Crisis in the State of Certain Uncertainty.
Thursday, August 30, 2007
We're Hot on the Trail of the Divine Extension.
Flocks of Cranes,
Strings of Zeroes.
How Do You Swim the Raging Quantum River?
By Dylan FitzDylan
A SPECIAL DISPATCH to corndancer.com
from the Lighthouse
on the Nowhere Existing Sea
We sat in the study, visiting. It was yesterday, it was forever ago at Achernar on the Island at the End of the River.
"See if you can find the position of any electron at a specific time," Lothar Schafer said. "You can't. The inability to locate it has created a modern crisis."
Lucy Diggers said she was more interested in destroying things than finding them. "By destroying our immediate reality, I can make all of your common-sense concepts invalid," the child of privilege said. "I want another kind of reality, one that extends beyond the senses."
"You want to create absurdities and contradictions," Zoltan Tibor Csaba said.
"I do!" Lucy shouted, her feisty spirit bouncing 'round the study like a loose lepton.
"When you do, the concepts of space, time, matter, energy. . . . They take on a contingent validity," Lothar Schafer said. "When they do, you enter into relativity, a state of certain uncertainty."
A Cloud, a Pair of Trousers, a Map to Brooklyn.
"I'm weary of dealing with what is immediately given, bored with things directly perceived," Lucy said. "The relationship between consciousness and the exterior world doesn't tell me what I want to know. I shall say what I can't say in any way I choose. I don't need a concrete message. I don't need a story line. I prefer a cloud, a pair of trousers, the map showing the last exit to Brooklyn."
"You're not making sense," Zoltan said. "You're demanding too much."
"I want to make you sweat," Lucy said. "I want to see your careful paraphrases fall uselessly onto the library floor."
"You require an intervention," saith Oksob de Opposite, permanent occupant of the Opposite Loft, timely interjector, guardian of the ether and E.P's Lost Cantos (among so many other precious things). "How can anyone know what's going on here? Who is this wise man Lothar? Who is the ponderous Zoltan, the saucy Lucy, Isis the painter and sculptor O'Malley? As for you, my charge, I know where you are, but do THE OTHERS? How much do they know?"
Oskob intimated the necessity of context.
He suggested that someone was looking.
whispered the only one who could hear
the old sage, ever changing.
(You may think it's a mistake, but it isn't.)
He said they were hot on the trail of the Divine Extension.
— All I'll say on the fly
is that some come as holograms,
others arrive as figments,
and one appears as a ghost at his own accord.
Between Democritus and Bohr, a Lost Sense of Reality.
Lothar Schafer shifted on the divan beside the great window. Outside on the edge of the sea, waves crashed against the rocks. "Science loses contact with reality," the professor doctor said. "Objects become very small. How many zeroes can you place after the decimal point to define the size of the tiniest particle? Science creates a gap between man and reality."
What Democritus devised, Bohr refined. We recognize it first as the Model of the Atom. The model changes with the speed of fashion, moving on a psychic catwalk, season to season, three centimeters times ten to the tenth power per second, alluringly but without grounding. Science shall fiddle with her 'till kingdom come.
Strings of zeroes trail into the quantum heavenlies like flocks of cranes above the lair of old Mercury.
From the strings comes physics, discrete and independent, following ancient pathways blazed by adepts but co-opted by poseurs. Here we spiral into the dimension of the incredibly small. Suddenly the place becomes vast and daunting, especially when the navigator presumes to plot the distance between particles inside the atom's shell.
"If it even has a shell," Zoltan said. "Show it to me now."
Professor Schafer arose. He began to scribble with chalk a set of esoteric symbols on the wall.
The Shell, the Mass, the Precise Positions.
"Wait. I'll paint it for you," sang Isis O'Malley. She sat in lotus on the cypress planks of the floor. "I'll paint it in thick, bold strokes. I'll use swirling oils. I'll show you the shell, the mass and their charges, the precise positions of the subatomic motes. I'll capture it, all of it, at a specific moment in time. . . . in brilliant primary colors."
"When you're done, we can hang your painting on a slant of sunlight falling on the curve of the wall," Lucy said, sniping. "You can give us this day, our daily bread, for all I care. Go out there in the garden and sniff the forget-me-nots of Mayakovsky's soul. Show me how you swirl your oils on his staccato canvas."
We had been, yes we had been, looking at strings of zeroes, each string purporting with geodesic precision to follow the shortest path between all plotted points. Now we turned away from things diminishingly small to peer at flocks of cranes in a pale gray sky. From their graceful movements emerges the alphabet, and linguistics, and the prose it begets.
"It was Cadmus, not Mercury," Zoltan protested. "Five vowels, eleven consonants, each rattling like a saber from the dragon's teeth."
"Not! Cadmus stole it from the Phoenicians," Lucy said. "And there were thirteen consonants, not eleven."
The Story Begins to Make Good Sense.
Wizard-like and materializing on the far surface of the great window to the sea, the shade Robert Graves spoke directly to the matter. "Hyginis says that the original thirteen-consonant alphabet was taken by Mercury into Egypt, brought back by Cadmus into Greece, and thence taken by Evander the Arcadian into Italy, where his mother Carmenta (the Muse) adapted them to the Latin alphabet of fifteen letters. He describes this Mercury as the same one who invented athletic games: in other words, he was a Cretan, or of Cretan stock. And Mercury in Egypt was Thoth, the God whose symbol was a crane-like white ibis, who invented writing and who also reformed the calendar. The story begins to make good historical sense."
The shade Graves faded away. Professor Doctor Schafer put down his chalk. The silence of a scribbling-less room drew everyone's attention to the brilliant one's standing form. He began to speak.
"The reality presented by science is similar to magic realism, in which real-world objects rest side-by-side with alien-world objects. All is not what it might seem to be. I offer two points for your consideration.
"First, the laws of physics are the same in all frames of reference, which are moving with constant velocity with respect to one another. This point supports the belief in an orderly universe.
"Second, the sphere of light is constant in free space, a space devoid of matter, for all observers regardless of their state of motion. The Michelson-Morley experiments of 1887 at Cleveland, Ohio, proved that the speed of light is constant. But motion is another issue entirely. It is relative and has no absolute value."
From Muon Neutrino to Tau Lepton.
"Yes, and it takes longer to swim the same river up and down than it does to swim across it," Lucy said. "Tell me, professor, how long does it take you to travel through the ether from Muon Neutrino to Tau Lepton? Is your stopwatch moving upward, or does it move across your plane of reference?"
"It might not be moving at all," Lothar Schafer said. "It might be moving everywhere at once. Length, time, and mass are relative to motion, which affects the measurement of time. By moving through space we can influence things occurring in time. A moving clock is slowed down. In the dilation, the interval between the ticks of time changes."
We knew, too, that the length of a moving object with respect to the observer is smaller than the length of the object at rest.
We knew that Lucy would not be able to accelerate an object which has a mass that is infinity.
We knew that Lucy's muons, neutrinos, and leptons were as unstable as a pop starlet on ecstasy, a rude kind of knowledge, temporal to the max.
"Your personal decay rate is two times ten to the minus sixth power," Zoltan admonished. "Your half-life is fast approaching."
"I need some rest," Lucy said. She grew quiet, somber. All eyes turned tenderly toward her slumping form.
"No one wants to be wrong," she said. "No one wants to be not-absolute.
The dissolution of the final answer. . . . The crumbling of the last word. . . .
There is no end."
Upon the study fell a silence like the quiet of a licking yellow fog.
"We shall continue with new developments again tomorrow. We shall continue on the morrow," Professor Doctor Schafer announced.
We Paint, We Slumber, We Read.
We were, each of us, unique in parallel frames of reference, each of us snared by a ruling discipline known only to self. Isis O'Malley began to pour out upon her canvas the model of the atom. Lucy fell into deep slumber 'neath the window to the sea. Zoltan opened his text to Chapter Seven of H. Margenay's Nature of Physical Reality and began to read, silently but with reverence.
We could hear, faintly — if we chose to listen — the crash of salt-drenched waves on the nearby rocks, shrouded in the deepest dark green.
The professor? Who knows where he may have fled, what he might be doing now. He dissolved like alway' into an Apollinaireian mist, with nary a farewell a'tween us. I hope to see him again on the morrow of his promise.
I walked briskly from the study at Achernar to make a swift journey.
At its end I climbed the steep and narrow stairs to the upper chamber of the Lighthouse by the Nowhere Existing Sea.
How so very far it becomes, this interminable journey from the river to the sea.
How difficult grows my quest for the one metaphor that rules all, now that I've seen the terror of the inversion, now that I've entered the strange place where the electron canna be found.
You shout in your principled uncertainty that the metaphor represents only the metaphor, nothing nothing more.
You tell me you have the formulae, substantiated by scientific method, to verify the error of my ways.
You tell me you don't believe it when I say,
— Here's reality.
— Here's what's really real. Here's what reality is really, really like.
"You don't know," you say.
Au contraire. Trust me. Au contraire.
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