In his research, Equality 7-2521 discovers a new force of nature. He uses this force, which he calls the “power of the sky,” to build strange new devices. He roams through the tunnel, garnering everything from this remnant of the Unmentionable Times that he can — boxes with bars of metal, wires leading to globes of glass on the wall, and more. He does not understand these strange objects, but he studies them. He believes that the people of the Unmentionable Times understood this force of the sky, and that they had somehow harnessed it to power their devices. He believes that the objects he has found in the tunnel bear some relation to this power. He commits himself to understanding this power even though it means going against everything he has been taught to believe by the Councils.
The “power of the sky” is, of course, electricity. In his research, Equality 7-2521 has discovered the long lost knowledge of this energy that, as he accurately surmises, was known to thinkers of the Unmentionable Times. Given his relentless dedication to the acquisition of scientific knowledge, it comes as no surprise to learn that he intends to follow this course of study until he understands it completely. Equality 7-2521, in this regard, is akin to such pioneers of the electric age as Thomas Edison, Nikola Tesla, and George Westinghouse. Edison invented not only the lightbulb but also created the world’s first electric lighting system. Tesla invented the alternating current motor, and Westinghouse hired him to adapt the motor for use in his power system, which was capable of transmitting electricity over greater distances than the then-dominant method employing direct current. Like these great thinkers of an earlier age, Equality 7-2521 is an innovator, a man who develops new ideas. Unlike them, he lives in a collectivist dictatorship that threatens his life for the “crime” of freethinking.
Equality 7-2521 is on his way to a discovery even more momentous than electricity. He moves painfully toward the realization that the independent mind is the highest value on earth and is capable of greater achievement than that dreamed of by the crowd of blind followers. “No single one can possess greater wisdom than the many Scholars,” he reminds himself. And yet, “we can. We do. We have fought against saying it, but now it is said.” Though belief in the superiority of the individual mind is held to be the cardinal sin in this society, Equality 7-2521 gropes toward recognizing its truth. He does not yet know that great innovators of history have often been opposed and tormented by their societies. He has no way of knowing that these great men and women were moved by dedication to their own visions, not by desire to serve humanity — but he feels it, he lives it, and he slowly comes to understand it. Equality 7-2521’s battle involves more than a quest for scientific breakthroughs against a hostile society; it embodies the struggle of the independent mind to recognize its supreme value in a world bent on keeping this truth suppressed.
loadstone a strongly magnetized rock, especially one containing magnetite; something that attracts, as with magnetic force.
Power of the Sky lightning that streaks the sky during thunderstorms. In fact, lightning is generated by a discharge of atmospheric electricity from one cloud to another or between a cloud and the earth. No one in this backwards society has an idea of the connection between lightning and electricity, or even of the existence of electricity as a force of nature.