Last Call: Time is a flat circle covered in ham

Illustration for article titled Last Call: Time is a flat circle covered in ham
Photo: Science Photo Library - MARK GARLICK (Getty Images)

One of the most rewarding benefits of homeschooling my children is that I get to learn all sorts of new crazy shit. I’ve accidentally become fluent in the foibles of the 19th-century whaling industry, and in the life and times of James Buchanan. I’ve become reacquainted with geometry and basic algebraic concepts; I’ve also learned about semicolons. The kids start finding new stuff that interests them, and I get to go along for the ride.

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About two years ago my son became passionate about physics, a class I cut for the entirety of my junior year of high school. I have always enjoyed a casual relationship with physics via my love of science fiction and a personal attachment to gravity, but I have not spent much time pondering the basis of my own reality, because I have ADD and know exactly what would happen to my brain if I went anywhere near that rabbit hole. I did not need to see how the atomic sausage is made, but the kid starts talking about beta particles and dark matter, and I’ve got to look like I know what I’m doing. I’m his mother, goddamnit.

Anyway, he’s got me watching this Fabric Of The Cosmos show on Amazon Prime, and apparently we’re all living inside a hologram. This was news to me. Something about how black holes scan data that crosses their event horizon and display it two-dimensionally or some crap like that. The important part of this story is that I thought the narrator said “ham-a-gram,” so I went into the whole segment while thinking about ham. If we’re all just 2-D bits of information being projected on the surface of a black hole, what does the concept of ham even mean? Is it nothing but a bit of data? Do I even taste it, or feel it? Does it come from a pig, or from a line of intergalactic code?

I have time to ponder these sorts of questions now, because I have nowhere to go and nothing to do. I’m just going to be in this house, staring at a pile of deli ham, wondering what it’s all about. Have you eaten any cold cuts recently that really made you think?

Allison Robicelli is a writer, recipe czar, former professional chef, author of four (quite good) books, and The People's Hot Pocket Princess. Tweet me for recipe help: @Robicellis.

DISCUSSION

Now, wait until they start discussing the multiverse theory. Or how time may just be another direction of travel, that we dimly perceive.

And then wait until your kid discovers the fun of Quantum theory. Think of it this way. You have to bake a cake for 40 minutes, you forget and come back in 50. There is no smoke. Until you open the is the cake undercooked, just right, or burned?

(That’s more humane than having you think about the cat).