What a remote control is: A guide for medieval peasants who have never seen a television before.

In the future, there will be a… well, people often call it a box, but by my time it mostly comes in the form of slabs about an inch or two thick.

Anyway, while this device may seem to run on magic, let me assure you it is all natural effects as instituted by God. The device is called a television. The television can produce all manner of sounds, and can also emit light. In fact, it can use the light it emits to form a picture. What’s more, the television can change the picture 24 times in a single second, so it looks like people in it are moving. In fact, when you combine this with sounds, it’s like watching a play in your own house!

Well, no, the television is just a machine – it doesn’t actually know anything. What happens is there is a huge lamp somewhere out in the countryside that shines a sort of invisible light up towards Heaven. No, of course you can’t see it since it’s invisible, but we have machines that can detect it, and we know it acts similarly to visible light. This lamp constantly alters the shade and brightness of the invisible light it emits in such a way as to encode information, a bit like the way the monks and nobles use marks on paper to represent words.

Anyway, up in the sky between Heaven and Earth, there is an artificial moon. Oh, not at all – it stays up there by the same mechanism that keeps the natural moon up. So anyway, the artificial moon sees the invisible light and shines another invisible light over a wider area. This invisible light… well, I suppose you’d say it’s a different colour to the invisible light emitted by that huge lamp. Yes, yes, I know invisible things don’t have colour, but it’s the closest concept you have to understanding this.

Anyway, the invisible light emitted by the artificial moon covers a large area of Earth’s surface. It is also constantly changing to represent the same information as was in the invisible light received by the artificial moon. Now, here’s the right clever bit. You can put a curved metal plate on the side of your house and use a long, thin strip of metal to connect it to another machine, which is shaped like a box, that you connect to your television with another strip of metal. Then, when the artificial moon shines light on the metal plate, it transmits that information through the strips of metal to your TV. The box knows what the changes in the invisible light mean, and tells your TV what sounds and pictures to show, and when.

So that’s how you can watch a play in your own house. Well, sure, but it certainly helps if the theatre’s not available, plus a single artificial moon can shine invisible light on millions of houses at a time. Yes, millions. Like, a whole bunch of Romes *at once*! Yes, it’s expensive, but people who own televisions pay for access. Also, craftsmen pay the maintainers of the artificial moon and the lamp of invisible light to include information on their wares during intermissions and between the plays, which is how they buy their own bread.

Now, the best thing about the giant lamp and the artificial moon is that they can shine lights of lots of different colours and shades, and those different shades have different information in them. This means that a television can actually show many different plays, an you can switch between them whenever you want. And that’s where this comes in.

See these buttons? If you press them, they fire at the box a beam of invisible light of a completely different colour to that used by the giant lamp and the artificial moons. You can use these to change the play you’re watching without even leaving your chair.

No, unfortunately I can’t show you how it works, since even if I had a television, you don’t have the right infrastructure. For example, the box, television, and giant lamp all need a huge furnace to send lightning through other long strips of metal for them to work. Still, I’m sure we can find something else fun to do. Yeah, a bonfire sounds great! Say, what are you doing with that rope?


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s