Relativity
by volta arovet
The Odyssey fic
Models of the universe, the eternal conflict between scientists and philosophers, and breaking the universe one day at a time

"It's a matter of relativity, or rather, time dilation," Fractal said without preamble.

"Different perceptions of time or separate measurements of time?" Brad asked. That was one of the best things about being with Brad; Fractal could start conversations in the middle without bothering with banal introductions.

"The effects of apparent age and time experience on the maturation rate of an individual." Fractal settled himself primly on the dock, brushing away any specks of dirt that threatened to stain his pristine lab coat. Brad lay on his back, lazily trailing one bare foot through the water. He nodded at Fractal to continue.

"Your average kid may assume that one year of experienced time would equal one year of maturation, and yet that does not seem to correlate with the distribution of ages throughout the world."

"You mean how there are more twelve- and thirteen-year-olds than all other age groups put together?" Brad asked. "I have a few theories on that, myself."

"My model is based on the diminished returns as time progresses. I hypothesize that there is an upper limit to age, a maturation point "c" which we are all tending towards at rate "r" but will never achieve because as experienced time "t" increases, relative age "a" works as the function a equals f of t equals c times the sum of one minus the inverse ofr times the sum of t plus the inverse of r, causing the age to approach c continually but by ever-decreasing increments as t approaches infinity."

"Hm," Brad said, and flicked his toe at a fish. "What is the upper limit? Fifteen?"

"Actually, through meticulous analysis of data, I have determined that the maximum age is, in fact, sixteen." He raised an eyebrow at Brad, who thought this over.

"So the only reason we've never seen a fifteen-year-old is because it takes too long to go from fourteen to fifteen?" Brad mused.

"Yes!" Fractal clapped his hands. "And the beauty of my model, as opposed to Joule's model of logarithmic progression, which is," he snorted, "highly laughable and has an R-squared value of only point-eight-five, is that my model preserves but still accounts for the age differentiation between individuals while still accounting for the convergence of peer groups over time while still discounting the possibility of progression into adulthood." He looked to Brad proudly, who was squinting at a dragonfly hovering over his nose.

"So the older kids are always going to be the older kids," Brad said, "but we're still always going to be kids." He turned to Fractal. "What if we're not?"

Fractal's entire face scrunched up. "What if we're not what?"

"What if one of us turns sixteen?" Brad was deadly serious—he was always serious, actually, it's just that sometimes he neglected to hide it under that demeanor of peaceful laziness.

Fractal waved him off. "Physically impossible."

"But what if?"

Fractal muttered, "Philosophers..." and rolled his eyes. "Then the laws of physics as we know them would break down and the world as we know it would be torn apart limb from metaphorical, subatomic limb."

"Oh," Brad said, and he was doing far too much cloud-gazing and far too little praising for Fractal's tastes. He wasn't even debating with him, for goodness sake!

"Oh? Oh?!" Fractal leaned over Brad until he eclipsed his view of the sun and most of the sky. "Possibly the greatest breakthrough in the history of our world, a major leap down the path to a grand unifying theory of everything, and all you can say is 'Oh?'"

"I turned fourteen today." Brad's face was utterly blank.