“So.” Jody looked at the assignment outline. “We have to research the history of a famous machine used in engineering and write a report on it. There’s 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7 options.” She counted the number of bullets written on the assignment. “Which one would you guys like to work on?”
Everyone stared at the assignment handout.
“Let’s see.” Jody read the list out loud, “1. The Large Hadron Collider (at CERN), 2. Computed Tomography (CT), 3. Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI), 4. Scanning Electron Microscope (SEM), 5. Transmission Electron Microscope (TEM), 6. The Hubble Telescope, 7. Felix Martin Time Machine (FMTM).”
“Jody, have you heard of any of these?” Susan frowned.
“I think I’ve only heard of CT because my dad always talks about it. He’s a surgeon, by the way.” Jody answered. “I definitely had no idea that there’s a Felix Martin Time Machine.”
“I thought you guys knew that Professor Felix Martin invented the time machine.” Shane asked.
“Yes, but we didn’t know it was called the Felix Martin Time Machine!” Jody defended herself. “Lori, did you know that?”
“No, I thought it had a fancier name or something.” Lori smiled.
“Haha, a lot of fancy machines have simple names, like the Hubble telescope.” Shane explained.
Actually, Lori is right. The time machine does have a fancier name, at least in the world I come from. They are called electron-neutron extractor converters (ENEC). And the larger pod type of time machine is called ‘space travelling devices’ or STD for short. As for the inventor of these devices, it’s often credited to the leader of the Elitists, Eugenius Pancratius, who commissioned a group of leading scientists to make them. Although it’s common knowledge that time machines existed long before the Elitists came along. Is Felix Martin the actual inventor of the time machine?
“I see.” Lori looked at the list again. “How about we work on CT, since we’re all familiar with it?”
“I think that might be too easy, since everyone else might know what it is too.” Jody stared at the list. “How about The Large Hadron Collider?”
“That’s the first one on the list though, so I think a lot of people might pick that one.” Shane propped up his chin with one hand. “What about the Felix Martin Time Machine? I’d be curious to learn more about it.”
“Did Dr. Felix Martin really invent that thing?” Susan asked.
“You’d better believe it! It’s been all over the news in the past couple of years.” Shane explained.
“The last item on the list could be popular too though.” Jody jumped in. “Let’s pick something from the middle of the list, which one do you guys like better, MRI, SEM, or TEM?”
“I’m fine with any.” Susan was bored.
“How about SEM? It’s right in the middle of the list,” Shane suggested.
“Sounds good to me!” Jody turned to Lori, “What do you think?”
“It’s fine with me.” Lori put a checkmark next to SEM.
People from this world have rather interesting logic. They avoid the first, last, and most common options. I’ll keep this in mind when picking my topic, although the bigger challenge is finding a group.
“Ok, now let’s divide up the sections of the report,” Jody continued as the group leader. “There are six sections in total.”
“How do we split up 6 sections evenly between 4 people?” Susan was puzzled.
“Let’s see. The introduction and conclusion should be no more than a page combined. There are 4 sections to the body of the report, history, theory, technique, and application.” Jody read from the handout. “Each of the four sections should be a minimum of 1 page including figures. Hmmm, maybe we could split up the 4 sections evenly and 2 people can do the intro and conclusion.”
Everyone nodded to Jody’s suggestion.
“Alright, so who wants to do history?” Jody asked.
“I can do the history and introduction, since they go together.” Lori volunteered.
“I’ll do the applications section and conclusion.” Shane added.
“I guess I’ll work on the theory.” Susan said hesitantly.
“I’ll have no choice but to do the techniques section.” Jody chuckled. “It’s probably the most difficult part along with theory. So please don’t get upset if I get it wrong.”
“We’ll check each other’s work before handing in the report, right?” Lori suggested. “I’ll probably make silly mistakes too.”
“Um, that’s a good idea!” Jody agreed. “In that case, since the assignment is due in three weeks, how about we take 2 weeks to work on it and then put it together on the last week?”
“Alright. We shall meet again in two weeks then.” Jody nodded. “Ok, our meeting is adjourned. You’re dismissed.” Everyone laughed.
“Hey, what are you guys doing on the weekend?” Susan asked as everyone was packing up.
“I don’t really have any plans.” Lori answered. “Probably catch up on homework and sleep. What about you?”
“You’re so lucky that you get to sleep!” Susan answered. “I have to go to a friend’s birthday party. It’s her 18th birthday, so a group of us are going to surprise her.”
“That’s sounds really nice.” Lori answered.
“I didn’t know you’re going to a birthday party!” Jody exclaimed. “I’ll be bored to death at home.”
“Do you want to come?” Susan offered.
“Are you sure? I don’t know your friends from high school though.”
“I’m sure they won’t mind, as long as you don’t mind.”
“Of course, I don’t mind. I would love to come!” Jody was excited. “Where is it going to be? Come on, tell me all the details.”
“It’s on Sunday evening, 6 pm at my place. But we’re going to start preparing at 3 or 4 pm. You can just come for the party and have fun.”
“Where’s your house?”
Jody and Susan exchanged quite a bit of information while Lori and Shane waited. Lori stared into space for most of that time and Shane stared at Lori.
“Hey, Shane, do you want to come?” Susan blushed. “Lori, you’re invited too!”
“Umm, sure.” Shane was startled. “As long as it’s not a girls-only thing.”
“There’s gonna be a few guys there too,” Susan chuckled. “And I’m sure the girls will be happy to see more guys.”
“Lori, are you coming too?” Shane asked eagerly.
“Thanks for the invitation.” Lori smiled. “But I really need to catch up on some sleep. Maybe next time.”
“Awww, that’s too bad!” Susan answered.
“I’m sorry. I hope you don’t mind if I leave now. I don’t want to get stuck in traffic.” Lori excused herself.
“Do you mind if I come with you?” Shane ran after her. “We take the same train.”
“Oh, really?” Lori was surprised.
“I saw you on the other day. Which stop do you get off at?”
“I go to Mitaka station and then take a bus home.”
“I see. I get off at Nakano.”
Jody and Susan stayed behind to talk. As soon as Lori and Shane were out of sight, Susan stomped her feet and complained, “Is it just me or is he always following her?”
“I think it’s pretty obvious,” Jody answered.
“Yeah, but why? Is she really that pretty?” Susan pouted.
“I hate to admit it, but she is quite a cutie in our class. Even though she’d probably be quite average in a women’s college, she really stands out in an engineering class like ours.”
“Oh, shut up! Can’t you say something to make me feel better.” Susan hit Jody playfully.
“Well, you asked, so I thought…”
That’s about all the conversation I caught from those two before running after Lori and Shane.
“I’m so glad we’re in the same group,” Shane continued as they made their way to the station.
“Thanks.” Lori walked rather fast and looked straight ahead.
“You know, it’s so brave of you to have volunteered to work on 2 sections on that report. That’s why I also decided to do 2 sections cause I felt bad.”
“You don’t have to feel bad.”
“I don’t anymore. Haha. Why don’t you come to Susan’s birthday party on Saturday?”
“Because I don’t know any of her friends,” Lori descended the stairs of the metro station. “Don’t worry, I think you’ll have fun.”
“It’d be more fun if you came too.”
“It’ll be fun without me too.” Lori swiped her card to get into the metro gate.
“I’m not sure…” Shane followed her. “Anyway, isn’t technology great? I love Tokyo for that! It’s so modern and technological!”
“Shane, why do you like technology?”
“Technology? Well, technology makes our lives easier and better.” Shane answered with excitement. “For example, the train we’re taking is much faster than walking, and can transport a bunch of people at the same time. It’s very convenient, right?”
“Convenient? Is that the purpose of technology?”
“Yeah, I guess.” Shane thought for a moment. “The electronics we use also make our lives convenient, right?”
“That’s true. But people also have to work harder.” Lori was deep in thought. “I wish we didn’t have these small conveniences and didn’t have to work as hard. I wish we could see our families more often…”
The train arrived with a gust of wind. Its doors slid open and spewed out a small group of people before all those standing at the platform got on. I followed Lori and Shane onto the train. There were no seats left, so they stood and held onto handles that hung from the ceiling of the train. I copied them and leaned my head against my arm.
“Lori, that could be the very goal of technology, so that we could see our families more often and work shorter hours.” Shane continued.
“I’m sorry. I didn’t mean to complain.”
“It’s ok to complain and be dissatisfied with society. That’s how a society moves forward.” Shane’s words sounded awfully familiar to me.
“Don’t mind me, please.” Lori apologized again. “I have a hard time understanding this society.”
“Then why are you studying Bioengineering?” Shane asked.
“Because I want to help people. It breaks my heart to see all the people suffering and dying from diseases.”
“Is that the only reason?”
“I volunteered at a hospital 2 years ago. Every time I heard the doctor say to a patient’s family that there’s nothing they could do, it made me so sad that I wish I could do something for them. Later, I learned that it wasn’t the doctor’s fault, but rather the lack of technology. That’s why I want to develop new technologies.” Lori looked up at Shane and smiled.
I could see the pain hidden in Lori’s eye, but I don’t understand it. In the world I come from, there are no hospitals. Sick people are simply given medication at home and those who die are disposed by the government. I’ve actually never seen a dead person because I don’t have a family.
“Do you think it’s possible?” Shane asked.
“What do you mean?”
“For you to find cures for diseases. I mean, there’s already so much research being done and so many scientists looking for cures. Do you think you’ll be able to succeed if they’re all failing?”
“I don’t know, but I have to try.” Lori was saddened by Shane’s question. “Even if it takes my whole life.”
“I think you’re better off becoming famous in other ways, science is a very tough route.”
“Famous? Why would I want to be famous?”
“Isn’t that why scientists work so hard, so their work can be recognized?”
“Is that the reason why people become scientists? I just wanted to help the helpless people. That’s all.”
“If that’s the case, then you’re very different from the people I’ve met before. Do you think about money and fame at all?”
“Hey look, it’s Nakano station.”
“Right, thanks! I’ll see you tomorrow.” Shane took his time to say good-bye to Lori and got off the train just in time.
I stood next to Lori for a couple of stops before going back. She looked so pensive as if she was suffering on the inside. I’ll never forget what she said about developing a cure for diseases with technology. How can I tell her that technology is the very thing that make people sick? Her feelings about technology are absolutely right.
To be honest, most of these technologies are obsolete in my world, except for the time machine, which is still being used. The name Felix Martin is relatively unknown in the world I come from
From what I’ve read, people from this time worked mostly with “solid” materials. For example, a rectangular cell phone cannot morph into sphere without losing its functions. But in my world, most solid objects are made with shapeshifting materials. For example, a cell phone can take many forms without compromising its function. It can be stretched into a thin sheet like paper or compressed into a small sphere. If we want it to take up more space, that would be possible too.