Ulysses by James Joyce (1882–1941) has a surprising amount of 19th-century, classical physics. The physics community is familiar with the name James Joyce mainly through the word “quark” (onomatopoeic for the sound of a duck or seagull), which Murray Gell-Mann (1929-2019 – Physics Nobel Prize 1969) sourced from Joyce’s Finnegan’s Wake. Ulysses, however, was ranked number one in 1998 on the Modern Library “100 Best Novels” list and is, in whole or in part, in the literature curriculum in university English departments worldwide. The fact that Ulysses contains so much classical physics should not be surprising. Joyce’s friend Eugene Jolas observed: “the range of subjects he [Joyce] enjoyed discussing was a wide one … [including] certain sciences, particularly physics, geometry, and mathematics.” Knowing physics can enhance everyone’s understanding of this novel and enrich its entertainment value. Ulysses exemplifies what physics students (science and non-science majors) and physics teachers should realize, namely, physics and literature are not mutually exclusive.
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Harry Manos; Physics in James Joyce’s Ulysses. Phys. Teach. 1 January 2022; 60 (1): 6–10. https://doi.org/10.1119/5.0028832
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