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.

Weekly writing output

Wordcount graph
Powered by