The God Syntax

An excitable theorist, he’s a canine sort of lean and though I can’t tell from the back row of 1 Leconte, tall as well. Conceivably French, he’s got those square-rimmed glasses and he gestures spread-handed as he speaks: the particle that imbues all others with mass!

The LHC must be a big deal or something; I haven’t been in a colloquium this crowded since, well, since that fateful antihydrogen one last year. This time it’s all about giant magnets and smashing protons and putting limits on the mass of the Higgs. All stuff I’ve heard before but am always happy to hear again. He pauses breifly at the end of hefty part of the talk, and asks if there are any questions. Someone at the front asks something I can’t hear or don’t remember. Any more questions, the theorist asks. I have one, but I bite my tongue because I’m never really sure how to phrase it: At what point do you, um, stop looking? Do you ever stop looking? At what point do you, um, give up? At what point do you accept the invalidation of your own beliefs?

Once all vocalized inquiries are dealt with, he ends with a charming thought on the plight of the scientist. This being the type of thing that warms the cockels of physicist hearts, the  guy sitting on the aisle step in front of me takes out his pencil and copies it down. I figure (as a vigilante journalist of sorts) I may as well follow suit. I squint up at the presentation slide and read off:

“It is our responsibility to work hard and be patient and humble, in order to observe and interpret Nature as it reveals itself to us.”

It’s a lovely sentence, really. A lovely sentence, save for the errant comma that is likely a relic of translation. But “Nature?” Why did he capitalize “Nature?” I think I know–and surely, it was no error of translation.

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2 Responses to “The God Syntax”

  1. michael9murray Says:

    A lovely piece, really well phrased and weighted. I am almost tempted to say I hear your voice here… but how would I know!

    No, I would have kept that errant comma, simply because I tend to write as if for reading aloud, and a pause for effect or to allow the listener space just there is what i would have done too.

    It’s phooey though, isn’t it, all tis humility business! Without some non-humble grandstand confidence in your approach, subject and potential rewards how could you push on relentlessly in hope of reaching some conclusion? A rhetorical question? Maybe.

  2. that goddamn particle « the daily saga Says:

    […] of this isn’t just a fluke, the number we all needed to convince ourselves that this is, this is for real. He goes on: “We have discovered a new boson with a mass of 125.3 GeV plus/minus 0.6 GeV at a […]

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