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Sep
26

the perpetual scary-go-round

Given it was an opportunity to be a participant in simultaneous breakthroughs in both the fields of theoretical physics and playground equipment design, it was not likely I was going to say no to the request to be the first test subject to ride the space-time crystal carousel. In fact I was downright enthusiastic as I arrived at the testing area. After quickly glancing over and then signing some paperwork having to do with indemnification and some other rather imposing legal words I slipped into the jumpsuit and sat down to a brief lecture on what exactly a space-time crystal carousel was.

It is at this point it might be helpful to tell you that I’m usually not one for carnival rides and such, a history of the ol’ queasy stomach I’m afraid, but I decided that becoming involved in such an important event outweighed any concerns about motion sickness and just required a bit of the “right stuff” so I put my apprehensions (and an impressive list of past unfortunate incidents at a local amusement park) behind me and plunged in with a healthy dose of both vim and vigor.

These were the thoughts that floated through my head as science behind the space-time crystal carousel was explained to me. Apparently it was based on an electric-field ion trap and the Coulomb repulsion of particles that carry a similar electrical charge.

I nodded knowingly and the man in the white suit went on.

Something to the effect that by applying a weak static magnetic field, this ring-shaped ion crystal carousel will begin a rotation that never stops. Then something else about the lowest quantum energy state.

It was at this point that he seemed to sense a certain lack of enthusiasm in his audience. His audience being me. He shook me and I returned to the sentient side of the ledger.

He seemed intent on me digesting all the pertinent details and continued on.

I heard about zero-dimensional buckyballs, one-dimensional nanotubes and two-dimensional graphene materials. With each added dimension his excitement seemed to grow until I feared that anything past five dimensions would have me scrambling to find him medical assistance. I should not have worried; he petered out after explaining that a spatial ring of trapped ions in persistent rotation will periodically reproduce itself in time thus resulting in the carousel.

After a hearty “Does it now? Well then!” and a clapping together of hands on my part I felt as thought things were about to get underway.

He smiled and said “We call it the perpetual scary-go-round.”

“Do you now?” I announced and then stood up in a way that led any rational observer to see that all the necessary discussion had come to a satisfactory conclusion and that I was now ready for the test ride.

I was led by a couple of helpful men, also in white suits, to what appeared to be a large merry-go-round except that it was completely translucent. Immediately I had flashbacks of prior playground interactions involving this particularly loathsome apparatus but knowing that I was boldly going and all seemed to take the edge off and after a couple swigs of water I cavalierly threw a leg on either side of one of the 6 U-shaped bars inset into the edges of the carousel and waited for the ride to begin.

The helpful men put on their plastic eye protectors and asked if I was familiar with the centrifuge used by NASA to train their astronauts. Smiling I nodded and gave them a thumbs up even though I hadn’t the faintest idea what a centrifuge was.

They looked at each other and then back at me. They asked if I was familiar with g-forces. Again I nodded.

This seemed to make them happy. Seeing that I was completely up to date on the effects of g-forces they were almost embarrassed to have to list some of the effects I could look forward to on my brief spin- color blindness, loss of peripheral vision, and probably unconsciousness followed by vivid dreams.

The smile faded. I was midway through clearing my throat and asking them to review some of the finer points of what I could expect when I felt the carousel begin to turn.

I remembered. G-forces are the acceleration experienced by an object due to the vector sum of non-gravitational forces acting on an object free to move. A typical person can handle 5 g. I was now spinning at 6 g.

This was not how I remembered the merry-go-rounds of my youth. In fact, this was almost entirely unlike those schoolyard rides. By that I mean that I was physically unable to throw up despite the enthusiastic endorsement of the scheme by my stomach and I felt each of my testicles decide on a different side of the crystal bar they would like to end up on.

The worst part was the ride lasted close to five hundred years. The descendants of the original scientists who put me on the thing were on hand to offer me a sincere apology when it finally came to a complete stop.

I thought that was a nice touch but I said no to their offer of testing the new wormhole slide.

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