Guide to Moral Living in Examples: Black Holes

Polly sat at the helm of a space ship that gleefully leapt straight across the puddle of "technology" and into the "magic" ocean beyond. The best and brightest designers that the world could offer stood en pointe upon the shoulders of the giants of psychology, graphic arts and physiology to thrust towards the heavens the finest living environment ever in existence.

The design took the principles of the biomes that first cradled the infant human species among its grasses and boughs, but subtracted the burrowing worms and ravenous megafauna.

The technical systems were as if Hephaestus and Athena became drunk, wrote down some really creative but entirely infeasible schematics, then complained to their dad until he changed some very fundamental physical properties to make them work. Within the computer system, packets of quantum data danced along metaphoric strings that harmonized with the fundamental oompah rhythm of the universe.

The computer consumed enormous quantities of energy. Luckily, a vigorous and infinitely dense black hole sat in the center of a sphere made of Improbabilium, a metal which generated an electric field when it was exposed to a strong source of gravity and named for its creator, Phileas T. Improb.

And Improbabilium glowed a cool blue color as well.

Polly was bored. All of this thundered along behind her through the vast expanses of space and she had already marveled at all that was wonderous. But the drugs that extended human life into the millennia took their toll on her ability to experience novelty.

"Hey, Polly!" Gil said.

"What?" Polly asked.

"Come with me. I discovered something cool to do!"

Polly immediately rose from her chair and followed Gil. He led them through the hallways of the ship. At first glance, they appeared to be utterly terrible: the floor wasn't smooth in the slightest, and the lights erratically placed. But it was carefully designed to supply a mixture of visual and physical stimulus to stave off space madness.

Otherwise, Polly would have choked Gil before they had even completed one century of travel.

They went into the engine room, which had no lights save for the magical, ephemeral glow of the Improbabilium. For the first fifty years, it had been magical. For the past three hundred and fifty, all it did was make Polly stub her toes on sharp corners on the shadows.

"What?" she asked, crossing her arms.

"So you know how we're not supposed to open the sphere of Improbabilium?" Gil asked, opening a small flap on the side of the sphere of Improbabilium.

"Don't do that!" Polly yelled, diving behind a console.

"It's no problem! They lied," Gil whispered.

"Why are you whispering?" Polly asked.

"The black hole is devouring my words," he whispered. "Come closer. It won't be so bad, and I want to show you something."

Polly edged closer to the sphere. It illuminated Gil's grinning face.

She'd never seen a black hole before. Not that anybody could see a black hole, but she'd never looked upon the blank point in space where a black hole sat gobbling up all of the matter and energy that it could find.

With a peak into the sphere, she confirmed that it was precisely as boring as everything else in life.

"That's stupid," Polly said.

"No, no, watch," Gil said. He took a bright orange food cube from his belt and threw it into the sphere. The orange cube hung in space for a moment as it slammed into the event horizon. Then it appeared to melt and spread, as if over the surface of an invisible sphere, before it finally faded from existence.

"That was pretty cool to watch," Polly admitted.

"And this," Gil said, tossing in a wrench. The same thing happened, only this time the metal transitioned through a series of colors like a flamboyant oil slick before it faded.

"Why'd it do that?" Polly asked.

Gil shrugged. "I just throw stuff in the black hole. I don't pretend to know how it works."

A moment later, a glistening sheen began to spread across the inside of the sphere.

"What's it doing?" Polly asked, taking a step back.

"Did you throw anything in it?" Gil asked.

"No! I was just standing here," she replied.

The sheen coalesced into a shape that gradually re-materialized. It was the wrench!

"Nothing's supposed to come out of a black hole!" Polly breathed. "We're watching history happen right now!"

Gil stood, dumbstruck. Which is why he wasn't able to dodge when the wrench hurtled back out of the door in the sphere and bounced off of his forehead.

"Ow!" Gil cried out.

Polly picked up the wrench. It had a series of characters etched on the side that she'd never seen before. She held it up to a computer scanner.

"Translate," she commanded.

Some packets of quantum data cruised around for a few nanoseconds, then returned an answer.

"The message reads: 'two can play this game, have some garbage.'"

At that moment, the black hole vomited out a gout of exotic alien artifacts, the likes of which no human had ever laid eyes upon.

"We'll be famous!" Gil said.

"But we can't tell anybody that we opened the door to the black hole," Polly said.

"Agreed," Gil said, and they turned the ship back towards home and founded the science of xenopology. Whenever they ran out of new research ideas, they'd throw some garbage into a black hole, write about what came back and get another dozen awards.

The Moral: stand on the shoulders of giants before you litter, because then whomever you drop your trash on will be tired from fighting a giant by time they get to you.

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