A somewhat longer post for our penultimate day, with a twofer offering poetry and prose. A veritable feast, then, from TWW newbies Nigella Sterky and Chris P. Tatas. Verse things first…
The Paradox of Time
Everything starts somewhere,
‘Though many physicists disagree
But time’s no longer linear
Like it used to be
Those brainy sorts who hypothesise
In the world of quantum physics
Are nowadays inclined to think
It’s more likely to be cyclic!
Those of us who go round and round
Never making progress
Would have said that was quite obvious
And right before their noses!
Now Christmas is a paradox
It happens every year
The date is fixed, it never moves
The scheduling’s quite clear
I always think I’ve loads of time
When it kicks off in September
So why do days grow shorter
Once we hit December?
A week to go, I’ve cards to write
And I haven’t got a turkey
There are gifts to buy, I’m getting stressed
And I think I’ve caught the lurgy!
My throat is sore, I’m feeling grim
I need medicinal brandy
I know it’s meant for Uncle Jim
Nah! Socks are always handy!
Next year I will get to grips
With the vagaries of time
The way it just moves faster
The more you are behind!
I’ll sort the cards and presents
Early in September
Then take some time to enjoy
The festivities of December!
And so to prose…
The Red Button
Everything starts somewhere, although many physicists disagree. Charles Law is a physicist, but not a disagreeable one; he believes that everything has a beginning, including the universe. Charles believes that the universe – the multiverse – is an infinite loop, but also believes that infinite loops have to start somewhere, which sounds oxymoronic to many, but not to Charles. It was the idea of the infinite loop that first attracted Charles to physics (well, that and his natural talent in higher maths – always plural, in Charles’ mental dictionary, despite anything the Americans might have to say on the matter) as a career; a choice that the rest of his family found baffling. Charles is the first in his family to show any aptitude for maths, or, indeed, for any other field of study, and it is a running joke, given the family surname, that Charles is “the first law of physics”. Charles loves that joke, though the rest of his family grew tired of it very quickly. But I digress…
Charles Law believes that even circles (or infinite loops) have beginnings, and he has made it his life’s quest to find the one that underpins everything. His theory imagines a blank canvas, or sheet of paper, on which a circle is drawn. When complete, the circle is unbroken, with no beginning or end, but Charles’ obsession is with the point of contact that starts it all, the initial fraction of a fraction of a second when pencil-tip makes contact with paper for the very first time. That is that catalyst that starts it all, that is the beginning of everything that comes after. But what is the spark that sparks that catalystic event? And who, or what, is holding or directing the pencil?
Charles has a theory, and after years of research and speculation and further research and speculation he has developed a machine to test that theory that makes the Large Hadron Collider look like a child’s toy. It’s a very small machine, about half the size of a common house brick, but the implications of its workings are immeasurable. It is painted white, and has a small, red, mushroom-shaped button at its centre. Charles calls it his LITE box, for it is the physical manifestation of his life’s work: Law’s Infinite Timeline Extrapolation.
Now, standing over his machine, Charles is finally ready to hit the red button. It is Christmas Eve, and this is Charles’ present to himself. He has spent several months checking and rechecking every step and symbol in the formula of his equation, and he is supremely confident of its accuracy. Which is just as well, because the implications should it be wrong are… well, let’s not dwell on that.
It is only now, with his finger poised over the button, that the irony of the acronym he has chosen for his theory occurs to him. He smiles, delighted, and as his finger makes contact with the red button beneath it he verbalises his delight with four small words: Let there be LITE… …