Sunday, October 12, 2014

Solution rewrite

"You're a card player?"

"Yes. I mean, I play online."

"So if you take a deck of cards that are shuffled into a particular order, you never know what order the deck of cards is in unless you look. By simple combinatorial analysis, a deck of cards has 52 factorial[i] distinct orderings. That's such a big number[ii], it might exceed the number of atoms in the universe[iii].

"Imagine a deck that is in initial order, inside a sealed box. Let's call that deck number one. We label some hydrogen atom deep inside the Sun with the number 1 to keep track of it. Then we swap the top card, the ace of spaces, with the next card, the deuce of spades.

"We'll call that deck number two, and likewise we label another atom somewhere inside the Sun as number 2 and keep track of that deck there. Keep in mind the hydrogen atoms inside the sun are not really atoms because the Sun is made of plasma[iv], but you get the idea."

"I follow."

"Now, keep rearranging the deck and numbering them as I've described in my example until you've run out of atoms in the Sun. Then keep doing that for each star in the Milky Way galaxy. You'd still have plenty of decks to arrange and there are billions of galaxies, but let's stop there."

"Uh huh."

"Imagine you hold a single deck of cards in a single arrangement such that you could point to a specific atom of the Sun and say, 'This is deck number whatever and it corresponds to this atom.' Now imagine that you peel off several of the top cards and see what order the first few cards are arranged."


"Now, of the remaining order of cards you could say that all of the other atoms, or nuclei, really, in the Sun around and next to your atom are all the remaining possibilities of decks that have the same starting arrangement as yours."

"I don't follow."

"It's like the street address of a building and the floor number and office number. The first few cards determin which galaxy in the universe to choose. The next few cards determine which star to look in. The rest of the deck could point to any single nucleus in the plasma soup inside the Sun.

"Imagine each star in the Milky Way being named after a unique group of a deck of cards whose first few cards are in the same order. Now the Sun has billions and billions of decks mapped to each atom, or nuclius, and your deck is just the one deck of cards you've shuffled and hold in your hand."

"Yeah," said Mark grinning at the stupefying image.

"So this unique deck that you've shuffled and hold in your hand is as unique deck among all shuffled decks as the Sun is unique from all other stars in the Milky Way, indeed as unique as any atom in our universe."

"I like it."

"But I'll repeat again that this deck of cards is set in a particular sequence. It doesn't change. It is not 52 factorial number of decks simultaneously held in one hand, like a universe of atoms in your palm. It is only one deck and no other deck. This particular deck is set in one unique ordering and it is not a trillion trillion trillion decks at once.

"If I look inside the deck to identify it, as I peel off each card and show you which one is next, the deck is revealed card by card. The deck order does not change in any way, it is fixed in advance. You don't know what order it's in, but that doesn't mean it could be all possible orders at the same time. Do you see the difference?"

"Sort of," said Mark. "I really like the idea of the galaxy in my palm, like the galaxy on Orion the cat's belt in Men in Black."

Samantha rolled her eyes. "I don't even know what you're talking about," she said. "I assume it's the Will Ferrel movie."

"No, Will Smith."

"Oh," said Sam.

"No, but I get it," said Mark. "There are no multiverses. Only one universe with the present state. The superposition is possibility but only because we haven't observed all the information available yet."

[i] "In mathematics, the factorial of a non-negative integer n, denoted by n!, is the product of all positive integers less than or equal to n. For example,

"5! = 5 * 4 * 3 * 2 * 1 = 120.

"The value of 0! is 1, according to the convention for an empty product.

"The factorial operation is encountered in many areas of mathematics, notably in combinatorics, algebra, and mathematical analysis. Its most basic occurrence is the fact that there are n! ways to arrange n distinct objects into a sequence (i.e., permutations of the set of objects)."
[ii] 50! ~ 3.041409320×1064
[iii] "Assuming the mass of ordinary matter is about 1.45×1053 kg ... and assuming all atoms are hydrogen atoms (which in reality make up about 74% of all atoms in our galaxy by mass, see Abundance of the chemical elements), calculating the estimated total number of atoms in the universe is straightforward. Divide the mass of ordinary matter by the mass of a hydrogen atom (1.45×1053 kg divided by 1.67×10−27 kg). The result is approximately 1080 hydrogen atoms."

(Samantha is off by perhaps 20% with her statement.)
[iv] "Plasma ..., according to natural science, is one of the four fundamental states of matter (the others being solid, liquid, and gas). ... Plasma comprises the major state of matter of the Sun."

Thursday, July 10, 2014

Solution rewrite

"After the Snowden incidents, we executed him after a fair trial. Nothing more needs to be said," said the large man from the NSA.

"I disagree," said Potus waving his hand. "You're implicated in some experiments with the Humble," here there were murmurs of correction and Potus waved his hand again, "...or whatever you call it... You don't have to answer to the common American every-man but you do have to answer to me, their supreme leader of the free world."

The large man from the NSA made a circular motion with his hand near his head. Potus frowned. "What's he doing?" Potus asked.

The large man from the NSA made more insistent motions with his hands, waving them strangely. Samantha spoke up. "He's playing charades," she said. The large man nodded vehmently and pointed at Sam with one hand while pointing at his nose with the other.

"Why?" asked Potus.

"Possibly because he wants to say something but doesn't want to be on the record," said U.N. Ambassador. She pointed at the microphones around the table. The man from the NSA nodded and pointed with his fingers at his nose and U.N. Ambassador.

"Oh, goody then," said Potus rubbing his hands with glee. "I love charades. Ok, continue."

The large man from the NSA gesticulated while everyone prepared to narrate. Potus said, "Eight words. A saying. Nine. Nine words. Seven words. No, eight. Nine. One, two, three, four... Make up your mind!"

The large man from the NSA nodded and counted. He held up nine fingers. Potus continued, "Nine words. First word. One syllable. Fuck you. No, fuck me. No, fuck you. That's two words. Second word.  One syllable. Me. No? You. You. Ok, I got it, 'Fuck you'."

The large man from the NSA nodded vigorously. Potus continued, "Fourth word. One syllable. Five. Fingers."

UN Ambassador cried, "Hand!"

The man from the NSA waved wildly.

"Fifth word, he's correcting himself," said Chief of Staff.

The man from the NSA nodded and pointed at Chief of Staff with his idex finger and his nose with the other.

"Fifth word, go on," said Potus. "Driving a car. Car. Racing a car."

UN Ambassador cried, "Galloping!"

Chief of Staff said, "Racing a horse!"

Potus said, "Riding a horse. Riding? Horse!"

The man from the NSA nodded and pointed, making circles with his fingers then pointing at Potus.

"Riding a horse? Riding. Horses. Horse riding," said Potus. "Come on, man! Okay, seventh word. Eighth word. Seven. Eigth. Seven...  Okay, seven, eight, and nine."

The large man from the NSA nodded and made two fingers on one hand walk up and down the length of the conference table in front of him.

"Fuck you and the horse you rode in on!" cried Mark suddenly.

The large man from the NSA waved both arms at Mark triumphantly. He waved his arms magnanimously to display Mark's heroic efforts to those around the table. Everyone politely clapped except Samantha Griffen who wore an expression of exasperation.

"I think it should be 'the horse on which you have ridden in'," offered UN Ambassador, trailing off. After a long pause  she closed with, "Upon." Chief of Staff patted her hand and smiled to the table uncomfortably.

"Fuck you and the horse you rode in on," repeated Potus slowly. "That makes no sense. I've never ridden a horse. I'm from Kansas. I speak plainly so that people can understand me. You should learn to do the same."

Wednesday, March 19, 2014

Solution Washington part 10

"What if we're meant to be destroyed in an ELE or whatever?" asked Potus. "May the best every-man win."
"What about the every-woman?" asked U.N. Ambassador.
"She won't win," said Potus.
"Sir, you can't just let the planet be destroyed and all the people on it," said Sam.
"Fuck 'em," said Potus. "You don't have to carry the weight of the world on your shoulders. You can just go back to your laboratory and perform your little fun experiments. I have to worry about whether there is tuna or albacore in my sandwich. Imagine how I feel about all this? The every-hanger-on has to pull my sleeve and beg for something."
There was a long profound silence. Samantha sat down heavily and bumped her cast. She cried out in pain.
"You seem bright and you're an American hero," Potus said to Samantha. "What's a really nice way to say, 'Go fuck yourself'?" he asked. "We've never really found a good way to say that."
"How about, 'Have a nice day'?" Sam asked.
"Sheer genius!" said Potus. "Shaniqua, get the fuck in here!" he shouted. "Sorry about that," he apologised. "My maid, er, administrative assistant is less than reliable. She's probably doing her nails."
There was another stretch of silence.
"Fuck 'em!" cried Potus. "Have a nice day."
"Fuck them," agreed Chief of Staff.
"May those who are less fortunate suffer," said U.N. Ambassador. Then she covered her face in shame and wept.
"Fuck 'em and suck 'em. Kapow!" shouted Defense Secretary.
"Yeehaw!" said the large man from the NSA.
"Yippeekaiyay, mother..." said Mark who stopped abruptly under the vicious glare of Samantha.
"Well if that's it, I guess there's no reason for us to be here anymore then," Sam said.
Samantha and Mark stood up and left the conference room. Johnson escorted them out.
"Six forty four, flan souffle leaving oven," he said into his wrist.
"Goodbye, Agent Johnson," Sam said.
Johnson nodded and waved as they exited the East Gate.
They walked a bit in the crowds when Mark looked up and shouted, "Look!"
Sam looked up and saw the third light behind the two moons had solidified into a blueish orb with swirling white caps and a green-brown centre.
"My god," she said. "It's full of stars."
"There aren't any stars," said Mark. He looked over and saw too late that Samantha had fainted dead away onto the sidewalk.
He bent down and yelled for someone to call an ambulance. The crowd separated, torn between their desire to get close but not too close. Mark kneeled next to Sam and patted her cheeks. "Wake up," he called. "Wake up! Ms. Griffen! Ms. Griffen!"
"Don't hit me brother," she said as her eyes fluttered open.
"Brother?" he asked, confused.
"Half-brother. Half-step-brother. Whatever. Never mind."
"What?" Mark asked bewildered.
"We're still wearing microphones?" she asked while she sat up and patted her shoulder.
"Yes," said the large man from the NSA who approached just then.
"I can help you," he said and helped lift Samantha.
"Help us?" asked Sam.
"Yes, come with me," he motioned and they followed him. The large man from the NSA had a long stride but he did pause for them to catch up every few metres. He motioned them around a corner and along a walkway east of the Mall. Soon the large man from the NSA found a suitable spot that fairly empty and sat on a park bench. Sam and Mark sat hesitantly.
"Here," the large man from the NSA said, producing a plastic bag from his pocket. He held it out to Mark. Mark took it and looked at it quizzically. "And you," he said, handing Sam another similar plastic bag.
"Sandwiches?" asked Sam incredulously.
"Yep," he said and pulled one out for himself. He opened the sandwich bag and took a big bite. "You must be hungry. You haven't eaten since room service this morning at the hotel."
"Tuna sandwiches?!" cried Sam.
"No, these are albacore. They're good. Eat up," the large man from the NSA said.
They ate sandwiches in silence for a while. "These are really good," said Sam. Mark nodded.
When they had eaten the sandwiches down to the crust, Mark asked, "So what are you going to help us with? What can you do?"
"Good question, son," said the large man from the NSA. "I'm just trying to cover up some of the details of what we're working on. I'd like to ask you to politely forget about what you've been working on and all the things you revealed in that room. Normally we'd just clean things up simple like, but I'm afraid things don't matter now."
"I'm scared," said Samantha. "You don't think things can be fixed? That's why you won't kill us?"
"We don't kill people," said the large man from the NSA in such a way that it was understood that they actually did. "We just clean up messes. The CIA kills them."
"But you work together with the CIA," said Sam.
"Watch it, lady," said the large man from the NSA. "If my colleagues from the CIA were aware of this operation I'd be in some really big trouble. Instead, we're just sharing sandwiches and conversation. Okay?"
"Okay," nodded Samantha.
"Alrighty then," said the large man from the NSA as he stood and stretched. He palmed the plastic bag and threw it on the ground. "No use cleaning up messes any more," he said as he walked off.
"Pick that up," Sam told Mark. "What a slob that man is."
Mark hopped up and retrieved the litter. He extended his hand to Sam who handed him her plastic sandwich bag to throw away. Mark turned to look for a trash can. Mark screamed as the large man from the NSA appeared all of a sudden next to them.
"Calm down," said the large man from the NSA. "Microphones please," he said and held out his hand. Mark and Samantha ripped of the microphones and handed them to him. He nodded and walked away once again.
"It's the end of the world as we know it," Samantha said. "I feel fine."

Tuesday, March 18, 2014

Solution Washington part 9

"Very childish, Mister President," said Samantha frowning. She looked over at Mark who was giggling. She whacked him on the shoulder.
"You're the one who mentioned my... my... anus' tilted... axis..." said Potus in between bouts of laughter.
Secretary of Defense asked, "Is that Ronald Reagan's 'axis of evil'?" to more laughter.
Mark spoke up and said, "Uranus him? Damn near rectum!" Fewer people around the table laughed. Samantha frowned miserably.
"Doctor! Doctor!" cried Chief of Staff standing and turning around to show his rear, "Does my axis of spin look off to you?" Even less people laughed than before.
Samantha waited until the laughter died down somewhat. She said, "Very well, that was my fault. I brought up the planet. Anyway, let's continue with the important topic of the whole world being destroyed."
Everyone suddenly settled down and listened. Sam nodded at the quiet and said, "As I said, our measurements were getting worse and worse. I was measuring the speed of light increasing, which should be impossible. The speed of light is called 'the speed limit of the universe'. It is invariant. If it changed even slightly, the whole universe and the laws that govern it would change dramatically. Most scientists, including myself, believe that the speed of light has not changed since the creation of the universe.
"What if the moon were moving closer? Or more distant? Or what if the moon were in a superposition of two moons, one at a particular frequency of interaction with the phase of a different moon at some slightly different frequency. It's a little hard to explain, but what if the two moons were overlaid on each other and only now split out into two different moons as some sort of projection off a splitter?
"So how would we explain that? Most of our measurements of the speed of light are done by reflecting a laser off mirrors that were placed on the moon by the Apollo missions. Apollo 11 was the first on the moon and placed a mirror for the experiment. Apollos 14 and 15 placed similar mirrors which are used to this day. Does anybody know what happened to the other missions?" Sam looked around the room and nobody nodded. "Apollo 12 landed and had some very strange anomalies.
"Alan Bean tried to record colour video with a camera. However, he 'accidentally' pointed it at the sun in outer space and it broke. Later, he admitted he had smuggled a camera timer on board to take a timed selfie on the moon with his fellow astronaut in front of the lander. He mysteriously lost the timer and couldn't find it. Later, Alan Bean was knocked unconscious during reentry when a camera hit him on the head. True stories."
Samantha paused for effect. She said, "And we all know what happened with lucky Apollo 13."
Samantha let the weight of all this sink in. "So the moon might be in reverse focus or something. It may always have been in that state until someone observed a different state. I know from a trusted resource that the NSA has been experimenting with the double slit diffraction patterns using the Hubble as a recording target. Presumably they are running experiments on which-way analysis and using the Hubble as a delayed choice receiver. If they can view the experiment in both a deterministic and viewable state, they might violate the Heisenberg Principal.  Perhaps they intend to use the outcomes of various experiments to spy on U.S. and foreign citizens, which is supposed to be illegal."
Potus pointed at the large man sitting next to Samantha. "He made me do it," Potus said. "I told him we couldn't use the fancy equipment that the common every-taxpayer bought."
The large man from the NSA raised his hand and said, "I don't know anything about that, obviously. We don't spy on people after the Snowden incidents. He was tried and executed by a fair trial. Nothing else is relevant."
"What about the microphones?" asked Samantha pointing at her blouse.
"Those are for your own safety," he answered. "People who watched _Bewitched_ as a child on television are more unstable than the population at large."
Samantha covered her mouth with her good hand in shock. She regained her composure and said, "In any case, I believe that the three rules might be broken somehow. Locality might be broken because so called 'spooky action' might be changing our results. Another feature that might be breaking is realism. Certainly, seeing two moons where there was only one is probably a violation of realism. Freedom might be affected in the action of humanity around the world.
"I was visiting the Large Hadron Collider in Geneva and lost my luggage. How would I have chosen the wrong luggage and gotten it mixed up with someone else? What forces make the luggage move around, or force me to choose the wrong one when getting out of the taxi? I think that I have free will but maybe my hand is forced, so to speak. In Geneva as well, I witnessed some violence from a mad person. Could this be a general case of people behaving badly during a loss of freedom?"
Mark interjected, "I also witnessed riots on Paradise Island at Atlantis." People looked at him strangely. "I mean, when I visited Nassau on vacation. The resort is named Atlantis. I saw the cruise ship Ecstasy appear and disappear the day before I was supposed to get on it. Later, it discovered it had been missing for a day."
Sam said, "And the airplane I was on collided with itself. I saw an alternate universe of another airplane and myself seated in the same row just before the crash. It could be a hallucination, but what if it is not? And anyway, everyone agrees that the duplicate moon appearing is not an illusion. Scientists have measured a real effect of the new satellite. Everyone can see the moon by looking up in the sky. And the plane crash was most definitely real." Samantha raised her cast as proof. "And to this day, the cruise ship Ecstasy and her 2000 passengers are missing.
"Taking the first rule of locality, suppose that the experiments we've been testing and uncovering have created an expanding bubble of effect. As the bubble of effect spreads, it moves outward from one city, to another, to the ocean, to other parts of the world, and finally into outer space. Perhaps the process is expanding and reproducing effects of interference and affecting realism as we know it. How do we reserves this process?
"Schrödinger put the cat inside the closed box. He hid the outcome from us. So now we must find the way out of this mess we're in. We must save the cat and find the 'Schrödinger Solution', as I call it. How can we solve the riddle of what is happening? And more importantly, how can we save the earth?"
Samantha looked around the table. Everyone waited expectantly. The room was deathly quiet. Finally Mark said, "Well? How?"
Sam said, "We have to do the opposite of Pandora's box. We must open the box to look inside. Whether the cat is alive or dead, we must find out the true state of the cat. Of course, in this case, the box and the cat and the lid are metaphors. We need funding for a project to detect the anomalies and explain them so that we have a hope of putting our world back together and avoiding an ELE."

Sunday, March 16, 2014

Solution Washington part 8

"Yes, I'm listening," said U.N. Ambassador. "Let her speak! Let the women's voices rise up so all can hear!"
"Why, just because they're women?" grumped Potus.
"This is a matter of survival for everyone," said Samantha. "Thank you perm rep to the U.N." The ambassador nodded. Sam continued, "This is an extinction level event. ELO is the common acronym. I've given you the background physics. I apologise if it was boring and made you think of sandwiches. But we need to focus on the crisis at hand and find a solution to the problem."
Sam looked around the room and everyone seemed to be paying attention. She continued, "I've spent the last two years investigating what we thought were defects with the solid state devices manufactured by Thorne Industries. Mister Thorne here represents the interests of the controlling family of the corporation. At first we were baffled by the data we were getting back from the quality tests that we run on the electronic systems.  I should back up to explain what solid states are.
"Solid state electronics differ from other mechanical devices such as vacuum tubes, relays or switches, and moving devices. For example, probably the most famous solid state device invented in the 1940's was the transistor. Other solid state devices that you have heard of are light emitting diodes (LEDs), liquid crystal displays (LCDs), and memory devices. Your fancy phones are made possible by solid state electronics." Here Potus covered his breast pocket with his hand and looked fearfully at Johnson. "Solid state devices use a bit of quantum mechanical engineering to move electrons through a substance that typically wouldn't conduct electrons. There could be two forms of electrical motion in solid state devices, a negative electron moving through a substance or the positive pull of an electron 'hole'."
Samantha looked around the room and most of the people's eyes were glazed over. "I apologise for being too technical. It's my job. Where was I? Ah, yes, solid state devices. So Thorne Industries has been manufacturing these devices for global positioning satellite (GPS), memory and disk storage, and other devices in wide use. We have been measuring a lot of anomalies in the output of these devices for a while, and it has been getting worse. Imagine if you have a GPS and it tells you that you are three feet behind where you think you knew yourself to be. The errors were a lot smaller than three feet, obviously. But they were getting worse.
"We also have very precise timing equipment which is vital to the correct functioning of the satellite tracking and positioning systems. Time doesn't really exist, but we need to count how many times a cesium atom oscillates so that we can keep track of how the universe is changing. Imagine you are in a dark room and you can hear a clock ticking. You know that the ticking represents some state where the pendulum is at one end of the swing and that implies it must have moved through an arc so that something is different from before until now. That's what we do to sense the passage of this illusion we call time. Time is just the illusion of the state of saying 'oh, this thing was over there and now it's here.' Clear enough?" she asked. No one seemed very clear on the subject.
"Once again I apologise for being so boring. If you keep up with me, we'll get there I promise. Everyone's heard of Einstein?" A few nods around the table. "Einstein and his friends came up with a counter-argument to quantum mechanics which had just come out around the time. Einstein was happy with his theories of relativity and felt very contented that he had solved most all of the physics problems that might exist. He had certainly explained a lot about what we now call 'classical' physics, and had shown how Netwon's, previously called 'classical', physics was lacking. Suddenly this new theory of quantum mechanics was upturning Einstein's world view which he had just finished nailing down pretty well.
"He and his buddies, Einstein, Podolsky, and Rosen tried to make fun of quantum mechanics by proposing all sorts of problems that couldn't be solved by the new theory. They had a lot of friends like Schrödinger and Bell. Bell famously came up with a theory that was found to be false. And EPR were collectively shown to be on the wrong side of the fence. People like Heisenburg and Bohr were on the right side of the fence and created what is now called the Copenhagen interpretation, which has been largely upheld with experimental evidence. No one has been able to duplicate Schrödinger's experiments, but Bell has been shown to be wrong on almost every count. Bell's failure is spectacular. Even Einstein had to admit he might have backed the wrong horse, as they say. God doesn't throw dice but he does go to the racetrack, I guess."
"Sacrilege!" cried Potus amid murmurs from the people at the table.
Samantha raised her good hand. "Just a joke. However, as a point of fact, Schrödinger's famous cat was a thought experiment designed to discredit quantum mechanics! It turns out he wasn't wrong and his equations still work for most of the observations we're making to this day. If we take a Copenhagen interpretation of the outcomes we're observing we have three common features that we look for. The three are locality, realism, and freedom. I'll go through each one.
"Locality means that information is contained wholly in the object or surrounding information of the particle or experiment we're working on. One way to make it clearer is to say that a particle is in a state that is self-contained and does not transfer information or state with something else far away. If a photon is polarised at 90 degrees, then that information is available locally. It does not get that information remotely from some other particle or photon far away. Likewise, the particle does not transfer information to some other experiment far away to be retrieved remotely. Everything about the photon is contained locally and tested locally. This agrees with Einstein's aversion to so-called 'spooky', or instantaneous, action at a distance.
"The second part is realism and this is usually described by saying that, 'the moon exists even if you don't look at it'. We like to believe that the universe would clock along in some state without us observing it. Otherwise, things might shift and change when we don't look at them. In fact, a very small fraction of anything is ever seen or observed at all. We would like to believe that the dark side of the moon, for example (which isn't dark at all), is the same as it ever was and will always remain there even if we don't see it from earth. But if we ever sent a space craft up there with people or cameras, we'd hope to always see the same thing. That is realism.
"The third part is controversial, and that is freedom."
"Everyone here is aware of freedom." said Potus. "I'm the leader of all freedom in the world." There were murmurs of approval around the table.
"Yes, it is what I referenced earlier about freedom of choice, but in the opposite direction in this case. Freedom in our interpretation means that the experimenter has the freedom to choose the outcome of an particular experiment and should not be locked into a particular choice due to the setup of the experiment. For example, a photon can behave as either a wave or a particle. It can be either one depending on how we choose to measure it. If we pretend that an experimenter wishes to observe the photon in a wave state, but the photon 'resists' somehow and forces the outcome of the experiment to change that would violate our beliefs in freedom. If the photon, for example, was somehow in a fixed particle state and didn't want to be caught in a wave experiment, it couldn't somehow change the experimenter's choices so that the experimenter decided instead to measure particles. In other words, freedom means that the experimenter chooses whether to measure wave or particle behaviour, not the object under observation."
"Freedom!" said Potus. "The most important part of all this, obviously. Hey, let me ask you something," said Potus. "Let me ask you a personal question in front of all these people since you seem so bright."
"Okay mister, um, I mean, Potus," said Sam.
"Okay," said Potus. "Did you ever imagine that the sun was like a nucleus to an atom and that the planets were electrons, say, going around this atom?"
"Yes, that is a common misconception of lay physics. Every sixth grader who learns about the standard model eventually makes the conflation between an atom and the solar system or a galaxy. But it's not possible is it? Electrons have a spin of one half. Uranus has a tilted axis so its spin is wrong."
"My anus?" asked Potus. "Nobody said anything about my anus." There was laughter all around.

Thursday, March 13, 2014

Solution Washington part 7

"Okay, POTUS," said Sam.
"No, not POTUS," said Potus. "Call me Potus."
A quizzical look passed over Samantha's face.
The older woman who had walked in with Potus sat next to Sam. She was asleep and snoring. Potus said, "Everyone knows Secretary of State, of course. Next to her is a representative from the NS... Homeland. Homeland Security, I mean."
The large man who had earlier taped microphones to Sam and Mark waved his hand to his left. The next man introduced himself as Secretary of Defense. Various generals and other Cabinet staff were introduced.
After everyone was done speaking Potus said, "Ms. U.N. Ambassador, let us know what those loonies over at the U.N. are saying about this mess."
U.N. Ambassador nodded and said, "Thank you sir. The security council and the general council have put forth a motion that the United Nations members as well as any non-members should take this threat to our survival very seriously. The disappearance of cruise ships and crashing of airplanes is a very serious matter and involves all humans, not just those who live in privileged nations of the first and second worlds." Everyone nodded in agreement. "Further, the general council has brought a motion that recognises all moons or orbiting bodies of the earth as complementary and equal. There should be no discrimination about which one is a quote-unquote 'real' Moon or which one is fake. All Moons should be treated equally and all should be allowed to exist."
Potus shook his head angrily. "Nobody recognises shit about fake moons. If God had wanted us to have two moons, we would have them. There can only be one moon. Or is it 'there can be only one'? I can never remember."
Secretary of Defense said, "Sir, it's 'there can be only one.' The adverb should follow the verb."
"Well la-dee-da motherfucker," said Potus.
"Yes sir," said Secretary of Defense.
"Does anybody know what's going on here?" asked Potus.
Samantha raised her good right hand. "I do, I think, Mister... Potus. Sorry. Potus. Anyway, I know what's been going on and I think I know what's at stake. There is a complicated bit of science I study called quantum mechanics. It proposes that very small objects, or particles, do not behave according to Newton's laws when we observe them. When you go back to the first millennium in the common era, humankind understood very little about the underlying rules of how things worked in our world. For example, we didn't understand why the apple falls or what causes objects to move when hit or are knocked down. Early in the second millennium in the common era Newton devised a system of mathematics and physics that described how objects moved, interacted, and so forth.
"Late in the second millennium in the common era, Einstein was able to turn the whole thing upside down by describing the theories of special and general relativity. Many problems that were observed to appear to violate physics in the cosmos were described accurately in a way that expanded on Newtonian, or classical, physics. In other words, Einstein was able to extend Newtonian physics in a way that suddenly incorporated all the observable phenomena in the universe as we knew it. However, in less than 20 years, a whole new area of physics was discovered at the atomic and sub-atomic level that seemed to turn even Einstein's theories upside down.
"Einstein rejected quantum mechanics because he famously believed that God did not throw dice. He believed the universe was deterministic, which is what his theories of relativity described. But quantum mechanics is inherently probabilistic and not deterministic at all. There are experiments, which I have performed myself in my lab, that prove that light behaves as both a wave and as a particle. A photon, which is a discrete particle, can choose multiple paths through a system, or one path. It can even take all paths simultaneously.
"I believe that the indeterminate nature of quantum mechanics at the nano- level is actually what allows us the ability to have free will. I believe that it allows the phenomenon of life to occur on earth. If the universe were completely deterministic, I believe that we wouldn't exist because all possibilities about the universe and life would be fixed. They wouldn't be as diverse and prolific as we see around us. When you think about how an idea resides in our minds and is expressed somehow in our brains, you can start to see how the quantum probabilistic of the brains interactions can give rise to our thoughts and ideas. It's as if a quantum soup of interactions in our brains allows the process of ideas and consciousness to take shape. That's just a metaphor, but it is useful in describing what happens. Without this 'quantum soup' we wouldn't be able to think and act freely. Without quantum mechanics, life would probably be unable to generate and spontaneously exist."
Potus raised his hand to stop Samantha. "Hold on a second," he said. "Shaniqua, get in here," he yelled. "Sorry about that," he said. "Did you know that the chef wants to put albacore into the tuna sandwiches? What kind of chef is that?"
"Sir," said Chief of Staff, "albacore is tuna."
"What?" asked Potus.
"Albacore is tuna," he repeated.
"Get the hell out of here," said Potus. "This chef is out to get me and I know it."
"Is anybody listening to me?" asked Samantha.

Wednesday, March 12, 2014

Solution Washington part 6

Agent Johnson motioned for Samantha to follow him and they walked down a hallway and turned down some stairs. They passed through several security checkpoints. Sam noticed that he always said some nonsense with a series of numbers and a reference to cooking or animals just before they got to a checkpoint. She figured that Agent Johnson was notifying his colleagues that he was approaching the next area. Samantha memorised the numbers and tried to figure out the pattern for the Secret Service code. She was slightly giddy at the prospect of acting like a spy but maybe that was just the pain pills clouding her judgement.
They reached an infirmary room and Special Agent Johnson asked her to be seated on an examination table covered in crinkly butcher's paper. She had trouble climbing up onto the table, even with the help of a step-stool. She struggled for a while before Agent Johnson asked if she needed help. She struggled a bit more then finally accepted his help to swing herself onto the table. Her legs dangled over the edge and she swung them nervously. Johnson stood at attention with his hands clasped in front.
Johnson asked, "How did you hurt your arm?"
"I was on flight 300," Sam said.
"Oh?" said Johnson raising his eyebrows so they were visible above his dark sunglasses.
"Yes, I survived somehow. It's a miracle," she said.
"I don't believe in miracles," said Johnson. "But that is a very big stroke of luck."
"A miracle is just a very lucky hit. Let's say a million to one shot. A royal flush is only 650,000 to one, so something like that would be a miracle." She paused then continued, "Why don't you believe in miracles?"
"That's classified," said Johnson.
They sat and stood, respectively, in silence together for a long time.
Finally, Samantha spoke up. She said, "You know, I grew up with the show _Bewitched_ and a lot of my friends used to tease me because of my name. They thought that I could wiggle my nose. You know, the tinkle tinkle tinkle twitch from the show?" Samantha tried to twitch her nose with very little success. She ended up moving her chin and upper lip more than anything else and went cross-eyed trying to look at her nose. "Well anyway," she continued, "The kids made fun of me. They said I could do magic to clean up my room. They said that I liked this boy called Darren. I never liked any Darrens. The boy or the TV show, I mean. The first Darren on the show had a ridiculously long nose. The second Darren didn't look anything like the Darren I used to know, so I rejected him as the Darren.
"It was sort of like the way I thought of my father. I'm adopted, by the way. But I mean that I used to think that my birth father was like the first Darren and then my adoptive father was this fake Darren who was supposed to take over as if nothing had happened. I mean, look at the two actors. They don't look anything alike. Nobody's fooled by that. They didn't even try to hide it. They just figured that if they didn't say anything, people would just get over it. Like my adoptive family. I was just supposed to pretend they were my new parents and get over it.
"One time I had two friends over. What were their names? Mia was one. The other one was an 'M' name as well. Hmm. I can't remember. Anyway, they were over at my house and we were playing with dolls. I was sick of them calling me Bewitched. They kept asking me to twitch my nose. 'Samantha, twinkle twinkle twinkle!' they sang. So I got angry and threw my dolls down. I stood up and put my hands on my hips, then I twitched my nose, really hard and really fast, just like the show. I even said, 'Twinkle twinkle twinkle!'"
Sam stopped, lost in thought.
"What happened then?" asked Johnson.
"I don't remember. Nothing, I suppose," she said.
A man in a white lab entered the room just then and flipped through a chart he was carrying. He said, "One X-ray for the arm and one body scan for the torso and legs." He seemed satisfied with the statement and pulled a white swivel arm with a round cylinder on the end. He put a flat tray attached to some wires on the table and had Sam lie down with her cast on the tray. He proceeded to X-ray her arm, leaving her alone in the room with Johnson when the machine beeped. They came back into the room and she had to clamber down off the table with some help. They took her to a room next door and put her into a large cylinder tube that looked like a space age transporter.
After X-raying her very thoroughly, she sat on a chair outside the examination rooms. She saw the doctor and a nurse looking at her X-ray on a video screen on a wall. She knew it was her X-ray because she could see the cloudy white cast surrounding the two contrasting bones of her forearm. The doctor and nurse were pointing and circling some area with their fingers. They talked and nodded with interest while examining the picture. Sam couldn't be sure what they were looking at.
Eventually, everything was approved and reviewed. Johnson told Samantha that she could go upstairs with him to see the president. Mark would meet them in the conference room along with some other experts to discuss the strange events. Johnson led her upstairs and they entered a large conference room with fancy leather chairs. Sam took a seat next to Mark who was already there. She rested her cast on the edge of the table uncomfortably. There were several other men and women already seated in important-looking seats around the table.
More people arrived, and finally Potus strode in followed by Chief of Staff and two women, one much older and one younger. Everyone stood while Potus walked in and sat only after Potus had walked to his seat and sat down. He folded his hands and said, "Welcome, everyone. Thanks for your time. I know we're all riled up about this preposterous magic show with the, the, you know."
"Moon," said Chief of Staff.
"Moons!" said Potus. "Yes, we're all aware of that. Now, I've gathered the best and brightest minds to discuss this problem and come up with some answers so that the every-person out there knows what's going on. The common every-person wants to know what their president is going to do, and when. So let's get started.  Let's go around and introduce ourselves. I'll start. I'm Potus, the man who abides in the greatest Office in the land. But you knew that. Next?"
"Hello," said the younger woman who walked in with the president earlier. "I'm Ambassador to the United Nations, permanent representative. I'm glad to meet all of you and share our feelings about this horrific turn of events. Grief is a long and slow process and I want to be sure that everyone is able to share their feelings in a safe and non-judgemental environment."
"Yes, yes, next," said Potus.
"Ahem," said Chief of Staff, clearing his throat politely into his fist. "I'm Chief of Staff, lieutenant to the great presidential Office, and offering all kinds of support for the decision making process that goes on in these hallowed walls."
More experts introduced themselves  as the so and so of the such and such, until it reached Mark. "Hello," he said. He seemed nervous he put up the hood on his sweater. "I'm Mark Thorne and I'm just some homeless guy who was waiting for the bus when they told me to show up here..."
Samantha burst out laughing and many people started giggling around the table. Chief of Staff hid his smile behind his hand. Potus waved his hand angrily. "What? What? Who's this guy?"
Mark raised his hand. "I'm just kidding." He took down his hood. "I'm kidding. I'm sorry Mr. President. I'm Mark Thorne, of Thorne Industries."
Potus grimaced and then nodded to Samantha. He said, "You, cripple lady. You're not here to ask for money or help for your medical bills are you?"
Samantha was taken aback. "No, sir. No, I was on Flight 300 that crashed less than two weeks ago. I survived. I work at the theoretical physics lab at Micron University. I do tests and product engineering for Thorne Industries' solid state division."
Potus nodded. "I'm sorry to be blunt about the cripple part. You're a hero obviously. A brave hero who survived the fight with a brush with death. You've got some heft about you obviously. A lot of people think that Americans are too fat. It's a survival advantage. We have extra armour to survive the knocks and blows of life's tribulations. People make fun of us for our weight but skinny people don't live as long. When there's a real problem in the world, like famine, pestilence, wars and rumours of wars, the fat American will be protected. The proud fat American hero survivalist will survive after everyone else has wasted away."
Potus stood and clapped. He urged the others to stand as well. "A real American hero, folks!" he cried. Everyone in the room stood and clapped thunderously. Even Mark stood and clapped. Samantha was embarrassed and tried to stand, but couldn't get up with her cast and discomfort at trying to stand.
When the clapping stopped and Potus sat, he said conspiratorially, "Did you know you're supposed to call people by the polite words, 'American with disabilities?' That's quite a mouthful. And what if they're an illegal person from abroad? One of our dangerous neighbours? It's difficult to know where people stand when most every common person is trying to beg for assistance for this, that, and the other. You know," he said.
Samantha nodded. "No problem at all, Mr. President," she said.
"Please, call me Potus," he said. Samantha nodded.

Tuesday, March 11, 2014

Solution Washington part 5

The crowds of people on the plaza in front of the North Lawn made it difficult to go around to the East Gate. Most of the crowd were just passively milling around, but some held signs and yelled. A few groups of people sang hymns as Sam and Mark pushed their way through the crowds.
Once at the gate, their passports were checked closely by the guard. He was extremely suspicious of their newly-minted passports and their stories about how they had to replace them recently. Finally, after verifying their names and taking their photos, he allowed them to move through the turnstile to enter the side lawn.
Chief of Staff greeted them and led them inside the Whitehouse to a small meeting room. The interior of the Whitehouse was quiet and cozy compared to the noise and hubbub outside. Nevertheless, there was a distinct air of tension from staffers whom Sam and Mark could see walking the hallways or in offices.
Chief of Staff motioned for Sam and Mark to sit. "We will go see the president soon. He's expecting you. Right now he's meeting with the top advisers. We'll also need to do a security search by the Secret Service. Hopefully you didn't bring anything suspicious with you. You won't be allowed to have any bags or phones or electronic devices of any kind. Sorry about that," he apologised. He took off his glasses and cleaned them with his tie. "Mr. President doesn't like when I do this," he said, nodding to his glasses. I have to make sure I clean them when he's not looking."
Sam and Mark nodded. A large man in dark sunglasses and black suit appeared in the doorway. He took a stance inside the doorway with his arms held in front of him. Chief of Staff waved the man over. He said, "This is Agent Johnson. He's going to perform the security search. I'll prepare you on some of the things the president likes to see in his meetings. The president is a genius and one of the most personable people I've ever met. He's kind, generous, and warm. He is a little bit of a potty mouth, but that's only because he cares.
"To prepare for the meeting you have to understand some things. First, he wants things that are simple and direct. He doesn't like any round-about conversation or pleasantries. Just dive right into what you're going to say. Second, he doesn't like any kind of talk about negativity. He only likes positive things. So try to keep your thoughts and words positive. Don't say, 'We can't do something,' say instead 'We'd love to do that!' Third, he hates any kind of communist ideas or thinking. He doesn't want to hear about governments doing things for people. He wants the people to do it themselves.
"Fourth, he wants to know what is good for the common-everyperson. He's not a communist, obviously, as I said, but he wants the common person's interests to be met. He is a strong leader who cares dearly for his constituents no matter what the press may say. Fifth, he is a sensitive man of great intellect so you can't appear to be smarter than him. You must always kowtow to his brilliance, even if you think you know a little bit better than him. Just nod and smile and don't show off. I'm sure you'll do fine.
"Oh, lastly, don't mention any kind of Office vs. Man debates or references to positions of power. He will give you a lecture on that as it's a topic that is dear to his heart."
Sam and Mark nodded. Agent Johnson approached and motioned for Mark to stand up. He began to speak as he methodically patted Mark down. "My name is agent Johnson. I'm on the president's personal detail. The president is a very caring and emotionally sensitive man, but he's a bit withdrawn and unavailable at the moment." At this, Johnson squeezed Mark's biceps a bit too tightly. "He's locked up and unable to express his true feelings, which are usually generous and warm," Johnson continued. Mark yelped as Johnson patted his ribs roughly. "Two thirty five, seven apes going to the far valley," said Johnson, releasing Mark.
Samantha asked, "I'm sorry?" Mark rubbed his sore spots.
Johnson waved his hand and shushed Samantha. "Roger that," he said, "Over and out. I apologise for that. Potus is moving and I need to keep in contact with my team," he explained. He motioned for Mark to sit and Sam to stand. He patted her down more gently than Mark and continued talking, "The president will be available very shortly as soon as the next set of experts meets with him. He is truly a man of many talents and much energy. He is a loving husband, unfortunately, but he overcomes his responsibilities when he can." Jonson stopped frisking Sam, noticing her obvious discomfort and pain. He pointed at her arm cast and knee brace. "Ma'am," he said, "We'll need to X-ray all of these accouterments."
Johnson put his finger to his ear and said, "Five one seven, half option corner bakery. Food baskets and berry jammers arriving."
"What?" asked Samantha.
Chief of Staff finished polishing his glasses and put them on. He said, "Just wait, they'll take you downstairs for an in-depth scanning. Not a big deal," he said and shrugged.
A large heavy-set black woman dressed in a French Maid outfit walked by and poked her head in. "Hey, cousin sugar," said the woman.
"Hi, Shaniqua," answered Samantha.
"How's your mama?" Shaniqua asked.
"She's good. She's really good," Sam lied.
"I know that ain't right," said Shaniqua. She pointed her curly fingernails down the hallway. "I'll see you later on darling." She waved and left.
Chief of Staff asked, "You know her?"
Samantha nodded. "She's my mom's niece."
Chief of Staff bowed in a curt Japanese manner. "It's an honour to meet someone so near to the president's inner circle," he said.
Samantha raised her eyebrows in a question.
A large man walked in and taped some microphones and wires to Samantha's and Mark's shirts. He left.
"Follow me," said Johnson. "Three three four, birds flying the coup," he said into his wrist.

Monday, March 10, 2014

Solution Whitehouse part 4

"No need," said Sam. "I'll do just fine walking myself."
Mark slapped his thighs in frustration. "You can't walk in your condition. Plus, the streets are crazy out there. The whole plaza is full of weirdos and protesters. A cab can take us the long way around and get there faster."
Sam ignored him and hobbled out of the lobby. Mark followed after.
"Ms. Griffen," he begged. "Let's get you a cab."
Sam shook her head. She looked around at the pedestrians on N street. Groups of people were standing in huddles, looking up and pointing at the sky. She followed their gazes and looked up in the sky. Mark looked up, shading his eyes from the sun. There were the usual two moons from the news the day before, but there seemed to be a another bright patch of light just slightly behind the other two. It faded and glowed, pulsating into view every thirty seconds or so.
"What the shit is that?" Mark asked.
"Don't use obscene language," said Samantha. She turned to walk east along N street and Mark turned and followed quickly when he realised her voice was diminishing. "The Copenhagen interpretation expressly forbids the multiple universes theory. That is, every possible outcome of every possible interaction cannot be recorded and stored somewhere in another dimension of time. You can imagine a scenario where ten to the 50 particles in the universe interact in three possible outcomes every Planck time frame, which would be ten to the minus 43 times a second. In other words, there would be more copies of possible universes in just one second than particles exist in our present universe.
"So how do you keep all these copies of all these universes and where do you store them? The NSA tracks and records metadata only only ten to the 15 or so interactions per year. They store far less than one universe worth of information in ten billionths of the lifetime of our present universe. There's no way to record all those data and interactions for just one second, much less 13 billion years."
"I don't follow," said Mark following behind her.
"Basically, I'm saying you don't have multiple copies of the universe laying around. You cannot just have a moon suddenly appear. It takes too much energy. There's no copy of you and I getting into a taxi going west on N street while you and I walk east on N street."
"What if there were? It's possible," said Mark. A taxi passed by slowly. Mark tried to peer in at the passengers. Sam ignored it.
Sam said, "as I just stated, it's not possible. The Copenhagen interpretation shows that the waveforms collapse in one universe. There aren't multiples of everything going on everywhere else. You can't have Schrödinger's cat be alive and dead in the box at the same time. It has to be one or the other."
"Not at the same time. There could be different dimensions travelling out in orthogonal hypercube directions," said Mark.
"Oh please," huffed Sam. She stopped to catch her breath and oriented herself to the Capitol Building. She pointed south along 16th Street. "Down here?" she pointed. Mark nodded. Sam continued, "Do you even hear yourself talking? 'Hypercube directions.' Ha!"
"Don't laugh. You know what I mean," said Mark.
"Sadly, I think I do. It makes no sense. Suppose I have one particle in superposition. It has two states for our example. Up and down, okay?" Mark nodded. "Suppose I observe the particle in the up state. Another Samantha in another universe would observe the particle in a down state." Mark nodded. "Now there are two particles, one in each dimension. Somehow, firstly, there is still the same amount of momentum and thus (we infer) mass." Mark nodded. "First," said Sam holding up one finger on her right hand, "where did the two copies of the particle's mass come from? There was only one unit of mass and now there are two in two dimensions.
"Second," she said holding up two fingers, "it gets even more complicated. Now the particle has moved along a little bit and it needs to split again. But it's in the up (or down) state. Does it flip one more time? Does it go back into superposition somehow magically? Where does the mass come from to make four copies in another two universes?" Sam asked. "This goes on so many times per second that it makes our computers' operations in microseconds look like the eternity of a billion universes. To a computer, human reaction times look like hundreds of years. To quantum processes, humans and computers are like snails sliding on top of glaciers."
"I don't know what you're saying, to be honest," said Mark.
"I'm saying that the moons can't appear in the sky and keep multiplying. It's an optical illusion of some kind. I just can't figure it out."
"Doesn't that freak you out?" asked Mark. "This double-slit experiment stuff is freaky. These moons are freaky. Look at all these people around here," Mark said sweeping his arms at the crowds of people and cars stalled around 16th Street. This is seriously freaked out sh... Stuff."
"Fear doesn't accomplish anything," said Sam stopping to catch her breath again. "I am not afraid of things that I cannot understand. Fear is just something that blinds you from exploring the unknown."
"What about being involved in a airplane crash? That's scary," said Mark. "What about a cruise ship that I might have been on, disappearing into the Bermuda triangle like a ghost ship?"
"Those things are scary because they can hurt us. But once you are alive and you keep going, you don't need to be afraid anymore. You can't be afraid of death. You might as well be afraid of air."
"I'm afraid to check the balance of my trust fund after the stock market that's been sinking," said Mark. "That's a scary thought."
"The threat was always there to your assets," Sam said. "You just blinded yourself to the risk. Every time you pull the slot machine handle, you get a new result. Except that we keep pulling the handle every time without knowing it. We keep risking our net worth on random luck every second of every day. Even if we wanted to stop, we couldn't. The universe will run the game without you. The house always wins, and you always lose, but you have to play. That's just thermodynamics."
"I know about pulling the handle and losing," said Mark rubbing the knot on his head.
"Exactly. Now get me through these throngs of people," said Sam as they approached the North Lawn which was filled with tens of thousands of people.

Thursday, March 6, 2014

Solution Whitehouse part 3

Sam stared in disbelief and finally got up to move unsteadily to the window. She pulled back the curtains with her good arm and tried to look out the windows to see the moon. Or moons. Her room faced another wing of the hotel so she couldn't see much of the sky. What blue sky she did see contained no moon, real or otherwise. She craned her to the side so much to see south that her bad arm banged into the window and she screamed. Blackness engulfed her vision and she nearly fell onto the floor.
She was able to grope blindly, nearly doubled over, with her good arm to the edge of the bed. She took a long time to settle back into the hotel bed and prop herself up with a pillow.
Over the course of the next hour, news reports flooded in about the double moons. Pundits who knew nothing of astrophysics held forth on the cause of the optical illusion (for it must be an optical illusion; there was no way it could be a real phenomenon). Sam scoffed at them but didn't know what to believe. She jotted down some calculations on the hotel stationery pad.
The earth and moon exert approximately 2x10^20 Newtons of force on each other. Since the force equation for two objects is the product of their masses times a constant and divided by the square of the distance between them, doubling the number (and hence mass) of the moons would double the force between them. So Sam reasoned that two moons and one earth would put 4x10^20 Newtons of force. Of course, the angle of the interaction between the two moons and earth could make a big impact on the calculations.
The two moons in the camera images appeared to be about six diameters of moons apart. That is, using the diameter of the moon as a reference, like a coin, Sam guessed you could fit six moon-coins between the two. The moon rises approximately 1 hour later per day on average (a little less perhaps, her father had told her), which was approximately 12 degrees. The moon covered a part of the sky that was approximately half a degree. So Sam's guess at six moon diameters between them appeared to confirm the moons were lagging each other in orbit by one earth day.
This angle of 12 degrees meant that the moons were pulling on each other at an angle while the earth pulled both at a different angle. Assuming an isosceles triangle at the distance from the earth to the moon of 384,000 kilometres (or, a little more than 2.5 seconds round trip from the earth to the moon at the speed of light), with an acute angle of 12 degrees, Sam calculated 84 degrees offset for the force from earth to each moon. With two objects, the angle would be 90 degrees dead on, so 84 degrees would reduce the force of 4x10^20 Newtons by about 93%.
Given the two sides of the isosceles triangle of 384,000 kilometres, you can construct two right triangles by bisecting the original and find out half the calculated side using the Pythagorean Theorem:
A^2 + B^2 = C^2
Which yields a distance between the moon of 271,500 kilometres. Using Newton's gravitational formula:
F = (G * m1 * m2) / r^2
Would yield a force between the two moons of 4.5x10^17 Newtons. This was 10,000 times less than the force between the earth and the two moons. So it might be possible that the orbits would remain stable, Sam thought. She was not an orbital mechanics expert, however.
The news reports continued all day and into the night to discuss the problems that multiple moons would pose, including doubling the tides and increasing earthquakes. The earth's crust could warm up from the friction, one expert claimed. It was possible this could increase the effects of climate change. Sea ice could break up more quickly and melt faster, said another expert.
The stock market had swung into the largest sell-off of the last two centuries, only to come roaring back by bulls buying into the decline. The NASDAQ decided to close the markets early while the New York Stock Exchange struggled to keep up with orders. The NYSE was technically able to stay open, although most major stocks had collars and freezes in place that prevented most transactions from occurring.
On television, an expert from the Catholic Church said that this was predicted by a dead woman in Guadalajara some 2,500 years ago. The old guy who always predicted the end of the earth got quite a bit of airtime to discuss how this was surely the final sign of the end of the earth. This old guy believed that God's wrath would visit us due to sins such as allowing recreational use of marijuana, gay marriage, and the abolishing of daylight savings. He seemed to have convinced the CNN hosts that this was the case.
Most channels that had local news showed static shots of the sky with both moons clearly visible on a field of blue sky. Samantha flicked through these channels because the hosts usually said inane things along the lines of "Stay calm. There is no immediate danger." If there were danger, they wouldn't admit to it obviously. One oblivious local channel on the hotel network showed a daytime show of two children dressed as Mario and Luigi sporting ridiculously racist fat mustaches. The spun round cloth towels that were supposed to represent pizza doughs. The audience cheered as the kids threw the dough into the air and caught them on their hands.
"Oh please," said Sam to no one. "Do people really watch this?"
Samantha eventually fell asleep fitfully among her notes. The light from the television flickered over the wall and her bedspread, filling her dreams with hate and pain from her injuries.
The next morning, Samantha hobbled into the lobby. Over her right pants leg she wore a metallic knee brace. While struggling to walk and with her left arm in a cumbersome cast, she heard a familiar voice behind her that said, "Ms. Griffen! Ms. Griffen!"
Sam froze in horror and tried to shift to the left, then the right to try to hide. She nearly toppled over. Mark rushed up and helped steady her by her good arm.
"Ms. Griffen," he repeated. "I'm so glad to see you. What a coincidence! I was supposed to be staying at the Harrison, but my father's secretary made a mistake and I'm here." He paused, then continued, "Wow, you look terrible. No  offense."
"Of course I'm offended," Samantha said. "I'm in a lot of pain, only one week out from an airplane crash, and I've met one of the most despicable people on the planet. That was my mom. But you are a close second."
"Well, shit on me," Mark said bemused. "Listen, I'm serious. Let's talk. This coincidence can't be an accident. Also, the whole moon thing. I've been up all night looking at it on T.V. Here, sit down," he said and motioned to a lobby couch.
"I can't sit down," Sam said. "I need to get to a cab. The Secret Service said I shouldn't be late. I need to talk to the president immediately."
"Let me get you a cab," Mark offered. "I'll help you. I can back you up when you talk to the president. I read your email and I want to help you solve the mystery of the problems we're seeing."

Wednesday, March 5, 2014

Solution Whitehouse part 2

Samantha sent the email and hobbled to her bed. She sat painfully and slowly on the edge of the bed and tried to lift her legs to swing them in front of her. The whole process took ten minutes, after which she reclined slowly and settled onto the headboard and pillows. She looked for the remote to watch the television and spotted it out of reach on the hotel end table. She reached with her right hand like Luke Skywalker and concentrated.

"May the Force be with you," she said. She curled and stretched her fingers at the remote. "The Force is weak with this one," she said and laughed. A sharp pain in her side stopped her immediately and she tried not to laugh which caused her to giggle more. "Stupid broken bones everywhere," she said and laughed again, alternating between laughing and sharp pains. She looked at the remote again about a foot away from her outstretch hand and grunted with effort. "The Force..." she said and stopped.

The remote smoothly vacuumed into her hand. She felt dizzy and light-headed. A hot flash crossed her chest and down her arms and legs. She stared at the remote in her hands. "Nothing," she muttered to no one.

She pointed the remote at the television and saw the in-hotel menu guide extolling the adult offerings available. She switched through ten channels until she found CNN. The president was on the screen, calm and smiling. She listened to him assure the world that the missing cruise ship and the crashed airplane were not related. There weren't any terrorists at work, he assured everyone. In fact, he assured the world that the terrorists were not attacking as a result of their hatred for Americans getting rid of Daylight Saving.

The sound cut out as the president's mouth moved. The crawling text along the bottom read "PRESIDENT LETS OUT LONG STRING OF OBSCENITIES RELATED TO AIRPLANE CRASH..." It had been several seconds of presidential mouth and arms moving erratically before the sound came back on. Several people standing behind the president looked up in the sky and started pointing. The president paused and looked upward, shading his eyes against the glare. There was a general confusion and noise of confusion.

The television shifted to another point of view as a camera was aimed upward unsteadily. The screen shook and zoomed quickly in on a shocking view that was difficult to comprehend. Samantha sat up quickly and the sudden pain in her arm, legs, and side made her scream out in pain. She fell back and hurt her arm, legs, and side again as she fell back. She screamed again. She forced herself to breathe and squinted at the television again through watery eyes.

The announcer was speaking incoherently about not understanding what was on the screen. Samantha's vision finally cleared enough that she could see what the whole world was slowly realising. The screen showed two partially lit moons in the sky, one slightly behind the other and slightly fuller than the one in front. The smaller one in front seemed to dance and waver, then solidify. The one in back did a similar dance then solidified again.

The president calmly spoke into the microphone and tried to yell to get everyone's attention.

Potus said, "Pay no attention to this David Copperfield bullshit. Even the terrorists can't do a magic trick like this."

Tuesday, March 4, 2014

Solution Whitehouse

Samantha checked her email a few days later in her room at the Topaz hotel in Washington, D.C. One email dated the night before read:

_From: Thorne, Mark <
To: Griffen, Samantha, Ph.D. <>

Ms. Griffen, I'm sorry for the problems with the luggage. I'm currently in Washington D.C., to prepare for the Thorne Industries hearings at Capitol Hill. A lot of strange shit has been going on and I'm not really sure what to believe anymore. I promise to return your luggage at the college when I return.You can return my luggage to me any time when I return to the college. I don't need anything in it very badly._

Samantha was grumpy as only women can be. The turn of fates that drew them to D.C. was remarkable, but not outside the realm of mathematical probability. Perhaps the two people were entangled in a strange superposition and needed to be drawn together for some strange reason. It made no actual sense that there was any intent in the universe to do so. It was only a matter of discrete probabilities that extended out across a large summation of individual probabilities and ended with a coincidence, nothing more.

Sam replied:

_From: Griffen, Samantha, Ph.D. <>
To: Thorne, Mark <>

Dear Mark,

I do not have your luggage owing to an incident over the ocean near Long Island. You may have heard about a small problem with my flight. I do, however, know that you tried to steal my lab results and I don't think you should continue to work with me. I also think that you should not use such vulgar language in a written communication on staff computer systems. I will be glad to file an insurance claim for your personal belongings if you will give me an approximate value for the contents. Since you said you don't need anything in it very badly, I'll assume not.

I am also in Washington, D.C. and I'll be meeting with the president tomorrow morning to help sink your family's corporation. I can provide a lot of useful information that will help stop whatever plans your forebears have. The problems with the solid state division have cost lives, and nearly cost me my life. I sincerely hope you do not try to stop me. I hope that you will reconsider your loyalty to the corporation and help change the course of their intentions if you can. I don't believe that you will be able to stop anything from happening however. Your father and Mathiason are up to no good. They will be unable to change course unless they are confronted by a larger force than themselves.


Samantha K. Griffen_

Monday, March 3, 2014

Solution Hospital

Sam woke up in the hospital a few days later after the ordeal of the airplane crash. She had spent a harrowing four minutes flying through outer space and then survived the initial impact with the water. Nearly an hour later, she was pulled onto a rescue boat and airlifted to the hospital where she stayed for a few days. Her mother had been notified and had flown in to see her daughter.
The nurse pulled back the curtains on Sam's "private" room which was shared by four patients who survived the wreck.
"Your mother's coming to visit you during visiting hours," she announced cheerfully.
Samantha groaned. "Step mother," she muttered.
The nurse heard the groaning. "It's okay, dear, you'll get your pain meds soon. That leg will heal just fine."
Sam nodded. She clicked the button next to the bed rail, hoping for the morphine release. The machine stubbornly refused to go over the allotment she was requesting. Sam ate some slimy jello and a plastic cup filled with orange juice for breakfast. It was hard to eat with one hand, even though it was her dominant right. The left arm was in a cast all the way to the neck and it was suspended from a pulley system next to her bed.
Before she had fully acclimatised to the idea of her mother arriving, her mother arrived.
"Hello, dear Sam," her mother clucked, standing next to the bed on Sam's left opposite the raised arm cast.
"Oh, mother," said Sam irritably, "did you come to gloat?"
"Oh, no. Not gloat," said her mother. "Although I do enjoy a bit of _schadenfreude_ every so often."
"I can't believe you won't give a bit of sympathy to another human being, much less your daughter," Sam said.
"Not my real daughter," corrected her mother.
"Why even bother to show up then?" Sam asked.
"Oh, I don't know. I thought maybe the news reports were a lie. You know, maybe nobody had survived the crash and I could be free of all my familial obligations once and for all."
"You're horrible. You probably killed dad, you evil witch."
"I didn't kill him." Sam's mom said with an evil smile. "I wouldn't have been able to collect the insurance and pension if I did."
"He was a good man. I don't know why he stayed with you," said Sam.
"He was a good man, all right," her mother agreed. "Until he had that dalliance with that wretched Thorne hussy."
"Maybe he had an affair because you were a despicable, loveless human being and drove him away," said Sam.
"That's not a valid excuse," her mother said.
"Mother!" cried Sam.
"I know, I know," her mother said. "I'm horrible, blah blah blah. You always say that. I don't know when the disillusionment set in on either side. Or which side it set in on first."
"I never hated you," said Sam.
"I couldn't tell," said her mother.
"You're too aloof. You don't even know there are other people around you, and that they have feelings and emotions. You don't even know what a person is, except a bunch of distractions from your mathematical proofs," said Sam.
"Oh, feelings. Please," said her mother. "If feelings actually existed then we could get rid of them. That would suit me fine."
"I'm still alive and making you feel embarrassed," Sam said. "I wasn't even wearing clean underwear when the plane crashed."
Her mother hissed. "I told you about that. What did I say about always having clean underwear? You should always have clean underwear. What if you died and they had to undress your corpse and found your dirty skivvies... Oh, too repulsive to imagine."
"I knew you'd be disappointed," Samantha said.
"We were always disappointed," said her mother. "You seemed bright... But of course, when the college rejections started pouring in, we knew..."
"Don't say 'we'. Dad was supportive."
"Maybe," her mother allowed. "It's funny because your father always wanted a daughter. I couldn't give him any children because my uterus was scraped thinner than a coconut shell during the sixties. He wanted a daughter, as I say, and so he wanted to adopt a girl. We never knew what sex you were going to be when we met your birth mother. She wouldn't tell us. You were Schrödinger's Baby. So we called you 'Sam'. 'Samantha' if your father got his way and 'Samuel' if I got mine."
"You've always told me that story."
"I didn't tell you that I wanted a boy because at least he would be worth a damn at math and science."
"It's a wonder how I don't kill myself every single day," said Samantha.
"At least you weren't an orphan after we adopted you. We must have done something of value in your life."
"That's not really enough, mom," said Samantha. "You're supposed to actually care for your children, not raise them like livestock. At least orphans don't hold out hope that their mother will love and care for them. Orphans just try to pass each day in survival. I thought I could be normal."
"Normal doesn't cut it," said her mom. "Or, rather, at least normal would have been acceptable. We never thought any man would be attracted to you, much less be apathetic enough to give you a loveless marriage of convenience."
"No man was ever attracted to me," Sam said bitterly. "It's hard to be excited about a relationship when the Mean Value Theorem is more interesting than going out on a date."
"We always thought there must be someone out there for you, at least mathematically speaking," said her mother.
"That's the difference between science and engineering," Sam said. "One is theoretical and the other is applied in the real world."
"But enough about you and the past," her mom said abruptly. "Tell me about the airplane crash?"
"I was a little freaked out," said Samantha.
"Ha," giggled her mother.
"You try going through a plane crash and see how composed you are," Sam retorted. "The plane kind of jolted a few times before it broke open. I thought I saw some strange things. Hallucinations, maybe altitude sickness as the plane was depressurising."
"You were sitting two rows behind the split, apparently."
"That's what they told me. I saw several people floating around as we fell. That must have been some people waiting in line for the bathroom."
"Wow," said her mother.
"I also... As I say, I was hallucinating," Samantha began.
"Go on," said her mother.
"I saw another plane. Two planes, strangely. One of them was the same plane as us, just phased out a bit. I saw myself sleeping in one of the chairs as we separated. We bumped up and I could see the other image of the airplane shaking and passengers moving as well."
"Out of body experience," said her mother. "Near death, fight or flight responses."
"I think so. But it's like the many universes theory. As if time were an actual storage dimension. Imagine if every copy of every possibility of the universe were being expressed in multiple dimensions. If they were to collide you could see a slightly different universe from ours that would be close but subtly different somehow."
"Nonsense," said her mother. "There are no multiple universes. You'd have to store every particle and each piece of information about that particle's position, spin, momentum, charge, and mass for every single combination... It's impossible."
"I know," said Sam. "You and dad raised me as a Copenhaganist. But you haven't seen the problems at in my lab or at CERN. I looked at all the data and we're seeing some very strange states. Strange things are happening at the macro level and they're bubbling up from the quanta."
"You sound like a science fiction novel," her mother scoffed.
"Well, you tell me, mother," Samantha retorted. "What would happen if the speed of light were changing?"
"Oh, I don't know," said her mother. "Your father was the astrophysicist."
"What if the Planck length was growing? What if the NSA somehow manipulated the Hubble to record a diffraction array from a ground laser and could gather the which-way information from a double-slit experiment? What if we looked at Schrödinger's cat and saw the cat as both dead and alive?"
"Impossible," repeated her mother.
"What if the plane I was on split in an interference pattern and instead of being awake, I was asleep? And what if I was asleep and had died like those other 115 passengers? What if the plane interfered with itself in an alternate dimension and crashed in the sky?"
"They are saying the GPS was faulty," said her mother. "I think you're delusional from whatever they're pumping into that saline bag, dear."
"You never cared anyway if I were alive or dead. Now you're just here to torture me more and mock me. Just leave already," Samantha cried.
"I bet I'd be a good mother in the alternate universe," her mom joked. "Maybe I'd be a good wife, too. That's probably too much to ask. Ten thousand universes couldn't contain that contradiction."
"I'm just trying to get well enough so I can go to the Thorne Industry hearings," Samantha said. "I can't do that with you upsetting my healing process."
"Yes, I suppose," said her mother. "I know someone who works at the Whitehouse. My niece. She could get you an interview with the president. I think it would help."
"I don't understand," said Sam.
"My niece. She is the president's personal assistant. She could get you into the Whitehouse. I could get you an audience with the president. Maybe he can help you fix this," her mother said.
"I don't understand why you're helping me, I mean," said Sam.
"Maybe I want to get back at that horrid Thorne family," said her mom as she smiled evilly.

Sunday, March 2, 2014

Solution Airplane

Samantha sat in Row 33, Seat F. Transatlantic flights are a modern marvel, but they are also one of the most tedious experiences known to woman. Samantha could deal with rude flight attendants and even more rude passengers. But waiting in line for a lavatory is unacceptable. She had never flown in first class or business class, but she had heard that they get their own toilets. Standing in a queue in a three-foot aisle at 30,000 feet and needing desperately to pee is a ridiculous fact of life given the modern technology humans enjoy.
Sam calculates that each passenger in the queue takes approximately four  minutes each in the lavatory. There are two lavatories at the middle of the plane where she is. Each has a queue of four and six people, respectively. The queue for the lavatories has remained stable for the last several hours that Samantha looked back to check. Thus, she applies Little's Law which says that the number of customers in a stable system (L) equals the rate of arrival (λ) times the average service time (W). Since she knows the number of customers and the average service time, she computes:
L= λW
λ = L/W
λ = (10+2) customers / 4 minutes
λ = 3 customers per minute = 1 customer every 20 seconds.
Sure enough, another person has queued up for the lavatories as Sam stands there thinking and calculating. And just as surely, a person exits the lavatory and holds the door open for the next customer to enter to keep the number of customers stable.
The man says "Excuse me, excuse me. _Bitter, bitter_. Excuse me. _Danke_. Coming through," as he squeezes past the queue in the narrow aisle. Samantha wants let out a scream.
Approximately 4*2 minutes = 8 minutes later, she is able to enter the toilet and do her business. She is still wearing the same clothing from the day before, but they have been laundered overnight by the hotel staff. She is still wearing the boy's briefs however, and that could be the cause of the extra trips to the restroom. She presses the button on the toilet to flush down the contents. She realises too late she has left the cover up and witnesses a violent rush of dark blue liquid and feels the sharp tug of vacuum pressure on her ear drums. This, combined with the roar of the air filtration systems and the violent noise of her flushing, make waves of nausea reappear somewhere in the back of her head and throat.
She lowers the lid and steps into the aisle. There are ten eager faces staring back at her as she exits. She gropes through the aisle and steps on several toes asking people to please excuse her. Back at her seat which is mercifully on the aisle she tries to sleep. This has been impossible for her, though she usually is able to sleep on airplanes. She hates the inane pop culture that is fed to captive sheep via the back headrests of the chairs in front of them. She tries to do some work on her tablet but is unable to focus and feels a queasy floating that has been following her since takeoff. She determines she is probably going to be sick and will need to take a few days off when she gets home. She needs time to prepare some evidence for her bosses to present at the congressional hearings.
A mild shaking of the cabin reminds her to check her seat belt. It is on safely. She notices the passenger next to her is asleep and so is the man on the other side. Samantha estimates half the flight is asleep, including the airline stewardesses. She had seen them toward the back in a special section of the plane. They had retreated back to their seats around the four hour mark of the flight. The seats back there had small curtains that pulled around to give some privacy to the seats. They were just normal economy seats, however, and Sam could see these professional fliers crunched up like contortionists eyes closed and snoring like peaceful children. She was briefly ashamed for peering through the curtains and hurried past the aisle where they slept whenever she took a lap walking around the plane.
Sam checked her tablet and saw they were approaching the nine hour mark. The plane should be near the eastern coast of America by her calculation. She turned on the tiny screen in the back of the seat in front of her. She switched the remote over to the live flight path. An icon of the airplane showed where the airplane thought it was based on the GPS coordinates. It showed a location about 1/2 inch (on the screen) off the coast of New Jersey, just south of Long Island.
A violent jolt of turbulence causes Sam to drop her tablet on the floor. She turns off the display in front of her and reaches down to find her tablet. The plane shakes more, but more mildly this time. A ding-dong C note plays and the "Fasten Seat Belts" sign lights up. A few people from the queue at the lavatory wander back to their seats.
As Samantha continues to reach for her tablet blindly, she decides to look at her feet and sees two sets of feet like hers. One is a ghostly image laid on top of hers. She glances at her hand reaching for the tablet and sees two tablets, one a ghost and shimmering on top of the other. She looks to her left and sees two copies of the airplane row with a ghostly image wavering up and down on top of the real one. She can see a ghostly head of herself asleep, leaning on the wavering version of a headrest to the left of her ear.
Another violent shaking occurs as the two images overlap in her mind. Pain racks her arm and neck as she is snapped down, then up. She gapes in confusion as the ghostly image of the other plane, herself, and other passengers firm up and pull apart as the planes rips in half.
Then it is all noise and screaming and cold whipping wind as she falls through the air.

Wednesday, February 26, 2014

Solution Nassau part 6

Mark went down to the lobby and wandered over to the touristy shopping mall adjoining the hotel. He browsed the $30 T-shirt selection and $80 hoodie sweaters advertising "ATLANTIS, Paradise Island". He purchased a set of clothes to get him through the next few days and walked over to the casino. It was still early in the morning for casino action and the place was mostly empty.  Mark headed over toward the cashier's cage.
The large slot machine near the entrance that Mark had played earlier was making a lot of cheerful music. A tourist lady with white hair stood at a distance from the machine and took a picture of the machine with her cell phone. Mark approached her.
"Hello ma'am," he said in greeting.
The lady turned and sat down at a nearby slot machine. She put several quarters into the machine and pressed the SPIN button.
Mark approached her and put his hand on her shoulder. "Excuse me," he began.
The lady jumped up and spilled her bucket of quarters everywhere. She started shrieking.
"I'm sorry, I'm sorry," said Mark. He held out his hand to quiet the lady down. A security guard approached quickly.
"What's going on here?" asked the security guard, eyeing Mark.
"Nothing, sir. I just wanted to ask this lady a question," said Mark.
"A question?" asked the security guard.
"Yes, I..." he bent over to help pick up some quarters for the lady. She saw him trying to help and bumped him rudely with her shoulder. She continued picking up quarters and putting them into her bucket.
Mark continued. "I was here yesterday and I think this lady took a picture of the machine I won on. I just wanted to ask her nicely if she still had that photo of me. I don't have any pictures of me winning the machine. I want to send it to my mom," he lied.
The old lady stood up. She looked carefully at Mark and frowned. "I don't remember you, son," she said.
"You took a picture of the same machine just now," said Mark. "I thought it was you, that's all. Can we check your pictures?"
The lady shook her head. "It's true I'm taking pictures of the machines. I hear them play their music and I take a picture to see if they're lucky or not. But I don't remember anyone playing that machine. And I don't recognise you," she said.
"Ma'am, we can't have you take photos inside the casino. That is against our policies," the guard said.
"Fiddlesticks to you and your policies," said the white haired tourist. "I'm 78 years old and I don't take instructions from the like of you or anyone else."
"Can I just see some of those pictures? Please?" pleaded Mark.
"Well, sure, I guess. But not if I get in trouble from the blue suits," said the lady. She jerked her thumb at the guard.
"We're okay, sir," said Mark. "You can go now. Thank you for your time."
The security guard left casting glances back at the pair often.
"You seem nice enough," said the tourist to Mark. "But you gave me a scare just now, appearing out of nowhere." She took out her phone.
"No problem, ma'am," said Mark. He walked around to look over her shoulder as she operated her phone.
"That's one I just took," said the lady. A picture of the big slot machine with huge wheels was prominently featured, if not completely centred. The wheels displayed BAR-7-7. The lady swiped left. There was a photo of an elderly man looking at the façade of the Atlantis hotel. "That's George," she explained. She swiped backward through several versions of George. She stopped on one sequence of an old man in a leather gimp suit, skin sagging in very bad places. Across his mouth a red ball was fastened in place by black leather straps. "George was being bad," the lady explained.
Mark waved his hand to move to the next picture.
George was being whipped, suspended, and stretched by bars in what appeared to be a hotel room for the next few photographs that slid by. "He was very bad," the lady said and smiled. Mark kept waving his hands, _move on._
"Ah, here," said the lady. She showed her phone to Mark. In the background Mark could see the big slot machine with the huge wheels set to 7-7-7. A yellow light was brightly lit on top, frozen mid-blink. Off to one side, was a blurry see-through version of someone like Mark.
Mark pointed at himself. "Who's that?" he asked.
The lady squinted and raised her glasses above her forehead. "I can't tell. Probably a tourist."
"I think that's me," Mark said. "But why is it blurry?"
"The camera's always moving," said the tourist plainly. "My hands aren't steady."
"So why wouldn't the background blur as well?" Mark asked.
"I don't know. I'm not a physics professor," the old lady complained.
"Any other pictures?" Mark asked.
The lady nodded and slid the screen back one more picture. It showed the same scene with a waitress frozen mid-step walking in between the camera and the slot machine. She was walking outward from the camera, from observer right-to-left.
"Who's that?" asked Mark excitedly, pointing. "That's the waitress who robbed me!" he said.
"What waitress? Robbed who?" asked the lady.
"Her," said Mark. "She was the waitress who came up to me after I won some money and she robbed me I'm pretty sure."
The old lady frowned. "Can't be," said the tourist. "The waitresses don't come in this early. The slot machine always rings in the morning and early afternoon. I've been tracking it. Plus, the waitresses here wear orange. It's the company colours. This lady is wearing a blue outfit."
Mark looked closer. The woman was indeed wearing a blue skirt and top one-piece. She was carrying a tray, but it could easily be a portfolio or a suitcase. Off to the observer right, next to the slot machine was a faded Mark character. It was definitely him, but translucent. Mark could see right through his hoodie and the logo to see the wall and a stool behind him. The faded Mark character was smiling like a Cheshire cat.
"Holy shit," Mark said.
"Watch your language. Didn't your parents raise you right?" asked the tourist. She turned off her phone and stormed off.
Mark turned his attention to the casino cage. He spotted the large man behind the window and approached.
"Hello, sir, I wonder if you can help me?" Mark asked.
"Certainly sir," answered the man.
"I won some money from the slot machine over there," here Mark pointed, "and I wanted to know who the waitress was who I met. I wanted to give her a tip," Mark lied.
The large man nodded. "I remember. You took your money in a bag. Ha!" he said. Mark nodded impatiently. "Well, now, I wish I could help you but we have a lot of waitresses. Was she off duty?"
"No," answered Mark. "She wore a blue outfit."
The large man shook his head. "No, I'm sorry, son. Our waitresses don't come on until at least 3:30 pm. And we all wear orange outfits. As you can see," the man said and displayed his orange uniform.
"No, I'm certain she was a waitress. She brought me some drinks on a tray... and..."
The large man was trying not to laugh. "I'm sorry, son. Happens all the time. I'm sure you think she was a waitress. Ha! I'm sorry. Totally unprofessional. I'm sorry."
Mark tried to continue. "Well, then, she's a thief operating on your premises. She stole me my money. You're responsible."
The large man held up his hands. "Whoa, now son. We're not responsible for anything you do on your own time. We try to keep undesirables out, but they might slip through. As for losing your money, that's on you. Unless this happened on our casino grounds, you're on your own. We guarantee your safety on our property, but can't guarantee it once you're outside."
Mark seethed. "Don't you have some security footage or something?" he asked.
"Sure we do. We could fill out a police report. And I'm sure we'll investigate it thoroughly. But you'll have to stick around for the results. And you're going to be liable for the money if we can't recover any of it. You'll also pay taxes for any winnings."
"Taxes?" Mark cried.
"Oh yes, son," said the large man. "You still owe taxes. I hope you have enough to cover the bill Uncle Sam is going to send you when we file our paperwork."
"I'll fill out a police report, I guess," said Mark. "Let's hope we can find this thief. I'll be here for a few days then I'm going to Washington D.C." said Mark.
"To visit Uncle Sam?" laughed the large man. "Sorry. Just a joke. Let me get the paperwork."

Weekly writing output

Wordcount graph
Powered by