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Last night, we watched the film Particle Fever, a 2013 documentary that follows the physicists who designed and launched the Large Hadron Collider in Switzerland. I’ve always wanted to peek inside the CERN control room.
My uncle, U.S. Navy Commander George Douglas, was an accomplished physicist who sparked my interest in particle physics many, many years ago. Uncle George was Director of Nuclear Medicine at the School of Submarine Medicine in Groton. He had a brilliant mind and enjoyed sharing his Theory of Everything over tea.
Although I chose a different profession, theoretical physics still thrills me. In particle physics, the search focuses on things a thousand times smaller than a proton. Imagine that for just a moment. My inner geek gets really, really excited.
It was a very good film, and I recommend it even if theoretical and experimental physics and Higgs boson isn’t your thing. Just to get a look inside the 17-mile-long, $10 billion collider and the activity in the control room is thrilling.
Tomorrow is the last day of the year. I have no resolutions for 2016: only hopes for you and the world. Here are some of them:
May the New Year bring new views. Travel somewhere new, even if it’s just a car ride away. Take a look around. It’s beautiful. Enjoy it.
I hope 2016 brings you real peace. The voice that chatters all day long in the brain is far from peaceful. Through meditation and practicing compassion, that can change. Try it.
I hope the New Year brings much less suffering for animals. I’ve reached the limit of my endurance with the horror stories of human-on-animal violence. Animals embody innocence. We domesticate them and put them under our control. In turn, they turn to us for protection and comfort. Then, in some evil twist, we throw them into horror and suffering. I pray that the New Year brings a powerful awareness of how awful this is, and makes activists of all of us.
May 2016 soften the hard edges of your difficult relationships. A very holy man once said that if you put poison in a vessel and let it stay there, eventually, it rots and destroys the vessel in which it’s contained. Everything outside of the vessel is untouched. When you cling to anger, you ruin yourself. Revenge is not a working equation. Forgive. Let go. Let yourself be free.
I wish that in 2016, the gloves would finally come off in our battle with cancer. But here’s my question: is there really a meaningful battle against cancer happening? Is cancer this hard to beat? We’re colliding protons and peering at the God Particle every day. We’ve suspended objects in deep space. We can clone humans. You mean to say we still haven’t conquered this disease? Why? I think it’s very strange. I’ve lost too many family and friends to cancer, all cut down in their prime. I’m disgusted with it. Are you? I have a lot of questions. Do you?
I hope we can all become comfortable again with silence. Boy, is this a noisy world. Busy. Fast moving. Fragmented. Pressurized. No matter who or what needs your attention, put it aside, find an alone place, go there, and shut out the racket for a while.
I hope with this New Year that new parents begin raising children to be strong; not troubled. Giving; not covetous. Compassionate; not self-esteemed. I hope new parents teach their children to be thoughtful, gentle, curious, kind, and free thinking: to do as they will, follow their dreams, and all guided by a strong moral compass whose orienting arrow is compassion.
How about in 2016 we all try to have one adventure, trip, or new experience that we don’t record with our camera phones and post on social media? Just once. Just an experiment.
How about in 2016 we designate one day a week completely without the cell phone? Leave it on the charger, all alone. Sunday, for instance. Designate a backup person to take any emergency call or text that may arise. I bet an emergency won’t arise. Just an experiment. Let’s do it.
I have no illusions about a revolution in this area, but I hope that 2016 brings an unprecedented number of people to the awareness that they are probably on medications they don’t need, and have had surgeries that didn’t work (and so refuse to have more). I hope that hospitals begin to slowly morph into centers of healing. Hospitals are the worst. They’re unearthly places. The sick go there and get sicker. This is not healing. Enough.
If I’m forced to buy a new car in 2016, it will be battery-operated and small. I don’t need speed. I don’t need to make a statement with my ride. I do need to reduce my footprint. You have permission to laugh at my new car. But I’ll love it.
I hope this year that more and more people learn to tune out the maniacal voice of the media. Inciting paranoia and fear keeps people tuned in and checking their news feeds. It’s crazy-making, largely fiction, and very profitable. I know what I’m talking about. I used to be the media.
I hope that this year, we see an unparalleled number of people growing their own organic food. You want to do something really revolutionary? Grow your own stuff to eat. It’s a game changer.
I’m so ready for 2016. Let’s do this.
Peace on Earth