A Letter to Spacetime by Shashank Sule ’20

Dear spacetime,

I was going to write separate letters to space and to time but someone told me that your addresses were the same. I have never written to you. You don’t really know me. My role in your grand existence is that I cause little distortions. Very tiny distortions. In the spacetime where I exist, I am always told to believe that everyone starts by creating equal distortions. Equally little, or equally large. They bend you, stretch you, causing you to spiral in towards or away from them. That has been my existence so far: Being pulled and, on occasion, pulling others. But I also get pushed and sometimes nothing happens at all. It is all in your fabric.

I remember the time I moved to this space called Amherst and caused a ripple far, far away. I discovered that you are quite different in different places. But perhaps that has got nothing to do with you: it is all about the distortions. I feel those distortions every day, as at every periodic instance, (called mornings) I move my spatial locations. There are some locations where I loiter at greater probability. Like a large particle, I have inertia, a resistance to change. Once the distortions set me in motion, I tumble down into dwellings which objects like me call “Valentine” or “Beneski” or “Grab and Go”. Once I tumble down, there is no going back for a long time. After all, I am too indolent to go back up. Who would ever be grateful enough so to offer me the force back up to the dwelling, “dorm?” Turns out it’s you. Your distortions accelerate me.

Who is responsible for these distortions? They say it’s me, I am responsible for the distortions I feel. But I don’t really think so. I periodically stall my movement. I call it sleep. That is when I truly feel like a free particle, the model of all entities. My spacetime becomes my spacetime. The distortions I feel are my own distortions. That is perhaps the reason behind my high inertia, my immovability. Newton once said that one’s inertia is the same as its ability to distort. I don’t think you can feel my distortions when I sleep. I can. Does it matter? Who assesses my inertia? Does it exist outside me? Does someone else judge my inertia based on how many distortions I create? Am I only worth my distortions or am I something more? I think at Amherst, I am supposed to create distortions in the shared space time. That is perhaps why when I bump into other objects, they tell me they need more sleep. They yearn to be in their own spacetime. But do they really yearn? Maybe these particles like their shared space time. Perhaps they feel a meaning in their being as a particle in that spacetime. Probably, their deficit of their own space time is proportional to their existence in the shared space time. I think that is what they mean when they say they are tired.

We are all drawn in by external distortions, and we collide and repel while you ensnare us all. When we head innocuously straight, as free as particles get, our trajectories are actually curved by these distortions. In the past (you scoff at my linear notion of time) I was in the space called Valentine, and there I felt distortions pulling and pushing me here, there, and everywhere. I was moving around pretending everything was fine, but I was just really trying to grapple with the barrage of distortions. Which way would my acceleration point? I was being repelled from end to end and attracted occasionally. However, if I felt a pull from the stationary table, I felt a push from the stationary chair, which was too high for me to sit. Thus for a period of time we call fifteen minutes I wandered about, in the intensely distorted space-time, scouring for equilibrium. I did find it when the distortion from upstairs attracted me towards it and I finally sat down to have my food.

Some may say that all distortions are equal. But some distortions “are more equal than others”: to the extent that they repel; the shared space and time becomes limited. Put in many more equal particles like me and there we have you: the folded, contorted spacetime. Would I rather have you be any other way? Are your folds, creases and distortions a “natural order” of things? Would you be better off if I distorted the parts of spacetime whose current distortions repel me? Is this somehow better for me? I don’t know the answers to these questions; as a particle I can only know so much. What I do know is some particles are actually equal: we yearn for distortions equally and are equally nervous about our distortions. We hope to be pulled and to experience a force. The other day (another temporally linear notion) a particle radiated “How are you?” Excitedly, I turned my trajectory hoping for a distortion which would positively accelerate me. But the particle simply moved on, too caught up in its velocity. Something tells me that most of us are alike in that respect: waiting for distortions, yet too inertial for acceleration.

My dear spacetime, overly distortive particles are claiming you, exerting on all of us powerfully attractive and repulsive forces. A few particles claim to know you from the outside, the folded being that you are. What they do not know is that their spatial and temporal characters are shaped by your distortions; that you are the more powerful. Oh, spacetime, I know I am bounded by your curvature. Yet I fear that eventually, my distortions will not be enough, and that will be my fault. I fear that I will be assumed to be a free particle empowered by choice. After all, being a free particle is what permits one to go along one’s own velocity as that particle did the other day. What is right, spacetime? That I am determined, or that I am indeed free?

Awaiting answers,

A particle.

ssule20@amherst.edu

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