Callum, Hung, Nuan and Ogwambi try to make Their New Year Celebrations that bit more special
I was hunched over the right side of the chair, Ogwambi from Uganda was hunched over the left side of the chair. Hung from Vietnam sat in the chair, with his fingers flying over the keys of the computer in-front of him. Nuan from China stood behind the chair her fingers resting on the head rest like she was perched there.
“Ok I’ve had the sensor array searching for the satellite that orbits the wormhole,” Hung said to us, “And it’s finally found it and is currently connecting.”
“What’s taking so long?” I asked.
“The satellite was protected by security protocols, thankful the Ark’s computer is much more sophisticated than human technology and it’s currently hacking the satellite,” Hung reported.
“What’s this?” Ogwambi said, tapping a section of the domed ceiling of the control centre, which was also the main viewscreen.
He was pointing at a rotating symbol, it resembled a fish swimming around and around a small circle.
“Maybe it represents something loading, it’s what the aliens who built the Ark use for showing the computer is working stuff out,” Nuan suggested. “Like the hourglass symbol on our computers.”
“They used fish as timers?” I said.
“Different world different technology,” she replied.
“Hmm,” the rest of us said musing on this idea.
The symbol then disappeared and suddenly a new screen layout appeared. It was in a format that I recognised, an OS application that the satellite used when communicating with NASA.
“Ok now we need to isolate the data that pertains to the planet we’re heading to,” Nuan said.
“That shouldn’t be too hard,” Hung said, and he started searching the data coming through.
An image appeared of the wormhole, the halfway point of our journey through space to a new homeworld. According to a documentary I once watched about it, the WH leads to another part of the Milky Way galaxy entirely.
“Looks like a ball,” Ogwambi said, “Not a hole in space.”
Hung made the image disappear and new data arrived. “Diagnostic equipment check,” he said then moved on. “Wormhole radiation data,” he said and moved on. “This is data on the solar system on the other end of the wormhole,” he declared.
“There are five planets in the system, which one is the new homeworld?” I asked.
“Third from the sun surely,” Ogwambi said.
“It doesn’t work that way,” Nuan said. “It’s whatever planet lies in the goldilocks zone. The range of figures that almost guarantee a planet is habitable.”
“Like?” Hung asked.
“Distance from the sun, for one,” Hung said, and he smiled a little when he realised that she had made a little rhyme.
Hung brought up a screen from the human database, it was search results from habitable planets range? “According to this Earth is/was, 147.13 million kilometres from the sun, that would be a good starting point," Ogwambi said.
“There, that planet,” Hung said pointing at the second planet from the sun.
“Now we know the planet, let’s see the rest of the data and figure this out,” Ogwambi said.
Hung brought up all the data he could on the planet, it looked like meaningless numbers to me.
“Please tell me that the Ark computer can just tell us what we need to know?” I asked.
“Nope it’s just data, we have to calculate it ourselves,” Hung said.
“Right so there must be a calculation some scientist came up years ago for this and all we have to do is plug in the right data,” Ogwambi said and he sat down at a workstation next to Hung and started searching the human database contained in the Ark’s computer.
“Here we are,” Ogwambi said, when he found something, “A scientist called Kepler created this calculation.” He put it above us on the main screen.
We looked at the dome and I saw what looked like to me an equation. I always hated Algebra and just staring at the symbols and numbers gave me a headache and Maths flashbacks.
“According to this a is the sum of the semi-major axes of the ellipses in which the centres of the bodies move, or equivalently, the semi-major axis of the ellipse in which one body moves, in the frame of reference with the other body at the origin,” Ogwambi said.
“What does that mean?” Nuan asked?
“I’m just reading what it says here,” he replied. “M1 + M2 is the sum of the masses of the two bodies, G is the gravitational constant.”
“I recognise the thing that looks like a table, that’s Pi,” Nuan said.
I took a seat next to Hung and searched for Pi in the computer and got a near infinite number for my trouble.
“Ok that’s pie, I mean Pi,” I said.
“The gravitational constant is this number, I have no idea what this means,” Hung said, accessing the data from the database.
“We can see the masses of the star the planet is orbiting and the planet itself,” Ogwambi said.
So how do we figure out A?” I asked.
“It’s a bit beyond you at the moment,” said a voice behind us.
We all turned and saw One.
“What are you doing here this late?” he asked.
“We’re trying to calculate how long a year is on the homeworld we’re going to,” Ogwambi answered.
“Why?” One asked. "Shouldn't you all be in the Anti-gravity room ringing in the New Year with everyone else?"
“Some of us got talking, this new planet we're going to, its year might be longer or shorter than our own, so working to the old Earth year might not work anymore and we need to adapt sooner rather than later. We hope that by discovering how long a year is on our new world, we can start a fresh year properly.” Nuan replied.
“We were all thinking that we should think ahead and start a new calendar,” Hung added.
One walked over and looked at our data. “Out of all the things Dr Ghost and his people planned for this trip, he did neglect to create a new calendar based on what we knew about the new homeworld. However you have a problem." he said.
"What?" we all replied.
"I can help you calculate the length of a year, but in all honesty you need to factor in a lot more than just its length. You need to figure out the length of days, new timings for hours and take into account the orbits of moons our new world would have."
"We can still..."Ogwambi said.
One held up his watch, "With only ten minutes left until the New Year starts," he said.
We all looked at the watch. "Wow we've been in here for an hour," Hung said.
"Therefore missing out on an hour of celebrating," One said chastising us. "Come on Arkonauts let's get to the anti-gravity room and ring in the New Year," he said.
He managed to shoo us out of the control centre and back to the antigravity room
"Despite our failure to set a New Year we have created a new, New Year's tradition," I said to One as we returned to the antigravity room. I stood with One at the door while the others went and took their places in a long line of Arkonauts winding around the room.
"Really, what is it?" One asked.
“Tonga was always the first country to celebrate the New Year back on earth so Fe'ao…" I said pointing at the Tongan boy holding a party popper in both hands in anticipation, he was at the far end of the line and he waved to me, "…Will go first then everyone else after that, in accordance with whose country is next to celebrate new year’s."
"Who is last?" One asked.
"Samoa, from American Samoa," I replied pointing at Samoa who was closest to the door.
"I'm the only Arkonaut whose name matches my country’s name," she pointed out.
"I'm sure that will come up in pub quiz at some point," I said, "When pubs exist again." Then I turned to One. "We need you to weaken the gravity right at the end of the year and the beginning of the next so when the poppers go off the anti-gravity kicks in."
"Filling the room with lots of paper," One said.
"We’ll tidy it up," I said.
"Yes you will," One replied. “Very well.”
"Please do the countdown One, we're only a few minutes away from midnight," I said and I went and took my place in the line.
One put his hand on the dial that upped and reduced the gravity then held up his wrist to look at his watch.
I prepared the party popper I had, pulling the little string loose so it would pop without a hitch.
One then looked at Fe'ao and said, "Ten, Nine, Eight, Seven..."
I tensed up, other Arkonauts were doing the same getting ready to fill the room with brightly coloured paper.
"Four, three, two, ONE," One shouted, and he turned the dial right down.
I felt my body go weightless and then popping started.
Fe'ao unleashed his popper first then down the line the popping continued. Individuals would go and in some cases clusters of countries who ring in the New Year together.
The hall quickly became filled with paper streaming everywhere, not brought down by gravity. A small cloud of smoke also formed from the mass of 250 party poppers. Some people even went flying a little through the air propelled by their poppers and Newton’s third law.
I unleashed mine with most of the western European and some African countries.
Samoa finished the procession with a cheer and we all shouted happy New Year.
I glided through the air gathering streams of paper as I went.
We all started sharing New Year’s traditions. Carlton got a bunch of South American countries singing Auld Lang Sine and Alba had 12 grapes each for a bunch of people from the Middle East. Oda was ringing a bell along with Bae, apparently they had to do it 108 times.
I ended up with One by the door. He was watching his crew all laugh, cheer and share, despite the fact the year they were celebrating technically no longer existed as the planet it applied to was destroyed.
“Any New Year’s resolutions?” I asked him.
“Yes…” he began, “…I’m going to get this wonderful crew to their new home.”
“Good choice,” I said, and turned back to the Arkonauts and re-joined the celebrations.