Particle physics

We’ve done a fair bit of exhaustion in these parts recently. People keep saying how tired they are and that they’ll be going to bed soon. The other evening Daughter was shattered and said she was off to bed really early.

So how come she turned up in my kitchen just before midnight, wanting to tell me about particle physics? I mean there’s tired, and then there’s tired. You could end up in the kitchen looking for a glass of milk, hoping it will send you to sleep when nothing else works.

You listen to your child, because you’re meant to. And as I still had some life left in me that midnight, I was up for the particle physics.

But it was long. Awfully long. You know how when you don’t actually understand very much of something, you pay a lot of attention to every single step of the explanation, in case it’s essential for grasping the final concept? So I tried to visualise every step of the way, only to come to the conclusion that my attention could have skipped some of the bits at the beginning.

As I mentioned to Daughter that she might have picked a slightly shorter route, it struck me that this is often the case when you write something. You need to know how much you can leave out. (And I’ll thank you not to suggest the whole of this blog post.) I’m fairly sure I almost got it.

Or was she thinking it’d send me to sleep?

Mercifully I have forgotten most of it again.

12 responses to “Particle physics

  1. Never has a blog entry spoken to me so directly. Physics. Son (17) felt a terrible need to explain Simple Harmonic Motion to me at 11pm last night. With sines and cosines and graphs and formulas and lending me his calculator so I could work through an example.
    It was awfully long too.

  2. Oh, how awful! I mean, how lovely to be sharing sines and cosiness…

    It’s sweet that they don’t reckon we’re past it. I thought about you yesterday. That must have had something to do with it.

  3. Lovely post! I find I manage to listen less and less to any story longer than 12 words these days, especially if it involves physics or quadratic equations (a favourite in our house). Might just brick up my eyes and move inside my own brain permanently…..

  4. The dogs do quadratic equations? I never quite got the hang of them myself. Or maybe it was just the algorithms?

  5. Whooh quadratic equations. (I’m doing them in maths at the moment)
    But I’m one of those people, who will explain something really long and complicated, even though I know the other person doesn’t understand a word. It’s like a clarification thing.
    If you say it out loud, it settles in your head and it’s easier for YOU to understand. i And it’s almost worth all the thinking, when you see the confused look on peoples faces when you’re finished.

  6. You could sit in a closet and speak to no one in particular, and learn that way.

  7. Particle physics is simplicity itself compared to some of the games my son (5) tries to play with me. He says let’s play Toy Story. I say okay, great. But it turns out this is Toy Story 4, or 6 (or in one case, Toy Story Zero), the plot of which only he knows, and isn’t telling, though he is nonetheless apoplectic whenever anyone else makes ‘a mistake’ (i.e. any suggestion at all). Gluons are way preferable.

  8. So you have a future author on your hands, then. Get a grip on yourself and try to keep up. Or make your own Toy Story.

  9. Yes, everyone says he is a mini-me. I had no idea I was so maddening.

  10. Now you know what your parents went through.

  11. Dear Witch, I am sorry to hijack your broomstick but I wanted to let Nick know that after my daughter read the Catkin books she put him down on the school library suggestions list for books the students would like to be bought. She was very pleased to find they had arrived this term.
    That’s all.
    Thanks.
    Hilary

  12. Hijack away. Good school. And good daughter, obviously.

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