Tatiana Tolstaya – Remembering Leo Tolstoy

In an investigation, a Parisian newspaper asked the question: what sign makes us recognize the coming of old age ?  Someone replied: old age comes when your memories overwhelm you.


Lev Nikolayevich Tolstoy

 For some time I have felt this very intense. In my moments of loneliness, I see fragments from my past. I review a certain scene, think I hear voices… These memories are often related to my father, Leo Tolstoy, who was everything  I had dearest and brighter in my life.

I can not always relate them to events that preceded or followed them, nor to fix them at a certain date. But I see the episode as if it had happened yesterday. I write down these  “memory flashes” as they emerge.

Dad Gets a Baksheesh

From Moscow to Iasnaia Poliana is about 200 km and sometimes my father was walking this way. With the bag in his back, he mingled among the pilgrims he was interested in, but for whom he has been just a simple traveler. He was making this trip in five days. On the way, he stopped eating and sleeping in a wooden house or at a country inn. When he approached a train station, he went to eat in the waiting room of the third class.

In one of these stops, walking on the platform where a train was ready to leave, he heard someone call him.


“Hey, old man, old man !”, a woman yelled from the train window. “Do you want to go to the woman’s toilet and bring me the bag that I left there ? But go quickly, because the train leaves soon.”

My dad ran to the women’s toilet where he was lucky to find the bag, and then gave it to the lady.

“Thank you very much,” said the lady, and gave him a large bronze coin.

“Do you know who you gave those five kopecks ?”, asked her a traveler who recognized the dusty pilgrim as being the author of the book War and Peace. “To Leo Tolstoy !”

“God, what  have I done ! Lev Nikolayevich, Lev Nikolayevich ! Please forgive me and give me back the five kopecks I gave you out of my stupidity .”

“Why ?”, my dad answered. You didn’t do anything wrong. The five kopecks I won honestly. I keep them…”

The train moved into motion, carrying with it the lady who continued to apologize, bagging Tolstoy to give her the coin back.

Tolstoy, with a smile, was watching the train moving away.

from Tatiana Tolstaya, Avec Leon Tolstoi. Souvenirs

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Smile Without the Cat of Relativistic Mechanics


Maybe a lot of you have read Lewis Carroll’s book Alice in Wonderland. Little Alice meets a miraculous cat that smiles and slowly disappears, starting with the tail and ending with the smile…

“I have seen many cats without a smile, but I have never seen a smile without a cat !… It’s the weirdest thing I’ve ever seen !” Alice thought.

So amazed were the physicists who, due to the birth of Theory of Relativity, have farewell to the luminiferous aether. Indeed, the principle of Special Relativity, which refers to all the laws of nature, destroys the role of the preferential Inertial Frames of the luminiferous aether. Thus, the principle of constant speed of light in vacuum in relation to any Inertial Frame make useless the role of material support of aether.

The real world is no less miraculous than the world of fairy tales. Electromagnetic waves without aether like the smile without the cat, however paradoxical it would seem.

According to this conception, electromagnetic waves represent a special form of motion matter which, like any other form of matter, can move into free space. We just have to admit that, unlike the movement of the planets that follow the laws of the mechanics, the wave movements follow the Maxwell’s laws. There are also forms of matter that move in accordance with laws that differ from mechanics or Maxwell’s laws. It is the movement within the atoms that is governed by the laws of quantum mechanics.

In September 1905 the Annalen der Physik magazine published an article that was titled modestly On the Electrodynamics of Moving Bodies. The author was a young physicist unknown in the high life of academies and was a clerk at the Patent Office in Bern.

It’s about the act of birth of the Special Relativity signed by Albert Einstein. The article begins with the statement of two fundamental principles:

1. The laws of nature are the same in all Inertial Frames.

 2. Speed of light in vacuum has the same value in all Inertial Frames.

Here are the foundation stones of modern physics ! Two clear principles emerging from careful analysis of nature and experimental results. And an admirable intellectual courage to face the army of sketics. Starting from these principles, Einstein revolutionized the Newtonian concepts of space and time and put them in connection with the real unfolding of the processes in nature.

Toma Vescan,  

Lumina, gravitatia si relativitatea

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