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The Door of the Wind, The Doors of the Rain

This talk was subtitled The Physics of George Mackay Brown – and if that seems an unlikely title, there is a reason.

The door is at the heart of the story. For physics it’s the way forward from a universe charted by space and time to a new and more fundamental level of reality. The step through the door is necessary to resolve the conflicts between relativity and quantum theory, but no one is yet sure of the way through.

But the poets know that territory so maybe, suggests Howie Firth,  they can give the rest of us a clue.

We take a journey from the Orkney poet George Mackay Brown’s native town of Stromness, out to the hill at the back of the town – after, that is, we’ve set the scene amongst the piers and lanes he knew so well, together with stories of some of the characters who emerge in his stories.

Then up we go, and through the gap in the hill dyke, and another world.

“You’ve gone from the known world shaped by humans to a new one,” says Howie Firth. “Any tracks here are of hares or voles, and the joy of the walk is in the freshness of the territory, and the feeling that every time you go there you are finding that it is somehow new.

“And that’s what physics involves – going from the known world into a new one, crossing the boundary into uncharted territory.”

And a series of images from the poems of George Mackay Brown provide insights into the nature of that new landscape – to encourage you to explore it, in poetry and in physics.

The Slovenian artist Selena Kuzman provided images from Stromness, the town where George Mackay Brown grew up, with its harbour which over the centuries has seen whalers and herring boats and sailing ships bound for Hudson’s Bay.

Venue: Talla nan Ròs, Kingussie

Time: 8.00 pm on Tuesday 4 November

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