hand, I would certainly be interested in reading the manuscript and making whatever criticisms I can. These would be mainly of language, since (as you know) I know little of people. (I have _never_ found a characterization unconvincing.) Of the 3 great, semiautonomous worlds -- Words, Things, and People -- I am at home only in the first, and will venture only into those regions of the others for which there is a good map available in my own. A thing is just a complicated notion, and a person is just a complicated thing -- that is my natural construction. Most novels are written by & for a much commoner & perhaps healthier type, for whom all the world's a stage: people occupy most of the attention, things are mere props, and words are of intermediate importance as tools for describing & manipulating people and things. I say "healthier" because people do, after all, _need_ attention more than (other) ideas or things; but I say "perhaps" because the extremes of this temperament are as damaging as my own, and much more fashionable. There is abroad today a sort of Cult of Humanity, which believes that _only_ the relations between human souls are important. Thousands of miles of Arctic pack ice, the surface of the sun with its spicules and megatons of light, the gamma function in the complex plane, pulse-code modulation, the Sierras, the Crab Nebula, maple trees, vacuum-deposited integrated circuits, sea cucumbers, diesel engines are all to be put away in a stockroom in case somebody needs one to give pleasure or offense to another member of his species; but the real world is to be filled with human beings in every direction as far as you can see, so that every free surface squirms when you step on it and stinks of personality. Repulsive, miserific impudence! Physically and morally, people get sick when they crowd their world too much. People should be dilute; they should interact mainly in pairs; and they should spend a good deal of their time not interacting with each other at all but with ideas and things. Humanistic propaganda always blames excessive idea- and thing-mindedness for cruelty; but I think the connection, if any, is opposite: the main cause of cruelty in our age is addiction to control, which results from caring too much about the behavior of other people. The real battle for humanity is the battle for intellectual magnanimity, which might lead people to mind their own business.

In that cause, it would be very good to get more literary people interested in physics. Snow has tried to do this by exhortation, with no better success than you would expect. The right way (if it can be done) is to write a very good novel that can be understood after a fashion without knowing much physics, but much better by knowing more. People have at times learned Greek declensions and medieval theology in order to be able to read Literature: why not quantum mechanics too? Perhaps your work will be a beginning.

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