22 September 2003

I hate editing. I feel like the Exorcist . . .

The Space Between

I'll get to writing about two pieces of writing in just a moment. First a physics lesson: The Space Between.

The last time I posted I had decided that inertia was physics' sole poetic saving grace. I've changed my mind. Physics is very poetical - perhaps purely so. (Speak what you think today in words as hard as cannonballs, tomorrow speak what tomorrow thinks, in hard words again, athough it contradict everything you said today. To be great is to be misunderstood. - R.W.E.)

Physics takes things we think of as practical and predictable (and things we rarely think of at all) and completely warps all perception of reality, ala "There is no spoon." The book doesn't just sit on the table, the table pushes up on the book. Your weight decreases the further you move from the earth's center of gravity, so the higher you get the easier it is to just float away. And the gravity between two people increases the closer they are to eachother. This last postulate I will demonstrate below. (Ever the disgustingly hopeless romantic: some people think in terms of the bottom line, I think in terms of "When Harry Met Sally.")

The gravity between two objects (people) with masses separated by some distance can be measured as:

Force = [(6.673*10^-11) * (mass1) * (mass2)]/Distance^2

So for two people, let's say masses 60 and 75 kilos respecitvely, who are standing 0.5 meters apart, the gravitational force between them is:

Force = [(6.673*10^-11) * (60kg) * (75kg)]/(0.5m)^2 = 1.2 micro Newtons (for comparison the weight of a mosquito is approximately 2 micro Newtons.)

Small, you say? Yes. But insignificant? Ho no! (Never mind what the physics textbook has to say) Watch what happens as we decrease the distance between the two people say to 1/10 of a centimeter: the gravitational force between them becomes: 0.3 Newtons

As two people become infinitely closer to each other the gravitational force between them increases exponentially . . . approaching forces of 3*10^78 Newtons (that's the biggest number my calculator can spit out.)

So there's the scientific explanation for why its hard to leave someone you're close to. It also partly explains my clumsy knack of always running into people. And it may offer scientific (if not romantic) rationale for giving in to our gluttonous desires: the more we weigh the more people will be gravitationally attracted to us

I guess that's college, huh? Tossing out everything we ever thought we knew about the world and rebuilding it on a new set of laws.

Everthing has a law, and each college or major gets a different set of them. For example, the biology major type gets: 1) Form equals Function, 2) Evolutuion through Natural Selection, and 3) The Entropy of the Universe increases. (Four years and $100,000 for that?)

Maybe physics isn't as irrelevant as I'd like to think it is?

(I wrote this last Tuesday; I've since dropped physics and decided to add an intro to cognitive studies class. "The mind is a place of its own" . . .)

15 September 2003

There's something about physics that completely kills my urge and ability to write imaginatively. Except for inertia. Inertia is only thing about physics that is poetic. Without inertia physics would be a complete waste of imaginative time.

14 September 2003

Description without comparisons

On washdays, at the start of the 8 hour dusk, smoke curls from the chimney of the tiny cedar sauna. Ecologists and limnologists and wildlife biologists stop work for the day and trek down to the confluence of the arctic research camp and Toolik lake. Wash buckets and pitchers are absent-mindedly strewn across the sauna porch, making the dash to escape the mid-July snowstorm comically hazardous. In the dressing room wood is piled high and bright, terry-cotton towels paint every inch of wall-space. Well-worn Carharts and flannels are piled on the wood slatted bench; bras and underwear are conspicuously tucked out of sight. (Someone’s purple leopard-print panties seductively peak out from their hiding place.) Rubber boots of all sizes expectantly line the wall, ever ready to lead their wearer back to work.

A caribou antler door handle invites nakedness into the sauna. Two long L-shaped benches, one above the other, curve around a crackling wood stove. Beautiful, curious, laughing, breathing flesh fills the space, oozing desire and grime from the last three days of work. Dim gray light from the window contrasts markedly with the flushed cheeks, glowing in the heat of the furnace roar.

1) Sweat it out. (No science talk . . . and no stretching!) 2) Jump in the lake, careful not to slip on the dock. 3) Run back to sauna to sweat some more. 4) Take a quick, snowy wash on the porch (Damn that’s COLD!) 5) Warm-up and sweat, sweat, sweat. 6) Lower your body temperature in preparation for sleep with one final (I promise) jump in the lake. 7) Dry off. 9) Crawl back into rubber boots, Carharts, and flannels. 10) Trek back to your own tent and sleeping bag. 11) Go to bed (still slightly shivering from the last dip in the lake.) An exhausted nervous system invites sound sleep.

03 September 2003

Early language experience

I remember being a kid and bumbing along on some family vacation or another. My brothers and I were distractedly unsticking ourselves from the red vinyl in the back seat of our '86 ford pickup, while my parents were in the front seat discussing the music of the Beatles. I was very confused about the whole conversation: beetles making music? My experience with beetles up to that point had led me to believe that such tiny, curious creatures could not make music, let alone sing songs like "Can't Buy Me Love" or "Here Comes the Sun." I thought that my father was perhaps trying to tease me, so I insisted rather adamantly, "The beetles didn't sing those songs!" And when he replied to the contrary I remember shouting at him, "But bugs don't sing!" This evoked a roar of laughter from both of my parents. I was quite abashed once they explained to me that "The Beatles" were a rock band. Being proven a fool is tough, even when it's just in front of your parents, and even when your only six.

In that moment, the world became just a little more confusing than I had planned on it being. And aren't those the times we remember most in our lives?

01 September 2003

My first post to my new blog . . . the adventure begins!