|The Physics of Laundry|
|Summary:||Abilene and Leng meet at the laundromat.|
|Date:||March 28th, 2010|
|Related Logs:||Black Sabbath|
It's been a strange couple of days for Abilene. Not as strange for some, but she's still worried about Nora in the hospital and now has a dog to take care of to boot. Taffy - the dog - has been left back at her friends' ranch for the time being, but what she did bring along was a lot of laundry. It's been sorted already and she's just in the process of tossing the last batch into the washing machine - it's her dark clothes. Then, she starts to dig out the quarters in her pocket to pay. A few go tumbling onto the floor, rolling this way and that. "Shoot!" she mutters to herself.
Leng is sitting on a chair, waiting for his laundry to finish. He's reading an old book bounded in cracked brown leather. Golden letters emblazoned on the cover read, "Ancient Sumerian Cults and Myth Cycles"
Kneeling down, Abilene starts to collect her loose change that scattered this way and that along the floor. Crawling this way and that, she spots her last wayward quarter along the aisle of machines and picks it up. Then, straightening to her knees she finds herself eye level with Leng's book cover. Curious. Tilting her head just a tad to the side, she skims the title and the back. That's not something you see being read at the laundromat every day.
The book is old enough that nothing is written on the back; perhaps dating to the 1920's or 30's or so. There is however, a faded golden picture of several Sumerian gods on the front. Some of them are fairly recognizable even if you don't know the name, such as Ishtar, because they are essentially the same thing as later deities, like Isis or Aphrodite. Others are…less recognizable, and less commonly known.
Leng darts his eyes towards Abilene as she picks up her quarter. "I happened to take an interest in linguistics when I entered graduate school. A quaint diversion from my more serious studies. I find stories of ancient religions and how they transformed over time…fascinating."
Catching Leng's eyes as she's obviously staring at his book, Abilene blushes and stands up quickly. "Oh! Sorry!" Rolling the quarter she picked up into the palm of her hand, she balls up her hands to make sure no more change scatters about. "I didn't mean to, that is, I was staring, sorry. The book just looked interesting." All the pictures of the deities and how old it looked. Starting back toward the washing machine that started all this trouble, she glances back, now curious. "Linguistics isn't serious studies?"
"No." Leng says simply, his eyes then returning to his book as he turns a page and continues reading in silence for a time.
Eventually he adds, "I'm a physicist. My job is to study reality itself. This is a diversion."
Abilene snaps the quarters into their proper slotted spaces on the push in device. With a quirk of a smile, she glances over her shoulder as she shoves the whole slot into the washing machine and sets the dials to properly spin her clothes. "What's a diversion, the book or your laundry?"
"Both." Leng replies without a beat. "Life is filled with troublesome diversions, but I suppose without them I would get bored and sleep all the time." He glances towards his book again, and after a few moments turns the page. He must be a fast reader, or skimming. "Then again, all knowledge is valuable. One shouldn't predispose themselves. Simply because we cannot correlate or piece together disassociated knowledge, does not mean it cannot be done."
"That and you wouldn't have any clean clothes!" Abilene takes her empty basket that used to carry clothes and presses it against her hip, now done with all the clothes that she needed to put in there. It's a waiting game now. Maybe it's a simple way of thinking of laundry, but she's no physicist. "I guess not. It's always good to learn something new, I think."
"Oh, well yes there is that." Leng admits, before his eyes dart towards his own laundry, and he then lapses into an akward silence.
The awkward silence continues for a little while as Abilene gathers up her things and takes a seat. It's not next to Leng, he may want his space. Once she's settled, she adds, still curious about the book, "So, what kind of linguistics are you learning in a book about Sumerian Cults and Myth Cycles?"
"I'm not learning linguistics from this book, specifically." Leng replies. "I already read Assyrian Cuneform quite well." He reads some more, then flips another page. "I'm looking into how various religions have changed over time, not just the major ones, but the cults as well. Ishtar, for instance, was the goddess of sex and death, but also the morning and the evening star. The focus changed drastically over time, and evolved into later cults such as Hathor and Aphrodite and so on. Its not the name or religion I'm interested in, but little patterns and details that stand out."
With a grin, Abilene nods. "The physics of religion, then?" How things fall into place, get together. Bending over, she plucks out her own book that she intended to read while waiting for her laundry. It's nothing so intellectual as Leng's. It's a mystery/action novel along the lines of the Bourne novels. All she was thinking of was a distraction and something to keep herself occupied while waiting. "That does sound interesting, though. Can't say I studied much about ancient religions."
"Physics is the study of the universe and everything within it." Leng replies. "All sciences, indeed, all human knowledge, ultimately can be reduced to physics. Often we do not do so, because physics tends to deal with mathematics and numbers, and human thought and expression can't be…" He shrugs. "You get the idea. What do you do?"
"Numbered?" Abilene offers as Leng trails off. Whether he was actually searching for a word to finish his sentence or was trailing off for effect, the red head couldn't help but fill in the blank. "Oh, well. I used to be a singer. And now I just kind of investigate things. Or, I used to. Haven't much since being back, though it sounds like there's a lot of strange things going on about town that'd warrant it. Is there a lot of physics to study in Blue Earth?"
"No." Leng replies. "Not much at all. Its a bad economy however, and I own a family estate here. Its isolated, and so I have the privacy I need to do my own private researches."
"Ah. Sounds like reason enough. Just came back from Vegas, myself." Abilene folds her book on her lap. There's a conversation going, so she doesn't feel the need to open it up just yet. "What kind of research are you doing?"
"Theoretical research, mostly." Leng replies. "I studied string theory in graduate school. I'm not a fan, to be honest. I think it has some good ideas, but I think the theory itself is psuedoscientific nonsense, and boring at that. I also do antiquitarian research into my family history, and other private studies."
With a grin, Abilene nods. "Sounds like that's a lot of research. The library has some good stuff on trying to research family trees, if you're still trying to find some more information about that." She finds herself in the library a lot, to be honest. "Can't say I really know much about string theory. All I know is that it doesn't actually involve strings. Or at least I don't think it does."
"There are more variations of string theory then there are subatomic particles in the universe." Leng says. "It offers no way to prove or disprove it either, so it will never die. Like creationism. But…" He pauses. "There are cool things about it. If the string theorists are wrong, of course, they'll go down in history as the classic example of bad science. If they are right however, they will have proven that we see less of the universe then any caveman saw of the world. I think that is a good idea. Often, we fail to recognize our own ignorance. We see ourselves as holding dominion over the world and all knowledge, but in truth we dwell placidly on an island of ignorance, and do not realize it."
"That's a lot of variations." Abilene leans back in her chair as she listens to Leng. She seems genuinely interested in the conversation, too. "I doubt they'd think it's cool to be the example of bad science. Though, is it really bad science if they were just trying to prove a theory? It's just…science itself, right? Changing and everything." As for their own ignorance, the woman just shrugs. "I don't know about that. I think we're all curious as a species. It's how we got to where we are even now. Otherwise we'd still just be grunting and trying to hit things with heavy clubs."
"Whats bad about it." Leng replies, "Is that its adherents treat it as a proven theory, to the point where they now spend most of their time trying to derive esoteric consequences. But there is no single statement as to what it is, there is no way to test it, and there is nothing falsifiable to it. Thats…not the way science works." He pauses. "As you said, science is about curiosity, about pushing the boundaries. Part of that is accepting the consequences of failure, and recognizing what you don't know. Only then can you begin to chart the unknown waters before you."
"I guess it's a little like imaginary numbers to me." Abilene shrugs as she listens. "They don't really make any sense, and yet people are using them in their equations to make them work. I think that if you have to put in an imaginary number in order to get a right answer, it's wrong. But, I'm not a physicist. Or a mathematician." She didn't even really go to college, so she's not as well learned as Leng. "I guess, it's like the people who thought the world was flat."
"Sortof." Leng says. "Except we can see imaginary numbers experimentally. For example, if you measure a voltage, its not uncommon to see an imaginary voltage. Usually most people don't realize that because voltmeters leave that part off. But an imaginary number is just a different sort of number, its not literally imaginary. Actually, according to modern electromagnetic theory, part of the reason electric currents look the way they do is because they are oscillating in and out of the imaginary number line. What that means…" He shrugs. "Your not supposed to ask."
A lot of Leng's explanation is over Abilene's head, but she listens anyway and attempts to understand it with what she already knows. Finally, she laughs at his conclusion. "Sorry I asked, then. But, that does sound interesting." Just, not her field of study.
Leng shrugs and closes his book. "Sorry, I tend to babble." he admits, standing up and walking towards his laundry. "I enjoy the pursuit of knowledge for its own sake. Rather like an investigator, except my target is all of existence." He begins putting his laundry in a basket.
"No no, I meant, sorry I asked when I wasn't supposed to. No need to apologize." Abilene waves a hand and straightens, worried that she's actually offended the man. "I was enjoying the conversation."
"Oh!" Leng says. "I see. Yes, its like that. You ask too many of those questions, they start to reduce your grade, or ignore you. Its a bit sad, actually." He finishes loading his laundry. "In any case, I'm done. It was nice meeting you. Small town, so I guess we'll meet again."
Another laugh and Abilene nods. She's still got awhile to wait for her own laundry. "That is a shame. Questions are what makes you smarter." At least, that what she thinks. 'Course, she didn't do a lot of schooling. "It was nice meeting you, too. My name's Abilene, by the way. I don't think I told you."
"Ah. I'm William." he replies. "It was nice to meet you, too." He hoists his laundry up before his chest, holding one side of the basket with each hand. "Have a good day."
Picking up the book from her lap, it looks like Abilene'll actually read it now. "You too!" She watches the man pick up his laundry and head out of the laundromat with a friendly wave before sticking her nose into her own, much less brainy, book.