Tuesday, February 06, 2007

Cracking It

I was trying to understand timelike curves in Einsteinian spacetime today (the things you need to know to write a novel - there’s a cult whose leader believes he is getting messages from his future self from a planet around another star, which means that faster-than-light travel will soon be invented). And while reading about it in Roger Penrose’s The Road to Reality (Chapter 17), I had a sudden lovely little moment of epiphany where the whole thing became utterly transparent. This isn’t exactly world-shattering stuff, and had a lot more to do with Penrose’s lucid explication than my intelligence, as I've always found physics non-intuitive, but like Proust’s madeleine dipped in lime tea, this mental state brought back a few moments from my career in science when I suddenly understood how something worked, and knew that I knew something that no one else in the world knew.


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