Sunday, November 15, 2009
Another Brick in the Wall
Having A quiet day building the Socrates Code word by word, brick by brick much the way a wall is built. It can be a physical wall or a wall of waves in the middle of nowhere. So enjoy a little Floyd and chapter 3 of the Socrates code
His shot at redemption would be delayed he thought as he saw the nondescript man in the nondescript charcoal suit sitting at one of the café’s tables. He and Anna shared a quick glance before sitting down at his table. Dunbar looked for the waiter but he was nowhere to be found.
“I trust thing went well.” the man said glancing at the laptop Dr. Foucault placed on the table.
“Yes, quite well.” Anna answered him beating J. to the punch. “We have everything we should need to serve both agendas.”
“Excellent.” the man said tenting his fingers in a perfect Monty Burns.
That sent all three of them laughing. “The lab in CERN has the closest facilities. We think it best to get these out of the area quickly.” the man said his face returning to nondescript in the flash of an eye, “The delicate nature of removing samples without permission, all these nasty antiquities regulations and such.”
The guy was again all business as if the moment of levity had never happened. Getting out of Dodge suited Dunbar just fine. At least the Swiss coffee would be easier on his stomach. “What time does the train leave?” he asked finally catching the waiters eye.
“Just enough time for a drink in this place”, the man laughed as the waiter approached. “Midnight.”
Anna handed the man a flash drive along with a small case containing the physical samples she had collected. “You two go ahead, I’ve a few things to attend to.” With that she was off.
Dunbar and his companion, “The Man With No Name” J. was beginning to call him in his head, shared a glass of a rather lively cabernet before he extricated himself to pack. There was also the matter of a certain back in need of scrubbing.
He slept better on trains than planes and he felt pretty fresh when they stepped onto the platform in Geneva. That and Swiss service made breakfast in the Hotel President Wilson dream. Sausages with potato pancakes smothered in lingonberries and a steaming mug of cocoa. The Man With No Name had disappeared on the train and Dunbar fully expected to never see the man again. The address and time of their meeting at the lab had been waiting for the at the Hotel in another God is Dead-gram. He had chosen food she had chosen yoga. He hoped she was as pleased with her decision as he was with his. If he hurried back to the room perhaps they could discuss it in the shower.
Later as she was enjoying the fruit and rolls he had brought for her stretched out languidly on the bed she decided to broach the subject of the symbols. “You don’t think there is any chance those are authentic do you?”
“That a 4th century scientist beat Herr Bohr to the structure of the atom or that it has been sitting in a file cabinet since the 30’s without anyone noticing?” he asked pulling on his jeans.
“Actually what was bothering me was that I kind of half believe it.” he ran a towel over his shaved head. “The second part is almost certainly true. Our collaborating cardinal hadn’t a clue what he was scribbling on.” He joined her on the bed and began gently rubbing her feet. “I’m thinking some novitiate used some old parchment to do his chemistry homework on. They recycle or so I’ve been told.”
“Entirely rational and entirely boring, no pun intended.” She giggled. They do recycle old parchments but I’ve never heard of recycled ink.” She pointed to a particular set of lines on the spectrographic readout. That set of lines tells me that it is old 12th century at least.” she smiled and stood up and began dressing. “ I like the Idea of a forger. It’s not anymore likely but infinitely more interesting.” With that she ended the discussion by switching
On her blow dryer and beginning to brush her hair.
“No fair” he said. “You looked at the data.” I thought we were still at the wild speculation phase.” He laughed.
He looked back at the screen and the data with one eye while watching Anna put on her stockings with the other. An iron oak ink with that isotopic breakdown was indeed of the same period she had pegged the vellum to. Curiouser and curiouser he thought rolling off the bed to finish getting ready to go for what he hoped wouldn‘t be down the rabbit hole.
6 hours later he was convinced that they were all the way through the looking glass.
The parchment dated to 415 CE. As did the ink. Of course that was plus or minus 5 years. Most of the ink had aged away but the 3d scanner revealed the extent of the writings. By every test they could think to run the symbols had been laid down 1600 years ago. They also confirmed that a certain cardinal had assisted the Nazis in laundering the proceeds of the Holocaust. But that had been an after thought.
The Mad Hatter moment had come when the team had broken out the white boards in an attempt to decode the writing. Detailed orbital diagrams of 65 different elements. Dunbar would have said 67 but two of the diagrams were incomplete. By the way they were arranged he was sure there was at least one other piece. Two if they new about the Actinides. They were looking at what had to be the first periodic table of elements. First by 1500 years. At this point Dunbar was the only one prepared to believe it. Anna was almost with him but she argued that he ancient numbering system could have been astrological data. She was not prepared to say which astronomical bodies but when Sefton had put the idea forth she had liked it.
Dunbar admitted that his explanation was out there but the numbers were too perfect. No chemist could fail to see it no matter how impossible the idea was. He would be patient and let them debunk the idea themselves. That and Dr. Fontaine’s theory that their instruments had all malfunctioned at the same time in the most perfect Heisenberg cluster cataclysm predicted by the Mayans come 3 years early. Dr. Fontaine had a very well defined sense of the absurd.
Having decided the best use of his time would be spent verifying the accuracy of the data while Sefton and Foucault searched the sky charts for this particular pattern. The ritual of repeating the experiment would free him up to wrap his head around the most fantastic discovery he was ever likely to be a part of. This would be their Champollion moment. All they needed to
do was figure out who wrote it. Piece of cake.
At dinner that evening the four of them ate little and talked less. There were several aborted attempts to start conversation but they all led back to the tea party and it seemed everyone was under the spell of the Queen of Hearts. The software would continue the search through the night but even Sefton had concluded that there was nothing visible that could account for the patterns. Instrument failure had not been totally ruled out but much to Dr. Fontaine’s relief the end of the world was not imminent as everything we tested passed.
“Perhaps we should call it a night,” Dunbar finally said “Good nights sleep and back at it fresh in the morning and all that.” his cheesy British accent got a groan from Anna, the other two were kind enough to ignore it.
“You can sleep?” Sefton asked. “When I get something like this my mind wont let it go until I get it or I drop.”
J. couldn’t remember why everyone just called Sefton, Sefton. It had always been thus. I didn’t mean actual sleep I simply want to go stair at the ceiling over my bed for a while. My back is killing me and the look on you guys faces is starting to creep me out.”
“Fair enough, I think I will hit the pool for a few hundred laps.” Sefton stood up, “good night all.”
“Good night,” Dunbar replied also standing to leave. “You ladies will excuse us,” he smiled and followed Sefton into the lobby.
He was still thinking about the Rapheal Fresco of the philosophers when Anna joined him several hours later. Which one of you guys was responsible for this he thought as her arms engulfed him and his thoughts turned to the feminine.
When they finished making love they both lay awake her head on his chest. “Hypatia of Alexandria“, Dunbar said softly. “She’s the one I’m betting on.”
“Really? Any particular reason behind that or is it just the cool sounding name?”
“Thin as it is she fit’s the time line.” He could feel her smile. “The name is kind of cool though isn‘t it?” he chuckled.
“I don’t think the others realize that the real work starts tomorrow.” With that Anna rolled over and went to sleep.