quantum physics and coffee

This was written this evening after a couple of prompts/challenges from a friend. It had to feature physics (a weak subject for me), a Big Bang Theory reference, and budding romance… About 920 words in around an hour. I’m not unhappy with the outcome.

Kevin grabbed the coffees after Dolores paid for them and steered past sitting mothers, bulging strollers, and sharp elbowed, shaven headed twenty something’s with laptops and massive black americanos. Dolores signaled him from the furthest reaches of the shop, she’d bagged a tiny round table between the toilet and a dark green pot plant.

“It’s free because there’s no phone signal back here and the Wi-Fi is down.” She took the coffees from him so he could sit down.

“You’d struggle to get a baby buggy in here as well.” Kevin raised his cup to his mouth and cautiously stuck his tongue out just above the scalding brown liquid. Damn he always did that, weird habit. Of course it was too hot to drink yet.

“So what did you think?” She looked like it was a genuine question. She was interested in his opinion.

“I think he knows his stuff. He’s not some crackpot nutty professor. I’m no expert on this kind of thing, my speciality is anthropology as you know. Still I do know some of the maths and couldn’t find anything to quibble about. Really though it’s only enough to know I don’t really know anything about quantum paradoxes. Is it paradoxes or paradoxi?”

She smiled, which made her cheeks dimple. “That’s my gut reaction as well. The Sheldon Coopers in the audience loved it, normally it would have to be Stan Lee up there to keep them quiet during the lecture and then get rapturous applause, and discourage them from asking the sort of questions that are only asked so the asker can show off their knowledge.” She sipped her coffee and instinctively smoothed down her t-shirt. “And no, I’m not sure paradoxi is a word.”

Kevin said, “I liked his outfit as well, blue blazer, white shirt, cream slacks. Not a scientific look. More the appearance of some dilettante billionaire, funding his own research.”

“Which he might be; if not his backers are keeping it quiet.” Another sip of coffee. “Do you think he was orphaned as a kid? Maybe his parents were brutally gunned down in front of him, and he grew up vowing to build a time machine and go back and prevent the shooting.”

“Yeah or more likely to track down the murderer and kidnap him, maroon him with dinosaurs.”

Dolores unwrapped the honey wafer that had been placed on her saucer and bit it in half, “I would look him up on Wikipedia but, no signal of course.”

“I already looked. Nothing on his parents but it did say he’s independently wealthy partly from developing a laser that can model 3-D replicas of objects extremely rapidly.” Kevin put his nearly empty cup back down and sat back in the deep leather armchair. “Oh and it said he was the drummer in Mr Bungle the Faith No More spin-off band, but there were no references to back that up, so I suspect it was a devious edit.”

“A friend of mine, used to Wikipedia to travel back in time and change history.” She smiled at him, dimples again and slightly crooked teeth. “Seriously, he edited the entry on Andy Kaufman to say that he spend his early years as the drummer in the New York Dolls. It was up for months before being caught and deleted, but in the meantime a lazy journo for the local paper in Charlotte had discovered it and used it in an article to mark the anniversary of Kaufman’s death. No one in Charlotte’s going to bother checking that right? So it’s still up on the paper’s website. My friend was able to go back in and use the reference from that paper to get his edit back in.”

Kevin laughed. “Can you imagine the reversion wars if time travel was real? Christ it would make Wikipedia look like a bunch of kids with crayons.” Good line Kevin, he thought to himself. What does that mean?

Their coffee cups were empty, and Dolores had finished her wafer. Kevin wanted to stretch out the afternoon and suspected she felt the same, though it was a gamble as always.

“Do you want to see parallel universes?” Kevin jumped up and straightened his hoodie.

“Of course. A day of quantum fun wouldn’t be complete without parallel worlds.”

She looked pleased and acted it. Gamble paid off. So far.

They walked two blocks to the main science campus, as always on a Saturday it was quiet and the recent rain had given it a gleaming, new look.

Kevin led Dolores resisting the urge to take her hand in his through the Japanese gardens strung out over several terraced acres between the Applied Physics Centre and the Propulsion Labs. The calm zen like gravel, green grass and trees were deserted. They walked along the wooden slatted walkway that became a narrow low bridge over a series of small ponds. They stopped and looked down.

Kevin pointed at the first pond over to their left. “Look at the carp in there, beautiful golden and orange, and silver swimming about. They’re intelligent creatures you know? They know exactly when it’s feeding time.” He turned round and brought Dolores round with him. “But look over there, another pond right next to the first, separated by a narrow earth barrier. And in there more carp.”

Dolores gave Kevin a quizzical look, knitting her dark red brows together. “Wow, that’s profound man.”