Saturday, 7 January 2017

MICHIO KAKU-MACHO (- be prepared for some low-level journalism!)

The following is the unedited version of an exposé currently featured in the 20th revised edition of Malleus Maleficus'  [title withheld]. If you wish to report intrusiveness, defamation or inaccuracies, please email  To make a formal complaint under IPSO rules please contact IPSO directly at .  

So far as I am aware, critical disdain never impeded Michio’s flair.  Being a one-man conveyor belt
of cosmic conundrums, his lectures were tailored to a different audience.  But he knew how to get the reaction he wanted.  Generous of spirit and indisputably brilliant, no other physicist had his charisma or cunning. Even if his inventive affectations bemused and exasperated some, he always overcame himself by bringing out the buried life and mind concealed in quantum mechanics. Did we know Michio asked, with the blithe assurance of a man who has been credited with the splendid aptitude of conjuring sunshine, rain or thunder, that at a Tevatron congress in Batavia, Illinois, they’d been debating the likelihood of a spaceship generating its own wormhole, as originally proposed in Contact by the great Carl Sagan.
            How near were they to unravelling any of this? Belinda demanded to know.
     Michio shook out his trademark silver tresses.  It might take many years, he replied noncommittally. “Everything we know about common sense is thrown out of the window. Gravity is caused by the bending of space and time – so gravity is not really pulling us down to the ground, it is space that is pushing us down.”  Michio then held out the likelihood of inventing anti-gravity for space-bound propulsion systems even before the century was out.
            Davison cocked a defiant eye at Michio.  “Yeah, just as likely as fifty turkeys diving out of your ass.”           
 “Perhaps you don’t believe me,” Michio said, hands on hips.
            “Perhaps you’re flogging fruitcakes,” Butterworth replied. The good cop, bad cop thing seemed to work rather well.
            “I’ve heard that cardiovascular exercise can prolong life.” Belinda butted in. “Is this true?”
            Michio appeared unflustered. His wit was as quick as her own and he responded with all the élan of a modern-day game-show host: “Your heart only good for so many beats, and that it...don’t waste on exercise,” he parried in a pidgin accent I wouldn’t myself dare replicate. “Everything wear out eventually.” He gave a lopsided grin. “Speeding up heart not make you live longer; it like saying you extend life of car by driving faster. Want to live longer? Take nap.”
            “How can I calculate my body/fat ratio?” Belinda parried po-faced.
         “Well, if you have body and you have fat, your ratio one to one,” explained Michio. “If you have two bodies, your ratio two to one.” 
            “Will sit-ups help prevent me from getting a little soft around the middle?” Butterworth now entered the discussion. He could charm as easily as he could provoke.
            “Definitely not!” Michio firmly replied. “When you exercise muscle, it get bigger. Only do sit-up if you want bigger stomach.”
            “Michio”, I said, ruminating on the general situation, “Should I cut down on meat and eat more fruit and vegetables?”
            “You must grasp logistical efficiencies,” Michio replied, becoming ever more animated.“What does cow eat? Hay and corn. What are these? Vegetables. So, steak nothing more than efficient mechanism of delivering vegetables to system. Need grain? Eat chicken.”
             “Is swimming good for your figure?” Belinda persisted, determined to clear the deck.
              Michio  kept his nerve. “If swimming good for figure, explain whale to me.”  And there you have it. Deduction was the first, logical link in Michio’s chain. Second only to the free-flowing character of his wit. He quite obviously was fond of using the Socratic method.
            “Kaku-Macho-san,” I announced, using the Japanese honorific, “you’ve just won the Impressionist of the Year Award,” adding that the European Organisation for Nuclear Research (CERN) was attempting to offload toxic bosons on to Apple’s iPhones in a complex transaction that exploited wormholes in Google’s Android system.  But Michio  declined to contest the issue. Wormholes were just another mathematical manifestation of relativity, he said, before embarking on a supplementary quest into medieval alchemy, dream interpretation, and the Chinese Book of Changes.  But he couldn’t fool me. I licked my lips. Michio had all my attention now. He was one of the most sought-after
speakers on quantum mechanics -  someone who had the wry intelligence of a man of action, the clear-sighted presence of a rationalist, and the poise to prophesy that his work would be appreciated two thousand years hence. So it was probably no accident that some Tevatron physicist interested in parallel universes had been inspired by the possibility that wormholes could bridge interminable distances at a point where time travel would be realistically visualized. Unfortunately, if such a notion was completely foreign to the classical mechanics of Newton, black holes created under Geneva would have no resemblance either to the astronomical black holes popularised by blockbuster films, for, insensibly self-anulled, the black hole  was more of a retrospective codification of a scientific process than a decreasingly small handful of anything at all.

            Geneva Convention aside, that’s when Belinda kissed him.  She later said she had come to realize that if she didn’t kiss him then and there, he might have moved on to his next great passion: Japanese fairy tales – and the prospect that it would never have ended.  Point taken, I thought. Time slows down for fast-moving individuals.


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