In the normal universe, “to be” is annihilated by “not to be.” But for reasons that are still a mystery to even the deepest math of physics, a bit of matter in a billion or so is not obliterated, it has no antimatter partner. It becomes a drop of experience. But why is the universe not symmetrical, not a perfectly smooth spread of photons, the particles of light? What’s behind this break in symmetry? Why do some quarks (the stuff of particles in the nucleus of an atom) escape what’s called the “primordial annihilation”? This question was on Nelson’s mind for much of her life.

As for me? The mystery of cosmic asymmetry will always be the point at which an imaginary conversation with my brother about God would begin. We are on one of those docks on Lake Washington. The stars are in the sky. Bellevue shimmers in the distance and is reflected by the water. I turn to my brother and say: “I have never, ever said this to you before, but I will tonight. If there is a God, Kudzai, He can only be a break in symmetry. Not creation, but violation.”

Charles Mudede