Northern Powerhouse

Anne Caldwell

One morning, her son tries to explain quantum

physics in the car. They are at the railway station and

streams of commuters rush by, with their heads

down and their collars turned up. He talks about

particles acting as waves and Alice says, ‘where does

the cat fit in in all of this? Schrödinger and all that

stuff about the cat, you know, shut in a sealed box

along with something radioactive, a Geiger counter

and a bottle of poison.’ The boy shrugs his shoulders.

‘Google it if you want to know. I’ve had a long day.’

He’s now sixteen and this passes for in-depth

conversation. So they sit in silence and watch the

northern commuters. Are they particles or waves?

Manchester or Leeds? Alice wonders to herself but

she doesn’t speak out loud. Her son’s too busy

texting, with his head down and his collar turned up.

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