Espiritu libre

A promising 80-years-old young man. Presentation of the special issue of avance y perspectiva dedicated to Bogdan Mielnik.

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Bogdan meets seredipindously a 19-year-old builder, with whom he shares the difficulty of deliberating under the title of a “promising youth” at 80 years of age. He is bemused by the builder’s reply: “I am an accomplished young man, myself“. He tells us to read Erwin Schrödinger’s publication – quoting Stephen Hawking‘s “When I hear of Schrödinger’s cat, I reach for my gun“, commenting on the irony as the famous physicist cannot actually make the move – and to beware of trends in physics, publicitis (his term for puntitis) and other tendencies of uncritical copying behavior that typifies many of us. Anecdotes were presented by his students Piotr Kielanowski, David Fernández Cabrera, Sara Cruz y Cruz and Oscar Rosas Ortiz, who on more than one occasion described their conversations as delicious although I remained confused whether they referred to the accompanying culinary elements or the sensation from the intellectual aftermath (probably both).

Richard Feynman called the young Bogdan a monster for denying him a tour of Warsaw at night; while on the previous day Bogdan had confused Paul Dirac for an electrician, insisting he should fix an urgent problem at the 1962 Relativity Conference in Warsaw. Being an electrical engineer, Paul Dirac offered his help until he was discovered by the organizers.

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Paul Dirac & Richard Feynman (1962)

Bureaucrats of all types & complacency of all sorts were portrayed as Bogdan’s main enemies; perfectionism and originality (independence of thought – he was called twice a free spirit) as his key characters. His continued energy inspires everyone who knows him. Bogdan’s own written account for the event was entitled Incomplete Visions. Thanks to the organizers of such a memorable symposium, to our director for attending and to Beata Wojna, Poland’s embassador in Mexico for her presence.


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