日常- nichijou, Arawi Keiichi


After discussing and clarifying things beforehand, the four girls set out towards two different hilltops, the two of them conveniently almost exactly 10 kilometers apart.

Mio and Yukko are together in one pair, and they head towards the high hill in the southeast. Mai and Nano are the other pair, and they head towards the small mountain in the north. Everything had been worked out beforehand with Google Maps, so there's absolutely no chance of getting lost. For sure.

They're going to be camping at a relatively high altitude on a late October night for this experiment, so they're all well bundled up. Jackets and everything. Yukko and Mio are both have their backpacks with them, and Mio is carrying the bright electrical lantern. Mio's the one carrying it because everyone agreed that it would be safer if Yukko wasn't entrusted with carrying that kind of delicate apparatus. The lantern has one of those shutters that can rapidly open and close, which is vital for the experiment.

"Are we there yet?" asks Yukko.

Mio is focusing on the phone in her left hand. "Just about there," she says.

"I wonder if Mai-chan and Nano-chan have arrived yet?" Yukko asks, looking north. "Let's phone them."

"There aren't any bars here," Mio says, pointing to her cell phone. "Besides, I thought we were going to be all time period authentic for this?"

"Traditional," Yukko says. "Feh. That lantern's electric, isn't it?"

"I meant the general concept," Mio says. "Lanterns are trivial details. Electric or not, they do the same thing, don't they? Light."

"Feh," says Yukko.

"Okay, stop," Mio says. "We should be here."

Yukko takes a look around at the grassy hill they're standing on. "Ooh, I see. The rock."

"Mm," says Mio, looking at the giant rock. They had chosen this exact location because of how recognizable the rock had looked from Google satellite view.

They set down their packs and start setting up camp. "Only twenty-two minutes until sunset," Mio says. "Let's set things up quickly."

"Mm," says Yukko. She sets down her pack and starts helping Mio set up the tent.

Soon, the sun is more or less on the horizon.

"I don't see them yet," Mio says, looking north west, squinting her eyes.

"Oh, give them some time," says Yukko. "Wait, first let me try something."

"Hm?" Mio turns to look at Yukko curiously. Yukko lies flat on the ground on her front, facing the sunset. The sun's so close to the horizon now that it doesn't actually pain her eyes much to look directly at it.

Several seconds pass in silence.

"Oh, give it a minute," Yukko says. "It's not gonna happen for some time yet."

"Hm," Mio says, turning away. She sets down the lantern and flicks it on, making sure that the shutter is open. She turns it to face the mountain where Mai and Nano should be arriving soon. Then, she takes out her stopwatch and tests it to make sure that it works.

00:00.00

00:00.62

00:01.19

00:01.68

00:02.19

00:02.63

00:03.05

00:03.38

00:03.70

"Okay, the stopwatch works," Mio says, nodding. She resets the timer and then sits down on the grass. "Do you want to time it, Yukko, or should I?"

"Um…" Yukko says. She's still lying down on the grass. "What's the other option?

"Controlling the lantern," says Mio.

"Dibs on the lantern," says Yukko, still lying low on the ground.

"Okay," Mio says. She looks around. She still doesn't see the other pair's lantern yet. "So, as we decided previously, we're going to be observer A," she says. "So I guess we'll be timing first."

"All right!" Yukko says.

"Remember, we're taking turns, so sooner or later, we'll switch so that they have a chance to use their stopwatch as well," Mio says. "I know this isn't how they did it originally, but I thought that this was a good idea because Mai-chan probably has the best reaction time out of all of us. If we gave her a chance, we'd probably get more accurate results."

"Hey!" Yukko says. "My reaction time's not too shabby either."

"Mm," Mio says dismissively, not taking sides.

About a minute passes in silence.

"Yukko," Mio starts, "do you remember—"

"Ah, ah, it's starting!" Yukko smiles, visibly excited.

"Huh?" Mio turns to look at Yukko.

"Hush, hush," Yukko says, waving her arm dismissively, not taking her eyes off the sunset.

The sky is pretty dark now. From Yukko's point of view, the sun is barely peaking off the horizon. It's slowly dropping lower and lower… and then none of the sun is showing anymore. It's now completely hidden behind the horizon.

Yukko immediately jumps up, standing on her tip-toes, peering at the horizon.

"Aha!" she shouts. "Two sunsets in one day! All right!" She pumps her fist in the air.

"Ah…" Mio says, sweat-dropping.

A few seconds pass in silence.

Mio speaks. "You know, there's actually a lot of mathematics involved in the explanation—"

"You were saying something, Mio-chan, something about the experiment?" Yukko says loudly, interrupting Mio.

Mio blinks. "Ah, right," she says. "Do you remember the procedure?"

"No, let's hear it," Yukko says, grinning.

Mio sighs in exasperation. "All right, come here," says Mio, gesturing to a spot on the ground next to the lantern. Mio reaches into her backpack and pulls out a notebook as Yukko seats herself.

"Let's have a look," Yukko grins, holding the notebook up to the lantern.

"Observer A is in command, as you remember," Mio says, looking at the mountain in the distance.

"That's us," Yukko confirms.

"That's us first," Mio corrects. "Remember, for the purpose of fairness, both of us will eventually be A at some point."

"Huh?" Yukko tilts her head. "That's just needlessly complicated."

"Yukko, you were the one so vehemently set on being observer A that we had to make this compromise."

"Oh." Yukko blinks. "Oh yeah!" she grins.

Mio continues. "In any case, step 0 says that when we arrive, we turn on the lantern and open the shutter, indicating that we're ready to go."

"We are ready to go," Yukko says, looking up towards the mountain in the distance. "It's them that's not ready to go."

"Ah, don't worry about them," Mio says, waving her hand dismissively. "Also, it's the same thing for them: When B arrives, they turn on their lantern like us. So after the setup is step 1. Once both parties are ready, A closes the shutter," Mio says, holding up a finger. "Next, when B sees us close our shutter, they close their shutter too."

"You remember all this from memory?" Yukko asks.

Mio just nods nonchalantly. "Step 3: A opens their shutter and starts their timer." Mio holds up their stopwatch. "Step 4: As soon as B sees us open our shutter, they open their shutter too. And finally, step 5: We stop timing when we see the light from B. This is how Galileo first tried to measure the speed of light back in the 1600s."

"What was the year exactly?" asks Yukko.

"I don't remember," Mio says, shrugging.

"Why's 'c' the speed of light?" Yukko asks. "Why not 'h' or 'l' or something?"

"I don't know," says Mio.

"Hm…" says Yukko.

A few minutes pass.

"It's starting to really get cold," Yukko says, shivering a bit.

"Oh, man up," Mio says teasingly.

"Maybe I should've brought more layers," mutters Yukko.

In the distance, a small light blinks into existence, signalling that observer B has turned on their lantern. The experiment can now start.

"Okay hey, they're ready," Mio says, standing up.

"Ooh, lantern, lantern," Yukko says, carefully picking it up.

"Okay, just a sec, let me make sure everything's ready," says Mio. She picks up the timer and her notebook and pencil. After shifting the items back and forth between either hand, she settles on holding the stopwatch in her right hand and the notebook and pencil in her left hand. "Okay, go," says Mio.

Yukko flicks the switch on the lantern, closing the shutter, drowning the two of them in darkness. This hill here is rather far away from civilization, so there's relatively little light pollution compared to in the city. In the distance, after a short pause, that light disappears as well.

"Okay, how should we do this?" Mio says aloud. "How about at the count of three?"

"Mm," Yukko says.

"Ready…" Mio starts.

"Ready…" says Yukko.

They count together. "One… two… three."

The moment they speak the third number, Yukko flicks open the shutter and Mio starts the timer.

00:00.08

—and Yukko spots the distant light blinking on, prompting her to immediately close her shutter. Upon this happening, Mio immediately stops the timer.

"Uh," says Mio.

"That was fast," Yukko says.

"As expected," Mio reminds. "Uh, can I get some light here?"

Yukko flicks open the shutter and points it Mio's way.

"Ack, not right in my eye," Mio says, holding up her arms. "Lower! Lower! Okay hm… let's see…" Mio looks down at the stopwatch.

00:00.36

"Point three six seconds," Mio says, copying the numbers into the notebook. "I think the start may have been a little off synch. Let's try that again."

Yukko nods, closing the shutter as Mio resets the stopwatch. The light in the distance blinks off.

"Let's count downwards this time," Mio suggests.

"Sure," Yukko says.

"Three," Mio starts.

The three of them continue the countdown together. "Two, one, zero."

Flick.

00:00.07

—distance blinks on, and then Yukko shuts the shutter and Mio stops timing.

"How was that?" Yukko asks.

"Sure, a little better, I think," Mio says, nodding. "Lights?"

Yukko opens the shutter and points the lantern at the stopwatch.

00:00.29

"Y'know, do we really need to turn off our lantern here?" Mio asks while writing down the number.

"Huh?" Yukko says.

"I mean, after we turn on our lantern, the only other thing we need to do in that particular trial is stop the timer," Mio says. "Yeah, now that I think about it, turning off our light is unnecessary."

"True, true," Yukko says, nodding. She closes the shutter on their lantern. Darkness.

The light in the distance blinks off.

"Three, two, one, press."

00:00.07

—blinks on, and Mio stops timing.

"Well, how was it?" Yukko asks, turning to Mio.

"Mm," Mio nods. "Point two four seconds." She carefully writes this into her notebook.

"It's getting faster," Yukko grins.

"No, it's just their reaction time," Mio says, looking off into the distance. The smallish point of light there blinks off. "They must be getting the hang of this experiment, and they're reacting quicker."

"Mm, mm," Yukko nods. "How fast is light actually, anyway? I know it's like really fast. I've called long-distance to someone on the other side of the world before, and the lag wasn't too noticeable."

"It's somewhere around three hundred thousand kilometers per second," Mio says.

Yukko grins, holding up a finger. "So, one could say that in this experiment, the speed of light is negligible and the only factor at play is our reaction time—"

"Though technically, we're not supposed to know that yet," Mio says.

"Huh?" Yukko says, tilting her head. "What do you mean? It's like the common era now!"

"Common era started 2011 years ago," Mio says.

"I mean like the modern era," Yukko says.

"Mm." Mio nods. "Still, we should get into the spirit of the Galileo time period. If we're acting in character, we don't have any scientific presumptions before performing this experiment."

"Electrical lamp," Yukko points to the lantern.

"Close enough, same difference," Mio says, shrugging.

"You mean 'feh'."

"Ah, don't worry, Yukko," Mio smiles. "The intent here is to gradually work our way up, ramping up accuracy exponentially as we move on in school. I mean, we know from the class lesson that the knowledge and technology in the 1600s was unable to do an observation of something as fast as the speed of light."

"For that really accurate number for the speed of light… When did people learn that, anyway?" Yukko asks.

"I don't remember," says Mio. "Relatively recently, I think."

Yukko nods contemplatively. "Mn."

In the distance, the light begins blinking on and off rapidly.

"Ack, they must be annoyed that we're taking too long," Mio says, reaching over and closing the shutter.

The distant light blinks off as well.

"Okay, let's try it again!" Yukko says enthusiastically.

The numbers that they get for the next three trials are:

00:00.25

00:00.19

00:00.21

"I still don't think we're syncing it properly," Yukko complains. "You're probably starting the timer too late. The times that we're getting here are way too short."

"This is authentic," Mio smiles, writing down the latest result. "Back then, they didn't have electronic stopwatches, so inaccuracy is to be expected. I think back then, they actually used drop timers. This container of water with a tiny hole in the middle so that the water would vry slowly drip into the bottom part. And they took elapsed time by counting the drops. Very not accurate."

"Well, we're in the modern age now," Yukko huffs. "Hm. Well, I know exactly when I'm going to turn on the light, so I should be the one to control the timer and stuff."

"That does make sense, I suppose," Mio says smiling, handing the stopwatch over to Yukko.

"Okay, how does this thing work?" Yukko asks.

"Ehh," Mio says. "You've never used a stopwatch before?"

"Well sure!" Yukko retorts. "A long time ago! I think. Maybe. But I've forgotten. Sort of."

"There's two buttons," Mio points.

"I realize that," Yukko says huffily.

"All right, that one," Mio starts, lifting her finger to point.

"Wait, just a sec," Yukko awkwardly juggles the lantern and stopwatch between her arms. The lantern's handle is quite distant from the shutter switch. "Um, how can I time it if...? Well maybe…" Yukko glances at Mio and then hands the lantern over to her.

"Oh, I see. Okay, I think this might work," Mio says. She holds the lantern with both hands. "So, just make sure you flick the shutter at the same time as the stopwatch."

"Right, okay," Yukko says. "Stopwatch. Um, what's this button do?"

"As I was saying," says Mio. "Right. That right one starts and stops the timer. If you push the left one while the timer is stopped, it resets the timer."

"Right," Yukko nods.

"And if you push the left one while the timer is still going, it pauses the display without stopping the timer."

"Right, I see." Yukko starts the timer.

00:00.68

00:01.21

"Wait, really?" Yukko grins, looking down at the timer.

00:02.73

00:03.23

00:03.80

00:04.28

00:04.72

00:05.18

Yukko presses the left button.

00:05.35

"And the horses reach the quarter point at five point thirty-five seconds!" Yukko announces. "Mark!"

00:05.35

00:05.35

00:05.35

Yukko presses the left button again, and the timer immediately jumps from five seconds to eleven seconds.

00:11.85

00:12.44

00:12.99

00:13.52

00:13.95

"Whoa, awesome!" Yukko grins.

"You're the only person I know who can get so excited about a simple stopwatch," Mio says in an amused tone.

"Well, it's the year 1600, right?" Yukko starts.

"Hm… Well no—" says Mio.

"So, this… precise timing technology is simply amazing!" Yukko gushes. "It's like the work of black wizardry! Witchcraft! You'd probably get burnt at the stake if you were ever found with one of these!"

"Actually, the Salem witch trials happened in 1692," Mio says.

"If we were in 1600, we could probably pawn this off for a lot of money," Yukko says. "But with backwards inflation... Then again, maybe not so much. Heh, heh," She smiles as she presses the right button and then the left button.

00:00.00

"And again, I don't exactly remember the year of this experiment… And Nakamura-sensei said that she cared more about the understanding of the concepts rather than the dates…" Mio trails off. "No matter! Back on topic!"

"All right," Yukko says as she leans down and flicks a switch on the lantern in Mio's arms, closing the shutters. The light in the distance had turned off a long time ago.

With the stopwatch in her left hand and the switch in her right, Yukko waits for a few seconds. Then, she flicks the shutter switch, pressing the stopwatch button at the same time. The timer starts. The distant light blinks on. She presses the button again.

00:00.19

"Damn, that was fast," Yukko says.

They do it again.

00:00.23

And again.

00:00.21

And again.

00:00.17

And again.

00:00.19

And again.

00:00.22

Again.

00:00.18

Again.

00:00.16

Again.

00:00.19

Again.

00:00.18

Again.

00:00.16

"Okay, I don't believe this," Yukko bristles. "There's no way that Mai-chan can be reacting so quickly. I'm like barely reacting in time to stop the timer as it is."

"Do you think she may be false-starting?" Mio asks.

"Hmmmmmmmmm," Yukko says suspiciously.

"Uh… Okay," Mio says, coming up with an idea. "If you want to make sure that this isn't happening, maybe wait for a random amount of time before turning on the light," Mio suggests. "For example, first wait really long, and then really short, and then medium, and then really long again. That way, there's no way that she'll be able to foretell when the light will turn on. If she's false-starting, we can catch her that way."

"Ah, good idea," Yukko says, closing the shutters.

She waits for 35 seconds.

Flick, there's the blink, and then she stops timing.

00:00.18

Again. This time Yukko doesn't even wait 1 second after closing the shutters.

Flick, blink, and stop timing.

00:00.17

Again. Yukko waits 13 seconds.

Flick, blink, stop timing.

00:00.15

Again. Yukko waits 13 seconds.

Flick, blink, stop timing.

00:00.16

Again. She waits 5 seconds.

Flick, blink, stop.

00:00.16

Again. She waits 42 seconds.

Flick, blink, stop.

00:00.15

She waits 6 seconds.

Flick blink stop.

00:00.17

She waits 3 seconds.

Flick blink stop.

00:00.18

She waits 5 seconds.

00:00.15

She waits 7 seconds.

00:00.16

She waits 8 seconds.

00:00.14

She waits 4 seconds.

00:00.16

She waits 85 seconds.

00:00.18

She waits 69 seconds.

00:00.17

She waits 42 seconds.

00:00.15

She waits 13 seconds.

00:00.15

She waits 4 seconds.

00:00.16

"GAHHH!" Yukko shouts in frustration. "I can't believe this! There's no way that girl's reflexes are this good!"

Mio just watches in amusement.

Yukko waits 2 seconds.

00:00.16

She waits 3 seconds.

00:00.14

Waits 1 second.

00:00.16

Waits 1 second.

00:00.15

Waits 1 second.

00:00.14

Waits 1 second.

00:00.15

Waits 1 second.

00:00.15

Waits 1 second.

00:00.16

Waits 1 second.

00:00.15

Waits 1 second.

00:00.14

Waits 1 second.

00:00.14

Waits 1 second.

00:00.11

Waits 2 seconds.

00:00.13

Waits 2 seconds.

00:00.12

"I DON'T BELIEVE THIS!" Yukko shouts, flailing her arms in the air. "She's actually getting faster!"

"Well, by this point, her reaction speed would probably all warmed up by now," Mio says. She looks away. "That last spurt of short delays probably didn't help either," she mutters.

"AGGH!" Yukko cries. She sighs.

"What were those last three numbers?" Mio asks, readying a pencil.

"Uh, right…" Yukko says. "Recording. Uh. I think they were 11, 13, and 12."

"Mm, that's what I remember too," Mio nods, quickly jotting down these numbers into the notebook.

Yukko is actually panting for breath a bit.

Mio blinks. "Wait, who's at the lantern, anyway?" She points at the mountain in the distance. "Is it Mai-chan or Nano-chan?"

Yukko blinks. "Ah…" She flushes. "Actually, to be honest, I just assumed it was Mai-chan."

"So competitive, you two," Mio deadpans.

"Twenty-three juices," Yukko sheds a tear. She immediately regains her composure, standing up straight. "Though if it's Nano-chan, then at least I understand. It's a given that a robot would have superb reaction times!"

"Eh, you're still on about that?" Mio sighs.

The light in the distance begins blinking on and off again. However, this repeated blinking is going on for a lot longer, now. It's showing no signs of stopping.

"Huh?" Yukko's eyes narrow.

"Huh?" Mio focuses on the blinking light as well.

The blinking is actually not random. Sometimes, the light remains on for a comparatively long period of time, and sometimes it's on for a relatively short period of time.

—flash dark flash dark flash dark flash darrrrrk flash darrrrrk flaaaash dark flash darrrrrk flaaaash dark flash dark flaaaash darrrrrk flaaaash dark flaaaash dark flaaaash darrrrrk flash dark flash dark flaaaash—

The blink rate is pretty fast. This entire sequence passes in less than 5 seconds.

"Is that… Morse code?" Mio says, squinting.

Mio and Yukko turn to each other. "Definitely Mai-chan," they say in unison.

"Whaddya think she's trying to say?" Yukko asks.

Mio shrugs her shoulders.

"You don't know Morse code?" Yukko asks.

"Nope," Mio replies.

"Huh…" says Yukko.

"Huh…"

A few seconds pass in silence as the blinking continues at a rapid pace.

"Do you think they want to switch roles?" Mio asks.

"…" Yukko thinks for a moment. "What time is it, Mio-chan?" she asks.

Mio takes out her cell phone and turns on the display.

"Ah, what ever happened to 1600s?" Yukko says in a reprimanding tone.

"We have been at this for almost 30 minutes," Mio says. "It makes sense that they'd want to be the A now."

"Aha!" Yukko grins evilly, rubbing her hands. "I'll show her! That Mai-chan! I'll beat all of her times! All of her high-scores!"

"Oi, this isn't a competition," Mio says light-heartedly. "Hm… how can we signal to them that we understand? Agh, we should have planned this out better."

"Let's just flicker it a lot," Yukko says, grabbing the switch and then flipping it up and down, up and down in quick succession.

"Okay, I think that's enough," Mio says, gently pushing Yukko's arm away. "They've stopped transmitting the Morse code, anyway," Mio points out. It's true. The entire mountain is now dark.

"Okay, we're B now, right?" Yukko asks.

"Right, so we don't need to time the trials any more," Mio says, nodding to the stopwatch in Yukko's hands.

"So, what did B have to do again?" Yukko asks.

"Geez, forgotten already, have you?" Mio sighs.

Yukko just smiles sheepishly.

"Just… As soon as you see their light turn on, you turn on your light."

"Heh. Now, prepare to meet your maker, Mai-chan~" Yukko chuckles evilly.

"Meet your maker?" Mio mutters to herself. "What does that even mean, anyway?

The light in the distance blinks on and Yukko reacts immediately, flicking on her lantern as well.

"How was that?" Yukko babbles. "I think that was good. Yeah, I think that was good. Heh."

"When is it going to be my turn?" Mio asks in an innocent tone.

"Yeah, yeah, yeah," Yukko waves her arm dismissively. "Just a minute. I need to beat her best time."

The lights both turn off, and they reset for the next trial.

The distant light turns on again, but Yukko is slower to react.

"Damn!" Yukko shouts. "She's a crafty one, that Mai-chan. But I won't be fooled!" She grins.

"My turn yet?" Mio asks in a disinterested tone.

"Mm, mm," Yukko waves her hand.

Darkness.

When the distant light turns on again, Yukko accidentally reacts too violently, slamming her fist into the lantern and sending it clattering to the ground.

"Oi, careful, careful!" Mio shouts.

"Don't worry, I've got it under control," Yukko says, bending down, sweeping her hands around to try and find the lantern in the darkness.

She finds it, and lifts it up again. She gives the shutter a quick flick to make sure that the lantern still works. Luckily, the light bulb isn't broken.

"You've cracked the glass," Mio comments, pointing at the lantern casing.

"Shh, shh. I need to concentrate." Yukko slowly shifts into a ready stance. Her eyes narrow. Her eyes are trained on the distant mountain, waiting for the light to flicker on—

"Crap, I blinked!" Yukko cries, fumbling to open the shutter in time. "Ugh… You won't get so lucky next time, Mai-chan~"

"Oi," Mio says, raising a hand. "My turn?..."

Blink, flick.

"Aha! What do you say to that!" Yukko is gloating in the direction of the mountain. "Not too shabby, eh?"

"Uh…" Mio sweat-drops.

Blink, flick.

"That was also a good one!" Yukko grins.

"Uh… Yukko…" Mio's hand hovers hesitantly. She sighs. "Good grief," she mutters to herself.

Blink, flick.

"Oho, doing a long sequence of short waits, are we, Mai-chan?" Yukko grins.

Blink, flick.

"Trying to lull me into a false sense of security, are we?"

Blink, flick.

"Lulling me into a… hm, what's the word…"

Blink, flick.

"Aha! Lulling me into a state of complacency, are we?"

Blink, flick.

"Well, that's not going to work. Heh."

Blink, flick.

"Heh, heh, heh…"

Blink, flick.

"Ha, ha, ha!"

Blink, flick.

"AHA HA HAH HA HA!"

Blink, flick.

Mio watches with a bemused expression as Yukko breaks out into maniacal laughter.

Blink, flick.

"Those two," Mio sighs, shaking her head. "Once Yukko gets into a competition with her like this, she just starts going nuts."

"Ho…" Yukko stops laughing, but the wide smile is still on her face. This time, the distant light is taking a lot longer to turn on. Yukko waits in the darkness with her senses hyper-alert.

"Maybe I could use this time to study for the quiz," Mio wonders aloud.

Blink, flick.

"AHA!" Yukko exclaims. "Still got it!"

"Mm, that's a good idea," Mio nods.

Blink, flick.

Blink, flick.

Blink, flick.

"I just need to make sure that all of the events we covered in class are in my long term memory," Mio says aloud.

Flick.

"Sh… damn!" Yukko swears. She closes her shutter. "I'll need to make up for this false start by getting an extra-good time. Beating the socks off of Mai-chan. Heh." Yukko licks her lips.

Blink flick.

"I can use the moments of darkness to consolidate the facts in my memory," Mio says aloud.

Blink flick.

"…while using the temporary moments of light to check the facts to make sure I remember correctly," Mio nods.

Blink flick.

"How do you like them apples?" Yukko grins, pointing at the mountain triumphantly.

"Mm." Mio nods. "I have my notebook here, so this could work."

Blink flick.

"Victor!" Yukko smiles.

"Hm…" Mio says aloud. "So, in class, after Galileo, we started talking about a guy called Tycho Brahe."

Blink flick.

"Ious!" Yukko grins.

Blink flick.

Blink flick.

Flick.

Yukko curses. "Clever Pete!"

Blink, flick.

"It was around 1572," Mio says to herself. "Brahe was a very meticulous visual observer. He could make out details to an accuracy of 1/60°." She nods.

Blink flick.

"Clever Philip!" Yukko shouts.

Blink flick.

"That's the same as one arcminute," Mio says. "This was especially impressive considering the fact that these were pre-telescope times, and he was using a quadrant for his measurements. Oh, and then there was like a diagram of how a quadrant worked. Mm. From the 'Uraniborg' observatory that he built, he measured planetary positions, such as that of Mars."

Blink flick.

"Clever Felipe!" Yukko shouts.

"Especially Mars, in fact," mutters Mio. "He focused on it. Mm, mm… and Mars had an particularly eccentric orbit.

Blink flick.

"Clever Phyllis!" Yukko shouts.

"And there's a diagram here," says Mio. "There's this weird complicated thing called retrograde loops." She scratches her head.

Blink, flick.

"Clever plankton!"

"Also, an orbit diagram. Ah, so this retrograde loop thing would be the path that Mars would appear take as seen from Earth."

Blink, flick.

"Clever zooplankten!"

"The precessing, rotating, and revolving Earth. Oh yeah… Back then, they still thought that everything revolved around the Earth."

Blink, flick.

"Clever anchovy!"

"Hm… Oh, also, did they still think the world was flat?"

Blink, flick.

"Clever tuna!"

"Ah, no matter, I'll get back to that later. So, let's see… Next, Brahe got an apprentice named Johan Kepler. He—"

Blink, flick.

"Clever bus!"

"—was a German mathematician, and also, he was ill a lot. Hm. I don't—"

Blink, flick.

"Clever boat!"

"—know what that's doing here. Seems a little off topic. Oh well."

Blink, flick.

"Clever human!"

"Kepler was supposed to help Brahe with the calculations, but Brahe died in 1601, leaving his academic inheritance to Kepler."

Blink, flick.

"Clever… straw!"

"Kepler was attempting to compute the shape of Mars' orbit. But understandably, this was pretty hard because as viewed from Earth, Mars was doing that weirded-up retrograde—"

Blink, flick.

"Clever blink!"

"—loop thing, which is pretty difficult to model mathematically. Hm. Uh…"

Blink, flick.

"Clever angel!"

"What's an equatorial measure, anyway?" Mio mutters. "Mental note: Search it up later. Uh…" She flips a page. "Right, Kepler's three laws. These are important. I'd better make sure I remember them. Memorize them."

Blink, flick.

"Clever—"

Blink, flick.

"Clever submarine!"

"One. All orbits are ellipses. But I crossed out 'ellipses' and wrote 'conic sections' above it? Why did I do that? Well, a parabola is a conic section, right? Hm… I guess that makes sense…"

Blink, flick.

"Clever osteoporosis!"

Mio shakes her head. "Law two. Equal areas in equal times. And a diagram of an ellipse with some pie-like wedges. 'If and only if A1 equals A2 double arrow T1 equals T2'."

Blink, flick.

"Clever Diefenbunker!"

"And law three. Uh?... Period squared backwards fish symbol semi-major axis cubed. Wait, that backwards fish symbol… I know this. I know this. Uh… what was it again?"

Blink, flick.

"Clever aether!"

"Uh… Hm… I'm pretty sure I've seen it in math before, too."

Blink, flick.

"Clever cataract!"

"Proportional to! Yes, of course! Right. So, the square of the period is directly proportional to the cube of the semi-major axis. That's the third law. Mm."

A few seconds pass in silence.

Blink, flick.

"Antidisestablishmentarianism!" Yukko cries.

"Let's see here," Mio mutters, skimming over her notes. "Shaping optics… Asylums were like reality television… Pope skipping 10 days in October in 1642…"

Blink, flick.

"Pneumonoultramicroscopicsilicovolcanokoniosis!" Yukko shouts.

"Yukko, is that even a word?" Mio says skeptically, eyebrows furrowing.

"It is," Yukko grins. "It actually is!"

"Huh…" Mio doesn't sound convinced.

Yukko closes the shutter, waiting to begin yet another trial.

"Is it my turn?" Mio asks. "I've been waiting patiently all this time…"

"No, I'm still not satisfied!" Yukko says, holding up a hand. "None of my reaction times have really stood out yet. I need to break 100 milliseconds!"

"Yukko, that's impossible," Mio says, rolling her eyes.

"Mm, just a little longer!" Yukko doesn't look away from the mountain.

"Yukko," Mio says.

"Quiet. I need to have utmost concentration. No distractions." Yukko has a serious look on her face.

"Ugh," Mio rolls her eyes.


We ended up continuing this experiment well into the night.

We swapped roles as A and B several times after that. I actually did get to try out the lantern and timer after all, but only for 15 minutes. While Yukko got hours to herself. Ugh. I can't believe those two.

Still, by the time Yukko wound down enough to be willing to give me a shot, I was ready to crawl into bed. I had woken up pretty early that day, after all. And I still can't read Morse code, but I'm pretty sure that at that point, Mai-chan and Nano-chan wanted to go to sleep, too. The cold really tires you out, doesn't it? We were fast asleep by 11 pm. Wait, did we seriously just spend 5 hours just flashing lights at each other? Seriously? Agh! I still have so much work to do! There's that project and that history test and history presentation and English reading!... Gah...

In any case, based on our numbers alone, we concluded that, similar to what Galileo concluded, the difference in time was too small to be detected with this equipment. And so, we confirmed that, yes, as expected, light is "fast".

Yukko isn't that good with numbers, so she gave all of our recordings to Mai-chan for her to number-crunch. They decided that they were going to look at their final score results next Tuesday at lunch. Mai was going to isolate only the scores of herself and Yukko for them to compare. Don't ask me how they did that. And also, they somehow have a bet set up about this, even though we had no method of communication between each other back there on the hills. Feh.


日常 - nichijou, Arawi Keiichi