To us simple folk, the chemistry of pop-tarts baffles us - the machinations of the television: magic.
But there exist men to which these things are mere triffles, bite-sized gambits of logic to solve over breakfast.
You're entering a different world: The world of science. A world of men with pocket protectors and bored wives.
They spend a lifetime lost in labcoats and equations: while we struggle to figure out bus timetables, they ruminate such subjects as origins of the universe. Despite what their wives tell them, they don't have their heads in the clouds: they dwell in the lofty heights of beyond: space.
When dusk settles, lights slowly flicker out, the electronic chatter of the world slowly fades. Cell phones are laid to rest. Even truckers, hurtling down the black highways, pause their tirade of CB obscenities to concentrate on the murk of stimulants and dark roads.
This is the Time of Scientists. Eager at the controls: arrays of satellite dishes, having slept through the day, sleepily spin their engines to speed, and in unison, they turn their faces to the heavens, hoping to be the one that tonight might catch the scrap of light, the burst of xray or the crepuscular glow of an unknown world.
There is, however, one problem: a problem of numbers. Like the single surviving hostess in a plane crash, the telescopes are outnumbered by the natives. And, since the untimely banning of to-the-death academic deathmatches, scientists are forced to take a number and wait, with nervous anticipation, before they can run their fingers over the dials of the telescope control rooms.
Some scientists have to wait for months, even years to get a window of operation time. Marked on their calendar with a large red X, they become more anxious and nervous as the day approaches. They begin to self doubt: are the numbers correct? What if the weather is bad? Where's my damn slide rule?
So: it would be no stretch of the imagination to assume, that on the Night of Nights, the scientists want everything to go to plan. No solar flares. No stray EMF. Even a mobile phone call can render results useless - let alone physical interference, such as explorers climbing all over the telescope dish.
with that said, I would like to extend my apologies to the scientists that were working on the telescope a few weeks ago.
We arrived at 3AM, assured that by now, the dish would be 'put to bed' - in its dormant position. During our trek through the muddy field, it was revealed this was not the case.
Someone was working late. The dish was fully rotated, peering off a few degrees above the horizon.
We got closer. Pushing through the nettles and barbed wire, the enormity of the task became apparent. Steel girders, the width of cars, patched together to form a lattic that held the dish. Pulsing orange lights, and the solid hum of electricity assured us that what were were witnessing was serious business. The bearings that the dish rests on are from battleships. Behind the clockwork nightmare of gear lie huge Rolls Royce engines. Countless layers of steel and bolts hold this bohemoth in place. It rests on a giant circular train track, to facilitate rotation.
On the edge of the track: the control room. Brightly lit, we could see the boffins shifting their stares between computer screens, and every so often, the dish itself.
And there, flanking the largest girder of all, a ladder: dwarfed by the superstructure around it.
Fingers meshed into the chainlock fence, we decided, despite the fact it was very, very muchly in use, to go for it.
Over the fence, through the barbed wire, we picked our way through the rusty graveyard of telescopic paraphenalia that lay just inside the compound.
Bathed in orange light, and in full view of the control room, we dashed across the rails, to the bottom steps. Seconds later, the compound went into lockdown.
Floodlights sprang into life, drowning us, in black, against the white of the telescope. There was nothing to do but run.
Cowering in the bushes, we passed thirty minutes of speculation: was it coincidence? Would there be security? until the lights snapped off as suddenly as they'd snapped on.
4AM arrived. The cold set in, and the sky took on a light blue wash. We mounted the fence, this time with a revised approach: stay off the walkways - we'd scramble the girders themselves.
The steel was cold. Giant flecks of rust and whitewash peeled off in our hands. After thirty seconds of intense climbing, we were above the line of lights. We peered down through a mix of adrenaline and sweat to see the infrared trip that we'd previously set off. We prepared ourselves for the epic climb to the edge of the dish.
However, before we could move, the hum of electricity was drowned out by a rising whine. The motors that powered this until now passive giant started to wind up. The intensity of the sound drilled into our ears, and just as it reached its most painful, the scope began to rotate: in the direction of the control room. We had moments to move in any direction: if we froze, we could concievably rotate directly in front of the control room and security hut - not the result we were hoping for.
so as the dish built up speed, we shot down the girders, trying to grip hard against the vvibrations that were now oscillating through the entire structure, in tune to the heavy rumbling.
Finally at the bottom, hearts in our mouth, we retreated, defeated, for the second time.
430AM arrived. Against all common sense, we ran back to the dish for a final attempt, the agreement: stop at nothing.
15 minutes of exhausting climbing later, we were at the edge of the dish. By now, it was well and truly dawn. The sky was splashed with pink, the burning glow of the sun just below the horizon.
Due to its rotation, we couldn't venture to the dish itself, but were confined to the massive engine rooms, which on two occasions sprang into life, only further adding to our levels of stress and adrenaline.
Finally, at 515AM, we dropped down, exhausted, pushed our way through the nettles to a railbridge, and in the shadow of the dish, watched trains rumble past beneath us as the sun rose.