This calculus belies a sharp need for love, simple.

Ferodo slammed his left fist down on the table, his right was holding a diamond ring in his coat pocket, so tightly it was starting to hurt.  Now he decided it was too late to make his proposal, couldn’t possibly do that right now, not when Alice was fighting with him.  He had carefully calculated the day, the time, the scene, the location, and what on earth got into him that he had to invite one of Alice’s best friends along.  IT was just becoming a mess as usual.  He loved Alice, but never seemed able to let her know how his heart really felt.

He had graduated in Astronomy and his speciality, the solar system was as always pretty close to the top of his mind.  He had chosen this room, the Kepler room, because of the modern leather seats, coupled with the polished mahogany table.  Dinner here would be special, on the occasion of his graduation.  He had invited his two most special friends in the universe, Kate and Alice.  He had on hand some champagne called in for the occasion, courtesy his old man, a professor at the university itself.

Alice took the champagne, opened it, and poured some for all of them, the crystal glasses glinted in the light and after the wine was poured it just sat there, sparkling with no real purpose.

Kate sat there embarrassed, she had some colored paper from other presents given earlier in the day.  She asked Alice for some scissors, which she knew Alice always kept with her, along with tape measures and other things in that purse of hers. Kate started to cut all the different colored paper into squares and then slits.  This took a bit of time, but it kept her busy while Ferodo and Alice were fighting silently, patiently  like this.   After a while she started to assemble the squares of paper into a slightly spherical construction like a 30 sides polyhedron, made of colored paper.

It was Kepler who figured out that elliptical orbits were ok and our planets all had them, and that there was a calculus that could describe the ellipse based on the observed speed of the moving body.  That wonderful calculus like any belied the basic need he had to prove the love of God and the natural order of the universe.

Alice sat there, waiting, empty handed.  Kate gave her back the scissors.  So it was that they all sat there in a kind of sparkly threatening silence with the champagne poured.

  • Alice with the Scissors.
  • Kate with the Paper.
  • Ferodo with the Rock.

All in orbit around the table, and around the champagne, and around the real issue.

They all three understood their sharp need for love.


A Paper Diamond cut with Scissors


Title attributed to Cait S. from Twitter @legerdenez,

Polyhedron Photo attributed to fdecomite from Flickr  – with permission

Calculus photo attributed to Peter Rosbjerg from Flickr – with permission

A love line in the sandy sky

B72 Snake Nebula

It was getting late in the afternoon at the caravan park.  Tents flung all over the place, with spaces of grass and sand between them.  The beach not far away, flocks of seagulls tearing bits of food apart and squabbling as usual.  For most of the people there too, it was getting time to eat.

Alice was sitting on a rock, overlooking the ocean, and the waves.  Sunburnt a bit, she was munching on an apple, a nice red one and considering her palm, a mystery, but she had been told about love lines, marriage lines, heart lines.  It was mystery to her.  It was cooling down and so she got up and walked back to the tent on the beach, and met up with Ferodo, that infuriating guy boyfriend, whatever.

Alice and Ferodo took off up the track together.  Alice offered Ferodo a bite of her apple, and he took one, but was still thinking of fish and chips after all. He thought of holding hands perhaps.  Who would go first, the woman or the man in the equation ? They often thought about crossing the line, that marks the balance point in a relationship.  When tension increased, the strength and straightness of the line as well.  It appeared impassable sometimes, but other times it relaxed into a kind of curvature not starting or ending, but eminently crossable. Still, her hand was all sticky with apple.  Perhaps he would just kiss her instead.

“Ferodo !. Quick, look, what IS that ? ”

“Can’t see a thing mate !”,…  “where ?” he asked..

“Just there, you idiot !” “Look, It’s a snake!”  she said.

“Na, theres no snakes around here !, it’s the beach, don’t worry” he said.

“OK OK I see it !” he added.

There on the path in the darkening, was a curved black line in the sand,  the line was fixed in the sand but the front extended and the back contracted so that the line seemed to move forward in perfect formation.  It was a Taipan by the way, one of Australia’s most deadly snakes, a bit off track, and who knows where it had come from or why, but too dark to make it out clearly….

Alice screamed, “It is headed for that tent over there”. “quick kill it ! Or something !”

Ferodo, didn’t know too much about snakes.  He figured it was dangerous, and that he should take care, but as the light was fading was pretty sure he didn’t want to jump on it.

“Keep your eye on it, and don’t get too close !.  I’ll be back ” he said.

He quickly ran back to his own tent and looked around for a weapon.  There on the bed, where he had left it, was a hammer, perhaps that would do.  He snatched up the hammer and ran back to where Alice was following the snake up the path slowly but surely without deviation advancing on the lighted tent further on.

Ok, so with hammer in hand Ferodo looked at the snake saw that even though the snake was curved and snaking it’s way up the path, and even though he was kind of shaking all over, vibrating with adrenalin, and not knowing really if this was ok, he got the hammer in his hand.  His right hand. Should he use his left ? Wasn’t real sure, his mind started to optimise the situation, but then he realized he just had to go for  broke, forget the optimization.  If he had had a chance to pre-meditate killing the Taipan he certainly would not have chosen a hammer.

His right hand swung out, with the hammer at the smallish head moving in a dead straight line at constant velocity forward, slightly raised off the ground, and with the little minute tongue flicking the air occasionally.

Whack ! Smash, and then a violent eruption in the sand, of fury of the headless snake, whose head had clean come off all mashed on the end of the hammer.  The snake was thrashing around, and it was not clear it was dead, even though it’s head seemed to have come off.  Ferodo relived the last 200ms of it’s life to assure himself, that that was all he had to do.  He was shaking all over, possibly more than the snake itself.  He felt sick, like , way too much excitement that was unplanned and not part of expectations for this holiday.

Alice was standing there… ” what on earth !” she said, you could have got bitten ” what if you had missed the thing, you can hardly see it even now in this light”

Ferodo got his breath back, and said ” ok, ok but well, it’s dead now and at least it’s not going to get into the other people’s tent, whoever they are. ”

Alice and Ferodo looked at each other with a kind of new understanding.  The line had shifted in the sand between them.  Alice stepped forward to meet Ferodo, and stood with her foot clear on the still thrashing body of the snake.  She was standing there like it didn’t count anymore, with a half eaten apple,  and that there in front of her was another mystery to fathom.

After a while, the stars were coming out, as they turned, with apple and hammer in hand and walked off to get fish and chips.

Attribution : Featuring the Photo of the B2 snake nebula creative commons.