Wednesday, March 16, 2005

A Brief History of Love

"What if human emotions were reducible to purely physical notions?", is a question that might have struck many as singular. There might be some who would argue, "If you tell me that 'love' is what is felt when the spins of an even number of electrons in a left-polarised carbomethyl compound in the nerve-1931 of the carpus callosum get aligned due to a time varying magnetic field, I dont give a damn. I dont know what a quantum spin is, I dont know what left-polarisation is, but, I do know what it is to love and be loved. I cant believe, your science can make me understand it better".

True, but what is attempted here, is rather a mildly funny, imaginative narration of how things might have been, had love been the basic constituent of the universe we inhabit instead of, say, matter, and the greatest minds had spent their lives attempting to understand it better. The narration does assume some basic knowledge of the history of science (physics, in particular), but I have tried my best to refrain from very uncommon facts, to aid easier and enjoyable reading. This might be something similar to what Stephen Hawking would have written then.

--------------------- A Brief History of Love -----------------------

It was in the year 1660 that Descartes had said, "I love, therefore I am". (King Archemen, the dad of Descartes' lady love, had him hanged for that. "He loved, therefore he isn't (anymore)", he had yelled on his demise). The science of love, also known as "Phil-sics" (phil=love) has definitely come a long way, since then, the time when it was believed that love was "action at a distance".

Sir Isaac Newton, in 1680, formulated the fundamental laws of love and the gravity that henceforth results. He had, by an almost magical insight, discovered the law of gravity, wherein, the force of attraction between two objects was directly proportional to the product of their 'lovabilites' and to the 1936th power of distance (Yes, my friends, the force of love, unlike other forces known, increases with distance, and it so does, to the 1936th power of it). Its an irony that Newton, a bachelor for life, would be the first to decipher a significant understanding of love. (It is though believed that, Newton discovered this, when he was napping under an apple tree and a 'rose' fell from the above. (It was his lady who threw that. For further details, refer "Newton's illicit love affair, Cambridge Press, 2003")).

For almost two hundred years since then, it was believed that, the universe of love was 'deterministic', until the quantum age set itself in. It was almost at the same time that Einstein, a patent office clerk, had made a profound leap in the mechanics of love. "Love is relative", he'd said. "The Special Theory of Relativity (and Relatives)" was thus born. One of the primary outcomes of the theory was that, no matter what, an object has to hate lesser than the intensity of the "Phobo-Moron". (For the laymen in you, I can just say, at this point of time that, a Phobo-Moron, is a very unfeeling, unlovable, despicable freak). In short, you can't hate more than a phobo-moron can. Einstein, hadn't stopped at that. He went on to 'propose' (in a truly scientific sense of the word) the "General Theory of Relativitiy (and Relatives)". The theory claimed that, "Love, if sufficiently strong can bend one's space and time, and hence even a phobo-moron". This claim was verified beyond doubt, though practically it is very difficult to observe a phobo-moron bend in response to love. (The degree to which he/she does it, is too small and often escapes notice of the most talented eaves-droppers / door-sneakers that we have. As it was later shown, certain objects do exist, with a gravity so strong that even Phobo-Morons can't escape from them. In fact, their love is so strong, they collapse into themselves due to their own gravity).

Welcome to the quantum era. It was thought that 'love was a very continuous emotion', until Planck proved that it existed in quanta. (His conclusion was based on careful observations of black bodies, some say, negro women). Bohr had immediately come up with a theory where people existed in definite states amongst which they transit, whenever they experienced the feeling of love. Some found his theory, a little, Bohrrrring. But, it did prove the quantization of love beyond doubt. Quantum theory has made significant progress ever since, thanks to romantic people like Heisenberg, Pauli, Dirac, et cetera... Today, we understand that 'love is a non-causal, random force'. The behaviour is truly random, and what is predictable is only the probability that something would happen. I should not fail to note here that, Pauli had discovered the 'spin' (Some of you, who've felt love might recognize this feeling), and that Dirac had predicted the existence of 'anti-love', a mysterious force, which would later be popularly known as the 'hatred', that would annihilate 'love' and result in emptiness.

The Big Bang!! No serious book on "phil-sics" can do justice without it. Hubble, a popular attorney in Britain, had discovered that objects no matter what, receded away from one another against the force of love that tries to gravitate them together. (He had worked in tens of divorce cases, which might well explain his observations). Thus, the big bang was born. According to the theory, around 20 billion years ago, all of what exists was together in one bundle of primordial love, and it all started rapidly expanding with a bang, and hence diverging from one another. The big bang theory had two versions, the cold and the hot. The 'hot' theory of big bang eventually won because it could explain the 1037:994 sex ratio prevalent, quite accurately. (It also gained favour, because, some thought the theory was hot, and sexy).
What happens to the future of the universe we inhabit? Phil-sicists identify two possibilites, based on a quantity, called the 'critical love' of the universe. If the sum total of all love in the universe is less than the 'critical love', then the universe would eternally expand and disperse into nothingness. On the other hand, if the universe did have more love than the critical love then, objects would stop receding and come back together to form one nice bundle of Love. And the earth would be one beautiful place to live in!! And, we would all live happily ever after!!

This is where we stand today, as far as our understanding of 'love' is concerned. We are not far from the ultimate truth, and given the current advent of the theory of superstrings (elegant 'strings of love' that tie objects together), we foresee a very promising era in phil-sics, and soon love would be something we would finally understand.