Staying in tonight. I’m rather late to the “Zero Dark Thirty” party (inappropriate, I know) but I’m glad I saw it. I’m aware that some liberties have been taken (seriously, was there ever a historically inspired film whose creators stayed 100% true to the narrative?) but I’d like to think it was the right move. Controversy aside, ZDT is a powerful film.
I count my laptop film-viewing experience a success when I hit the pause key less than five times to check on social media or whatnot. Fortunately, the drama, tension and suspense were enough to keep me reeled in. I saw “The Great Beauty” yesterday, which was quite the slow burner. Despite its sublimity and grandeur (props to director Paolo Sorrentino), I had to take a number of breaks. Still, I enjoyed the experience. Toni Servillo (plays Jep Gambardella) has this aura that captivates the viewer. I plan on seeing TGB again just to digest it further. Ah, European cinema.
I just finished reading Brian Greene’s “The Elegant Universe,” which narrates the author’s pursuit to unravel the deepest mysteries of the cosmos through Super String Theory or simply String Theory. Wielding his mastery of language, Greene deftly weaves the story of his experiences with the inevitable technicalities crucial to the science this Pulitzer Prize-nominated book seeks to impart.
Heads up. Some mind f*ck is coming your way.
Like any man of science worth his salt must do, Greene eases the reader in with the more fundamental concepts of physics and steadily builds on them. He leads with Einstein’s theories of relativity and Quantum Mechanics. Alright, maybe they’re not so fundamental.
Some of you may be raising your eyebrows. I know what you’re thinking: the theories of relativity and Quantum Mechanics do not agree! How is it possible that such seemingly conflicting theories are used together?
(Note: I don’t plan on giving you an all-encompassing explanation for String Theory simply because it would be foolish to even think of trying. This is just a blog entry and I’m nothing but a faux-cisist wannabe. As it is, I’m out of my league.)
By capitalizing on the idea that the theories of relativity apply mainly to objects of enormous scale (planets, stars) and things that travel in extreme speeds (light), and that Quantum Mechanics manifests itself in the sub-atomic realm (electrons, other particles), String Theory is able to reconcile the supposedly clashing schools of thought to paint a grander picture.
Common knowledge dictates that four dimensions exist in our world: three for space and one for time. String Theory suggests otherwise. It insists that there are at least ten dimensions. You read that right. Ten. Dimensions. String physicists theorize that if you zoom into an open space closely enough, you’ll spot what they call Calabi-Yau shapes. Named after the two mathematicians responsible behind their discovery, these shapes are curled up and exist in six dimensions.
Curious things, aren’t they? Because they’re so small, we are unable to perceive them with our bare senses. Waving your hand in the air does nothing; your arm just bypasses the microscopic dimensions.
According to String Theory, atoms are not the smallest bits of matter in the universe. Strings are! Bet you didn’t expect that. These fine vibrating strings make up the fabric of space and time. No one has actually proven the existence of such strings because the technology we require to be able to zoom into that scale of space hasn’t been invented yet. Instead, several mathematicians and physicists have proven it through complex equations but I’m not about to go into that. I’ll wager they were relieved that their computations thus far are consistent with the equal sign.
So. What is String Theory’s thesis statement? What’s its main idea? If I had the answer, I’d hand it to you right away. I swear. As I type this, my thoughts are in tangles and knots, struggling to gather the appropriate words and order by which to present them. I don’t know if the essence of the theory can be summed up in a sentence using less than ten words. I doubt it. Even if it’s possible, it’s not my place to attempt to articulate it. I’d hate to infect your mind with inaccurate information.
One thing’s for sure: the puzzle isn’t complete yet. If, however, the gut feeling of several string theorists is right, then we are at the brink of further discovery.
If String Theory turns out to be the Theory of Everything, consider the implications:
We could solve the mystery in the Big Bang Theory, or maybe shed light on what black holes are all about. Believe it or not, it’s been theorized that black holes are gateways from one universe to another. What if our universe exploded from a black hole and will eventually compress into the singularity veiled by an event horizon? Scientists speculate that if other universes do exist, their laws of physics might differ greatly from ours. How about that?
Sorry, I’m gushing. I find it difficult to not be stirred by such possibilities. Greene has opened my inquisitive eyes even wider and a sign of appreciation, I’m paying it forward by sharing with you.
He gives several answers but answers lead to more questions - questions as innumerable as the stars in the night sky. One can’t help but be dazzled by the scattered twinkling dots of light.
I recall what my science teacher in university said: everything we know about the world is a result of all the successes, failures, breakthroughs and discoveries by those who came before us. We have reached such great heights because we stand on the shoulders of giants.
There is more to know and much to climb but you can’t deny this:
Nothing beats the view from up here.
I skimmed through my soon-to-be retired planner to assess the year that was. Life really does come in peaks and troughs. You have a good month, then a better one after. You go downhill for a while, then before you know it, you’re back up. It’s a cycle.
For a good while, I noted down details like the times I’d go to bed and rise the next day. I’d write down money-related matters - where it came from, where it’d go and so on. I had several to-do lists and goals, big and small. I would give myself monthly letter grades for my “life performance” in various facets: financial, social, physical, artistic, etc. Then I would seek to improve on myself the succeeding month. I did this for a while, but eventually I went off-track (and perhaps got lazy).
I was so keen on taking control of every little aspect of my life.
Thankfully, I was able to accomplish a good many things. I’ve written new songs, gotten more fit, listened to the records I wanted to hear, read the books and articles I wanted to read and saw the shows I wanted to see. I’ve been to places. I’ve played guitar at gigs. I’ve made several friends and acquaintances, and kept some of my old ones. I’ve gotten tipsy/drunk in good company.
I’ve faced failures, several of them. I let people down, I let myself down. There were times when I assumed or expected too much. I sort of thought I could do everything. At times, I got out of touch with reality. It usually doesn’t end well that way. You set yourself up for disappointment, and this applies to everything: work, relationships (romantic and non-romantic), what have you.
Even if we all sit still, we are still moving forward in time. I’m not getting any younger. Youth is an ephemeral thing. As much as I’d want to hold on to it, I can’t (I’m not saying that I’m *old* though). I can only keep my heart and spirit young. I suppose that’s comfort enough.
One thing that scares me the most is losing the people I truly care about. Honestly, I want to have my parents and friends around forever. But truth be told, life is short. I’m still coming to terms with that fact and am figuring out how to become a better friend, brother, band mate, online persona, and person in general.
Buzzfeed said that 23 is the worst year in one’s twenties and to some extent, I agree. Well, it is pretty weird. You’re no longer as wild and free as you were when you were 22. You learn things about yourself, the people around you and life in general. Some realities are easier to swallow than others but you’ll have to take them all in just the same. I’d like to think that 23 is very much a transitional age.
In my case, I began setting my priorities straight. But this doesn’t mean I didn’t slip up several times. I’ve had more than a handful of instances wherein I put my immediate wants before my long-term needs. As much as I wanted to stick to my foresight, I couldn’t help but succumb. It happens. It really does - and it’s good to be aware of this reality.
Okay, so I find out that I really can’t do everything. I can’t take control of every aspect of my life. And that’s fine.
Well, that must be it - being more aware of things. Need vs want. Other people’s emotions and situations. Context. The elusive Truth. The bandwagon vs what’s right. Who you really are vs who you think people want to see. Plus infinity. The universe has thrown so many things at me and oftentimes, I find myself struggling to make sense of it all. It gets overwhelming.
Still, I’m in a good place. I’m really thankful for everything and everyone who made my 2013 memorable, pleasant, hell, crazy, musical, stressful, inspiring, hilarious, depressing, and so on and so forth.
I’d like to think that, overall, I’ve made good progress as a human being. For better or for worse, 2013 taught me valuable lessons, some of which I have quickly picked up on and others I have yet to fully understand. Such is life, and I’m lucky to be alive and well.
I raise my glass to 2014.
The band and I have been experimenting with our live format, lately. Nowadays, we’re gigging with a session keyboardist as I play guitar and go freehand. Honestly, the change is welcome. I no longer have to be stationary while performing, which is a relief because I feel severely limited in terms of movement while playing keys. It also helps that I legit get to rock out with a guitar. The muscle movements are kinda new to me.
I have long learned the value of interacting with audiences during gigs so I take advantage of my freehand mode to approach the crowd, shake a hand or two, and conduct the transient choir-slash-audience as they sing along. I think I accomplished this very well during our set in Assumption Antipolo. Looking forward to our next gigs.
I refuse to be confined to a single musical instrument. I’m a musician and hell, I will play whatever instrument I want. I’m not saying I’m abandoning the piano. That thing has a special place in my heart. All I’m saying is that it doesn’t hurt to have variety. In fact, it spices things up and keeps ‘em fresh.
It’s liberating, really.
ϟ House on Fire
Dreamt that a winged dragon was frying my house as revenge for my finding (read: stealing) its egg when I stumbled upon it (figuratively) somewhere in a city I inexplicably assumed to be Makati. What the hell was I doing, roaming around “Makati?” I leave that to my suspension of disbelief. None of us in the neighbourhood could do anything but watch and run. Obviously, I woke up befuddled.
My one regret in the dream is that there was no Emilia Clarke to flirt with.