Tuesday, 15 May 2007

the Universe and holes in the street

Big doings in CERN today! After thirteen years the final three pieces of the Large Hadron Collider will be lowered into place over the next months. Next summer the circular race of subatomic particles will begin with much smashing and breaking apart it is hoped to show the reenactment of the first trillionth of a second, and earlier of the beginning of the universe, as we know it. So much is riding on this for the physics community, if nothing happens – nothing new- this research may well go the way of manned missions to the moon, and that would be unfortunate indeed.

The hope is to find the Higgs boson (which conceivably endows other particles with mass, aka the God particle) or something entirely new that defines the nature of mass. The never-ending quest for just what it is that constitutes Dark Matter is one of the major questions waiting to be answered. There is even the postulate that the reactor experiments will reveal new dimensions of space-time. So the String Theory boys and girls can polish off their blackboards, and Supersymmetry gets a shot at the golden ring. Personally I will be overjoyed if some light can be shed on quantum gravity and the graviton. That will be a tremendous boon to the possibility of long-term space travel. It is all part of the dream of finding GUTS (grand unified theory of everything) or they could end up chasing their collective highly educated tails, which would call for the theory guys to go back to the blackboard. It is a huge undertaking both in terms of the sheer size of the machines being used and the significance of the data they will or will not find. Exciting stuff!

Don’t you love it when you buy something and it exceeds your expectations? I bought a fairly small external hard drive before leaving the West to back up stuff – at this point I would love to tell you it was my works in progress which while true is not the real purpose. It was to transport my Law and Order (the original, CI, and SVU) episodes and Battlestar Galactica, seasons one and two! There you have it. I find L&O the best writing aid. Once you have seen the episodes there is no need to pay attention, and the cast of characters is very comforting. When I went to Boston for a visit in March I downloaded from I Tunes like mad. I am so pleased the external hard drive continues to hold it all and ask for more. For some reason we cannot download from I tunes here. It stutters and staggers and takes hours and then is out of sync. I don’t know if it is distance, does that make sense? Or our connection, but it is DSL and fairly fast? It is a mystery, one to which I would love a solution. Meanwhile I watch past seasons over and over with much joy.

If you have not read Not Even Star-Crossed, Just Unlucky today, stop reading this and go! Funny, endearing stuff that is!

An unfortunate smell led me to open the front door and stick my head just around the frame. Because I am clothed in only shorts and tee I was unable to step outside and ascertain what was going on. Never fear, my bedroom on the second floor has a handy window just above the bed, double cased in glass doors and then wood doors, giving me an eagle eye view of the street down below, quite handy that is. As I looked down the first scenario I beheld was three Moroccan girls having the same reaction to a roach that had run out of one of the holes (coming up hold on) that I would have to a large rat or snake of any size. Instead of smashing the bloody thing so that it cannot reproduce they “ekk!”ed and jumped up onto the small sidewalk and into the doorway. I am confused about this behavior. Did they not want to get the bottoms of their shoes soiled? Did they fear the roach in a rabid capacity? Is there a prohibition against killing roaches in the Oudaylas?

On to the source of the unfortunate smell – there are seven chaps standing about in those official type overall looking outfits of green and black. Two are knee deep in the two holes now present in my little cobblestone street! Between the two holes are piles of long metal rods of some sort and one of the chaps is screwing them together to make a longer extension. Do we have some sewer issue here? Are they going to give the pipes a high colonic? Will the smell get worse? Are there going to be any explosions? No, there will be tea. One of the neighborhood ladies has just brought out a tray of tea and another of bread and cheese for workers whose jackets I noticed are marked with S.O.S. hmmm…

Apparently not sewage, but the gutter refuge makes its way through there and out to the sea. The chaps in the holes (with gloves!) are pulling out what looks like handfuls of wet grass (?) and smells like sour seaweed. The Oudaylas version of cleaning out the gutters, of which we have none.

After tea: They finished right up (still not really clear on what was going on), pulled out the rods, replaced the stones, and washed down the street. Bada bing bada boom. Very efficient.

M.C. has developed the habit of traveling from the keyboard of my laptop to the keyboard of Q’s laptop. He finds this a satisfactory position to observe goings on and I suspect it warms his bum. The result for us is slowed work pace, some really odd sounds from the computers, and many laughs.
Cleaning out M.C.'s litter box, yet again, it occurs to me that not since the days of potty training of Q have I uttered the phrase, "Nice formed stool!", so often and with such pleasure.


Liz said...

It is amazing what babies and kittens can lead us into saying.

Your landlord sounds brilliant, by the way. I didn't mention it in my previous comment.

scarlettscion said...


lady macleod said...


It is so true about kittens and babies! and such fun.

Yes I agree, Abdul is brilliant!

lady macleod said...


yes dear.

I Beatrice said...

It's as I said in my own blog - everything comes down to tea and biscuits in the end!

Though if I didn't know you were a rocket scientist, I'd have thought you were having a bit of a laugh in the first part!

I'm a bit worried, by the way (and this is just between you and me): I fear you might have got yourself in a position from which there's no escape, when you comment on every blog of mine! Please feel no such obligation.I shall always know you're there - and there is in fact a sense in which a writer of fiction manages better in the entire absence of comments. (Which is just as well for me of course, since that's just about what I get!)

I Beatrice said...

By the way, Lady M -excellent use on your part of the word 'egregious' on my blog the other day!

It's one of those words I've tended to shy away from myself - being nervous of breaking (possible) readers' concentration by obliging them to get the dictionary out...

But you were spot-on with it, in the context of the awful Rose Mountjoy!

wakeupandsmellthecoffee said...

Morocco sounds a bit like the UK and US when it comes to workmen. Have you ever noticed how there are always three of them? One to dig the hole and two to look in it and say yep, that's a hole. As for the tea and biscuits, that happens over here too. Some little old lady will come out with a tray for these guys. I always wonder if they wash their hands. Thanks for sending me over to Darth Sardonic. Good stuff!!

lady macleod said...

I beatrice,

It is my pleasure to comment on your story! It one of the treats of my day when you have a new installment. If lack of comments will assist you - I will of course refrain, otherwise I shall continue to express my joy and gratitude for what to me is an interlude of pleasure.

Yes, if you see a dead body on the floor of your kitchen, the first thing a sensible woman does is make a cup of tea! I wrote a story about that actually..

Thank you for the grammar kudos. the result of a childhood spent in the presence of well educated old white guys.

Thank you for your comments, always!

lady macleod said...


True enough about the workmen.

I know! Wasn't that post on Darth's site hilarious! He is always charming to read, but that was a jewel.

It has to be much more difficult for a chap to be in that position of stay at home job. What with social and cultural mores not having caught up with reality yet. It is a difficult job for any sex, and I think he appears to be handling it with a healthy dose of humor which is essential!

Thank you for coming by.

pluto said...

< Personally I will be overjoyed if some light can be shed on quantum gravity and the graviton.

Ahem, yes, I suppose that would be nice ... so you're into physics as well as Ancient Greek and Hebrew now.
I love reading about the origins of the universe too, and about black holes, and galaxies and our solar system, as long as I can skip over the technical bits. I think quantum gravity's one of the technical bits. Not to mention Supersymmetry.

I Beatrice said...

I love to have you visit me lady m! I just don't want you to feel it has become an obligation.
It's very hard to believe that anyone could actually want to read one, after all the years of struggling alone unread!

But goodness me though, who could all those grammatical old white guys have been?

scarlettscion said...

"If lack of comments will assist you - I will of course refrain, otherwise I shall continue to express my joy and gratitude for what to me is an interlude of pleasure."

Seriously mum? I know you like Jane Austin, but try to remember that it was *satire*. :-P
This may have to do with our aforementioned Hemmingway/Faulkner split. Or Nabokov/Tolstoy one...

lady macleod said...


A wee bit technical, but too much fun! The uptake is, in order to have true long distance space travel (almost a redundancy) we need a functioning gravity bed in the ship, lest the travelers disembark and find they have become overcooked noodles!

Thank you for coming by. Do you read Science Fiction perchance? There is a wonderful series written in the 1940's I believe, called "The Lensmen Series" by E.E. Doc Smith. He creates a universe inhabited by the most extraordinary beings engaged in the most ordinary vices and virtues.

lady macleod said...

I Beatrice,

Believe me when I say it is indeed a pleasure.

lady macleod said...


I stand chastised dearest. Cheeky wench!

pluto said...

> Do you read Science Fiction perchance?

I've read some over the years although I'm not a real fan. Lots of Asimov stories, some Heinlein, A Canticle for Leibowitz, Farenheit 451 ... My favorite maybe was some stories by Robert Sheckley. Does fantasy count? I loved The Earthsea Trilogy by Ursula Le Guin, especially The Wizard of Earthsea. Hard to resist that one if you have a penchant for Jung. I'll check out 'The Lensmen Series' - I've never tried E.E. Doc Smith.

lady macleod said...


Certainly Fantasy "counts"! at least in my world. The Eddings series, Belgariad is wonderful.

Mr Farty said...

Blimey, a Lensman fan who knows what a boson is! How lovely.

One of my nephews has gone to work at CERN, apparently you need a Ph D just to make the coffee there. I have trouble keeping up with him when he explains his work, although luckily he's very patient.