Working remotely…

Empty offices seem to be the new norm.

The current situation with #COVID has definitely accelerated a trend that was slowly being embraced. There are some pros and cons.

The chief executive of Barclays, Jes Staley, has suggested that piling 7,000 employees into a tall building “may be a thing of the past”. Large numbers of businesses have reported that productivity has been maintained, or even enhanced, as people work from home. Firms’ accountants will have taken note.

However, the normalisation of remote working will also have an impact on younger workers who, though digitally native, are also more likely to live in cramped circumstances and miss the kind of formative experiences that happen in a physical workplace.


That’s it! I don’t think I will be able to concentrate for the rest of the day. I have just heard the terrible news that José Saramago, the great Portuguese writer and Nobel Laureate has passed away.
It is indeed a terrible loss as we will no longer be able to get new and fascinating stories from his pen, but we have a great deal to read from his books and essays. We can indeed read and re-read those wonderful books such as “Blindness” or “All the names” and be able to let him take us in unimaginable tangential routes to discover yet an extra piece of our own soul, of our humanity.

For me Saramago is one of those writers that takes you by the hand and does not let you go, or rather you do not want to let go. His style might seem to be a bit difficult to grasp, particularly with those page-long sentences without punctuation, however, once you manage to break the seemingly hard skin, you find that inside a ripe, juicy story is waiting to satiate your hunger for compelling and great ideas.

I will never forget reading for the first time “Blindness” or “Enssaio sobre a ceguera”. I found myself immersed in that strange whiteness and I still can’t believe how he managed to write the book without giving names away. Furthermore “Seeing” or “Enssaio sobre a lucidez” was a pleasent surprise, as I was already familiar with the Doctor’s wife. I also remember watching the film and although the Dog of Tears was not as I envisaged, the rest was almost perfect. Saramago himself said, with tears in his eyes, that that was exactly how he imagined it.

By far, one of my favourite books is “The Double” or “O homem duplicado”, how much I laughed with the story of Tertuliano Maximo Afonso and Maria da Paz. It became some sort of soap opera for me, I could not get enough. I kept on nodding as I read “The gospel according to Jesus Christ” or “O evangelho segundo Jesus Cristo”, and kept on scratching my head with “The stoneraft” or “A jangada de pedra”.

As I heard the news, I could not help thinking about “Death at intervals” or “As intermitências da morte”. Death will not be sitting alone in her chilly apartment with scythe and filing cabinets anymore. Saramago will be there telling her all his marvellous stories. If only she had come yesterday to start her tantalising experiment, just for a few days, and so the next day nobody would have died, including Saramago.

I shall be honest and confess that I am writing this with tears in my eyes…


Physics horror novel… not quite

Yesterday, I received a tweet from @FQXi in response to the following tweet I posted on January 8th:

“For the first time in the lab after many moons. Strange feeling seeing the signal in the oscilloscope :)”

I have to confess that the comment made by @FQXi me laugh out loud:

“@quantum_tunnel This sounds like it should be the opening of a physics horror novel. ;-)”

It does indeed sounds ominous enough to prepare the reader to enter the obscure depths of an optics lab. Not quite a new Frankenstein monster, but what about the old one with a brand new powerful laser! Then again, maybe not.

Have fun!