Friday, 8 June 2007

Bernard’s watch

An interesting kid's programme that had little Bernard have an old watch with a little button on the top that allowed him to start and stop time as he pleased. What a brilliant idea. I certainly thought that I could have had a lot of fun with something like that. Bernard unfortunately for the viewer, was one of the most well-behaved, morally upstanding individuals that the world has ever known.

A watch that stopped time, and allowed you to move through it all as if everyone in the world was doing their utmost to look like a statue would seem like a goldmine for miss-behaviour. Stealing sweets in shops, taking a wander through military structures, putting buckets of water over peoples' heads. Not to mention that you could carry out the world's biggest bank job over the course of about a day, and it would look like everything just disappears.

But it is around here that I think the problems start. Poor old Bernard, using his watch for maybe 6 hours a day (6 hours for him at least), would have lived 6 hours longer than anyone else did that day. That's 25%. So when his friends of the same birth year are all celebrating their 12th birthday, poor old Bernard will look suspiciously like he's 15. And when he should be 50, he'll be looking more like 62. Poor kid.

But with this particular logical can-of-worms comes a much larger and immediate danger for Bernard other than just his rapid aging. I don't like to use detailed logic to belittle what is essentially a program to make kids imagine possibilities and then have them undermined by the authors strict opinions on morals. In this case though I feel that they have brought this upon themselves.

In one episode, Bernard gets asked a tricky maths question. Bernard clicks his trusty watch and wanders over to a fortunately placed calculator. But oh-no! He can't use it when he's frozen time because it takes time for electrons to move! ELECTRONS?! I think they maybe have selectively ignored a rather large chunk of science. Is the author suggesting that everything stops down to a sub-atomic level? Surely he realises that this would mean that molecules would stop moving and therefore instantly reach absolute zero? Poor old Bernard takes one click of his watch and instantly dies of the environment freezing around him.

But from this gargantuan breach of the first law of thermodynamics, or perhaps a creation of a new type of "potential energy" that the watch stores, making it the single greatest battery in existence, capable of storing the entire universe's energy and transferring it out instantaneously without transmitting it through anything else, there comes another problem.

If all molecules stop moving, then pressure would instantly drop to zero atmospheres of pressure. There would be no energy in particles, so all bonds break, all solids become gasses instantly and who knows how this would affect gravity?

So in summary, Bernard gets told about this watch, gets very excited about all the things he can nick, or just the skirts that he can look up and clicks the watch. All surroundings suddenly stop moving. "Wow" Bernard thinks "its work..." at this point he stops as his entire body has all of its heat sucked out through whatever he is in contact with. This is luckily short lived, as he is then subjected to complete loss of pressure and his entire body is blown apart into a gaseous substance. We can only assume that the watch somehow survives by its design, and so the entire universe stops and all energy is held in a tiny pocket watch, surrounded by a shroud of gas in a completely dark universe.

Not so funny now is it Bernard?

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