Day 4 nairobi 81 june 161979 1 timeline it was

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DAY 4: NAIROBI
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81 June 16,1979 1. Timeline IT WAS FARTHER ACROSS AFRICA FROM TANGIER TO Nairobi than it was across the Atlantic Ocean from New York to London—3,600 miles, an eight- hour flight. Ross spent the time at the computer console, working out what she called “hyperspace probability lines.” The screen showed a computer-generated map of Africa, with streaking multicolored lines across it. “These are all timelines,” Ross said. “We can weight them for duration and delay factors.” Beneath the screen was a total-elapsed- time clock, which kept shifting numbers. “What’s that mean?” Elliot asked. “The computer’s picking the fastest route. You see it’s just identified a timeline that will get us on-site in six days eighteen hours and fifty—one minutes. Now it’s trying to beat that time.” Elliot had to smile. The idea of a computer predicting to the minute when they would reach their Congo location seemed ludicrous to him. But Ross was totally serious. As they watched, the computer clock shifted to 5 days 22 hours 24 minutes. “Better,” Ross said, nodding. “But still not very good.” She pressed another key and the lines shifted, stretching like rubber bands over the African continent. “This is the consortium route,” she said, “based on our assumptions about the expedition. They’re going in big—thirty or more people, a full-scale undertaking. And they don’t know the exact location of the city; at least, we don’t think they know. But they have a substantial start on us, at least twelve hours, since their aircraft is already forming up in Nairobi.” The clock registered total elapsed time: 5 days 09 hours 19 minutes. Then she pressed a button marked DATE and it shifted to 06 21 790814. “According to
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82 this, the consortium will reach the Congo site a little after eight o’clock in the morning on June 21.” The computer clicked quietly; the lines continued to stretch and pull, and the clock read a new date: 06 21 79 1224. “Well,” she said, “that’s where we are now. Given maximum favorable movements for us and them, the consortium will beat us to the site by slightly more than four hours, five days from now.” Munro walked past, eating a sandwich. “Better lock another path,” he said. “Or go radical.” “I hesitate to go radical with the ape.” Munro shrugged. “Have to do something, with a timeline like that.” Elliot listened to them with a vague sense of unreality: they were discussing a difference of hours, five days in the future. “But surely,” Elliot said, “over the next few days, with all the arrangements at Nairobi, and then getting into the jungle— you can’t put too much faith in those figures.” “This isn’t like the old days of African exploration,” Ross said, “where parties disappeared into the wilds for months. At most, the computer is off by minutes— say, roughly half an hour in the total five-day projection.” She shook her head.
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