The laws of physics

An old Dave Barry column

Rob and his roommate, Hal, stay up all night discussing Deep Questions and figuring out the universe, and when they have it nailed down — The Rob and Hal Theory of Everything — Rob calls me up, all excited, and starts talking about time travel, the Fifth Dimension, the Big Bang, etc. I try to follow him, but I am hampered by a brain that for decades has firmly believed that the Fifth Dimension is the musical group that sang ”Up, Up and Away.” So I quickly become confused and testy, and Rob gets frustrated and says, ”Don’t you understand? THERE’S NO SUCH THING AS TIME!” And I’ll say, “YES THERE IS, AND RIGHT NOW IT’S FIVE O’CLOCK IN THE MORNING!”…

This is not to say that I know nothing about physics. I studied physics for an ENTIRE YEAR in Pleasantville High School under the legendary Mr. Heideman. We learned that there are five simple machines: the lever, the pulley, the doorbell, the hammer and the toaster. We learned that the most powerful force in the universe is static electricity, which Mr. Heideman demonstrated by getting a volunteer to place his or her hand on a generator, which caused the volunteer’s hair to stand on end, unless the volunteer was a girl with the popular early-’60s ”beehive” hairstyle held rigidly in place by the other most powerful force in the universe, hairspray. Presumably, if Mr. Heideman had cranked the power up enough, the static electricity buildup would have caused the volunteer’s head to explode, and we would finally have found out if — as widely rumored — many ”beehive” hairstyles contained nests of baby spiders.