• What Goes Down Must Come Up

    by  • June 4, 2018 • Fiction • 1 Comment

    An essay by Professor Caldwell Mook, as provided by Nick Morrish
    Art by Ariel Alian Wilson

    As Mithering Professor of General Negativity, I regularly receive requests to peer review outlandish scientific papers. I generally reject most of them out of hand as either beneath contempt, or simply too dull for words. However, one paper caught my eye recently: a small-scale experiment involving an anti-gravity field and a hamster.

    Readers may be familiar with the work of Dr Drax Moon. His ridiculous claims often feature in the popular media, and he is frankly a laughing-stock even amongst the para-rational scientific community.

    In this particular experiment, he allegedly caused the unfortunate rodent to float 3.75 millimeters above the ground. Quite an astounding claim, though Dr Moon does go on to clarify that at least one of its whiskers was still in contact with terra firma at all times.

    Of course, anti-gravity is entirely possible at the quantum level, but I considered the elevation of even a small mammal beyond the ability of the most brilliant scientist, let alone a dim-witted charlatan such as Dr Moon.

    I began to pen a withering review of his paper, but then reconsidered my actions. I emailed him instead, requesting a demonstration of his remarkable findings. I hoped to witness his abject failure and looked forward to the possibility of humiliating him in person, as well as in print and in my popular blog (blogoff.compaleteanduttergarbage.com).

    When I arrived at Dr Moon’s home, it became clear that he was not utilizing quantum principles. His apparatus was rudimentary in nature and appeared to have been scavenged from discarded household appliances. Indeed, he was using his kitchen as a laboratory, and I discerned several household utensils lodged within the experimental apparatus.

    Before we began, I gave him the opportunity to explain his theory in detail, but he declined, which unfortunately is rather typical of the man.

    “I am a practical scientist,” he said. “A good experiment is better than a thousand theories. And a bad experiment is better than a dozen firework displays.”

    You can imagine my concern at this statement, and I resolved to vacate the premises and watch the experiment through the letterbox. I had forgotten to bring safety goggles, so instead I took a large glass storage jar from the kitchen and placed it over my head. This attracted some unwelcome comments from passers-by, but I have always considered personal safety more important than mere dignity.

    Dr Moon initiated the experiment by placing the hamster into a wok suspended over a rapidly spinning metal sphere. As he adjusted the power levels, the rotational velocity of his device increased, and the rodent began to lose contact with the surface of the wok.

    Buoyed by his success, Dr Moon increased power even further. However, it seems that the relationship between velocity and the anti-gravity field strength is exponential in nature, and its effects quickly intensified.

    I have noticed that, at the end of movies involving animals, it is common to inform the public that no harm has come to the creatures involved. Sadly, I cannot offer the same assurance in this instance. For a few moments, the hamster hovered in mid-air, then began accelerating rapidly upwards and struck the ceiling with what can only be described as a splat.

    In his defense, Dr Moon appeared visibly distressed by this calamity. He rushed to turn off the machine, but his frantic efforts were in vain, and the sphere spun with ever more vigor.

    Art for "What Goes Down Must Come Up"

    I had forgotten to bring safety goggles, so instead I took a large glass storage jar from the kitchen and placed it over my head. This attracted some unwelcome comments from passers-by, but I have always considered personal safety more important than mere dignity.

    Soon, Dr Moon himself was levitating uncontrollably. Fortunately, the enormous mass of his head caused his body to rotate, and his feet struck the ceiling first. He crouched there on the ceiling, appearing unharmed, if somewhat perturbed. Other objects too began to rise, and the experimenter found himself bombarded by unsecured cutlery and uneaten breakfast items.

    Despite Dr Moon’s predicament and the tragic demise of the hamster, I was impressed by the outcome of his unscientific experiment. I could see many potential applications for this technology: from the launching of satellites right down to the dusting of overly tall bookshelves. However, my enthusiasm was short-lived.

    It is at this point that I should warn sensitive readers that the side effects of anti-gravity can be unpleasant in the extreme. If you have recently eaten or have a weak stomach, you may wish to skip forward to the conclusion and references at the end of this article.

    From my position of safety on the front porch, I could hear a low rumbling noise emanating from the washroom door adjacent to the kitchen. Readers will no doubt be familiar with Sir Isaac Newton’s assertion “what goes up must come down.” I had not previously considered that in the case of anti-gravity, it must also be a truism that “what goes down must come up.”

    There was a disturbing gurgling noise followed by a muffled explosion. The door burst open and the entire contents of Dr Moon’s septic tank deposited itself in a fine layer over his kitchen and hallway. I shall not even attempt to describe the smell. I fear it is now forever imprinted on my brain, and no amount of carbolic soap or patent odor remover will be able to completely eradicate it.

    Fortunately for Dr Moon and his neighbors, the explosion destroyed a vital component in the experimental apparatus, and the gravitational forces within the house returned to their usual Newtonian state. Dr Moon suffered some minor cuts and bruises on the way down, but survived the experience with only his pride dented.

    In conclusion, I cannot in all conscience recommend his anti-gravity device as a boon to mankind, unless significant safeguards are introduced. Domestic plumbing, not to mention many other features of everyday life, are dependent on the gravitational force being directed toward the center from the earth rather than away from it.

    If this technology is to be advanced further, I would recommend that his apparatus be moved to a location far away from human habitation. On reflection, I think the lunar surface would be the safest and most favorable location for any further experiments.

    Professor Caldwell Mook holds the Mithering Chair of General Negativity at the University of Leeds, England. He specializes in pre-emptive risk analyses for technology that has yet to be invented. Professor Mook regularly offers discouragement and derision to scientists and engineers around the world.

    Nick Morrish is an increasingly mad engineer from Yorkshire, England. During a long and futile career, he has worked for a number of frankly certifiable multinational companies. He clings to the last vestiges of sanity by writing serious and truthful stories about the nature of existence. Since no one else seems to observe truth in quite the same way, his work is often mistaken for satire or fantasy.

    Ariel Alian Wilson is a few things: artist, writer, gamer, and role-player. Having dabbled in a few different art mediums, Ariel has been drawing since she was small, having always held a passion for it. She’s always juggling numerous projects. She currently lives in Seattle with her cat, Persephone. You can find doodles, sketches, and more at her blog www.winndycakesart.tumblr.com.

    “What Goes Down Must Come Up” is © 2018 Nick Morrish
    Art accompanying story is © 2018 Ariel Alian Wilson

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    One Response to What Goes Down Must Come Up

    1. Billy
      June 8, 2018 at 3:21 am

      So much said in so little words. This story highlights the strengths of Short Fiction.
      Mook’s voice stands out sharply against the chaos that is Dr Moon.
      I love job description, “pre-emptive risk analyses for technology that has yet to be invented”. Nice touch.
      Ariel Alian Wilson has captured the tone of the story perfectly.

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