Charles Day’s column, “Physics and poetry,” in the April 2022 issue (page 8) is correct to push back on claims that the two are “incompatible” (attributed to Paul Dirac). But I disagree with one of his later statements, “Physics is abstraction. Its use for metaphor and simile is limited.”

Physics is rich with metaphors, its very abstraction itself perhaps accounting for many of them. The pendulum as an oscillation about a mean between two limits on either side of an equilibrium is a hoary metaphor in ordinary language and the social sciences. It gets an even wider meaning in the hands of a physicist who sees the same mathematics and physics of harmonic oscillations in contexts far from material bobs on strings or swaying branches. Richard Feynman, a name that Day rightly invokes, rendered poetically many a physical theme and saw in the design of a Japanese gate a poetic “explanation” for broken symmetry in nature as seen in theoretical physics.1 Some other examples of metaphors across physics are in my book, The Beauty of Physics: Patterns, Principles, and Perspectives (2014).

1.
R. P.
Feynman
,
Six Not-So-Easy Pieces: Einstein’s Relativity, Symmetry, and Space-Time
,
Basic Books
(
2011
), p.
47
.
2.
C.
Day
,
Physics Today
75
(
4
),
8
(
2022
).