A new entry in the Omicron Matter – Knowledge Discovered. Having heard what everyone knows, Millicent tries to explain what Sean and Martha McNeill did. But she is finding the explanation difficult because, as smart as her audience is, they don’t have the background knowledge for it to make sense.
Look for more tomorrow. The last entry in this chapter and section
For those who are new to the Omicron Matter, the home page is a great place to start.
Authors note –
Hard sci fans will enjoy this chapter. Imagine trying to explain some of the concepts we take for granted to an audience in the 1860’s. Atoms haven’t been postulated yet; now try to explain radioactivity (let alone alpha, beta, or gamma ray decay). The periodic table isn’t complete yet; explain chemical and electo chemical reactions. Pluto hasn’t been seen yet nor has the theory of relativity been created; try and explain the big bang, expanding universes and ‘left over’ energy. Long ago when I was studying to be a teacher, I had this magnificent background in geology and the third grade teacher that I was student teaching with suggested I teach a lesson or two in geology. This was a bad idea. Kids at that age thing 50 years ago was ancient. They cannot conceive of things being millions or billions of years old. I ended up teaching science for nine years and never taught anything in the class about geology afterwards (I suppose it was a scarring experience). The main reason was that I couldn’t think how to get to the interesting stuff without a whole lot of boring stuff. Human biology, chemistry, environmental science, even plant biology was far easier to teach and far easier to make interesting at the beginning level. I suppose this is a form of hubris.
I included a link to a great blog on all things cosmological and he is a regular reader – The Science Geek. I have a general link to his website here. He explains some difficult concepts at a level even a rock pounder like me can understand.
Millicent Explains Dark Force
Jason retorted quickly saying, “I am not so sure that is nonsense based on the calculations I have been working on.”
Millicent said, “Michael, that ‘nonsense’ you are dismissing isn’t nonsense. It is how nature is supposed to behave. One should not be able to travel faster than the speed of light. If one travels fast enough, time slows for the person but accelerates for the stationary objects. A 3 month journey travelling near the speed of light will actually take 10 years. That is what happens. Because it how nature is supposed to act. And because that is how nature is supposed to act, that is the rules the galaxy plays by. And my Guild takes a dim view of people not playing by the galaxy rules.”
Felicity said, “So you’re saying that others in the galaxy know traveling faster is possible, but doesn’t use it. Why? I would think traveling quicker would be a good thing.”
Millicent looked at Felicity and said, “I’ll come to that. Some of us in the Guild have known it was possible. We couldn’t find an energy source to sustain the field. Sean and Martha, Jason’s parents, did. They found an abundant and ubiquitous source of energy.” Jason sputtered, but Millicent asked the group, “What are sources of energy in the universe?”
John answered, “Gravity.”
Jason answered, “Electromagnetic.”
Millicent said, “Good start. What are the other three?”
There was a long quiet and then Jason said, “Chemical attraction.”
Millicent said, “That is really just a variation on electromagnetic attraction.” She looked around and said, “Your culture. Your world is right on the edge of the discovery of atomic forces. Matter is made up of tiny particles. Those particles are made up sets of charged particles. Some are negative and some are positive. The two attract one another.”
She could see Jason starting to understand. He said, “When we create a battery or a wet cell, we somehow skew where the negative and positive particles are. That explains a great deal.”
Simone was starting to comprehend as well, “When that material becomes conducting, the particles must somehow align with all the negatives on one side and the positives on another.”
Millicent said, “Not exactly, but let’s not quibble. You have the idea. But we still haven’t come up with the remaining forces.” She took a deep breath and said, “In for a penny, in for a pound.” She closed her eyes as if collecting her thoughts and then said, “I told you the pond water was dangerous. There are two forces at play that make it toxic. One force holds the particles together. Sometimes it fails. The particle itself is unstable. When the particle breaks apart, pieces fly out at tremendous speeds. That is another type of force. That is what makes the pond water so dangerous. The forces that cause that breakup are the source of energy.” At this point even Jason and Simone were looking confused. Millicent rubbed the back of her head in frustration, “This is so hard to explain without the background; without you going through all of the steps. The last force is even more mysterious. Careful observation has determined that 70% of the known universe is made of up energy. Only a small portion of that 70% is the types of energy I’ve mentioned. The last type of energy is inferred from observation only. We believe it is what is driving stars apart. If it is 70% of the universe, it must be abundant, but there is or was, no easy way to detect it, let alone harness it. Sean and Martha must have found a way. Now, setting aside technical details, what questions do you have?”