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remained. Were they saying that dependence upon constants was the low fence? That man must learn to do without his firm absolutes? That was the ultimate in relativity: Energy is proportionate to matter. But so all-inclusive as to be too vague for use.
For more than three centuries now, controversy had raged over Einstein's use of C in his expression. Some held that it was a product of his time, that he was able to make only one step beyond cla.s.sical physics where all things must be related to a fixed value. Others held that its inclusion was a deliberate fallacy; that Einstein, by his other work, had shown he knew it was a fallacy; that, tongue in cheek, he inserted it into his equation in full knowledge that his fellow scientists of his day could not even bear to think of the awesome concept of things without orientation to an absolute; that he knew they would reject him entirely, refuse even to consider his thought unless he catered that much to their superst.i.tions.
The need of the absolute was not mathematical or scientific, but emotional. Man was still tortured by his determination to be the center of things, himself the fixed absolute! The need of a familiar, fixed cave where he might run and hide, close himself in securely when the chaos of storm outside became too frightening to bear. The need of a fixed absolute, whether in philosophy or science, a fixed spot that would not s.h.i.+ft.
The science of psi, then, was based in a willingness to s.h.i.+ft?
He looked down at the equation, to see if he were still on the track.
It had changed again. Now it read "EdM": The form of the function of energy to matter is variable.
Quickly, another change. "Df(em)": The form of the function and the independent variable of the function vary together.
Still another: "E = f(M)": There is a general relations.h.i.+p of energy to matter.
And then: "F(e,m) = 0": There is a general unspecified relations.h.i.+p between energy and matter.
He slapped his hand down on the sand in frustration.
"All right," he said. "You've made your point. And it means about as much as if I said to the turkey, 'All you have to do is fly'."
There was a stir behind him. He turned his head and saw Louie. A deep sigh, almost a sob came from Louie as he stared down at the symbols in the sand.
"They talked to _you_," Louie said brokenly. "I wanted only to serve Them, but it was to _you_ They talked."
And all the tragedy of his life was contained therein.
Cal sprang to his feet, and put his arms around the other man's shoulders. The two of them, the bitter and the sympathetic, looked down at the sand. The symbols were still changing, and now read "There is an infinity of relations.h.i.+ps between matter and energy, an infinity of forms to be taken by matter as you control the energy."
The signs were wiped out, and the sense of Their presence was gone. Cal felt the withdrawal, the sense of a lesson being over. He did not regret it, he had enough to think about. But first, there was Louie, racked with broken sobbing.
Here was a man whose life had been a search for certainties, absolutes that would not s.h.i.+ft under the weight of his questioning. No doubt in his youth he had turned to the religions of the day--and found them a tissue of rationalizations without contact in reality. Then to science--and found it, too, constantly s.h.i.+fting in its interpretations, making new evaluations as evidence discounted the old. The shock of landing on Eden to drive him back into childhood interpretations again--at last, the clear evidence that had been denied his belief in youth.
Wholehearted in his belief of Them, yet it was not to him They had talked.
"Louie," Cal said slowly. "If you were lonely, very lonely, if you had searched through the years for companions.h.i.+p, and thought you might have found it, would it please you to have that companion drop to his knees, grovel before you? Would this be your idea of companions.h.i.+p?
"What manner of monstrous egotism would require that? What but the incredible vanity of primitive man, to whom life meant nothing more than conquering or being conquered, could imagine such conduct would be pleasing to another intelligence?
"We are men, Louie. If, in our loneliness, we found another intelligence, wouldn't we want an equal exchange instead of abas.e.m.e.nt?
The use of that intelligence to know, to understand, instead of a denial of it?"
Louie twisted out of Cal's embracing arm, and ran stumbling toward the depths of the forest.
For another week, perhaps ten days or more, since time measurement had lost its meaning, Cal lived among the colonists, watched their complete retrogression into a state of unawareness. Even the speech which they had retained seemed now to thin and falter as the simplifying of their idea-content no longer required its use.
Only Tom and Jed seemed to retain their orientation to the past, the clarity of awareness. These two spent much time together, seemed always available when Cal needed them, yet did not intrude upon his thought.
Frank now seemed one with the colonists. Louie lived on the outskirts of the herd, near the colonists but not of them. He had ceased to exhort, warn, command, argue. His face was closed, told nothing of what he was thinking.
And he had ceased to demand his t.i.the as intercessor. He was gathering his own food, catching his own fish.
And he seldom let Cal out of his sight.
Tom and Jed helped as best they could by maintaining contact with the old reality. They spent much of the daytime with the colonists. At night they turned their faces to the dark sky to watch the s.h.i.+ps, now grown to four, bathed in the light of Ceti like a constellation of bright stars above them. They read the intermittent flashes of light from McGinnis, and from the E.H.Q. laboratory. McGinnis told of the police s.h.i.+p's attempts to break through the barrier surrounding Eden, and its failure. The laboratory told of Linda's presence on board, and now and then flashed out a message to Cal from Linda of her love, her nearness, her faith in him, her desire to be with him, her patience in waiting.
McGinnis told of the arrival of a fifth s.h.i.+p, carrying Gunderson in person. He had been unable to believe his police captain. Unable to believe that the s.h.i.+p could not land at will. He had come in person to take charge, and apparently fumed his frustration in idleness, unable to do anything with the situation, unwilling to go back to Earth and leave it alone.
Tom and Jed told Cal the content of these messages, but to Cal the reports of the police activity seemed noises heard from far away and unrelated to himself. The messages from Linda seemed the haunting strains of a song remembered from long ago.
For his mind was wholly enrapt with the problem. He had been given the key--reality is a matter of proportion, change the concept of proportion and you change the material form--but he had not found the lock and the door it would open. He knew it, but he couldn't do it.
Perhaps Tom might help? Tom was well-grounded in math, had to be for his job as pilot.
"Look, Tom," Cal said one morning after they had given him the night's messages from the s.h.i.+ps. He squatted on the ground and brushed away some leaves from an area of dirt. "Watch the equals sign." He scratched a formula in the dirt:
"2 + 2 = 4"
The = changed to : . Then to d. Then through the series of variable relations.h.i.+ps.
Tom leaped to his feet from the log where he had been sitting.
"That's crazy," he exclaimed. "It isn't just proportionate, it isn't variable. It equals."
Jed was looking from one to the other, obviously at a loss.
"Well," Cal said drily, "I'm much more interested in what They have to say than in trying to convince Them that They're wrong."
"But if everything were only proportionate and variable," Tom argued, "then you'd have nothing fixed, constant. Why the proportionate relations.h.i.+p might be dependent solely upon choice. Nothing would be solid, dependable."
"Not even the footprints under your feet," Cal answered softly. "Not a house, nor a field of grain, nor a s.p.a.ces.h.i.+p. Simply alter the choice of proportion--and they aren't there anymore."
Throw a key at the feet of a turkey and it is useless to him. Show him the lock it fits, and it is still useless without the knowledge of how to insert the key and turn it. Unlock it for him, and still it is useless without the knowledge of how to push or pull the door.
This was the essence of why so few mastered the simple steps of physical science, the essence of why so few were able to get beyond step two of E science. Anyone could disagree with a statement, but in answer to "What if it not be true, how then to account for the phenomena?" most bogged down at that point, unable to demonstrate with evidence the validity of some other answer.
Everyone knew the equation E = MC, but few could implement it to build an atomic power plant.