Monday, March 1, 2010

Dr. Strange-love or: How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Fake Quantum Mechanics*


(These characters are from my work-in-progress. As background, here's a condensed description of the book: Anna and Colin, soulmates who have never met face-to-face, must decide whether to endure the heartbreak of remaining apart.  For the sake of others, but also to protect the transcendental relationship they've forged in the ether between them.)


I am a wave.

You are a particle.

I am a song.

You are a musician.

I am what-could-be.

You are right-now.

I am a dream?

You are illusion, and a hard reality.  You are pleasure, and pain. 

I am in love with you.

You think you know me.

I am in love with you.

You’re committed to another man.

My wavelength is long.  It stretches an ocean.

So that at any one moment, neither of us can know where you truly dwell.

Colin.

What?

You feel me now?

. . .

Colin?

Anna.

You feel me now.

I feel you now.

Where do you feel me?

All over.  I feel you all over.  

What do I feel like?

A song.

. . .

You feel like a song.

I am a wave.

Yes.  But I am also a particle.  Many millions of light years away.

We will never meet?

. . .

We will never meet.

Are you familiar with Schrödinger's cat?

Yes.

If we were to meet, the wave would collapse upon itself.  Everyone who observed it would see something defined and ugly.  Including us.  The cat would be dead inside its box. 

It might be alive.

Anything's possible.  From here.

We are cowards.

We are smart.   

Colin?

Yes.

I want to touch you.  I want to know what that's like.  

Then touch me, Anna.

My mind is an ocean locked inside its skull. And yet--

Darling.    

Our slightest momentum stirs the most magnificent waves.


-------


* Seriously. I don't know what I'm talking about. But if you're interested in wave-particle duality, Heisenberg's Uncertainty Principle, or that slippery puddy-cat, check out these handy Wikipedia links. And for all you smarty-pants out there, feel free to humiliate me in the comments section. In my defense, I was a bio major. Hey, we were cuter than the physicists. Very possibly, probably. 

22 comments:

Karen said...

Never understood it; won't pretend to understand it, but I'm an English major. I think it's either to be, or not to be. Or maybe not. Life's an essay question, isn't it? ;-)

Beautiful writing, as always, Sarah. I can feel the relationship from this short passage.

Charles Gramlich said...

Did you ever read: "Schrodinger's Kitten" by George Effinger? He played around with this concept in that. It's a fascinating subject and your piece captures the feel of it, I think.

. said...

I liked the whole feel of it.
Though I couldn't make out what they were talking about.

It reminded me of the movie 'the lake house'.

Keep writing.
Would love to read your book.
p.s-do peek into my blog when you get time?

David Cranmer said...

Very intriguing. It reminds me of my conversations with my charmer about the great distances we went to meet.

the walking man said...

I majored in buffoonery. Once I consistently performed at a 3.6 GPA I knew I was never going to be able to major in anything so I dropped out.

The reduction of the being to molecular particles that can be spread in any direction desired through any layer perceived...simply makes sense to me.

If biology majors were cuter than physics majors then what degree is there for them of no presence that allows for beauty?

Sarah Hina said...

Karen, I shoulda been an English major. I was following the dreams of others by staying in science. Besides, you guys were the fairest of them all. ;)

Thanks for your kindness here. This was kind of a self-indulgent exercise for me. There are big ideas in physics that have always intrigued me, in spite of my poor understanding. The quantum theory of love is a long-standing book idea I've had (though I don't know if this passage will make the present novel).


Charles, I haven't read it, but now I want to. I love confusing abstract relationships with abstract...well, relationships. It's not a perfect comparison, but I think there's something to be said for our dualities.


., thank you for coming by and commenting! I was worried that I was getting too cute (and pretentious) with this one. But I liked "The Lake House," too, and I'm happy you found a link there.

I'll be sure to stop by your blog soon. :)


David, I'd love to hear that story sometime. I'm always captivated by relationships that have endured long odds and great distances. Besides, I just love the fact that you call her your "charmer." :)


Mark, I learned much more about myself after college. And about the world around me. I don't doubt that you've accumulated many degrees in life by now. Anyone who stumbles across your blog can instantly see what a fine teacher you are.

I was being facetious about the looks thing. I admire those who go into the hard sciences, largely because I know I could never hack it. So I had to level the playing field somehow, right?? ;)

Tamarind~ said...

Wow.. I just loved what I read. I'm not sure whether it had a beginning or and end.. but it took me along! Great style!

Susan Deborah said...

Sarah: This was so fascinating. Almost like the stream of conscious that niggles one's mind when there is love, pain, lust and affection in a conglomerate.

"My wavelength is long. It stretches an ocean" - - A very striking line.

I know that Anna and Colin cannot make it but I wish they atleast touch!

Joy always,
Susan

strugglingwriter said...

Yay for Quantum Physics and yay for this story. Love it.

I just bought a book kinda about quantum physics and time travel (non-fiction). I'll admit these concepts blow my mind (especially the one about how a particle in one place can effect one miles away), but I still find it fascinating.

Paul aka strugglingwriter

catvibe said...

Oh yeah! I love the reference to S.'s cat. It's the knowing that reality will never match the fantasy they have in their heads from their positions far away. And yet in the intimacy of their 'chat' they are touching, I can feel it in the words, the sense of oneness, of intimacy that doesn't need bodies to experience it. They are already sinning tho. Bad bad children, them. ;-)

Aniket said...

Well I am about as techie a guy as you'll ever meet. Big fans of Sheldon from the big bang theory, us.

We love to read and discuss Schrodinger's cat and other concepts on string theory. That along with theories on time streams, parallel universe, interdimension worm holes are our favorite dinner time conversations.

And I can tell you with utmost certainty that this cat IS ALIVE. I louuvhed the 'I feel you like a song' line. Such a beautiful analogy. There couldn't be a better expression for completeness, right?

Glad you're out of your room. :D

joaquin carvel said...

i am facinated by these ideas too, probably because the truth of them is a mystery to me. usually if it's not in a "for dummies" format it might as well be in chinese. but this - this is the language of science traslated for the heart - in the most maddening and wonderful tug-o-wars there is. and that last line is amazing. i want it to continue.

Sarah Hina said...

Tamarind~, what a great compliment! Thank you for it. :) This piece is definitely an interlude in a larger story.


Susan, I wish it, too. The ending's a long way off, so who knows? ;)

You so aptly described the mix of emotions I wanted to convey. Thank you for your perceptive reading and kind words, Susan!


Paul, me too! That book sounds great. I'm intrigued by "butterfly effects," too. How the slightest perturbation somewhere can set off a chain reaction miles away. I think that's especially true now, considering how closely connected the world is.

Thank you for your warm words here. :)


Cat, you're right. They are touching, if in a very idealistic, nebulous way. The lines are blurred. But the smoke of guilt usually means there's gotta be a fire somewhere.

Your Claire and Francis are appealing to an even higher love. If only we were all saints... ;)


Aniket, I don't watch too many sitcoms anymore, but The Big Bang Theory is awesome! :) Sheldon is the funniest character on tv.

I haven't gotten around to string theory yet. Maybe all of us bloggers can get together for dinner sometime, and you can enlighten us, Professor Thakkar. ;)

Thanks for the comment about that line. I'm a sucker for any sweet (or bittersweet) song, so it felt right to me.


Joaquin, it felt like something was squeezing my brain while I read up on this stuff. But I wanted to get the spirit of it right. To "translate" it, just as you described. Thank you. :)

It will continue. There's too much momentum for them (or me) to stop it here.

Rick said...

I absolutely loved this piece, Sarah. It's a stand-alone moment of duality and hope. You have, as always, a lovely and intriguing mind. I can't wait to read more.

Jennifer said...

I am so intrigued by why they cannot meet! Especially when the pull is that strong. There must be Enormous Things they would pull down with them--and I CANNOT wait to read all about it! :)

Have you ever read "Belong to Me" by Marisa de los Santos? I started it on vacation last year for something "light" but it actually has a heavy subplot, and I wasn't in the mood for it. But anyway one of the characters is a young kid--maybe 14?--and he is a genius and there is a lot about string theory in the book. It was fascinating to me how she wove it through the narrative, how much she had to know or learn to write his character. I was most impressed, as I am here, now, reading this!

Sarah Hina said...

Rick, so good to see you! I love that you saw hope here. It's a tenuous situation, and they're probably a little crazy, but what the heck, I saw it, too. :)

Your comments always bring a smile, Rick. Thank you for that.


Jennifer, I would love to be knowledgeable and adept enough to weave these elements throughout the book. Maybe I need to hit those Wikipedia links again. ;)

Enormous Things...yes. The see-saw between love/desire and integrity is not a new one in fiction, but I hope the circumstances under which these characters meet will be intriguing enough to make their will-they/won't-they storyline compelling for the reader. I hope.

Thank you, Jennifer! You always make me excited to share my work. :)

Obsidian Eagle (ItzQuauhtli) said...

For a non-scientific take on Quantum Mechanics - I'd say it hits strikingly close to the mark.

Most forget that the Copenhagen Interpretation is as much about perception as it is about mathematical probability (observation affects the calculations).

Since we do not yet know (and may never know) for certain what consciousness actually IS - science is still missing a rather large chunk of the picture. It then falls on the shoulders of philosophers and poets to address some of these larger issues.

So again, IMO, you've done a great job here of demonstrating both probability and perception via poetry. Kudos for that!

- ItzQuauhtli, Herald of Quetzalcoatl

Sarah Hina said...

Obsidian Eagle, thank you for that! I'm so happy that you came by here--I was waiting for someone to stop by who has a true understanding of the theories. I must say I feel a little relieved that I didn't butcher things too badly. :)

The unknown inspires leaps of all kinds, from every kind of imagination. I think any trek into its depths increases understanding, as you so rightly said.

Thank you for your kind, insightful comments.

Nevine said...

Heisenberg, huh? I had a wacky professor when I was in college... a Clinical Psychology professor, who insisted that all of psychology could be explained through that principle. It took lots of brain-squeezing on my part to finally understand where his insanity was coming from and to see that there was a method there. You've brought back so many nice memories...

And this dialogue that reads like an inner monologue in some places... like the two characters are but one... with their insecurities over reality vs. illusion... their insecurities over not knowing who they really are or where they are or what they're doing there... But hope springs eternal, right? And that's why I just loved that last line. I like when you experiment like this, Sarah. Experimenting with wacky principles makes for the best writing... that, I know is a reality! ;-)

Nevine

Sarah Hina said...

Nevine, it's funny, because I just saw the Coen brothers' film, "A Serious Man," in which they play around with these concepts too...and to much better effect.

There is often a sharp break between the "reality" we hold in our minds and the observable one outside of ourselves. We dance back and forth across that line--altering it with the ripples we make--and I'm not sure whether the mind is ultimately a refuge or prison, or both. But yes, it will squeeze some drop of hope out of every uncertainty and unknown. That is a certainty. :)

Thank you for the kind and insightful comments here, Nevine. They are always appreciated!

Coyopa said...

Hi Sarah - lovely writing.

I studied Theoretical Physics for a few years until it burned out in me and I moved onto the Vedas.

(Whispers) I say: do what you like with quantum physics... The more we regard physical laws as poetry rather than prose, the more chance we have of dancing...

Did you ever read Amanda & The Eleven Million Mile High Dancer? That was in this kind of territory, if I remember rightly. And when I was interested in Quantum Physics, one of my favourite introductions was In Search of Schrodinger's Cat by John Gribbin.

Lovely. Keep on playing & dancing in the possibility-waves...

Sarah Hina said...

Coyopa, I haven't read either one, but I may add them to my growing stack. Thank you for the suggestions! And for swinging by here. It's truly appreciated.

I like what you said. There is poetry in the unknown. For me, poetry's often about naming the nameless, and tapping into the purest state or feeling. Those waves have a way of pulling me in, whether I like it or not. I'm glad I'm not alone in that.

Thanks again. :)