Trying to Decode the Etching

Gary set about another means of decoding the illustrations. He also happened to know a lab man from his student days, Ted Florentine, a researcher who helped physicists build their apparatuses, and Gary figured the fellow would have an idea. He looked up Ted’s info in a directory at the university where he worked, and left voice and e- mail, in both cases being vague about the purpose at hand. He sent a scan of the etchings as an attachment and invited Ted to guess what it was designed to do. He knew the gambit would seem suspicious, especially since they hadn’t spoken in at least a decade, but the suspicion might actually be a catalyst to get a response.

After getting these messages out, and getting off, Gary went to his fridge and opened another beer and set it with a deliberately wide movement beside his computer table. Usually at this point he’d be asleep or watching a body- numbing cable movie. Right now, he was about as wired as he could be. He began to work on the idea of the explosion and wave as parameters. The explosion could be a star, or a chemical reaction, or a collision — on one of several scales. And the wave running up the beach — that was exactly something that didn’t collide but ran itself out. Were the two related?

Gary knew enough physics to know that waves and particles coexist on the atomic scale: photons are both particles and waves, or, rather, one or the other, depending on what you are measuring. Suppose these illustrations were showing that the Twilight Zone was on a sub-atomic scale? Or what if they showed that the Zone was to be built to match a particular wavelength. What did the explosion tell us about the wavelength that was hitting the beach? Or did the scale of the beach tell us something about the size of the explosion? Gary was sure that he was out of his depth and swigged down the beer, pausing only to curse at his screen with an ever-changing set of incantations.