Chapter 5: Dave’s number theory in Dead World and hitching a ride with the Real Dead.
I found myself floating alone. No Adrian, no Rabbit.
“This is not good.” I thought, “How the hell do I find them in this infinity?”
Then a possible solution began to form in my mind. There’s a problem in number theory – counting numbers. Are two sets of infinities the same size or is one bigger than the other? Picking up on Adrian’s idea of sets it struck me that there were two infinite sets, the infinity of all the Real Dead and the infinity of all the Near Dead and Live Rabbits. If I could pair each object within one set with an object in the other set and if one set was bigger than the other I might end up with a remainder which contained Adrian and the Rabbit.
Pretty unlikely I know but what could I do? If I was to get to the core I needed my two travelling companions.
So I started pairing the objects in the two infinities. After, I don’t know how long, I was left with one Near Dead. It was Adrian, but no Rabbit.
“Hey, I’m over here – just past the last pair of Real Dead and Near Dead.” It was the Rabbit.
“Jesus, I thought the count would never end. Couldn’t you have been quicker?” he asked.
“I don’t know, how do you count infinity quickly? Anyway where did you appear from, you should have been part of the Near Dead and Live Rabbit set?”
“Ah, you made a basic mistake in trying to count the Near Dead and Live Rabbit set.”
On saying this he pulled out a large piece of lettuce from behind his left ear and began nibbling it. “How does he do that?” asked Adrian.
“Luckily, I anticipated your error and set myself up as a separate set comprising one component only - me. You ended up counting Real Deads and Near Deads only – leaving Adrian. Counting the Near Dead and Live Rabbit set would have left you with Adrian and an infinity of Live Rabbits – an impossible position.”
I didn’t say anything; I was just pleased that we were together again to begin our journey to the centre of the orb.
“Now, we need to find ourselves a Real Dead.”
It seemed to Adrian and I that that was easier said than done.
“Oh no , not a problem at all.” the Rabbit reassured us, all we needed to do is to go along side a suitable Real Dead and tie the four of us together. That way we’ll drift towards the core.
“But how long will that take – to get to the core?” I asked.
“And what happens when we get there?” added Adrian.
“I don’t rightly know I’ve had no experience of anything like this before.” replied the Rabbit.
“Just how much do you know about this?” asked Adrian.
The Rabbit was rummaging in a large bag he’d produced. “How does he do that?” I asked.
“Well, if you must put me on the spot – none.”
We were stunned by his reply. “None! So where did you get all that stuff about joining up with a Real Dead and fooling the quantum accountant?” I asked.
“Oh that, well I made it up – sort of - but I‘m sure it’s possible.”
None of this was very reassuring. “You made it up!!” we shouted. “It’s a good thing we bothered to ask before we went any further.”
But our carrot gnawing friend was having none of it, “I can reassure you both you have very little to worry about. In theory there is no question that what we’re doing does work – it’s just that it hasn’t been done in practice.”
“Mr Rabbit,” I said, “Don’t take this amiss if I say that doesn’t really fill us with much confidence.”
Adrian then pointed out that in the whole eternity of Dead World, this hadn’t been done before. “What’s worrying me is why this has never been attempted before.”
“Oh that’s very simple”, replied the Rabbit, “it’s never been possible before.”
And with that the Rabbit pulled out a ball of string from the large bag he was holding.
“And why is it possible now?” I asked.
“Oh, this and that, although it’s more that than this but it amounts to the same thing.”
“This is getting ridiculous!” I thought Adrian’s face was turning red
“It’s not you know. It’s quite reasonable.” And with that our Rabbit friend started tying the string around his waist.
“Adrian”, he said, “Is it possible to transmit a picture from one place to another?”
“Yes, of course it is.” Adrian replied.
“Was it possible 300 years ago?”
“Oh I see where this is going.” I interrupted, “What was previously impossible becomes possible because of some change. In this case because of a technical change – the discovery of radio waves, the invention of the cathode ray tube, transmission and decoding devices etc.”
Adrian wasn’t convinced “But what has happened to allow us to go to the core when previously in an eternity of Dead World it was impossible. That doesn’t make sense. How in the vastness of time and space can we be part of a unique event?”
“Exactly." I commented.
And with that the Rabbit tied Adrian and me securely to himself as he throw his arms around a passing Real Dead and we all began slowly drifting towards the core.
Here we were, no going back now. I was pretty scared I can tell you. So was Adrian by the look on his face.
You know that expression which says, “This was a good idea – when?” I realised suddenly that this was very real – that was a strange feeling given where we were – in Dead World.
Once we were on the spiral that was it – we were heading for the core. And what was it? I had no idea. Some sort of quantum shift, a Boltzmann probability machine? What that was – I didn’t know and I felt reasonably sure that none of my travelling colleagues had a clue either.
I found myself staring quite intently at our very Real Dead colleague. He looked remarkably familiar – yet, you know, I just couldn’t place the face or get the name.
It was on the tip of my tongue when Adrian said, “Have you noticed how much closer the core is?” I hadn’t and it was.
“That’s strange because I thought we were gently drifting inwards – at a leisurely pace.” I replied.
“By my reckoning we’ll hit the edge of the core in a matter of days- if not hours.”
“And what happens then?”
“Rabbit!” we shouted simultaneously.
He’d pulled a watch out of his bag and was studying it carefully. He then tapped it gently with one of his paws and shook it violently.
“Can’t be right.” He muttered to himself.
The second “Rabbit!” caught his attention.
“Look you guys, I need to do a few calculations. Things are, well, not turning out as I’d expected.”
“And what had you expected?” we asked – a very reasonable question given the circumstances.
“OK, it looks to me that somehow, despite our drifting ever so slowly towards the core we are in fact approaching it at near relativistic speed. Which means, if we’re unlucky we’ll be there before we left, if you get my meaning.”
“Oh great, and what do we do when we get to the core?” I thought Adrian had rather too much annoyance in the question, but…
”Well, Adrian, we always had that problem, even if our progress was to be statelier and more measured. But I understand your concern. We need to work out what to do, and pronto.” I thought the Rabbit kept his composure remarkably well in the circumstances.
At that point I remembered who the Real Dead was.
“Fritz!” I shouted.
“What, that’s impossible!” cried Adrian “He died ages ago!”
“Not really”, said our Rabbit pilot joining in, “You might have experienced his dying in the past – a long time in the past – but in Dead World that past might be extremely close to this present. So it’s possible that we could have hitched a ride with him.”
I could have kissed his fluffy, white paws, or rumpled his floppy ears. What he said was an explanation – even if it didn’t make any sense.
Chapter 6: Sarah at university, musings on information exchange, the Dean and Sarah’s suspicions
The University’s research establishment was impressive. It stood in its own grounds a few miles outside Cambridge. We approached it along a lime tree lined avenue, with formal gardens to the right and open fields to the left. The avenue curved to the right and opened into a large area in front of the Georgian mansion. The taxi dropped us off at the front steps which led up to an impressive Corinthian pillared doorway. At the top of the steps, holding the double doors open was Dr Andrew Jones.
“Impressive isn’t it – most people are taken back by it. Unless you’re Roman Abranovic, in which case you use it as a training ground. If you would come this way, Professor Chambers and Anita are waiting for you in the reception area.”
“Good to see you all again, Peter, Fritz and, of course, Sarah. You know Anita, of course.” Professor Chambers was looking extremely pleased with himself…..