Laziness, and Other Labours

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Max pulled two cans of Smithwicks out of his worn backpack and placed them gently on his lab desk. He sat back on a worn black leather chair beside his graduate school friend, Brendan, a biologist. Brendan smiled as he opened the first can and slowly poured the beer into a volumetric flask. “You know,” spoke Brendan, “Using Erlenmeyer flasks as pint glasses may be the greatest idea you’ve ever come up with.” He marvelled at the way the unflawed interior of the glass molded perfectly to the folding of the liquid; the way the air formed a vacuous undercurrent perfectly complemented the gravity fall that prevented the carbon dioxide from bubbling upwards, leaving the optimal amount of head near the rim.

“Volumetric.” Replied Max.

“Oh?” Responded Brendan, content to pour the rest of the second beer in silence.

“…So, what’s this big discovery you made?” Brendan asked, through the first sip of his drink. He didn’t know why Max called him out of the blue to come down to the lab - nothing exciting had happened lately, and they rarely saw each other while on campus. School had reached that post-Thanksgiving lull that laments progress.

Max took his beer and walked over to a small machine in the corner of the room. What was most certainly a colander was connected to hundreds of wires and linked to an unremarkable looking collection of CRT monitors and mini PC’s. “Come here, put this on, I’ll show you.” Max’s eyes showed a rare twinkle and Brendan couldn’t help but be intrigued.

“Alright, just don’t electrocute me again.”

Max smiled, “No promises. Now hold on a sec while I boot this up. When I give you the signal, tell me about your thesis.”

Brendan nervously laughed and threw his arms in the air in compliance. “Sounds good Max. Let me know.” While he waited for the machine to come to life, Brendan thought about how strange his physics friends could be.

After several beeps and sweeping whistles, Max appeared to have set everything into order. He gave Brendan a quick thumbs up and pressed enter on the keyboard he was holding. Brendan then went straight into describing his work, happy to include political remarks on the greater issues plaguing academia.

“So dark septate endophytes found in Boreal temperate regions tend to associate very highly with arbuscular fungi, but whether it be a communal or parasitic or other relationship is greatly debated. Like who should’ve won October’s Pearson Award for best introductory presentation of their thesis, I guess climate change is infinitely more ‘cool’ than taiga mycology but whatever…” He trailed on like that for about forty-five minutes, when Max slapped the spacebar with so much enthusiasm it made Brendan jump.

“It’s mapped! Now check this out - “

“Wait!” Interrupted Brendan, “…what?” He was confused.

Max was containing his excitement about as well as a springer spaniel waiting for dinner after missing breakfast. “I mapped the data recall centres of your brain down to particle specificity. Essentially I’ve quantum entangled the electrons in your brain to my computer. Your memories and thought patterns are actively linked to my server. If you look at the centre screen there’s a real time projection of your thoughts creating and destroying particle linkages as you form new memories!”

Brendan had to take a second to think about what Max had just said. He watched the screen swell and flourish as he tried to understand what any of that meant. “There’re only, like, three computers powering this whole effort?” Brendan was skeptical.

“I’ve set up quantum servers all over campus so I can store petabytes of information without drawing attention to my lab. Also I’m stealing power from the Humanities building.”

“Ah, so explains the candles…” interjected Brendan.

“Anyway, electrons have certain properties, like spin and polarization that can be entangled to other electrons. I found that if paired inside the temporal lobes, and some others, I can transmit data instantaneously into your mind.” Max ran back to his desk and grabbed a USB key from a pile of other storage disks. He plugged it into the computer and pressed a few keys. “Here, I’m going to prove it to you. Have you ever read Principia Mathematica?”

Brendan scoffed, “Hah, no.”

“Just don’t take off the colander, or your dura mater may spontaneously fuse with your pia mater collapsing your subdural space. Here we go!” Brendan reflected sheer terror as Max gleefully hit the enter key one more time.

Brendan waited for something to happen, until nothing did. “Um, is this going to hurt?” He asked.

Max opened up his copy of Principia and asked Brendan, “Page 418, first line?”

Brendan replied before he could consciously think and said, “In the present section we have to consider three very important classes of relations, of which the use of arithmetic is constant.” He stared at Max in amazement. “You’re a witch!” He exclaimed. They both shared a platonic laugh.

“Max, my friend, this is the most incredible discovery that’s ever been made. You’re going to win all the Nobel prizes.” The centre screen was alive with neural connections whizzing around, emitting a nice soft blue with every idea created.

Max went back to his desk and sat back down on his chair. “Pretty cool, eh?” He rummaged around his container of disks and pulled out another USB key. “It only works once though. After a brain is entangled and I replace the data, that’s it. I probably shouldn’t have wasted my transfer on an iTunes update agreement.”

Brendan’s left eye began to twitch. His monthly roundup with his supervisors was in 20 minutes.

He sifted through his now titanic knowledge of calculus for anything. An answer. Something. His mood could be described as murderous.

“Wait!” Shouted Brendan, “If you’ve written the principle algorithm with an asymptote function we can add a polynomial secant line and reverse the data transfer!”

“Didn’t really understand anything from that book, did you?”

About the Author: 
I am a short story fiction writer out of the boonies, Ontario. Got one of those bachelor's in evolution and I super dig physics. Can't say I care for geography much, despite my use of 'dig' as a noun modifier.