Aug 10 2008
Just when I think I’m smart something happens. We were cooking together and I started to put two pieces of bread into the toaster but Jim had gotten there first. I said, “Oh. Here we have some physics. Two objects can’t occupy the same space.” I was terribly proud of myself, having lived so long in the fog of soft science and the deep muddle of artfulness.
Jim said, “Well, that’s not exactly true.” I couldn’t believe my ears. I was suddenly stuck in time, holding my bread, staring at him, mentally at a dead stop.
“You told me that two objects couldn’t occupy the same space.”
“I was trying to simplify things”, he said with that adorable smile. “Two chairs for instance can’t be clapped together or two houses, you know common ordinary things, but quantum particles are different.”
“But everything is made up of particles,” I said. “Now you’re telling me some of them can occupy the same space? Now you’re telling me?”
“Yes. Bosons can.”
I looked for some sign that he was putting me on. Boson sounded a little like Bozo to me and when it comes to physics, I’m pretty easy to fool.
“The chairs are fermion particles and fermion particles can’t occupy the same space.”
“So the chairs are made up of fermion particles along with other seemingly solid objects in my world that cannot be clapped together while at the same time we have bosons that can?” I was fairly screechy at this point.
“Think of light,” he said. “Light is made up of boson particles.”
Oh. That cleared things up. He is a snake oil salesman. What kind of minds do these people have that they understand things by deducing their existence through purely mathematical means? I truly cannot fathom mathematics as language. I was very happy with the fermion rules. It was how I knew for sure an alien couldn’t incorporate into my body. I was just trying to soft boil two eggs and make some toast and the snake oil salesman turns my world upside down.
“You’re making this up. I can Google this you know. You can’t see these bosons. You can’t see fermions either. You just do math and deduce that they’re there.”
“There’s a virtual mountain of scientific evidence of these things, he said. “You can’t see gravity either but you know it’s there.”
“I can feel gravity – my feet are stuck to the floor.”
“But can you show me gravity?”
Ah. Well. He had me there. So I made an art piece showing gravity.
I had only just begun processing the fact that light is a boson when he threw one final hammer into my wheel. He loaded two refrigerator magnets onto a metal tooth pick and said, “Bosons are keeping the magnets apart.”
“Magnetism is…is…BOSONIC?” Apparently, it has something to do with somebody named Maxwell. I went off humming from the Beatles tune, “Bang, bang, Maxwell’s silver hammer came down upon her head…..”
Shortly after, my youngest sister came to visit and there was an article in the paper about Hawking’s latest on black holes. We both read the article in the paper. It’s worth noting here that newspapers write at an eighth grade level. And we were clueless. We cornered Jim in the kitchen very unclear as to what this “information” is that Hawking says passes into a black hole and comes out unrecognizable. We didn’t understand one thing Jim said. I don’t think it was the wine.