Monday, March 05, 2007

Stochastic Reverse Engineering, Or The Sensing Of Stress

The month of February was a quick blink - a flutter of my thickly smudged and mascara-coated eyelashes in the large melty flakes of snow that made the University grounds look like a cold and absurdly utilitarian ski lodge complex. Also, i had lost two pairs of mittens this February month. i suppose it was really hard to smoke with clumsy mittens anyway. Goodbye to you then, Sir February, and our quick fling together; when you made the days piercingly cold to soothe my raging anticipation propelled by my seminar to my Faculty cluster, and when we danced all the gin-soaked night to a C'est Dangereux anti-Valentine's party, and when you spun me into a panic attack in a big bed at 4am one of your nights, so all i could do was cry out for someone to lie close to me.

March hides the spring and protects her from our city's eagerness (as the last snow is always during the May long weekend, preferably when our flimsy tents collapse from the snowfall accumulated overnight onto our ever-optimistic selves, every time we decide to inaugurate camping season). But today, i believed in the coming of spring, in a borrowed and worn-in badass tshirt and a black yarny sweater, as i walked along the melted streets in the sunshine with a large coffee and a soft package of cigarettes with an accomplice. i am still sick, and i know that no amount of orange juice or Neocitran could possibly make up for the way i have been careless with caring for myself. But i try in vain to suppress the chronically surfacing illness with vitamin C, throat drops, and a few less cigarettes. Spring comes with fever, right?

Which brings me to a colloquium a few days ago, held by the Physics department of the University i attend, hosted by a charmingly eloquent Dr. Stanislas Leibler, the head of the Laboratory for living matter at The Rockefeller University. i quite greedily drank in his nimble hour and forty minute talk on "Fluctuations, Informations and Survival: Lessons From Bacteria." He gets one thinking with his slides n' slides of formulas and clever collections of variables, about some sort of intertwined world where even stochastic variations can be accounted for in an elegant model. These stochastic effects of course, are multiplied together - not additive.

Multiplying the poor things i have decided for and done to myself is a limit fast approaching infinity at an exponential rate. i am quietly screaming all the way, like one might down a waterslide.