Study Guide

Timescape Chapter 12

By Gregory Benford

Chapter 12

December 3, 1962

  • Gordon and Cooper spread out the data they have been collecting on the noise in their solid state experiment. This time, they made sure the data was consecutive with no holes in it.
  • They get to work and decode a big honking message detailing the dangers of diatom blooms, deforestation, and various chemicals used in insecticides.
  • Gordon doesn't have time to think about the message until the afternoon when he presents his findings to Lakin.
  • Lakin still pushes them to publish the spontaneous resonance version in Physical Review Letters, believing it will save the NSF grant for them.
  • Gordon pushes back that he isn't going to drop it, but their debate is interrupted by the start of a colloquium.
  • During Murray Gell-Mann's explanation of the "Eight-Fold Way" of basic particles, Gordon thinks back to how colloquiums like these spurred his love of physics and how his questions gained him the approval of his peers and professors.
  • Suddenly, he has an idea and rushes out of the talk.
  • He shows the message to Michael Ramsey in the chemistry department. Michael says some of the message makes sense, but the industrial names are unknown to him—he guesses they might still be under development.
  • Ramsey asks where the messages came from, and Gordon says he is getting strange signals in his experiment.
  • Ramsey begins building a cloak-and-dagger narrative involving the Russians and the Department of Defense.
  • Gordon white-lies his way through the conversation—not telling the truth, per se, but letting Ramsey build his own story to keep him interested.
  • It works, and Ramsey agrees to help figure out the message.