Roentgen first x-ray Annas hand
First x-ray, by Wilhelm Conrad Roentgen of his wife Anna's hand with ring / Thanks to Wellcome Library, London

My young scientist borrowed this laptop for school research. He’s preparing to impersonate Wilhelm Röentgen, the man who discovered and named x-rays (and had their units of measurement named for him), the winner of the first Nobel Prize in physics. That was 1901, two years before the Curies’ prize. Röentgen died of cancer. Are we surprised? Dangerous work—pioneering that radiation research.

On the same computer, before I grade my students’ papers online and write this post, I delete today’s batch of 35 or 75 e-newsletters, most of which I don’t even skim. I read an article saying that if Google and Verizon get their way, this Internet will cost us like it’s cable TV.  I register for a teleseminar before I translate time zones and realize I won’t be there.

I feel bombarded.

We are all bombarded—by all this information and by the various rays which transmit it. We all suspect this can’t be good for our health. We are the pioneering generation, experimenting with our own bodies, brains, attention and sleep patterns, creativity and happiness.

Time to unplug. Soak in saltwater. Savor the sunset. Pray. Read a poem. Converse. Sleep a dreamless sleep.

Text © Gwyn Nichols 2010