The Reach

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By the time you are done reading this I will have created a new version of you, influenced your past and your present. You don't believe me? Why don't we give it a try?

When I was younger, I would go out onto front lawn in summer and stare up at the night sky. On one particular night, I was interested in a new star that had appeared from nothing that night. As the night went on and grew darker, my father stepped out onto the lawn and took a seat next to me. For some time we sat there, saying nothing and staring at that star spangled sky.

"Hey Champ. Your mom and I think you should come inside now. It's getting a bit late," he said. He spoke in his usual kind and cheerful way, like every care in the world didn't matter except talking to me. I told him about the new star, and that I wanted to watch it for a few minutes longer. Of course, promised him I would do my neglected chores if he let me stay.

I expected him to go back inside our suburban home and jokingly inform my mother of my newest attempt at negotiation. He didn't.

He settled himself in, stared off into the direction of the new star and said, "Do you want to hear another one of my stories?"

My father was an astronomer and worked at the local radio-telescope array. He was barely ever home, but when he was he did his best to spend every second he could with me. Like every other little boy of my age I loved stories, and my father made a concerted effort to feed my budding curiosity and imagination by telling me these wonderful stories.

"A very long time ago, out in the vast emptiness of space was a planet orbiting a distant star," he started. "For many years, the inhabitants of this planets watch on in anticipation as their leaders entered numerous meetings to discuss a response to the inconvenient truth they had ignored for too long, but no longer could; their star was dying."

I noted then that he was uncharacteristically emotional. Looking back now, I know he had a mixture of sorrow and pity etched onto his face. At the time I thought it was simply adult behaviour, so I ignored it.

"Their leaders argued for days on how they should go about saving their species from extinction," he continued. "Days turned into weeks and weeks into months. As hard as they tried, they couldn't come to an agreement. Many of the inhabitants took to praying in desperation, hoping to reach out to their sun and the gods they worshiped to ask that they be spared. They had done nothing wrong, they reasoned, they weren't a bad people. Why were they to suffer complete destruction? What had they done to deserve such a fate? They pleaded night and day, but their gods were absent and the sun could not hear their prayers. It simply went on dying, unaware of the fate the planets inhabitants faced."

"In the moments before they're home was destroyed, they reached out across the seemingly insurmountable reaches of space and time. They sent out a signal that shone like a beacon across space. All one had to do was listen. Observe."

I remember my father pulling me in closer to him, as if what he was about to tell me carried great importance. The words he spoke next still echo fresh in my mind to this day, across all the intervening time.

"This was no random act of despiration, the final act of a dying race. They understood that at the centre of our very existence, of our reality, was information. That the act of sharing information was a force on it's own, capable of changing one's future by changing one's perceptions. I can only hope that I have changed your future too, son, as much as this has changed mine. That the path I have placed you on leads where you need to be."

At the time I was confused. Was any of this true? Or had he made it up? And if it were true, how did my father know all of this?

When I asked him, he lifted his hand and pointed at the new star, and a single tear slid down his cheek.

"We are witnessing the death of their sun right now. And it has changed everything."

So here we are, an estimated six minutes into our own journey, and I'd like to think I have in fact changed you. Altered your present and future to create this version of you that would not exist had I not shared this information and you decided to read it. All achieved by the sharing of information across the intervening space and time between us.

After all this time I guess my father was right, the pen may be as mighty as the sword. Spooky thought, isn't it?

About the Author: 
I’m Theo Senene, passionate writer and explorer of all things science. Most of my adventures are experienced from the safe confines of my hometown in Kempton Park, South Africa. All my posts are original and are free to the public.