Excerpt of Curve Ball

(partial scenelets from the middle of the play)

Scenelet 3:

(Same café as before. Alan and Dean are trying to figure how you can prove that space is curved as Bridget listens.)

 

            DEAN

—pi wouldn't—wouldn't depend on where you are, that is—in the universe.

 

            ALAN

Wait… I have an idea. Here. (ALAN picks up a basketball left nearby. He holds it up and uses it to demonstrate walking, etc., as he explains.) Imagine a 14th Century scientist on Venus who wishes to measure pi—

 

            BRIGID

—a sexually frustrated scientist, ‘cause he’s got nothing to do on Venus but clean the flytraps—

 

(…continued…)

            ALAN

Of course on Earth where the sphere, the ball, is a different size, you’d get a different value again.

 

            DEAN

Yeah, balls, yeah, yeah, yeah, different sizes. Venus and Earth, for example! (To Brigid.)

I would flirt with you, but I'd rather seduce you with my awkwardness.

 

            ALAN

Could we focus here? If we now did the same thing in space and got different values of pi, would that prove that space is curved?

 

            DEAN

(Turning and becoming engrossed in his tablet.) Right. Right. Go on. (Continues to play with his tablet.)

 

            ALAN

I’m drawing an analogy…a three-dimensional analogy to a four-dimensional problem. So Einstein said the fourth dimension was time, but it was complex, imaginary. i, that is. But then he went on to talk about curvature of space, which I don’t quite understand how that would fit. Dean will have to answer.

 

            DEAN

What? I’m sorry. I was doing some calculations. (Beat.) 2.7182818285. You asked. The actual value of e. Approximately.

 

            ALAN

The question I’m posing is Einstein said the fourth dimension is time. Right? 

 

            DEAN

Yes, yes he did. (Engrossed again on his tablet.) Oh, oh, oh, look what I found!

 

            ALAN

What?

 

            DEAN

Look at this formula. (Takes the whiteboard from ALAN. Writes a formula on it. e (i π)  +  1  =  0. Laughs.)

 

            ALAN

Oh yeah! One plus e raised to the power of i pi equals naught. Euler’s Identity. Richard Feynman loved it.

 

            DEAN

I don’t know that it has anything to do with anything, but it’s kinda cool that it includes e, pi, and the imaginary number i.

 

            ALAN

And by the way, Feynman is my hero. Not only was he brilliant but he also shagged every woman on campus. (ALAN and DEAN laugh. BRIGID looks askance.) I mean the thing is, he was human; whereas, a lot of other brilliant people weren’t, aren’t, you know, human. (Beat.) But back to the complex number.

 

            DEAN

So when you screw it (Laughs.), I mean square it…It goes negative—

 

            ALAN

—subtracting time, so—Einstein said that’s how we, that’s how we started with general relativity, but for space to be curved, you need a fourth geometric dimension for it to be curved around. Don’t you? That’s what I don’t understand.

 

            DEAN

I don’t know. We’ll have to ask a real physicist—my Uncle Charlie. (DEAN returns to his tablet to continue investigating.)

 

Scenelet 4:

(On the sofa in DEAN’s home in front of a TV. Sounds of a baseball game, preferably the World Series.)

 

            ALAN

An Uncle Charlie. That’s what it’s called! And that settles it.

 

            DEAN

Yes, the curveball was named after Lord Charles, but that doesn’t make him the best—

            ALAN

Dwight Gooden. Lord Charles. Best curveball pitcher of all time. 

 

(…continued…)

© All text copyright 2018 by Micki Shelton