Author : J. S. Kachelries

As Archimedes lowered himself into his bath, water lapped over the top edge and spilled onto the floor. “Damn it, you fool,” he cursed aloud, “You overfilled the tub again.”

“Not necessarily, master,” I pointed out. “It’s not too full; you just displaced too much water.”

“What’s that Jamicles? Are you saying that I am too FAT?”

“Not at all, master. I was merely pointing out that had your body been denser, you would have displaced less water.”

“Now I’ve got too much blubber, and not enough muscle, heh Jamicles?”

This was taking longer than I had anticipated. This is the third straight night the tub overflowed, and he still wasn’t getting it. “What I am saying, master, is that if you know the weight and density of an object, you should be able to predict the volume of water it will displace. That’s all.”

“What are you babbling about? Wait. That’s it. I’ve got it, I’ve got it.” Archimedes jumped out of the tub, and ran out the front door in his birthday suit, yelling to the townsfolk. As I faded out of this timeline, I could hear him proclaim, “Eureka, eureka…”

Later that day…

“Dmitri,” I said, “why do you insist on grouping them by multiples of atomic weight? Other scientists have already tried that. There has to be a simpler way to arrange them.”

Dmitri Mendeleev looked down at the 63 pieces of paper spread across his kitchen table. Each piece contained the name of a known element. “Perhaps you are right, Jiminka. I am getting tired anyway. I give up. I think I will head off to bed.”

“Ah, before you go, Dmitri, let’s play a game. You know, just to help you relax, before you go to sleep.”

“What kind of game?”

“It’s a type of card game. Something I played as a child. It’s called ‘Concentration’.”

“How is it played?”

“We can use these pieces of paper. We’ll put them in the middle of the table, face down. Then we take turns flipping them over, two at a time. If they match, you put them in front of you. The person with the most matches at the end wins.”

“Match? Match, how? They are all different.”

“Yes, obviously. But, Dmitri, some of these elements must have something in common. Something that will make them appear similar in some way?”

“Well, sure. For example, sodium and potassium bond very strongly to chlorine or bromine. I guess we could group them by similarity of properties.”

“Great. That works for me. You can go first.”

After four hours of intense concentration, Dmitri was exhausted. “I must go to bed, my friend. I played this new game so long; I’ll be dreaming about chemical similarities all night. Do you mind showing yourself out?”

“Not at all, Dmitri.” I rose from my seat and headed toward the door to start my next mission. On my way out, I picked up a piece of fruit from a basket next to the door. “Dmitri, I have a long trip ahead of me. I’m going to a farm in Lincolnshire, England. Mind if I take an apple?”

This is your future: Submit your stories to 365 Tomorrows
365 Tomorrows Merchandise: The 365 Tomorrows Store
The 365 Tomorrows Free Podcast: Voices of Tomorrow