Dating a Physicist

Moshe Sipper, Ph.D.
The Haven
Published in
4 min readSep 14, 2023

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AI-generated image (craiyon)

People on dates shouldn’t even be allowed out in public.

— Jerry Seinfeld

Lovers’ Brane

A short story, excerpt from my book Fredric.

Luis Ferrara was a brilliant physicist, but, alas, a very timid suitor. Which is probably why it had taken him less time to design the device than to ask Thelma Jacobs out on a date. But eventually, he’d accomplished both. And while preliminary testing of the apparatus went swimmingly, less can be said of the first two dates, which, regrettably, proceeded rather ploddingly.

It seemed to Luis that Thelma was losing interest and he was mortified. He racked his brains for three whole days and three sleepless nights until finally reaching a decision. For their third date Luis decided to go the whole nine yards — and then some.

Thelma was worth it.

He’d asked her to meet him at his lab on campus. When Thelma walked through the doorway looking like a million bucks Luis’s heart skipped more than one beat.

“Are you OK?” the lovely young woman asked in concern, upon noticing her suitor’s pallor.

“Yes,” replied the physicist breathlessly, finally remembering to breathe again.

“So, what’s the big secret you promised to reveal today?” Thelma asked.

“Have you heard about the universe’s unseen dimensions?” Luis said promptly.

“I have, actually,” replied Thelma, who was not a scientist but rather a gifted concert violinist. “I saw a documentary on the topic — something about string theory?”

“Exactly!” cried Luis and waxed enthusiastically. “You see, for close to a century we’ve had a major problem in physics: reconciling quantum mechanics and general relativity.”

“The very small and the very large,” said Thelma quietly.

“Indeed,” smiled Luis appreciatively. “String theory is currently our best shot at uniting these forces, what we call TOE — ”

“Because it explains everything from head to toe?” said Thelma, discharging one of her beautiful smiles that melted what little of Luis’s heart still remained in a nongaseous state.

Luis laughed. “TOE is simply physics parlance for Theory of Everything, that holy grail of a model which will account for all particles and all forces in the known universe.”

“Would your TOE account for the beauty of music? Or the intensity of love?” asked Thelma seriously.

Luis was at a loss for words. Luckily, Thelma burst into laughter. “It’s OK, I’m just messing with you. Go on, this is fascinating.”

“So, anyway, in string theory, the elementary particles, such as electrons and quarks, are not zero-dimensional objects, but rather one-dimensional oscillating lines referred to as ‘strings’. The way these strings oscillate gives the observed particles their various properties.”

Thelma regarded the young man thoughtfully. “So basically the universe is like a giant violin?”

“Wow,” exclaimed Luis, “that’s such a beautiful way of putting it.” He paused for a moment as they both gazed intently into each other’s eyes. Then Luis continued: “There are various versions of string theory and they all posit the existence of more than the four dimensions we’re familiar with — three spatial and one temporal. We’re not really sure how many extra dimensions there are; M-theory, which is the current favorite, postulates eleven in all.”

Luis gained confidence as he slipped into his element. “All this means that we’re sort of like the inhabitants of Edwin Abbott’s two-dimensional world in the book Flatland.”

“Great book,” commented Thelma. “I read it in high school.”

Luis nodded approvingly. “To Flatlanders,” he said, “with only two dimensions, objects could be made to appear and disappear as if by magic when in fact they’re moving through the third dimension.” He paused for a moment, and then declared ceremoniously, “That’s the idea behind my dimensional drive.”

With that, he lifted the cover off a small workbench to reveal a strange contraption, which for all intents and purposes looked like a two-slice toaster. Thelma eyed the device silently, realizing, as Luis spoke passionately about physics, that she was starting to fall in love with him. No surprise there, she smiled inwardly, I’ve always loved geeks, and Luis is by far the cutest of the bunch.

“This is just a mock-up,” continued Luis, completely unaware of Thelma’s inner turmoil. “I’ve hooked up the real gizmo to my car.” Looking at his watch he then cried: “Jeez, we’re going to be late.”

Luis led Thelma to the parking lot, where they both got into his small sedan. She noticed a few controls on the dashboard that were quite unlike any she’d ever seen before. Luis said nothing — he just smiled, ignited the engine, and pressed a few buttons. There was a momentary sensation of grayness … and then Luis was looking for a parking spot next to the river Seine.

In Paris.

Dinner took place at a charming French bistro in the Latin Quarter. By the time it was over Thelma knew she was in love — as was Luis, of course.

After a lovely stroll along the river, they returned to the car, wherein the physicist again began fiddling with various controls. As before, they were plunged into grayness, only it seemed to be lingering this time. Luis kept mumbling to himself, “Dimension six … Or is it eleven …”

Finally, he looked up contritely and said, “Thelma, I know you’re going to think this is some kind of adolescent stunt.” He added emphatically, “But I swear it’s not.”

“What’s wrong Luis?”

“Um … We’re out of gas.”

AI-generated image (craiyon)

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Moshe Sipper, Ph.D.
The Haven

Swashbuckling Buccaneer of Oceanus Verborum 🌊 4x Boosted Writer 🚀