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Physics Guru in a Pool Hall

Updated: Apr 30, 2023

Often during my husband’s great “Summer 2018 Pool Hall Tour,” I wait back in the motel, telling myself that I’m going to get lots of work done on my novel which somehow never seems to happen. Rarely does Mike come back and say, “You just have to come with me to meet this guy.”  But that’s just what he did when he returned from a tournament he was playing in at “Hard Times Billiards” in Sacramento on July 15.

Maybe it was because I had been talking Mike’s ear off for a few days about a documentary I found while flipping through the dozens of channels on the motel TV.  It was the one where Stephen Hawking was explaining the theory of multiple universes where versions of ourselves might be existing simultaneously (or something along those lines of incomprehensible ideas.)

“Come on, you gotta meet this guy,” Mike persisted. “He’s the tournament director at “Hard Times” today, and when I went over to check in, I noticed the screen on his computer.  You wouldn’t believe it, stuff about physics and philosophy, formulas on quantum physics. He’s amazing.”

So because the dendrites in my brain were still engaged in trying to comprehend a tiny spark of what Stephen “Unfathomable” Hawking had expounded upon in his documentary, I thought, “I do have to meet this guy.”

So I walked into “Hard Times” with Mike, pushing him past the crane machines he’s addicted to, and went into the tournament room to meet Brian La Flamme, the tournament director and pool player himself.  Sure enough, there on Brian’s computer screen was an article by James Beichler.  It might have been “The Thermodynamics of Evolutionary (Open) Systems” or a pdf entitled “Intuitive Consciousness and the Logic of Single Field Physics…”; I don’t know.  I just know there we stood, Mike, Brian, and I talking about magnetic theory and brain waves while the players played on in the tournament room. (It’s not as if we could go over and cheer them on shouting “8 ball in the side, 8 ball in the side!”).  The quieter, the better seems to be a pool hall maxim.

So after a few minutes of discussing whether physics, philosophy, and the paranormal can intersect somewhere to make the meaning of life clearer, I took a picture of Brian, the unassuming Tournament Director/Physics fan, and decided I should write a letter to Chuck Lorre and his team of writers on “The Big Bang Theory.” In that letter, I’d suggest a pool hall themed episode. “The stereotype of a pool player,” I’d write, “should be changed to one that matches the stereotype of a chess player or other left-brained thinkers.” Since most of the players I’ve been meeting on this road trip either work in or have an interest in the field of Math and Science, the probability of Leonard demolishing Penny’s boyfriend Zach in a game of 8 Ball like some Minnesota Fats would not be far-fetched.  Of course that scene would have to be set in a dive bar where the dialog would involve talking smack (better known in the pool hall as “sharking”). There’s not much room for dialog in a Pool Hall tournament, unless you’re talking physics on the side to a guy like Brian LaFlamme.

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