The phenomenon only lasted long enough to get a short message through, but unpacking the implications of the response will take far longer. The science of radiometry behind the capacity to send information across space—and thus, by definition, through time—isn’t what I want to focus on here; as a scientist, there will be many opportunities to try and replicate the process and publish on the results. As a human being, however, and as a parent with a liberal sensibility that includes concern for the future, I am mostly preoccupied with the reply. My query is as follows, and below is what I received back:
To whomever receives this transmission: I am a scientist living in the year 2017 and have found a way to open a “pinhole” through time by which to send a message. I know this may sound unbelievable, but I’m hoping that anyone capable of receiving it in your time would have sufficient knowledge to understand. I can only offer as proof the internal logic of my message to you, which is one of deep concern. Our world is beset by violence and conflict, and our environment is rapidly destabilizing. Our political systems grow more venal each day, and the culture is plagued by shallow media and poor education. I know this sounds grim, but I am hoping that from your vantage point in the future, things look better. If you receive this, please use the same wavelength to send a reply—promptly, as the portal will soon close… Continue Reading
The legend of Queen Arthur … and her nights at the Round Table
Sally Arthur — a 30-something single mother of three, server at a local restaurant, and artist in her spare time — could sling hash like nobody’s business. Not that she literally slung hash (which to her sounded like a euphemism for drug dealing), but she certainly had a knack for bringing the people what they wanted when they wanted it, and doing so with a smile. Working at the Round Table since her early twenties (when she first became pregnant) had provided her with a modest income and also a stable destination.
And in some ways it was also like a community, which was especially meaningful to her as a solo parent with children by three different (and absent) fathers. Sally figured she would have learned her lesson after the first time around, but life is more complicated than that, and we all do what we need to do to get by. And that was all Sally ever wanted for herself and her children: to survive. Any notions of doing something special, or of her being some sort of working-class heroine, weren’t even on the table for her. Continue Reading
There had to be an answer somewhere—there always was. They wouldn’t give me a problem without a solution, would they? Could they, even if they wanted to? Even Fermat’s been solved—everything has.
Then again, maybe this is part of the problem in itself: the idea that every question requires an answer. What a different world it might be if some things were left open, unquantified, elusive, awesome…
But that’s not this world, to be sure. Multilayered complex problems require equally robust solutions, which tend to create further complications, requiring more solution-oriented processes, and so on.
I remember once reading something about how cultures generally define for themselves a range of ailments consistent with their level of knowledge and medicine; beyond this realm lies the unnamed. Continue Reading
A young couple enters an office and takes seats on one side of a large sleek desk. Behind the desk, a small bank of screens displays a variety of incomprehensible images, codes, graphics, and icons. Lights from behind the couple flash in rotating patterns of red, yellow, and green. The effect is disorienting, yet serves to indicate the inner workings of a busy laboratory environment. A smartly dressed middle-aged woman enters and sits on the other side of the desk from the couple. The lights in the room brighten.
“Welcome to Bioessentials Integrated,” she cheerily begins. “It’s a pleasure to assist with your introductory screening session. But before we begin the formal process, do you have any questions for me?”
“Well, I, um,” stammers the man, glancing at his wife, “I mean we, have heard a lot about BI and we’re basically familiar with how it works, I guess. Neither of us is a scientist, of course, but, you know, well—could you just walk my wife through how this all works one time? I mean, it does work, right?” Continue Reading