The team agreed that Javier and Emily would immediately begin work, creating an exact duplicate of Albert Einstein’s Princeton Office. They had images of him sitting at his desk in 1944 to work from. The challenge was not so much the creation of his office, but finding images of the rest of the Princeton campus in that year, and replicating each building’s location with respect to all the others. The team had agreed that to only duplicate his office, and not the entire university would likely not suffice. So the two computer wizards set to work in their duplication of that University circa 1944, using the Second Life platform.
Javier did the majority of the work, given his superior knowledge of that piece of software, and his multi-platformed equipment that allowed him to quickly go back and forth between the images and his creation. Emily filled in the details after Javier had created the outline, with Javier instructing her on the details of using the Second Life features. Javier and Emily worked without stopping for 24 hours, given the looming deadline Ishmael had imposed. They stopped only for bathroom breaks and for an occasional snack of protein bars and water. Finally, the next morning, the setting was complete.
Emily contacted the team and set up another holographic conference. Nikolai was getting used to this ‘middle of the night’ summons, realizing how important it was that their effort succeed. Privately, both he and Feng Tian were skeptical that this would work, but both men secretly hoped that it would succeed. This was for the benefit of world peace, as well as confirming the notions about time travel that quantum physicists had long tried to convince the world were true.
Emily opened Second Life on her computer, and projected the images she and Javier had created up on the flat screen television. The group marveled at their handiwork, down to the last small detail of Einstein’s pipe carefully placed on his desk. Everyone agreed they had done a masterful job creating the setting for their entry into the China Team game.
Cecilia said, “I congratulate Emily and Javier on their expert creation of Einstein’s office and the Princeton campus. What else do we need to do before we give this a try?” The group looked at one another, puzzled and thinking hard about what was next. Nobody had any experience with this kind of effort, except Emily, Javier and Susan. After a few moments, Susan said, “The avatar. We can’t have Cecilia going to the Princeton campus in 1944 looking like a thoroughly modern woman. We’ll need to change her avatar’s appearance to fit in with hairstyles and modes of dress in 1944.” The men in the room began to look very uncomfortable with this new assignment. Feng Tian said, “I can be of no assistance to you here. I have no ideas about hairstyles and clothing. In China, our styles are very different. Nikolai chimed in. “This too is not my area of expertise. I am lucky to find two socks that match, and frankly my wife is the one that helps me figure all that out.” So it was left pretty much to Susan to search the internet to find suitable styles that the group could look at and decide if they thought that was an appropriate appearance for Cecilia’s avatar.
She started with hairstyles. She showed the group three different styles that she thought most suitable. She put the first picture up on the flat screen for the team to see. “Oh gee, no way,” said Emily. That hairstyle looks so weird. There’s no way my creation is going to have hair that looks like that.” Susan reminded her granddaughter that the idea was for Cecilia to blend in, so if they thought it would stand out too much, she’d go on to the next one. When she showed a picture of the second style, Emily seemed to like it, but Cecilia said, “I don’t think that will work with the shape of my face. Emily – don’t you agree?” Emily said, “Hey, you’re the one that has to pull this off. If you don’t like it, let’s move on. Grandma – what else you got?” Susan said, “I have no more selection – this is the one I think works best with the Cecilia we all know. She put the third picture up. They all agreed that that style was best for Cecilia. Susan said, “Emily, send that one to Javier, and get him started modifying Cecilia’s avatar while we work on her outfit.” Emily minimized the images in Second Life, and quickly transmitted the hair style to Javier. “He’s on it,” she told the group.
Susan said, “Okay, hair done – now let’s look at outfits. How about this one?” Susan showed three simple dresses to the group. Emily wrinkled her nose at the image. “They look too modern to me – they don’t look like outfits on those women I remember from seeing those dumb old movies you make me watch, Grandma.” Susan gave Emily a sour look, and said, “Group – do you agree?” The men murmured as though they had a notion about all this, when the women knew they didn’t know and frankly didn’t care. Cecilia said, “Emily’s probably right – she usually is. Show us the next one. Susan put the next image up on the screen – “Is this any better?” Cecilia said, “That would make my hips look too fat. I can’t see myself wearing that.” The men began to groan, as this dialogue about fashion in the 1940’s was beginning to wear on them. Susan said, “OK – last one – simple, professional – definitely from that era – in fact, that year since this was an outfit Gene Tierney wore in the movie Laura that came out in November of ’44.” Cecilia and Emily said, nearly in unison, “I like it.” The men said, “Good – let’s get this over with and get started finalizing this project…please!” Once again, Emily took the selection and sent it to Javier. “He said, give him five minutes and we’ll be all done.”
Ten minutes later, Javier presented his rendering of Cecilia, with the modified hair and outfit. Everyone agreed it would fit in, and that the effort to put the avatar in that place and on that day should immediately begin. Emily signaled Javier to make it so. She said, “Well, here goes – wish us all luck that this works.” Cecilia thought, just before her avatar was transported into the game, “I think we’ll need a lot more than luck. I hope I’m up for keeping my cool when I meet the great Professor Einstein.” Emily discontinued the hologram, saying to Javier, “I hope we’ve done a good job with this, and that it works. Javier replied, “It has to work. Everything depends on it.”