Vectors: You Really Do Need Them

Vectors: You Really Do Need Them by David Reagan, February 13, 2006

I was floating in the void between galaxies looking at one of the strangest sights I had ever seen. Now I had visited over eight thousand universes before this one, but had never encountered a race so advanced, yet so far behind as the Linesmen. Floating just in front of me was the largest tape measure factory I had ever seen... It was literally the size of the Milky Way galaxy. Yes, you heard right, it was as big as a galaxy.

Heh, I suppose I should explain how I got into this situation. It started out as a nice enough day, just the odd elf or dwarf or cacti dropping by for help. Then my old friend Bob dropped in. In typical Bob fashion he landed on my desk, destroying the Lego spaceship I had just been about to animate with my spell hat.

"Hi Bob." I sighed, preparing myself for a long random conversation.

"Hey! This is the closest I have ever jumped to a target before!" He said enthusiastically, as he picked himself up.

"Any closer and I would be squashed against the floor, Bob."

"Oh, true, but still! I didn't know I was this good!" Bob replied.

Now Bob isn't just any ordinary guy. (Actually, I don't think I have any friends that could be considered ordinary... Hmmm... Must check that out sometime.) Anyway, back to Bob. I met Bob when I was helping some villagers who had an earthquake problem. They thought their local food source, (some really big animals, never did figure out what they were called,) throwing temper tantrums. So I headed off to the plains where they lived to see what was up. There I found Bob. He was teaching the animals to dance. Yep, that's right, dance.

It was a strange sight, I have been saying that a lot, a little gray man gesturing wildly at these gigantic green, eh, things. The things looked like a elephantine version of a centaur... Just imagine a elephant with a hairy troll abdomen for a head. Ugly as all get out. Now the little gray man was apparently making some progress, because every once in a while one of the creatures would attempt to do a jig. It would then fail and fall to the ground causing a small shudder in the ground. When that would happen, the little gray guy would shake his head while yelling loudly and then demonstrate how do jig for them. When he did this, the ground would literally roll away from him in waves. I had found the source of the earthquakes...

I just floated above the ground a few feet to avoid the quakes for a good two hours just staring. Eventually I shook myself out of my stupor and floated over to talk to the man. It took a bit of convincing, but once I pointed out the futility of a two legged person trying to teach four legged people to dance, he quit. He followed me back to the village when I explained what had happened, and then started following me around on my travels. After the first few jumps between universes I had to put a tracking spell on him so I didn't have to rescue him each time we jumped.

Oh yeah, back to the galaxy size factory... After a few minutes of calming his excitement down, Bob finally got the point. He told me of a universe he had found where they were running out of resources at a spectacular rate. When he appeared the leaders had asked him for help. Being the kind of guy he is, he immediately came to me.

It took a bit, but I eventually got him to tell me that they were running out of matter to use for living on. All I could get from him was that it was being used up in these big factories that were essential to the universe wide civilization there. So I got the jump coordinates from Bob and jumped to the High Council chambers of that universe.

The council was ecstatic to see me and immediately told me that they would show me their factory to see if I could help them keep it running. Being the kind of guy I am, I just waved my spell cap at them and transported us within sight of the factory. And thus I was struck dumb by the sight of such a huge factory.

Turning to the council member closest to me I asked, "What do you make in that factory that is so essential?"

It took him a moment to respond, (probably due to the fact that he was not used to floating in space with nothing protecting him). "Oh, sorry, that is our latest measuring tape factory! It took five a full galactic rotations to complete. We thought that maybe it would be able to create enough tape so that we would be able to stop making it, but alas, we still need more. With the way the universe is expanding we have to constantly remeasure distances so our jump drives won't malfunction."

I blinked, taking a moment to figure out what he just said, "So you are saying that whenever you need a distance you have to use a tape measure?"

He looked puzzled, "Yes, doesn't everyone?"

I just shook my head and waved my spell cap again. Once we appeared in the council chambers, I waved my hat a second time and a full math library appeared on their table, covering everything from simple addition, to advanced differential equations. I walked over and pulled out the books on geometry and set them aside.

"Have your scientists study these books. Especially the ones in that pile," I said pointing at the geometry books, "tell them to pay special attention to vectors and Pythagoreans Theorem."

I then waved my hat a third time and appeared in front of my desk. I sighed when I saw the state of my nice lego spaceship.

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