March 3, 2024

I, Science

The science magazine of Imperial College

Sculptures of gods and men joined in a stoic observance of this stranger from another time.

Arriving with the same luminous flash and soundless thunder, TK4 promptly gathered himself with a burning sense of purpose and conviction. He instinctively sought out the horizon, though his view was dominated by the rows upon rows of magnificent marble columns that surrounded him. Sculptures of gods and men joined in a stoic observance of this stranger from another time. In the serenity of the setting, TK4 failed to acknowledge he was not alone in his moment of quiet contemplation.

“With a bolt of light so brilliant, I’d have expected Zeus himself! Are you a mortal man?”

TK4 spun to face his inquisitor.

“I am of flesh and bone, though my mission stands beyond most men. I come as a chosen protector of knowledge and wisdom, an engineer of enlightenment, such that a great darkness may not befall the future of all mankind!”

The stranger eyed TK4 with a calculating look. Observing no immediate threat, he stood at ease and offered his own introduction in reply.

“I am Alexander of Macedon, ruler of a vast empire conquered by my own hand. Most would consider my mission to unite the lands of the known world beyond the power of men, but I appear to have proven myself more than up to the challenge. What risk now of an age of darkness when I, Alexander the Great, student of Aristotle himself, stands here before you?”

TK4 hesitated, scrabbling together the ancient texts in his possession, hoping his momentary loss for words would not compromise the little time he had to complete his mission.

“My name is TK4. I am a traveller to this time and place from the years ahead. My opportunity to share my story is short, but if you will listen to my teachings, I bring the promise of great knowledge and wisdom for you to share with your people.”

Alexander scoffed. “What do you know of this world and our people?”

“We Greeks have given birth to science and philosophy, our thinkers are renowned across the Empire, and will be celebrated for ages to come!”

Deaf to Alexander’s admonition, TK4 remained steadfast in his belief that the manuscripts he carried were evidence enough of the falsehoods propagated by this era. Drawing on the writings of Homer, that legendry author of the Iliad and the Odyssey, he sought to rebuke the great Alexander of Macedon for fostering the fallacy of a flat Earth.

“Enough! You stand there a slave to your own ideology, single-minded in approach and blind to the limits of your evidence. You take a work of fiction and present it as fact, and appear deaf to reason when I offer proof of our learned ways and knowledge of the world.”

“As Aristotle himself observed, there are stars seen in Egypt and Cyprus, which are not seen in the northerly regions. Regions that I have myself conquered and seen with my own eyes.”

“Do not doubt that if you seek only ignorance you will surely find it, but assume not that it is a folly that all great men and their teachers share. You would do well to return to your own age and seek to educate the people of your time and place.”

“If it is true what you say, and this myth of the flat Earth is to be perpetuated through the many ages of men, then better you sow the seeds of learning and critical thought than be unthinking guardians of torn parchment and spilled ink.”


And so, the Truth-keepers returned to their own time and shared their accounts from years long past. Together, they grew to realise that it is not the selfish pursuit of knowledge and its safe-guarding in those hallowed halls of learning that might offer humanity’s salvation.

Instead, they prepared for a new mission, one of joining the leaders of men, to act as educators of all people, through the sharing of knowledge and the tools through which they would understand and explore the world around them.

Poppy Lambert is studying for an MSc in Science Communication at Imperial College London

Banner Image: Earth, Pexels.