Monday, November 20, 2006

Chapter 30: A Clarification on the Malleability of the Past

Previous didactic treatises by my person have sought to explain the nature of time travel based on certain incidents that have been related to me by the somewhat dubious personage of Spinner McBlam’s cousin, who assures me that his name is too important to pronounce with one mouth. (In fact he will not respond unless at least 3 people voice his monosyllabic name – at least one has to be female, for purposes of harmony and distinction, he assures me*)

These accounts may have left the impression that the Scientific Community is in complete agreement on the matter. . . which we are not. The Lesser Scientific Community(LSC) has certain objections to the possibility of time travel. We in the Greater Scientific Community(GSC) try to avoid the hint of smugness in our voice when we point out that it is simply because they have not tried it yet.

Their arguments are fascinating and even spill over into the realms of the present and future, including destiny and freewill in a shameless attempt to appear “deep.” You see, there is good data from studies indicating that if a female perceives that a male in the LSC is “deep” she will ignore the growing awkwardness in his conversation for an additional 12 seconds before turning her attention to the shallow, but good-looking gentleman standing by the punch-bowl at the get-together. These additional 12 seconds of female attention are considered invaluable by the LSC. We in the GSC are above such qualms as pandering to the feminine aesthetic because, as David Sagus puts it: “They kind of have to start talking to us first.”

The LSC posits that if time travel is possible it is highly probable. Who would be able to do that and not use it? Therefore since the past has never been changed we have to assume that it cannot be changed. It is thus fixed and not subject to change. Therefore, since the present is nothing but the future’s past it is likewise unchangeable and so is the future – for how could a changeable outcome grow out of an unchangeable one? Destiny is absolute and nothing can change it.

Some disagreeable people disagree. . . er, naturally. They point out that if the past were changed our present would be destroyed and replaced by one more agreeable to the new logical flow of events. Therefore, we wouldn’t know that the past had been changed because memory is based (loosely) on previous events and the old, replaced memories would find themselves popping, embarrassed out of a mind in which they no longer had an excuse to inhabit. Memory is hard to hang on to anyway, much less when it knows it is no longer welcome. This would cause us to assume that the past is set, to proclaim so loudly, bask in the attention it provides, and then accept the set course of events as inevitable and with resignation when she goes to talk to Mark by the Punchbowl.

We in the GSC know that both extremes are extemperroneous. According to the theories of relativity nothing polite can travel faster than light. So the changes sliding down time’s arrow, like so many Cheerios down a string of minty dental floss would take an amount of time proportional to their distance from the present to snap the present into alignment.

Roy claims to have visited a family who, due to long memories and an incomprehensible stubborn streak, are able to recall the past past even after the new past has caught up to them. When asked to explain how they are capable of retaining memories which have no right to exist in their minds they reply: “Why should I?”
I told you they were stubborn.

I was having trouble understanding the concept. It was hard for me to focus on the story as Roy3 and I were Indian Leg Wrestling while he held forth.

“It’s like this,” Tri-Roy said as he pulled my knee into the general vicinity of my face, “When you saw George Lucas’s brilliant documentary Star Wars as a youngster you enjoyed the encounter with Han Solo and Greedo in the Cantina.”

“Yes!” I said, renewing my efforts and pulling our legs vertical again. I fear my flailing arm was interfering with Mark’s concentration, batting as it was at his pantleg. He showed remarkable calm, not spilling a drop as he ladled punch into a cup for the lovely lady who was walking around us from the disappointed fellow behind her as if she didn’t see us leg wrestling in the middle of the party. Mark smiled at her showing his fierce concentration and fiercer dimples.

“Well when he re-released the footage you were disappointed. You remembered how it went before he bowed to the Historical Revisionist Hollywood Left.”

“Honestly!” I said, losing a little leverage as well as a little pressure. The lady still evinced not to notice us. “There’s no way a feared bounty hunter could miss a seated target from across the table!”

“Well it’s like that, only for that family it’s like: ‘I liked things around here better when Cornwallis won the war.’”

Thursday, November 02, 2006

Chapter 29: Anti-gravitational Bingo

For many years it has been assumed that forces such as Light and Gravity were unidirectional energies and, as such, incapable of having a directly opposing force. This theory was thrown out the proverbial window (on 5th dimensional Barq) with the invention of the Flashdark by a simple minded toy manufacturer, blissfully ignorant of these supposed “laws of the universe”. Apparently he was able to harness this energy purely because no one had the curtsey to inform him it was impossible. This discovery gave rise to a flurry of research dedicated to finding anti-gravity. Much to the chagrin of many white coat populated research labs, gravity was found to be far more similar to magnetism than had been previously considered. The much sought after levitational effects of the previously misnomered “anti-gravity” could be achieved by simply reversing the polarity of the gravitational pull of a fractional radian of whatever planet you happen to be on directly beneath whatever object it is you are attempting to levitate.

This is, of course, far easier said than done. The current state of affairs is that no one society has the entire technological wherewithal to accomplish this goal among their current repertoire of scientific wonders. It has become a bit of a race to see what planet can first develop all of the remaining parts (most notably the panharmonic resonator and the minimum distortion calcitrate).

This fierce rivalry between worlds has de-evolved into a fantastic source of gambling revenue in certain sub-cultures. As the various governmental factions of the known universe play their own version of Anti-gravitational bingo, bookies of all citizenships reap the benefits of this flurry of scientific discovery, combined with the greed of a thousand populaces. On any world you may stumble across, it is usually possible to pick up your own Anti-gravitational bingo card at the local Higher Scientific Casino, and begin tuning into SNN (The Scientific News Network) to fill out your card.