Maxwell and the Demon

James Clerk Maxwell was a Scotsman. Now if you’re a Scotsman this is all you need to know, however for the rest of the world there is much more of a story. The year was 1857 and the rain pattered down from the Edinburgh sky with the endless enthusiasm of a monsoon suffering a cold and wearing a mackintosh. Underneath it all, the department of natural philosophy bore the rain with the air of an old grey aunt who has been left out in the cow paddock to scare the crows away.

Maxwell paused for a moment in his laboratory to stare out the window at the falling rain, and wondered if the modern fascination of vulcanising Wellington boots would ever catch on, the pause was only for a moment as he seemed to suffer from an almost saint vitus dance of animation, leaping from one desk to the next, jumping up on a chair, poking his head in a cupboard and bounding back across the room, with all the vivacity of a rubber haggis being kicked round a golf course.

“Have you heard of this new idea about Duals?” his friend Tait asked him walking in the door without knocking.

Tait was Maxwell’s best friend, a bespectacled balding fellow Scotsman, whose idea of a holiday was living in a coffee house in Glasgow reading the latest pamphlets on mathematics.

“We’re not fighting with pistols at dawn, if that’s what you’re thinking,” Maxwell replied with a grin and studied an apparatus of glass prisms.

“No,” Tait rolled his eyes, “spelled with an A, and not fired with a pistol. Everything has a dual opposite, and I mean everything has a dual opposite.”

“Not really a new idea,” Maxwell muttered as he rotated the pair of prisms to see if they produced any new types of polarized light. “Greeks had ideas like that, all geometry has ideas like that.”

“Ah,” Tait lit his pipe, “but not just lines, angles and circles. Even complex things like trees and rabbits have duals.”

“Like an negative-rabbit?” Maxwell smirked, before bouncing across the room and peering into a kaleidoscope. “What happens when you add a rabbit to a negative-rabbit … rabbit stew.”

“Not anti-rabbits,” Tait smirked back, “but dual-rabbits.”

“Duelling rabbits sounds even less convincing than anti-rabbits,” Maxwell espoused and sprang back to the polarizing prisms.

“William Rowan Hamilton doesn’t seem to think so,” Tait said slowly and blew pipe smoke into the air.

Maxwell looked over his glittering prism and squinted at his friend. “Hamilton said that?”

“His very words,” Tait produced a paper from his pocket and read aloud, “The principles of duality may very well be applicable to all things, large, abstract and real. Even our very selves may have some counter in another dimension which we can not imagine.”

“The Grand Old Man said that?” Maxwell fixed his friend with a thoughtful gaze, and then shook the idea loose, “It’s a meaningless statement, for equally I could say there is an exact copy of me in another dimension, only the other one doesn’t wear tweed. Preposterous.”

Tait tempted his friend by wafting the paper in front of his face. “That’s not what the old man said.”

“I’m not biting,” Maxwell frowned and returned to the prism for a few moments, but his restless energy overcame him and he bounced across the table and grabbed it out of Tait’s hand.

“Guess it’s salmon season after all,” Tait grinned.

Maxwell eyes raced through the paper so fast it was surprising they didn’t pop out, and then he tossed it back to Tait with no interest at all before returning to the prism apparatus. “Rubbish, the Grand Old Man has gone a wee bit daftie,” he said with his eyes squinting along the axes of the prism. “Has he published this?”

“It’s for personal circulation,” Tait looked at the paper, “but it makes you think, doesn’t it?”

“Everything makes me think - for I am James Clerk Maxwell,” dramatically holding his hand up and putting the other in a fob pocket, “now hand me that five iron.”

“But what if,” Tait folded the paper up and returned it to his pocket, “what if for every action there is an equal and opposite reaction, not just here but in another universe.”

Maxwell paused significantly, which in his case was to stand motionless for a full ten seconds, an almost unheard of occurrence in his life.

“What,” he said looking puzzled at the desktop, “you mean there’s a more general rule of Newton’s Third Law?”


“You know that actually seems to make sense,” said Maxwell, “well, as much sense as Glasgow being the cultural centre of the Highlands.”

They both folded up with laughter at this, and took several moments to recover.

“All the same,” Maxwell continued, “if you really going to generalize, you’d have to include things like books and writing. That surely is preposterous. I mean if you really included everything you’d have to include even the equations we use to understand such abstract ideas.”

“Precisely” his friend countered, “Everything has a dual. That’s what Hamilton is alluding to.”

“He will have to be a little more precise about what a dual is,” Maxwell scratched his beard then fell on all fours and began rummaging in a cupboard for an anemometer to test the airspeed in the windless room. “More importantly, has he a mathematics to discuss these abstractions.”

“He calls them quaternions,” Tait explained.

“Oh that old hat, throw a four numbers together and toss into some complex notation and he thinks he understands the universe.” Maxwell paused again as he hung from crossbar on the ceiling. “Still, it is the Grand Old Man. I wonder what happens if I write an equation describing how my dual does things?”

“You mean will that affect your opposite number?” Tait raised an eyebrow hyperbolically.

“Precisely,” Maxwell grabbed a bolometer and fell from the ceiling like a cat on to the desk, where he plugged the bolometer onto the end of the anemometer just to see what it would do. “After all, if we are connected to our duals, we should be able to affect their behaviours.”

“But might they not affect our actions?” Tait prompted.

“Nonsense we’re part of the British Empire,” Maxwell retorted, “We won the Austro-Prussian War didn’t we?”

“Well no, we skipped that particular war, but go on.”

Maxwell grabbed a pencil and began writing out a series of equations in quaternion form, which he thought would match the physics of his dual universe, and at the end of it he tacked on a curious symbol.

“What’s the last bit,” Tait asked looking over his shoulder.

“Me,” Maxwell laughed.


“Well, me in the other universe.”

It was at this point the World went a bit strange.


In another universe, an exact copy of James Clerk Maxwell was in her laboratory, wondering if the modern fascination of vulcanising Wellington boots would ever catch on. This copy of James Clerk Maxwell was exact in ever detail except she wasn’t wearing tweed and, of course, she was a woman. Like her opposite James Clerk Maxwell, she was extraordinarily animated and seemed to whirl about the room with all the vivacity of an electrified salmon.

Her friend Peter Guthrie Tait walked in the door without knocking. “Have you heard of this new idea about Duals?”

“Yes, I wrote something down before,” she bounced up to the windowsill to adjust a telescope point at the horizon.

“What?” Tait was surprised, “did Hamilton write to you before me?”

“No, I had an idea using quaternions to describe duals. Almost clever, really.” She vaulted the desk, grabbed a pantograph to sketch out the diffraction patterns made by the polarizing prisms.

Tait looked at the paper on the desk and whistled.

“That’s extraordinary,” he said holding the paper up to the light, “that’s almost word for word what the Grand Old Woman wrote,” he paused and pursed his lips, “except for the bit down the bottom.”

“The equations?” James Clerk Maxwell pulled apart a Faraday induction coil to see if the prisms would fit inside it. “Yes, I wondering if I could describe my dual in my dual universe.”

“What’s the bit at the end?” Tait pulled out his glasses.

“The squiggly bit? I call that my personal constant, it’s the bit that describes me, well my other me in the other universe.”

“Should it be a function or at the very least a parameter?”

“Does that work?”

“Does for me,” Tait insisted, “I would have thought, only don’t make it a function of Time, make it a function of our universe.”

“Bah,” Maxwell snorted and started twiddling with the dials on an electroscope, “might as well say our universe is a parameter of the dual universe. Sorry, Tait it just doesn’t make sense.”

Tait pulled out pencil and tacked on a function with the dual universe as a parameter, and as he did so the room seemed to shrink a little. Maxwell stopped in her fiddling and looked about the room in some alarm.

“Is it me or have I grown?” she found herself looking down at her friend Tait.

                                               ITERATION CYCLE TWO
In the first universe James Clerk Maxwell looked up at Tait and wondered if arthritis had set in a little early, even for a wee Scotsman.
“Tait is it just me,” he asked his friend looking up at him, “or have you grown?”
“Well, five minutes ago, I would have sworn we were the same height,” Tait looked down at his friend. “That’s odd, it’s almost as if you’ve lopped six inches off your height.”
“In under five minutes? Now that’s preposterous.”
They looked at the heels on Maxwell’s shoes, but found beyond their being a little worn they were unchanged. They stood next to the doorframe and measured their heights with a yardstick. Tait was now definitely the taller and unquestionably Maxwell seemed to have diminished by a few inches.
“Perhaps you’re ill?” Tait offered.
“What?” Maxwell sounded alarmed, “I’m so dehydrated I’m shrinking?”
“It’s possible,” Tait shrugged.
“No it isn’t, if I was that dehydrated I would grow thinner not shorter. No, there has to be another explanation.”
“Well let’s work backwards, what has happened in the last quarter of an hour since I arrived.”
“Ha!” Maxwell laughed as he pointed at all the scientific apparatus he had dragged out of the cupboards and tacked onto each other, in his pursuit of examining polarizing light. “There may be a few things.”
They went through each of the instruments and examined them carefully, but found nothing that could even begin to explain how he might have lost his height.
“My wife is going to be so annoyed,” he sighed.
“Maybe it’s time to see the physician?” Tait prompted, “This could be serious.”
“Serious would be turning up home and asking the wife to get the marmalade off the top shelf. No, we are not leaving here before I’ve found an explanation.”
They looked about the room for anything at all that might help with the problem. Tait stood in front of the workbench and stared at the equations on the piece of paper as Maxwell ran up a ladder to the rafters.
“James?” he quizzed, as Maxwell’s posterior was about to disappear into the ceiling. “I don’t remember this symbol being a function.”
Maxwell fell out of the ceiling and landed on the desk.
“What?” he said with more surprise than Queen Victoria discovering the Loch Ness Monster in her bathtub. “I didn’t write that. Did you?”
“No, it’s all yours.”
“But that would make the equation of the dual universe a function of this universe, or a function of me to be precise.”
“If I wasn’t brilliant I’d be getting a head ache at this point,” Tait grinned. “Mind you, the equation really was the last thing you did before you shrank.”
They looked at each other in disbelief.
“Are you thinking what I’m thinking?” asked Maxwell.
“Wouldn’t that make me the dual?” Tait laughed then frowned when he saw how annoyed Maxwell looked. “I’m thinking, the dual Maxwell wrote in that function, and since every change in one universe must have an equal and opposite reflection in the other. Therefore it’s responsible for your transformation.”
“It’s not quite Newton,” Maxwell made a face that invented a whole new topography, “but it does have the gist of making sense. Here, let’s rewrite the equation, but leave out the bit which refers to me.”
He drew a pencil line through the first one and wrote a series of equations, only this time without himself as a function. Suddenly he found himself looking eye to eye with Tait.
“Great Robbie Burns!” he yelled, “it worked!”
 “It’s like magic,” Tait cried with joy.
“It is magic!” Maxwell whooped.
They stared in amazement at the paper.
“I wonder what else we could do?” Tait murmured.
Maxwell began walking up and down the aisle with his hands behind his back like a wound-up mechanical toy soldier. In his head he was formulating a dozen different ways he could manipulate the equations to solve various physical problems he had been working on, then in a flash he leapt upon the apparatus of polarizing prisms and started measuring their dimensions and refractive index.
“What are you thinking?” Tait asked almost dancing with joy. “What’s next?”
“What if we include this machine into the equation? What if …?”
“That’s brilliant!”
In the Dual Universe, there was a brilliant flash of rainbow light as everywhere the colours of the rainbow cascaded through windows, gems, clouds and water. The whole Universe, as through every galaxy the index of refraction of all light shifted by a negligible fraction. None of which was noticeable by any of the inhabitants, as they blinded by the rainbows in their eyes.
“Ouch!” Maxwell and her friend Tait exclaimed, as their world became an unbearable wash of colours, the very lenses in their eyes filling with a kaleidoscope of images and colours.
“What happened?” asked Maxwell.
“I can’t see properly!” Tait shot back at her.
“I’m blind too! Are we having strokes?”
“What simultaneously? Both of us? At our ages?”
“It must be gas!” Maxwell cried and dragged her friend to the door. “Quick outside before we collapse.”
It was to no avail, as outside there was an equally bewildering rainbow of images filling their visual field and making it all but impossible to make sense of anything. Every time they leant out to grab something they were deceived by the multiplicity of images and they ended up flailing at empty space.
“Wait, I remember I don’t have gas.”
“But what is happening?!” Tait became frantic.
“It’s the index of refraction in our eyes,” Maxwell gasped for breath and felt nauseous. “It’s been changed - somehow.”
“Will we go blind?”
Maxwell threw up her breakfast and held onto the door.
“I don’t think so, I also don’t believe it’s gas,” she explained between retches, “quick back inside. I have an idea.”
They staggered once more into the laboratory and for many anxious minutes as Maxwell rustled through the cupboards and drawers, before she pulled out a sheet of coloured glass and held it to Tait’s face.
“There,” she said and then held another piece up to her own face.
“Green glass?” Tait was relieved and astonished at the same time.
“Monochrome light,” Maxwell explained to her friend, “only one species of light enters our eyes, so no refractive dispersion and no rainbows everywhere. Just keep your eyes closed while I make some masks to hold it to our faces.”
Several minutes later she had made some masks out of a pair of stereoscopes and tied them to their faces. It was as peculiar a sight as one was ever likely to witness in the heady days of the Victorian Industrial revolution.
“What going on?” Tait asked her, feeling his stomach revert to normal.
“I don’t know,” Maxwell put her head outside, “but we’re not the only ones.”
Up and down the street, people were thrashing about with their arms, crying in bewilderment or staring up into the sky with amazement.
“What could have caused this?” Tait asked.
Maxwell thought very carefully for a full minute.
“We may have, well, indirectly we may have,” she stared through the mask like a drunken parrot at her friend. “The Equation.”
“Nonsense,” Tait retorted, “a mere equation can’t change the whole world.”
“No, but it might change a whole other world.”
“The Dual World.”
“Precisely, if for every action in this world …”
“…there is an equal and opposite reaction in the dual world.”
“Then my Dual Maxwell has inadvertently changed this world.”
“So what do we do?” Tait asked.
“We have to put right what is wrong,” Dual Maxwell grabbed her pencil and began scribbling equations. “Obviously my opposite number has made an adjustment to the refractive index of this world, presumably because said opposite number had been working with polarizing prisms. Ergo, let’s send a message.”
“But how?”
“We need to show our opponent the terrible changes a few parameters can make,” Dual Maxwell leapt on the anemometer, the device used to measure wind velocity and held a ruler to it, “Wind velocity is dependent on air-viscosity, let’s add that to the equation and nudge it all so little to the left and see what happens.”
She pounced on the paper and after a great deal of scribbling managed to shift the room’s airspeed by an imaginary fraction.
“There,” Dual Maxwell breathed deeply, “just a little and just enough, that should make them understand.”
                                           ITERATION CYCLE THREE
A force-twelve gale was blowing through the Maxwell’s laboratory. Maxwell and his friend were hanging on by their fingertips to the desk and screaming in terror.
Tait yelled above the roar, “I know Scottish weather can be bad but did we forget to close the window?”
Maxwell dragged himself to the window and slowly pushed it shut, only to find the wind was still whirling around the room with all the energy of an angry maelstrom.
“It’s in the room!” Maxwell let go of the wind and flew across to Tait. They collided and together flew out the front door with the alacrity of two lemmings learning to fly off Edinburgh castle. They landed in the garden outside and were rained upon by the various scientific instruments Maxwell had been using.
“I heard of storm in a teacup,” said Maxwell as the bolometer landed in his lap, “but I’ve always looked upon it metaphorically not meteorologically.”
“What happened? Was that a bomb?” Tait asked staggering to his feet.
“If it’s a bomb,” Maxwell rubbed his head as a microscope landed, “it’s still going off. No, I don’t think we need look too far for an explanation, for I expect my Dual Maxwell has been doing just the same as I have, and fiddling with the laws of the universe.”
“Wait - that could kill us!” Tait’s terror escalated to horror.
“Yes, so we need to send them a message and quickly.”
“Like stop what you’re doing, it’s murder!”
“Something along those lines,” Maxwell grinned weakly, “now we need to find that paper with the equations on it before all of Scotland disappears into Loch Ness.”
They scrambled about the lawn picking scientific instruments and paraphernalia out of the dahlias, until they found the equation paper jammed on an iron railing, all the while the roar of the storm in the laboratory thundered on regardless.
“Write out what you wrote before!” Tait yelled.
“Maybe that’s the bit that’s causing the storm!”
“But that was optics, that storm in there is meteorological!”
“Meteorological or not, I nearly got decapitated by volume F of Encyclopaedia Britannica! Now put everything back to normal.”
Maxwell scribbled out the offending equation but nothing happened, they watched the storm growing in the laboratory.
“I think it’s getting worse,” Maxwell frowned in desperation. “Maybe if we sent our Duals a message.”
“What?” Tait looked amazed at his friend, “Add something to the equation like a coded message?”
“Yes, if we add something to the equation that changes their world just enough to make them realize that what they are doing is violently affecting our world.”
“But what?”
“We need to shock them, just a little, just enough to get their attention,” Maxwell grabbed the Faraday induction coil out of a bush and measured the number of coils on the wire, “this should do nicely.”
The bewildering kaleidoscope of images ceased in Dual Maxwell’s world.
“It worked!” said Dual Tait and he gingerly removed the filtered glass from his face. “I can see!”
“So can I,” said Maxwell as she stopped feeling nauseous, “I think we got through to them. Alright whatever we do, we mustn’t make any more changes…”
“Wah!” They both screamed as a mild shot of electricity raced around the room, and this time she really did leap about like an electrified salmon.
“What was that?” Tait asked in surprise.
“Was it the physical laws settling down?” Maxwell asked equally shocked. “I certainly hope that doesn’t…Wah!”
They jumped up and collapsed on the floor.
“Was that you?” Tait asked.
“No, all I can suggest is my Dual Maxwell is still tampering with…Wah!”
They ran out of the room in alarm.
“I think we’re safe,” Maxwell finished. “It seems to be confined to the laboratory.”
“You think they may be reworking the equations?” Tait asked staring back in the room.
“Great Robbie Burns! I hope not,” said Maxwell, “but wait, the refractive index for everything is back to normal. That means our counterparts first reverted the equations.”
“So why are they now shocking us?”
“Either they don’t understand what’s happening and they are simply writing random equations to see where they lead, or they are attacking us by changing the laws of our universe.”
“Why on earth for?” Tait shook his head in disbelief.
“Perhaps they believe we are attacking their universe, after all, I did start changing the equations first,” Dual Maxwell walked back and forth in her skirts. “It is possible of course, well at this point anything is possible.”
“Wah!” they both jumped on the spot.
“The area of effect is increasing!” Dual Maxwell exclaimed.
“Wah!” they both shuddered as the electric shock made them tense their muscles.
“If it grows… wah! It might eventually cover the …wah!” Tait tried to say.
“Back in the …wah!” Dual Maxwell yelled, as they were shocked yet again. “We have to insulate our … wah!”
They crawled back into the room, leaping every few seconds into the air, until Dual Maxwell grimacing her teeth was able to grab the pencil and scribble out the world equation with factors for the anemometer and the air wind velocity crossed out.
Nothing happened and the shocking became more intense.
“Add something … wah! Else,” Tait rolled his eyes in pain, “anything … wah!”
“Can’t think … wah!” Dual Maxwell yelled.
Tait pointed at a set of weighing scales. “Try gravity! … Wah!”
“Can’t … wah! Too dangerous … wah!”
“Just do it! … wah!”
                                              ITERATION CYCLE FOUR
In the first universe the windstorm in the laboratory ceased.
“We got through to the other side!” Maxwell yelped as the rush of wind fell to a peculiar silence. “We’re communicating!”
“Try sending a coded message, like the telegraph.” Tait suggested as they went back inside.
“I don’t know telegraphic messaging,” Maxwell explained. “And how do I put that into an equation?”
“Try a exponential function, anyone will do, just as long as signal grows until they signal back.”
Maxwell tacked an exponential function around the electrical component and stood back. They waited for a few minutes and nothing happened.
“Maybe they’ve had enough sense to stop?” Tait suggested, “maybe we should stop?”
“Yes, I expect your right,” Maxwell nodded his head and scribbled out completely the electrical component.
“All right,” said Tait and they grinned at each other in relief, “it’s over.”
At that moment they started to levitate off the ground, Maxwell grabbed the desk and Tait grabbed onto Maxwell’s legs.
“Not Gravity!” Maxwell shrieked, “That’ll be the end of us all!”
About the room bits of smashed furniture, broken glass wear, pencils, paper, scientific instruments floated free from the floor in a strange aerial mound about the desk.
“Look!” Maxwell pointed, “It’s localised! The further from this desk the less the effect! I’ve got an idea.”
“No!” Tait yelled.
Maxwell let go of the desk and they gently floated to the ceiling to find themselves resting upside above the room.
“It’s alright,” Maxwell said, and breathed slowly, “that point on the desk must be where Dual Maxwell is writing the equations. That’s where the effect is the greatest; it’s not as bad as I feared.”
“I feel ill,” Tait looked quite green hanging upside down in midair.
“Must be the world’s first case of airsickness,” Maxwell grinned. “Think Tait old man, we are the first people in the history of the world to fly if not the history of the universe!”
“I think I’m going to be sick,” Tait moaned.
“Here use this paper bag,” Maxwell said inadvertently inventing the world’s first airsickness bag.
“Now what?” Tait said after he emptied his stomach.
“Lets kick off the ceiling,” Maxwell grinned, “if I’m right, the field of gravity should increase towards the door and we should naturally drift to the ground.”
This happened exactly as he predicted and they found themselves in a crumpled heap by the door.
“Great Guns!” Maxwell exclaimed, “we’re discovered the world’s first anti-gravity field, and we’re the first people to fly and invent air traffic control.”
“And proved the existence of another universe,” Tait sighed, “Although I wished I didn’t feel so poorly.”
“It’s for science!” Maxwell pointed a finger at the ceiling, “This is as great as Pythagoras proving his theorem of triangles, Columbus discovering the New World. Hmm, I wonder what else we can do?”
“No James,” Tait shook his head in alarm, “enough is enough. Besides have you asked yourself, why our Duals are playing around with our gravity?”
“To tell us the electricity equation worked!”
“On the other hand, didn’t the whirlwind almost kill us? And what if the shrinking had gone on? You might not have been able to pick up the pencil.”
“Technical trivialities,” Maxwell said and leapt into the air across the arc of gravity to the other side of the room. “Woah! Tait we have to try something else!”
“We could destroy a whole universe with this meddling! We could destroy our universe!”
“We won’t know until we try.”
“Remember Icarus.”
“Icarus flew too close to the Sun,” Maxwell dragged the paper out of his pocket before his friend could stop him, “now what else could we try? A steam engine?”
“James! No!” Tait wrung his hands together. “Haven’t you learned enough already?”
“It’s for science, for science we can never learn enough!” Maxwell dragged a model steam engine from out of a cupboard. “Hmm, motive power?”
In the Dual Universe the electrical shocks stopped and the two other heroes breathed sighs of relief. The room was a shambles, the two heroes were covered in sweat and a sense their lives would never be the same.
“Is it over?” asked Tait, viscerally shaking from the repeated electric shocks.
“I think so,” said Dual Maxwell, “I really should remove the gravity function.”
“What if they use it?” Tait asked wiping the sweat from his eyes.
“You mean – the other me?” Dual Maxwell looked curiously at her friend, “I doubt it, once I knew what it was capable of doing I would never do such a thing.”
“What if they don’t know?” Tait panted heavily, “What if they are simply writing equations to see what would happen? I say – is it me, or is it rather hot in here?”
“That’s probably the air-conditioning.”
“We live in Scotland, there is no air-conditioning.”
“Outside!” Dual Maxwell yelled and grabbed the paper with equations on it.
As they ran out the door, there was a sudden whoosh of air and they were expelled like a couple of corks from a cider bottle. They landed so heavily in the shrubbery that Dual Maxwell was surprised neither of them was injured.
“If this keeps up,” said Tait brushing himself down, “we will be turned into Englishmen, and I can’t think of a worse fate.”
“I’m a woman,” Dual Maxwell looked dourly at her friend, “to be turned into a man is the worse fate.”
Still hanging onto the paper she flattened it against the stone fence and scratched out the terms involving gravity.
“Perhaps they still don’t understand the problems we are having in our universe?” Tait suggested.
“I’ve got it,” Dual Maxwell exultantly held a finger up, “we will do the exact same thing to them as they are doing to us, that way they’re bound to know what’s happening. Trouble is - what precisely are they doing?”
“Something to do with heat and air?” Tait suggested and they looked at each other with the same thought.
“Steam Engine!” they yelled together.
“Quick, go back in and grab the model engine,” Dual Maxwell said to Tait and pushed him towards the door, as a great wave of heat from a furnace blew through the portal.
“You go in!” Tait yelled back, “It’s your equation!”
“Yes, it is my equation,” Dual Maxwell grinned at her friend, “and if I remember correctly, it was you who turned my constant into a function and made all this mess happen in the first place.”
“Ah,” Tait made a wry smile and slapped himself in the forehead, “I’ll give you that, but if I don’t come out again make sure my golf clubs go to a good home.”
He took a couple of deep breaths and ran in the room, all the while the rush of air entering and leaving the room began to take on the sound of a giant bellows. After a few tense moments there was a muffled cry and Tait shot out of the room so fast he somersaulted like a highland caber and knocked Dual Maxwell to the ground.
“Got it!” Tait stood up covered in sweat and handed Dual Maxwell the tiny model steam engine, “I could do with a glass of water, no wait make that whiskey I’m still Scottish,” he felt in his trouser pocket, “yes, still Scottish.”
Dual Maxwell rolled her eyes, and then looked carefully at the notation on the model engine.
“Got it, ten psi at 212 degrees Fahrenheit,” she wrote on the equation paper muttering to her self, “now we add in the Carnot cycle in some vague way.”
“Great Ghost of Robbie Burns!” the first Maxwell cried, as he broke out in a sweat, “is it just me or did the monsoon just come to Edinburgh?”
Then they watched in relief as all the objects in the room fell to the ground.
“Gravity is normal again,” Tait looked about the laboratory mystified, “James, is that steam or fog forming in the room? I mean shouldn’t the Dual Universe have the steam in it, not ours?”
Maxwell thought very carefully for several moments.
“What if our Duals are also using a steam engine in the personal function?” Maxwell mused as sweat poured out of his eyes.
“We must stop!” Tait cried and tried to drag the pencil out of Maxwell’s hand. “Before it’s too late!”
“It could also be too late to stop!” Maxwell broke the pencil dragging it out of Tait hands. “We must go on! Don’t you see, now they are doing the exact same thing as we are, we need to balance the equations to put everything back to normal!”
“Madness! Madness!” Tait dragged at his hair with his fingers, “I say - it is hot.”
There was a sudden rush of hot air and they found themselves gasping for breath.
“It’s like an oven in here,” said Maxwell.
They looked at each other in alarm and jumped out the windows, just as an enormous rush of hot air pushed them out like a piston.
“I fear you may be right,” Maxwell said ruefully, still holding onto the piece of paper. “We need to stop them, before they completely stop our universe.”
“Easy to say,” Tait breathed a sigh of relief, as his friend finally understood the danger they were in, “but how?”
“We need to put some sort of shield or insulation around the other universe, we need to control what they do to our universe.”
“A sort of infinite wall constant?” Tait pursed his lips in thought, “It won’t work. Their universe is connected to our universe, if we cut it off then it could just very well backfire onto us.”
“How about a door function in the wall? One that we control, and our Duals can’t touch?”
“Like a box around the other universe?”
“James, it’s not some demon in a box we’re dealing with here. It’s a whole other universe.”
“It’s them or us, and I’d prefer it’s them,” Maxwell clenched his hands in frustration.
With this, Maxwell tacked a wall function onto the Universal Equation, which meant only he was able to write equations and not his Dual, it was the penultimate act in the great battle. Thereupon Edinburgh returned to its unending drizzle, as the people were left wondering if the modern fascination of vulcanising Wellington boots would ever catch on.