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American Factory

A snapshot of the struggle between labor and management that is both timeless and distinctly of its time.

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Ready or Not

The film is charismatic and thrilling enough to bypass its shortcomings.

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Ballad of Narayama

"The Ballad of Narayama" is a Japanese film of great beauty and elegant artifice, telling a story of startling cruelty. What a space it opens…

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The Thinking Molecules of Titan: Ending by Jackie Meyers

Editor's note: This is a continuation of a story Roger was working on when he passed away. This ending is one of many we received. To read Roger's beginning to the story, from the end of which each entry picks up the thread, go here. Illustration by Krishna Bala Shenoi. This is one of five endings we're posting this week. Vote on this week's endings here.

Jackie Meyers writes:

Perplexed, Regan saw meat in Claire's music theory. The smooth and light nature of the violins of a Mozart piece are just what might be needed to get the molecules in a pattern.


"Yes, it makes some sense now," said Alex. "After all, music is half the battle in getting our juices flowing here, at University."

"Hold on, maybe there's more to this," said Mason. "Claire, your music theory may be right on the ball in helping us crack these patterns. But what if we pay attention to the non-communication factor of these molecules?"

"What does that have to do with anything?" asked Regen.

"Pure psychology," said Mason. "Think about it: Most relationships start out where couples are talkative, engaging, and often show a more affectionate side. Once marriage enters the table, some couples, but not all, don't feel it necessary to convey all their emotions to one another. This mostly happens to men and is toxic. But it does happen where they feel they have no need to make more effort to a relationship because they've secured their spouse. Freud would be all over this."

"Yeah, come to think about it, it does have some logic to it," said Alex.

"Maybe the intelligent beings who sent this spacecraft to Titan examined the humans of earth decades upon decades prior to the formation of life on Titan to disable these molecules of communication and create a pattern?"

"You may have something going here!" said Claire. "What if the pattern is hidden in the music?"

The gang listened to the noise on Mason's iPhone and determined that the radio waves heard in the pattern followed the sound of each note in the music. Up, down, accelerating, fast, slow, etc.

"It all makes sense!" said Alex.

One thing was left to ponder. Where were the sounds from the patterns actually coming from?

This answer took many decades to find out. Thirty years after this question was first concocted in their minds, Mason, Alex, and Claire—now all scientists due to their keen interest in this and many other planetary inquiries—discovered that a secret device at the bottom of the ocean enclosing the moon of the Third Rock from the Sun sends the intelligent beings more signals concerning the molecules, and Titan. Except Titan is not the only planet known about by the beings. A buried chip put on earth by the intelligent forces on Third Rock prior to life's formation on Titan also could reach the other planets. This put the Third Rock from the Sun at a very high advantage because they, the intelligent beings, knew all of the planetary answers before earthlings found them out. No life on mars, Pluto exerts a cold temperature, etc. The sounds radiate partly from Titan's molecules' patterns and the slight sound given off by the device at the bottom of Third Rock from the Sun's ocean. A combination of all of their theories formulated to an answer thirty years down the line. This story ends where it began: Mason, Claire, and Alex presenting their findings to a new generation of potential science wizards in the quartet-like fashion, with the same passion for the subject at hand they displayed together three decades earlier at the University of Illinois. This presentation took place where Mason once felt most at home: his old laboratory in the computer department of the University of Illinois. Just as the presentation was wrapping up, he glances over to the door and spots a much older Bruce Elliot on duty once more still. The man who made Mason realize his dreams and potential by simply revealing too much noise with the switch of a light winks. Mason winks, too.


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