The following is a conversation I overheard and, unbeknownst to the participants (an apparent science teacher, and his apparent student), recorded, in a bar. An aside: I do not drink, and was only seeking relief from a heat wave. I had just been recording city bird songs for a project, and that's why I had a tape recorder. I ordered a ginger ale, received a 7-Up, and listened.
TEACHER: The apple just sitting there is not really just sitting there.
There are molecules in it that are moving all the
time, although it seems like it's sitting still.
It's called nuclear physics. Or atomic science.
Molecules, atoms, quarks, quantums, other things.
T: All the time.
S: It doesn't look like anything's moving.
T: That's why it's called nuclear physics. Nuclear means
it's too small to see, and physics means things are moving.
S: And they use binoculars. I mean--
T: Microscopes. And even the microscope molecules are moving.
S: You mean one part of the apple moves over to another
part of the apple while you're not looking?
T: No. It happens while you're looking. It's happening all
the time, whether you're looking or not. You could have
never been born, but it would still be moving, even though
your eyes swear to God that it's sitting completely still.
S: Does it makes any noise?
T: If you could hear good enough. A humming, buzzing, depending
on what kind of molecules, the shape of the atoms, what
season, how cold it is, so on. Thing molecules moving through
space produce sound molecules. And they are attracted to
S: So, while I'm looking, this part on this side moves over
here, say, and this part that was here moves over there?
T: No. It moves inside. It moves within itself, in the little
parts of itself.
S: So, parts don't move where other parts are, but parts
within parts move?
S: Well, if no part of the apple is being replaced by another
part of the apple as it moves, then what's being moved around?
I mean, don't something bump into one another in there?
T: No, because there's space. An apple is mostly space.
Just like we're mostly water. When you touch yourself,
I mean in a normal way, and you're not sweating, then you feel
dry, even though you're 95% water. Same with an apple.
Every apple atom, or apple molecule, is mostly space, giving
the electrons room to fly around in. But if you look at it,
it doesn't look like space, because it's squeezed together
by being so small. But it's all happening within, inside.
S: Inside the peel?
T: Inside the molecules.
S: Are there peel molecules?
T: Yes, in so many words.
S: Why can't you see the peel molecules moving around?
They're right there on the outside.
T: But all motion in a peel happens on the inside side
of the peel. Some molecules are more sensitive to the sun.
They tense up and resist movement entirely. In
addition, peel molecules are pressed together tighter
than the white part of the apple, to allow for eating
and letting vitamins from the sun filter into the inside
of the apple, protect the seeds, and so forth.
S: How do they get pressed together?
T: Gravity, time, genetics, how flat the molecules
are when they're first made, and how much air is in them.
Every molecule of anything, if the pressure could be
released, would be the equivalent of an atomic bomb
explosion. That's why it's called atomic bomb. It's
not really the atom bomb exploding, it's only the
atom bomb atoms. The only thing holding anything together
is neutrons and protons huddled together inside in the
middle of atoms while electrons fly around.
S: And they're not moving, the protons and neutrons?
T: Yes, but very little. Inconsequential. Huddled type moving.
S: Well, this is awful. This whole thing is terrible.
T: Not really, because everybody's used to it by now.
S: Well, I'm not.
T: You never heard of nuclear physics before?
S: I heard of it. I just thought it was scientists poking
around in things. I didn't know that everything were
moving around all the time like that. I just thought
it was a real bad idea or something.
T: Well, don't worry about it. Like I say, it's all happening
way inside the apple. I wouldn't worry too much about it.
S: How far inside? It can't be that far, an apple's not
T: It's not that big only in terms of how your mind is trained
to see something as this big or that little.
S: What do you mean, "my mind is trained"?
T: Well, not your mind specifically. Children's minds. You
don't want to tell a bunch of children that you could put
your hand right through everything, because it's moving
and full of space, and your hand, too, and electrons hurtling
around, and protons and neutrons huddled in there looking
at the electrons like we look at shooting stars, and everything
could turn around and put its hands right through you, too, and, in
fact, does, is.