9th May 2009
I saw my first comic book today. It was called Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde, lying on Uncle Pyotr’s table in his laboratory. For some reason Uncle is proud of his table. I always thought it was because you could see your own reflection on it. It is a new word I learnt today. Reflection. Uncle showed me what it was and how it forms. He is a genius but sometimes he is insane especially when it is about his table. It has no scratch on it and I know this because I spent an entire day last summer searching for one. He is always paranoid about keeping it that way. Constant reminders are thrust upon anyone even in close proximities to the table about keeping their hands and nails to themselves (Note that I am a nine year old girl with impeccable writing skills and I know nothing about innuendos).
“You can read these strips when you grow up,” uncle chuckled as he took away the comic book from me.
“Everyone says you are genius, uncle. If you are really a genius, tell me how I can see myself on your table?”
He let out a chuckle. The whole room reverberated with the sound of his laughter. Sound waves, as I learnt later.
“Tis, fair maiden’s face, on my table is what we call a reflection. It is a deception. All reflections are like that. When you grow older you will realize that life is a deception. I want you to know that even if you are driven to search for the answers, do not dive yourself off the cliff. I am hanging, with both my legs suspended in the air, on a precipice. We live in a real deception shrouded in illusions.”
Needless to say I never understood the gravity of his words. Gravity. Another new word he would teach me in a few weeks.
Uncle was a man of Science and Philosophy. He would slip into deep thoughts and float in clouds of faceless smoke in a small dark room inside his laboratory. I called it the Schrodinger’s room. I had never entered it and I would sit for hours fixated on what might be on the other side of the door.
‘’Switch on the light bulb. Now look into the mirror. What you think you are seeing is your face but they are simply waves bouncing from the surface of this mirror and making their way into your eyes. Your brain then processes what you see. This image you see is because of all the elements working together in harmony. If you were brain dead or blind, or both, you would not have “seen” this image. If there was no light bulb or a surface such as this one, you would still fail to “see” this image. You think your eyes enable you to see. Your big brown eyes are a mere organ, sensitized to light waves. It is your brain that “sees”. That is why a single image can be perceived differently,” he paused before I interrupted with a question.
‘’What are waves, uncle?”
He let out a crooked smile before he limped away to a corner of the laboratory I followed him wondering what “cool” stuff he would show me.
I looked dejectedly as he showed me something that looked like a table. Or was it a box? It had water floating on it and a light bulb hanging on top of the setup.
“This is a ripple tank. I shall show you what waves are. If I cause a disturbance on the surface of the water, ripples are formed. Have you thrown pebbles in a lake before? Those magical rings you see spreading from the point of disturbance are waves spreading out. The “shape” depends on how and in which medium the disturbance is created.”
Uncle showed me all the different shapes with his ripple tank and I took a few pictures. He told me that water does not move from one place to another when waves are formed. There lies a deception in that line of thought. Each water particle is slightly disturbed from its position knocking the next one as well.”
“Is it like in the football stadium we went to last month? I had to stand up after you did and father stood up after I sat down,” I asked.
‘’You are absolutely right. What we did in that match was a wave. The particles were not water molecules but spectators in the stadium. The wave “moved” across the stadium but we remained in our seats only standing up when the person next to us was disturbed from a state of rest,” he exclaimed in excitement.
“Uncle! So light is made up of waves then, isn’t it?”
He smiled at me and said, “Not entirely. I will answer that question later. Now scurry back home! Your mother will spite me for life if I let you stay here any longer.”