The Logs of the TDFS Tindome
Chapter 73: Testing Gravity without Spoons
Bavör looks at the sphere, and is reminded of a question had been meaning to ask. "There is gravity here, although we feel a little bit light. How do we tell if it is generated in a plane or from a central location?"
"It shouldn't be that much harder than hanging spoons," Daëwen says thoughtfully. Everyone looks blank. "When we were first exploring the multiverse with the pantope, we, especially Tom Noon, improvised a lot… oh, never mind."
We begin by discussing the mechanical problems. Then Daëwen has to digress to explain gravity on "round things," a.k.a. "worlds." and then that it varies inversely as the distance between the two sources of mass – in some universes. After much thought, she asks for three long pieces of string, and two identical weights. Mannie is the first to explain to her that the hissing from the loss of air diminished as we got lower, and as we got closer to the spire.
"Ah, Mr. Wright. Could you make paper balls that float?"
"I don't know." He starts to do that.
"Ah. Mr. Craggenhilt, could you make an ectoplastic balloon, then make the air in it lighter?" He glazes over, but then makes a balloon, and dices all the heavy bits out of it. Daëwen then has him make three ectoplastic strings.
"Bavör, you know telekinesis?" "Yes." "And patterning?" "Yes." She hands him three pebbles. "Here are three identical rocks. Bind levitation to each of them, so that each one is lifted just enough to be neutrally buoyant, with a string attached to it."
Soon, we have floating paper balloons, and floating pebbles trailing ectoplastic strings. She has Mannie cut each string exactly in half. Once she is certain that all six objects have neutral buoyancy, she puts an invisible something on each one. Then she directs Bay to push them all telekinetically out to the edge of the island, while being careful to impart neither an upward nor a downward component to the push.
As they move away, the balloons sink and the pebbles rise.
Daëwen then directs Eric to make a piece of paper with a large, blank table on it. She puts pattern after pattern on this, filling in entries, essentially building the beginning of a paper computer.
Next, she asks Bay to raise up one of the distant pebbles, until it is about as high as it is distant. He does that, then, at her direction, removes his support. She warns everyone to "watch that rock. It may not do what you expect."
It falls. Numbers appear in Eric's table. She makes more entries.
Bay asks what those results mean.
"It appears to be a plane, but the influence recedes as you go out. It's only a plane to the sensitivity of my measuring threads. Gravity here falls off at greater than the square of the distance." Bay gives an unhappy little sigh.
She turns to Mannie. "I think, and I can't prove this – where I grew up – When you and Bay talk physics, you may notice that sometimes he explains that things are more difficult than you had thought. These complexities actually make things simpler; they're just harder to understand. Where I grew up, we had gone through several of these… changes. I never studied them, but Tom Noon had. What it is, is the gravity is leaking through from someplace else, a someplace that has very different rules. I don't know enough to explain it more than that."
"What about the spire?" asks Eïr.
"The spire ties to the plane. I think it is the reason this island exists at all. As I said, this spire is one of the most real things I've ever encountered. I think that its real-ness is what has brought it through from its other universe to here." She further discusses universes and portals. Mannie volunteers to finish making his hole through to the other side of the island, as a pleasant change of pace.
Once he is done, and has returned to our side, she has him send a viewpoint down the hole, out to the edge of the island, through the water to the other side, then back to the group. Yes, the other side is the same island. She then pitches out a minuscule something, and directs everyone to watch the tiny specks that are the floating islands out in space, and *not *the sphere she has sent out. The sphere explodes with an actinic blaze. None of the specks in the sky flare up. "Good, this is only in one place."
She takes a deep breath and smiles. "Unless you come through the interface, you are not going to find this place. No one finds a lake floating between the stars. If there is indeed no other way to get here than through the interface, you have given just the place I wanted you to find. Nighthaven. At least there will be a place to go with the name. I don't need to wait seventy or eighty years for that fool boy to be born so that he could explain it to me."
"So, that thing I called the dragon…"prompts Eïr.
"Ah. The Denizen. Yes."
"How do we get there?" asks the ever-practical Mandorak.
"It would be much easier with a ship."
"We do have these rescue bubbles," offers Mannie. He's ignored.
"Could that flare-thing have attracted it?"
"Oooh, I never thought of that." Mannie grabs the telescope, and looks for the sparkly dragon-thing. He doesn't see it. Daëwen staggers, and abruptly sits down. "Either I did something wrong, or it's not wise to use psychic spying on that thing." We wait while the Lady recovers. Eïr touches her on the hand, and draws away most of the headache. "Oh. Thank you. I should learn not to be casual about such things. I'm not going to look at it again."
"Did you see anything with your telescope?" she asks Mannie.
"Well. I think we have answered our main question: How much do we want anyone else to know about this place? The answer is: Not at all. This place is just what I'm looking for, so it should be a secret. That thing out there may well be dangerous, so we should not tell anyone it's here, so it should be a secret. We are going to need the Ambassador to keep a secret for us; therefore, we should solve her problem of the falling Sky Islands. So a scouting mission to the Sky Islands before dinner tonight would not be amiss."
"How do we explain our appearance at the Sky Islands?" asks Mannie.
"What do we have for tokens from there?"
"We have samples of each of the sky metals and some ordinary material, which we got from the caves. Well, we would come out in the caves, which is good, but if there's someone there…"
Daëwen brightens. "Oh, I could look ahead, and do a limited illusion if there were someone there, and it would be directional... Yes, we could do it. Do you have the samples here?"
"No. They're still on the ship."
"Well, that's not a problem. Let's stroll around the island first, while I get my strength back." The group ambles around the island, looking at bits of birds and vegetation, with nothing remarkable happening. Refreshed, Daëwen leads the chain of us back to the crystal cave. It is well before dinner.
Updated: Aug 25, 2007
©2002, 2006 Ann Broomhead. All Rights Reserved.