Author: Dylan Otto Krider
Rick saw the Universe in folds. He coded a program that could make anything in origami. You put in, say, a rhino, and it would make the plan, complete with lines for the folds, and when you were finished, it looked exactly like that rhino. Exactly. A biplane? Exactly like it.
“That’s… that’s amazing,” I said when he demonstrated. “It almost as if the entire third dimension could be made from a second-dimension piece of paper.” No one had stumped Rick yet.
Rick looked at me, completely serious. “The third-dimension is the second, folded.”
He invited me for the weekend, and we sat up all night talking in front of the fireplace.
We had met in college. Rick dropped out to start his software company, while I stayed and finished. He, of course, is a billionaire while I am persistently underemployed. He had offered me a fifty percent cut the company if I dropped out. It is an unspoken rule to never remind me of that, and he never has.
He has since sold the company and lived on his investments as he pursued his inclinations. He started a band for a while, and then a puppet theater. Now it’s origami.
Rick compared himself to Kepler, a mathematician, and astrologer who saw the Universe in perfect geometrical shapes. He spent years of his life trying to get data of the planet’s orbits to fit his idealized version of perfect geometry. Finally, he had to give up his religion to see the orbits were not perfect circles, but ellipses, and Kepler’s laws were born.
“It’s not folds, but spheres,” he said, to himself more than anyone. “When ancient man looked at the earth, they debated whether land went on forever, or eventually dropped off a cliff. Both were impossible. Finally, they reconciled them when they found out it was a sphere. So, both were right: the earth is finite, but if you keep flying, you can keep going around the globe to infinity.
“When we looked at the universe, we debated whether it was finite or infinite. Either one was impossible, but we found out space is turned on itself, so if you go in a straight line, eventually you end up where you started,” Rick said, getting more aminated. “It was a sphere, again. Whenever you are debating whether something is finite, or infinite, the sphere is the answer. Can you think of something where it can’t be finite, or infinite, but it has to be one or the other?”
I thought about it. “Time,” I said.
“Exactly,” Rick said. “I have sunk my entire fortune into building a spaceship that will accelerate for years, approaching light speed. Due to relativity, the time for the universe will speed up, allowing me to reach the end of time within my lifetime.”
“What happens then?” I asked.
“Head north long enough, and you start heading south.”
“A time machine?”
“A time machine,” Rick said. “I am going to go tonight.”
I tried to talk him out of it, but he couldn’t be deterred.
“This is goodbye, I am afraid. Once I pass the south pole, and time starts moving forward, the future is no longer set.” He started ascending the staircase to his ship.
I knew why he was doing this: to prove the universe is one piece of origami. His religion. “Remember Kepler,” I warned. “You might find out there is no perfect geometry. It’s all ellipses.”
Rick smiled. “Ellipses are perfect geometry.”