Archive for transmission

Twisted Light

Posted in Conceptual Art, Mystical Experience, Sacred Geometry, World Myths with tags , , , , , , , , , , on December 30, 2012 by javedbabar

There is a strange light in the Lucerne Valley tonight, thought Sami. A twisted light, swirling within and around itself.

It seemed to connect Mt Alba, above the village, with Mt Negra at the valley’s far end, or should he say beginning, for that was the source of lava flows and later, water flows, which over millions of years carved out the Lucerne Valley.

A white cloud gathered around Mt Alba, and a dark cloud around Mt Negra, and they stretched out for a hundred kilometres, twisting around each other like a cosmic candy cane made of marshmallow and licorice.

Maybe such phenomena were usual at this time of year, like the afternoon wind called the Pineapple Express, and the spring and fall floods; all part of nature’s dance.

Since the strange events at the Transparent Temple, Sami felt deluded, denuded and partially destroyed. He was not himself. He couldn’t be. Who was he then?

He needed time – days, weeks, months, who knew? – to accept or reject the situation, to become Guru Baba’s successor or to leave this place for good, but people didn’t give him time.

“Hello, I am an Official from The Authority’s Spiritual Affairs Directorate. We would like to discuss your potential as…”

“Sami, should we now call you Sage Sami? I am reporting for the Holy Herald. Would you please tell our readers about the moment that…”

“Om Shanti, Sami, I come from Guru Baba’s ancestral village with a most humble request. We would be highly pleased if you…”

Right now Sami couldn’t handle his internal dialogue, never mind this external dialogue. He wished everybody would leave him alone. He had jumped at the invitation to use a friend’s cabin at the top of the valley, near Kalash.

The strange light kept glowing and flowing. The cosmic candy cane. At times it looked like a cheerless barber’s pole, or a swirling Slavic bread twist. It also looked like strands of DNA.

Sami’s mind returned to his science class project concerning the nature of light. He had explored light’s basic unit, the photon, and whether its primary nature was that of a particle or a wave. The accepted view was that it was both, and his grade twelve project did not dispute this, but he also looked into two kinds of angular momentum – spin and orbital.

Spin referred to motion like the earth’s spinning around its axis. Orbital referred to motion like the earth’s revolution around the sun. Both could be seen in light.

Sami had asked if these energy forms could be used to transmit information, and discovered that they could. Using MIMO – Multiple Input and Multiple Output – transmission massively boosted data transfer rates. However, his experiments in the school lab were not successful. Instead of twisted light, he had created an optical vortex, where light waves cancelled each other out. That was the opposite of what he wanted to show.

But here, now, before him was the cosmic candy cane, a black and white twist of light, seeming to carry the whole world’s illumination. Was he dancing around it, or was it dancing around him. He watched the twisted light all night, and at dawn, a figure appeared within it and walked towards him.

Was this a trick of the light?

Was this a twist of the light?

Was this a kiss of the light?

One Megabyte

Posted in Lucerne Village, Mystical Experience with tags , , , , , , , , , , on October 6, 2012 by javedbabar

Alan and Patricia were always welcoming. As soon as he neared their forest cabin, Bobby began feeling happy and relaxed. His weekly trips there were a tonic.

There were things going on at the farm that he didn’t understand, and that worried him somewhat. Tomatoes grew better when exposed to advertising jingles, mushrooms were affected by satellite TV channels, and he was encouraged to drink a “healthy natural beverage” that somehow unsettled him.

Alan’s workshop was full of technology. Bobby wasn’t sure if this was the right word though. It was state of the art technology once upon a time, but these days of smaller, better, faster may now cause it to be labelled junk. There were many metal boxes with buttons, wires, levers and cogs.

“Do you still use all these” – Bobby didn’t know what to call them – “machines?”

“Sure I do! They still work. Why shouldn’t I?”

Bobby pulled out his smartphone. It never received a signal on the farm but here it worked beautifully. “This phone has more power than everything in this workshop. I’m not trying to show off; anybody with twenty dollars a month to spare can have one. I just mean that your machines seem outdated.”

“So you think I should donate them to the museum?”

“Not necessarily,” said Bobby. “But maybe. Wouldn’t you be better off with a small, simple gadget with multiple functions? And when technology advances, you can upgrade.”

Alan looked at him with seriousness. “What is the data limit on your smartphone? Ten megabytes? A day? So three hundred megabytes a month. Well, I transfer one megabyte a month.”

Bobby was about to be impressed, but then thought, hang on! He said, “Do you mean one gigabyte? So you transfer three times more than me?”

“No I meant one megabyte. That’s plenty. I do use some compression technology, but that’s it!”

Bobby was confused and stood blinking.

Alan pushed a few buttons and lights appeared on metal boxes. “In the early days there were radio transmissions for only two hours a day. When TV came along, we had only one hour a day. Telephone calls were very expensive; you’d watch your minutes carefully. With computers there was limited bandwidth, it was precious and you preserved it. A photo took half an hour to download, and a movie took all day.

“We appreciated those things. Our family would gather around the radio. We would watch TV together. Receiving a call would be a special thing.

“Now everything is always available. It’s too much. People receive endless news, data and popular culture. It is making them sick. They flick through these things as if they are empty boxes, always looking for the next one, hoping it will be full.

“Patricia and I pick one thing a day and focus on it, whether it is a message, a photo, or scene from a film. We enjoy that thing only. It is like a meditation. And we’ve found that after one hundred years, we’ve never been bored yet. Do you want to see today’s special selection?”

Bobby nodded.

Alan showed him a picture of the Lucerne Valley one hundred years ago, before the time of roads, factories and malls. There was just land and light. Its beauty made him weep.


Posted in Classic Sci-Fi, Lucerne Village, Mystical Experience with tags , , , , , , , , , , , on October 5, 2012 by javedbabar

The farm was hot and full of bugs. Maybe the ecosystem wasn’t quite balanced yet, or the ladybugs were of a lethargic species, and the mosquitoes of a dynamic one, for the latter were winning hands down. The forest was cooler, with widely spaced Arcadian Firs. Their branches captured much of the light, which meant less vegetation on the forest floor, and thus fewer bugs. Bobby dozed in the forest daily from twelve to four.

On days off he’d visit Alan and Patricia, who said they’d lived in the valley for one hundred years. Alan was a prehistoric geek, obsessed by communications. He captured local transmissions via an antenna, many miles long, strung between firs.

“You always seem so happy together,” Bobby said to Patricia as she poured him Lady Grey Tea. She’d said it was a perfectly refreshing afternoon tea, which she preferred to the floral taste of Earl Grey. “What’s your secret? Is it just your time spent together? A hundred years in the forest has surely drawn you closer. Or is it something else?”

“Alan says that we are in tune. We have the same frequency. Do you know the difference between AM and FM radio signals? You don’t? Well, AM means Amplitude Modulation. The size of the waves rises and falls, conveying the information necessary to transmit a message. FM is totally different. It stands for Frequency Modulation. The size of the waves is constant but the distance between them changes, which conveys information. Well, Alan says that he is AM and I am FM, but we’re in tune with each other. It doesn’t really make…”

“Hello again, young man!” said Alan, bursting into the room. “So good to see you. How’s your teatime? You like it? Good, good.”

Patrician poured him a cup too. There was no need for her to ask him, as she was in tune.

“Has she told you about my new invention? I can tell him, can’t I, love?” Patricia nodded. “It’s the T-Phone!” He pulled out a mobile phone as big as a brick. Bobby had last seen one of those in the 1980s. Was Alan that much behind the times?

Alan smiled and said, “I know it’s not much to look at, but wait till I show you what it can do.”

Bobby said, “Please do.”

“I’ve tried various forms of information propagation – AM, FM – I heard Patricia telling you about those – and SSB, TETRA, amateur radio, unlicensed radio, even radio control, but they have never conveyed all the information encoded. There is always loss.” He stopped for a moment. “And digital information is even worse; its binary form removes gradation.”

Alan tinkered with the brick-sized phone. “Do you know Instagram? Well, what that does for your photos, the T-Phone does for your voice. It enriches the frequencies, avoids noise, and prevents fading. It creates a richer sound.”

“Why is it called the T-Phone?” asked Bobby.

“Because the technology it uses is Telepathy. There is no physical transfer, thus there is no resistance and loss. The T-Phone uses silence as a means of communication. Everything is contained within it.”

Bobby noticed that Alan said these last words without his lips moving.

Speaking Together

Posted in Classic Sci-Fi, Lucerne Village, Mystical Experience with tags , , , , , , , , , , , on October 4, 2012 by javedbabar

Though he was surrounded by fellow workers, Bobby often felt alone at the farm. On his days off he went to visit Alan and Patricia, who he thought of like great-grandparents.

They claimed to have moved to the Lucerne Valley a hundred years ago, and made him feel welcome. The first thing was always a “nice cup of tea”. There were no cold mugs or tea bags for Patricia. She used heated teapots with quilted tea cosies, and bone china cups that were  rich blue with gold patterns, like ones that you saw on antique shows.

Patricia had a special shelf of tea caddies from all over the world. She ran her fingers along the shelf and stopped at the caddy that “spoke” to her. She selected a tea spoon in a similar way and dropped three spoonfuls of loose tea into a teapot, the tea leaves dropping, tinkling and crackling.

“Why do you always ask me how I take my tea?” asked Bobby. “You know I take it with milk and sugar.”

“Well, what if you’ve changed your mind? I don’t want to make assumptions. That’s poor form. It is not the way of taking tea together.”

She says some strange things, thought Bobby. He said, “On the farm, we drink tea with…”

“Never drink the tea on the farm,” she said seriously. “Don’t touch it.”

“But they tell us to. They say it is better than water. It is a healthy…”

She told him again not to drink it, saying it wasn’t what he thought it was.

Alan came in from the garden and said, “Good afternoon, young man! How are you this fine day? Well, I hope. Good, good.”

They took tea together, each adding some milk and one sugar. Alan said, “We’ve monitored the communications in this valley for a hundred years now.”

Bobby had found Alan’s antenna, a wire running through the forest, strung between Arcadian Firs. “At first I manually recorded the few messages sent daily, later by phonograph, then tape deck, digital recorder, and now computer. Everything is stored on hard drives and processed by speech-to-text software, and analysed semiotically.”

So that’s how they spend their time, thought Bobby. They don’t sit around drinking tea all day. They analyse communications. Maybe Alan is a shadowy consultant, working secretly for The Authority.

“But the voice always comes first.” He stopped and looked at Bobby directly. “Am I boring you, or would you like to hear more? You would? Good, good. Now listen to this.” He played a clip of a woman speaking about potato prices. “And listen to this.” It was a man talking about property prices. “Do you note their different frequencies? No? It takes a while to master, and later you can even hear things in what most people call silence.”

He led Bobby to his workshop, filled with electronic equipment. There was a monitor showing green waves reflecting, refracting and diffracting. “See what’s happening? They’re all out of synch. That’s why people never really understand each other. That’s the meaning of the Tower of Babel story.” He pointed to the house. “Patricia and I have spent one hundred years together. We are tuned to the same frequency. We fully understand each other. It is like Eden before the Fall.”

Tree Tuning

Posted in Classic Sci-Fi, Lucerne Village with tags , , , , , , , , , , on October 2, 2012 by javedbabar

If radio waves made tomatoes grow, and mushrooms acquired personality from satellite TV, then Bobby wondered what effects such signals were having on him. Were they helping or harming him? What should he do?

He worked hard, around twelve hours a day. “Fulltime Farmtime” the farmer called it, but as long as Bobby watered and weeded regularly, he could spend his time as he pleased.

In the middle of the day when it was too hot to work, it wasn’t worth going home. He lived too far away. He should get somewhere closer to town, maybe even live on the farm. Each afternoon, Bobby spent the first four hours sleeping or walking in the forest. The bugs were annoying but it was so cool there. The tent he’d bought from the thrift store was good enough.

It was strange to get good cell reception in the forest. His fellow worker, an electrical engineering graduate, had fixed Bobby’s smartphone to receive unlimited data, and he could stream TV and movies all day. But for this, of course, he needed a five-bar signal.

In the forest he got that, but it shifted around. He’d sometimes spend fifteen minutes walking around to find it. It was never far away, usually near the biggest Arcadian Firs. It was just a matter of tree-tuning.

One day Bobby spotted a wire in the forest, strung between two firs. It was very high up, maybe fifty metres. What was it doing here? Was it a power line or telephone line?

He followed the line for 500 metres but found no towers or transformers, just a wire stretching between firs. The signal near it was very powerful. There was never any buffer, just smooth, clear streaming of shows.

Bobby returned to the wire daily, and on his days off even followed it along. He told his fellow worker about it, but he wasn’t very interested. Instead he made poor jokes rhyming wire, tire, sire, dire, and forest fire. Bobby decided it was probably best to minimise time spent with him.

A month after he’d first seen the wire, Bobby found a cable leading off it, climbing the hillside. He followed it to a log cabin with a beautifully tended garden. There were masses of red, blue and yellow flowers; each seeming to greet him individually. He saw carved boards nailed to trees, stating Love Thy Neighbour and Strangers Welcome.

An old lady called out, “Hello there, stranger! We welcome thee! We rarely get visitors. Please join us for teatime.”

Bobby walked towards her. She said, “We moved here one hundred years ago, my husband Alan and I, Patricia. It seemed lonely at first with just the two of us. Later came radio but there was poor reception. Alan was very resourceful. He found abandoned spools of telegraph wire and strung the wire along the tops of young Arcadian Firs. As they’ve grown, so has our world, and we’ve listened to every bit of it. We’ve also watched the world’s TV. Our wires pick up internet signals too.

“Where is he?” asked Bobby, and then thought, I shouldn’t have asked that. What if she’s a widow?

“Oh, he’s just in the workshop, preparing for 4G transmissions.”

Green Power

Posted in Alternative Energy, Classic Sci-Fi, Unknown with tags , , , , on February 10, 2012 by javedbabar

They had all lived in hope; a belief that things would soon get better. But the world had continued to fall apart, and BC was no exception. The roads became rutted, power was erratic, water became polluted, and food – when available – was often spoiled. It was a joke among South Asian immigrants that it was becoming “more like home”. Everything was heading downward, but there was the belief, particularly among South Asians – whose religions foretold this dark age – that it was part of a greater cycle, where everything would fall, but then arise.

However, the arrival of grid dismantling teams surprised even them. In units of ten trucks, they took down a whole kilometre of power lines at a time. They used eight-axle logging trucks; the first unit loaded with hydro poles, and the second one with wire spools. The residents of Valley Road were given no warning. One day they had erratic electricity, and the next day it was gone.

A leaflet was delivered to Ashok’s house, titled “Lucerne Valley Energy Independence Pilot Project”. The Authority stated that the world had changed immeasurably in our lifetimes, with the System bearing many new stresses and strains. The “opportunity of our generation” was that of self-reliance. There was no longer a need to be tethered to global, national, or even regional infrastructures. We should become independent in every way possible, and return to living in small, self-sufficient communities. A first step in this process was dismantling rural areas’ electricity grids.

The leaflet said that “The Authority is following the philosophy of the 3 R’s”. They would Reduce electricity usage by downsizing the system. They would Reuse the raw materials – primarily wood and metal. They would Recycle any subsidiary materials. There was basic information on generating your own power – via solar-electric, solar hot water heating, wind turbines, geothermal fields, and biogas. And in the short term, using gas generators or burning wood. There was also advice that the best route to efficiency was not producing more energy, but reducing your usage. It said, “With wise materials choices, earlier rising, and extra sweaters, you can cut your power usage by 90%”. And they had decided to begin with the Lucerne Valley, “an isolated community with a proud history of self-reliance.”

When residents saw the grid coming down along Valley Road, they sprang into action. A century of tax payments had paid for its installation and maintenance – so in truth it belonged to them. Those able to work quickly stayed ahead of the eight-axle logging trucks, and took some spoils for themselves.

Ashok claimed two large spools of wire and two small transformers. His workshop was full, so he loaded the items into his truck and drove to his cabin. It was two hundred metres off the road, and pretty well hidden. That would be a good place to store them.

The grid dismantling work was completed in two weeks. Some people struggled without grid power, but most were coping, at least for now. They’d pulled out their old oil and propane lamps, and used woodstoves more often. The Authority provided cheap golf cart batteries to store energy. That way your generator didn’t need to be running constantly; just two hours daily to charge them up.

“Have you heard about the break-ins?” said Ashok’s neighbour. “It’s pretty strange; houses all along the Valley Road, but nothing stolen. And they’ve ransacked sheds and workshops. Nothing much taken from those either. Only things missing are grid components. I guess some people got greedy and wanted them all.”

“Have the police caught anyone yet?” said Ashok.

“No-one’s reported the thefts to the police, you dummy. What do they say: ‘Officer, I stole some cables and cans, and now I’ve lost them; what should I do?’ It’s opportunists, maybe not from the Village; probably some City crew.”

Ashok went to check his cabin. The bastards had better not have broken into there. He was pleased to see they hadn’t, but he was nervous now and considered returning the grid components. What would he do with them anyway? He could leave them at the side of the road. No-one would know he had taken them.

As he pondered the best course of action, the end of a wire spool caught his eye. He was no electrician, but that definitely wasn’t copper or aluminium; it seemed like fibre-optic cable. Why would they use that in power lines? What a strange thing to do. He studied the transformer can for clues. There was something about that too; but he couldn’t say what. Hey, was that a USB hub near the bottom? It seemed to be. That was curious. And the can was really light; was there anything in there at all? There were only six screws to undo, which he managed in a minute. The can was filled with computer components. Is that the inside of a transformer, thought Ashok? Just like a PC. He plugged a USB cable from his computer into the transformer. No security code was needed; a series of folders appeared. It made no sense. Files on a transformer.

He thought a search may be fruitful, so typed in his address. A related file appeared. When he opened the file, it had nothing to do with stepping down voltage for transmission to his home. It was a series of snapshots and notes about him. The photos were taken from outside his house – recording his comings and goings. There was a prominent note – an e-sticky – on the file that read: “Grid Systems Analysis: This individual is by nature suspicious. Post-deregulation, he is likely to be disruptive. In the event of his becoming aware of Valley-Wide Surveillance, he would add significant risk to T/T (Telecomms/Telepathy Projects). We recommend elimination.”

Ashok heard the floor creak behind him, but turned too late to see. An elite Hydro Service bullet went right through his head, and hit the transformer. Like a gong marking the end of a great cycle, it clanged too loudly.