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6th February 2015

As those of you who keep an eye on science news may have noticed, last week's title - Speed Of Light - paid homage to the team of scientists in Scotland which recently made light travel slower than the speed of light. They did this by sending photons - individual particles of light - through a special mask which changed the photons' shape - and slowed them to less than light speed. It has some interesting implications for physics – congratulations to the team from Glasgow and Heriot-Watt universities.

This week's winner was the piece which received the highest marks from the peer reviews. It was a fascinating, surreal story, delightful in its execution and the markers liked it for the following reasons:-


'It was so original. It also made me laugh out loud. It seemed to be writing about some of life's clichés but in a really tongue in cheek way.' 

'I liked the beginning. It grabbed my attention and I wanted to read on. I liked the naturalness of the dialogue. Very realistic.'

'The author's refusal to sacrifice the reality of the story by artificially or too formally closing the story'


Many of you chose to dwell on the nature of light, time and communication in a contemporary context, which worked really well – you explored the isolation which could result from the seeming-closeness of instantaneous messages transmitted by light, when compared with a voice or something physical. One featured entry however, focused on the positive happiness brought into the bedroom by the sun’s rays each morning:-


‘If they come, the tiny pinpricks, photons and particles,
That slip and slide across the wood and through the cracks
To dance and play, reflecting on the whitewashed walls,
If they come, today will be a day for singing in the street.’


I loved the other featured entry this week, with its progression through time-zones – it is a masterpiece of construction and moon-tropes. One of the markers saw fit to award it 0 for ‘response to the title’ – I don’t find this appropriate as the piece very clearly deals with the ways in which the physical nature of global geography and the relationships of humans can be divided up by the speed of light. A piece doesn’t have to actually include the words of the title in order to respond to it and it's important to mark in a whole-hearted spirit.

It’s a short editorial this week; we’ve had a pretty full, bright moon here in the UK these last few days, the sort of moon that wakes you up at night and makes you wonder what’s going on, who has turned on the light, what are they doing, and then you see through the window of the spare room whose curtains you’ve omitted to draw closed, the glowing, brazen moon staring right into your house, into your cosy bed night-time, and you don’t know quite what it wants and whether you should let it in or shut it out. I bet those Scottish scientists have been looking at it too – I wonder if they waxed lyrical about the speed of light as they did so? I’ll quote the last lines of the time-zones featured entry as they fit in with this, and I haven’t quoted it yet. Guest judges back again for the next few weeks, but for now I leave you with:-


The new myth
of Sisyphus, both of us pushing the moon
up the sky to only have it fall back at our feet.
What a heavenly marble, what moony white blisters
on our hands from knuckling down, wounds
that would heal if we could only stop pushing.



AI 6th Feb 2015


My Notes