Point

Point/Counterpointsciencerelationships Feb 9, 2005

Darling, I Will Give You The Moon And The Stars

By Brandon Hendrickson, English Grad Student

Dearest Sally, I can no longer hide what I've been feeling since the day you borrowed my pen at Kampus Koffee. If I don't let my emotions out, I'll burst with the sheer intensity of longing to be by your side. All day, every day, I think of nothing but you. I would follow you to the ends of the earth, to the bottom of the deepest sea, or live with you at the top of the highest mountain. You are everything to me, and without you, I am just an insignificant speck in an uncaring universe. Say you'll be mine, and I'll give you the clouds, the sun, the rain, the sky—I will give you the whole world.

Say only that you will turn your shining smile my way, my love, and I will give you the very moon and stars!

At night, I pore over my assigned reading and try to focus on the immortal words of Byron—but my thoughts drift to you. I love the way you talk, the way you walk, the way you frown over hardbound copies of the Feynman lectures. I adore the way you squint when you are memorizing formulas.

We've been sitting together at the library for six weeks now, but I've never dared to let you know that my feelings go far beyond THOSE OF of a study partner. When I hear you discussing your homework with your classmates with such intelligence and passion, I can't help but wish you were whispering those words in my ear, instead.

Darling, you are my heart's one true desire! Please tell me the words I so long to hear! Say you love me, too!

Do you want the moon? I will reach up and take it in my hands, write your name on it, and give it to you. It will be yours until the end of time.

Do you want the stars? I will roam the universe for all eternity, gathering up the twinkling points of light in the night sky. I will string the glittering stars into a latticework of jewelry to tuck into your hair, to adorn your neck, and to string around your pretty ankles. Say the word and I will do it.

When I see you on the quad, on your way to this symposium or that, I want to shout to the ends of the universe my total devotion to you. When you are sitting next to me at the cafeteria, idly chatting about student loans and work-study positions, I long to take your hands in mine and kiss your beautiful tapered fingers. Darling, you may study the universe, but you are my universe.

Put an end to my torment! Give yourself to me, and I will give you everything in return.

Counterpoint

Giving Me The Moon And Stars Would Have Disastrous Effects On Our Galaxy

By Sally Toeffer, Physics Grad Student

You're sweet, Brandon, and I'm flattered, but what you're proposing would never work out. There are so many holes in your proposal that I only have time to cover the most obvious ones.

First, regardless of whatever emotional motivation you may feel for doing so, you could never follow me to the bottom of the deepest sea. The water pressure at the bottom of the Marianas Trench exceeds 18,000 psi. A layperson could never be granted access to the type of submarine he would need to go down there. Nor could we go live together at the top of the highest mountain. Even if we could just be dropped off in a helicopter, the ionosphere is so thin that we would both die within a day due to oxygen deprivation and exposure. And Brandon, giving me the moon and stars would have disastrous consequences for our galaxy, and for other galaxies, as well.

Presume, for the sake of argument, that it is within your power to give me the moon. As you know, impact with an extraterrestrial object a fraction of the moon's mass—one the size of Rhode Island, for example—would constitute an extinction-level event for most of the planet. If the moon were to collide with the Earth's surface (where I would be standing when you gave it to me), it is unlikely that even bacteria would survive. The long-term effects of such a devastating alteration in the gravitational field of our solar system could even extend to objects well outside of the Oort Cloud.

Next, let's consider what would happen if you gave me the stars in the night sky. There are 8,479 objects visible to the naked eye in the night sky under ideal viewing conditions. (Of course, many of these objects are not stars at all, but galaxies so distant that we perceive their billions of separate stars as single points of light. But I won't quibble.) Were you to gather, in one place at one time, just the stars that are visible to us, the result would be an implosion that would rend the very fabric of space-time. Regardless of where I tucked them, the massive implosion caused by the ultra-high-density matter collapsing under its own weight would form a black hole larger even than the supermassive black hole at the center of our own galactic spiral.

As much as I hate to say it, the only part of your proposition that was even remotely accurate was your description of yourself: "an insignificant speck in an uncaring universe." Please don't take it too hard, Brandon. It's not you, it's just scientific fact.