Brian's Law

Physics is pure objectivity. There’s no place 
for subjectivity in physics.
                                                                  --Albert Einstein

THEY SAY IT ALL BEGAN some 14 billion years ago, give or take. Nobody was there of course, but that's what they say. You have to admit people who can get their mind around something like this, that it was 14 billion years and not 14 trillion years or maybe even a whole lot less, are impressive and have to be few and far between. I know I could never have figured it out, not in a hundred lifetimes. And not only that, they figured out how it all happened too, well almost anyway. First there was nothing, or practically nothing, and then, by some quantum quirk or other, this strange thing happens to show up. No warning, no explanation, no nothing. Just this strange something suddenly there, a packet of incredible energy that held all the power you need to run a universe. Just imagine, all the power for the zillions of galaxies, to say nothing of our own sun and our puny earth- quakes and hurricanes, all there right from the get go. All this in whatever it was that just came along with no place to go because before it came along, there was no such thing as place. Not even a place for it to happen.

Really strange, though of course whatever happened just then couldn't really have been strange, when you think about it, because who was around to think, Hmm, that's odd. Okay, maybe God was around, but he wouldn't have said anything like that. This first something or other could have struck him like an artist might feel when he steps back from his canvas, Hey, that's really good!, but hardly strange.

Anyway, to get on with it, these physicists say what happened was that this unforeseeable some- thing just appeared, out of nowhere, the closest thing to nothing that you could get and still be something, the first something ever, and it had so much pent up energy that it started to inflate itself at blinding speed like a huge cosmic balloon. And on top of it, it had to create the vast cosmic space it needed as it went. And they say it hasn't let up, it’s still expanding like crazy, and still making room for itself as it rips merrily along in all directions at once.

Truly amazing. So now we have this tiny little spec of whatever inflating itself with a cosmic roar, and all kinds of new things start to show up on stage, a whole mess of unheard of oddballs—quarks and pions and neutrinos and anti-neutrinos and whatever, and then, out of that incredible soup, completely new things like atoms and molecules and eventually, way, way down the pike, even things like tennis balls, and, thank God, our rare, ex nihilo physicists. What would we do without them?

I don't know what to marvel at most, actually, that something should have just inexplicably popped up from nowhere, bringing along with itself the somewhere it needed for itself to happen, or what this crazy spec of energy wound up producing, the teeming world we have today and these incredible genius minds. First we have this unheard of "singularity," then quarks, molecules, and eventually ecto- plasm that organizes itself into thin folds of grey matter with PhDs that give out theories of every- thing, explaining it all, lock, stock and barrel, start to finish.

Talk about the tail wagging the dog!

Think about it. From molecular soup to a theory of everything, in real time, while the whole shebang is still blowing up! You wonder if it keeps on going, what unheard of things will happen next? Maybe we will be able to go back in time and take a grandstand seat and watch it happen! I can see it now: some university physics lab with a ticket booth to the greatest show on earth. Not my idea, mind you. Some of these guys really think time is a shuttlecock, not an arrow, so why not double back to the starting line some day. No kidding, we owe these gents a great debt, since it really bothers a guy/gal not to know where she/he came from, or where we're all heading on this crazy cosmic rollercoaster. I'm really serious. Not that any of it is good news exactly. It's all supposed to collapse one day in on itself, time, space, and all the stuff, PhD's included, all buried in some infinitesimal black sink hole with no place to go again. I can see why some guy cried out, Stop the world, I want to get off. Must have been one of those brainy astrophysicists who saw the end coming. Or maybe one of those guys who swallowed that line that if you could see out far enough, all you'd be looking at is the back of your own head. So much for visionaries. Like I said, these guys are really something.

Well, that's enough of that. This is supposed to be a story about one of those brainy, latter day developments of the Big Bang, about a little snot by the name of Brian Albert Einstein McCor, a budding boy genius with a mop of hair just like Einstein's, a fourteen-year-old who had everything all figured out by himself. A lot of people took this spunky little brat for some kind of singularity in his own right and would have loved to find a black hole to stuff him in!

No doubt about it, Brian was a prodigy. But obnoxious. “A boy your age should be polite to people,” his mother would tell him.

But Brian said he wasn’t being rude. “Is it my fault if people don't know what they are talking about?” he would answer.

His mother would pat his hair down at such times and tell him, “Don’t ask so many questions. Just be nice. And promise you'll get a haircut.”

Brian entered the freshman class at Princeton right after his fourteenth birthday with an already declared concentration in physics. Not very deep into his freshman year, Brian's mother was asked to drop by and see the head of the physics department, Prfessor Zelnitsky. He wanted to talk to her about her son . . . .