When I was at school, it was fun to listen to slightly muddled science teachers, geeky men sporting the kinds of spectacles Kevin Costner wore in the film JFK, explain to us how Eintsein’s theory of relativity proved nothing could move faster than the speed of light.
They were wrong. Einstein was wrong. Those little ghostly particles called neutrinos indicate the universe has extra dimensions we haven’t yet glimpsed or dreamed could exist.
Neutrinos are tiny and weigh so little there is no way to measure their mass. There are trillions and trillions of them streaming through the universe and through our bodies every second of the day, almost never interacting with any other matter.
But without neutrinos the sun wouldn’t shine. The sun produces energy by burning hydrogen. At the heart of the sun are oscillating solar neutrinos generated by the exploding hydrogen, neutrinos which stream out in vast numbers from the sun’s core and travel to earth. Bringers of light!
And this morning the sun is shining in a cloudless blue sky, the kind of sunlit day I take for granted so much of the time. My neighbour came over to help me measure couch covers so I can look for tough, durable and hopefully attractive material to give my couches a new lease on life. The Great Dane was zealously helpful and had to be put outside to cool his heels.
Had a surprisingly cheerful email from somebody who had a ‘slip’ at the weekend and has set his new sobriety date for January 2nd, 2012. In my experience, I couldn’t face the memories of a drunken Christmas just past and usually decided to postpone getting sober until Easter.
What is time after all except sunny neutrinos streaming through us faster than the speed of light?
All around the valley there are farm dams with flowering waterlilies as we move into high summer. Along the dirt roads tourists pedal slowly on hired bicycles, riding around vineyards and admiring the beauty of the landscape, hoping they don’t get chased by ostriches or tumble into prickly pear stumps. At roadside stalls, farmers are selling stripy green and white watermelons and crystal-white table grapes. I stop and test the watermelons by knocking to hear if there is a hollow sound along with the right sort of heaviness. In late December, the intensely fragrant and sweet spanspek or honeydew cantaloupes will be ready.
How lucky we are, to be alive and uncrazy here and now, just standing in the sunshine and weighing ripe watermelons. In the countryside life is slow and I wish it was even slower, time enough to grow young all over again.