The Disturbance Hypothesis Evaluation
A/N: Disclaimer, crossover, spoilers, etc. are all given in chapter 1.
Amy Farrah Fowler had a number of times fantasized about Sheldon Cooper spending the night in her apartment.
None of her fantasies had in any way involved Sheldon fully dressed, cocooned within one of her quilts, and having screaming nightmares every time he fell asleep.
She picked up her laptop and tried Skype. Buffy Summers didn’t answer. What sort of person didn’t answer when you Skyped them? She tried her cellphone.
“Buffy Summers? This is Amy Farrah Fowler. I would like to know what you did to Sheldon Cooper, and why you made him read ancient Greek, and why he is having nightmares at this very moment.”
But Buffy said the words ‘oh boy’ so they sounded more like ‘uh buh-ee’, much as Howard did when he was feeling exasperated and put upon, which led to a logical conclusion that Buffy probably had at least one good friend who was Jewish. However, that wasn’t germane to the current issue.
“Buffy, that is not an answer.”
Buffy said, “I told him to go back to his apartment and convince himself it was all a dream. Or a hallucination.”
Amy explained, “Sheldon has an eidetic memory, you know. He is fully capable of assessing from the level of detail whether any particular memory could have come from a dream. Furthermore, I think it is important that you tell me precisely what it was that you wanted Sheldon to forget. As you recount this to me, bear in mind that Sheldon is taken. By me.”
“I… umm… performed a magic trick. I… let me see… I used some borrowed holographic equipment to make it look like my friend Brian was possessed by a demon. And Sheldon… over-reacted.”
Amy thought for a second. Then she checked the computer system she had recently hooked up to her phone. “Buffy, based on your speech patterns, I have concluded that you might have been constructing a fabrication, that is, a blatant lie.” She neglected to tell Buffy that the lie detection system hooked up to her phone was primarily designed to detect lies via recognition of micro-tremors in the voice, so that she could tell when her department head was lying to her about grant money again.
Buffy said, “Okay. Fine. I dragged Sheldon up to my apartment because Brian was possessed by a Pict’nagh Demon, and I needed Sheldon to read a disruption spell in ancient Greek in order to end the possession.”
Amy glanced at the computer system. It was stubbornly indicating that Buffy was not lying this time. Clearly, she was going to have to spend some time re-programming the system, and possibly researching speech detection and recognition methodologies. Because there was a very low probability that Buffy could be telling the truth. “I shall speak with Penny and Bernadette about this, and if there is no adequate resolution, you may expect to be summarily removed from our Wii bowling team despite your extraordinarily high scores.”
She hung up abruptly. What was she going to do? Penny would probably take it amiss if called at this time of the night, regardless of the criticality of the issue. Furthermore-
“Amy? Amy? Amy?”
“I’m here in the living room, Sheldon.”
Sheldon came out of the bedroom. He was still fully dressed, and still wrapped in her least-favorite quilt so that he appeared to be wearing a hood. He said, “I still can’t sleep, Amy. I think there’s something wrong with me.”
She watched as he sat down on the couch next to her and actually leaned in against her. That was a sure sign that he was overwrought, because the Sheldon Cooper who she knew would certainly never initiate physical contact like that, even through several layers of quilted fabric.
She put her arm around him and patted his back. “Perhaps it would be useful if you talked about what you saw.”
“Oh, you mean as in the standard poppycock of psychiatric therapies? I think not!”
She smiled a little. That was more like her Sheldon. She said, “No, I meant as a process of disseminating information, and perhaps organizing thought patterns into more constructive gestalts. For example, if Buffy Summers perpetrated a hoax, then a detailed re-examination of the situation might reveal subtle clues to the mechanisms she used to deceive you.”
He shuddered. “I would most certainly like to believe that it was a hoax. But it isn’t as if I watched this on a movie screen after people had been given three months to perform CGI ‘wizardry’ on the film footage.”
She persisted. “Then perhaps it would be mutually beneficial if you described in some detail the entire episode.”
He looked at her for several seconds before he asked, “Were you previously aware that Buffy Summers has superpowers?”
“I am still unaware of such a thing. I do know that she has spatial and kinesthetic talents that are well beyond the norm, and may even be more than three standard deviations above the mean on both the Gardner and Kornheiser scales. She also has a nice, firm handshake. It is why we asked her to join our Wii bowling team. Not including the handshake. However, such a combination does not mean that she has superpowers, and it would be remiss of me to agree with you on this point merely because you are distraught.”
He glared at her in that way he did whenever he was not prepared to rebut one of her arguments but had no wish to admit that she had won. She chose not to ‘rub it in’ given his levels of emotional distress, however she made a mental note to use it some time in future when he chose to gloat over one of his victories in the arena of arguments.
He said, “Let me rephrase that. Are you aware that her skills at Wii bowling exceed human capabilities?”
She stared at him for several seconds before the logical consequence occurred to her. “You cheated.”
He stiffly insisted, “We merely attempted to ascertain how SHE was cheating. Leonard designed a jamming apparatus that would allow us to introduce a certain amount of… bias into the control system while she was wielding it. She was able to adjust. I calculated a posteriori that she would have to have reflexes at least two point six times faster than human synaptic reactions would allow. Perhaps faster.”
“Hmm.” He was right. That would be ‘superhuman’ in some sense. However, many people would consider Sheldon’s eidetic memory to be ‘superhuman’ as well.
He continued, “There are also distinct limitations on the physical capabilities of the human body. No matter how many hours a day she works out, she would not be able to carry around three times her own body weight on her shoulder for an extended amount of time.”
“How extended a time, and how certain are you that the weight was genuine?”
He frowned, “You have met Penny’s co-worker Brian?”
She paused in thought. “The tall, overweight individual who snacks excessively on Oreos, and sports a small beard in an attempt to compensate for his weak chin? That Brian?”
“The very same. What would you say he weighs?”
She considered carefully. She had only met him once, when he gave Penny a ride home from their current temporary offices and helped her carry a package up to her apartment. She said, “I would estimate his weight at approximately two hundred and eighty pounds. But there would be a large standard error associated with my point estimate.”
“Agreed,” he said. “I came up with a point estimate of two hundred and sixty, with an asymmetric confidence interval of two forty to two ninety.”
“And your point re Brian would be…”
He said, “Buffy Summers had Brian restrained with heavy metal cables, and was carrying him over her shoulder.”
“You mean that she managed to drag him a short distance under those conditions?” she wondered.
“No!” he insisted. “She not only walked about with him balanced on her shoulder like that… In those ridiculous high heels she wears, as if people couldn’t detect that she’s short… She ran up the stairs with him on her shoulder.”
“That’s not possible,” she said.
“I know!” he fussed. “Not only did she run up the stairs, she ran perhaps three times faster than I did. I had a significant head start. I was already on the third step before she even moved toward the stairs. She passed me on the way up. She was already unlocking her front door before I reached her landing. My calculations indicate that she ran faster than is humanly possible, and also simultaneously provided more lifting force than would be humanly possible for even an Olympic weightlifter. The force required to move from one step to the next at that speed, with that sort of additional weight, exceeds what is considered possible even for people in those strongman competitions, as discussed in Raybell and Callum’s work on extremes of human physiology. And none of that covered the fact that she was injured at the time!”
“Could we be talking about short-term extremes of human performance due to endorphins?” she checked. “Or perhaps some sort of inability to notice her own pain due to ingestion of, say, 1-(1-phenylcyclohexyl)piperidine, also known on the street as PCP or angel dust, or one of the other antiglutamatergic hallucinogens?”
He frowned, “That was one of my first assumptions. But even if she wasn’t feeling any pain at the time, she would still be unable to run at approximately thirty-five miles an hour. Up a flight of stairs. While carrying approximately three hundred pounds of overweight Oreo-bingeing lardbucket and steel cables. In high heels. Now I know, I do occasionally give the impression that I am unable to tell the difference between reality and certain types of fiction, but I know there are no such things as Justice League superheroes. And yet I am unable to explain the physical capabilities of one Buffy Summers.”
She carefully said, “But that’s not what has you so upset, is it?”
“Not in the least!” he insisted. “It was the… the… I don’t know how to phrase it without sounding like I had a psychotic break with reality.”
She calmly stated it like she learned in those embarrassingly lame classes about psychiatric theory. “Just say it like you were participating in a movie. A superhero movie, if you’d prefer.”
He nodded tensely. At least she thought he did, since he was still buried in her quilt. “I was reading an editorial review copy of Henrich and Rosenberg’s latest drivel on unified field theory and I was just getting to the really interesting part where they were probably going to attempt to multiply and divide by infinity simultaneously to hide their lack of coherence-”
She interrupted, “Sheldon? Pretend this is a superhero movie Penny would go see.”
“Oh. Well. In that case, a maniac with superstrength banged on my door so hard I thought it was going to crack the windows. I opened the door to find Buffy Summers standing there looking like she had been attacked by ninjas with katanas and daggers, and holding a massive endomorph on her shoulder while she had him tied up like he was capable of fighting Spiderman. I mean, half inch steel cable? Seriously? Who even has half inch steel cable?”
“Fine. At any rate, she then reached into the apartment, grabbed me with one hand and lifted me off my feet and out onto the landing. Then she ordered me to go up to her apartment to read Greek. The man balanced on her shoulder turned and looked at me. That is to say, his neck went through a full one hundred eighty degree turn with no resulting neural damage, and his eyes were red. Completely red, like big red marbles. I ran up the stairs, only she sprinted past me with Mister Caloric Loading still on her shoulder and had the apartment unlocked before I got there. She kicked her hide-a-bed sofa and shattered one of the support beams in it as it flipped over off the rug, then she rolled up the rug. She had a mystical design carved into the floor like something out of ‘Hellboy’. Circle, inscribed pentagon, inscribed pentagram. She handed me an extremely old text that was primarily Latin, and ordered me to read a paragraph that was ancient Greek while she held Brian in the center of the circle. By the time she had him pinned down, horns were ripping through his skin and his eyes were glowing red, in the same way that the Goua’uld’s eyes glow white, except he had no iris in the center. The Greek was some sort of beseechment to the goddess Artemis to protect her daughters from threats from outside her realm, but I didn’t have time to work up a complete functional translation. I read it three times. It seemed to have an effect. She tore the duct tape off his mouth. She had ten strips of duct tape wrapped completely around his head, and she ripped through all ten with one tug. That shouldn’t be possible either. He vomited up a black non-Newtonian fluid from his mouth and nose and eyes, and it looked distinctly unhygienic. It began evanescing as I stood there. She didn’t want to discuss it, but Brian said I ‘saved his bacon’ and he wanted to tell me. But he claimed it was something demonic trying to possess him to wreak vengeance, presumably on Buffy, and Buffy claimed it wasn’t even matter in the sense I would mean, as if she would have any idea how I would describe matter. Then she told me to go back to my apartment and tell myself it hadn’t happened. I tried. But I couldn’t stop staring at the ceiling, wondering if that… substance would begin oozing through the construction materials, and what it might do, and if it carried any unknown diseases. Leonard didn’t come home, and Penny didn’t come home, and I didn’t want to stay in my apartment, and I came here. And you let me have your quilt that you hate.”
She waited a moment to be sure he was done telling his tale. Then she said, “Remarkable. I have been in Buffy’s apartment twice, and I noticed the bookshelf was full of books instead of knickknacks or ‘tchotchkes’ or collectibles, but I didn’t realize the books were old, or in Latin.”
He pointed out, “But Amy, you always look at people’s books and evaluate them based on their bibliophilic tendencies. Or lack thereof.”
“That’s a very good point,” she said. “Why didn’t I go look through Buffy’s books before?”
Sheldon said, “I looked right at them, and I have no memory of any of the book titles except the one I was holding. It was book two of the ‘Pergamum Codex’ which I have never even heard of. How is it possible that I looked at those books and I can’t remember the titles? I have an eidetic memory! I should be able to tell you every book on every shelf, and the precise order they were in.”
Amy stepped over to her laptop and quickly googled. “Pergamum Codex. Hmm… It’s believed that it was originally written well over sixteen hundred years ago, and it is thought that the last known copies were lost in the fifteen hundreds. A genuine copy with all volumes would be worth perhaps fifty million dollars at auction.”
Sheldon gasped, “And she has it on her bookshelf? WITH BOOKMARKS IN IT? She’s a heathen!”
Amy said, “It can’t be the real thing.”
Sheldon said, “It was written in archaic Latin, with ancient Greek inserts. Who on earth would attempt to construct something like that? Other than one of us?”
She frowned, “If this turns out to be a hoax orchestrated by Leonard, I am going to be extremely cross.”
“Have you seen Leonard’s experiments? He couldn’t design something this effective and creative if his life depended on it!” Sheldon snapped.
“Thank you for that useful – if rather visceral – evaluation,” Amy said. “So we have evidence that Buffy Summers is stronger and faster than a human should be. We also have evidence that she has abnormally high kinesthetic and spatial intelligence.”
“Those don’t count as intelligence!” protested Sheldon angrily. “Gardner was probably just trying to justify some NIH grant.”
“Regardless of your personal feelings about Gardner’s seminal
research and years
of validation studies that have been done since then by hundreds of researchers, we now have evidence that Buffy has inexplicable levels of strength, speed, quickness, kinesthetics, and spatial functionality. It is logical that her job entails use of those abilities. It would even explain why she is on the ‘board of directors’ of an international company at her age, when she has no graduate degrees that I have been able to find in a simple internet search.”
Sheldon said, “But if she has a job that makes use of her abilities, then her company knows what she can do, and utilizes her abilities in some way.” His eyes grew wide and he gasped, “Alien invasions! Perhaps she really fights alien invasions, and the demon explanation was a very clever cover story!” He looked at Amy and said, “And that would make my alien parasite theory more relevant too.”
Amy simply said, “There might be another explanation. We don’t want to begin making inductions when we haven’t gathered sufficient data to make a rational hypothesis.”
“You just don’t like the alien parasite theory,” he pouted.
She said, “I think we should attempt to gain additional facts.”
She continued, “And a reasonable place to begin would be information linked to this so-called Pergamum Codex, as well as information linked to young women of unusual physical capabilities.”
She finished, “We shall not look at information connected to the ‘demon’ or ‘spell’ concepts, since those were pushed upon you rather than allowing you to gather facts in a reasonable way. They could be hoaxes or deceptions or even self-deceptions.”
“Agreed as well.”
She said, “Proposal: you saw the text and I did not, so you should look for information on the text, as well as any quotes from within. You may use my desktop machine. I shall use my laptop to perform the other search. We stop in exactly thirty minutes and compare notes.”