March 18: science and me

On the telly science is big. Especially stuff about the universe. If there’s a big bang or a black hole or some dark matter, the ratings go loopy. What’s more, the graphics people have fun. Metallic greens; burnt tungsten oranges; mercury reds; seventh dimension blues. And all kinds of evocations of the resonance of absence, the singularity of the singularity, the seep of dark matter. We’re listening to Xenakis, Nono, Ligeti on the sound track. Contemporary classical music has never been so popular. Sometimes I try and listen to what the professors in their zany offices are saying. We follow them on their bike ride into MIT or peer at them from behind stacks of papers. They are so loveable with their messy hair and dusty glamour. It’s nice to know someone is doing this stuff. And they don’t care about the money. Probably have dollar bills under their pillows and no proper bank account. But the problem when you watch these programmes is that they tell you nothing. The profs say things like. Dark matter is everything that isn’t there. It’s as if you spilt a load of oil all over your new suit and then put on glasses that don’t register oil. This isn’t useful. But it’s the only way they talk. If they’re from California the metaphor normally concerns Apple or Google or Macdonalds as if big corporations  were the only way we have of relating to the world. Imagine you’re CEO for Google and one day you get the wrong elevator and come out in a world where you’re picking up garbage. That’s a black hole. Oh dear. I suppose I’ll never know much about science. At school the science teacher spent a double period trying to set up an experiment with just one nerdy boy taking an interest and the rest of us throwing acid at each other. There must be reasons why they won’t tell me what dark matter is properly. Probably to do with algebra, which doesn’t make for great telly. Still, at least I get to hear some Ligeti on the mainstream networks.

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