By Bill Caldwell
DUSTIN AND THE ALIENS
"I'm getting worried about that kid of yours," said Dustin's dad one evening.
do you mean my kid?" said Mom, "Besides, he's a guy, just like you."
see, I liked cartoons when I was a kid, I may not have laughed out loud but at least I enjoyed 'em.
Your son looks like he's watching a Portuguese political debate."
my son may have taught himself Portuguese by now."
"That's my point, he's too intelligent to have any fun.” At which point Dustin
walked in and responded with,
"But I have fun thinking up stuff.”
"I know son," said Dad, "but you don't know how to play. You even forgot your
mother's birthday.” Dustin dropped his head a little and said,
I never remember regular stuff, but I don't have any money to buy her anything with anyway."
be glad to take care of paying for it, you know that. But starting now, we work on you learning to have fun. I'm
glad you like to learn and you like to invent stuff, but baseball is fun too. So is soccer and checkers
and even video games."
"I hate video games, besides, I can beat you at chess sometimes."
but I'm not going to let you to miss your own childhood. C'mon, let's see if I can help with
whatever you're doing in the garage."
In the garage Dustin led his father past various parts and pieces, and things under construction.
one is a combination of a linear motor and crankshaft, with a flywheel. I was hoping to make a motor that
gets its' power from volts instead of amperage like standard motors."
"Why is that?" Dustin could
tell the old man was just checking to see if he knew what he was doing, but the kid answered anyway.
conventional motors make more power when you add more amps, not volts. But making more voltage is easy
with a coil. First I tried adding coil windings in the armature windings of a regular motor so it would
be a generator and a motor at the same time, but it got so hot it stopped running."
going to have to be here when you work on this stuff son, some of these power levels could really hurt you."
"Dad, some of these things could drop a horse."
"Great, so other than your linear crankshaft motor, what have we got here?"
he said as they moved over to the next contraption, "I always thought cars waste a lot of energy using the brakes to
slow down. If you could save the energy instead of using it to heat up the brakes, you could use it to
get the car going again. I think it would save a lot of gas, or electricity in electric cars.
So what I want to do is start a flywheel spinning when the brake pedal is stepped on, and the energy it takes to get
the flywheel going is slowing the car down until the regular brakes are needed to stop the car."
"Uh-huh," said dad, trying not
to sound too bewildered.
cars and especially trucks going downhill use their brakes a lot, so they're wasting gravity." Dad
tried to look thoughtfully surprised at the clever concept of wasting gravity, even though he had no idea what the kid was
leading up to. "So, just like hydro-electric dams use falling water to generate electricity, I think
we should use cars going downhill to produce energy instead of using the energy to grind down the brakes."
Dad had caught on by this time and said,
"Okay, how do think that could be done?"
"Well, something like a wooden wall could wiggle back and forth from the wind the cars make, and that could connected
by levers to generators. Or sections of the highway could be pushed down when the cars drive over them,
or even filled with some kind of liquid that would be sent through turbine to turn a generator."
like what kind of liquid?"
"Well, I don't know Dad, I'm only eleven."
"Oh, yeah." said Dad, returning to parental reality. "Okay, so what are we working
"Well, I wanted to work on my idea for computer controlled wings to keep racing boats from flipping over, but
I'll have to go the library to get some pictures so I can draw the idea. So maybe you could help me make the linear flywheel
motor stop wobbling."
"Okay, and tomorrow Mom'll take you to the library for boat pictures, and since she's a writer, she can
write up some of this stuff and maybe we'll get'em patented for you. Or maybe the Department of Energy would like
to know about some of your ideas."
"Really?!" The kid's face broke into a big smile.
Dad was actually stunned for a moment, then he realized he finally connected with his kid and said,
bet! She's enough of a writer that she could put it into words the government might
heard that!" Dustin laughed a little because he knew his mom had been standing behind his dad for
quite a while.
"Just kidding dear. You know I love the greeting cards and post cards you write-especially
that one, you know, 'CAUTION...NATURAL BORN SMART-ASS'."
fortunately, 'IF I CAN'T FIX IT... IT'S NOT BROKEN', applies to my son. You boys
have fun, I'll make some coffee and chocolate."
The next day Mom had called the Patent Office and gotten on the Internet to check into the Department of Energy...
and child rearing.
While not far out in space, bemused aliens were surfing the Internet, and watching
‘Married… with Children’. Oobla, one
of three vaguely humanoid observers in the craft made the point,
"I love this show, I don't see why earthlings don't recognize their own art forms when they've created
them." To which Deedah replied,
"Yeah, their comic books used to be considered garbage, now they recognize them as an art form. Even
some of their serious science fiction is finally being illustrated comic book style, goofy earthlings."
guys, we got a live one!" interrupted Goze-on. The three space jokers gathered around a screen showing
the more pertinent points of earth communications as Goze-on continued,
"This lady has a kid that is tuning in to the Conservation of Energy, and has actually
noted the possibility that electricity is a part-form of atomic action. He could be the one that takes
them to Electron Force power. We oughta 'check him out!'" They all got a little chuckle out
of that one, and as they pack up lunch and other loose stuff around the inter-galactic breakroom Deedah says,
is the lady that keeps copyrighting stuff like 'I'VE GOT THE FEELING I'VE BEEN HERE BEFORE...BUT I WASN'T
SURE THEN EITHER', and, 'I'M MUCH FARTHER AHEAD... NOW THAT I'M NOT HOLDING MYSELF BACK', I guess ya gotta
be an earthling. Well, sounds like the kid could use a little help. Let's go down and see if his dad’s
doin' him any good." To which Goze-on added,
let's buzz that beach in France again too!" There is much agreement to this suggestion and they
were giggling like maniacs as they finished up the dishes pretty quickly for a bunch of bachelors.
Their ship was hovering silently and invisibly over the unsuspecting house
when Dad got home, and after the usual welcome from Dustin's mother he said,
"So, how's that story about the traveling pool player coming?"
"I told you, he's an Architect on his way to Baltimore for a new job after his divorce. He just happens to
play pool tournaments on the way."
"Right, betcha your story turns into Route 66 meets Maverick."
idea! I think I'll spend a few days writing that one, you can get your own dinner."
I created a monster?"
just like you did on our wedding night, you lucky boy." Dustin walks in ignoring the kissing and says,
"Hey Dad, if aliens wanted to talk
to me, could they do it over the radio?"
"Uh, sure son." He said, almost releasing his wife.
the radio is turned off?"
"Sure, if aliens are real they could do that easy." Mom and Dad were glad to see
his imagination in overdrive, but weren't too sure they liked the direction it was taking.
Oobla, Deedah and Goze-on raised various eyebrows and Oobla
"I'm glad the old man has heart, it's nice to know he's on the kids' side. I
wonder what they've got to eat? Let's ask the kid if we can come in and raid the 'fridge after
his parents are asleep."
“Yeah and Cool," were the respective replies.
Later that night three aliens were kicked back at the kitchen
table while Dustin tried to make sense of their visit.
"So, I'm on the right track with electrons but you won't tell me the rest?" To
which Deedah replied,
"You don't need us to speed up he earth's future Dustin, and you really don't want us to either."
"Have you ever noticed," Oobla added, "that you humans seem to invent what you need, when you need it.
There are exceptions of course but you get the idea."
"You mean like, 'Necessity is the Mother of invention'." Dustin guessed, and his
new friends said that was pretty much the point.
"But there's so much starving and suffering and"... Goze-on interrupted Dustin with,
we know pal, injustice, waste, imbalance. But there is a universal constant in these things that is common
throughout the universe. You've seen old movies where automation gives everyone a life of ease. But
you know that in real life, automation makes rich people
and the regular folks are just out of their jobs. Well, when things like the benefits
of technology are shared among all the people, then the creativity of the human mind will
really be free. This will not happen until there is more cohesion between countries and communication is
less limited." Dustin was pretty sure he understood and offered the question,
humans will not create Utopia, until humans are ready to live in it. Right?" Oobla
"You pretty much got it little partner. There's a lot of things that have to fall into
place for humans to be ready, but it won't be long and it looks like you could be a big part of it."
"In the meantime," Deedah said,
"your Dad has a good point Dustin, even more than he knows. There are things to be learned from every level of
life. Playing soccer obviously takes timing, spatial judgement. Cooking, music, even
just watching a movie will give you information that might inspire that idea that could change the world. A
sense of humor, a sense of proportion and dealing with facts and reality are all necessary, because it all adds up to wisdom.
And wisdom is what makes Utopia work. " As Dustin and his three mentors walked out the back
door Goze-on threw in his two cents too.
"Some really cool tunes once in a while can keep your head on straight too. A big cheeseburger,
a nice pool cue and a little lax time and your ideas will form up in your subconscious and fall out of mouth when you least
expect it. Try the Beatles when you get the chance."
and Dustin said,