Study Guide

Timescape Chapter 14

By Gregory Benford

Chapter 14

March 22, 1963

  • Gordon and Cooper get a new message, and Gordon realizes some of the message contains coordinates to a place in space.
  • He goes to find Bernard Carroway at an astrophysics seminar, and there, he finds John Boyle and Saul Shriffer arguing over some equations. While Boyle keeps his calm, it is obvious to Gordon that Saul's strategy is to be passionate if not accurate.
  • Gordon asks Bernard where the coordinate point is, and Bernard asks Saul to take a look at the data.
  • Saul says the coordinates are near a star named Vega and says he'll look it up for him.
  • Gordon stops by Ramsey's office for an update—Ramsey thinks there really might be something to the chemicals mentioned in the message.
  • Saul finds the exact location for the coordinates, near 99 Hercules.
  • Prompted by Saul, Gordon tells him about the messages he has been receiving.
  • Saul gets all passionate, believing the message must come from extraterrestrials. Gordon is hesitant to make that claim but agrees to let Saul see the messages.
  • The next morning, Saul claims he has cracked the code: It's not words, but a picture created using "RECTANGULAR CO-ORDMZALS."
  • Gordon remains skeptical and shows Saul the rest of the messages.
  • Saul admits it confuses things a bit, but says he wants to go public with the picture at least—maybe if the rest of the scientific community can see it, they might provide the missing piece to crack the puzzle.
  • That night, Penny and Gordon see Saul on the evening news. Gordon is horrified to see his name mentioned alongside Saul's crackpot theory about alien communications.
  • Enraged, Gordon calls Saul. Saul agrees it wasn't ideal but ultimately believes this will help them crack the code.
  • Gordon calms down and agrees, although he really isn't sure what he is agreeing to anymore.