Hitchiker's Guide to the Galaxy inspired description of a useful technology
|Their ship flew through the perimeter undetected thanks to the wondrous NF field. The NF field was a uniquely astounding device created based on the principles of the brilliant and more than slightly eccentric Dr Nigel Fink. Dr Fink was a fan of the works of the equally brilliant Douglas Adams and often wondered if perhaps Mr. Adams was more than a writer, but perhaps an actual traveler of the stars or possibly through time. Dr Fink pursued several purely brilliant principles all based on the ridiculous technologies encountered by Arthur Dent. The NF field was inspired by Mr. Adams’ S.E.P. field. To quote the brilliant and inspired Mr Adams,
“The Somebody Else's Problem [S.E.P.] field... relies on people's natural predisposition not to see anything they don't want to, weren't expecting, or can't explain. If Effrafax had painted the mountain pink and erected a cheap and simple Somebody Else’s Problem field on it, then people would have walked past the mountain, round it, even over it, and simply never have noticed that the thing was there.”
The NF field works by emitting a sub-space frequency that manipulates the way information is stored in the brain. Before we can process the information that we see and store it, there are several layers that information must traverse. It all begins with your sensory memory.
Sensory memory is that bit of your brain that temporarily stores the information received by the sensory apparatuses connected to your nervous system. For example, the words you just read on this page/screen were viewed as photons hitting your retina at the back of your eye at nearly the speed of light (ouch), the patterns of those photons constantly bombarding you are converted to electrical signals and transferred to your brain via the optic nerve. In your brain, that data is temporarily stored in your iconic memory, a subset of your sensory memory. If you’re listening to someone else read this piece of well thought out mastery than your ears detect the vibrations in the air and how they affect your eardrum and that data is also transferred to your brain and stored in the echoic memory, another subset of your sensory memory. If you happen to be sight-challenged and are touching the surface of a device or paper printed with Braille characters or a similar mechanism, than your skin itself is acting as a sensory organ and converting the tactile sensations you perceive and converting them to electrical signals that travel through your nervous system until they reach your brain and are temporarily stored in your haptic memory, yet another sub-system of the sensory memory.
Now, what is stored in your sensory memory is completely out of your control and lost within seconds. Right now you are receiving visual, echoic, and haptic data and that data is being temporarily stored in your sensory memory but unless something about that data has your attention nothing comes of it and it is lost. Your attention will control the next step of meat-based data processing. What you are focused on will determine which of the available sensory memories will be brought forward into your working, or short-term, memory, and if important enough eventually will be incorporated into long-term memory. For example, even if you haven’t been paying attention to it you probably have no memory of the A/C, or perhaps the wind,that has been providing a constant background white-noise since you started reading. Your ears continue to work and your brain temporarily stored that data, but until I called your attention to it that data expired in your sensory memory and was never processed further.
The human body constantly receives peta bytes of high definition data but most of that data is quickly discarded. The background noises we ignore, our peripheral vision, the feeling of your sock pressed against your right little toe, your pant legs touching your knees, or if your lying on the couch naked like this humble author, the feeling of the leather against your bare ass. And when it’s brought to your attention you now can’t help but notice how your taint is sticking to the leather as you squirm. And as you focus on that feeling and squirm a little more, you might focus on that feeling and think that it feels kinda nice. Maybe you look up a picture of the author and squirm a bit more as you feel a warmth building in your groin. You notice how the author looks like a young George RR Martin, but with a normal-sized nose and maybe if Mr Martin put on another 100 pounds or so and then your nipples start hardening. You squirm a bit more and reach down a hand down between your thighs imagining the author’s beard covered in oil and rubbing against your chest. I mean, if you were the type of reader who would imagine this type of thing I’m not one to judge, and I’m more than happy to let you finish your exploration of the sensory memory before I return to the topic of the NF field.
In order to satisfy your curiosity, I should point out that the author has been known to have considerable stamina, so if your, um, experiment is to have any realism we should probably come back to this in a few hours.
OK, are you done? Did you wash your hands before handling this priceless artifact of knowledge? Good.
So, the NF field. What does the “NF” stand for? Some suggest that is simply represent Dr Nigel Fink’s initials. In polite circles it is often referred to as a Nullifier Field because the practical effect of the NF field is that the memory of whatever it is protecting is nullified in the mind of the one perceiving it. That is to say that the object in question is perceived and makes it to sensory memory, but the sub-space signal that is being emitted from the object with the NF field will prevent the oberver’s focus from giving the object enough significance to let it process through working memory, so it is essentially “nullified”. This, however, is not truly a completely accurate statement regarding how the field works. The truth, according to Dr Fink, is that the observer will perceive the object, the data is stored in sensory memory and possibly even processed in working memory; however, the observer’s brain waves are altered in such a way that they simply don’t give a fuck.
According to Dr. Fink’s original paper submitted to the Journal of Experimental Psychology: Learning, Memory, and Cognition circa 2053, “The Nullification of Fucks in the Scheduling and Presentation of Temporal and Distinctiveness in Human Memory” the actual name of the NF field is the “No Fucks Field”, as in the observer gives no fucks. You may wonder why the NF field is not employed widely throughout human civilization and why our heroes haven’t encountered any countermeasures to the NF field. As to the latter, no one has given enough fucks about this technology to develop any countermeasures to date. As to the former, while an outside observer of an object that is inside an NF Field gives no fucks and is thus unable to notice or care about the object, those inside the NF Field get no fucks due to an inability to, um, perform, while under its influence; however, they retain the ability to care about such things.
As a result of this unintended side-effect, missions that required long-term use of the NF field tended to be manned only by nerds and lesbians. These missions were frequently an HR nightmare and almost universally failed. And so the NF field is now reserved by a select few to use during the most covert and shortest of missions manned by highly trained and small crews, or by individuals attempting to avoid co-workers they randomly encounter at the market.