The Tulip Driven Life Podcast

Monday, October 7, 2013

The Oerken Tree: Space Travel

By: Thomas Clayton Booher

Here is a previous post in this series: Here

If one is going to write about three youngsters who are summoned from planet Earth to another planet in a galaxy not that far away (only 2.5 million light years), they have to have a way to get there. How far is 2.5 million light years, anyway?

Matt, one of the three siblings of the novel, the youngest to be exact, was roused from his sleep their first night on the planet because Caleb, his older brother, left a desk lamp on. Matt was pretty dreary. After all they had had a longer than usual day (literally) and a late night of it. He would have called out to Caleb to take care of the little problem, but Caleb was snoring away, which apparently signaled there was nothing that would awaken him short of a not so gentle shake. Matt might have thought of throwing his pillow, but if that didn’t work, he’d have to get up for sure, just to get his pillow back. It might have been worth the try, but I suspect Michelangelo had something to do with it, too. Michelangelo was a sheep dog from England that had made his way to the planet somewhere in the 1830s or so, Earth years, that is. The dog slept all day and was now spending the night beside Matt’s bed. Matt might have been thinking he wouldn’t want to wake him; but about the only thing that would rouse Michelangelo were some yank bones (not from real yanks – they’re like milk bones, but yank flavored, artificially most likely if any on the planet were avid animal lovers).

In case you’re wondering what this has to do with space travel, let me tell you a bit more. Matt got up and made his way to the desk. The Bible lay there open, and Matt figured Caleb must have been looking at it after he was lights out (a phrase, by the way, which governor Bigsley’s butler, Bentley, found so curious earlier that evening he made a note of it; the governor was always looking for something to submit to Lord Milo’s Interplanetary Dictionary of Unusual Words and Phrases). Curiously it was open to Romans 8 and several verses were underlined. One said that the whole creation groans, and Matt remembered how he had heard a whole sermon on it once. Another verse mentioned height and depth and. . .

“Whoaaa,” Matt breathed. A shivery thrill went through him. He remembered the Starliner in the tree. It hung in blackness – blackness that seemed bottomless. Space. They had traveled into the vast depths of space. They had traveled deep into a groaning creation and landed on a tiny planet where there seemed to be no groaning. Not that he could see, anyhow. Matt read the rest:

Nor height nor depth, nor any other created thing, shall be able to separate us from the love of God which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.

Two and a half million light years. That’s what Amos had said. Matt was not sure how far that was except that he knew if he were able to wave to his parents from the bedroom window, it would be two and a half million years before they would see him; it would take that long for the light to reach Earth.
Matt missed Mom and Dad. He turned the lamp out and went back to bed.

Matt probably knew light traveled pretty fast. He should have learned in his general science class that it takes the sun’s light about 8 minutes and 20 seconds to reach Earth, which might sound like a long time for something as fast as light to travel – until you realize it’s 93,000,000 miles between the Earth and the sun. That means light moves at about 186,000 miles a second. A SECOND!

If you want to get anywhere in the universe, you’d have to floor it. Actually, you’d have to travel faster than the speed of light. Here’s a good one, which Matt might have lingered over if he weren’t so worn out. He and his brother and sister (Caleb and Josie – they’re twins) left Earth earlier that day, and arrived in plenty of time to have dinner that evening (with hot fudge sundaes!). How do you figure? Earth was 2,500,000 light years away, and even if they were traveling 186,000 miles a second, it would take 2,500,000 years to get there. If Matt were thinking clearly, which he might not have been (I’ll say why in a second), he’d have remembered the trip had taken only about an hour or so. That’s 2,500,000 light years an hour, which doesn’t sound very possible (and I’m guessing most astronomers and those in the know would agree) – unless they had taken a short cut. But what kind of short cut can get you from Earth to. . .  wherever they were. . .  in a blink? Well, not a blink; but an hour is still pretty short.  By the way, they ate in the Blueberry room, one of about nine dining rooms in the place where they’re staying.

Like I was saying, though, Matt’s mind must have been pretty groggy. He remembers a Starliner in a tree back on Earth, hanging in bottomless blackness. Right.