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Kim Rubenach

Thanks for staying after school to do this interview, Axel.

...

I mean, 'conversation'.

Axel Gunn

That's OK.

Kim Rubenach

I've 'talked' like this with Farrel, before. Of course.

Axel Gunn

So have I.

Kim Rubenach

Well, we're here to 'talk' about your project. Which started well. You started with glass, didn't you?

Axel Gunn

Yes. Well, broken glass, actually.

Kim Rubenach

Tell me what you found out.

Axel Gunn

All of it?

Kim Rubenach

The main ideas.

Axel Gunn

Well, first I tried that association game you get us to play sometimes. You know, when you say a word then we have to write down the first word that comes into our head that the first word reminds us of...

Kim Rubenach

Yes...

Axel Gunn

This is before I got onto broken glass. I came up with&a list of things that I was...sort of...interested in.

Kim Rubenach

Yes...

Axel Gunn

I hope you don't mind... Then I emailed my friend Sachie to see what she thought.

Kim Rubenach

Of course I don't mind. One of the most important learning skills is seeking help from other people.

Axel Gunn

Yes.

Kim Rubenach

Come on, Axel. Get on with it. :-)

Axel Gunn

OK, Ms Rubenach. ;-)

...

Sachie reminded me that I have had a lot of experiences with broken glass in my life. And I thought, Why not? So I started by writing about my broken memories, sort of, about glass.

...

Then I got onto other things. Other broken things.

Kim Rubenach

Are you tired of all this typing, Axel? Would you like a break?

Axel Gunn

No. I type all the time, since I can't talk. No. I was just thinking. Thanks.

...

I got bored with broken things and started thinking about what I was really interested in, what was on my mind.

...

Then I suddenly remembered the problem that I have been deeply thinking about for a long time.

Kim Rubenach

About why things stay put?

Axel Gunn

No. About what if there was nothing.

...

I mean, since I was a little kid I have been secretly wondering this. I lie in bed and night and try to imagine there not being anything at all. I mean, no me, no universe, no God.

...

Nothing.

...

It makes my brain go round and round. It's hard enough imagining that I don't exist. I sort of can, though I don't believe it. But thinking that there isn't anything at all is much harder. And I don't know if it's possible.

Kim Rubenach

I've never thought about it before. But how could there be just nothing, at all? Surely there must be something. A thought or a thing, somewhere, somehow.

Axel Gunn

Well, my dad says that scientists say that once there was nothing and one day there might be nothing again.

Kim Rubenach

You mean the Big Bang and the Big Crunch?

Axel Gunn

Yes. What would it be like before...and after?

...

In fact, what would it be like if there never was a bang or a crunch?

Kim Rubenach

Axel, I don't think humans are designed to be able to think about this stuff.

Axel Gunn

Does that mean there might be other things that we can't think about, because of the way we are made?

Kim Rubenach

I can't answer that question.

Axel Gunn

What about a computer? Could a computer that was smart enough (in the future, I mean) think about things that humans can't think about?

Kim Rubenach

I don't know. You would have to ask the computer.

...

No. Wait a minute. I remember reading somewhere that some people think that a computer could never think. It can calculate, but it can't think. Because to think (I think) requires consciousness, self-awareness.

Axel Gunn

Like, I can think because I'm aware of myself?

Kim Rubenach

Sort of. It's more like...

Kevin Yen

Perhaps I can help.

Kim Rubenach

???

Axel Gunn

???

Kim Rubenach

Kevin, where are you? Have you been eavesdropping?

Kevin Yen

Excuse me. I'm in Mr PB's room on the network. All your conversation was on the screen. So I thought it was public.

Kim Rubenach

How the ?#@&! did that happen?

Kevin Yen

I don't know.

Axel Gunn

This has never happened before.

Kim Rubenach

Is there ANY ONE ELSE out there?

...

Well, that's something. (I hope.)

...

Kevin, can I ask you to...woops, I've just realised. Silly me.

Kevin Yen

What?

Kim Rubenach

When Axel and I started our conversation we didn't--I didn't--click in the Share-to-air box which was already checked by the last people using the program. How embarrassing. So our 'conversation' would appear on all the school computers that weren't in use at the time. I'll have to ask Mr PB to do something about that. Program in a reminder or something, at the beginning. I'm sorry, Axel.

...

In the meantime, I'll check that little box now. Kevin will be automatically logged on, I think. Are you still there, Kevin?

Kevin Yen

Hello. I'm here.

Axel Gunn

Seeing as Kevin's here, Ms Rubenach, can I ask him a question?

Kim Rubenach

Sure.

Axel Gunn

When you're thinking hard about a maths problem, are you aware of yourself?

Kevin Yen

Do you mean, do I think about the fact that I am thinking about something?

Axel Gunn

Yep. That's it.

Kevin Yen

Nope. Well, sometimes. It all depends.

Axel Gunn

It depends on what?

Kevin Yen

On how hard I'm concentrating. If it's a really hard problem then I'm not aware of anything except the problem. In fact, I'm not 'aware' of anything really. The whole universe is just a maths problem that will eventually solve itself. If it can.

Kim Rubenach

That's the best description of the universe that I've ever heard. Thank you, Kevin.

Axel Gunn

You're *interrupting*, Ms Rubenach. :-)

Kim Rubenach

Sorry. Please continue, Kevin.

Kevin Yen

That's it, really. I've nothing more to say.

Axel Gunn

See what I mean, Ms Rubenach?

Kim Rubenach

Sort of, Axel. I think I get your 'drift'. And I think it's time to conclude our conversation. Except I would like to see a bit of the work, your project, what you've done so far.

Axel Gunn

Can Kevin sign-off first?

Kevin Yen

OK, buddy, Over and out.

================

Kim Rubenach

For the record, I've just spent quarter of an hour looking at Axel's beautiful project (all in words, because that's the deal with this series of projects) and I must say I'm terribly impressed.

Axel Gunn

(blush)

Kim Rubenach

You didn't tell me you were *really* doing something on glass, Axel.


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