Six Sentence Sunday, Project Fast Track 5

February 11, 2012

Previous excerpts: Firstsecondthird, fourth.

Setup: Darlene is sales and customer service for TimeBubble, Inc, and was doing a demonstration for two customers – Jasmine and Michael, until Michael revealed that he wasn’t interested in an ordinary package.

“Could you tell me what you have in mind?”

“Can you invert the bubble effect with this demonstration unit?” Michael waved at the still slowly moving pendulum, and Darlene turned off the bubble to return it to normal time. “Speed it up so that time passes more quickly in there?”

 Hoping that this option had actually been field tested, she punched it in, and the pendulum started waving back and forth like crazy. “Michael – do you want to live inside a time bubble where time passes more quickly?”

Six Sentence Sunday, Project Fast Track 3

January 29, 2012

Previous excerpts: First, second.

Setup: Darlene is sales and customer service for TimeBubble, Inc, and is doing a demonstration for two customers – a young woman, (Jasmine) and a middle-aged man, (Michael) as part of the sales pitch.

The little brass bell was on the very end of the pendulum, and immediately above it was a custom quartz watch face with a minute hand, second hand, and a third hand that went a full circle in exactly two seconds.

Jasmine pulled the bell towards her, and let it go. The bell rang several times as it swung, and then Darlene pushed the button to activate the field. Suddenly the pendulum was travelling through the air much more slowly, its motion just visible. On the watch face, the second hand appeared quite still, and the faster hand was doing a good impression of a second hand. Unusual ripples of violet and aquamarine reflected from the metal surfaces.

Order and Chaos in the Exploratorium.

November 23, 2011

On Saturday of last week, I spent a few hours at the Exploratorium museum in the Palace of Fine Arts, near the Presidio in San Francisco. That really wasn’t enough, and I saw a bunch of cool stuff, but what really struck me was the chaos and the order.

First, the chaotic pendulum. This was a bunch of swinging arms and joints embedded into the interior of a big spinning wheel. When you spun the wheel, all the pendulums started off swinging in the same direction, but they don’t all spin with the same frequency or energy, so they start to throw each other off and get the larger wheel kicking and jerking back and forth. Fun to watch, but also a good lesson to learn about anything complex in the world.

Second, the balancing pendulum. This was one weight on a long rigid swinging arm, connected to a computer motor that could move back and forth. The computer could read the position of the arm and was programmed to get the arm balanced straight up as quickly as possible and keep it that way. It was fun to see the computer in action – choosing its moment to swing into action, going back and forth to build energy if the pendulum wasn’t swinging up all the way, and nudging carefully along if you tried to push the arm to the side by yourself.

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