A Timely Meeting - RPLOG
It's a reasonably warm afternoon, and Flora's invited Fenris, and several other beings over to the academy, where she's set up a small demo. He's not the only one present, and it seems she's organizing a little discussion-session with various beings, both clockmakers and otherwise inclined beings, regarding the problem she's described before... At the front of the room, there are two pendulum-clocks set up, which seem to be ticking at a rate that is close enough to sound the same... One of them, however, seems to be standing on a curious contraption...
Fenris saunters into the presentation room. He has left his long coat behind today, opting simply to wear his unusual, sleeveless Creator garb. Honestly, he is not in the least bit interested in a seminar on measuring time, but he promised Flora he would come and do his best to listen. The tiger looks for a likely seat near the back where he won't block anyone's view.
Given the way things seem to be going, it's hardly a seminar, at all. The small demo is happily ticking along, and Flora seems to be inviting the various beings to gather around the two devices, to listen to the ticks and the tocks. It seems to be more of a dialog... Or well, more of a roundtable discussion without the table...
Seeing that he would not be able to hide in the back like he wanted to, Fenris finally rises and saunters up toward the demonstration. The big tiger folds his burly arms across his chest and listens, looking over the clocks and pondering the aesthetic possibilities of an open display of clockwork, like Flora mentioned at their last meeting.
Flora is mostly explaining and discussing with various beings, tossing questions back and forth, before she gestures at the clocks, and motions for the beings to be silent. Tick, tock, goes the clock. Tick, tock, tick, tock. A very rythmic, steady pattern. The ticks are just as long as the tocks. And then, she turns on the strange contraption, which starts, gently, shaking the clock around. Tick tock... Tick tock... Tick tock... The pattern changes, and after a few shakes, the order changes...
"This is what happens on a moving ship, yes... This change is faster, of course, but the effect is the same."
Fenris watches and listens, since he probably does not have much to contribute to this conversation. Honestly, he can barely follow some of Floras ideas. The camera had made sense and had been exciting, and he could sort of understand the concept of protecting ideas, but regulating ticks and tocks was just a little beyond his grasp. Aside from the ship part. "That's why we don't use pendulum clocks on a ship," he pipes up, "Except maybe as decoration. We use a spring chronometer. It isn't particularly accurate, but how accurate does an hour have to be?" This was probably the wrong thing to ask in a room full of scholars with an obvious investment in the keeping of time.
Yes. That was most definitely the wrong thing to say, as the whole room, including Flora, is suddenly -staring- at Fenris, and nothing else.
"How does a ship navigate, Fenris?" Flora finally offers, after at least ten whole seconds of very awkward silence. "How does a ship know where it is, at any moment?" she asks to break the silence. "But this isn't even about time on the ships. You cannot move a clock to another place without the clock losing time."
Fenris opens his mouth to say something about noontime measurements and star chart navigation, but withers a bit under all those scholarly, glances. "I'm sorry for interrupting," he says sheepishly, "Please, continue."
"Star charts only work so much," Flora notes. "Star charts, and the sun... They help find one angle," Flora notes, as she gestures as a globe, pointing out the latitudinal direction, before shaking her head. "Longitude... It doesn't work. Not accurate enough yet. Neither are the clocks, but the idea is the same. Either would give an accurate representation of the time at a point of reference during the day or night. And because the time at the own location can be known based on the stars, based on the sun, you can determine where you are. But those charts are far from good enough. Many ships crash into reefs and other things outside the usual sailing-paths, yes."
"Does that make more sense to Fenris?"
"Again," Fenris says, "I am sorry I interrupted. I only have a passing knowledge of ship navigation and only on commonly traveled routes. I know that the navigator used the Chronometer quite a bit. I was just pointing out that they don't even try to use a pendulum. I am interested to know what you have in mind." He coughs weakly and looks around at the scholars.
"It's a big problem, and there's no easy solution. The charts will take years to make, the math needs to be worked out," Flora notes, before gesturing at the clocks. "And clocks, and chronometers are far too expensive... Chronometers are often worse than standing clocks, if slightly more stable," the she-cat notes, before shaking her head. "The technology or knowledge won't be there for ten, twenty, thirty years, yet."
"But what we -can- do is think of a way to bring time to specific places, yes. To remotely check if a clock is running slow, running fast."
THAT is interesting. "So, we are not talking about regulating ticks and tocks?" Fenris says, forgetting the disapproving scholars around him, "You are talking about communicating over long distances. Just for clocks, I guess, but still, is that what this is about?"
"In a way. But long distance isn't difficult. You can send a messenger long distance, yes? They can send a message." she notes, and the group, clearly, seems to agree with her. "Bringing a weight is easy. You make a copy, and ship the weight... But bringing time is difficult. if you bring a clock, it won't work" she notes, before gesturing at the clock that is now already lagging behind a couple of seconds, where it used to be properly aligned with its sibling. "If you bring a note that says what time it is... Time passes, and the note is no longer correct."
"It is about knowing how to correct for that time... Find a fast way to send simple signals, and to use those to correct the clocks, yes."
Fenris listens and looks around at the nodding scholars. "So. . ." he stops and considers again, "You want to make clocks that talk to each other instantaneously across great distances?"
"The question is, how," Flora notes, her ears flicking lightly," as she gestures at the group, which pitches various ideas, from the clinically insane to the flat out impractical or even impossible."
"That is what Flora was talking about on aurumrock, yes. And Flora organized this small event to think on these things a bit more, yes."
She seems to be taking note of every idea on a small clipboard, while noting every problem everyone brings up, every solution, and so on. "Cooperation is equally important in research, yes."
Fenris takes this chance to lean back and fold his arms again, listening. He has no viable options to help. He has had some experience with Creator technology that does what Flora seems to want, but that really isn't an option.
Flora seems rather engrossed in her conversation, although she does make sure Fenris is still paaying attention to everything, her ears flicking lightly as she gestures for a seat, a flick of her ears. "How do beings usually communicate quickly long distance?" Flora asks him, after a while, a short pause, while the crowd continues offering suggestions, ideas, comments. Everything neatly jotted down, of course.
Fenris is once more out of his depth when it comes to Flora's projects and he leave her and her advisors to discuss their options. The tiger, for his own part, wanders around to Flora's two demonstration clocks, looking over the mechanism she used to rock them. There aren't any actual answers to be found there, but it is interesting anyway.
The rocking mechanism seems to be reasonably simple. A small, rotating wheel with an off-center axle, like the crank on a well. A metal rod connecting to a hinge on the plank that is further hinged in the center, right under the clock, which itself has been secured to the broad plank.
When the wheel turns, the clock sways back and forth, much like it would on a ship, albeit with a faster period.
"Fenris is not going to give his answer to the question? Flora appreciates his input, yes."
Fenris looks up from his perusal of the demonstration toys at Flora's invitation. "I am not sure what you think I have to offer," he admits, "I'm a musician, Highlady. The only way I know to communicate across long distances is to shout. I have heard about air magic that can carry words over whole countries, but it still takes time."
"And to signal ships?" Flora asks, as she leans back in her seat, trying to work out some ideas on paper, her ears flicking lightly. "Flora is having ideas, yes, but it helps talking about the, even if not always with someone who knows everything. Sometimes, the best ideas come from those who know things, and sometimes, they come from those who don't. Those wo don't see things the same way, because they never learned to look at things that way, yes."
Fenris takes a deep breath and sighs. "Okay," he says, "Then here are some foolish ideas." The tiger turns and looks at the gathered scholars, undoubtable leaders in their academic fields. "If you string two cups or coconut shells together and stretch the string tight, you can talk to someone many paces away as if they were beside you. I don't know how it applies here, but it is a thing that is. Ships will send signals across distances with flags and flares."
"Yes. Sight, not sound," Flora notes, as she looks at Fenris. "Why?" she adds, her tail flicking behind her, as she seems to put the puzzle before Fenris to solve it. "Why use flags and flares when words would bring the message across without a code?"
Fenris shrugs. "Because no one wants to yell all of that?" he tries, "And not everyone has the mathemagic to communicate that way. It is a common denominator that covers distances and takes as little work as possible." He can see where Flora is going with this, but it doesn't look like an answer from where he is standing.
"Of course. Same reason we use a lighthouse, yes? Instead of a being yelling 'you are getting too close to the coast' all night long, yes," Flora notes, once again try her... Personal flavour of humor on for size, before leaning back. "Light is a useful tool for sending information. Fires are often used. "We send a signal at a specific time with light... Will need several stations, but it might work, yes. Although Flora does appreciate any and all suggestions from everyone, of course," she notes, tail flicking behind her.
Fenris supresses a sigh and turns back to look at the clocks that Flora brought along and quickly gets tired of them, turning instead to look at the various scholars, trying to match up names that he knew with the faces in front of him.