} Dear Stiffie,
} Of course I am familiar with your organization, as well as several
} other consumer-oriented agencies around the world. I must say
} that I was at first reluctant to reply to you, since I have been
} disappointed in some of the coverage I've received from you in the
} past. For example, your review of The Internet Oracle's Marmot-Be-Gone
} Mark XVII was quite critical of the product's potential for ejecting
} bone splinters at high velocity, while we maintain that no other
} product provides such a satisfying finality to the completion of
} its task. Also, we feel that you completely missed the point of the
} fun and hilarity in The Internet Oracle's Virus Of The Month Club.
} Nevertheless, the question you have selected for me allows me to
} address another of these differences of opinion, and so I agree
} to address it for you. It is indeed fairly typical of the many
} submissions I get, in that it contains multiple misspellings,
} poor grammar, and a salutation completely inadequate in scope.
} This supplicant has made the common error of asking a simple question,
} assuming that the answer is much more complex than necessary.
} Einstein's basic breakthrough was in understanding the importance
} of the observer in interpreting events. For example, consider that
} stein of full-bodied ale on the table in front of you. (Don't worry,
} your boss can't see you. He's not omniscient like me.) You would
} say that it is about half a meter away. I, on the other hand, would
} say that it is nine thousand miles away. How can two observers come
} up with such different answers? Because we are measuring space from
} our own frame of reference. The answer we come up with is *relative*
} to our own location.
} Based on some interesting manipulation of Maxwell's equations (Einstein
} drank coffee rather than beer), Einstein realized that time was in some
} ways much like the three dimensions we know as space. His theory was
} that the measurement of time might be subject to the same *relativity*
} as space. Now, go ahead and quaff your beer ... all of it! Yes,
} order another, by all means. You see, in your frame of reference,
} the glass became empty about five seconds in the past. But in my frame
} of reference, since I must write this reply before you can receive it,
} the beer has not even been poured yet. Thus, time also is *relative*.
} As you can see, the answer is really quite simple. There are some
} fascinating effects of physics which result from the relativity
} of time, which account for much of the confusion on the principle.
} For example, there is the well known "twin paradox" which involves
} two twins who go separate ways. One stays on Earth, while the other
} journeys away at a speed close to the speed of light, then returns.
} Due to the different properties of their frame of reference, time
} passes much more slowly for the traveling twin, and he returns younger
} than his brother. Many people find this counterintuitive, having flown
} with an airline at one time or another. Go ahead, have another beer,
} it will help you relax and understand.
} As a further illustration, consider The Internet Oracle's Time Travel
} Club. Yes, this is the same plan rejected by your agency as "Schpamme
} ver Dumkopfen". However, with your new understanding of relativity,
} I think you will begin to appreciate its merits. Have another beer!
} The basic concept is to make use of Einstein's theory by traveling
} through different time zones (frames of reference, remember?) and thus
} altering the mechanics of time for the observer. By traveling in the
} orientation known to Earth observers as "west", one can enter a frame
} where time is shifted backward one, two, three hours, or even more.
} Even more mind-boggling, if you travel "east", you can see several
} hours into the future! Have another beer! Of course, the high rate
} of speed is what causes the effect to be noticeable, so these trips
} are not inexpensive. But rest assured that your $100,000 buys you
} the finest coach seat available on the fastest commuter aircraft
} available to modern science. Have another beer!
} I think you will agree that The Internet Oracle's Time Travel Club
} makes much more sense now. I accept your humble gratitude for
} answering your question, and eagerly await your organization's new
} appraisal of my latest offering. You might want to wait until after
} you've been to the men's room.
} You owe the Oracle an analysis of Window Seats 95.