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Soup of This Day #172: Open Your Heart And I’ll Play You A Song

April 26, 2012

Supernova remnant N 63A
This is either a. Supernova remnant N 63A in the Large Magellanic Cloud or b. The fallout from the Red Sox collapse of September 2011. Hard to tell really, they were both pretty big – Photo: NASA, 2005. NASA is not affiliated with Longworth72 and probably wouldn’t take him seriously if they were. Image cropped by Longworth72.

I used to study astrophysics. I was halfway decent at the astrophysics bit but really quite ordinary when it came to the study. This was in part because astrophysics was more of a minor while my major was in beer with assorted electives in alcoholic beverages of the world. Consequently I missed a lot of classes and spent a fair amount of time trying desperately to churn out assignments and papers under self-imposed pressure. With the occasional hangover.

I once did an entire semester’s worth of assignments for 1 unit across parts of 4 days with no break for sleep. I have a vague recollection of hearing Frank Zappa singing something about a calculator via the radio sometime around Hour Number 30. By Hour 40 I’d developed a deep appreciation of Roachford’s Lay Your Love On Me that in hindsight the song clearly doesn’t warrant. By Hour 60 I’d finished the work and a concerned colleague drove me home after I was found in the student common room staring at a frozen lentil ball.

I was trying to work out how to heat it up. Presumably by staring at it with my newly developed laser-beam eyes.

I don’t even like lentil balls – I’m not sure how I acquired 1. On the plus side I did get 100% for all of the assignments bar 1 that disappointingly was worth just 90%.

I don’t think the assessor ‘got’ me.

I don’t remember what happened to the lentil ball but I can tell you that after 8 years of being a student I called it quits a couple of units away from graduation. So I have no astrophysicsy kind of qualifications and you probably should bear that in mind for the rest of this post.

So I wasn’t good at the student thing but I did love the astrophysics. My area of 3rd Year research was in detection of gravitational radiation or as I like to describe it, noticing ripples in time.

Yep, that’s right. There are ripples in time. Time you see is not a rigid thing. This comes about because light travels at a constant speed in a vacuum – 3*10^8 m/s. Because it does we can measure distance in terms of time – For instance we can say that the nearest star to our Sun, Proxima Centauri, is 4.27 light years away. That means that light from Proxima takes 4.27 years to get here to us on Earth, so when you look at Proxima through a telescope you are seeing 4.27 years into the past. For a Red Sox fan this is good because you’ll be bathed in the glow of the 2007 World Series win and everything will be allllllllllright.

So distance can be measured in time and therefore time can be measured in distance. What you’ve got out of that is a 4th dimension which can helpfully be called space-time. Do not try to visualise this – Humans think in 3 dimensions because that is what we live in play sport in. 4 dimensions isn’t something that you can fit into a broadcast of a game of baseball.

This 4th dimension isn’t rigid – If you get something big enough then it’s gravitation can cause a ripple. You’d need something massive, like a supernova. If you take all of that mass imploding and then exploding then in theory you could witness a disturbance in the force… sorry… a disturbance in space-time. It would be small but you’d have a ripple in time.

You’re probably wondering what this has to do with sport. Or if you do actually have some astrophysics qualifications you might be wondering exactly how much beer I did drink back in the day.

A lot, is the answer to the latter and for the former, I’d like to postulate that like space-time, sport-time can also be distorted via massive implosions and explosions.

At the centre of my thesis is the Red Sox outing against the Minnesota Twins this morning. It was Game 3 of a series that either outfit badly needed to win. The Red Sox had already taken the 1st 2 games and so were set for the sweep to bring them a step closer to .500. The Twins just wanted a win. Any kind of win really.

The game itself started in normal time – The Sox got off to a flyer, netting 4 runs in the 2nd and taking a 7-1 lead into the 6th, thanks in no small part to a 3 run blast from Mike Aviles and a 3 hit effort from Dustin Pedroia that left him a home run short of hitting for the cycle. Meanwhile, on defence, Clay Buchholz on the mound had looked shaky early but settled down to keep the Twins quiet.

But then came the bottom of the 6th.

The Red Sox imploded.

And such was the force of that event that time was distorted. The bottom of the 6th took an age, each pitch seeming to take forever to deliver. It started with Buchholz who got an out but then allowed a run leaving Twins on 2nd and 3rd. He then issued a walk to load them up before being pulled.

2 more runs were scored. Then Scott Atchison was pulled.

Another run was scored. Justin Thomas then nailed Chris Parmelee in the side of the head and was pulled.

Another run was scored – This 1 off of a pitch that seemed to move through the air like a bullet in the Matrix – It must have been slowed down by something like a supernova ripple because Trevor Plouffe hit it for an RBI single and prior to that Plouffe was hitting at .087.

For the uninitiated .087 implies that you’re so out of form with the batting that it’s possible that you’re continuously facing the wrong way at the plate. Somehow in this instance Trevor Plouffe had time to turn around and nail 1 up the centre for an RBI single and a .125 average.

To be fair it’s early in the season so .125 is 3 hits off of 24 at bats. To be unfair Plouffe is a career .219 hitter.

Mercifully, with the score at 7-6 Red Sox Matt Albers got the last 2 outs via a double play. Then however time sped up again.

The Red Sox zipped through their at bats for the remaining 3 innings, not managing more than 1 hit, 4 strike outs and 1 double play. Minnesota’s efforts went through in slightly slower motion until the bottom of the 9th at which point it was like watching molasses run – Sox closer Alfredo Aceves took 17 pitches to wade through it all.

In the end though time was on the side of the Boston Red Sox – They escaped with a 7-6 win.

So the Red Sox now have a 7 and 10 record and time and space can stabilise for another day.

I’d like to end this post with a positive example of time distortion. October 27, 2004 and there was a baseball innings that had so much gravity attached to it that it took a whole 86 years to play out:

Albert Pujols, batting at 3, takes a ground ball single to center field.
Scott Rolen, batting at 4, flies out to right field.
Jim Edmonds, batting at 5, strikes out swinging.
Albert Pujols steals 2nd.
Edgar Renteria, batting 6, grounds out to pitcher Keith Foulke who passes to 1st baseman Doug Mientkiewicz.

‘The Boston Red Sox are world champions!’

There must have been some radiation out of that supernova because just writing about it still keeps me warm.

Open Your Heart And I’ll Play You A Song

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