June 30, 2009

Why I am not a Chemist

In a Physics class I took,
back when I wanted to be
a chemist, a gray-haired old
man talked mostly with his
hands, trying to conquer our
understanding by an act
of will. “Complex mathematics
describe the world we live in,”
he gestured at a room full
of vacant stares, “a large
mass can warp the very fabric
of space time.” The professor
was setting up a large rubber
sheet in some aluminum frame.
when the general murmuring
subsided, he pushed his left fist
down in the center of the sheet,
talking now, throwing around
equations. With his other hand,
he released a marble,
on the far end of the molested
rubber surface. This marble promptly
rolled towards his depressed fist.
In this simulacra of gravity,
he made us understand
the inner workings of this
all persuasive force. He gave
a bemused smile as we learned,
“Newtonian laws work well, but
only experimentally.”