“You guys are awfully quiet for a first-year class!” The professor’s voice was quite high pitched for a male. His white dress-shirt and black pants clung to his scrawny body. His sharp facial features were somewhat softened by a pair of small round glasses. “I’m Professor Polish. Nice to meet you all.”
“Let’s start with a few rules with my class.” He took out a metal antenna and stretched it out into a long stick. “First of all, when I’m talking, you stop talking and listen.” He hit the tabletop with the end of the stick. “Second of all, lateness is not tolerated. And that includes both you and your assignments. Any student who comes to class after me will not be allowed in, and all late assignments will receive a big fat zero!” He drew a large oval on the board. “Third of all, when I call on you to answer questions, you answer to the best of your ability. No excuses will be accepted!” He looked around the room with his hawk eyes.
“Ok, let’s begin.” He wrote on the blackboard as he explained why we should all study physics as biomedical engineers. According to him, physics is the most important subject in the world. It not only predicts how the physical world we live in works, it also explains how the universe functions, which is a task no other realm of science is able to do. “Now, I’ll explain exactly how physics can be used in the field of modern medicine. All the equipment we use, such as MRI and ultrasound, use principles of physics to operate. If you don’t study physics, you won’t understand medicine.”
“Now I’m going to go off topic a little to further illustrate the importance of the study of physics. Many students come to Felix Martin University to study time machine and time travelling. What boggles my mind year after year is that so few of them realize that their primary field of study will be physic. Why physics? Because, time machine and time-travelling are all about physics. The understanding of how high-energy electrons behave and how they can be used to create time portals is the study of physics. And this knowledge is essential in the creation and design of time machines.”
“Now that I have explained the importance of the study physics. I’m sure all of you are dying to dive into the wonderful world of physics. But before we begin, do you have any questions?” He asked with a coy smile.
“Professor Polish, if I may ask your opinion regarding something?” My hand went up involuntarily.
“Yes, the handsome gentleman in the back row.” Professor Polish pointed at me with his stick.
“I’m awfully curious about your opinion of what physics will be capable of in the future, say, perhaps in 40 or 50 years from now.” This was the perfect opportunity to find out what scientists from the past thought of the future I come from. Especially a scientist who’s so engrossed in the field of physics, and its importance to time machine developments.
“That is a very interesting question, indeed!” He looked at me in the eye. “What is your name, young man?”
“Mark Winfield.” I answered.
“Mr. Winfield, it’s a pleasure to meet you. You’re the first Winfield I’ve met so far.” Professor Polish looked around the room. “Does anyone wish to attempt to answer Mr. Winfield’s excellent question?”
A hand went up in the middle of the classroom. In fact, it was the only hand that went up.
“This kind gentleman here, thank you for coming to my aid. What is your name?” professor Polish asked with a content smile.
“I’m Chihu Sumun from South Korea. I’m 17 years old. I entered Felix Martin with a full scholarship.” The guy who raised his hand stood up from his seat and introduced himself to the class. His dark grey hair was cropped with bangs over his forehead. The rim of his glasses were rectangular and dark. “It’s my honour to have the opportunity to enlighten a fellow classmate with the future potential of technology.” He spoke without emotion.
“Yes, Mr. Sumun, please enlighten us with your thoughts on the future of physics!” Professor Polish bowed with delight.
“Yes, sir.” Chihu bowed towards professor Polish, then turned to face me. “Mr. Winfield, first of all, I would like to say that everything I’m about to say is only a speculation based on the facts what we know today. It’s by no means a trustworthy prediction and should not be taken as such.”
“With that being said, I believe in about 40 years from now, our society will function with flying vehicles. Many shops and businesses will be manned by robots and supervised by humans. If a nuclear war doesn’t take place within the time span of 50 years from now, then our world will truly be transformed with technology.”
He took a deep breath and continued. “I want everyone to close your eyes and imagine with me. You are on your way home. You step out of your flying vehicle and inside the door of your apartment on the 200th floor. The walls close in on itself after your vehicle has entered, not like a door, but like a sheet of flowing water. Except the material is hard and durable at the same time.” He had one hand behind his back and adjusted his collar with his free hand. The formal school uniform looked extraordinarily fitting on his thin and flank body.
“As soon as you enter your apartment, you close your eyes and imagine the arrangement of the furniture of your room for that evening. And when you open your eyes, the room will be exactly as you have imagined in your mind. There’s no magic involved in all this, but rather, there are sensors in your apartment that are able to detect the impulse of your brain waves and turn the images in your mind into reality. Soon, your meal appears on the table as you have imagined also. Even the taste is what you have remembered it to be. How can food appear out of thin air? You may ask. Your apartment has just read your mind once again.”
“Are you enjoying yourselves so far?” He looked around at everyone with their eyes closed and smiling. When I felt his glance come my way, I quickly closed my eyes and put a fake smile on my face. “I haven’t even gotten to the best part yet. There will be no need to perform any time-consuming tasks such as showering and brushing your teeth. All you have to do is touch the sink of your bathroom and you’ll be rid of all the germs of the outside world. Of course, the sink I’m referring to doesn’t hold water. It’s only shaped like one as a reminder of our former arduous lifestyle.”
“When you’re ready for bed, your room will transform into your dream bedroom, because all your furniture are made from shape-shifting material. The temperature of your room is adjusted exactly as your mind and body would find to be optimal…”
“Mr. Sumun, that’s an excellent description of how life in the future would look like.” Professor Polish interrupted. “However, you have forgotten to explain the importance of physics?”
“Professor Polish, I was just about to get there.” Chihu answered with an expressionless face. It’s hard to believe that a 17 year-old boy can have such composure and knowledge of the future. “Of course, everything I have just described to you would be sheer imagination if the study of physics didn’t exist. Physics is what makes our imagination reality. It makes all forms of technology a reality. I believe our future society will depend on it more and more as we move towards a new era. Thank you all for listening to my humble opinion.” He bowed to the class before sitting down.
The class clapped at his impressive answer. I was shocked from the core. How can a person from this time period describe the future with such accuracy without having seen it?
“Mr. Winfield,” Professor Polish’s voice interrupted my thoughts. “Is that a satisfactory answer?”
“Yes, sir. Very much so. Thank you, Mr. Simun. Thank you, Professor Polish.” I bowed to thank them.
“Now, let’s move on to the next topic of our lesson.” Professor Polish glanced at the clock in the front of the classroom. “Hmm? There’s only two minutes left. In that case, I’ll have to end the class with your very first assignment.” He handed out a stack of paper to each student sitting in the first row. “Since this is your first assignment, I’ll give you the liberty of choosing your group. It will be due in exactly 3 weeks, at the beginning of the class. And there’s absolutely no tolerance for lateness. Do you understand?” Just as he was about to dismiss the class, he looked up and said. “Mr. Simun and Mr. Winfield, I’m looking forward to your reports.”