Have you ever gazed into the universe and had it gaze right back at you?
In the mountains, there are few sounds at night. No cars driving by, no Taylor Swift songs in your head. Its just all this silence stuff.
Since I never shut up, I had not encountered the silence stuff since way before Taylor Swift came out with her song “Shake it Off.”
That may as well been a zillion years ago.
But silence is a wonderful non-sound thing. I can only describe it as “Your own thoughts tuned to the loudest radio station ever.” But Rudy and I were enjoying it. We lay on the earthen ground and thought deep (loud) thoughts and stared at the (deep) silent stars.
Then I heard a voice.
“ERIKA! YOU HAVE NO IDEA HOW ANYTHING WORKS!”
Rudy and I freaked out. It repeated itself:
“Erika, you wouldn’t know the nature of nature if it fell from the sky in the form of an audio book and hit your wooden bff in the head!”
And I was like: “Um, I sold a macrame tree on eBay last week, so I think I’m doing prit-tee well, Mr. Scary Disembodied Voice of the Universe.”
Silence again, then: “How did you know my name?”
“Ha!” I said, pointing up (the Universe is up, even dum dums know this). “Told you I knew stuff.”
“Yeah, but if you had to explain how I–and everything else works–how would you do it?” The Universe asked rather condescendingly.
Eager to prove how brilliant I was, I thought back to all the classes I was forced to take in all those schools my parents continually pressured me to go to: Kindergarten, Junior High, the Community College, Facebook’s School of hard knocks . . . and the thing I could remember from those “ology” classes were diagrams of circles.
Science really loves circles. They especially like concentric circles, spirals and loops.
Rudy tapped me on the shoulder and said: “Um, you really should answer him. He’s the big U. He could kick your butt.”
“Oh yeah,” I looked up into the Universe’s inky, dotty face and said. “Its all about circles!”
Their was a mighty laugh. It sounded a lot like my stomach rumbling, only it was the whole earth’s stomach rumbling. It made me not only hungry but a little insulted.
“Silly small life form,” said the Universe. “Its all about strings!”
Rudy and I looked at each other, which didn’t accomplish much since Rudy doesn’t have eyes and it was really dark. But we were reading each others minds: “Is he talking about spaghetti? I could use some spaghetti right now.”
“Is he talking about spaghetti?” I whispered to Rudy.
“No, I think he’s talking about string beans.”
“I hate beans!” I said.
“Silence!” said the Universe. But he said it really silently, which was like . . . the magicalist thing ever.
Then we heard this whistling sound. Something was definitely falling from the sky. Being the true friend that I am, I pushed Rudy to the ground and ran away.
I heard something hit him hard on the head.
If a wooden man falls in the forest, and his friend is running away at six–no–two miles per hour, does he make a sound?
Answer: Circles! No, strings! Wait . . .
The next morning, Rudy dragged his wooden tush out of My Neighbor’s Back Yard National Park. He was holding this book entitled: The Elegant Universe: Super strings, Hidden Dimensions, and the Quest for the Ultimate Theory.
Actually, it was an audiobook, from the Salt Lake County Library. I marveled at the distribution of that library. I mean, the Universe didn’t even have to place a hold! Now THAT is quick service. I daresay there is no better library in this solar system and I think the inky blackness of the meaningless Universe would agree!
(This concludes my contract with the Salt Lake County library system, I heretofore acknowledge all my debts, fees, fines and liens have been paid, PLEASE STOP SENDING LETTERS!)
Rudy was excited. “I stayed up all night reading this,” he said. “Now I understand why the universe was so interested in strings rather than circles!”
And I was like, “Dude, I haven’t even had my tea yet. Please don’t science me this early in the morning.”
But Rudy (being kind of an inconsiderate jerk) kept going. “String theory! Strings are these super duper tiny things that vibrate. Their rate of vibration determines what kind of particle or atom something is.”
And I was like, “Wait, isn’t that an audio book? How did you read it?”
“String theory!” Rudy said a second time because I want this blog post to pop up in a keyword search.
“String theory, you say?” (that did it)
Rudy huffed, “Strings are so small, they are like about a millionth of a billionth of a billionth of a billionth of a centimeter.”
And I was like, “I hate the Universe.”
Rudy shook his head. “Actually, it is beautiful! Just like strings on instruments vibrate to make music, tiny bits of us vibrate to make physical matter! If you think about it, we are all just physical manifestations of music!”
I stared at him. He stared at me. The universe didn’t stare, he was drinking tea in peace somewhere in the gamma quadrant. Lucky him.
I grabbed the audio book. “Okay, I will listen to this, but only because you recommended it. Not that jerk, the Universe. He said Fantastic Four was a good movie and sitting through that pile of space garbage gave me a hernia. I will never trust his recommendations again!”
“Stupid Universe…” I muttered, heading into my room.
Twelve CD’s later, I stumbled out of my room in a daze. There were quarks and muons and photons and gravitons and black matter and dark matter and people doing weird symbolic things like using photon clocks and so, so, so many big words were said. And I was like:
I opened up the back door and chucked the audio book straight back into the Universe’s mocking arms.
(Later, I had to pay a forty-dollar fine for the audio book. It is my understanding now that the Universe and the Salt Lake County library system are in league)
“Which song?” I grumbled.
There was an awkward pause.
“You are thinking I’m that Taylor Swift song, aren’t you?” I asked.
“I stay out too late, got nothin’ in my brain . . . that’s what people say–”
“Hater’s gonna hate, hate, hate, hate.”
And we danced.
(This Concludes my contract with Taylor Swift, I heretofore acknowledge all my debts, fees, fines and liens have been paid, PLEASE STOP SENDING LETTERS!)
This concludes my review of: The Elegant Universe: Superstrings, Hidden Dimensions, and the Quest for the Ultimate Theory.
We will be reviewing books whenever we can safely get away with neglecting the rest of our commitments. If you would like to connect with Erika and Rudy on Goodreads, click here. If not, then just go dump your head in a bowl of pudding because you aren’t cool, man! You are not cool!
If you would like to reap the rewards of Erika’s wisdom, try subscribing on the link to the left. After all, you tried a Chia pet, you tried Nair, you tried Buddhism, I think you deserve this!
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