Last Physicist’s Waltz


An entry for Flash! Friday – vol. 2-29. The prompt for the week was “patience”.

I’ve heard it said the English slow waltz is the most beautiful to behold. Dancers in constant motion, pairing, twirling to the music. They swirl across the dance floor like snowflakes in a winter breeze.

Thorium-232 has the slowest of waltzes. Invisibly, infinitesimally, its nuclei dance to the rhythm of the weak nuclear force. With a half-life of fourteen billion years, the nuclei step out their slow, patient Geiger rhythm.

Impatient men failed to see the natural beauty of the slow waltz of atoms. Impatient men upped the tempo, changed the dance, taught Thorium-232 to tango. Nuclei whipped into a frenzy, gyrating helter-skelter across the landscape.

I’ve heard it said the English slow waltz is the most beautiful to behold. In the aftermath of the last dance, the nuclear beat goes on. The snow falls furiously now. There’s no one left but the atoms, and me; all dressed up to enjoy the dance in quiet solitude.

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