Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Theory of Relativity.....

With my most sincere apologies to Albert Einstein. (He WAS the one with the theory of relativity, wasn't he?)

This post has nothing to do with physics. Or whatever it was that Albert was famous for. For which Albert was famous. Whatever.

Have any of you ever experienced complete and total silence? Think about it. I mean the absolute absence of any sound. I kind of think I may have...but it was a long time ago, and part of my description of that experience will contradict the whole idea of complete and total silence. I'll (sort of) explain at the end.

This thought has occurred to me a couple of afternoons at the end of the school day. When the students leave, if we have no meetings or interviews, my co-workers and I are typically in our individual classrooms alone. We may be catching up on emails (the serious ones) or finishing up a level of Angry Birds (the slackers) or reading to the end of a chapter on the iPad (more slackers) or checking gymnastics websites to see what gymnasts should be inserted into the line-ups this week (slackers...wait...never mind).

Students are gone, and the hum of conversation is gone too. It's very quiet. Silent.

Then I turn off all the computers remotely. They go off one by one, and it becomes even silenter. As the low hum of each computer stops, what seemed like silence just a moment ago suddenly seems loud.

Then I turn off my own computer.

And then I turn off the power strip. It gets quieter and quieter and quieter. I've toyed with the idea of going around and unplugging every single power strip and device in the room, just to see how totally quiet it can be.

But that's a lot of trouble, and I'm not really that curious.

I'm not sure where I was going with this post. You may be able to tell that I couldn't decide which approach to take with this blog post. I was vacillating between being silly and sarcastic (my defaults) or attempting to make some serious connection between my computers and life. But I got nothing.

Now for my story about silence. I read an article once about some soundless booth a company (I think it was a telephone company) had developed for testing. They put someone in the booth and the person reported hearing the rushing waters of a river. That was the sound of the blood pumping through his veins and arteries. I thought that was cool. I think the closest I ever came to that was when I first started skydiving. Way back then we jumped with round canopies, old Army-issue ones. Those canopies, unlike the modern rectangular canopies, had almost zero forward drive in them. You jumped, you opened (thank all that is holy for those openings), and you went straight down. The only exception was that you could TURN the canopy so that the wind would carry you in a certain direction. Preferably in a direction that took you to the landing zone.

Because those canopies had no forward drive, there was very little motion. And it was dead silent under those babies. You couldn't hear the plane after it left, you couldn't hear anything from the ground because you opened so high (if you did what you were supposed to **ahem**), and there wasn't even the flap of nylon coming from the parachute. It was awesome.

Like the man in the soundproof booth, I think I heard my heart beating.

And it was going very, very fast.


DJan said...

I've never jumped a round, but my husband has more than a thousand jumps on them. He says the same thing: it's really quiet and serene under one.

I don't think I've ever experienced complete silence.

Kelly said...

When I think of complete silence I'm reminded of waking during the night and knowing the power has gone off. Absolutely no sounds in the house. Now it depends on whether it's a winter or warm weather storm outage as to how much of that silence extends to the outside. The winter kind is about as quiet as I've heard.