27 November 2012
On a cloudy day, Larry crosses the road. He looks both ways. He thinks of cars. He thinks about how easy it is to propel a thousand pounds of metal, rubber, and light across hundreds of miles. Or, if not easy, then thoughtless. Taken for granted. Magic that's lost its magic. He thinks about climate change, the coming apocalypse, about a million cars (trucks, vans, SUVs, etc) speeding along a million streets. Every second, a small cloud of exhaust is pumped through each of their mufflers and out each of their exhaust pipes. A million cars, a million small clouds, every second. Every day. "I wouldn't want to be the ozone layer these days," he thinks. He imagines all the smoke being pumped into a single room. Even a big room--a stadium or a hangar--and you'd still be in trouble, if you were in there, with all those cars. Not a likely situation. But he'd heard of people committing suicide that way, locked in their garage with their car running. Just one car, in a garage. Larry wants to save the world. He is walking. He wants an electric car, powered by clean energy, by dams that don't create unnatural lakes, by wind turbines that don't concuss passing birds with their gargantuan blades. (Or do they slice them apart? Unpleasant thoughts.) A car powered by the cleanest energy, by a miracle surge of electricity that is soon to be invented by a brilliant, slightly mad, socially abysmal, soon-to-be billionaire scientist, slaving away in a lab, the basement of a university in Europe, probably in Geneva, burning chemicals whose acrid, dull brown smoke will shorten his life, causing horrific lung problems that prevent said scientist from enjoying his overwhelming wealth. Or maybe the scientist will get cancer from handling too many mysterious radioactive stones. Either way, he'll have furthered science and done a great service to mankind. Larry apologizes for thinking of the scientist as socially abysmal. Too harsh! He wonders what the scientist, seeing him cross the street, would think. Too self-conscious! Do the brilliant ever consider other people? No. Their thoughts should be perpetually pinned to the solving of formulas, the workings of machines, the investigating and describing of the heavens and the earth. Larry thinks about technology--the developments the last hundred years, the developments of the last ten years, the developments of the next hundred years. Exciting thoughts, like "What's in store for humanity?" Larry is hit by a car.