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On this day in 1885 the Danish physicist and peace campaigner Niels Bohr was born.
In 1922 he won the Nobel Prize for his work on atom structures. Bohr was a friend of Einstein and was well known for his quirky sense of humour and witty sayings such as: “Prediction is always very difficult, especially about the future.”
When a friend saw a horseshoe over the door of Bohr’s country cabin, he said in mock astonishment, “Surely you don’t believe in that old superstition“. “No,” said Bohr, “but they say it works even if you don’t believe in it.”
Like most great scientists, Bohr was a deep thinker, saying for example: “Every great and deep difficulty bears in itself its own solution. It forces us to change our thinking in order to find it.” Today’s poem is by the avant-garde French poet René Daumal. I think that the world peace campaigner Niels Bohr would have appreciated it, La Peau de la Lumiére:
Light skin clothing this world is without
Thickness and I can see the deep night of all
The same body in varied clothes and the light of myself.
It was this night that even the mask of sunshine cannot hide.
I am the watcher of the night, the listener of silence
Because silence also wears a sounding skin
And each way has its night. Like myself I am my night.
I’m the thinker of non-being and splendour
I am the father of death.
She is the mother that I call up from the perfect
Mirror of the night
I’m the man upside down
My word is a hole in the silence. I know
Disillusionment I destroy what I become
I kill what I love.
Today I pray for all the people in the world and especially the original thinkers – perhaps they will find something to help us all.