The physicist and the poet were discussing tragedy and beauty in the coffee shop, probably for no real reason except to make themselves feel better. The poet was playing with his pen. The physicist was playing with a laser pointer, drawing circles around the halogen lamps in the ceiling.
They had each been silent for a few minutes. The physicist suddenly remarked, “Light is the most tragic form of beauty in nature.”
The poet swallowed the last of his coffee. It had cost him $1.45 of the $1.70 he still possessed. “How so?”
“In atoms, electrons can be in different orbits around the nucleus. They can move up to higher levels. But they will always fail to stay there. They always fall back to a lower level. Every time an individual electron steps back down, the lost energy is given off as light.”
The poet nodded. “I understand.”
He excused himself and went upstairs to where the payphone was located, next to a closet with no door and a urinal inside. He dropped his last 25 cents into the phone and called his ex-girlfriend. All that we said to her was, “You are a star. I am a laser. Love is gravity.”
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