The Red & Black
December 2019 Issue

Faculty Interview with Mr. Miles


 

After Mr. Miles told his D block class the story of how he once chased a coyote through the woods, there was no question over which faculty member to interview. Hailing from the English Department, enthusiastic teacher Mr. Miles has taught at WHS for 17 years. The classes he teaches include A Survey of British Literature, Hero’s Journey, and Creative Writing. With no further ado, let’s get to the interview!

What is your favorite class to teach at WHS?

After a pause to consider, the ultimate answer was “all of them.” Mr. Miles said that “it’s like picking children.”

What is your favorite book to teach at WHS?

There was again a pause, but this time there came a definite answer: Mrs. Dalloway by Virginia Woolf. Once he decided on Mrs. Dalloway, he added, “well, also Grendel… and The Sea Wolf,” and that if he went on, he would end up naming all of them.

What is your all-time favorite book?

As this question was impossible to answer, Mr. Miles asked if he could name some of his favorite authors instead. So, here they are: Cormac McCarthy, Herman Melville, and Virginia Woolf.

You have mentioned teaching in Switzerland, how different was that from teaching at WHS? How were the students different?

Mr. Miles taught at an American school in Switzerland and said that it was very different from teaching here; it was a much smaller school and more internationally diverse. The living situation was different from how it is here, as Mr. Miles was the dorm head his last year there, and he was neighbors with his students. He remembers one Polish boy whose father was on the list of the ten worst dictators in the world, yet the majority of students were not significantly different from how they are here. As Mr. Miles put it, “It does not matter where you are from, the teenagers are the same.”

How have students changed over the years?

“The students have not really changed, teenagers are teenagers,” reported Mr. Miles. As for the skill level of students’ writing, it stays about the same. Since he teaches 11th grade English, his students are in the same place in their development as a writer—although there is always fluctuation among the bunch.

What has been your most memorable day/moment as a teacher?

Mr. Miles recalls from one of his first years teaching here, a review game that included physical challenges. One of the challenges was to crab-walk across the classroom, and one student sprained both of his wrists while crab-walking.

Do you regret following that coyote through the woods? Would you do it again?

Now, for those who are not in Mr. Miles’s D Block class, the final question requires some background information. Mr. Miles once shared a story of how he once chased a coyote through the woods. To make a long story short: while Mr. Miles was on a run in the woods, he ran past a coyote, and the coyote ignored him. This upset Mr. Miles because he does not like it when animals are not afraid of humans, so he decided to follow the coyote to try and scare it. After following the coyote for quite some time, the coyote veered to the right, jumped on top of a boulder (so that it was now looking down on Mr. Miles), threw its head back, and let out one seriously intimidating howl. At this point, Mr. Miles realized that he should leave the coyote alone, and he ran away.

Mr. Miles said he does not regret following the coyote as “it was a lesson [he] needed to learn about animals.” But no, if the opportunity arose, he would not do it again. 


A Fifth Force?

 

A new subatomic particle may present evidence of a new fifth force of nature. There are currently four known fundamental forces of nature: gravity, electromagnetism, strong nuclear force, and weak nuclear force. 

If this discovery is proven right, it could be the piece that completes the puzzle of dark matter and ties all other forces together into a larger picture, according to leading theoretical physicist Joshua Feng.

Dark matter makes up 85% of the known universe and understanding it is a crucial step for any future advancements in relevant fields. In 2015, a group of scientists working for Hungary’s Institute for Nuclear Research was on the hunt for a select type of particle known as a dark photon. 

These particles are believed to be able to carry dark matter, and to try and catch them in action, the team shot high-energy isotopes through a vacuum chamber via a particle accelerator. By observing the decay of these isotopes, researchers were able to tie anomalies through their behavior to unknown forces. 

They noticed that the distance between emitted positrons and electrons of Beryllium-8 was at an exact angle of 140 degrees. According to the scientists, this violated the Law of Conservation of Mass, leading to a belief that a new particle was created in the process of decay, which provided enough energy to create such an oddly specific angle. Their findings were repeatedly ignored by the scientific community, with many thinking that it was a calibration error in the equipment used despite repeated security measures the Hungarians underwent. 

However, despite persistent attempts by other nuclear physicists to try and find mistakes in the calculations of the study, all the numbers held up, pointing once again in the direction of a 5th force. The study garnered more attention when isotopes of helium were subject to the same tests in 2019, with a different angle of 115 degrees, once again violating the Law of Conservation of Mass. After intense calculations, it is thought that there is only a one in a trillion chance that mishaps caused the angles. 

The particle was assigned the name X17 after it was found to have a charge of seventeen megaelectronvolts. If these results are replicated in a similar environment with another isotope, it could create a storm in the scientific community and earn these scientists a Nobel Prize. X17 has the potential to create a “unified field theory” that can explain all aspects of the known universe, and even be the inspiration for a new chapter in the long book that is science.