Beads & Particle Physics

"What really amazes me is that I'm the same person when I wake up that I was when I went to bed," the voice from the other pillow said. "I mean, if you think about it, we're different, every drop of rain that falls on us, every moment that goes by...."

Virginia rolled over in bed, and looked at Gary. At 6:00 in the morning, with 20/900 vision, he was an indistinct blur. "You've got to be kidding!" she said. "Where do you come up with that stuff, this hour in the morning?"

"I'm serious," he said. "It's a problem of continuity. I think about this a lot. We're all subject to physical law. Things are changing constantly on the micro scale. We can't predict position and momentum at the same time - you know, Heisenberg and Planck, and so on.... What do you think makes things go on appearing the same, even though we know the underlying structure has got to be different?"

"Uh, I dunno. I suppose the changes must cancel out so things appear the same on the macro scale. Are you sure you wouldn't like to get up and make some coffee?"

"Yeah, but that's just the point," Gary said. "Why do they cancel out, if that's what they do? How come you seem the same to me every morning?"

"Is that supposed to be a subtle put down, or what?" Virginia said. "Don't push it, big boy! If you want to make it up to me, you can go downstairs and bring some coffee up."

"OK, OK, I'll get the coffee. But first..., it's like beads - you expect beads to change ... you know, dye lots and so on. That happens all the time. So, why do we expect people to stay the same? Why are people the same?"

"You're serious, aren't you? You're crazy! It's 6:00 in the morning and we're in the middle of darkest Bohemia and you're talking particle physics and philosophy! Don't you ever quit?"

"Answer me, or I'll tickle you to death!"

"Stop it! Stop! I can't stand it!"

"OK, you have 30 seconds to give me a better answer than Aristotle or Einstein and Rosen. Go! Or, it's death by tickle...."

"Uh...uh...beads are glass which means sand and a bunch of chemicals, maybe some cobalt if you want blue, for example, and...."

"You're stalling. Remember the unsolved tickle murders in Portland, last year...? You could be next!"

"Uh...OK, got it! Beads change because of subtle differences in input composition. Like the water in these old Bohemian beads. Mikhal said his grandfather had to haul water from the old well to the new factory, because otherwise they couldn't get the same finishes on the beads, even though the formula was the same. And, the Communists were never able to duplicate them...."


"But, people..., we're really not stuff! We're a pattern, like a bead design. Events, the beads of our life, are always changing, but, within limits..., we stay the same. The pattern that is us just takes what it needs and continues So, in a sense, it's better the more varied events we are involved in, or are exposed to, 'cause that makes it easier to find the parts that are supposed to be us. 'Le plus c'est change, le plus c'est semble.' but with a twist....

"In other words, you're saying you need more, different kinds of beads to really be yourself. Nice try, Blakelock! But, I'm wise to your tricks, See this? It's the tickle finger of fate....and you're about to find out what happens to wives who try to con their husbands into buying more beads!"

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