Previous Challenge Entry (Level 3 - Advanced)
Topic: The Family Reunion (06/05/08)
TITLE: The Fractured Theory of Relativity
By Gerald Shuler
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She faced Albert with incredible resolve.
“Albert, if you don’t go to the reunion with me it’ll be the last time I ever…” She literally huffed as she marched straight to his chalkboard, filled with weeks of precise calculations. “I will NEVER pay attention to your ‘Do Not Erase’ sign again.”
So what else could he do? He went to her family reunion, but not without his notebooks. After all, he was nearly finished with his newest theory. His work could not be slowed down by a mere annual picnic.
The park was filled with dozens of relatives. Albert recognized most of them, but not all. He unfolded a small chair and planted himself under a broad, shady tree. The ever ready note pad and tape recorder came out and he began meticulously checking and rechecking calculations and formulae in his theory notes. His mind, though, couldn’t help absorbing the random activities of the reunion that was unfolding around him.
Relatives were a scientific inconsistency. His new theory proved that hypothesis to be true. For example, look at Cousin Lilly. She was twice the size of her other cousins and so, by his theory, should have a squared multiple of their amount of energy. Her energy, though, couldn’t even get her to the end of the sack race, much to the chagrin of her smaller partner Cousin Zeke. Why did his theory not apply to this energy equals mass example? It applied in physics beautifully.
Albert shifted his attention to Aunt Bev. Another inconsistency. Uncle Butch was telling a sad tale and Aunt Bev was so involved she was actually crying. Wasted energy, to be
sure. His theory left no room for the existence of wasted energy. It could be converted energy, but not wasted. Aunt Bev’s tears must have another scientific explanation.
Albert realized he was spending too much time analyzing the picnic. He should get back to his notes but the inconsistencies intrigued him. What could account for such flaws in energy and matter? Nothing made sense when compared to his theory. Why?
The answer, of course, became obvious when he noticed a relative that Albert did not even recognize. She was talking to a group of aunts and, with only slight exaggeration, her mouth seemed to be moving at the speed of light. She was the fastest talker Albert had ever witnessed.
“Wellifyouaskme,thereshouldbealawagainstit.” She talked so fast you couldn’t even make out what she had said. He put his ever present tape recorder on rewind and then slow speed. He pressed play. “Well, if you ask me, there should be a law against it.”
Of course! There should be a law of physics against it. Now everything about his theory made perfect sense. He knew where his calculations needed to be refined and he also knew there would probably be a Nobel Prize awarded to him for this discovery. And all because he had to slow down a jabbering woman’s words just to understand them at a family reunion picnic.
“Are you enjoying the picnic, darling?” Albert’s wife was stroking his frizzy white hair.
“Immensely, Dear. Wouldn’t have missed it for the world. I was totally wrong.” He held his notebook, full of fresh new insights, up toward the skies. “My theory is now finished! I have discovered the missing criteria that makes it usable.”
“My goodness, Darling, what are you talking about?”
“My theory applies to everything we see. We just can’t see it applying. I have been trying to subject the theory to all of physics but I learned today that it will be observable only as we approach the speed of light.” He waited for the look of awe to shine in his wife’s eyes. It never shone. “Don’t you see, Dear? E=MC2. All my calculations are accurate but I didn’t see the depth of meaning until this family reunion.”
As usual, it went right over his wife’s head. She didn’t understand anything he was saying. Albert swept his arm toward all his aunts, uncles, nephews, nieces and all the others that made up the bulk of the picnic crowd.
“It’s all relative.” He smiled broadly, a rarity for him. “It’s all relative, my dear. I have just discovered the Theory of Relativity.”
<I>(Note: Pure fiction)</I>
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