The Enlightening Chapters 14-17

warp speed

14

I came to find that although Merle’s knowledge of science was light-years beyond that of present-day Earth, he was especially fond of Earth culture, especially music and art of just about any variety.  Merle once explained to me that his planet’s history, like Earth’s history, included a man who discovered gravity.  His planet’s history, like Earth’s history, included a man who discovered that their planet revolves around their sun.  Likewise, any other scientific achievement that we celebrate on Earth had already been discovered on Merle’s planet, many millennia ago.  There was always a certain sense of “been there, done that” when it comes to Earthly scientific advances, from Merle’s vantage point, I guess is what he was trying to say, but he was very tactful in saying it.  

However, art, unlike science, is unique.  Nobody on Merle’s planet had ever performed “Manic Depression”.  Nobody on Merle’s planet had ever written “100 Years of Solitude”.  So Merle was understandably drawn towards the unique cultural perspective that art can provide.  And I know that Merle’s strong cultural investment was very important to the success of the mission, even though it was really more of a science mission, at least on the surface.

As it turns out, most of Merle’s research into our western culture was sort of rooted in the 1970s and previous eras.  That was because of the great distance between Earth and Merle’s home planet, Akeethera, which I am spelling phonetically, based on what Merle called it, with the accent on the “double e”, and very little emphasis on the final “e”.  When he started preparing for his quest, back on Akeethera, it was the 1970s on Earth.  As I had already mentioned, the transmission relays, built by the various inter-galactic societies and scattered throughout the galaxy and beyond, are able to accelerate the speed of information transfer across great distances, so Merle was able to stay relatively up to date, in spite of the great distances involved.    

As Merle eventually traveled across the galaxy in his transport ship, accelerating to velocities well beyond “light speed”, he aged quite slowly in comparison to the time frame of Earth, so the decades flew by on Earth, as he travelled.  It wasn’t until Merle was already on his way to Earth that I came into the picture as a potential contactee, after I rescued Magu from that runaway car.  During his trip, Merle spent much of his time researching various aspects of his mission, and he no longer spent much time listening to the latest Earth music.  So I always kidded him about being stuck in the past with his Earth-musical tastes.  He said he liked some of the modern music, but he just didn’t have much time to study it, like he did back in the day.  I think maybe he was just trying to be diplomatic by saying that, though.  You don’t “study” popular music.  You enjoy it! 

In some ways Merle was just like my own father, or grandfather, even, listening to the oldies station…  But he loved a lot of different music.  Sometimes it was classical music– Mozart or Beethoven or Tchaikovsky or whoever, or maybe blues, country or jazz– he loved Django Reinhart and Thelonious Monk especially.  I remember in particular one night when we were in his car/ ship, and he was dropping me off at the house after the most eventful day of my life up until that time.  We parked at the curb and sat in silence, listening to “’Round Midnight”, much like we sat listening to “Eclipse” that first day.  The fireflies were out flashing around the yards and the little park across the street, and Merle thought it was the perfect ending to the night, watching the fireflies, which completely fascinated him, and listening to Thelonious Monk.  The song– ‘Round Midnight”—was only a few minutes long, but Merle was completely knocked out by it.  I remember him saying that it was as beautiful piece of music as he had ever heard.  He loved quite a variety of different music and bands, though, often commenting on the lyrics as well as the instrumentation.

Anyhow, after he finished with his critique of Dark Side of The Moon, Merle turned to me again and said, “There is one more thing we need to discuss, before we go anywhere, Ken.  We are lucky that your father and mother were so skeptical, about the girls and me, and the spaceship, when you called them last night.”

I was shocked that Merle knew about my phone calls with my mom and dad, the night before.  All I could ask in response was “Lucky?”

“Yes, very.  The single most important request I have of you is that you do not reveal any more details about my visit, to anyone.  Keep this… under your hat.  Is that right to say, even if you are not wearing a hat?”

“Under my hat?  Uh, sure.  That’s right.  No, I don’t have to be wearing a hat for you to say that.”

“That’s what I thought, but it didn’t sound right.  I wanted to make sure.”

 “You were right.” 

“Good, good.  Anyhow, you are not to speak a word of this to anyone, Ken.  Nobody else must know about my visit, at least until I’m gone.  After that, all bets are off, as they say.  After that, you can tell anybody anything you want.  But until then, that is the prime directive.”  

“All right.”  I agreed with the request immediately, since I had just seen two examples of Merle knowing things about me that I hadn’t expected.  “I won’t tell anybody.  I know you can’t get past the landlady, anyhow, right?” 

Merle laughed at my usage of his landlady reference, since I barely even knew what it was all about.  “That’s right, Ken.  That landlady seems to know it all, doesn’t she?”  He smiled at our little ongoing charade.  He turned back to face the road, and he touched a small box-like protrusion on the screen, that I hadn’t noticed before.  After he touched the box-like area, a rippling bluish haze seemed to envelop it.               

As the car began to move, Merle smiled again.  “OK, let’s see what this baby can do!”  I was already discovering that Merle loved pulling out trite American sayings.  He knew a million of them, it seemed, and always got a kick out of using one correctly in context.  He peered around to look for other cars, and I was alarmed to notice that there wasn’t a steering wheel or any obvious means of steering his “car”, nor any pedals on the floor.  Nevertheless, we smoothly pulled out into traffic, which was very light at that hour, and we were on our way.  At first, I was pretty nervous that Merle appeared to be just sitting there, watching everything, as the car seemed to drive all on its own.  But Merle assured me that he was, in fact, directing the vehicle. 

From the outside, Merle’s “car” looked to be a perfectly normal smallish American car; maybe a bit of a “beater”, complete with patches of rust and scratches in the paint.  Nothing fancy whatsoever.  Even with the windows rolled down, anybody looking from the outside would see Merle driving, and actively steering with his hands on the wheel, just like any other driver.  But once you got inside and sat down, you saw an entirely different vehicle, with Merle directing the movements of the car with his mind, apparently.  Merle once told me that at any instant, if circumstances necessitated, we and the entire car would be safely transported to the loading bay of the main triangular ship.  I secretly hoped that would happen, assuming that I would be transported there also, which obviously would be the thrill of a lifetime– even more of a thrill than simply seeing the ship up close, as I already had.

As Merle pulled out into the street that morning, handling the car like an old pro, somehow, he told me that he’d like to pay a visit to the local park, “Streamside Park”.  It was a Saturday, and there would be a lot of activity out there as the day progressed.  I could tell he was really looking forward to it, and I agreed to go there.  I used to go to that park, with my mom and dad, when I was a little kid.  I remember that I used to like to chase grasshoppers and butterflies, and I’d go down by the stream to see if I could see any crayfish in the water.  Later, when I was older, I used to go there to play baseball, football, and basketball.  In the winter there was even an ice skating rink there, where we used to play hockey sometimes.              

At that moment, however, I wasn’t thinking too much about those days of youth.  I was just stunned at how I ended up to be sitting in that car– or whatever kind of contraption it was.  Then, I started thinking about all the time I wasted the night before getting ready to take videos and photos.  And then I realized I had a great opportunity to ask some questions of Merle.

“So is this thing is really a spaceship, or what?”  

“I guess you could say that.”

“Is this the ship you took from your home planet?”

“This?  No.”  Merle chuckled at that one.  “This is just my local transport ship, basically, and one I can drive on the streets.”  

“So you came here in that giant triangle?”  

“Yes.  We’ve been here for over five years, now.”        

“Did you really travel 97 light years to get here?”

“Well, my home planet, Akeethera, is about 97 light years distant.  But we actually travelled more than twice that distance on my way here.  When you go above the space/time ratio, you usually have to be careful about your route, for safety.  Plus we made stops along the way at 12 other systems, to assemble the crew.  This is a multiple-system mission, and the black triangle is both the bus and the base.  Roughly 43 percent of the ship’s population is from Akeethera, with the balance spit between the twelve other systems, along with a variety of visitors from many other systems, as well.”  

“Wait!  Did you say you went faster than the ratio of space to time?”  At the time, I thought Merle was just pulling my leg, even though he had primed the pump by discussing the Lorentz transformations multiple times, already. 

“Well, you would say ‘faster than the speed of light.’  But hopefully you already know that the ‘speed of light’ is actually the active ratio of space to time in the universe.  So we took a roundabout path, and made a few stops along the way, which added some distance.  Also, on a mission like this, there’s the time management side of things.  We wanted to take some time along the way for study and learning purposes, before getting into orbit, but we didn’t want to take too much time.  So that’s how we did it.” 

“Where are your three girlfriends?”  

“That’s hard to say.  But they’re never really very far away, I can assure you.” 

“Did you travel here with them?”

Merle chuckled again.  “No, I didn’t.  They arrived here long, long before I was even born.  Even though, in a sense, I’ve probably spent half as much time here than they have, by now.  Those three women are time-savers.”      

“Time-savers?” 

“That’s right.  They have their own very fast ship, and they spend most of their time off the planet, or more accurately circling the planet, traveling at relativistic speeds—or beyond relativistic speeds, even– relative to your planet’s time frame.  Anyhow, by maintaining that type of velocity as their standard operating velocity, they are able to age extremely slowly.  They save time, in other words, relative to the time frame of the Earth.  So one second of their time may be an entire day on Earth.  Half a minute of their time, versus one month on Earth.  Six minutes of their time, and an entire year may pass by, on the Earth.  One hour, ten years.  That sort of thing.”

“Wow.”  I quickly worked out the numbers in my head.  “One thousand years, four days?”  

Merle laughed.  “Yes, as incredible as it may sound, that is certainly possible.  Of course, when they come down onto the planet, their time passes at the same rate as anyone else on the planet.  So they are not saving time while they are actually down here.  That’s why they can be a little impatient at times- especially Atropha.”  He turned to me and winked, as he mentioned Atropha.  

“She seems pretty fierce.”

“Uh… yes.  Ha ha!  Yes, most definitely, Atropha can be pretty fierce!  Not one to be trifled with, I’m afraid…  Many have learned that, to their dismay.”

“And what’s the deal with the thing that Clotro has?”  

“Oh, that!  Fast and bulbous, isn’t it?”  Merle laughed.  From time to time Merle would amuse himself with some pretty unusual comments.   

“I guess so…  But what is it?”  

“Well, I call it her device.  It’s like a transmitter, or a remote control, or a computer.  I wouldn’t mind having one of those little gadgets, myself.”    

“So how long have they been here, exactly?  A long time?”

“Well, time, as they say, is relative.  That is very true.  But they first arrived here about 27,000 years ago, in Earth years.  So, in their timescale, they haven’t been here very long at all.  They’ve probably spent about ten years of their own time here.”

“What?!”  I couldn’t help shouting it out.  “Merle, are you saying those three women have been here since the Ice Age?    

“Oh, yes.  Absolutely.  Those girls have been around the block a few times.”  

“Crap, Merle.  No way.  No way.”  I was really astounded by the thought.  “Really?” 

“Oh, yes.  Those three are very interesting people.”  Merle typically referred to all races of beings from various planetary systems as “people”, which sometimes confused me until I got used to it.  “They’ve had some great experiences here, and they have some amazing stories to tell.  They have been places, and seen things, that are really quite astounding.  And they have personally encountered many extraordinary– and ordinary– inhabitants of Earth.  I envy them, very much.  I wish I could spend a lot more time with them than I have been able to.  But of course, they are–“

“Time savers?”  

“Yes.  So between helping me, and helping my two other mission-mates who are elsewhere on the planet, they don’t have too much more time left over, at the moment.  In fact, I’m grateful they agreed to spend so much of their valuable time on this mission.  And they have freely given me access to much of their archive of information.  I think that tells you something, right there.” 

“Tells me what?” 

“It tells you that this project is important,” said Merle.  “Also, it tells you that they value this planet tremendously, as do I.”    

Merle was focusing on the road the whole time we talked, stopping and turning smoothly and naturally, as we discussed the three time-savers.    

My mind reeled at all the things that happened during the time the time-savers circled Earth, if Merle was telling the truth; things they may have been witness to.  They saw the end of the Pleistocene era; the end of the last ice age.  Mammoths, mastodons, saber-tooth tigers, cave bears.  Neanderthals!  The beginnings of civilizations, farming, and all the major religions.  So many things!  I was certainly viewing these women in an entirely different light!  I got right into the biggest question I could think of.

“Merle, did the time-savers ever meet Jesus?”  

“I’m afraid I can’t really give you an answer to that, Ken.”  

“Why not?”

“I’m not allowed to discuss specific religious beliefs of your planet.”

“Why not?” 

“I have rules.  No photos or video.  No discussion of specific aspects of religious beliefs– yours, mine, or anyone else’s.  And there are many more rules I have to abide by, also.”

“How would anybody know what we talked about?”     Merle laughed out loud at that one.  “Once again, my friend, I must remind you; you have to pass by the landlady in the kitchen.  The same is as true for me as it is for you!  I have to abide by the rules set out for me, or I’ll have failed my mission, and I’ll be pulled out, just like that.”  And he snapped his fingers.

Who will pull you out?”    

“Well, there’s a consortium of local planetary systems that are sponsoring our little adventure; providing support, as well as oversight.”  He turned to look at me and he sort of raised his eyebrows and tilted his head upwards, looking up to the sky, as he said that part about the oversight.  “This thing has taken many years of discussion and planning, with many different groups of people that have an interest in the situation. Just about every mid-level type society within this entire mega-quadrant of the galaxy is involved.  Plus, there is some higher level input, even from inter-dimensional portions of the galaxy, and from outside of the galaxy as well, I would imagine.”

“Higher level input?

     “As you’ve seen, Ken, I’m employing certain technologies that are very far advanced, in comparison to your own.  In the same way, there are societies that are as technologically advanced beyond me, as I am to you.  And so on.  Some of these people operate in ways that are very far beyond my own abilities, or even my own awareness.  I’m quite sure that there is an element of that type of ‘higher level input’, as I referred to it.  That input includes some higher level oversight, as well.”  He glanced over to look at me as he said that, and he raised his eyebrows a bit, again.

15

By now, Merle was preparing to pull into our curbside parking space at Streamside Park.  A big black SUV raced up behind us, and the driver honked at Merle, impatiently, before racing past us.  Merle turned to me and smiled.  “I suppose some people think that we’re not allowed to slow down to park, are we?  And I had my turn signal on, too!”  

Although it seemed like our car, or ship, was way too large to operate on the street, let alone pull into a parking space, somehow Merle was able to parallel park as easily as you can imagine.  Somehow, we squeezed into a normal-sized parking space between two other cars.    

“How in the heck does this ship fit into that spot?”  I asked Merle.

“Good question!”  Merle seemed happy I asked.  “This ship is actually oscillating very rapidly, at all times.  Since we are inside the ship, and the entire ship is oscillating, we don’t feel it, since we’re oscillating, also.  But the net effect is that, even while ‘parked’, we are oscillating at relativistic velocities, and therefore we’ve reduced our size, relative to the space/time reference frame of the Earth.  So we fit.  The camouflage system of the ship is able to alter or correct the visual appearances, so that everything appears to be perfectly normal.  Not only to a person on the street, but also to us, inside the car.  Or ship.”  He smiled again.  “I never know what to call it.”     “It reminds me of the DeLorean from Back to the Future”, I said.  “Just way less fancy on the outside, but way more fancy on the inside.”

Back to the Future?  What is that?  And what’s a DeLorean?”  

“That was an old movie, sort of a sci-fi comedy, I guess, where this guy customizes a DeLorean—which was a brand of car– and turns it into a time machine.”  

Merle grinned at that one.  “Back to the Future, huh?  I must have missed that one!  Although I did love 2001:  A Space Odyssey!  What was the name of that computer, from the University of Illinois?”

I had no idea what Merle was talking about.       “HAL 9000!  That’s right!”  Merle answered his own question before returning to my Back to the Future reference.  “A time travelling car, you say?  Well, this one can travel in different dimensions of space-time, but I don’t think that’s quite the same thing…”

At the time, I let the comment about the different dimensions of space-time slide past, because I was focusing on something else that Merle had said a few minutes prior.  “So where are the other two on-planet people?  You said that you were one of three people chosen to be an on-planet contact.”

     “Well, right now, one of them is probably on the base” (by that Merle meant the big triangular ship), “studying or getting some sleep.  But, generally speaking, they’re each spending their mission time in different countries of your planet.  I can’t really mention which other countries, specifically.  But I’m the Western mission specialist, based in the U.S.  Then we have an Eastern mission specialist, based in another country on the other side of the world.  He’s probably asleep on the ship right now.  Also we have a Southern mission specialist, and she is based in the southern hemisphere, is all I can really say.  Basically, though, each mission specialist is working with a single person from Earth, with the goal being to begin opening some eyes on Earth to the realities of Hyper Relativity.”

 “And why is that so important?” 

 “That is a really great question, Ken.  Basically, what is the point of any scientific endeavor?”  

 “Well… I guess to advance human knowledge.  Or, to advance the knowledge of whatever civilization.”  

 “Good.  True.  I like how you’re already expanding your thinking, Ken.  But why is the advancement of knowledge a good thing?  A lot of people on Earth feel that science often seems like a pointless advancement of knowledge, don’t they?  So what is the end game, as far as the scientific advancement of knowledge?”

I admit I had to sit there and think about that one for a while before I could come up with an answer.  Even then, I wasn’t too sure it was the answer Merle was looking for.  It turned out that it was, though.  “To help people?”       

“EXACTLY!”  Merle vigorously nodded his approval. “Exactly true!  To help people.  That’s what should be the end game, anyhow.  Of course, sadly, there are exceptions to the rule, but in general, scientific advancements have a way of not only helping the individual, or not only helping the community, but hopefully helping society as a whole to live better, happier, healthier lives.  That is true, even if the way to a better life is not initially obvious.  That’s the whole point of advancing science, and advancing human knowledge in general.  Knowledge trumps ignorance, Ken.  One simple idea can have a tremendous, positive impact on so many people—maybe even an entire planet.  One idea can reverberate across centuries, or millennia, of time.  One idea can spread across the galaxy, Ken, and beyond.”

Merle looked at me for a moment, and sighed deeply, before he continued.  “The civilization of your planet has reached a surprisingly advanced stage, to have not figured out Hyper Relativity yet, Ken.  Maybe that is part of the reason you continue to wage war so damn incessantly!”  Merle thumped his fist on the console in front of him, for emphasis, and I was a little surprised to see him express anger like that.  “Many of your planet’s countries have a great number of powerful and expensive weapons, many of which they fire quite liberally, while at the same time, these same countries struggle to gather the resources to feed and house their own people in safety!

“Also, you are polluting this beautiful planet, to an extreme degree.  As you begin to explore your own solar system and beyond, a lot of observers outside of your planetary sphere are concerned about your intentions.  You consume vast energy resources from your own planet, and you’re driving an enormous number of Earth animal species to extinction, to your own obvious detriment.  You are finding more and more ways to misuse science; not to help people, but to advance certain peoples’ narrow interests at the expense of others, and at the expense of the planet itself.  By extension, that hurts us all, anywhere in the galaxy, or beyond.     

“Hyper Relativity is an opening of a window, basically, Ken.  And once you open that window, a lot of other things come into play along with it.  Once you understand the hyper-dimensional space-time continuum, and how it interacts with energy in the universe, you’ll discover the shadow universe which gives rise to all the ‘dark matter’ and ’dark energy’ you’ll ever need.  That kind of knowledge leads to new ways to interact with the universe, for the betterment of people.  It’s the shattering of old boundaries!”  With that, Merle thumped his fist on the console in front of him, again, for emphasis.  He paused a moment to gather his thoughts before placing his hand on my shoulder, as if to make sure he had my full attention.  He peered into my eyes, intently.  “How would you like to understand the true large-scale physical structure of the universe?” he asked me.  “How would you like to understand the double-slit experiment?”

“The double-slit experiment?”  I imagine that my eyes must have gotten as large as saucers at that one.  I had been greatly interested in the double-slit experiment since I first came across it in high school Physics.  The experiment was famous since the early 1800s for demonstrating that light was a wave phenomenon, as well as acting as a particle.  The experiment gained an even greater air of mystery when it was performed with electrons, back in 1961.  Since then, larger and larger units, including atoms and shockingly large molecules, have followed suit.  

Basically, it goes like this:  Pass light, or an electron, or a molecule, under the right conditions, through a single slit in a screen, and it passes through the slit in a familiar diffraction pattern, impacting a panel behind the slit in a pattern that looks much like a somewhat larger, fuzzy slit.  Add a second slit, though, and instead of passing through in two fuzzy slits, or two simple diffraction bands (as was originally expected), the light, or electrons, or molecules, form a more intense diffraction pattern, with the addition of a multitude of additional interference ridges.  These interference ridges are the hallmark of waves interfering with each other, creating brighter areas where the “crests” of the wavelengths intersect, and vacant areas where the “troughs” of the wavelengths meet.  That is why electromagnetic energy is considered to have a “wave-particle duality.”  The electromagnetic energy, such as light, clearly impacts the panel behind as individual points- i.e. particles.  However, the interference patterns seem to prove that the light is also behaving as a wave, paradoxically.

Things got even stranger when the same results were discovered with electrons, therefore indicating that electrons travel as waves, as well, in addition to obviously being discreet particles.       

Things got far stranger still, however, when a device was constructed that shot electrons one at a time through the dual-slit screen.  Shockingly and incomprehensibly, even when fired one at a time, with clear and full intervals in between shots, the interference pattern still appeared.  How can an interference pattern, where two waves interfere with each other, occur when only one particle at a time goes through the slits?  How does one particle, or one single wave, interfere with itself?  Nobody has ever figured that out!

Strangest of all, when devices were constructed to detect which slit the particles passed through– even when only looking at one of the slits, and not the other– the interference pattern disappeared and the particles went back to behaving as particles would.  Turn off the detector, and, voila!  The interference pattern of waves re-emerged.  

Bizarrely, the same phenomena have been observed when using decidedly un-wavelike molecules as the units; some quite large molecules, in fact.  These shocking and incomprehensible results have been consistently repeated, thousands of times, in laboratories all across the globe.

All in all, the double-slit experiment was one of the great mysteries of science, still unexplained after long decades—centuries, actually– of thought and analysis.  And here was Merle, looking me in the face and telling me that I had a chance of understanding that phenomenal mystery!  I think I was halfway in shock, just considering the possibility.  I can totally understand why my dad was so excited to hear the explanation for such a long-held, tremendously mysterious experimental result.                 

Merle interrupted my daydream with a well-executed Earth gesture- a small fist bump on my left shoulder.  And no gloves this time, either.  “It’s going to be quite a ride, Ken, if you’re up for it.”

The immensity of the mission was beginning to dawn on me now.  The explanation of the double slit experiment- to be revealed!  The true structure of the universe– apparently quite different than what we now know, in some way– also to be revealed!  Even the realities of the strange enigma that is electromagnetic energy were to be revealed!  The underlying reality beyond Relativity theory as we knew it– somehow, amazingly, astoundingly, to be revealed!

I still remember the feeling I had right then, as I felt a recognition of the moment that was being thrust upon me.  It was not unlike an electric shock—like my body was releasing massive amounts of adrenaline or something.  I remember feeling my body actually buzzing, and I knew that I felt strong and ready, and full of an amazing energy.  I was suddenly and almost overwhelmingly very grateful that Merle had chosen me.  I gave Merle a firm little fist bump, right back, on his shoulder.  “O.K., Merle.  Let’s do this thing.”          

Merle patted me on the back; in fact, he thumped me on the back, very enthusiastically, which surprised me just a little bit.  “All right!” he said.  “Let’s do it, Ken!  But first, let us take a stroll around the park, shall we?”

     “O.K.  Let’s.”  And we both opened our doors and stepped out into the cool morning air.

16

A lot of people say that Merle must have planted these theories of physics and cosmology in my mind; otherwise, they say, I’d never be able to understand some of the so-called high-level physics concepts.  I admit I had some of the same doubts, myself, and I came right out and asked Merle if he was planting thoughts in my head.  He told me he was just allowing me to work it out for myself, as we talked about it, and I believe him.     

Also, I was majoring in Physics at college, and I had been exposed to relativity theory, quantum mechanics, cosmology and all that, so I wasn’t unfamiliar with the subject, by any means.  Actually, I was particularly interested in the weirdness of Relativity, since high school, really.

Merle told me, right from the beginning, that he wasn’t going to give me all the answers just like that.  Not to say that Merle didn’t put it right on the tee for me; of course he did.  That’s the primary reason he had traveled all those light years; to put that ball on the tee for me and ask me to take a whack at it.  Of course, sometimes he had to hit the ball himself, when I overly struggled with my unlearning.             

I believe that a big part of the reason Merle chose me, as opposed to a far more experienced professor of physics or something, is that my mind had not yet been hardened against other possibilities.  I was still naïve enough to find much of Relativity, modern Cosmology and the Standard Model to be unreasonably strange and unexplainable.  Instead of simply shrugging and accepting the weirdness as something no human could understand, I was willing– with a great deal of encouragement– to consider that there may be another angle to the whole thing.

In school, I really wanted to understand the space-time continuum, but I think I did have a subconscious nagging suspicion, due to the weirdness, that something very basic was missing from the story.  It seemed like there might be one little loose thread that, when pulled, might reveal so much more underneath.  There was always so much strangeness about the ratio of space to time, c.  It was not only the ratio of space to time, but it was also light speed, no matter how fast the light source may be approaching or departing, somehow!  It was also, incomprehensibly, the velocity limit of anything in the universe.  Even stranger still, it was the limit set by the extremely bizarre relativistic addition of velocities, which I was already beginning to question again.

For that matter, the entire fabric of the Big Bang Theory seemed pretty far out there, with its counter-intuitive expansion, or Inflation, of space, and the mysterious beginning sequence.  There was also the mystifying matter of what had occurred prior to the beginning sequence.  And there were also some holes to be filled in on the Standard Model of particle physics, at the other end of the spectrum, with the little question of just exactly how fundamental particles acquire mass still looming large, notwithstanding any number of ongoing advancements in that field of study.        

I knew that, for many physicists, a new breakthrough theory, or multiple breakthrough theories, had been widely expected for decades– and arguably for centuries, in the case of wave/particle duality.  For that reason, early on, I assumed that there would be an enthusiastic reception in the physics community, as word got out that I was offering strong and more sensible options to these previously confusing areas of theory.  Merle tried to tell me that entrenched opinions are very difficult to reverse, even when using unassailable logic.  He told me that any new information I had would never be enough proof for many people, and that many detractors would search out any small detail in which to derail my entire theory, in their minds, at least.  I realized how true that was, not long after I first came out publicly with details of my Enlightening.

One of my neighbors had a degree in Physics, and he worked for an outfit that produced physics modeling software.  So he was a professional in the field, and– understandably, I suppose– he considered me to be a misinformed goofball, operating beyond the fringe; just a kid who took a few physics classes and had a dumb idea that didn’t even make sense.  I remember once, when I encountered him on the sidewalk, walking his dog, he told me that anything I said about Hyper Relativity was completely useless without me conducting repeatable, physical experiments to support my theses.  

I tried to tell him that describing the hyper-dimensional universe is theoretical physics, like Albert Einstein’s Relativity theories were; done as thought experiments, perhaps, or as mathematical equations, but not necessarily as actual physical experiments.  I tried to tell him that many experiments pertinent to Hyper Relativity, such as the double slit experiment, or the Michelson- Morley experiment, had already been performed, by others.  But before I could get more than a sentence or two out, he grabbed hold of his dog’s leash and practically sprinted away from me, half-dragging the dog along, in order to avoid having to listen to my side of the story.

I realized that he probably didn’t even understand what I was talking about, anyhow, since he was involved in a more specific type of physics work; sort of a niche knowledge.  But nonetheless, he sure seemed to know that I must have it all wrong, because I didn’t peer through a telescope, or measure light “waves”, as had already been done so many thousands of times before, to no avail!  

In fairness to me, though, this book does contain a generalized scription of one pertinent experiment that I helped Merle perform, in an actual laboratory here on Earth, that totally clarified the reality of “wave particle duality” for me.  That’s the experiment that made milk come out of my father’s nose, when I described it to him.

Anyhow, since that “conversation” with my neighbor, I have repeatedly found that it is true, with a few notable exceptions; people do not change their minds very easily.  For me, however, most of my newfound scientific knowledge seemed to be rather straightforward.  Each revelation seemed so simple and obvious, in retrospect.  Once I saw it, my mind would boggle as to how it had gone unnoticed or unknown for so long.  And each simple and obvious truth led astoundingly to another, greater revelation, but equally simple and obvious, in retrospect.  And so on.  It’s really not difficult for me to believe Merle’s point, that it was unusual, and most likely detrimental, that we had come so far in our science while remaining blind to the hyper-dimensional universe, and the hyper-dimensional greater universe.               

As far as mathematical formulations, the equations necessary to understand Hyper Relativity as a concept already exist, in the form of existing relativity theory.  What some people don’t realize about Hyper Relativity is that it requires the removal of a mathematical equation from Special Relativity, as opposed to the addition of an equation or equations, as well as a simple revision to a postulate and maybe a little rethinking here and there.  It does not require a full-blown demolition of the original theory.  It does beg a great deal of additional mathematical exploration, of course, as any new thinking in Physics must, virtually by definition.  A vast new field of multi-dimensional mathematics will undoubtedly open up, as the new possibilities of the hyper-dimensional universe become clear to us.

Nobody ever realized that Albert Einstein vastly limited his own theory by trying to take it too far, in a sense.  Now I know that Einstein never truly could have understood the actual physical mechanisms of the universe that would result in some of the strange parameters of existence as he understood them to be, due to his misinterpretations of the physical reality that the Lorentz transformation equations actually represented.         

To me, Hyper Relativity is really a simplification of Relativity, since it describes clear physical mechanisms for the strangeness of our interactions with the space/time continuum, throughout the infinite and eternal universe, and, truly, even beyond our own universe.  It amused me to think that Buzz Lightyear’s famous line might not be as contradictory as it sounded.

As far as additional new experiments of verification, it seems safe to say that there will be a vast bounty of physical experiments and observations to come, both in cosmology and particle physics, in particular.  These new equations, and these new experiments, are beyond my own resources or abilities.  However, the experiment that Merle and I performed, which I describe in this book, is actually a quite simple type of experiment that can be approximated at an appropriate facility with existing off-the-shelf technology, and probably at a modest cost, once the specifics are worked out.

 Any limitations of mine, in terms of financial and experimental resources, do not overturn the basic premises of my unlearning, however.  I now understand the meaning of the equations of Hyper Relativity at a level far beyond what I had previously understood in conventional, modern Relativity theory.  My eyes have been opened to a supremely greater universe, by casting aside the hobbling limitations placed on the original Theory of Special Relativity.  Because I was willing to take a big step back, and unlearn that which I had already learned, I was able to take some giant leaps forward in my own knowledge, thanks of course to Merle’s great patience and wise guidance.

17

Merle’s love of the people and music and general culture of Earth seemed only to be eclipsed by his love of the natural world.  We strolled into the park, and we hadn’t gone more than ten or twenty yards before Merle noticed a cicada, hanging onto the bottom side of the branch of the tree it had just hatched out on.  Its still-damp wings were hanging straight down, glittering like iridescent green emeralds in the oblique, warming rays of the early morning sun.    

“A cicada,” I said. 

Merle strode up, peered closely at the cicada and announced its scientific name, as he usually did when he scrutinized some bug or tree or whatever.  “Tibicen canicularis,” he said.  I never saw a bug that stumped Merle, except one time there was some small little fly of some kind that he actually didn’t recognize.  But the next day, he told me the scientific name of the fly.  He said it was unusual to see that species so far north.  

Anyhow, that cicada and its discarded nymphal exoskeleton fascinated Merle for several minutes.  He intently watched the insect, from probably six or eight inches away, as it hung there waiting for its wings to harden.  Merle circled all around to view the various body parts.  I remember that he was talking about how the male cicada makes its loud sounds, by alternately clicking the tymbals on either side of its body, and using part of its body to amplify the sound.

At one point, I started to reach out towards the cicada, to touch it, and Merle grabbed my wrist.  A cicada is very vulnerable at that point, newly hatched out, with wings still wet, and I think Merle thought I was going to grab it or something.  Actually, I was just going to touch its back—not the wings.  In no way was I going to try and grab that thing, even though a cicada is actually completely harmless to people.  A tree might have a minor complaint, though.

I often got the impression that Merle was documenting his entire visit by scanning or recording what was happening.  Whether it was through his eyes, or maybe a hidden camera or cameras, I don’t know.  Although he did it in a way that was not very obvious, I came to notice that he was always looking around, in a full circle if possible.  I also notice that he looked up, into the sky, quite frequently, and I asked him once why he looked up into the sky.  I had been thinking that maybe Merle was looking for spaceships up there.    

Instead, Merle seemed surprised that I even asked the question.  “Why do I look up into the sky?” Merle asked, repeating my question.  “To see what might be up there, of course.  Around here, you might see a butterfly, or maybe a cicada bumbling along between the treetops.  Innumerable beetles and flies and bees and other insects are up there, also, which I find interesting.

“You can always check on the weather, by looking at the sky.  Or you might just enjoy all the different cloud formations because they can be so interesting in their patterns, and often very beautiful, especially early or late in the day.  Then again, a crystal blue sky is beautiful, as well.  We have a saying on Akeethera that ‘nature creates the finest art,’ and I do believe that is true.    

“Another nice thing is that your moon may be visible at any hour of the day or night- as it is right now, in fact.”  Merle pointed upwards at the pale and unobtrusive daylight moon, high in the sky.  “I love your moon because it is so close and large.  Akeethera has three moons, but they’re each much smaller than your single moon is, and you can barely see them in the daytime.  Your moon is so interesting to look at.  And I am fascinated by its history.”  Merle peered up again.  A passenger jet was passing along through the sky, nearly passing in front of the moon.

“There are almost always airplanes up there, as well,” he noted.  “I’m very interested in all the different types of planes that are flown around here.  There are two or three international airports, plus several smaller airports, relatively nearby.  So you get to see a lot of interesting airplanes in the air, large and small.  Sometimes there are helium balloons, or blimps, up there, also.  Or drones, or kites, or birds, or many other things.”  He pointed to a patch of sky, and took a deep sigh.  “Also, Akeethera is up there…”         

Here, Merle was trying to confide in me about how he missed his home, I believe, and I just blunderingly interrupted him to ask the question.  “Merle, can you see spacecraft up there? Or are you looking for spacecraft?”

Merle sort of smirked a bit at that question.  “You’re not going to see very many uncloaked ships out there,” he said.  “When you saw my base ship, they purposely de-cloaked it, just for your benefit.”  

“Oh.”  I said.       

“However, if you did look up into the sky on a regular basis, you’d probably have some chance to eventually see a ship, someday.  It’s possible to occasionally see a de-cloaked ship, for all kinds of reasons, such as technical difficulties, or, occasionally, a deliberate visual manifestation.  Certain types of probes or ships aren’t really even fully cloaked, and those can be visible.  Usually those are unconventional-type vehicles that result in fairly inconclusive sightings, though, like balls of light, or whatever.  But if you set out looking for a ship, or a probe, it’d be difficult to get that lucky, on any given day.  So I can definitely say that I’m not looking for spaceships, specifically.  But it would be very cool to see one, other than my own, definitely.” Merle grinned.

I imagine that Merle also kept his head on a swivel just for purposes of safety, like a fighter pilot, especially after what nearly happened to Magu.  For all of Merle’s enthusiasm, he must have experienced a certain measure of anxiety, as well, venturing about on a dangerous planet such as Earth.  Merle once told me that Akeethera had been monitoring Earth for several thousand years, but that nobody from his planet had ever spent as much time on-planet at one time as he and his fellow explorers were spending.   

“You would be surprised,” he said, “to learn how similar Akeethera and Earth are to each other, in many ways.  They are sister planets, you might say, in more ways than you might think.”  Then he gave me a wink, as he liked to do when he closed the door on a subject.  That was all I could get out of him on that subject of “sister planets,” although in the years since, I have pondered that subject many, many times.

Anyhow, we hadn’t gone more than another twenty-five yards or so before Merle crouched and peered down at the edge of the pathway.  Suddenly he dropped to his hands and knees on the path, to more closely examine a large cricket that I imagined was probably heading back to his cool daytime nook, to avoid the blasting heat of the sun and sleep the day away, after a long night’s adventures.       

Gryllus veletis!” I swear Merle practically squealed when he sighted it.  He’d always get so excited about that sort of thing.  He turned to me for a moment and told me the common name, “It’s a Spring Field Cricket”.  This one Merle picked up, in his uncannily quick and smooth method, but he immediately set his hand on the sidewalk and opened it, allowing the insect to hop back out onto the sidewalk, unscathed.  As the cricket hopped into the crack at the edge of the path, Merle mentioned that the cricket makes a sound in a completely different manner than the cicadas do; the cricket does it by rubbing its wings together.  I think I had heard that before somewhere, how the cricket uses his wings to make the sound.  I always figured that’s what a cicada was doing, also, but the cicada’s system is a lot different, actually.  I guess that’s why it’s so crazy loud, in the summer, if there are just three or four cicadas buzzing in the trees.

I must say it was oddly exciting to be there as Merle checked out every little mundane creature or object he came across, with the barely-contained enthusiasm of someone who was fulfilling a very long-held and precious dream.  Merle seemed to consider every milkweed pod, squirrel, oak tree or blue jay to be amazing and priceless.  As I observed Merle’s almost fawning reverence for the local flora and fauna, I found myself thinking about Merle’s home planet Akeethera, and what type of insects and animals roamed its plains and forests.  I wondered if I would have had the nerve to reach down and pick up an alien bug, like Merle did with the cricket.  I suppose I could probably do it, especially with years of training. 

I do think that witnessing the joy Merle experienced through those interactions had a great and positive impact on my life.  I remember that I once mentioned to Merle that I enjoyed the tremendous gusto with which he approached each bug, tree, or sunset.  I told him that he probably even took pleasure in a traffic jam.       

“The universe makes very few guarantees of the future, Ken,” he told me.  “It does guarantee that there will be a tomorrow, but it can’t guarantee that I will have a tomorrow.  Not to mention that even if I am still here tomorrow, I may not be able to see or do the things that I am able to see or do today.  So I want to appreciate all the great gifts there are to appreciate, today.  That traffic jam might seem inconvenient, but for most people there will come a day where they are physically unable to sit in that traffic jam.  Many, many, people already find themselves in that situation.  And many of those people would sacrifice almost anything, to be able to have the mobility to get out there on the highway, and fight the good fight, and battle through a traffic jam, again.”  He thought about it a little more, in silence, for a few seconds.

“Also, there’s usually something of value to be learned, in just about everything.”  

“So what’s to be learned about a traffic jam?”  

Merle thought about that one for a moment.  “So many things can be learned, out in traffic.  I especially enjoy being out on the four-lane highway, during rush hour.”  Merle gestured in the direction of the expressway, which was a mile or two away from us.    

“During rush hour?  It’s terrible out there then, isn’t it?”  I couldn’t believe Merle said he actually enjoyed that.

“Yes, the traffic is terrible; just a crawl.  But I enjoy the human interactions out there.  It’s quite an amazing experience, really.  I’ve never experienced anything else quite like it.”  

“How is it amazing?”  

“Oh, in so many ways.  For example, why do cars have horns?”

“To warn other drivers, I guess, when something dangerous is happening.”  

“Is that why people use them so much in traffic jams?” 

“I guess not, really.  They use them more to complain about other drivers, probably.”

“That’s what I’ve noticed, also.  They use their horns to chastise other drivers, mostly, in a traffic jam, even though nobody can really go anywhere, anyhow, in many cases.”  

“I guess that’s true.”

“But you see some friendly and kind gestures by drivers, also– more noticeably so in a traffic jam than when traffic is moving well,” Merle said.  “There is also one particular act of courtesy that I see which actually makes these traffic jams worse.”  

“Makes them worse?  What do you mean?”

“When one lane of the highway is going to be closed up ahead, it seems like everybody is in a big hurry to get out of that lane, long before the actual merging point.  That instantly causes a traffic jam in the remaining lanes.  Meanwhile, the lane that is going to be closed up ahead is often left wide open, with no traffic whatsoever!  If a car tries to use that lane, which is the smart thing to do, many of the other drivers actually seem to be angry about it!  I’ve seen semi-tractor trailer operators purposely move partially into that lane, so nobody can use it, as if they are the arbiters of highway justice!  On occasion, I’ve seen traffic crawl for over a mile, while there is a completely open lane that nobody is using!  It’s the most confounding, ironic thing I think I’ve ever seen!”  

“Ironic?”

“Yes, of course!  So many drivers are rude to others out on the highway, which causes traffic slowdowns all over the place.  But the one area where many of these same rude drivers appear to have a sense of justice is in this merging situation, where their rare cooperative intent is truly misplaced.  Finally, there is some civility, but it’s counterproductive, and actually turns a minor traffic inconvenience into a gut-wrenching jam-up, and leads to more angry drivers!  I sent video of the phenomenon to some of my friends back on Akeethera, and at first they thought it wasn’t even real—they thought I faked the video as a joke.  Of all the videos I sent, that one clip got the most interest from people, by far.  A lot of people just couldn’t understand the reasoning behind it, even though I told them that the drivers here were just trying to be polite.”                

“So what are people supposed to do in that situation?”

“If you are driving in the lane that is closing, don’t leave too soon!  Use the open highway while it is there!  When the lane finally does close, then two lanes should merge like a zipper, with alternating cars from each lane moving ahead.  Simple!”     

I was actually amused by Merle’s near-agitation over this subject of the “zipper merge.”  I wanted to needle him a bit, by telling him I thought he said he liked traffic jams, but I thought twice about it, since he did seem just a touch agitated, as I mentioned.  Instead, I thought of what traffic must be like on Merle’s own home planet.  “Merle, are there traffic jams on Akeethera?”

“No, not really; not like here, anyway.  We do have some traffic, though.”

“Do your cars roll on the ground?”

Merle laughed at that.  “No, they don’t,” he said.  “They go pretty fast, too.”  

Merle didn’t want to tell me much more about how they get around on Akeethera.  So I asked him why our jams are so terrible, other than the zipper merge issue. 

Merle looked at me, semi-incredulous at the question, I think, as if he couldn’t believe I might not know the answer, myself.  “Well, a lot of the time it’s as simple as somebody pulled over on the shoulder and getting a traffic citation, which makes people slow down.  If just one driver slows down to look, the next hundred cars behind them also have to slow down, to avoid crashing.  So if just one driver out of every hundred slows down to gawk, it’s nearly full gridlock.  

“Or maybe there was an accident blocking one of the lanes, or road repair, or something, which always slows things down.  And then, of course, there’s the downlookers.”  

“Downlookers?”  

Merle pantomimed somebody looking down at their cell phone as they were driving.  

“Oh, right,” I said.  “Downlookers.”       

“They can be a little disengaged,” Merle said.  “Primarily, though, day in and day out, it’s that people don’t seem to know how to use the passing lanes,” he said.      

At first I thought I misheard him.  “The passing lanes?” 

“Yes, the passing lanes.  So many people don’t follow the basic rules of the passing lanes!  Slower traffic should be in the right lanes, in your American traffic system, but a lot of drivers seem to just pick a lane, and stay in it, at their own speed, regardless of the circumstance!  They should be watching for other drivers coming up behind them, in their rear-view mirrors, and they should move to the right to let the other driver pass, but many just stay in their own lane, no matter what.  They apparently don’t look, and if they do, they don’t seem to care, for whatever reason.  The result is clusters of tightly-bunched vehicles, with cars in the back blocked from getting through, that are interspersed with huge open spaces of highway.  It’s those huge open spaces that cause the backups, the same as with the wasted open highway in the zipper merge situation. 

“In fact, I have observed that some drivers seem to actually enjoy blocking other drivers, purposely, by impeding the passing lanes.  I suppose they imagine that they are gaining an advantage, by keeping everybody else behind them.  Thank goodness everybody doesn’t employ that strategy!  Traffic would grind to a standstill, very quickly! 

”A lot of the passing lane violators, I believe, are simply oblivious to other drivers.  They possibly couldn’t care less whether they may be blocking a passing lane, and inconveniencing another driver.  Also, it’s likely that many drivers aren’t even clear on the concept, or are not skilled enough drivers to change lanes properly, as is typically required in a passing-lane type traffic system.  In that case, they should probably stay in the right lane, instead of one of the left lanes, but I imagine that many aren’t even aware of the protocol. 

“Then, of course, there are the drivers who tailgate, and the traffic weavers.  A lot of the time, they don’t get anywhere too much faster, anyhow, but their erratic driving causes others to slow down to avoid an accident—if they can avoid the accident.             

“Fortunately, there are enough people out there who do look out for other drivers, and follow the passing lane rules, and allow merges without battles, and that sort of thing, so that the traffic still manages to lurch along, somewhat.  All in all, it’s quite an incredible scene!”

I was tremendously amused by Merle’s heartfelt description of an Earthly traffic jam.  In the years since, while crawling through traffic, I’ve often thought about Merle’s comments.  It’s interesting to look at traffic jams in terms of human interaction, instead of just too many cars, like I’d usually thought of them in the past.  In some ways, a traffic jam is like a pantomime of human existence, punctuated by honks and thrusting fingers and questionable decisions.  Occasionally, some choice words get shouted out of an open window.  On the other hand, you’ll see acts of kindness and grace, as Merle had mentioned, and the occasional “thank you” wave of a hand, right smack in the middle of the most frustrating jam-up! 

Sometimes I think we’d hardly ever have traffic jams, if people could just get along better.  All in all, though, I still say it was easy for Merle to say that a traffic jam can be enjoyable.  I’ll bet that if he sat through as many as I have, he might think about it a little differently!             

Merle continued speaking.  “Also, Ken, I am painfully aware that my time on this planet is short.  Any traffic jam that I am in may, indeed, be my final traffic jam.  Any cicada, or cricket, that I might see, might be the last one that I ever see.  The same is true for all people who walk this Earth, and all who walk any world.  As I said before, who knows what tomorrow may bring?”

Merle often referred to commonplace things that we so often take for granted, or even complain about, as “treasures”, or “great gifts.”  That was probably some of the most important enlightening I got from my time with him.  I am always struggling to keep in mind, as I go through life, to not take things for granted.  It’s not easy sometimes.  But you can find a lot of happiness in the simplest little things, if you realize what a gift they truly are.

We continued to walk along, until we came upon a park bench.  The park was still largely empty of people at that still-early hour, but as we approached the bench, a father and his young son rode up on their bicycles, and they began unloading a bright red model rocket, and the launching pad with other launching supplies, out on the lawn area.  Clearly, this less-crowded early morning hour in the park was a good time for a model rocket launch.  Merle was in his glory, in his observation mode, and we sat down to watch the launch.      

After they had set everything set up, the boy crouched down to press the button to initiate the launch sequence.  The rocket erupted off the pad and blasted off into the sky with a swirling trail of white smoke, and Merle responded by loudly clapping and cheering for the pair of rocketeers.  “Bravo!  Bravo!  Excellent!”

The boy, probably about nine years old or so, hopped about enthusiastically, high-fived his dad over the perfect launch, and shot an approving glance back at Merle.  The young boy looked up with uninhibited joy as the billowing, bright yellow parachute opened on cue, far above, and a bit to the southwest, in the endless blue summer sky.  The boy’s father gathered up the launching pad gear in a bag, and they jumped on their bicycles and gave chase across the park, trying to beat the rocket to the landing spot.  We watched them recede in the distance, bouncing as they high-tailed it across the grass of the park.  It looked like they perfectly planned the trajectory, taking into account the direction of the light morning breeze out of the southwest, so the rocket would land within the park confines, out in the large central clearing area, away from the trees.

“Nicely played,” Merle observed.


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *