By charlotte lowell

In Newtonian mechanics, space and time are absolute quantities. 

When I stand with my fingertips at your shoulder, the distance between us is 24 inches and just that. When I text you and you do not reply, the space between my heartbeats is one second, flat.

But relativity challenges these commonsense notions. 

So when I ask you who you are, you say my own name. And when you look at me closely, you see yourself upside down.

To make progress, we will have to exercise the utmost care with regard to logic and precision.

So do not tell me what you think you know. And do not tell me what your heart believes. In the doorway between the street and your home, I extend myself beyond the light to see you as you are. When I shift my gaze, how do you see me?

The challenge is to stay on this path and not to let our prior assumptions lead us astray. 

Can I trust you with my future? Can I trust you with your own? In some ways we are young, and in some ways, we are not. So will you take a breath and hold it with me?

A bird flies through the air. How fast is it moving? 

Dear bird, I am like a child while I wait for you. I am spattered with dew and brief lightning. When you fly above me you move at 10 m/s relative to the air. When the sky moves against you, you fly more slowly relative to the ground. Does this make you feel defeated? From my perspective, you are so brave.

To answer the question ‘How fast is the bird moving?’ you need to first answer the question ‘Relative to what?’. 

So tell me your heart when it speaks to you. And if you think of me, never let me know. I will wait for you in the valley of the damp woods where you first said my name. I will stand in the streambed while the flood fills in around me. 

A moving object does not have a true speed or velocity. 

If I sketch my love onto a coordinate plane, then will you comprehend me? If I tell you about my real name, then will you understand? My father tells me that I am late and inconsistent. My mother asks me for more time. 

The best we can manage is to specify an object’s velocity relative to the coordinate system in which it is measured. 

So shape me to your reference frame. Split me into atoms. When I dream, my nerve endings are zippy like wires. When I dream, I am like nothing you have ever known.

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charlotte lowell is a genderqueer gardener and undergraduate student at fairhaven college, where they study love and chaos. they like clouds and the color blue. they would love to connect with you about physics and anarchism @alittlecloudboy on most digi-spaces.

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