Light can come from black hole

August 04, 2017

Netflix and Einstein is a good way to come out of a black hole.

When the world becomes gloomy and you realise you’ve done something stupid, the only thing to do is sit on the couch and watch Netflix.

This is a fairly recent discovery for me.

In the past I have taken to reading Famous Five, playing Germans and British, then as the years went by drinking Spatleseburgunder when bad things happened.

But Netflix is a wonderful escape if you’ve run out of Enid Blyton adventures and Spatlese.

So when I lost a $200 cheque from VicRoads, I went straight for the couch and Netflix.

It’s not often you actually get some cash back from a bureaucratic behemoth but this was the remainder of rego on a Mitsubishi that had gone to the graveyard after a lifetime of shunting children, dogs and cases of Spatelese for 25 years along the corrugated streets of our town.

The cheque arrived within a week of declaring the Mits dead and rusting, which was a pleasant surprise because the last time I traded in some plates for the rego, the cheque took six months to arrive.

Because I lead a crowded life of dog-walking, thinking and sleeping I put the cheque in a safe place to deposit later.

When it came time to turn the piece of paper into real digital money in my bank account it had disappeared.

The safe place is always my shoulder bag and my shoulder bag was empty.

So was my sock drawer — apart from socks.

My wallet was empty and so was the biscuit jar on the kitchen shelf.

Even the dog food fridge was empty.

All my secret hiding places were empty.

There was nothing for it but Netflix and Spatelese.

I chose the series Genius about the life of Albert Einstein starring the horribly talented Johnny Flynn as the young Einstein and the unbelievably rubbery Geoffrey Rush as the elder.

I reasoned that watching a genius who couldn’t function on the earthly plane because his mind was too focused on the stars would provide some comfort to someone who had lost $200 because he spent too much time on the couch thinking.

It was a thrilling, well-made series.

I never knew how complicated Einstein’s personal life was — with a regretted betrothal, a failed marriage to an equally brilliant physicist which produced two sons, one of whom became suicidal and then finally a happy marriage to his first cousin who then died more than 20 years before him.

That’s enough to drive anyone crazy.

But the thing is, despite his roller coaster personal life, the madness of World War I and the subsequent rise of Nazism, Einstein managed to soar above it all and fly among the stars.

In the process his theories changed the way we think about space and time and opened the door for the transistor, the laser, the electron microscope, GPS, black holes, nuclear power and crazy hair forever.

After watching all that I sat back on the couch and stretched out.

I was relieved I didn’t have to do daily battle with quantum physics and crazy hair.

Then I felt something rustle in my jeans pocket.

I reached in and there was my VicRoads cheque — crumpled, but readable.

Which goes to show that Einstein wasn’t always right — light can come out of a black hole.

John Lewis is chief of staff at The News.

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