And he came to her softly. She was half-asleep, lying on her side. She was quiescent, sedated probably.
“Hey,” he said softly.
She had not heard him speak this softly before.
‘Hey,” he said again.
When she did not reply, he pulled a chair next to her bed and began stroking her hair as gently as he could.
He saw that she was holding her phone in her hand. Gently he removed it. The light came alive briefly and he saw that she had been reading his text messages.
“My poor girl.”
He kissed her cheek. It was cold.
“I’m scared,” she said. He absorbed her words, her fears. “Baby, I am too, but I am not going to show you my fears. I’m going to show you my lion face. Or would you prefer a tiger?”
For the first time, her eyes flickered. “You are so silly.”
“We’ll do whatever it takes for us to get through this together.”
“For what purpose were we born, PW?”
He wanted to say, we are just a part of somebody’s experiment. That’s why sometimes, you get the ‘I’m in the wrong movie’ feeling. But instead he replied, “For the reason you told me, to experience the breadth and depth of human emotions. And I think also, to turn anti-matter and dark energy into light and love. That’s the experiment we are all part of.”
“Ag, don’t you know quantum theory?”
“I think we are recycled when we die. Because all the wealth of information cannot just disappear, can it? Laws of Thermodynamics.”
“Wouldn’t make sense if we just die,” he agreed. The love and the joy goes on. Joy sans fyn, Alice.”
And we go on living, he wanted to say, moving slowly towards an equilibrium, the end-game of this whole blerrie experiment where the outcome had already been determined.
She began giving her husband what he wanted, though it was taboo to her.
He was thousands of miles away in Oxford, and she in the veld, where the internet didn’t work properly. Though he was sat in his office ready for his next meeting, he felt this intense longing for his wife. There was something erotic and comforting at the same time about their familiarity and intimacy. And so he called her.
“Oh, I’ve just come out of the shower,” she said.
He wanted to say, switch Skype on, but he couldn’t. There was something of a Wonderland feel to the situation, a surreality, because they were in different time zones. And there was something erotic about making love to someone across the miles and across time zones. He thought for a moment before saying:
“I have a meeting in six minutes’ time, so I have to leave you for the moment. But this is what I want you to do. Think deeply about all the places on your body that you want me to kiss. Then use your lipstick to mark X on each and every spot that you want me to kiss.”
If she was startled by his request, she did not show it. “And then?”
“And then show me.”
He rang off, and she began her task. She tentatively touched herself, imagining his lips instead of her own fingers. She started touching her own lips, and wondered what he tasted there that drove him wild with desire. She remembered kissing him in the torrential rain. Yes, she wanted him to kiss her there. She marked an X on her mouth. Her fingers moved down the hollow of her throat; another X. And on and on her self-exploration went. She sometimes had to twist and contort her body to mark a particular spot out for him to kiss.
And when she finished, spent, she sat patiently and waited for his call. It came, in the form of a text instead of Skype, to her disappointment.
Show me, he said. “Take a photo.”
“No,” she replied. “Only on Skype.”
Einstein’s light experiment with the mirrors. It changed the way we looked at the world, because for the first time, we are faced with irrefutable proof that time and space are elastic. She wanted to see his eyes when he looked at her body in real-time, at just a shade under 186,000 miles per second information transformation.
A pause, and then his reply. ‘OK, just for a minute. And I can’t speak, because I am in a conference call.”
Her Skype flicked to life and she showed him.
He wrote back, his fingers burning the keypad:
And I would kiss you in all those places …. many times. Gently at first and then becoming more hungry as I move my mouth across yours and then move down your torso. I want you so much.
She knew he could not hear her voice as he had turned off the sound function; she took her lipstick out again as he watched her with hungry eyes. She wrote one word on her body, right across her breasts, and that one word was his name.
“How do you manage to live with the pain I have caused you, Karin?”
“I have no choice but to go on loving you, because God has chosen me for you. I can’t fail Him.”
It suddenly dawned on PW, something that had always puzzled everybody, this twenty five year old mystery. He looked at his wife in wonder. “You didn’t want me, did you? You had always wanted Hennie! And who could blame you? He was more of a man that I could ever be, the eldest son and all that. And suddenly, you changed your mind and I wondered why. All the boys, my friends, were saying that it was because Hennie was away on National Service, and you craved attention, so you switched to me. But it had been God all along, hasn’t it, Who was behind your change of mind?”
“Yes, but I learned to love you. And I have no regrets. You are the best husband ever.”
“Even after all I have done to you?” He was incredulous.
“Yes,” she said simply. “You are the best, because you are the only one I’ve got.”
He looked at her in admiration. “How the blerrie hell did you do it? I really believed that you were in love with me! I thought you went crazy for my eyes and my long muscly legs!”
“I faked it until I made it,” she replied airily and they both burst out laughing. “Fortunately, you look better now at forty three than when you were twenty.”
All the love of their shared twenty two years together came tumbling out like their children’s toys from the wicker basket, just like when the boys used to pour out Christmas presents from the sack. Yes, it was the power of her intention that made love appear as if by magic where there had once been emptiness. It is just like the Universe: it only takes one excitation, an impulse, for life to happen.
“Jesus! You mean to tell me all that lust and panting was not real?”
“I made myself think only of you, PW. I filled myself with you. Only you. And after a while, Hennie stopped mattering. He became just my brother-in-law. It was as if our old history did not happen, probably because I am completely focused on my present and future with you. And that is what I have been trying to tell you, PW, that in life, everything has its own sweet place.”
“Fibonacci sequence,” PW breathed. “Of course! There’s such beautiful order in nature that I sometimes wonder if God is a mathematician.”
“Ag, PW, don’t complicate things. I don’t know what Fibonacci sequence means, but I know one thing, love is the most efficient law. That’s why it is obeyed universally, and it only brings suffering when it is not obeyed. When people don’t obey the law of love, the whole blerrie system breaks down. Look at our country. It is corrupt, that’s why we are poor.”
“Yeah, like in my case. I broke my covenant with God. And with you. That’s why I am suffering. Nothing means anything to me now, Karin, not even the blerrie accelerator.”
“You are a good man, PW. Like I said, even successful men make mistakes. And I say you are a good man because you tried to spare me. Your protected me as much as you could from the pain instead of dragging me down with you. That’s what most people do, you know. When they are in a bad place, they try to take their partners down too. But you did your best to keep me afloat. And you try so hard too – I see it in your eyes – to stop my pain.”
PW was curious. ‘How did I do that?”
“You gave me the best you could,” she said.
“Is that enough?”
“I know you are trying to be the husband I deserve, PW, and because you are trying, it is enough. If you set the intention, the energy will follow, and as a physicist, you should know that where energy goes, life follows. I don’t ask for more than your intention, PW, to love me fully again. Yes, I know, it is not much what you have for me now, and of course it hurts. But I say to myself, ‘Tomorrow, I’ll think of some way to get my husband back, and after tomorrow is another day’.”
He stood up and pick his wife up into his arms. ‘Enough of that talking, let’s go to bed.”
He knew deep down that with his wife, there is spirituality and true beauty in all that they share because they were merely following the set path outlined in Fibonacci’s sequence; in a world spiralling outwards of excitement, ambition and unnatural sex with his twenty one year old mistress, he will always come home to this sameness, to this life in Die Uitkyk, living quietly with his family. Individuals don’t have an independent existence but rather exist only as part of an ensemble of many. Maybe that’s the meaning of life that he had been seeking, he thought: just to live each day well and love truly and deeply those who love you selflessly, to propagate that love that lies beneath all aspects of Creation.
“Just promise me one thing, PW.”
“Never stop going to church, even when you are far away from here. Because we have to love, like we did in the beginning. All this will pass, and in the end, there is only the love between us that matters. And whatever we have missed with each other in the bad times like now, we possess together the precious, the real, the one true path. So don’t stress, my husband, just love.”
The cynic in him wondered if life could really be that simple: just love your wife and all would be fine. And then he thought, for all the unimagined vastness and unfathomable complexities of the Universe, there are only four fundamental forces that shaped everything.
I am the integrity you lost when you became like her, instead of becoming truly you, she said. And for once in this lifetime, the Higgs field was completely silenced in tribute to the loveliness of this purity and giving, all the particles within it stilled and the four fundamental forces were in abeyance.
(Photograph shows nature obeying the Fibonacci sequence.)
The song, Lateralus by Tool is also about Fibonacci, please do watch to be blown away:
(2) white are,
(3) all I see,
(5) in my in•fan•cy,
(8) red and yel•low then came to be,
(5) rea•ching out to me,
(3) lets me see.
(2) There is,
(2) more and
(3) beck•ons me,
(5) to look through to these,
(8) in•fi•nite pos•si•bil•i•ties.
(13) As be•low so a•bove and be•yond I im•ag•ine,
(8) drawn be-yond the lines of rea•son.
(5) Push the en•ve•lope.
(3) Watch it bend.
‘Wow, that’s quite a performance, my dear Professor,” she said, coming to his side and linking her arm round his waist. To Alice, he was simply the most beautiful man in the world, this fearlessness of his coupled with his intelligence, humour and boyishness. Almost forty three, but still the eight year old boy from the veld who wore his older brother’s oversized tackies and veldskoen, who dreamed of building an accelerator so large that it can be seen from the skies.
He laughed happily and kissed her on the top of her head in gratitude. “I learned that from you!”
“From me?” She was incredulous. She was just this nondescript postgraduate student who lived in the underground bunkers of the Physics Department of Oxford University like a subhuman mole whereas he, he was the Superstar Scientist, the Greatest Thinker of Our Time.
“Yes. Because many months ago, at the top of the squaretower of Magdalen College Oxford, you showed me that we could manipulate empty space which is not really empty by rearranging the invisible particles in that space. And that’s what I did just now. The protestors who came to decry the construction of my accelerator were driven by their personal fears. Initially, they spoke to a friend about their personal fears, then two friends, then three. Then they formed a group, and personal fears grew into paranoia. That’s what paranoia is, a self-generating negative energy field. What I did just now was to annihilate the negative field by sending positive particles out there, you know, like matter / anti-matter reactions. English is not my first language, but I believe the word for that is pronoia. That’s when you state an intention, and the Universe conspires with you.”
Alice smiled happily up at him. “Yes, that’s those blerrie magic particles at work. The invisible negative field physically stopped five lorries delivering liquid nitrogen, and you, my beautiful Professor, turned five hundred people round with the sheer power of your will.”
(Excerpt from Chapter 14: Yo-yoing space-time)
Note: Photograph shows liquid nitrogen, a chemical that is extensively used to cool the components in particle accelerators and detectors. It looks dangerous, but can harmlessly be used to make instant ice cream from milk. N2 is just the stuff that the air we breathe is composed of. Paranoia often stands in the way of us achieving great things.
I want to kiss your eyelids gently, hold your face between my hands and feel your strong body tremble in my arms. I know that you want me above all, and that your body responds so beautifully to mine, as mine does to yours.
I know you want to prolong it. You told me many times. So I will read Shelley to you,
And the sunlight clasps the earth,
And the moonbeams kiss the sea;–
What are all these kissings worth,
If thou kiss not me?
Do you know, how similar our eyes are to each other’s? That’s the spirituality of us, the spirituality that raises fierce carnal lust into something beautiful. People would say it’s an unhealthy obsession between us, but I disagree. How could it be? Your wanting of me makes me feel like a woman, the most desirable woman in the world. I come alive for you, just for you, PW.
I kiss you, slowly and deeply. I can taste your desire for me in your mouth. Do you know how many years I have waited to do this? To touch you like this, to touch you in wonder and awe of the perfection of your body that I have wanted for so long. I worship your body for the pleasure that it gives me. And now, I am holding you in my arms and you are trembling.
I love sitting like this, face to face with you, with that part of you buried deep inside me, your power barely leashed. I love it that your body has such power and rawness; you are beautiful, do you know that? The most beautiful man I know. I love licking your ear and stroking your neck, taking my time to taste and caress you until you could stand it no more. I love your back. The strong trapezius muscles that defined your body as a man’s. My man for now. No, you are always mine, aren’t you? As I am always your woman, your lover. Because we satisfy each other on all levels in a way that no one ever could. Not because of beauty or special skills, both of which I do not possess, but the fire that burns in me for you. You know that I burn exclusively for you from the very core of my being. I want you so much, so much, so much, sometimes I think, more than I want life itself. For that one moment of holding your trembling body in my arms, I would die a thousand deaths.
They walked towards Cornmarket filled with festive cheer – Oxford is truly magical at Christmastime – and as they approached the clocktower, Alice’s suggestion caught PW by surprise. But feeling mellowed and happy, he readily agreed. She undid her scarf and wrapped it round his head until he could no longer see. She led him by the arm through the throng of Christmas shoppers. All PW’s senses had to go on was the happy chatter of voices all around him, the fragrance of roasting chestnuts and Alice’s smell. Now and then, his arm would brush against her pregnant bump. PW was exhilarated.
“Enough, my dear Professor?” she asked laughingly.
“No, I want to walk more!”
And so they did, lost in a world of their own creation.
“Where do you think you are now, Professor?”
“I think you are leading me to Magdalen.”
“Blerrie hell, where am I?” He ripped off his blindfold, and was astounded when his eyes took in his surroundings. Though they must have been walking for what seemed like hours, they were still in Cornmarket.
“We were walking round the clocktower, PW,” Alice said. “You were walking in a circle but you did not know. You perceived the circle in a linear fashion. You thought we had walked to a destination a certain distance away. What I am trying to say to you, my love, is that you would have no idea whether it has a beginning or and end, or whether it was finite or infinite.”
“Son of a bitch!” PW exclaimed. “That’s what you’ve been trying to tell me, isn’t it? It’s in your book, your blerrie Precision & Accuracy. Like most scientists, I am so convinced that there is a Big Bang, starting from that point called Singularity, from where our Universe keeps on expanding and expanding, as proven by Hubble’s Cepheid Variable star. You, on the other hand, believe that there is no beginning, and that the Universe is infinite.”
Imagine the three little sisters in the Dormouse’s tale – Elsie, Lacie and Tillie – who lived in a Universe permeated with treacle instead of gravity. Tillie who wore Mary-Janes on her feet, the typical shoes of Victorian children, and a frilly pinafore dress, and she struggled to move through the treacle. Lacie, who saw her sister’s difficulty in moving through the treacle, decided to remove her clothes and put a pair galoshes over her shoes; she moved easier than Tillie through the treacle. As for Elsie the magical child, she sprouted a pair of wings and glided effortlessly over the treacle. The three sisters who lived in the treacle well experienced treacle with different degrees of difficulty.
Thanks to the Dormouse, she understood that Elsie, Lacie and Tillie actually represent different types of particles of our world and our relationshp with the Higgs field. We are all living in a treacle-well, it is not just a fancy told by a sleepy mouse at the Mad Hatter’s tea party where the clock never moved. Tillie, who had the most difficulty moving through the treacle, is the one with most mass, whilst Elsie, who did not interact with the treacle at all, is massless.
We don’t think ‘mass’, instead we think ‘weight’, simply because weight is what we experience in our ‘real’ life. Thus we are unable to make the leap and think of mass is as a consequence of particles reacting differently to the Higgs field; rather, we choose to believe that the more massive a particle is, the more ‘stuff’ it contains. This inability to think in terms of a new dimension traps us and limits us because we are never be able to contemplate zero-dimensional particles which do not take up any space but which nonetheless possess mass. Like the beautiful distant stars that stud the endless Universe, Alice thought with a smile for PW. He, who talked so passionately about stars yet made no mention of the Higgs field.
Curiouser and curiouser, was what she used to say when she was a little girl. It was her curiosity that damned her.
Meyrin was a town that existed merely as a service station for CERN and its large legion of scientists from all over the world, each pursuing his or her own science fiction in this industrial town. Here, in this clinical environment necessary for space-age research, science was as detached from the real world as can be. From his Oupa’s ancient binoculars and their homemade particle accelerator back in the veld to this.
The further our gaze travels from home or the deeper we look at our material reality, the more we will become reliant on science that is beyond common sense and the average person’s comprehension. Thus, the most difficult thing for a theoretical physicist to do often is to communicate his ideas and findings, because these new rules of reality are increasingly removed from common sense. Science communication then becomes reliant of cleverer abstractions, on metaphors. PW loved metaphors; they were a large part of his success, the way he artfully used them to fire global imagination and interest. And from metaphors, too, we get beauty and meaning.
That blerrie English girl asked him, the night they sat on the Cherwell, why was the fifth quark named Truth?
Will we ever know Truth, PW wondered. Right now, all we have is the compartmentalisation of the things into two varieties of boxes: those for the things we know unequivocally, and another for the things that we do not, or may never, know. Metaphors, so beloved of PW the consummate storyteller, blur the dichotomous key and confuse the sorting system; we end up thinking that we have more content in the ‘Don’t Know’ box than we actually do. But like it or not, our experience and memory of exploration within and beyond is becoming more belief-ridden. That is, until we get more cold hard facts from these monster machines that fire particles at each other forty million times per second twenty four hours a day and seven days a week.
Someday, I am going to build an accelerator so large that it can be seen from the skies, the poster announced boldly in childish scrawl. It was made for him by his eight year old son, Dawie, his precious child whom he told stories of the meteorite that fell to earth, magnetic spheroids, buckminsterfullerenes, and all the magical things to.
He cast his eyes heavenwards. “God, please give me a Higgs Boson,” he said, heartfelt words that he uttered for the ten thousandth time since he began this journey out of the veld.
Note: the title of this post was borrowed from Lewis Carroll’s poem (published in 1876) of the same name and the image from the book published by MacMillan.
There are Many Worlds, she knew, because in Wonderland, there were many doors, and each door opened to a different reality. One could just as easily step out into the beautiful, star-lit summer’s evening of today as into a winter’s night of one’s long-gone childhood, or even into a world built solely on one’s wildest imaginings, because somewhere in Time, in the huge trove of all possible events, each and every one of those world existed. The Many Worlds interpretation of Quantum Mechanics is accepted as a possibility that many worlds might actually be a ‘real’ representation of our reality, the Universe and totality. But how do those many worlds exist?
“You breathe when you sleep” / “You sleep when you breathe”, the Dormouse had chipped at the Mad Hatter’s Tea Party. “Existence” and “illusion” are words, and you get to decide how to use them. The Universe is not an objective phenomenon; rather, it is a subjective experience. In a language similar to Quantum Mechanics, Mathematics says that you get to define your domain and what counts as existence in that domain. Changing the domain thus changes what exists.