the theory of everything

If I were born calm and, you know, smart, I would have wanted to be a physicist. It would have made for nice balance. But I wasn’t. I came into the world hyper and full of stress. So I write. It’s where I find my peace.

When I was a kid I loved Einstein, because he was funny and had cool hair; and the merry-go-round, because it made me feel like I was on Quantum Leap and I totally dug Scott Bakula. Like a mini collider, it’d spin you so fast the world would warp and then you’d be spat out against the ground like some odd little particle…with everything else still moving because time and space are relative to the position and velocity of different observers and you, having been slung ahead of yourself by a playground accelerator, are observing both from two places at once and neither your brain nor your body know quite how to cope. It’s a fabulous rush, but being pushed off your axis also makes for nauseous. That’s how I feel about physics. Like a kid just flung from a merry-go-round. Much as I’d love to, I can’t play with it too much or there’s a good probability my head will explode.

Brain Snack: Brian Cox

I sometimes get consumed with thinking of the collapsing and curvature of time and space – it’s my Walter Mitty life. Things like string theory and super symmetry excite me beyond belief, but they take a lot out of me as well. I’m not speaking metaphorically. I get breathless and all short-circuity just thinking about it. Not least because dark matter and fourth dimensions always seem to give rise to certain philosophical questions and as much as I’m a monotheist I’m a pantheist as well, two things which aren’t at all mutually exclusive, but which make for complicated brain work all the same. Not zen, my friend. Especially when you’re trying to live below the neck.

I’m not an elegant mathematician. I can get there, eventually, but not before I’m foaming at the mouth. And since it’s probably helpful to stay sane when you’re dealing with the theory of everything, I don’t think I could ever be a physicist. Not made the way I am. A ninja, maybe. But never a physicist.

Brain Snack: Garrett Lisi

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