Thursday, September 24, 2015

Conjunction : The Quiet Girl - Episode 1

She was a quiet little girl and her mother did not understand what was wrong or what to do with her. Though Mary tried very hard to get her to play, Tessa did not play with other little girls or share their interests. Mary had tried everything. She even ended up bribing the neighborhood kids with presents and food. But this was just the beginning. When Tessa turned sixteen, she shut down completely. Ted and Mary were at complete odds to understand how to get through to her. That was when they took her to the psychiatrist. Dr.Susan Goodwin was quite a local celebrity in the town of Norwood. She was happy to give them an appointment, and Mary jumped at the chance.

The following day, she tried to talk to Tessa, to explain where they were going. She knew Tessa was a very bright girl, but her eyes did not respond to the cajoling. In fact, she seemed as distracted as ever. On prodding, she nodded listlessly. The signs were not good, and Mary was not sanguine.
The visit to the psychiatrist's office was short-lived. After all the attempts made by the doctor, Tessa had been prescribed some meds. They were at a loss to understand why even the doctor was unable to get Tessa to talk. Ted suggested that maybe they should introduce her to someone with shared interests. But what? All she was interested was physics. 

Since Tessa had learned to read, she had read voraciously. The house was full of rows and rows of books which she had begged her parents to buy for her. When she was not reading, Tessa would be logged into her computer for days on end. School was merely a distraction. Tessa has breezed through most of her subjects, but she did miserably at language and geography. The psychiatrist said she had been through some trauma. Dr.Susan Goodwin and written down a prescription and looked sympathetic, but there was little else she could help with she said.

Ted had been crestfallen. In his mind, they had taken a huge step in going to the brain doctor. He had expected something better. Mary on the other hand had secretly always known that Tessa would not respond to the doctor. She knew she had to get a physicist to talk to Tessa.Ted had inadvertently given her a clue, which she was determined to pursue.

Contrary to what one might assume, it's not as easy to contact physicists and get them over. But Mary persevered. She spoke to one person after another. Finally, an undergraduate student named Karl from the University nearby offered to come over and speak to Tessa. She told Ted about her plan, and he looked unbelievingly at her. "I'm not sure this is something that will work, and it may just drive her deeper in her shell." Mary ignored his counsel.
On the day Karl Sodenheim was to come over, Mary cleaned the house just a little bit better. She made tea and cookies and hoped that her gut instinct had not failed her. In a few hours, she would know for sure. Tessa ignored her completely, lost in her own thoughts. Or so she imagined. Ted had not supported her decision and was away on work. But Mary was sure that she had made the right decision.

Finally it was time. Tessa's eyes were dead when Mary told her that Karl was coming over. She decided not to push it. The bell rang. It was the physicist "Good morning, my name is Karl Sodenheim, I would like to speak to Mary Smith. Mary smiled "That's me. I was the one that spoke to you. Do come in and take a seat. There are tea and cookies on the table, help yourself. Let me go fetch Tessa." Karl nodded, absently and poured himself a cup.

Tessa sat on the sofa opposite Karl. Her eyes were glazed over when her mother introduced her to the young man. Karl looked uncomfortable "She doesn't speak at all? This is not something I can help in Mrs.Smith" he folded his hands in his lap and stared. Mary bashed on "Speak about the atom. Tell me - or Tessa all about it." She waited. Karl began to speak hesitantly..."The atom is mostly nothingness. It is formed of elementary particles called quarks. These and electrons make up the structure of the nucleus and the electron cloud." He waited. Nothing. Mary looked at him to continue. He sighed "Electrons are governed by the quantum rules of stable states for every atom. They can only exist in predetermined states. And can jump to the next higher state.... Tessa interrupted "The states are predetermined only in this Universe. In the multiverse theory, one would assume there would be intermediate states. Or something completely different. Nothing is as it should be." Karl almost fell off the sofa. He stared "So we are talking about Quantum Electrodynamics?" Tessa nodded animatedly "In the rush to describe non-singularity based solutions, partial differential equations are used, but the spherical standing wave of matter leads to obvious conclusions." Karl's eyes widened "And what would your conclusion be?" Tessa looked at him earnestly "There is no reality. Or rather there is no single reality." Karl had an incredulous look. "Mrs. Smith, I must ask for Tessa to come to our University. There are people more qualified than me who can speak to her. Please, you must do this." He looked like a man with a mission as he left, he kept repeating that Tessa should come to the University. As soon as possible. Mary had to literally push the young man away with promises of getting Tessa to the University.

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