Saturday, 17 August 2013

The Tree of All Knowledge

By James Kyle


ADAM: I’ve got something really amazing to tell you. I was sitting under the tree of  knowledge of good and evil ... and an apple fell on my head. (Holds up apple)

EVE: Well, that is amazing.

ADAM:  Wait, wait, I haven't finished yet. You see it made me think about why things always fall down and never up. (Drops apple from one hand to another) It made me realise that matter must attract matter and this resulting force, let’s call it gravity, not only explains why the apple falls towards the earth but also, and you’ll be really impressed by this, explains why the moon orbits the earth. And that’s not all, because I then realised my new theory of gravity was merely a description of what is - it said nothing about the mechanism that brings this about. So it got me thinking that to really explain all this we would need to hypothesise a massive subatomic particle with zero electric charge whose existence would underpin the origin of mass in the universe.  Let’s call it the Higgs boson particle. And this particle would explain the difference between the massless photon, which mediates electromagnetism, and the massive W and Z bosons, which mediate the weak force. What do you think?

EVE: It looks really tasty.

ADAM: What?

EVE: The apple looks delicious. (Reaches out for apple)

ADAM: (Holding apple away from Eve) Wait a minute - what planet are you on? It’s an apple.

EVE: So?

ADAM: He has forbidden us from eating the fruit of the apple tree. Remember?

EVE: Oh yeah – I keep forgetting he made us agree to that silly rule.

ADAM: Forgetting! It’s the only rule there is: don’t eat the fruit of the big tree that stands right in the middle of the garden. How can you forget the one rule we have to remember?

EVE: Because it’s a silly rule – and arbitrary. Why not a rule that says: don’t brush your teeth on a Tuesday.

ADAM: Tuesday?

EVE: Yeah, Tuesday, remember we agreed it would be the day after Monday.

ADAM: Oh right.

EVE: See, it’s easy to forget stuff.

ADAM: Fine, but not eating the apples is important. OK?

EVE: OK, I got it.

ADAM: I have to admit, I do wonder what he does with all those apples.

EVE: All those nice cider apples?

ADAM:  Ah. OK. .... anyway, what about my idea of gravity?

EVE: That you’ve realised that things fall down?

ADAM: Yeah.

EVE: I suppose it may be of some significance.

ADAM:  (brightly) Yeah?

EVE: It just might help a bit.

ADAM:  (puzzled) Help?

EVE: Yes, when you finally get round to building a swing for the kids. But obviously right now obsessing about falling apples is higher on your priority list.

ADAM:  I am not obsessing. I am … theorising.

EVE: And why do you want to theorise?

ADAM:  To advance our understanding of our world of course. I am sure that at the heart of our universe there is a deep truth that underpins our existence and the structure of the world around us.

EVE: OK, but why theorise – why not just ask him?

ADAM: Oh, he’s not talking to me at the moment.

EVE: Why’s that?

ADAM:  I was discussing my latest thoughts on quantum mechanics with him and how it is obvious that probability is inherent in the fundamental structure of the universe – and he just stormed off saying “I do not play dice”.  That was 10 days ago and I haven’t seen him since.

EVE: So that was why he didn’t show up for Sunday lunch.

ADAM: I guess so. I hope it’s not as bad as the time I brought up the big bang theory.

EVE: Oh god, yeah, I remember that, we didn’t see him for weeks.

ADAM: Actually this time I think he’s just a bit embarrassed.

EVE: Why?

ADAM: Because I think the truth is he’s always playing dice and doesn’t want to admit it.

EVE: Oh - a bit of a gambling problem?

ADAM: Yeah. That’s what I was thinking.

EVE: So there you go - there’s your deep truth.

ADAM: What’s that?

EVE: The universe’s creator is a gambling addict who has a fondness for more than the odd glass of cider.

ADAM: Eh, right.

EVE: Good – and now we’ve sorted that out– when do you start on the swing?