In spite of the great importance we attach to the achievements of science and human prowess, it is obvious that only humanity that is striving for ethical ends can benefit in full measure from material progress and can overcome the dangers that accompany it....
Table of contents
The FLINT and the STEEL
The VERY START
IF NOT NOW
On the EVE
The FLINT and the STEEL
At first, Dan seemed to Lal exactly the same as all the major scientists of his age: absorbed in his work so much that he saw or perceived almost nothing else. But immediately, Lal didn't expect anything different, when preparing for interview with the scientist of such a caliber. Dan was for him, a journalist and a historian of the contemporary epoch, of great interest, and he has for a long time sought to meet him.
Dan started brilliantly: just at 23 succeeded in solving a very difficult problem of increasing energy storage density, he became a doctor. But then he immediately switched to the problem of the world field-space-time, in what was able at first to get quickly quite encouraging results. Thanks to them, he obtained a coordination permission to carry out highly complex and power-consuming experiments and a large fund-time of supercomputers' using. Occasionally, he published some partial results of his research, valuable for practical use: he gave generously them out to his disciples, but he himself was almost never engaged in their further development - and then he fell silent for a long time. Except scientific job, he conducted teaching and created a course of some sections of fundamental physics; many prominent scientists were his former graduate students.
He was now almost 150 years old. Like many people of his age, he was dressed warmly - in the free large knitted wool sweater, likely home-made. Unadorned absolutely. His head was entirely gray, but his eyes were young, lively, and his gait was elastic. While talking, he walked by even measured steps through the alley. Answered Lal's questions pretty willingly.
'Even then, for me, not my practical results, for which I have obtained a doctoral degree, were principal: there were a number of secondary moments, obviously related to the fundamental properties of space. Then I was engaged in it all for all my lifetime. And for the present, to not avail.'
Lal tried to oppose him. Listed published work of him and his students. Really, many, very. And what about the result of their practical use?!
Dan's look became warmer. He as if first had seen himself and his work from the outside, with the eyes of this nice young journalist. But still, he said gently but firmly:
'That's not it.' He paused and retreated within himself. Lal, also in silence, was waiting patiently.
'Not it,' - just what we are eager to discover. It's heard almost always and of almost everyone. Just the leitmotif of the contemporary epoch that is seen as a universal deep crisis. Small steps forward are at the incredible price of labor with too little number of tangible results: there are almost no major fundamental discoveries. Now the main things are - refinement, updating and rigorous editing theories. And the rest - the improvement, lapping, polishing, super finish. A huge hard work - certainly necessary, but too little happy on the background of past discoveries, creating old theories: like lumps, unfinished in the details, not polished - but giant, furthering the science at once far. And convulsive efforts of the contemporary humanity to overcome, to get out of this state, that determines the whole style of life and many social institutions.
'You know, sometimes some vague gleam flashed suddenly. It seems that here you grabbed the tip of the thread,' Dan began to speak as if he had wakened up. 'But then again nothing occurred. The thread breaks, the thought escapes. It remain only secondary results, but what you're looking for,' he looked into the eyes of Lal.
'The great discoveries were made, when it was possible to overcome the power of existing theories, sometimes the most fundamental, seemed quite obvious and immutable. It's so long been known, but nevertheless... We are in the captivity of our ideas, our great knowledge.'
'The inertia of thinking, yes! The gravity of knowledge oppresses pinning down our thought. It is no wonder that the fundamental discoveries were made by young people.'
Apparently, that thought tormented him. And Lal had nothing to say - he tried to turn the conversation to another direction.
Dan listened with interest. A young journalist, whose name was already known to all because of his polemical articles and books, struck him by the breadth of his knowledge. There do are people who are able to take in virtually everything! And Dan himself asked countless questions that Lal was never tired to answer.
It was quite dark, stars covered the sky.
'So much of everything has been lost?'
'Unfortunately. Perished during the war, fires, natural disasters; destroyed on purpose or accidentally. But much was not clear, even preserved in ancient documents where there is a lot of such, that again becomes clear only after re-discovering, and before that was regarded as an allegory. And something else is waiting for its discovering, buried in the recesses.'
'These findings, I think, are incredibly interesting.'
'Yes, almost always.'
'Tell me about some of them. The night is warm, and I like to listen to you.'
'I'm glad of it. I'll tell you willingly about the very recent discovery - especially as it may be of interest to you as a mathematician.
When laying the viaduct pipe, several notebooks - stacks of stapled sheets of paper - and also a rolled long sheet of paper with orthogonal grid of 10-3 meters and charts drawn on it were found. After the old numbers and letters had been replaced by modern, they have found that this was a series of differences of prime natural numbers up to 6000, in what the repeating groups, depicted as the same graphic shapes, arrested attention. In one of the notebooks full selection, classification, identification and names of these groups were given .
There were two letters. In one of them - there were names 'Mikhayloh' and 'Odnokamushkin'; another one addressed to 'the great Vladimir Neyeshpapa' whom the author also called 'Odnokamushkin' periodically. The letters have been written by different handwritings. The language was Russian; the time does the twentieth century. The second letter was not over and apparently sent. Its content is interesting.'
Lal opened a fan-screen and sent from his radio-bracelet a command to replay the card-index of his personal archive located in the memory unit at his home. Found the name of the document, he clicked it, and a sheet of paper ruled with orthogonal grid covered with rather sloppy written words appeared on the screen. The letters - later Cyrillic. Near the translation glowed:
'... Being jealous of your glory of an unrecognized genius, the author of the stunning hypothesis of the gravitational 'constant' dependence on the fourth power of the absolute temperatures of the interacting bodies, I also decided to make the humanity happy by something similar.
I tried, a tiny bit, between times, to investigate prime numbers a long time ago; but, in general, not serious. All the time there were some reasons: not having time, the reluctance; absence of a table of prime numbers, and where to get it - a dog knows. Obtained myself a small number of primes using the 'sieve of Eratosthenes' and tried to do something to them. And for some reason, almost immediately I was drawn to compare the difference between them.
Recently at the bookstore a textbook of arithmetic with a table of primes up to 6000 turned up - I bought it immediately. Drew charts of gaps between adjacent primes on graph paper, which I dragged from work. Like just continuous chaos. Then I scrutinized: in the chaos there is lots of repeating or, at least, some symmetrical groups. However, I couldn't identify the pattern of recurrence, so for present I had not moved from what I have discovered, though dreamed briskly of getting formulas for calculating prime numbers.
I think further to try just this: is it possible to connect these groups with elementary particles? There are similar groups, which graphic shapes are symmetrical in the vertical and horizontal directions or only in the horizontal, if a group itself is symmetrical. An analogy to the elementary particles of the same mass arose: the positively and negatively charged and the corresponding antiparticles in the first case and in the second neutrally charged ones and their antiparticles. It may be rather interesting that some groups may include other one or even more than one at once. Besides, it seems to me, since everything in the nature is interrelated, there must not be such mathematical regularities that do not manifest themselves in some physical phenomena. And because of that, I want to try to find the periodic law for elementary particles using these groups.
However, I do not know whether I'll succeed in this. But, I desire so much! To be able, to get!
Eager to meet and talk with you, because' the letter came abruptly to an end.
'What can you say?'
'Very interesting. Show the charts.'
They were one above the other: the linear chart and the histogram. Groups, identical or symmetrical, were visible at once - even without standing over them colored marks.
'Lal, I'd like to have this information.'
'Do you need its address in the Central Archive?'
'No. Allow to copy from your archive. Right now.'
Lal smiled understandingly. The usual method: many people rewrite into their personal archives vast amount of information to use it in days off - from Thursday to Monday, when the connection of the Central Archive is disabled. That was one of the little effective efforts to prevent people from working in these days. Dan gave him a chip with his personal code, and Lal, bringing it to his radio-bracelet, turned on rewriting.
When finished, he held out the chip back, but Dan deflected his hand:
'Let you have it.' This meant a lot: a recognition Lal as a friend - having brought the chip to his radio-bracelet he can establish a direct connection with Dan, at any time, even when the external communication it is turned off, and the image of Lal immediately appears on the Dan bracelet screen. Lal was flattered.
'Thank you, father of mine!'
'I will be glad always to see and talk to you.' Dan took the held out in response Lal's chip. 'But now I have to go: it's getting late, and I am tired.'
That was not the very reason, but that he wanted to confess to neither himself nor Lal. He sat in a self-propelled chair rolled after his call; Lal pulled out of thick soles rolls with a motor and rolled next. Both were silent.
'Let's say good-bye, Odnokamushkin,' Dan said next a transport well, smiling slyly. 'By the way: does it mean something?'
'Yes. It does Einstein: a playful free translation into Russian - their language.'
'Well then, they were also funny people.'
A cabin jumped out of the well and rolled aside; the lid leaned back. Dan had sat down. But he was slow, prolonging the last moments of their meeting, continuing to look at Lal kindly.
High, 230 cm growth, well built, fitted close to a silver-gray overalls, with the only decoration in the form of a headband with rosette on the forehead, which a camera and a microphone - his reporter tools - are built in, such Dan has remembered him at their first meeting.
'Is someone waiting for you?'
Even a friend may not ask such a question, and Lal could not answer, but somehow it did not jar him.
'Yes, a woman.'
'Then, happily!' he touched Lal's shoulder. 'Where's your cabin?'
'Then take my chair. See you!' He lay down into the cabin. Lal raised his hand in a gesture of farewell; the lid covered the cabin, and it disappeared into the hole. Lal sat down in the chair and rolled to the edge of the park, where open-work carcasses with multiple tiers of blocks-homes rose.
It was good: Dan seemed a man, able to understand many things; with whom he will be able, finally, to impart doubts tormenting him; who will be able to understand him and maybe to help with something. Since, like many of his contemporaries, despite the large number of contacts, he felt too often surprisingly lonely. Because absorbed by their work, their own thoughts, people had little ability to impart the thoughts and feelings of others, and alike benevolent to all, were rarely intimate with each other.
The cabin sped through the underground tunnel, one of many going as a network under the city; almost all passenger traffic was carried out in them. Pipes of tunnels were dug through the ground by moles, which melted it at the end creating a firm and waterproof shell. Cabins had an autonomous drive and moved automatically after destination addresses were entered into them. All underground traffic in the city was controlled by the central transport computer, which, receiving and processing instantly all the information about the moving cabins, defined in a specific combined situation the optimal route of each of them, ensuring that it quickly comes to the destination. Thanks to it and a huge number of sensors in tunnels, cabins were able to move very quickly in the total absence of collisions. The man in the cabin, reclining in a chair, could look at the screen on the cover a program of news and announcements - a 'newspaper'.
Not only transport was hidden under the ground. There were there absolutely all the plants, which production was fully automated and operated by computers. Their underground location had cleared the surface of the Earth for people lives and rest and, in addition, ensured the normal environmental conditions and safety in case of accidents, which, really, had been an exceptional rarity long ago.
And over the ground people walked or rolled not very quickly on something. Everywhere grew greenery: trees and shrubs, grass and flowers. Even carcasses, which residential units were installed on, were almost entirely entwined with plants.
... The cabin with Dan rose through a tubular prop of the carcass to his residential block, located in one of the last tiers. Everyone had such an own block with an outdoor terrace-garden planted with small trees and shrubs; in winter and in bad weather it was covered with sliding transparent walls and roof. Mounted on the carcasses of several tens of tiers, blocks were arranged so that they shaded minimally each other. They were different versions of size and shape; it was possible easily to install and replace them.
Their walls and ceiling were made of a material that was able to become wholly or in part transparent or opaque, to gleam itself, to change its color and pattern, to serve TV screen. The sliding partitions were rearranged and removed easily, changing instantly the entire layout of the home.
Furniture and other household items was in the blocks a bit because all necessary things were stored in underground chambers under the house and, only in case of need, quickly delivered and then removed by a robot. Only a memory unit and a stationary computer were in it constantly. And more items made by his own plan or even with his own hands, serving as decoration and creating an individual look of each block - like plants, planted according to an own taste on the terrace. A robot made regular cleaning of the block.
In blocks people worked, slept and rested alone; they listened to music, watched shows and movies, read. Except the one living in them, none usually came there, but people of the other gender.
Here he is at home. Now... No: he must first supper - the more he is hungry. And he orders from bracelet milk with a rye flat cake.
In the meantime, he approaches the aquarium, illuminating the room with weak light. Behind the thick glass there is an underwater landscape created by him: artfully stacked stones - gray with sparkles of pyrite, red, transparent quartz; long stems of cabomba with delicate feathery leaves are twisting. From the hills a stream of air bubbles is rising. Two luxury voile angelfishes with silver stripes on a dark background are slowly moving. Five swordfishes: the little green male; two fork-tailed males - one with black fins, another - whole bright, purely red - and two large females of the same assortment. And two pearl-gray gouramis, stirring by pectoral fins-mustaches.
The robot rolled to him with milk and the flat cake. No changing clothes, Dan took a cup and made a big sip. But to chew slowly, carefully he wasn't able: there was no patience!
About time too: he did the last sip - and opened the charts. On the wall. Glared eagerly at them. Groups, the amazing groups: islands of patterns in seemingly total chaos!
In notebook the author has given a complete list of them: let's see it again. Names given them are interesting: the ladder - with the same difference between adjacent gaps - in the histogram are really similar to a ladder; the symmetriads! The groups have grouped further: selected symmetrical to each other; indicated the intervals and the first prime numbers at the beginning of each group; specified number of repetitions of the group and their symbols, which the author used before classifying - only selecting them yet.
It was clearly the work of amateur, though, at the same time, done thoroughly. But maybe it's good that he was an amateur - and therefore did not repeat anything that was well known to all mathematicians concerned with prime numbers. The results are, of course, interesting.
Suddenly, he was really right? 'Since everything in the nature is interrelated, there must not be such mathematical regularities that do not manifest themselves in some physical phenomena', so he thought. This idea has not been formulated publicly and proved or disproved by anyone. If he was right, it may be methodologically very fruitful.
Just why elementary particles? However, it was his first suggestion. But it is necessary to try to verify it: it seems he has deserved that. Despite the confidence with which he got down to this task, he was clearly not a physicist. Nevertheless: the analogy of single symmetriads with a neutral charged and a double mutual symmetry of asymmetric groups with oppositely charged particles and antiparticles noticed by them correctly.
Since the twentieth century particle physics has undergone several times a number of fundamental changes, but the periodic law has not yet been created, the criterion of its construction has never found. And characteristics of each elementary particle is indeed associated with a set of several numbers that they have tried to learn how to calculate using a very complex formulas, who gave approximate results. To try using prime numbers has come never to mind.
Thus ... But elementary particles were still outside the Dan's works, and there are in his archive none needed materials. How annoying! Now he must wait until next Monday for four days on end until they turn on a common foreign link with the Central Archive. If only a day earlier: on weekdays, from 6:00 on Monday to 22:00 on Wednesday of local time, it can be used freely! Housed in vast underground facilities, it has completely replaced libraries - the storage of large quantities of books printed on paper, which each copy of simultaneously one person only can use. It was from there one can get a picture of the text of the old book, of any document, article, movie, even fresh results of produced experiments.
But however... Exactly! In one of his works, the experiment was based on a number of the properties of elementary particles, and related characteristic numbers were cited. This work, as far as he remembers, to the Central Archive was not transferred; it has remained in draft form in his personal archive. But it - can be used at any time. And, Dan input into the computer the search object with all the elements necessary for its acceleration.
Computer has started the search, and now he have to wait. And for a long time: it will have to produce a complete search of all draft records for many years, an incredibly huge part of his archive. But it can't be helped! And Dan is sitting and looking at the charts on the wall.
Maybe go to bed? The signal will wake him if the computer will succeed to find something. However, it is useless: he won't fall asleep on his own. But he escapes until now to use artificial means. And the dawn is not far, too. It highlights time on the screen of his radio-bracelet, and then turns to the orchestrion simulated a vintage organ: music will help, as always.
The muffled sounds of Adagio of Toccata in C Major by Bach float as a conversation with himself, and with them waves of replacing each other colors cover the wall, staining just not cancelled charts.
The signal came before the dawn. Taking a rolled into a tube the flat screen, Dan quickly unfolded and turned it on.
Just one particle with the required numerical characteristics. Only one! That work he has apparently, after all, edited and transferred to the Central Archive.
Okay! Let the computer continue searching, and he will see what can be done with this particle.
So: the arrangement of the numbers - perhaps may be not random. Really! The histogram of them is asymmetric. The particle - charged positively.
Using this histogram as a template, Dan let it go slowly along the chart on the wall. Amazing! There is, no doubt: there is a similarity, though not direct - some remote.
But even if to try the numerical characteristics logarithmically for a beginning? Oho! Now better: there is an obvious similarity here with this group. If to change the base of the logarithm, the figures could be the same. We will do so - produce a proportional reduction; the logarithm base we'll calculate later. Now let scroll down and...
They have coincided!!! The figure of the chart and a histogram of the particle. After performing very simple operations.
Dan even for a moment closed his eyes: he could not believe that so - suddenly, at once!
So ... No, it still does not mean anything, one of the dozens of known particles. But still!
If he could find more data on the particles! And Dan was waiting, looking expectantly at the computer. But further search ended in nothing. It's a pity! Now it is for sure - to endure until the next Monday.
... Dan went to the garden-terrace and sat in a chair under the small apple tree. The sun had already risen and started to warm. It was very quiet, and everything seemed clear and fresh. He was a little dizzy after a sleepless night. All right: he will have a sleep in the day-time at the baths.
Yes, very, very interesting! While the 1: 0 in favor of Mikhayloh. It is necessary to check all of the particles: there does be a probability of correctness of his assumption! Even if we manage to trace the partial manifestation of laws, not for all of the particles, this will be not a little, too.
And what then? What can be concealed in the communication of the elementary particles and the primes? Dan grinned: it is too early to put such a question! This coincidence is one and only - it may be accidental. And there is none connection. Let see!
It will be soon six o'clock: the cry of a cock will resound from speakers. The sun lights up brighter and brighter the garden placed on the terrace of the block, of size 7 by 7 meters, planted with two dwarf apple trees, bushes of roses and lilacs. There are bush of wormwood and marigolds, too: Dan loves to knead with his fingers marigold flowers and leaves of wormwood - to smell their bitterish-spicy flavor.
'Cook-a-doodle-doo!' Dressed in sports tights, Dan goes down. First he is walking, then jogging through a path between the props of carcasses. So the morning begins always.
He ran to the sports complex and went into an area fenced with bushes. Today, he is the first. Thursday, the first day off of the week - a day of a morning baths, daily entertainment and evening banquets. Not everyone will come there: many people pass exercises that day. Only when finished exercising, having washed and changed his clothes, he went out, going to lunch, others people began to appear welcoming him. And he is alone in the dining room, no one else.
The long room of a single-storey building standing on the ground is lit brightly by the morning sun through the translucent wall. After a sleepless night, Dan is hungry. Quickly turning on his card-file, he found almost immediately the cottage cheese and plain yogurt and sent an order command. And a few minutes later he pulled them out from the opening between the upper and lower table tops.
Here, everyone eats according to an own taste of each one. In any personal archive there was a big set of cooking programs - it was necessary only to click the name of the desired dish and its variant: the program would be transferred to the memory of one of the many kitchen machines, which immediately would give the order for the necessary products and quickly, using high-frequency current, cooked it.
In general, everyday food was not too complicated: the main attention was paid to the fact that it was healthy and well-balanced - regarding peculiarities of the organism. Any ration included definitely raw vegetables and greens, fruits, nuts and honey. Besides, it was not abundant because everyone usually ate at the same time. And, except for a light supper, everybody ate in canteens.
Dan is breakfasting alone - it is unusual. After eating, he became a little drowsy and started to doze, and so began to get angry when someone entered the dining room, began to talk and waked him. But this was group of young people, and he loved to look at them. Like many people.
Students of some institute. Noisy and merry, they casted lots, and the one to whom it fell sent a general order. They all together chew buttered fresh lavash , wrapping in it a piece of cheese and drinking a little tart acorn coffee. And continuously chattered: none solidity - but it was able only to envy their cheerfulness. They hold together, valuing obviously their belonging each to other. Even dressed in exactly the same - both the boys and girls: in short dresses with one shoulder open, with all kinds of color change from bright yellow to dark brown, as in Dan's favorite colors of marigold flowers; in open sandals with straps to the knees.
In this age they are still taught together. Later, occupied with postgraduate studying by individual programs, they will see each other less and less. Even at night, even in the days off. Everyone will be absorbed with his or her work and thoughts. This is a natural process in a world where communications are numerous, but fragile.
It is still nicer to look at children. During their trips to science centers.
... Children lived separately from adults, in the best places on the Earth, designated specially for them, where teachers raised and educated them.
Pediatricians are engaged, using minders, in nursing babies. Incapable of intellectual work women, whom physicians implanted artificially fertilized ovules of other women gave birth. Because of this, women-scientists had possibility not interrupt their work, not waste time and energy on bringing forth and caring children.
The role of 'parents' in the genetic sense was reduced exclusively to duties at a young age to do their contribution to the gene pool stored in sealed ampoules. Using a vast amount of information about it and a supercomputer, optimal selection of couples for artificial insemination was performed. To eliminate the possibility of irreparable loss of any qualities, part of the couples was made by random selection and, a tiny part, by homogeneous racial signs - not to loose them. It was just the area of an activity of geneticists exclusively, who have entirely taken human reproduction in their own hands; they also regulated its numbers.
Once this has led to a number of major social changes: the 'parents' have become free in full from any worries about their children - and the family, getting unnecessary, disappeared completely. People have acquired fully freedom in personal life, the complete absence of any restrictions in it. Nothing bind partners but a mutual lust - neither children nor their common household nor material concerns, on which the progress freed them long ago; they lived separately, each in its own block. Like other connections, too, intimate ones easily both appeared and broke without any consequences. This considered something secondary; it was a purely private matter and interested and concerned absolutely no one else.
Basically, everything came to the simple satisfaction of their physical needs. As exceptions there were long connections, too, some of them even for life. But in them an intercourse of one partner with someone else was not considered something offensive to the other one: it doesn't at all interfere with one person talking to others what he talks not only with him.
But, children were in the hands of professionals, ensuring the most proper care and education. Their life is divided into a number of successive stages, during each of which they live in a certain children's institution, and then move to another that, with a totally other children. To stabilize the homogeneity of the society, to avoid appearing of closed cohesive groups of people that grew together from an early age.
The first three stages - a nursery, a kindergarten and an elementary school. A small part of children with very low capabilities, who are not suitable to engage in the intense intellectual work in the future, are gradually separated at these stages from the rest of the children, after what they do not get a proper education. But capable enough children continue to study: in gymnasium, lyceum, college and university, going after each stage to another institution, the composition of which is completed with students of similar capability levels, depending on what the period of studying on this stage is determined.
As they progress through the stages their lifestyle changes. At gymnasium and lyceum they are, like at school, continue to deal with teachers in classrooms and special offices, but since lyceum sleep not in dormitories, but in private rooms. At college they study mainly yourself, but with regular checking by teachers; at university - only on their own.
The teaching was conducted with the help of special computer programs. The role of the teacher was reduced primarily to the methodical management of educational process and to identify in which areas can the ability of the student reveal itself most fully.
In addition to studying science, children acquire the necessary skills: of working on computers, handling instruments, conducting laboratory work, doing manual work and with not automated machines. Great attention was paid to their physical training under constant medical supervision by physical training instructors.
And no less to aesthetic development: playing orchestrion, singing, dancing, drawing, modeling. It were guided often tours in research centers, factories, museums, to historical and architectural monuments - in a variety of places on the planet and, at an older age, even beyond.
A person graduated from any university was considered adult: he chose on his own his future profession and comes to a faculty of a specialized training institute in one of the research centers. In addition to his studies, he was involved in the implementation of research, during which he began to communicate with scientists working in his chosen field. He lived already in a separate block.
At post-graduate studentship they studied according to individual programs and performed independent scientific works in the presence of supervisors. The final stage was the doctorate, where a person did completely independently rather large work, and then became a doctor - a scientist. It was the general rule - regardless of any specialty. Then, it was possible in the course of life - if desired or necessary - to study again, either according to the general program of faculty of an institute or to an individual of a post-graduate student.
So everyone grew and learned. At full charge of the society. Not knowing their parents. Common children of all the mankind.
From the old days remained the words: father, mother; son, daughter; sister, brother - but now these are only a tender treatment. More often each other called 'colleague', affectionately 'friend' or respectfully 'senior' in its original meaning - 'elder'. But the most honorific address was 'teacher': the relationship of teachers and students was the closest of existing relations of different generation's people.
Most people saw children negligibly: not always they were where children came - often worked at home, using telecommunications. These rare meeting with children were always a pleasure, and conversations with them, strangely enough, turned out to be very useful at times. Questions of them, stumped sometimes, often allowed to see suddenly many things in a quite unexpected way.
... The students continued to argue loudly, often interrupting the lively chatter by loud laughter. Dan smiled many times their jokes and started thinking to join their conversation. But they, having put dirty dishes between countertops, disappeared as quickly as they had appeared.
It was nothing more to do in the dining room, and he got up - it's time to go to the baths.
Today in the morning, all the people are in baths - huge, magnificent. The best architects have built them, finishing with stone and a natural wood: there is everything your heart desires to rapidly wash away the fatigue, and the best way to look at the banquet. Wet and dry steam rooms, finished with resinous pine planks; soap rooms with stone baths; huge swimming pools with a cool, icy, seawater; shallow pools for lying. High relaxing halls with a babbling fountain; a shady garden protected from the wind in a courtyard. There is in each of steam room a separate bath company that steamed on special.
Dan is enjoying, climbed on a shelf. Hot steam makes the body light; birch twigs pass from hand to hand - in the steam room there is not robots: they whip each other themselves, add more steam, splashing water on the hot stones. Everything, like by ancestors.
Dan is now steamed relatively short time: because of his age. He soon moved to the soap compartment and climbed into the pink-gray marble bath filled with fragrant foam. Soaped his hair with shampoo, he plunged into it up to his chin. The cleaning solution boiled, nipping pleasantly his skin.
A few minutes later he was in the shower, massaging the body gushing jets from all directions. Then he began to luxuriate in a shallow basin with cool bubbling water colored with some salts.
After resting, he climbed back into the steam room and this time sweated to his heart's content; having run out, jumped in the pool with cold water. The steamed out skin does not feel the cold: it seems that he swims in the air, not feeling the water temperature. Just an amazing lightness and vigor, as if you are still young, like you isn't hundred years old yet.
Throwing the sheet, he settled down on a wide couch near a fountain.
Many people get plenty of rest before a new entering into the steam room, sipping light beer, the best of all quenching thirst. But for Dan it was enough: he immediately began to drink green tea, pouring it into a bowl. All of his steam company having exchanged with him a few words goes to steam further.
He's drinking in small sips. Light, pleasant perspiration covers the body; from the fountain breathes refreshing coolness. No desire to sleep at all.
It is necessary to contact Lal, to inform him about the detected, although only yet, coincidence. With that thought, he suddenly falls instantly asleep.
People come to rest, and then go to steam and splash. Someone hid carefully Dan with a sheet.
... In the afternoon most people, dressed in the clothes called from home, have gone out - to stadia, theaters, concert halls. The Thursday shows and concerts are daily exclusively: end no later than 16 hours. But the most inveterate fans of the baths remained; they indulged, too: lay on the couch and even in small pools with unrolled sight screens and sound receivers in their ears.
And in the garden-courtyard before a huge screen lovers of rolling - the hockey on self-propelled roller skates - settled. With this game in tempo and intensity could not be compared none existed ever that, so it was the most popular. Players like lightning are rushing on the field, chasing with sticks small bright ball. The game always comes with a big score and causes turbulent emotions of viewers. Although the sound receivers in their ears, they themselves are so noisy that can wake anyone.
But not Dan, he slept like a log.
At16:00 a loud alarm woke him: it was the time to get dressed for the evening banquet. He did not want to go home: he turned on the card index of the wardrobe, carefully selected clothes for the banquet, sent a command to bring them to the baths, and meanwhile dipped into a pool of aromatic water.
Where to go, to what restaurant - Dan, as always, did not remember. Arg did always the choice: every time he writes its name in his memory. For Dan it is, in general, not so important where they will banquet: he's a small gourmet and not too merry. The main thing is to spend the evening with a very familiar people: some of his disciples, whom he banquets together every Thursday for years with.
But he is dressed for a banquet always appropriately. Today he's in a long white dress of thin soft wool and a wide cape with a long fringe of twisted silk atop, on the left shoulder cleaved with a gold buckle with a head of a beast. His white hair and beard hung by long vertical ringlets; a wide ribbon running across the forehead tied the head, the ends of it hung down from his left temple to the shoulder. Today he is obviously dressed better than in the previous Thursdays: certainly because of its mood after last night.
A cabin conveyed him to the entrance hall of the restaurant. The whole group was waiting for him there: without him they never sat down at the table.
A master chef, as a cordial host, met at the entrance their guests. Here he is - the main person. He only chooses all banquet dishes: here nobody can on his own order according to his program - for this canteens exist.
People do not always use the ready-made programs - many people like to invent themselves a new dish or cook already known on special and then to treat them in a canteen, copying for all the interested his program of production. Sometimes, indeed, it turns out well, but, nevertheless, it is - a pure amateurism.
The genuine, high art was represented by culinary professionals: they were regarded composers of taste. Each of them appeared on Thursdays at his restaurant with the program of the banquet, composed of carefully selected dishes and drinks created by him and borrowed from modern or numerous ancient national cuisines. Slightly modifying and changing, the program lasted until everyone desired have visited it; and at this time the master chef was preparing the new program.
With him in the preparation it an artist participated - to create presentation of meals, dinner services and covers for each of their shift, an interior of the hall and its elements: furniture, tablecloths, and draperies. Every Thursday the latter decorated the restaurant with fresh flowers.
But the chef was not the main person during the actual banquet - his role came only to managing the change of dishes in the most suitable for this moment. A jester reigned in the hall - he organized the fun: was the director of the concert, which all the guests, without exception, had to be the participants of. Only a gifted actor who has great charisma and an inexhaustible wit could become a jester. He led the table: seated guests, proclaimed toasts and led the singing drinking songs.
... Wine is sparkling. In high crystal glasses, horns decorated with metal, flat phials. Light grape wine that the guests drink by a drop, which intoxicates a little bit only; or non-alcoholic one - invigorating.
The jester raises his phial, stretches it forward. Everything falls silent.
'Let's we all be together, together,
And let a joy on our faces shines!
Let's be all together! Let's be all together!
And let's all drink some wine!'
What is this song? The jester stumbled across on the record of its performance in the collection of the bygone epoch's songs. Stricken by the song and its performance, he decided to resurrect it: translated its text and reserved for the next program, without changing anything both of its melody and of its performance way - unaccompanied.
Everyone has in one hand wine, in the other - open fan-screen with a text and notes. The guests begin to join the jester in singing - his voice sounds on the chorus; common coherent singing expands and becomes a powerful.
The jester comes to Dan, his hands stretches out to his phial:
'... And let joy on the face of Dan shines!'
Dan is today the oldest at the banquet; he holds out his glass with nonalcoholic wine towards: by the ancient custom, they clink their glasses.
The jester goes further, approaches the most honored guests, earned this honor today by their success, sings toast them. In the end - toasts to hosts of the banquet - the master chef and the artist. After this he become silent - guests' chorus proclaims a toast to him.
Bowls ring; tablemates clink their glasses. All guests pay a tribute to the dishes - fruits of the culinary creativity.
After the third change of dishes a fun began. The singing came again - almost everyone is singing. And almost everyone is dancing, too. These people know how to have fun: they are properly taught to do this - they know a lot of songs, both modern and ancient, the text of which has been translated into a contemporary language; they know how to dance the incredible number of dances. The jester kindles fun, starting a dance the first, compelling the guests to perform solo in turn.
... To go out of the hall for a long time is not supposed, but many still try to for a while to the lobby to talk about the work: in the hall such conversations are not considered appropriate. As always, they begin immediately talking about it, discussing their problems and arguing. There and then others appear, too, and start to do the same. Such they are - these contemporary people.
Dan did this today the first, and the next one after the other in the lobby Arg and the rest of their group appeared. Dan began immediately talking about the material obtained from Lal, about the coincidence found by him.
'I need to have the entire set of characteristic numbers for elementary particles. Otherwise I'll have to wait for three days. Entire three days!'
'Mates, what you have of needed for our teacher?' Arg asked.
'For three particles I must have,' Leah says. But it is all: none of them had any need to keep such a material in his archive.
'Let's try to find who may have,' Arg, the most practical person of the group, suggested.
'What? We'll have to talk about work in the hall, you know. It isn't proper somehow...' one of them tried to argue him.
But the others - did not hesitate: Dan infected them with his impatience. To wait until Monday?! Well: it is necessary to carry out as discreetly as possible exploration in the hall and, having discovered the necessary, to take slowly its owner away in the lobby. As if it is doing for the first time! They returned hurriedly to the hall: before the change of new dishes to go from table to table, from group to group, to spread with friends a couple of words.
They moved along the chain: first to their own friends, then with them - to their friends. But the difficulty was that nobody at the physical center in Starstown was engaged directly in elementary particles: these stood somewhat aside of main themes of the work here.
... Dan was sitting in his high-backed chair, looking at the dancers. No one guessed that impatience is gnawing him.
The jester led a round dance: two huge rings, men and women, were moving, coiling in a dance. For those who did not dance it's hard to tear off from them their look.
Especially beautiful were young, sparkling with nakedness of their perfect bodies: if you are beautiful - the clothes are not needed. Absolutely. Or let it be transparent. It is a shame to expose just what has already ceased to be fine.
A dance - now fast, ecstatic; now slow, filled with a hidden passion. Those who like each other, try to find them closer. And if your outstretched hand meets a touch given in replay, and fingers tightly entwined with yours those - so you both will be this night together.
Gai, a graduate student by Leah, is dancing with a girl dressed in a transparent kimono. It is very suited her, she is a purely Japanese style, of those few whose 'parents' are chosen on racial grounds. Perfect are her body and beautiful face. And her eyes are tenderly looking at Gai, who is like ancient bronze statue, dressed in a loincloth of leopard skin, with golden ribbons on his torso and head.
They already know that his name is Gai, and her one - Yukee, in accordance with her Japanese appearance. He is a graduate-student in physics. And what about her?
'I'm also post-graduate student. Deal with general problems of systems. Or rather, just begin.'
'I rewrite all sorts of systems in my archive. And try to compare them.'
'And how about the elementary particles? With them did you deal?'
'Yes, I did. Not long ago.'
'Really?! Then I beg you, very much: let's go out!'
'What's the matter with you, darling? You want to talk about work, don't you? I don't want to right now: the passion for you obscures my head - I desire to dance with you!'
'It's very, very necessary, Yukee. I beg you, my sister!' he begged. His supervisor, Leah, and Arg have turned to him for help after searching among their peers came to naught. They asked him to find out something from the young: doctoral students, graduate-students; flattered by their confidence, Gai has promised to do everything possible. And even during the dance with the girl, with whom he has already managed to weave his fingers, did not forget about that.
He told her excitedly about the series of prime numbers differences, the striking result of comparing it with the available set of characteristic numbers of an only elementary particle.
'If it could be possible to find more material, lest to wait until the next Monday! So far we found only three particles in the archive of my head. That's all.'
'Then I have exactly what you need: I tried to handle their complete system.'
'Yeah?!' A such good luck, and even so soon, Gai did not expect.
... 'My teacher, this is Yukee: in her archive there is a complete set of elementary particles!' he said to Leah excitedly.
'My teacher, the full set is available!' in her turn, she hurried to Dan.
For them, the rest of the banquet turned into an oppressive expectation of the end. They would have left immediately if it was not the same as the insult the hosts of the banquet. But they have not touched the dessert, did not participate in singing and dancing; even the two young graduate-students joined the group. More often than others they left the hall and took counsel distributing work among them.
But the banquet lasted further, and the fun did not subside. And when it finally came to an end, they immediately went home. With cabins. They only.
The rest of people, as usual, go home on foot. They walked slowly, with singing and laughing. And many of them went in couples to complete the banquet suitably.
Lal did just not receive radio paging from Dan on the Thursday: if Dan was afraid in the morning to prevent his date and then fell asleep, then in the evening searching for information and the discovered opportunity of continuing the work took him so much that he forgot about Lal.
Lal waited. In questions of Dan it guessed a nature not only extremely talented, but also - the most important for Lal - endowed with the ability to treat with interest and attention to things quite far from his work. The ability to listen and understand the other was added to this. It would be possible to tell him everything. If Dan even would not agree with him, his attention will be just a great service. Till now, all timid attempts to speak out his mind met a complete misunderstanding and indifference and even caused a pent-up irritation. But wandering in mind, his thoughts and doubts burned him; he wanted to free himself from their oppression, causing an excruciating feeling of loneliness.
That evening he did not want to part with Dan, did not want to rush to the woman waited for him. And when she, sated by him, was lying, naked and beautiful, alongside him and sleeping on his shoulder, he did not think about her but was full of impressions of the meeting with Dan, felt his friendly touch, saw the gentle, thoughtful look.
In the morning, he left her early in order no one could interrupted their conversation in case if Dan call him. He felt by yesterday reviving of Dan, that the material was very interesting for him. For such scholars, it is very like to work at that immediately, without any delay. And the night stops them never. If Dan finds anything, he will certainly call him to report. But Dan did not call, and he felt shy to do it.
This Thursday was as usual. After the baths, Lal went to a theater, after it managed to get on a racetrack: he loved animals, especially horses and dogs. Then it was the evening banquet. The restaurant he left home with a woman.
Not that one, which he was the night before with. With another one. Because women liked him, and rarely his outstretched hand did not meet the response to his touch; more often it was enough just to stretch his hand in response. And also because he did not care: that one or the other - all are beautiful, all are clever; no one he will be bored with - and hardly even any of them will want to listen to him, if he dares to talk about his very innermost thoughts.
... After Thursday with his intense cascade of entertainment, giving weary people effective shake, there were three days off else. Most people preferred to spend them among natural surroundings, go for any tourist trips to all places of the Earth: hiking, skiing, boating ones. They hunted and fished, picked mushrooms, nuts, berries and wild fruits in the forests, where in these days robots-collectors stopped their work, and at the same time flowers, leaves, branches and roots which decorate their homes with. Others went to admire the architecture of bygone epochs, visited museums, to see the originals of the great masterpieces of art.
A huge army of people served them, organizing and providing a multitude of activities, involving in them, making fully relax. This service was considered very important and staffed by talented people, who were armed with great erudition and excellent knowledge of psychology. Made under their guidance, group excursions broadened the range of interests, at the same time giving the necessary mental relaxation.
Many people spent this time on amateur art occupations. And there were a very great number of those staying at home to continue working.
... Lal left by air for fishing - mainly to think in private again over a number of things. By a rocket plane, and then by an air car he got a well familiar to him taiga river. The places around were far from cities and not very popular with tourists. There is nobody: only animals and rare robots-collectors of berries, herbs and dry twigs.