A Bit of Light Science — How the Flat Space Society Menaced the Universe

HARVARD, MASS. August 24, 2421 — A decade from the day we found out once and for all that we are not alone in this universe. On that day, August 24, 2411, the earth stood in awe as the alien starship entered our atmosphere. To our dismay, it was World Senator Justin Kompetent who they came for. A man loathed for his anti-intellectual politics, but more so for his chair as President of the Flat Space Society — a group that aims to prove that Einstein’s four-dimensional spacetime is nothing but a NASA hoax.

The aliens were so disturbed by one of Earth’s own elected officials’ failure to understand the basic concepts of relativity that they flew hundreds of millions of light years to give him a demonstration.

The Flat Space Society claims roots dating to the twentieth century when Einstein’s theory of relativity blew our collective minds. While most of the world scooped up the bits of gooey mess and fit it back into their skulls, some remained unconvinced.

That was the birth of the Flat Space Society, or so their website says. They hold the theory that curved space time is unintuitive. According to them, particle accelerator experiments at CERN are a NASA myth.

Senator Kompetent rallied support to his side with a rewrite of history. Since the dawn of the twenty-second century, humanity had been locked out of space because of something known as the Kessler effect — an explosion in orbit that caused a chain reaction across all our space stations and 890,000 television satellites, blowing them all to a cloud of bullet speed debris. No satellite could again go into orbit, and no spaceship could leave our atmosphere without being shot up more times than Tony Montana.

Were it not for the Kessler effect, we might have colonized other planets, mined the asteroids, and come into contact with aliens centuries ago. Or maybe we could have built stronger rockets, as the alien ship had no problems descending through our cloud of trash.

What were they here for? Did they want our planet for their own use?

We aimed our missiles, but the aliens spoke fluent English. Being cybernetic life forms, it was just a matter of downloading the lexicon, syntax rules, and Urban Dictionary.

We found the aliens had come from the far side of the Laniakea Galactic Supercluster. Not to invade, not to explore, but out of concern over a portion of Earth’s people who refuse to believe in the concept of spacetime. “It’s been four hundred years!” they told us. “Stop being obtuse!”

“We watch your videos on our version of YouTube,” one alien said. “Our people are thin-skinned and will perform self-harm out of frustration with ignorance. Flat Space advocates on your earth forced our hand. We had to act!”

Another said, “If this whole thing is a government cover-up, are you not then suspicious that the guy pushing that story is in the government and can show no proof of this other than his word?”

Lastly, “It’s become a matter of life and death for us. Millions of our people are critically injured or dead from the face-palming over the trolls from your planet.”

“In the end, we took him to space and put him in a spaceship built for high-velocity racing,” the alien representative said. “We travelled across distances of space most humans cannot even begin to fathom, just to teach some idiot a lesson about basic astrophysics.”

The aliens consulted NASA to build a ship with the correct specifications for carrying a human. This new alien starship looked very much like the old NASA CAR — the eventual successor to the space shuttle program before the Kessler Effect locked humanity from the stars.

Then they took our senator to space.

The alien craft sped up at an incredible rate, approaching light speed velocity as far as we could see back here on earth. Were it not for the inertial dampeners, Senator Justin Kompetent would be a three-molecule thick puddle of goo on the back wall of the spacecraft.

Soon they were near light speed. In half an hour they would reach their destination, Alpha Centauri, 4.367 light years from Earth. Because of spacetime dilation, only an hour passed for the senator. Back on earth, years had passed.

When Senator Justin Kompetent returned, Earth waited to hear his experience of the last battle of the war between the intelligent and the ignorant.

“Now do you believe in the curvature of spacetime? That acceleration bends time?” the aliens asked the senator.

“Well no,” he says.

“Why?”

“Well, first off, whatever we travelled to didn’t look too far.”

The angry alien robot smacked his face so hard with his palm it left a dent. “That’s because of the contraction of space!”

“Well then, I saw the headlights on. I don’t know about you, but those photons leaving the headlights looks pretty close to light speed.”

“That’s because of the dilation of time!” The cybernetic life form scratched its nails down the side of its face, tearing into the metallic flesh.

“Fair enough, but I still don’t believe you.”

“And why’s that?”

“Remember when you built that spaceship?”

“Of course. Why?”

“You collaborated with NASA!”

Video game designer, writer, and professional hyperbolicizer of history and science