Thursday, May 21, 2009

Of Scientists and Snails...

Okay, fine. Fine. I confess...I do NOT understand PHYSICS. I am an educated woman. I can manage complex issues with challenging people. I can organize huge projects single-handedly. I can whip you up a scrapbook or a pot of chili or a rhyming poem, but I cannot grasp the concept of antimatter. It's matter, or it ISN'T. How can there be an anti?

We're going to see Angels and Demons on Saturday night, and I'm really looking forward to it. I loved The DaVinci Code, book and film, and I love any excuse for a date with my husband. I have been determined to read the book before I see the movie, and I swear...I had to read the first 40 pages like EIGHT TIMES to understand what the hell they were talking about before I finally said FORGET IT. I will just allow for the fact that there's this canister of swirling liquid stuff that could destroy Vatican City. FINE. Now, when does the kissing start? When do we climb into the creepy crypts?

I love the parts with the complex symbology clues from the great masters of poetry and art. I love the descriptions of the streets of Rome and the St. Peter's Basilica and the sassy, scientific heroine. All good. But I do NOT enjoy an entire plot based on a scientific premise that I should get, but don't.

When I was in high school, we were offered Physics as a science my senior year. I only had to take three science classes in high school, so my alternative for Physics was Level Five French. Now, if you took Level Five French, you were promised a field trip in May to Le Bleh Bleh Bleh, some fancy French restaurant in Boston. So, my options were studying Newton's Laws, or eating escargot. I picked the snails. And you know what? We didn't even get to go. I forget why we didn't get to go, but for some reason, she wouldn't take us on the trip. It could have been the fact that Andy and Bruno took every test with their head swiveled behind them to steal answers, or it could be that we all confessed that we didn't particularly enjoy having to read Satre in French (Huis Clos...though I do remember frequently to this day the concept of hell being other people...and I know who mine are!) I loved Le Petit Prince and Le Monstre Dans Le Metro...but sadly, those two titles pretty much sum up my entire remaining French repertoire. (Oh, wait...doesn't repertoire totally count??) The point is, I took an entire year of advanced French and never got to go on the freaking field trip. Chris and Lisa opted for Physics, and Lisa will tell you that Chris, who was brilliant at it, got her through it. (Funnily enough, Chris is now the Science Department Head at the high school that Patrick attended. Yeah. My life's weird.) It somehow makes me feel better because another Smart Woman I Like did not understand physics, either.

I sometimes think that I need to repair my disappointment about the French Restaurant, since it's been exactly twenty years and CLEARLY I'm not over it. I should just go and buy my own damned escargot. I might need to put that on my list of things to accomplish in this self-declared Summer of Vibrancy and Joy.

Anyhoo...the book's great, and I'm more than halfway through. I'll forgive myself the physics and enjoy reading about Raphael and John Milton and Michelangelo, and keep my knowledge of Galileo on the need-to-know basis it's been since high school. I've survived without it pretty well so far.


  1. Just started A&D myself, for the same reason. I get the antimatter part, and let's see if I can sum it up and help you out...

    If the Kelly in the mirror stepped out of the mirror into our world, everything would seem the same to her - but not. Off. It would resonate, but not harmonize. It would be the same, but completely opposite to expectations.

    Matter is like that with Antimatter. And if they were ever to touch - because of their same but completely opposite nature, they both must cease to exist. Instantly. That's the explosive part. Total and complete annihilation, in a moment. And the energy that's released is the purest, most efficient translation of matter to energy theoretically possible.

    It would create something even more destructive than you in the morning without your coffee...

  2. Oh, goodness! That IS scary. But yes. I think understand what you mean about resonating but not harmonizing. Thank you for the insight...mystery person. :)

  3. I already put the movie on my Netflix account since I clearly won't get to the movies anytime soon. So don't spoil the ending!

  4. I do remember eating escargot with you once about 14 years ago. Although I think I enjoyed it, I don't think I'll be partaking again. I'll enjoy watching you partake, though. :)

  5. I've had escargot once and while it's not one of the three foods I won't eat, it's certainly not super high on my list.

  6. "How can there be an anti??"

    Ironically, that's the kind of question a good scientist would ask. I always thought physics was more about the questions than the answers. The answers usually get proven wrong, or at least incomplete, sooner or later anyway. The questions, though, have the power to spark the imagination. I love that.