This scene, where Peter explains superstring theory to Lily, never made it into the book. It was originally part of the first conversation Peter and Lily had in Mr. Richards’ class. That scene is now from Peter’s POV, although this one is from Lily’s. Instead I ended up putting some of these words in Isdemus’ mouth a few chapters later.
Peter thought for a minute. “Let’s say, and it’s only a theory, that the universe is like a meshwork of fibers instead of individual particles – like a trampoline. If someone jumps on the trampoline in the middle of the Pacific Ocean, the rest of it will vibrate in Greenland, or for that matter at the outer edge of the Milky Way.”
“Everything is connected,” Lily summarized.
“Right – if the theory is true, which hasn’t been proven,” Peter said again. “What that means, of course, is that addition of energy in one place can alter the energy in another, seemingly unrelated location, and aspects of that have been proven in things like entanglement and such. That’s not related, don’t worry about that now,” he said as an afterthought, shaking his head.
Lily had the impression that he periodically forgot he was talking to another person.
He went on, “But if the theory of superstrings is correct, if there is a trampoline, it sort of presupposes the question of what’s behind it? From within the trampoline ourselves, we are somewhat limited in our sphere of influence. But if we could step outside of it for long enough to understand how the whole thing is put together, if we could comprehend how the addition or subtraction of energy in one place could affect the energy in another – well, theoretically, there would be nothing we couldn’t do. Metaphorically, it would be like finding the Philosopher’s Stone.”
Lily was hung up on a particular image that his words had suggested. Instead of solid humans in the room, she saw a grid. A few of them milled about to sharpen pencils or go to the bathroom, and as they moved the air in front of them rippled and moved forward in an arc until it encountered another solid object. If the object was another person, then ever so slightly the arc of wind ruffled the tiny hairs on their arms, making those more sensitive to a chill shiver and draw their sweaters tighter. And all around, behind the latticed canvas, she saw the penumbra. They seemed transparent to her only because she, too, was part of the canvas, but now she saw them as behind, outside, plucking threads and creating tiny, seemingly insignificant ripples that amplified as they moved further away from their origin.
“And you – think that’s possible?” she whispered, hardly daring to breathe.
“Bits and pieces of it. The Chaos Theory seems to imply pretty strongly that actions in one place can affect events very far away, but that doesn’t necessarily mean the cause and effect happens through a ripple of superstrings. As I said, entanglement theory demonstrates that once two particles are linked, alterations in one will affect the other in a complementary way. But this idea of an underlying fabric of the universe has yet to be proven, as far as I can tell.”