Physics explained in Englis

Physics explained in English, without any Latin or Greek nonsense, from atoms to quantum physics, electrons, particles, waves – by Poul Anderson, one of my favorite hard science fiction authors I read as a kid (I learned so much about science from his short stories):

For most of its being, mankind did not know what things are made

of, but could only guess. With the growth of worldken, we began

to learn, and today we have a beholding of stuff and work that

watching bears out, both in the workstead and in daily life.

The underlying kinds of stuff are the *firststuffs*, which link

together in sundry ways to give rise to the rest. Formerly we

knew of ninety-two firststuffs, from waterstuff, the lightest and

barest, to ymirstuff, the heaviest. Now we have made more, such

as aegirstuff and helstuff.

The firststuffs have their being as motes called *unclefts*.

These are mightly small; one seedweight of waterstuff holds a

tale of them like unto two followed by twenty-two naughts. Most

unclefts link together to make what are called *bulkbits*. Thus,

the waterstuff bulkbit bestands of two waterstuff unclefts, the

sourstuff bulkbit of two sourstuff unclefts, and so on. (Some

kinds, such as sunstuff, keep alone; others, such as iron, cling

together in ices when in the fast standing; and there are yet

more yokeways.) When unlike clefts link in a bulkbit, they make

*bindings*. Thus, water is a binding of two waterstuff unclefts

with one sourstuff uncleft, while a bulkbit of one of the

forestuffs making up flesh may have a thousand thousand or more

unclefts of these two firststuffs together with coalstuff and


At first is was thought that the uncleft was a hard thing that

could be split no further; hence the name. Now we know it is made

up of lesser motes. There is a heavy *kernel* with a forward

bernstonish lading, and around it one or more light motes with

backward ladings. The least uncleft is that of ordinary

waterstuff. Its kernel is a lone forwardladen mote called a

*firstbit*. Outside it is a backwardladen mote called a

*bernstonebit*. The firstbit has a heaviness about 1840-fold that

of the bernstonebit. Early worldken folk thought bernstonebits

swing around the kernel like the earth around the sun, but now we

understand they are more like waves or clouds.

In all other unclefts are found other motes as well, about as

heavy as the firstbit but with no lading, known as *neitherbits*.

We know a kind of waterstuff with one neitherbit in the kernel

along with the firstbit; another kind has two neitherbits. Both

kinds are seldom.

The next greatest firststuff is sunstuff, which has two firstbits

and two bernstonebits. The everyday sort also has two neitherbits

in the kernel. If there are more or less, the uncleft will soon

break asunder. More about this later.

The third firststuff is stonestuff, with three firstbits, three

bernstonebits, and its own share of neitherbits. And so it goes,

on through such everyday stuffs as coalstuff (six firstbits) or

iron (26) to ones more lately found. Ymirstuff (92) was the last

until men began to make some higher still.

It is the bernstonebits that link, and so their tale fastsets how

a firststuff behaves and what kinds of bulkbits it can help make.

The worldken of this behaving, in all its manifold ways, is

called *minglingken*. Minglingers have found that as the

uncleftish tale of the firststuffs (that is, the tale of

firststuffs in their kernels) waxes, after a while they begin to

show ownships not unlike those of others that went before them.

So, for a showdeal, stonestuff (3), glasswortstuff (11),

potashstuff (19), redstuff (37), and bluegraystuff (55) can each

link with only one uncleft of waterstuff, while coalstuff (6),

flintstuff (14), germanstuff (22), tin (50), and lead (82) can

each link with four. This is readily seen when all are set forth

in what is called the *roundaround board of the firststuffs*.

When an uncleft or a bulkbit wins one or more bernstonebits above

its own, it takes on a backward lading. When it loses one or

more, it takes on a forward lading. Such a mote is called a

*farer*, for that the drag between unlike ladings flits it. When

bernstonebits flit by themselves, it may be as a bolt of

lightning, a spark off some faststanding chunk, or the everyday

flow of bernstoneness through wires.

Coming back to the uncleft itself, the heavier it is, the more

neitherbits as well as firstbits in its kernel. Indeed, soon the

tale of neitherbits is the greater. Unclefts with the same tale

of firstbits but unlike tales of neitherbits are called

*samesteads*. Thus, everyday sourstuff has eight neitherbits with

its eight firstbits, but there are also kinds with five, six,

seven, nine, ten, and eleven neitherbits. A samestead is known by

the tale of both kernel motes, so that we have sourstuff-13,

sourstuff-14, and so on, with sourstuff-16 being by far the most

found. Having the same number of bernstonebits, the samesteads of

a firststuff behave almost alike minglingly. They do show some

unlikenesses, outstandingly among the heavier ones, and these can

be worked to sunder samesteads from each other.

Most samesteads of every firststuff are unabiding. Their kernels

break up, each at its own speed. This speed is written as the

*half-life*, which is how long it takes half of any deal of the

samestead thus to shift itself. The doing is known as

*lightrotting*. It may happen fast or slowly, and in any of

sundry ways, offhanging on the makeup of the kernel. A kernel may

spit out two firstbits with two neitherbits, that is, a sunstuff

kernel, thus leaping two steads back in the roundaround board and

four weights back in heaviness. It may give off a bernstonebit

from a neitherbit, which thereby becomes a firstbit and thrusts

the uncleft one stead up in the board while keeping the same

weight. It may give off a *forwardbit*, which is a mote with the

same weight as a bernstonebit but a forward lading, and thereby

spring one stead down in the board while keeping the same weight.

Often, too, a mote is given off with neither lading nor

heaviness, called the *weeneitherbit*. In much lightrotting, a

mote of light with most short wavelength comes out as well.

For although light oftenest behaves as a wave, it can be looked

on as a mote, the *lightbit*. We have already said by the way

that a mote of stuff can behave not only as a chunk, but as a

wave. Down among the unclefts, things do not happen in steady

flowings, but in leaps between bestandings that are forbidden.

The knowledge-hunt of this is called *lump beholding*.

Nor are stuff and work unakin. Rather, they are groundwise the

same, and one can be shifted into the other. The kinship between

them is that work is like unto weight manifolded by the fourside

of the haste of light.

By shooting motes into kernels, worldken folk have shifted

samesteads of one firststuff into samesteads of another. Thus did

they make ymirstuff into aegirstuff and helstuff, and they have

afterward gone beyond these. The heavier firststuffs are all

highly lightrottish and therefore are not found in the


Some of the higher samesteads are *splitly*. That is, when a

neitherbit strikes the kernel of one, as for a showdeal

ymirstuff-235, it bursts into lesser kernels and free

neitherbits; the latter can then split more ymirstuff-235. When

this happens, weight shifts into work. It is not much of the

whole, but nevertheless it is awesome.

With enough strength, lightweight unclefts can be made to

togethermelt. In the sun, through a row of strikings and

lightrottings, four unclefts of waterstuff in this wise become

one of sunstuff. Again some weight is lost as work, and again

this is greatly big when set beside the work gotten from a

minglingish doing such as fire.

Today we wield both kind of uncleftish doings in weapons, and

kernelish splitting gives us heat and bernstoneness. We hope to

do likewise with togethermelting, which would yield an unhemmed

wellspring of work for mankindish goodgain.

Soothly we live in mighty years!

Leave a comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

× 8 = thirty two

Leave a Reply