An Alphabet Of Science I Wasn’t Sure Existed By Briane Pagel

A is alpha particles; I’ve heard of them somewhere.

begins bacteria, so you will know I care.

is carbon, like dioxide

D’s decay rate, and why I hide.

Even now I am not sure if

Fermi’s work is understood by

Guys like me who skim through

Hard to understand topics on Wikipedia.

I know I shouldn’t assume I get it when I

Just spent about 10 minutes reading what some Best Buy clerk in Toledo wrote in an entry about physics while he was on his lunch hour in between grousing about how customers totally suck and who JJ Abrams is putting into the next Star Wars

Movie like it better not be fucking Ewoks.

Only why do people like Wookies so much and hate teddy bears?

P is for a poem, which I had meant this to be.

Q is quiet in this house, though that’s not science-y.

R is rate, like back in D, the time I might have left if

Schrodinger’s experiment is wrong and

Things exist even when nobody actually sees them existing or not existing.

Under the lid of this box where I sit with a cat, and a radioactive piece of material, and a

Vial full of deadly bacteria  with a hammer poised over it,

Waiting. What if you work late tonight? What if you took your stuff out of your drawers, and put it into boxes in your car, and drove to Michelle’s apartment, and told her you were crashing there until you found your own place, because you thought I couldn’t commit to you, because last night I wasn’t sure, but then you never knew that this morning I left work early and went and bought an engagement ring at that jewelry store at the mall. I even opened a store credit card and charged it to the max. It was only $800, that was my credit limit, but that’s a lot of money to me right now, and anyway, I’m pretty sure that book deal will come through, so we’ll be able to get you a better ring for the ceremony. And then– because you had that book that you kept trying to get me interested in, the one about science, and I only half-listened, but I think I got the gist of it, this Schrodinger guy said that things only happen if you make them, and I thought it’d help prove to you that I do listen to you and take an interest in you– I even bought a cat. It was only $20 at that garage sale where they had kittens. I’ve named him

Xavier, after that guy in the movie who was the leader of the superheroes. I’m sorry I was on my phone a lot during that, but they kept calling about maybe that book deal, but Xavier has the ring on a ribbon around his neck and he’s purring, and we’re waiting for you to get home; it ought to be any minute now. I didn’t bring my phone in here and so I don’t know what time it is. It ought to be any minute now.

Yes. Any time. I can’t see if the hammer has fallen. It’s dark in here. I suppose that’s the point, though? Or does someone outside the box have to be the one to find out what happens? I didn’t really get the point of the story, but I know you were excited about it and so I want to be excited about it, too. And did you know that in mathematics

is used to represent all the integers?I stumbled across that while I was researching this idea and I thought it was interesting, one letter meaning all the numbers, like the kind of thing you would try to tell me only this time I’ve tried to tell you.

Briane Pagel is old enough to remember when people had to hand-copy their science reports from the World Book instead of cutting and pasting them from Wikipedia. He blogs at Thinking The Lions ( and has several novels and collections of short stories available on Amazon.

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