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.Mercy Mmm.Felix At the root of everything we believe, I believe – a billionth of a billionth of a billionth of the size of an atom, so many noughts it would dazzle you, the perfect Planck length – there is a loop or a filament of energy – what we call a string – which is the fundamental building block of the universe.And these strings are stretched like the strings on a violin and they’re vibrating to and fro.Mercy Really?Felix I know they’re there – the strings – the superstrings – and they will bring everything together into a perfect elegant supersymmetry – the jittery, frenzied world of quantum mechanics and the gentle curving geometry of gravity.You see we know the rules for the big things like the cosmos and we know the rules for the small things like the atom, but the rules don’t agree – it’s the superstrings that will bring the forces together.The superstrings will give us a quantum theory of gravity – that’s what I want, what we all want … You know, I’m so close, I can hear them! I can hear the little vibrating strings inside my head.Even though I can’t prove absolutely that they’re there, I can hear the patterns they’re making, like they’re ringing in my ears.Jim The music of the spheres.Felix Mmm.I’ve just run out of the maths.The equations don’t exist for what I can already sense.The excitation modes – the ringing has too many layers I can’t – hold all the notes, all the variables, all the harmonies in my head.But one day soon, I hope, I’ll have it, M-theory, the mother of all theories, a unified field theory.The theory of everything.And once I’ve done that – I’ll be able to rest.Jim Yes.Mercy Well, isn’t that something, Felix? I mean, if you had to research anything, everything would be the thing to research, wouldn’t it? If my brain wasn’t so puddled, I’d probably be after it too.Felix I’m just waiting for my moment of intuition.My Eureka moment.Mercy I’m sure it will come.Jim It will.Felix Einstein called his moment the happiest thought of his life.Jim You’d better try and have some more happy thoughts then, hadn’t you?Jim moves further away.Felix smiles as he exits.Mercy Divine inspiration, that’s what you need.Even when I’m arranging the flowers in church I pray for a bit of that.Felix I can already sense what it would feel like.Mercy Can you?Felix I don’t mind if it’s a quiet moment.Mercy No.Quiet moments can be very agreeable.Felix Stephen Hawking had his breakthrough when he was getting into bed.But because of his motor neurone disease it took him an age.Throwing back the sheets, plugging in the electric blanket, hauling himself up, tucking himself in, required a gargantuan effort.The nerve cells in his spinal cord were disintegrating, his muscles were playing tricks on him, but all the while his brain was buzzing with complex equations.They went showering through him, like Shakespearean sonnets.By the time he set his alarm clock he’d cracked it.Mercy He should have had a duvet.I resisted for a long time, but they’re so easy.You just throw them on.Felix Mercy, you are an original.Mercy What a lovely thing to say!Felix It’s true.Mercy You’ll have your moment, Felix.Probably when you least expect it.Bingo! There it’ll be: ‘Humble’s unified theory of everything.’Felix I have a terrible fear that I will go through life just missing it.Walking past the love of my life.Mercy Well, we’ve all done that.Felix Have you ever seen an apple fall? Actually fall?Mercy I don’t know.I must have done, mustn’t I?Felix goes over to the apple tree.During this Flora comes out and listens.She carries a gift.Felix and Mercy do not see her.Felix I’ve never seen it.I once sat out here, I was ten, I must have just learned about Newton and the force of gravity and I thought I’d watch an apple fall from a tree – I wanted to see that moment – well, what would it be, say, the half second that it takes an apple to drop four metres.I sat out here for eight hours.Nothing.In the end my mother made me go in for my tea.I wasn’t even hungry – I nearly choked the food down.I came back out after half an hour and there were three of them on the floor.Mercy Well, Newton just got lucky.Felix And he didn’t have my mother.Mercy I’m sure she didn’t mean it.Flora On no, it was clearly my fault.Mercy (jumping) Flora!Flora You don’t know this, Mercy, because you have never been blessed with children, but ultimately everything that goes wrong in your child’s life can be laid squarely at your feet.It’s what they call chaos theory, isn’t it, Felix? I sneezed in public in 1968 and as a result my son found it difficult to connect in social situations for the rest of his life.Mercy He’s just shy.Flora I picked up a sweet wrapper that he dropped when he was three and consequently he’s a total failure with women.Mercy He went out with Rosie Pye.Felix This is not chaos theory, Mother.Flora Oh well, pardon me for failing in my use of scientific terminology.I didn’t have the benefit of your very expensive private education.Mercy, do you mind leaving us for a minute? I want to talk to my son alone.Mercy Of course.(Mercy exits.)Felix (to the exiting Mercy) End of your commission.Report back for duty later on.Flora Felix –Felix You’ve got her well-trained, Mother.She’s like a very earnest springer spaniel.She flushes the wild fowl off the water so you can come and take a pop at them.Flora She has precious little else to keep her occupied.Felix I hope she gets rewarded.Flora Of course.She gets to bask in my reflected glory … You know, paranoia is very unattractive in a man, Felix.Felix What do you expect with my education? I have been taught to apply the uncertainty principle to every p–problem.Flora Do you know how utterly bored I am by all this science? I have been doubly unlucky in my life.To marry a biologist and give birth to a physicist.Who on earth said God didn’t play dice?Felix Do you want me to go?Flora If I had been Marie Curie I would have used my bunsen burner to make crème brûlée.Felix Just tell me to go.Flora I found three more grey hairs this morning.They were not there a week ago.Felix What do you want me to do about that?Flora I want you to – you are always welcome, this is your home but I can’t bear to see you lolling about out here –Felix Lolling? Is that what I am doing?Flora I don’t know.I have no idea what you are doing.You never speak to me properly.Felix You never listen.Flora Stop it! Stop this! I can’t bear it! Your father would have hated this.(Pause.She touches him lightly.) Do you remember the first time we took you to prep school? I didn’t want to leave you there, you seemed so small, but your father said I had to be strong.And I stood and waved to you while you walked up the long driveway and James was telling me that we ought to go but I didn’t stop waving.I wanted you to know that I wouldn’t go away that easily.And you got smaller and smaller and further away until you were nothing but a black dot, but I kept on waving.Even when you’d stopped being a black dot, I kept on waving.Pause.Flora (handing him the gift) This is for you.Felix It’s not my b–birthday.Flora No, well.It’s not a birthday present.Felix I don’t need presents.Flora No, well you don’t need to need it.That is the appeal of gifts [ Pobierz całość w formacie PDF ]