The Value of Wonder

Huge hunks of metal the size of newspaper stands begin spinning at thousands of circles per minute, applying force to a huge metal box with spindly appendages which, combined with the turbines, generate enough thrust to lift itself and the turbines and the huge metal box and its thousands of gallons of flammable liquid and me and three hundred passengers and all of our luggage ten miles up and thousands of miles across the world.

We accelerate down a strip of road one mile long and two hundred feet wide, and I’m forced back into my seat, as if I’m being catapulted forward. The landscape outside my porthole window whizzes by at a faster and faster rate, then suddenly drops away. Within ten minutes I can see our home city and all of its suburbs. Heck, there’s another country over there, like fifty miles away. I can see it.

Hundreds of thousands of square miles of civilization lie beneath me. Metropolises connected by thousands of miles of roads that transform journeys that took three months to eight hours.
I pull out a brick from my pocket about as long and wide and thin as my outstretched hand minus my two outer fingers. It grants me access to a network invisibly transmitted through particles that, on a logarithmic scale, are smaller compared to a grain of sand than that grain of sand is compared to the entire Earth. An array of microscopic containers emitting these tiny particles communicates using more tiny particles with a piece of clear metal made from the same material as that grain of sand that communicates using more tiny particles to this network, and all that stuff in my brick working together allows me to communicate in real time to anyone in the world and grants me access to virtually everything humans have ever discovered.

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Marco pauses, breathless. He looks around. The jury members are asleep or unfocused, bored out of their minds. The magistrate’s face remains sympathetic. “This poor, poor man,” the magistrate remarks, addressing the sparse audience instead of the man standing before him, clad in a leather tunic and pig hide boots. Five minutes later, the gavel pounds the podium and he is carted away in a padlocked carriage to a ramshackle wooden building he’ll spend the rest of his life in. Mad people are unpredictable and dangerous. It’s for his own good.