Professor Simon Leonardo Altman

Prof-AltmanProfessor Simon Leonardo Altman , Emeritus Fellow of Brasenose College, Oxford, is a mathematical physicist whose main work is on group theory, quaternions, and solid state. Since his retirement his main interests have been history and philosophy of science, poetry, especially science poetry, and some work on art theory, mainly concerning right-left problems.

His website presents several examples of his science poetry, on subjects as diverse as Theology and the electron, A Villanelle for Hans Christian Ørsted, Heisenberg, and :


Ten people have five pounds of rice.
Five of them eat one pound each.

Five people remain hungry, desperate.

All ten people eat each half a pound of rice.

The above solution would destroy society
as we know it. It is blatant communism.

Political solution
A rice footprint is allotted to each person
that can afford to buy a pound of rice.
The missing half-pound for each of the rest
is compensated as long as the pound-eater
pays someone to dig a grave for one
of the other five that die of hunger.”

For a recent publication by the professor, see: Empirical Studies of the Arts, Volume 31, Number 2 / 2013, Pages: 223 – 238, Right and Left in Art: The Annunciation.

 “Three major effects have been discussed in the literature in order to understand the positioning of the Virgin on the right. They are the direction of motion and the agency effect, both concerning the archangel, and the presentation of the Virgin’s left cheek. It is proposed here that a fourth effect, the power of the first diagonal, is worthy of consideration, largely because it is the only effect that may obtain for variant Annunciations, in which the Virgin is on the left.”