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  • Writer's pictureG. S. Taylor

Cottage Cheese and the Universe

Updated: Nov 26, 2019

There is a joke that a friend and I came up with when we were studying physics together at university. The joke is admittedly not very funny, but it basically asserts that all of existence is in fact cottage cheese moving around in nothing.

See, the basis for the joke was the realisation that the word “quark,” other than referring to the type of elementary particle which makes up all matter, also, amusingly, is the word used for a certain kind of curdled milk. Like I said, not very funny. The joke does provide some interesting insights as to the nature of our universe, though.

If the universe really is nothing but stuff moving in the great black void, then it stands to reason that changing the movement of that stuff is the key to enacting your will on the universe. Go outside, kick a lump of cottage cheese known as a “ball,” and there you have it: you made something happen, good for you. Chase your dreams. But wouldn’t it be better if you didn’t have to go outside to kick the ball? Would it not be amazing to just think the ball into movement?

A wise man once said that magic is the act of moving something without touching it, no more and no less – and by extension, anyone who finds a way of doing so will attain divine powers. Now, you might say, “But I move things without touching them all the time. I blow out birthday candles. I change the channel using the remote. I had an RC plane when I was a kid. I’ve got magnets on my fridge!” And you’re half right. Those are all very real events that you do compel into existence – but you don’t do so at a distance.

When you blow out a candle, your brain sends a biological signal which runs down your spine, reaches your diaphragm, which in turn contracts in such a way as to expel air, which, then, extinguishes the wick. You did not blow out the candle. The air touching it did.

The TV remote and the RC plane both work by sending electromagnetic signals – light, if you prefer – to the receivers inside the TV or the toy. The signal leaves the controller, moves across space, touches the antenna inside the target device, and makes something happen. It’s not you doing it. It’s the signal touching it.

Magnets? Well, they work the same way. There is always a clear line of things being touched as we trace the path from cause to effect.

Really, the closest thing to true “action at a distance” seemed, for a long time, to be gravity, as no mediator particles – like air or photons, “gravitons” – were ever found. So if you let go of something, the Earth seems to pull it towards itself. But for that, the Earth needs to know your “something” is there to begin with, and then act on it. How does the Earth know to do that? Well, the long and short of it is general relativity. That’s a bit beyond the scope of both this blog and my academic knowledge, though. So I’d kindly ask that you take my word for it: gravity isn’t action at a distance.

I’m also going, if you’ll allow, to side step the matter of quantum entanglement, for the simple reason that it really scrapes the semantic boundaries of what an “action” really is.

What I’m trying to say is that there is no such thing, under known science, as action at a distance. It’s simply not a thing that happens in our universe. The cottage cheese likes to be touched. Moving something without touching it would violate virtually all known laws of our universe. So your dreams of sending that ball flying without having to physically give it a good old kick with your over-evolved primate feet seem set to remain just that, dreams. You simply can’t do that.

But what if you could? Let’s run with this.

Think of your favourite fantasy story. It could be any book or movie or TV show or comic or whatever – just make sure it’s got a lot of flashy spells in it and stuff. Take any magic, any special ability, any fantastic phenomenon depicted in that story. If you could move things at a distance, you could do all of it.

Since we’re doing magic, let’s stop calling it “distance action” and call it, say… telekinesis. It literally just means “distance-movement” anyway. So that’s your one, single, magical ability: moving stuff without touching. No intermediary particle. No energy expenditure. Just think it, and it will do.

Mind reading? Well, thoughts are electric signals inside the brain. If you can move those signals – just jiggle them around a bit – as they happen, you can detect where they’re from and where they’re going, which, given a sufficient knowledge of the brain, would allow you to translate that into language. That’s basically how an MRI scanner works – in fact there are already actual efforts being made in literally mapping thoughts as they happen inside the brain to decode what the subject is actually thinking. No, really, look it up.

Telepathy, that is implanting your thoughts in someone else’s head? Same concept. Do it the other way.

How about a good old fireball? First things first, for fire you need something to burn – in this case probably carbon – and oxygen, plus an appropriate temperature. “Temperature” is literally just particles jiggling at a given frequency, so you’ve immediately got that covered. Oxygen? Plenty of it around. Suppose you’re out of firewood, though.

Imagine you’re Hermione Granger, and you’ve just learned to say Levi-O-sa rather than Levio-Sa. You swish and flick your magic wand and you lift, say, a bowling ball. Something heavy, anyway. Now just let go of it. Preferably over a dynamo of some sort. Congratulations! You’ve just violated another law of physics by creating energy out of nothing. And if you can create energy, you can create matter. You’ve got yourself an endless supply of burnable carbon. Have fun raining hellfire down on your noisy neighbour.

Time travel? That’s actually the easiest, inasmuch that you’re already doing it, at approximately one second per second, in the forward direction. Maybe you want to go a bit faster. Use your telekinetic powers to physically move yourself as arbitrarily close to the speed of light as you can – hell, maybe even at the speed of light, why not? This will make your own time slow to a standstill compared to everything else, meaning the universe will pass you by. Drop out of your intergalactic voyage any time you wish – you will find yourself in the distant future from where you started.

What’s that? You want to go backwards? Grandma used to be quite the looker, you say? Sure, just go a little bit faster than light. Travelling faster than light is mathematically the same as going backwards in time.

Want to glow like all the cool superheroes? Excite the electrons in the air particles around you so that they give off light as they come down. No air around, ‘cause you’re too busy shooting space lasers at invading alien spaceships, in space? Just make your own skin glow red hot. Or flat-out conjure the light particles of whichever colour you wish around your body and send them towards your audience’s eyeballs. You could even just make them think you’re glowing even though you really aren’t. The possibilities are endless.

Did I mention lasers? Oh, it turns out that Space Voldemort has an impenetrable shield against lasers. Okay, so just use a gun. No, not a regular gun, silly! Everyone knows muggle tech doesn’t work near magic! It’s a magic gun, duh. Use your telekinetic powers to accelerate globs of cottage cheese known as “bullets” towards your enemy. That is, if you can’t just crush their heart inside their body outright. Whatever you fancy, really.

Why stop at making your bullets fly really, really fast? Why not make them fly at infinite speed, such that they appear at their destination instantly? Oh, would you look at that – you’ve just invented teleportation, and every paradox associated with it.

Seriously, once you can move stuff at a distance, you can do anything.

So in short, cottage cheese explains why all magic systems ever devised that have spells other than telekinesis are nonsense. You really have no need for anything else.

This also concludes my thesis on why Hermione Granger, age 11, is the most powerful being ever conceived.

Thank you.


These thoughts on the magic of cottage cheese were part of my inspiration for my debut novel, Seven-Point Star. My intention was to create a fantasy story with a magic system based on telekinesis.

If you found all of that interesting, check out Seven-Point Star on


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