05 October 2009

The Silas Factor

We are pond scum. There's an apt description if ever I heard one. You, me, and everything else. We are all pond scum.

That's what some physicists are calling us, the world, the universe, The Whole Enchilada in an effort to describe the "Brane Theory."

Brane -- as in membrane, as in imagine a really large sheet of Saran Wrap -- is a relatively new theory in physics. I read about it in the newspaper the other day.

Physics normally makes me want to clean the kitchen floor. I took it in college and quite frankly, the nightly homework left me sobbing.

But there was something about this article that caught my eye, plus it was conceptualized.

Now I can deal with conceptual physics.

In the Brane Theory, the brane is sometimes described as the surface of a pond. The water below and the sky above are out of our realm. Our galaxy and all the other galaxies we know of are on the surface of a brane like scum on the surface of a pond.

The physicists are very proud of their description.

The beauty of this theory, for those who believe it, is that other branes exist in other dimensions that we cannot see or hear, and somehow or another this helps to explain "the wimpiness of gravity" and why we can't account mathematically for all that missing "dark matter."

I like the idea that other branes could be right here within arms' reach only we do not perceive them. You can't see the elephant that is sitting on your couch, someone said.

Shadow worlds, physicist Stephen Hawking speculates.
Isn't that wild?

Just think: another you, another dog, and another kitchen floor to clean.

If only you could squint your eyes just so and see it. There are other universes wiggling with life, other universes bursting forth with a crash.

Enter the Silas Factor.

That's not a mathematical equation here to ruin a perfectly good pond scum concept.

Nope. Silas is a 10-week-old kitten.

Kittens, I have observed, have three modes. Eat. Sleep. Play. And it warms my heart to observe them, especially the sleep mode after a vigorous play mode that included the ever so popular Silas the Shred-O-Matic. Insert claws and climb. What a scream!

Just when I was getting to the part in the article that would probably melt my brain cells, Silas, genius that he is, needs to play.


So I had to set the article aside and play "chase the string" for five minutes.

"Have wadded up piece of paper, will travel" was big a couple of days before that. And of course, there's always the old standbys "chase the tail" and "swat the shadow."

Have you ever heard the theory that children "see" things that adults don't because they're not jaded yet?

I know Silas sees something. He gets fixated on what is not really there.

Or is it?

Maybe Silas' brain can see another brane.

{This was first printed in June 2003 in San Luis Obispo's newspaper The Tribune.}


  1. I love this, Judy. The expressions - about a complicated subject - are simple, and in that, beautiful.

  2. Thanks Amanda! I had to go dig for baby pics of Silas. It was worth the effort. Most were blurry, but lil'Si so cute. kills me.


Thanks for sharing!