(The lights dim. We are in a large study. A banker's lamp is turned on from an old wooden table. The table is covered with papers: star charts, encyclopedias, a sextant, a compass, a small globe. A telescope stands in the corner. An old and awkwardly dressed scientist looks up at us from his place at the table.)
Albrecht: You are finally here! (he stands to greet us and shuffles and organizes his desk papers) Tell me, whatever took you so long?
(He rummages through his desk for a small box, and then stumbles over to an old, old slide projector. He turns it on. It takes a couple minutes to warm up. We sit quietly for a moment, as the fan from the projector gets increasingly louder.)
Albrecht: (after a bit) Quite a racket it makes! I hope you'll be able to hear.
(he opens the box and begins filling the projector with old yellowed slides.)
Albrecht: Well it's quite all right, there are only very few for us to get through. But I must say, time is of the quintessence! (he chuckles) You should be more prompt. Imagine if this had been your Electricity and Magnetism section?
(He finishes with the projector. It quiets down.)
Albrecht: Well alas, it is not. However, that is not to say that the subject is un-urgent. Yes, in fact, if you have plans to go on studying things the way you all do, I daresay it is fundamental. Do not be late again. (beat). Now then, what do we have first?
(click. It is a picture of various fundamental constants; Planck's constant, Pi, Phi, a mol, the temperature at which water boils and freezes, the temperature as which gasoline combusts, and other things that you might find in the back of a physics textbook.)
Albrecht: Oh of course, I've forgotten entirely to tell you what we are doing. This one. (he points on the screen with a long, long pointer) This is "Phi."
(click. It is a picture that describes the relationship between two numbers, such that a : b is equal to (b - a) : a. Below that relationship is a picture of a golden rectangle (with nothing inscribed), but labeled with the short side as (a) and the long side as (b).)
Albrecht: If any of you think you know where this is going, I am truly sorry. Feel free to sleep. I have a pitcher of water on my desk if you get thirsty. Here we are: this particular rectangle is known as 'The Golden Rectangle.' It is a unique shape, as I'm sure you math majors know. Now, bear with me - the next slides are hand-colored.
(He speaks the next line as he clicks. Each successive slide shows a crayon-scribbled line that inscribes a new golden rectangle inside the first.)
Albrecht: Now here, as we begin, you will see I have drawn a line through the center, making a square and a rectangle within the boundaries. The dimensions of the rectangle inside are exactly proportional to the dimension of the larger rectangle. Thus we can divide the inner rectangle again in the same way, by inscribing a square, and again. And again, and again, and again.
(FINISH - uses of the golden mean, and places it is found. Art. Musical system. Phi is present throughout nature. Phi is nature. Now, from the topic of nature
Albrecht: I do believe that this is a good moment to transition, if you will, to my main argument.
(click. We see the gardens at Kew. There's a lanky greyhound in the picture.)
Albrecht: This is a lovely photograph from my visit to the gardens of Kew, in London. This is the main entrance.
(click. The slide is a close-up of the aforementioned greyhound, looking silly. A hand is holding his dogtag.)
Albrecht: Oh I had forgotten! Now I am not one for dogs, but this is perhaps the exception - I had jaunted just over there to take the next slide, when he sidled up next to me. I turned to see who was pushing me, and found myself looking at this. Well, as you can see I had to know the name of this dog, and this is what his collar read:
"I am His Highness' dog at Kew;
Pray tell me, sir, whose dog are you?"
We had a good chuckle together, that dog and I.
(click. The next slide is a smaller, more specific section of the gardens.)
Albrecht: This is the picture I meant to take. These are the herbaceous gardens.
(click. A flowerbed covered in clover.)
Albrecht: This is the Azalea bed. It hadn't been weeded.
(click. A closer shot, hand drawn in pen and ink, not unlike one of Durer's pieces of turf.)
Albrecht: Ah, I apologize, my camera gets very fuzzy up close. The rest of them are sketches that my son did. This is yet a closer look.
(click. It is a clover flower, or something equally simple.)
Albrecht: Trifolium repens. White clover. Fabaceae. A wonderfully simple inflorescence, isn't it?
(click. A closer study of the inflorescence. It is not simple at all.)
Albrecht: Now I have fooled you, haven't I? It is not simple at all. My son is quite the scratcher, isn't he? If only he would draw something besides his plants.
(click. A closer study, to the individual florets.)
Albrecht: As I said, it is not simple at all. (He stands fixed on the projection. Beat. He turns off the projector.) Not at all. Have you ever looked closely at your significant other? Your father, your mother? Your son? I suggest that you do so immediately. (Beat) There is an old saying somewhere: "To what shall I compare this life of ours? Even before I can say: it is like a lightning flash or a dewdrop, it is no more." (Beat) Please do not be late again. Or, if you cannot choose but be late, please still come. Math is very useful. But I would hate to be the man that missed the clover. That is all. I must be going. I will call you again when it is time.
(He puts on a scarf and a funny hat, grabs a small traveling case, and walks off stage.)