I seem to have developed a lively interest in physics lately. This is actually rather odd, because I don't really understand the first thing about the science, and my reading of the books I have so far purchased has done amazingly little in the way of rectifying my ignorance.
I suppose the two major barriers to my comprehension are math and the counter intuitive nature of the science. Well, add in a third--logic--just for good measure. It seems that very often the compelling implications of quantum physics deteriorate before my eyes into mathematical equations--creatures which numb my mental efforts just as surely as the bite of a rattlesnake paralyzes.
It's like Man, this was just starting to get really interesting, and then the whole then collapsed into algebra!
My father was a high school algebra teacher. I was a high school algebra moron. No matter how I tried--and no matter how he tried--I just never could make heads nor tails of the thing. Many a night I yet vividly remember wherein I sat with him at the dining room table, hot lights blaring, textbook equations blurring, going over and over and over the mechanics of this inconceivable math, even as the TV in the other room whispered of more interesting pursuits, of what I, locked in the prison of numerical calculations, was missing.
My father was not the best teacher in the world. For one thing he did not much like high school aged kids. For another, he was missing the TV shows too. Perhaps he expected more of his own offspring (for, in later years, I happen to know this is how it goes with fathers). Sometimes, out of frustration, out of boredom, trapped within the exchange of self-loathing and vague thoughts of patricide, tears would begin to escape from my eyes--hot, tense, irrepressible tears, which I nonetheless hid (or hoped to hide).
Now, the image that enters my mind at this point, intruding in the most insistent manner--which I figure must somehow be inextricably connected to the subject at hand--is this:
When I was a young man I happened to enter the restroom in a public park. It was raining outside, and cold, and there was no one else in the park, or so it seemed. However, upon entering the restroom I came upon three men, somewhat older than I, engaged in a somewhat complicated homosexual act.
The first man, facing toward me, was standing, and his pants were around his ankles. The second man was bent over, facing the first man, and had the first man's penis in his mouth. The third man was standing behind the second man, and was having anal intercourse with him.
Upon the instant that I entered the restroom, all three men stopped--just froze stock-still--so that the event became, upon my observation, a single motionless frame--like when you press the pause button on your VCR. They were all connected, three yet one, like elephants trunk to tail.
What kind of physics is this? What kind of equation? How would one express it in abstract terms, in a numerical scheme?
Stupid, is it not? How in the world does this image arise, straight out of the maddening mix of math and science?
See Dad, I'm just as dumb as ever. In this I have not failed, from the past time to the present.