Written In The Stars
It was the oddest-looking fountain pen I’d ever seen. Then again, you had to expect a certain quotient of oddness from the sci-techs. Always messing around with stuff: Eternal fidgets. Today it just happened to be a writing implement designed to work inside a black hole, tomorrow it might be some sort of deep-sea diver sling-backs. Perfect for ballroom dancing on the ocean floor. The scientist unveiling this marvel delighted in explaining the scientific laws that had to be broken in order to make it.
I had to ask. “Does it, you know, work at all outside of the influence of a black hole?”
“Ah, well, you see… when a force of over a gazillion Earth gravities is not trying to pull this pen apart, it’s quite hard to draw the ink into the nib.”
“So it’s of no real use, then.”
“I wouldn’t say that. The technologies we had to develop to get this thing built in the first place were absolutely mind-blowing. First we had to build a bigger hadron collider.”
I started to get the feeling that this scientist was totally Southend –by which I mean a long way past Barking. “You… built a new collider? Bigger, like, than the one in Switzerland?”, I inquired.
“Oh, yes. The one at CERN was way too small. OK for a pencil or a felt-tip pen on a dwarf star, but not capable of replicating the stresses that a black hole brings to bear on writing materials. Had to have a new collider. Essential really.”
“So, after trillions of dollars spent on producing this pen, what sort of benefits can we expect from its development?”
“Well the good news is that, even if scientists were, by some freak accident, stuck all the way inside a black hole, they could still sign off their expenses forms. Even there! A most impressive fountain pen.”
“Would you say that this is a great day for science?”
“And mankind, boy! Don’t forget them, now! Truly it is, a great day for us all.”