The Great Journey Chapter 2

2 Technology

On day three of my adventure there was another hole in the hedge; and looking for a new hole each day became my routine. Over the next few weeks, each day, when I had time to spare, I would go out and look for a hole in the hedge and sure enough there would be a hole. I would go through the hedge to the other side and work on the next stage of fabrication. On Day Three I did a lot more work on the outside of the structure. I found a small cylinder of the same stainless sheet metal, welded it to a cone shaped piece of stainless steel, which then attached to another cylinder. Finally, I took the whole assembly and attached it to one edge of the lower bowl. The hole I had previously cut allowed me to insert the apparatus and stuff the cylinder full of nozzles, gas fittings, tubing, electrical connections, and tanks filled with various liquids. I realized that I had not only become a welder, but also a gasfitter, an electrician, and perhaps an engineer. At this rate, I would soon be able to join Dad’s NASA team and work on getting men to and from the moon.

As I stood back and admired my work, the saucer quite clearly had a rocket engine. I began to understand that I might be building something more than a summer house for play. I could see how this machine might go forward across the ground or through the air, but I did not see how it could get off the ground. It had no wheels, and I already knew there would be no addition of wheels at a later point, so it must be designed for air or water. Water was a possibility but, somehow, I knew that was not the right answer. For one thing, I knew that it would sink like a stone and for another, there was no body of water close by that would warrant this large a vessel. There was something more. I could not yet put my finger on it, and maybe it was just the UFO allusion, but it seemed this “ship” was meant for flying.

This process went on for several weeks and I began to name regions of the machine. There was the main cabin and the living quarters. Pretty soon I had installed a sleeping area, food prep area, and bathroom. The technology and machinery for these areas mostly appeared as prefabricated modules that needed minimal amounts of installation and over the next few days, before school, after school, before chores, and on weekends, I was able to get a lot of stuff installed. There were also modules that needed to be mounted in the main cabin for lighting and other essentials. Then there were the black boxes that did not easily reveal their purpose, but some were labelled with terms like navigation, communications, and forward scanners.

One module was particularly enigmatic. The label on the box in which it came read, “Gravity Amplification System” and was abbreviated “GAS.” It had one large box that I installed in the main cabin and a set of miniaturized satellite dishes, which I mounted around the perimeter of the saucer. Above each dish I attached a small box. A collection of nozzles mounted underneath the boxes rounded out the system. Thus, the dishes and nozzles were intimately connected via the small boxes, but each dish and nozzle swivelled independently of its partner.

When I wasn’t working on the saucer, I was thinking about the saucer. My day and night-time dreams were fuelled by the strange work in which I found myself. As fall came on, I managed to stay current with my regular schoolwork, and the extra academics Dad always assigned, and I found myself applying everything I learned to the installations and fabrications I was doing on my project. I was ravenous for learning.

I began to spend more time in our school library and one of the first things I looked up was theories about gravity. I was trying to find anything that might explain this idea of a gravity amplification system. Some of the other modules had used the term “gravity concentration” and so I looked for information on that as well. I read some growing theories about the concept of “gravitational waves” but soon found that this discipline was clearly in its infancy and my school library was not going to contain anything helpful. However, as I installed modules and thought about the concepts, the same extraordinary ability that had allowed me to become a welder began to affect my understanding of physics and engineering. I began to realize that once one knew where to look for large amounts of gravitational waves and the particles of which they were made, one could collect and amplify them. For example, our own sun, the most massive near object in our solar system, was blasting out large volumes of gravitational particles. Each particle was extremely weak but collecting and amplifying them created a greater effect. It had something to do with moving around elementary particles called Higgs Boson particles and I began to feel an immense sense of awe and mystery as I thought about the amount of energy and computing power such manipulations might take. I could conceive that the satellite dishes might be used to collect and amplify, while the nozzles could point the concentrated particles in a desired direction, while also pushing aside the Higgs Boson field. With enough time for collection and storage, the particles could be amplified such that they would be sufficient to lift the saucer off the ground and perhaps even place it in orbit around a planet or a star.

I also installed a whole other set of devices around the perimeter of the saucer, and on the top and bottom, realizing that they had something to do with forward motion of the saucer, but were a separate system from the rocket pack. These devices looked more like small hot-water radiators that connected to the ship’s electronics and computer system. Again, the packaging gave me a clue but not the whole picture when I read, “hyper drive.” I would need to do some more research on this concept as well. For now, I satisfied myself with installing the modules even if I could not understand all the science behind it.

There were many things yet to be done so that when I next got back to the console, I realized that someone else had installed software on what I had always assumed was the gaming control. I quickly dismissed the question of who had installed this software. That seemed like an unimportant question in a world in which I did not understand the “who” behind any of it.

When I turned on the screen, there, in stylized red lettering, were the letters ADHD. I briefly wondered if someone was making a malicious joke but then saw the acronym spelled out below: Automated Dynamic Hyper Drive. Was this a video game or real navigational software? I could not be sure. This was the first time I could say for certain that someone else was adding to my work, the first time I had proof that I was not doing all this alone. For that reason, and the intriguing notion of what this program might accomplish, I began to study it. Clicking on the acronym brought up the main menu. A list furled out below it:

Curious, I began to click on a few of the more intriguing menu items. Opening the “Flight type” entry revealed two options: “Colonizing trip” or “Round trip.” That made some sense but created a bunch more questions for me. “Automatic retrieval parameters” brought up the following:

“Time coordinates” had a simple space for entering the pre-flight date and time. “Spatial start coordinates” allowed for the entry of a location in longitude and latitude as well as a street address and Global Positioning Satellite coordinates.

“Time-variable acceptable limits” was the most confusing screen. It spoke of the maximum allowable differential between ship time and earth time and offered options from zero to twenty-four months. It also calculated the effect of each choice on the maximum speed of the spacecraft. I could not quite comprehend the speeds as they were listed in parsecs per twenty-four hours, but then I found a toggle that switched the speeds to km per hour and km per twenty-four hours. The numbers were mind boggling, especially as I realized that we were dealing with speeds that greatly exceeded the speed of light. The screens suggested that allowing maximum time dilation of twenty-four months would allow the craft to travel at 2.5 X 1011 km/hr or approximately two hundred times faster than the speed of light. There were sub-screens that gave approximations of how long it would take to reach various destinations. Proxima Centauri showed eight days; Sirius would take fifteen days; Arcturus would take two years, and Rigel about four years. Well, if it was a video game, it would be an interesting way to pass some time. It could not possibly represent reality. I closed the program and went on to other things, thinking I would come back later and play the game. For now, I needed to get on with the work of building this thing before I could sit down, relax, and enjoy it.

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