You want a physicist to speak at your funeral. You want the physicist to talk to your grieving family about the conservation of energy, so they will understand that your energy has not died. You want the physicist to remind your family about the first law of thermodynamics; that no energy gets created in the universe, and none is destroyed. You want your family and friends to know that all your energy, every vibration, every Btu of heat, every wave of every particle remains in this world. You want the physicist to tell your family that amid energies of the cosmos, you gave as good as you got.


And at one point you’d hope that the physicist would step down from the pulpit and walk to your spouse and tell him that all the photons that ever bounced off your face, all the particles whose paths were interrupted by your smile, by the touch of your hair, hundreds of trillions of particles, have raced off like children, their ways forever changed by being in contact with you. And as your family and friends remembers you, may the physicist let them know that all the photons that bounced from you were gathered in the particle detectors that are their eyes, that those photons created within their constellations of electromagnetically charged neurons whose energy will go on forever.


And the physicist will remind the people gathered of how much all our energy is given off as heat. There may be a few fanning themselves with their programs as he says it. And he will tell them that the warmth that flowed through you in life is still here, still part of all that we are, even as we continue the heat of our own lives.


And you’ll want the physicist to explain to those who loved you that they can measure, that scientists have measured precisely the conservation of energy and found it accurate, verifiable and consistent across space and time. You can hope your family will examine the evidence and satisfy themselves that the science is sound and that they’ll be comforted to know your energy’s still around. According to the law of the conservation of energy, not a bit of you is gone; you’re just less orderly.

My father and Jules
My father and Jules (2018)