“Professor Waltari, can you please explain your time machine in greater detail? Also, what are its specific parameters and limitations? There are many critics in the worldwide science community who have challenged the validity of your amazing invention. Perhaps you can answer some of these daunting questions to satisfy the public’s building curiosity.”
“First of all, my ‘Portal’ is NOT a ‘time machine’! It’s not the hair-brained product of some goofy H. G. Welles Science Fiction story; complete with whirling blades and a crystal ‘key’! It’s a one-way ‘window’ to safely peer into the past. This viewing portal is the painstaking result of many years of exhaustive research and development. Also, because of the dangers involved with such a device, there is a built in failsafe against interacting with the past in ANY way, shape or form. That important limitation is for the good of humanity.
That’s why: ‘Seeing is believing’ is our company motto. Not: ‘Grab a real dinosaur egg’; or whatever. I’m not going to be responsible for a guest screwing up history. An excursion in the portal is the historical voyeur’s ultimate dream come true!”
The reporter nodded politely and apologized for the terminology gaffe but otherwise refrained from interrupting. He sensed more expositional information was forthcoming. His intuition paid off.
“I only allow select patrons to peer into the past.”; Professor Waltari continued. While each excursion is incredibly expensive, it’s not financial criteria that we use to limit who our passengers are. Each potential guest must pass a series of aptitude tests and mental health screening. Only the ones who demonstrate that they can handle the stress; make the cut. How that affects each individual is entirely unique. Many have a burning desire to find the answers that haunt them but when confronted with the truth, they crack. I don’t want any psychological breakdowns to be on my conscience. I require a legal disclaimer to be signed before each trip, and payment made in full. No exceptions will be accepted to those necessary rules and no refunds will be given because the truth wasn’t what the passenger hoped for.”
The reporter was taken aback by the strictness of the professor’s rules. His unwillingness to blindly accept anyone with the steep price for admission was puzzling; especially from a business perspective. “How do you quell the naysayers who suggest your device is merely a complex computer simulation or hallucination?”; He inquired.
The old man looked a bit annoyed at the reporter’s inherent skepticism but curtly replied: “Since there are so many initial doubts about the validity of my scientific breakthrough; each excursion is preceded with a required, short visit to the customer’s own past. Witnessing an event that they know really happened; goes a long way in silencing the skeptics. It verifies for them the very real nature of the portal. I don’t want anyone thinking I’m using ‘smoke and mirrors’ or high tech, mind altering gadgetry to swindle people out of money. Each person comes away satisfied that their visit to the past was authentic. However I do NOT guarantee happiness; and I can not stress that enough! Sometimes the truth is not what we expect or want. It is however, the truth. Caveat emptor…”
“I see”. (The truth of the matter was that he DIDN’T understand but the aged scientist was quite worked up and the reporter didn’t want to agitate him more; by asking for clarification.) “How many of these deep excursions into the past have you made yourself, sir? Have you witnessed historical events?”
“Young man, I have tested the portal extensively in the past 6 weeks of operation. I have witnessed my own birth, the signing of the Declaration of Independence, The assassination of Abraham Lincoln and J.F.K. I watched as Columbus set foot on land in the new world! I know the true identity of Jack the Ripper and the Zodiac Killer. I’ve watched the plane crash that killed Buddy Holly from inside the cabin. I witnessed the gruesome murder of the ‘Black Dahlia’, the sinking of the Titanic, and a half dozen other events over the centuries! Many of these have never been witnessed by another pair of eyes. The potential of my invention is unparalleled.”