The Everyday Visuals' frontman Christopher Pappas is releasing the debut album from his Miracle Parade project today. To celebrate the release of "Hark! ...and other lost transmissions" we asked him to tell us about the song "The Dying Physicist". Here you go:
I had always been a fan of physics ever since I was young, but more recently in the last few years, it has turned into somewhat of an obsession. In fact, I've even dabbled in perhaps going back to school to get a degree in the subject. I read whatever books I can get a hold of; currently it is the Richard Feynman QED lectures on the way light behaves.
Light is one of the more fascinating aspects of quantum physics – namely the fact that it acts both as a particle and as a wave. Meaning, you can shoot photons of light; little pockets of energy – but sometimes these pockets, or marbles of energy can act like probabilistic waves.
What physicists pulled from these observations is that every particle starts out as a wave of 'potential' – meaning that you could only make a prediction on where it is going to end up. Its path on where it will land is all chance, circumstance, and probability. However, one can collapse the wave function – collapse the 'wave of potential', turning this wave into a point particle, with a definite space, location, and trajectory.
I found these insights into light pretty wild and in a peculiar way, sort of analogous to the human experience. I thought about my potential and the choices I've made, and how each moment – moment by moment - we are collapsing our wave function potential into one definitive life. We start out with a nothing but probability, chance, and a world of potential; and as we are pulled forward in time every 'now' moment collapses on us making us lead the one life we lead.
It was then that a story about a physicist who wasn't happy with the way his life had turned out came into my head. He was anxious, depressed, and worried by his heightened awareness of the minutes slipping by him. Each clock tick a reminder that he hasn't married, he hadn't gone outside enough, he hadn't visited enough foreign countries. As the regrets piled up he decided he should use his knowledge of physics to build a machine that would sling him back in time so he could have another go at life – this time he'd do it right.
So he begins building. He calculates the numbers, starts drawing up the plans and realizes that if he can use gravity to warp space enough he could tear a hole letting him move back in time. So he spends the better part of his life building this machine. Worrying, obsessing, anxiety stricken over it; he spends his days and nights indoors, alone at his desk.
Then, after years of toiling the thought hit him: I've wasted my life on this machine. I've wasted my life worrying about how I've wasted my life.
So his new mission became pretty clear: he was going to rush to finish the machine so that he can go back in time and stop himself from wasting his life building the machine. He could let his past self in on the thought that struck him too late: Most of us spend time lamenting on the vanishing potential in our lives, however this is in vain. His obsession over the things he hadn't done; his collapsed waves - simply caused him to miss the potential that was right outside his door the whole time.
At its heart, the song is really a cautionary tale; one I needed to write, mostly for myself, as a reminder that I am right here. I am firmly and inextricably plotted in the middle of two constant states: Behind me is finite, but ahead of me is a wave of potential.
Hearing is believing. Now that you know the story behind the song, listen for yourself and learn more about the album right here!