Last night at midnight I stretched out upon a sofa and turned the television on, flipping through stations until I landed on a PBS special which sounded interesting. They were examining Einstein’s equation “e=mc2” by breaking down each element in the equation and giving a history of the most important scientists to develop those parts. For example, first they turned to Michael Faraday, the British scientist whose research gave rise to the notion that magnetism and electricity and other such forces are not entirely separate forces but are instead all related in the one concept of “energy.” Then they turned to an 18th century Frenchman whose name I can’t pronounce, who through intense exactness and calculation recognised that all mass is fixed–when something decays, its matter changes form, but if one were to add up all of the consequential substances, the total mass would exactly match the original amount (the example given–burn wood, and the mass of the smoke molecules, ashes, and so on, when added together, would equal exactly the mass of the original piece of wood). Here they talked about the universe as a “closed system” from which nothing truly enters or exits…and here I started falling asleep.
Don’t get me wrong, I found the material fascinating, and I heard snatches of what followed in the next few minutes: the fact the “C” is used to represent the speed of light due to the Latin word “celeritas,” meaning quickness or swift. Thought that was interesting.
But after I woke up half an hour later, to move to my bed, my head was in full turning, processing and analising several things at once. It was now early morning of the 21st, both in date and century, and so I wrote my thoughts down in the darkness of my bedroom. Some thoughts stemmed from my evening with friends playing cards and talking, other thoughts from the study of Hebrews I am undertaking, and still others regarding capillary attraction/capillarity, which is “the action by which the surface of a liquid where it is in contact with a solid is elevated or depressed depending upon the relative attraction of the molecules of the liquid for each other and for those of the solid” (how does that work?).
But I began to wonder too about the notion of the universe as a closed system. Is the universe truly a closed system? How would this correspond to a slowly expanding universe, if indeed it is expanding? But of course, I think of the fact that while seeds are planted and water is poured, it is God Who makes it grow, and it is God Who knits all men and women together in our mothers’ wombs–does this not defy the “closed system”? Since I began working out again, I have gained fifteen pounds, seemingly of muscle–how would one compute the source of this mass gain? It seems as if Life defies the closed system…
P.S. Last week, during colder weather, I wrote the beginnings of a poem concerning wintertime, and now as the air has turned cool again (with rain, not snow–alas) I thought I would share the stanza with you…
O Winter, Thou silent memento mori
With breath as cold as Death doth breathe
To unmask trees both grim and hoary
‘Til they with frozen fury seethe,
Now unmasketh me.
What do you think–should I keep working on it or let it fall?