This week, I have busied myself with questions of a philosophical and scientific bent, and for good reason.
Saturday 7th August 2004 was an auspicious day in the Duck household. The first ever asking of that greatest of philosophers' questions at Scaryduck Towers, a question first put by Aristotle to Socrates in 487BC, and pondered by the finest minds of humanity ever since.
This is a question that has defined the very shape of our world, the fragility of the human psyche and has caused the rise and fall of great empires. Not just a question. The question.
Did not Our Lord ask this of Judas Iscariot at the Second from Last Supper? A question asked, forsooth, by Lady Macbeth of her husband in Act II Scene I of The Scottish Play; revisited as part of Abraham Lincoln's famous Gettysburg Address, a theme eventually taken up by Martin Luther King in his stirring "I have a Dream" speech. And now, with our lives at a crossroads, our very future in the balance, it was the turn of Scaryduckling. So it goes:
"Are you a Benny tied to a tree?"
I answered, naturally, in the negative.
Scientists and thinkers have struggled with the Benny Controversy and its implications for humanity for decades. In his now famous experiment into Benny Theory, Erwin Schroedinger demonstrated that the very act of ascertaining whether the subject is tied to a tree or is a Benny on the Loose causes the so-called Deacon Field to collapse, risking widespread contamination with Benny germs. Because of the dangers, the Schoedinger's Benny experiment is never likely to be attempted.
Albert Einstein spent many of his later years pondering the so-called Loose Benny problem. In an elegant solution proposed in his "Special" Theory, he realised that the curved nature of the universe allows the subject to be simultaneously one the loose and tied to a tree. The implications of this proved devasting for the people of Vladivostok, when in 1954 an uncontrolled Benny leak at the city's Pacific Fleet naval dockyards left several square miles completely uninhabitable, a disaster which still contaminates the population today.
Indeed, much modern thinking in the field of quantum mechanics is based around theories of multiple dimensions, parallel universes and free-radical Benny particles, where all solutions to the Loose Benny Problem can exist, including the so-called Humphries Dimension, where scientists theorise that there are no trees and is populated by nothing but Bennies on the Loose. However, as Schoedinger's Benny points out, merely attempting to view these events may even bring about the end of our universe through destabilizing the time-spazz matrix.
Professor Stephen Hawking has neatly sidestepped this problem and the potential threat to our existence posed by a rampaging critical mass of Bennies by instead devoting his energies to an entirely different question. Hawking boils it down to a succint four words in an updated edition of his classic "A Brief History of Time": "Have you got Skill?" Alas, even Hawking's enormous intellect cannot answer the unanswerable, and we must resign ourselves to the fact that Bennies will always be on the loose. And they've got African Bum Disease.