Chapter 5: The map is not the territory
...... More for the joy of running than for any concern about being late for morning assembly, Kip, Wolfgang, and Paul ran down the front steps of their dorm, and cut diagonally across the Dalambertian to the side entrance of Founders Hall. Before going in, Kip licked his hand and brushed down his hair with it.
...... The auditorium had a stage and theater-style seats, except that the seats weren't padded. The place smelled of disinfectant and of old bubble gum. Hung on the wall behind the stage was a huge banner. Against a blue background, it displayed an A in red surrounded by a green laurel wreath under which was the motto Veritas in white. It was the same emblem that adorned the Amdexter boys' school caps.
...... Kip and co. slid into center seats about five rows from the front.
...... "Funny," said Kip, scanning the auditorium. "No girls here."
...... "There will be next year," said Paul. "ESAP girls. Dr. Ralph said Amdexter needed a year to get used to the idea."
...... A half-minute or so later, another kid, Alex, slipped in beside Kip. "What happened to you?" said Kip.
...... Alex described his fight with Todd. And then he complained about the punishment.
...... "Copying lines?" said Paul. "That's a lot better than them docking our allowance."
...... "That wouldn't work at Amdexter," said Alex. "Most of the Amdexter kids are rich and have infinite allowances."
...... "Boy, I wish I had an infinite allowance," said Paul. "By the way, like what did you call him?"
...... "Pigface," said Alex at a whisper.
...... Paul giggled. "Pigface? Sweet!"
...... Just then, Kip heard a thump and felt an earthquake. Looking behind, he saw a kid kicking Alex's seat back. The kid looked furious and Alex, who had also turned around to look, seemed scared. Must be that Todd kid. The boy had obviously chosen to sit behind Alex as a form of intimidation. While Todd glared at Alex, Kip studied the kid; he had dull eyes and a round face. He was stocky, even fat, but not someone to get into a fight with. The kid shifted his gaze and found Kip's eyes. Startled, Kip spun forward again--and saw that the headmaster had come onto the stage.
...... The headmaster held up his hands, then called out "Veritas!" in a loud voice.
...... "Veritas!" came the shouted reply from many voices.
...... "For you new boys," said the Headmaster, "Veritas is the motto of the school--the Amdexter School. It means truth in Latin." He half-turned and pointed to the banner which also proclaimed Veritas. He talked about the "history and traditions embodied in this ancient, sacred banner." Then he turned back to the sea of boys. "All right, let's try it again. Veritas!"
...... "Veritas!" came the reply, louder than the last time. But Kip, Paul, and Wolfgang didn't join in. Neither did Alex.
...... The headmaster made some announcements about changes of schedules, school events, and cautions about personal hygiene and general neatness. And he reminded the boys that fourth period classes were canceled because of the start-of-school convocation in the chapel. "I expect every boy to attend." Then he said, "Now, I'd like to address a few comments to the ESAP boys." He smiled. "Not F-school boys." He took in the wider audience. "Apparently, they don't like being called that."
...... Most of the audience laughed politely. The boys in grey shorts didn't. Instead, they whispered among themselves.
...... "Gentlemen," said the headmaster, in a voice of command. "I expect your undivided attention." The boys went silent, and he continued. "I've had some complaints from Amdexter boys,"--the headmaster gazed upon the boys in grey shorts sitting clustered together--"about an issue of equal treatment. You ESAP boys are excused from Sunday chapel, and some feel that is not equitable. Furthermore, Brother Kenji feels that you are missing out on an important part of our school life."
...... Kip, Paul, and Wolfgang exchanged worried glances.
...... "I hasten to add," said the headmaster, speaking slowly--not hastening at all, "that Kenji Wakabayashi is not only our chaplain, but he also holds a doctorate in philosophy."
...... "Holds a doctorate?" Paul whispered. "Is, like, he holding it for ransom?"
...... "And so it has been decided," the headmaster went on, "that every Sunday, after the religious service, ESAP boys will report to the chapel for an ongoing one-hour course on ethics, taught by Dr. Wakabayashi."
...... "What?" Kip mouthed, silently.
...... "That's not fair," another ESAP boy called out.
...... "Ha, ha," came Todd's voice from behind.
...... "We feel it is especially important," the headmaster went on, "to expose you future scientists to moral teachings." He raised a hand as if in farewell. "Let me close with the words of Virgil: Inventas vitam iuvat excoluisse per artes--Let us improve life through science and art."
...... "I bet he's also a Latin teacher," Kip whispered.
...... "Assembly dismissed," said the headmaster. "Veritas!"
...... The headmaster walked to the side of the stage and disappeared in the curtains.
...... Once outside the auditorium, Alex went off to his next class while Kip, Paul and Wolfgang joined a group of ESAP boys coalescing in the hall. In the five minutes before the start of first period, the boys decided they'd fight the unethical ethics course, and would make a battle plan during their own assembly--after sixth period, at Feynman Hall.
...... The bell rang and the three started away toward their classes.
...... The headmaster," said Paul, "makes it sound like they're doing us a big favor allowing us dirty barbarians to come to their precious school."
...... "Well," said Wolfgang as they walked, "I heard my dad tell mom that Amdexter was horribly in debt, just about bankrupt. If it wasn't for ESAP, they have had to sell the school to some religious cult. Moon worshipers or something."
...... At a junction of hallways, the three slowed. "Yeah," said Wolfgang, "ESAP bought the land for our school from Amdexter but Amdexter still owes a lot of money." Then he veered off toward Social Studies while Kip and Paul continued straight toward the Language Wing.
...... "Sounds like they need us," said Paul, picking up the pace.
...... "I guess," said Kip.
...... When they'd walked through the door into Latin-I, Kip saw that Todd was there as well. Kip would have expected Todd to be bristling with hostility, but the kid was all smiles.
...... The Latin master, old as Caesar's dog, instructed them in the mysteries of the first declension: Femina, feminae, feminae, feminam, femina. Rote memory, and for Kip it was no fun at all. He glanced at Paul to share a look of misery--but Paul seemed to be lapping it up, his eyes alert, his body forward, his expression eager. Kip understood; Paul liked to memorize things.
...... At the end of the class, as Kip and Paul headed for the door, Todd came up to them and said he wanted to have a private talk with Paul.
...... Kip and Paul exchanged shrugs and then Kip walked outside the door and waited for his friend. A few minutes later Paul and Todd came out. Todd walked briskly away.
...... "What was that all about?" said Kip, softly, his eyes on Todd's back.
...... "Todd said he'd pay me ten dollars if I do his hundred lines."
...... "The punishment he got for fighting?"
...... Paul nodded. "He told me all Amdexter kids have lots of money."
...... "Are you going to do it?" said Kip.
...... "Yeah. Why not?" Paul smiled. "I don't mind the copying. I was planning to memorize some Shakespeare, anyway. And, like, now somebody's going to pay me to do it."
...... Kip pursed his lips for a moment. "You know," he said, "it seems sort of wrong, somehow."
...... "It makes me feel a little funny, too," said Paul. "But I'm not going to think about it now."
...... Kip gave an uneasy laugh. "And with the extra money, you won't have to worry about them docking your allowance if you ever get punished."
...... "Yeah, I know." Paul waved and headed off to English.
...... Kip, happy that he'd survived Latin unscathed, strolled leisurely on to his second period class--Social Studies, another subject he was not particularly crazy about.
...... Entering the classroom, Kip noticed that both Alex and Todd were in the class--this time sitting far apart: Alex in the second row and Todd way in the back. Todd probably picked the back so he can goof off. And Alex chose the front because it's far from Todd. Kip slid in to the seat next to Alex.
...... To Kip's surprise, the class turned out to be fun. The master, Neville Thomas, was enthusiastic and energetic, and spoke in an exotic, British accent. He said that the subject would be the ancient world, except Rome--they'd probably learn all about Rome in Latin.
...... Alex didn't even seem remotely interested in the class. He was drawing horses. Glancing sideways at Alex's open notebook, Kip was impressed; the drawings were really good.
...... "Since this class is made up of bloodthirsty boys," Mr. Thomas went on, "I've decided we'll explore the period by following the military battles of the Greeks." He ambled through the classroom as he talked. "At its height, under Alexander the Great, the Greek empire covered a million square miles and included modern-day Egypt, Iran, Iraq, Turkey, Syria, Afghanistan, Pakistan, and even western India."
...... At the mention of Alexander the Great, Alex looked up, but only briefly before returning his attention to his drawing.
...... While lecturing, Mr. Thomas meandered to Alex's desk and, without any pause in his speaking, gently closed Alex's notebook as he walked by.
...... The class ended and Kip went off to his next--English. And it was good; Kip got along fine with everybody, regardless of the color of their shorts. After that, Kip was scheduled for Phys. Ed, but it had been canceled because of the convocation.
...... Talking in the hallway with Wolfgang after English, Kip said he was going to skip the convocation.
...... "But the headmaster said we've got to go to it."
...... "He's not my headmaster," said Kip. "And anyway, he said, I expect every boy to attend. He didn't say we had to attend." Kip clenched his fist. "I'm really mad about that ethics course. He must think scientists are monsters or something. So I'm not going anywhere near that chapel unless I absolutely have to."
...... "Well, okay," said Wolfgang, haltingly. "I'll skip the convocation, too."
...... Just before going to Founders for lunch,
Kip darted to his dorm room to pick up his bassoon; his fifth period class was
...... The all-school orchestra turned out not to be very large and Kip found he was the entire bassoon section. Still, it was fun--even if the music was only light classical.
...... Finally, done with Amdexter for the day, Kip jogged to Feynman Hall for his own school's assembly, and also the fun part of school, his math and science classes. Loping into Snack Bar, he saw the words 'Gedanken Today!' on the blackboard and that a large part of the floor in front of the board had been striped with masking tape, turning the surface into something like a big sheet of graph paper with half meter sized squares. Double fun!
...... But the atmosphere of Snack Bar was not one of fun; a small mob of boys grumbled about the ethics course. As more boys arrived, the mob became the school assembly, and the grumbling morphed into a long, heated discussion about how to respond. Finally, a decision was made; the Feynman School boys would simply cut the ethics class.
...... Just then, Dr. Ralph walked in carrying a plastic shopping bag. "What's going on?" he asked.
...... "Sir," said one of the boys, Charles Yang, "is science evil?"
...... "What?" Dr. Ralph laughed. "That's like asking, is science purple." He looked with concerned eyes at the kids before him. "Why? What's happened?"
...... Charles told him about the required ethics course. "...and its going to be taught by Brother Wakabayashi. The headmaster said he's also a philosopher."
...... Dr. Ralph chuckled. "Wakabyashi is probably harmless."
...... "But only ESAP kids have to take it, and he's going to teach it in the chapel," said Charles. "So I think it's really going to be sermons or something."
...... "I see." Dr. Ralph shook his head slowly, then said, "That probably violates the operating agreement between our schools." He sighed. "I'll see what I can do."
...... "Does our school have a motto?" asked another of the boys.
...... "Motto?" Dr. Ralph seemed puzzled by the change of subject.
...... "Yeah," said the boy. "The Amdexter motto is veritas. The headmaster said it means truth."
...... "We have a motto, too," said Dr. Ralph. "Scientia. It's on your blazer badges. It means knowledge." He gave a soft nod, as if to himself. "A slightly more modest motto, I'd say. As for truth?" He shrugged. "Truth is something of a subjective idea. And...and in quantum mechanics for example, one might say there are multiple truths."
...... "What does that mean?" said Kip. "Multiple truths. Isn't truth, truth?"
...... "Well, I was thinking about the two truths of the wave-particle duality. When an electron, for example, needs to be a particle, it's a particle, and when it needs to be a wave, it's a wave. So what is it in truth, a wave or a particle?" Dr. Ralph smiled. "You'll learn about that soon enough."
...... "When?" said Kip.
...... "Soon." Dr Ralph went to the front of the room. "The philosopher of science, Alfred Korzybski, " he began, "wrote 'the map is not the territory'. The territory is the universe and the map is the words we use to describe it. And for quantum mechanics, for instance, we just don't have the right words--which might be why there seems to be multiple truths. You guys, we hope, might come up with those right words. And that's what the ESAP is all about."
...... "I hope," said Charles with a laugh, "that they won't be the kind of words that used to get my mouth washed out with soap."
...... Dr. Ralph chuckled. "Probably not." He walked with his shopping bag up to the blackboards. "The words will likely have something to do with probability. In some sense, at least for quantum mechanics, probability seems to be reality."
...... Kip wrinkled his nose, and apparently Dr. Ralph noticed it.
...... "Yeah," said Dr. Ralph. "I know I'm sounding more like a philosopher than a scientist. But long ago, physics was called 'natural philosophy'. So, yes, all of us physicists are philosophers in a way." He scowled for a brief instant. "In fact, I don't see how anyone can claim to be a philosopher these days without having studied physics."
...... "So you're saying Brother Wakabybaby knows quantum mechanics," Charles called out. "I reeealy doubt it."
...... "Be nice," said Dr. Ralph firmly, but with a smile. "I don't want there to be friction between ESAP and Amdexter."
...... "Is there a quantum philosophy?" said Kip.
...... Dr. Ralph seemed bemused. "You know, there might be." He paused. "Yes, there probably is."
...... "How about quantum ethics?" said Charles. "That's a course I would take."
...... "Quantum ethics," said Dr. Ralph, thoughtfully. "An intriguing thought. Or quantum morality. Yes. There probably is such a thing."
...... "You say 'probably' a lot," said Paul.
...... "Oh?" Dr. Ralph smiled. "I suppose I do. It probably goes with being a quantum theorist."
...... Charles giggled.
...... "But probably is related to probability," said Dr. Ralph with a theatrical flourish. "Before we can explore quantum physics, we'll have to first spend some time on probability."
...... Kip raised his hand. "Dr. Linda gave us a question about probability--about whether probability can be different for different people. But she didn't tell us the answer."
...... "And I won't either," said Dr. Ralph. "It may be that the word probability is the wrong map to cover the territory." He pointed at the graph-paper floor. "And speaking of maps.... Now you guys are going to generate an important probability curve."
.(To see how the boys generate a bell curve, click here.)
..... Later, as Kip walked out of Feynman Hall, he turned to Wolfgang. "What do you think of there being multiple truths--truth depending on who observes it?"
...... "I don't know. I'll let you know the next time I get in trouble with my dad for telling him an...alternate version of the truth."