A warm warm August night, in a city wet from the Adriatic sea and shaken by the bora, I dropped an idea in the mind of yvi, one of my favourite vessels of ideas, though he seldom carries any one out. The idea was to create a cartoon about physicists in academia. He discussed the idea thoroughly with noema, and it started to get a shape.
It was almost decided that the title would be “Quantum Exposure”, making a wink at a mythical TV series from the early 90’s. Its main characters would be new grad students, which we describe succintly in the next lines:
– The computers geek. He did his undergrad at home, according to him, sending his exams by email. Nobody believes him, and the suspicion is there that he simply modified his marks from home. He never went out of home, and now he never dares go out of the department. So he lives there, though nobody really knows how he manages… He is scared of the exterior world. Severly overweighted, he loves netgames and he knows his friends only through their nicks and avatars. About his work in physics, he does not really care, he only runs jobs in a big big computer. His boss is just a mysterious guy behind a closed door, eager only to get numbers andpublish whatever.
– The philosophical geek. He doesn’t know how to switch on the computer. Long hair, Lennon’s glasses, dresses in black. Rather mystical around physics, always talking about Heidegger, Hermes Trismegistus, taoism, the Upanishad… He’s a real romantic, and has never in his life finished a single calculation. He never gets a penny, lives with friends or in dirty shared rooms. His boss puts him to work in string theory, convincing him that he’ll see the creator face to face, but he gets disappointed as time goes by…
– The heir. A cute boy, dressed by his mom, which got rather good marks but doesn’t really know anything about physics. He just knows how to pass exams. When he entered the department, there was a transfiguration, God’s finger touches him and a deep voice says he’ll be the next head of the department.
His boss is a lady with a complete failure in her personal life, oscillates between a motherlike care for him and lust. All professors bow at his remarks, looking for depth where there is none.
– She. Hippy, smart and coquette. Plays cello in a jazz band. Well organized, efficient and very motherlike. She gives shape to the small group. Her boss is a middle aged handsome and elegant man, always looking for fancy topics.
– The head of the department. Everybody considers him to be a celebrity, but nobody knows why. Remarks go of the sort “D’ye know Feynman? He once met his brother in law”.
– An “Adam”-like professor (like in Northern exposure), brilliant -but you’re never sure about the truth of what he says-, and extremely rude with everybody.
Some cartoons which we had in mind, for example, along the lines of the Divine Comedy, a student entering the faculty building, where it can be read “Those who enter here, leave all hope”. In another, in a dark reference to Casablanca, a student asks another, “why did u come to physics?”, “for the money and the glamour”, “but there is no money or glamour in physics!”, “ok, i was misinformed…”
There was some arguing about the title. Others were proposed, like “A flavour of entropy”, “The moth effect”, “There’s an atom in my soup”, “An electrizing life”… Who knows? Some day… Here you have a possible logo for the series…