Pynesapp Home | jack-red | Chapter 9

The Adventures of Jack and Red.

This is the ninth in a series of blogs chronicling an expedition into 'space' with Jack Pynesapp and his granddaughter Red. You may want to read these in the proper order by skipping to episode 1: [ click here ]

Chapter IX: Meeting at the Shed.

[Okay - now Jimmy, Red, and Jack need to talk. How do these three get together? And where ?  On the back porch? and why? What would bring Jimmy over to see Jack? Or Red?  ]

Jimmy's House

Jimmy (James) Vanderbilt was deep in his World of Warcraft when his mother tapped him on the shoulder and motioned him to take off his headphones. He held up his finger and mouthed; "A minute." while he finished off a druid and backed into a dark alley to hide. He 'AFK'd and removed his headphones.

"What?" He said, his mind still in that dark alley and taking tally of the remaining enemies, friends, and monsters.

"James, I'm going over to Jack and Marge Pynesapp's and I wonder if you'd like to come along."

"Why would I want to do that?" Jimmy asked. A little annoyed that she interrupted his battle for such a silly idea.

"Well, I just thought it would be good for you to get away from the computer for a little while and interact with real people, for a change. "

"I am interacting with real people, on line." Jimmmy protested. "There are real people behind all the characters, you know."

'Yes, I know - but they're not doing real things or interacting in real situations."

"Oh yes, these situations are very real. If I'm not careful I could die, you know?"

"Your character could die, James. " She sighed "It's not the same thing at all. It's not reality."

"I'm not going to argue with you, Mom, you don't understand - is all."

"Okay, but I happen to know that JJ and Gwen will be there too. And they're bringing Red."

"What's going on?" Jimmy asked. Now that his mom had his attention.

"Well, Marge, Gwen and I need to plan for the 4th of July church picnic. I imagine Jack and JJ have other plans. And Red kind of likes hanging out with those guys, you know."

"Yeah,  so I've heard." Jimmy sneered.

"James, you know I don't like that tone."

"Sorry Mom," Jimmy said softly, "I didn't mean anything by it." He lied. No sense getting his mother upset for nothing.

"So, do you want to go along, or what?"

"I guess I could tag along - if you want." Jimmy tried his best to be nonchalant but he was really glad to have a chance to see Red. School has been out for a month and he kind of missed her - but you'd never get him to admit it.

"Okay, lets go."

[Okay that's done - now what. Well - we can be pretty sure this is not about planning a church picnic so we don't have to worry about that. What would Jack be doing on a nice June day? Maybe building a shed - no he already has one of those. . Maybe he's painting the shed. ]

[My time is up for today - need to get to work....]

[ It's been a while, huh. Re-retired, and just finishing baseball/softball 'spring' season. So now I can start writing again. - aren't you glad]

Shed Painting

"Whatcha doin' ?", Jimmy asked as he approached the shed in Jack's backyard.

"Oh, hi Jimmy." Red said brightly.

"It's James..." Jimmy said with an exasperated whisper. Which Red promptly ignored.

"We're painting the shed - duh."

"Hi James, " Jack called down from the ladder. "Grab a brush and join us. It's fun."

"Said Tom Sawyer." Jimmy said under his breath so that only Red could hear. Then out loud he added; "Hi Jack, long time no see."

"Hey J.J., " Jacked called to his son who was busy scraping paint on the back side of the shed.  "this is James - one of Red's friends - come to help us paint."

J.J. peaked around the corner and said; "Hi James, your can help scrape if you'd rather not paint."

"That's okay J.J., I'm just fine with painting." Jimmy purposely called Red's Father "J.J." emphasizing the idea that he was grown-up. The same way he emphasized the word "Jack". JJ noticed this and leaned around the corner of the shed and gave Jack a questioning look. Jack smiled knowingly and shook his head.

Jimmy continued; "I'm pretty good at painting,  you know."

"Why am I not surprised?", Red said dryly.

Jimmy picked up a bucket and a brush and started slopping paint on the side of the shed.

Jack climbed down to move the ladder and said; "Hey JJ., James here is interested in astronomy and he is quite a whiz in math and science."

"Oh really."

"Yes, we had a nice chat at Red's last soccer game."

"I'll bet you did." J.J said.

"James, " Jack added, "we were just talking about something you'd be interested in. And I'd like to hear your opinion."

"That won't be a problem." Red laughed.

"Sure Jack, give it to me. I'll set you straight."

Jack looked at J.J. and whispered; "James doesn't think much of our ideas."

"That's not true, "Jimmy protested, "I think they're great fun - for fantasy. "

"Okay then we won't tell you." Red pouted

"Oh, come on," Jimmy said, "I need a good laugh."

"That's good James. It's nice to see you're in a receptive mood." Jack quipped. "Tell him about your idea, Red. "

"Well, I was just saying that one day on the school bus I was bored and just looking out the window and watching the houses and trees go by. We'd stop and pick up a kid and then go on to the next stop. At one stop there was a tree and i thought; 'you know that tree is there now but when we move away it will not be there any more. It will be gone forever, and it will never be there again."

"What are you talking about? " Jimmy interrupted. "Did they come and cut it down or something?"

"No, they didn't cut it down. It's still there - at least I think it is - but it doesn't matter either way because what I'm trying to say is that it's not the same tree anymore. It's a different tree now than it was when it was in front the bus window at that time in the morning - that second - that instant.

"Okay, so?"

"So if you consider our existence as being a combination of time and space.. "

"I know about space-time." Jimmy interrupted.

"Yes. space-time, "Red continued," That's what I'm talking about. If you think about our existence as being defined by space-time then that tree came into existence the moment I saw it and then it ceased to exist in the next moment and a new tree came into existence to replace it."

"What are you talking about?" Jimmy protested. "Are you breathing these paint fumes? How can things pop in and out of existence like that? "

"Well smarty pants, answer me this: Once the bus left that stop and moved on, could we ever go back and see that exact tree."

"Of course you can. You just get off the bus at the next stop and walk back and look - and surprise surprises - there's the tree. Or wait till the next day when you go by and once again, there is the tree. Ta-da!"

"Yes, there is a tree but not exactly the same tree. The leaves have moved; there are new cells inside the bark that have been produced by the chemicals that have changed. Water has been taken up from the soil and sunlight has turned carbon dioxide into sugars.

"Okay, okay. So it's not exactly the same tree but it has just changed a little bit. It hasn't disappeared and reappeared again."

"Hasn't it? Listen Jimmy -"

"James."

 "  -  Jimmy, I know that tree doesn't disappear in three dimensional space, but I'm talking about space-time. If you add time - which we must add, because time is an integral part of our existence - then the tree does disappear. You see the tree in a moment and then the moment is gone and along with it the tree. That's gone too. You can never bring it back - can you?

"No, obviously you can't go back in time."

"Well then, that tree no longer exists, does it."

"No! That tree still exists but that time doesn't. It's the time that is gone not the tree."

"Well, what's the difference?"

"We're talking about time. Not matter and energy. Matter and energy cannot just appear and disappear. You know the law of conservation of matter. Matter cannot be created or destroyed. It can be converted to energy and then back again (re: E=MC^2) but not created or destroyed. It's the law and the law won't allow this. You'd have to break that law."

"Okay maybe. (But I'm not so sure about that.) But even so, what if space and time are all a part of mater and energy. What if it's all tied together. Then you're not breaking any laws. Then you're just adding extenuating circumstances."

"Hey Jack, help me out here. Even you can see the fallacy of this, can't you?"

"Hmm," Jack said as he climbed down to fill his paint can, "Even I can see this? -- I'm not sure I want to help you out after that remark."

"Aw common Jack -- J.J.? Do you agree with this?"

J.J. sat down on the roof and looked down on the kids. "I don't know, James. I'm trying to get my mind around this too. But you have to admit it's an interesting idea."

"But, " Jimmy insisted, "how can things just come into existence and then disappear again only to come into existence in nearly the exact same form, over and over again?"

"You know James, I was thinking about this.", Jack said. "And it kind of sounds like movie film doesn't it."

"What?" Jimmy asked.

"Well, when you watch a movie it looks like the action is flowing smoothly from start to finish but in reality it's just a series of still pictures flashed on the screen in sequence. Each one slightly different than the last."

"I understand that!" Jimmy cried, "but what does that have to do with this? Reality isn't a movie!"

"Are you sure?" asked Red. "That's good Grandpa. That's kind of what I'm talking about."

"Okay, " Jimmy persisted, "then this means that I am disappearing and re-appearing while I'm here talking to you."

"You may be."Red said. "How do you know that you're not."

"How can I be ? How could that be possible? And even if it were possible, wouldn't I know it. Wouldn't I have some sort of sensation?"

"I doubt it. It's a matter of perspective." Jack interjected. "After all, your brain is part of the reality that Red's describing. And your brain controls what you are conscious of - or not."

"And, to continue the movie metaphor, your brain doesn't exist mid-frame any more than your body - or anything else in our reality - does."

"I should know better than to try to talk sense to this family. " Jimmy grumbled. He continued painting (putting paint on the shed) with new vigor. Everyone was quiet for a while as they thought about this.

Red interrupted the silence; "So Grandpa, if reality is just a series of instances that are flashed real fast so that they seem to proceed smoothly in a linear fashion and that we can't see the flashes because we're part of the flash. What happens between frames? "

Jack thought for a minute and then JJ walked around the corner and said; "Anything at all."

"Anything?" Jack asked.

"Yes, good question, Red - by the way. "

 "Thanks Dad. But I agree with Grandpa, what do you mean - anything?"

"Well," JJ continued. " what you're talking about isn't a movie. It's a computer system."

 JJ is a computer engineer.

"When we design computer systems we use something we call time slicing."

"I know what that is. " Interrupted Jimmy; "It's when you have the computer work on one thing for a while and then switch to something else for a while and then back again. On and on like that. And since the computer is so fast - and switches back and forth so fast - it seems to us like it's doing both things at the same time."

"That's good James.That's how we get it to sense what key you press while displaying the letter on the screen. The computer is doing two things and it seems like they're happening at the same time."

"So ", Jimmy said, "with both the movie and the computers you're just talking about things happening so fast that it looks to us like it's continuous. If our brains were faster we could see, like a flicker.  Are you saying that if we could speed up our senses that our universe would start to flicker?"

"No Jimmy, don't you get it?" Red said; "What Dad's trying to say is that our universes flashes in and out of existence.  And each flash is like the tree - a little bit different from the last. But since we're part of the universe - and we flash in and out of existence along with everything else - it's impossible for us to detect the flashes."

"I agree with that logic, Red." Jack said; "It may be impossible to detect directly but there may be some way to detect this indirectly. There may be something - or side effect - of the process leaves behind something we can see - or at least sense some way." 

"Yeah, like what they're doing at the south pole looking for Neutrinos. They can't detect neutrinos because they have almost no mass but they can detect the path they leave through the mile or so of ice that they're watching."

"Exactly my point, James."

"And what kind of experiment would you suggest, Grandpa? You're always suggesting experiments."

"I don't know, Red." Jack laughed.

"Okay you guys." Jimmy interrupted. "I get all this. But what I don't get is why."

"Why what?"

"Why would the universe be that way? It seems like an awful lot of work, you know - flashing existence in and out - time slicing things - when it would be so much easier to just let things flow, you know. What's the point, you know."

"Well, " JJ. suggested, "another thing we do with computers is called multitasking."

"I know about that too. That's the same as time slicing except on a larger scale." Jimmy said; "So how does that help explain it?"

"Multitasking is when more than one program can be run on one computer at virtually the same time. Like you can listen to iTunes while you're reading your email."

"Yeah, that's what I said. So?"

"So  these things seem like they're happening at the same time but the computer is alternating on one task for a few instants and then on the next task. The computer system decides how long to give each program so that things all run smoothly."

"Again - So?"

"So maybe there are more than one reality - maybe many - and they all have to share the same - whatever - the same 'engine'. And the only way to make it work is to give each reality a slice - or a 'few cycles' as we say in computes. "

"Oh, geeze." Jimmy was exasperated. "Multiple realities sharing the same 'engine'? I can't believe I'm even talking to you guys."

"Geeze Jimmy, stop being such a pain." Red said exasperated.

"No Red,"Jimmy persisted, "so, JJ is this how you explain the whole 'Hogwarts Express' experience you guys had?"

"'Hogwarts Express'. " Red said; "Yeah, that's kind of what the whole Harry Potter thing was about wasn't it. "

"How do you know about that?" JJ asked.

"That, wait - what?" Red did a double take and looked at her father and grandfather. "What experience you guys had'?

"Red, You mean you don't know about the train?" Jimmy asked.

[To be continued....] [ Click here to continue to part XI ]