Accessibility Navigation:

Interview with James K. Brennan

Brennan, James K
Waldron, Joan
Date of Interview: 
Relationships with people and places; Stories and storytellers; Childhood adventures
James Brennan talks about the future of science.
Charlotte Narrative and Conversation Collection
Collection Description: 
Joan Waldron interviews Charlotteans to collect stories for a class project at UNC Charlotte.
Interview Audio: 
JW (Joan Waldron): What is your name?
JB (James K. Brennan): James Brennan.
JW: James Brennan. And your birthday?
JB: Is August fifteenth, 1990.
JW: OK. So you're 12?
JB: Yes.
JW: And you'll be 13 this year. And do you know, uh, where you were born?
JB: Richmond, Virginia.
JW: And so you've been in this country your whole life?
JB: Yes.
JW: OK. Um, how long have you been in Charlotte, do you know?
JB: Uh, since I was like five, so about seven years.
JW: Seven years. OK, and, um, your native language?
JB: English.
JW: English. See? I told you I was going to ask you silly questions. And do you speak any other foreign languages?
JB: Um, I speak some Spanish and I'm learning French.
JW: You're learning French, so what grade are you in?
JB: Sixth.
JW: Sixth. Did they give you a choice of languages?
JB: Yes, Spanish or French.
JW: Uh-huh. And you took French. That's great. Do you like it?
JB: Yeah.
JW: That's good. Um, OK, um, do you have a story to tell?
JB: Uh, not really. I don't really have a \\ story. \\
JW: \\ Story but-, \\ something you'd like to have recorded?
JB: Um, yeah, \\ um-. \\
JW: \\ [Laugh] \\ OK.
JB: Uh, should I say it now?
JW: Yeah. Absolutely. Yeah. Whatever you want to talk \\ about. \\
JB: \\ OK. \\ The year is 2003. Cars run on gas that we have to dig out of the ground. You have to eat food through your mouth and we have to go to school. There are teachers there that are people. And you have to get homework. And you watch TV which is a really big box with an image on it.
JW: Uh-huh.
JB: Um, people get sick a lot and you die.
JW: Uh-huh.
JB: Um, and the cars have wheels and they don't fly.
JW: Yeah.
JB: Yeah. And uh, only special people can go into space, only astronauts and, uh, only one country has gone to the moon and they only went a few times and we never been to any other planets or anywhere else. No humans have gone to any other planets.
JW: What do you think when people listen to this 100 years from now, what do you think they're going to be doing? What do you think they'll be like?
JB: Uh, probably run their cars on like hydrogen or something. Uh, they'll probably still be on wheels but they might be magnetized.
JW: \\ Uh-huh. \\
JB: \\ Uh, \\ they'll probably have gotten rid of sickness and if they haven't, then you can get like a miracle drug that will cure it right away.
JW: Uh-huh.
JB: And, uh, people will, they might die, but they'll probably live to be like 200 years old-.
JW: Uh-huh.
JB: -And, uh, they'll probably take school by like plugging something into your brain and just like transferring the information right into it like in The Matrix.
JW: Uh-huh.
JB: Um, I don't think you'll get homework. [Laugh]
JW: You don't think you'll get homework? [Laugh] Is that what you said?
JB: Yeah, \\ um-. \\
JW: \\ [Laugh] \\ Oh, so like in The Matrix, they'll just plug your head in and you'll have all the knowledge.
JB: Right, yeah.
JW: Oh. I like \\ that. \\
JB: \\ Yeah. \\ Yeah and, uh, they'll probably have virtual reality instead of watching the TV like, um, their goggles things and like be in it.
JW: Oh, oh. That's cool.
JB: Yeah, and everyone will probably have a palm pilot and a cell phone. It will probably be the same thing that, and an MP3 player and everything, um, that you'll probably watch TV on it and the computers will not be, you know, big computers so it will probably be the size of a palm pilot or smaller like and they might even have time machines.
JW: Time machines, yeah.
JB: Probably not, but, um, probably humans will probably have visited Mars and maybe even gone to other planets but not gone onto them because they're gassy planets.
JW: If somebody offered you the chance to go to another planet, would you?
JB: Yes.
JW: You want to see what it's like?
JB: Yeah, and, um, we probably would have found alien life by then. We don't have any alien life recorded right now, but by then they will probably have reached, um-.
JW: It's entirely possible. And if it is like you said where they can figure out, you know, miracle drugs and things like that, you might actually even be able to replay this 100 years from now. You know, you'll be 112, but you might still be a spring chicken. You might be-.
JB: \\ Yeah. \\
JW: \\ -Considered \\ young-.
JB: \\ [Laugh] \\
JW: \\ -You \\ know.
JB: \\ Yeah. \\
JW: \\ It's a mat-, \\ it's kind of strange but if you think about it, think about 100 years ago-.
JB: Um.
JW: -You know, and, and, um, they probably wouldn't believe the things that we do today.
JB: Right.
JW: You know, so-.
JB: We've got to get rid of smallpox and stuff like that-.
JW: Uh-huh.
JB: -Other things. We'll probably have a cure for cancer. We probably won't have that anymore-.
JW: Uh-huh.
JB: -And the same with AIDS and stuff.
JW: I know Edward told me some stories about, you know, basketball and we talked about lacrosse and stuff like that. Do you think they'll be playing sports in the future?
JB: Yeah. That's a, um, good form of entertainment. I think they'll still do that, but they might have special anti-gravity things that they play, uh, in some TV shows now where they play football in no gravity and they're just like, they can jump off, not, no gravity, but low, so that they can like jump 20 feet in the air and, stuff like that. They can probably-, kids might have their own little airplane and, stuff, a little tiny, like palm-sized things.
JW: Do you like science, too? I know \\ Edward-. \\
JB: \\ Yeah. \\
JW: \\ -Said \\ he likes science. Do you like it?
JB: Yeah.
JW: What, what sorts of things are you learning?
JB: In science right now, um, we just learned about astronomy. Uh, and now we're learning about bacteria and viruses and how they, uh, form and stuff like that. And then in astronomy we learned about how rockets go and, um, stuff about planets and different types of stars.
JW: Do you learn about, um, the constellations or is it strictly, you know stars and supernovas, \\ and-. \\
JB: \\ Yeah. \\
JW: -And that, um, things like that? Do you have a favorite?
JB: Black holes.
JW: Black holes?
JB: Yeah. They'll probably have found those. They haven't found any directly yet. They only know they're different because of X-rays are coming out of them because it's moving so fast but we'll probably have found them and then next send a probe into it or something by the time, a 100 years.
JW: Do you think there are, uh, people out there? Aliens?
JB: Yeah.
JW: Other life forms?
JB: Yeah, ( ), but then in 100 years we'll probably have found like other, uh, we might have a few other planets in our solar system and, uh, probably found other solar systems going, but, the place that they think there would be life is, uh, on one of Jupiter's moons, they're planning on sending a drill there in 2019 to drill through the ice and see if there's water there. So they probably, I think there is no life there. They'll probably find life by the time this is 100 years.
JW: I hope so. That would be \\ really cool. \\
JB: \\ Yeah. \\
JW: Did you watch that movie, Contact? Did you \\ see the movie? \\
JB: \\ Oh yeah. \\ They didn't think she went there but the only reason they knew that she had gone anywhere is because they had, like, 18 hours of static and she was only on Earth for like five seconds.
JW: Right. It seemed like five seconds to the people watching her go through-.
JB: Uh-huh.
JW: -But to her, yeah. That was really, that was interesting. They say that when they find life on other planets, at first it might not be humanoid or people-, they, they \\ might be microorganisms. \\
JB: \\ ( ) \\ that's probably the most likely case in our solar system-, if the aliens are in our solar system, that's probably it. If, if they had anything like us, they probably would have found it by now.
JW: Uh-huh.
JB: But out in the universe, they might have-, things-, try-, if they were like humans it would probably be a thing just like the Earth's but if it was different, they'd probably have different things depending on, uh, the type of gas that they were breathing, and stuff like that.
JW: It's amazing, you know?
JB: Yeah.
JW: We love to watch those shows. My husband loves to watch space shows. He watches-.
JB: \\ Yeah. \\
JW: \\ -The minute \\ he comes home from work. He pops on the space shows and he watches Star Trek and he watches the Discovery Channel.
JB: Oh yeah, the Discovery Channel.
JW: And he loves all that space stuff, but the thing I can't understand is that the concept of matter, space matter-.
JB: Uh-huh.
JW: -You know, to me, it looks like nothing, you know? But he says, "No, it's something, it's called matter."
JB: Oh, like the blackness?
JW: Yeah.
JB: Yeah. It's just a type of gas. I read it in a book somewhere, but it's only like point 1 percent oxygen and stuff that we have and the rest of it is some weird toxic gas.
JW: It's just-, I don't know.
JB: Yeah.
JW: I like watching it but sometimes it gives me a headache because-.
JB: Yeah.
JW: -It's just too much, especially when you get into the black holes.
JB: Uh-huh.
JW: Like how can there be a hole in nothing? Well, since it's not nothing, it's matter.
JB: Yeah, right. It's, um, when a large star explodes or collapses, it depends on what it does, it'll, uh, just collapse into a really small space-.
JW: Uh-huh.
JB: And then the gravity's so intense that it just like falls through and then nothing. And it's not really, it's not like stuff just falls through into nothing, it's really getting eaten by something.
JW: But does it come out somewhere like in the movies? Like you always see like worm holes?
JB: Oh, yeah, the worm holes, \\ yeah. \\
JW: \\ In \\ the movies and you know, black holes that people travel through and, uh-.
JB: Black holes, I think just crushes it up into little tiny pieces and makes it like part of the black hole matter, but, um, because something up there wouldn't be able to travel out, it would just be crushed into little tiny pieces, and then, um, but the worm holes I think they haven't found any yet and they just have theories on it, but, uh, yeah I think they're possible, things like that. But if, I think if you go through that would be a time machine would work. It would go through the worm hole, um, but I, I think that if you did go back in time, then you would only be able to see the stuff you, couldn't interact. You would be like a ghost, kind of.
JW: Oh, like, yeah. Like you were part of a movie or you're just-.
JB: Yeah, like in Harry Potter. Have you seen the \\ second one? \\
JW: \\ Yeah. \\
JB: Where he goes through the like, um-.
JW: Uh-huh, like, yeah, no one could see him or anything, but he could see them. It would be like that. But, in this book, Time Line by Michael Crichton, they make a time machine by going through, uh, they squeeze him down into little tiny particles, and then they, uh, shoot them really fast until they go like through this barrier of quantum foam they called it. Quantum is like it's really, really tiny-.
JW: Uh-huh.
JB: -And, uh, once they get through there they are out in this back in time. So I don't really know. There are a lot of different theories about how to do time travel and all of this space and everything. Worm holes, but, there are probably worm holes out there, we just can't see them. They're probably too far away, and the universe thing is bigger than they think it is. There are probably other things out there like, um, where they have galaxies, things that our galaxy is more like a solar system and then that our solar system is more like another thing in it and that our universe is like a galaxy in a bigger thing, but-.
JW: Is it expanding, the galaxy? Is that what they think?
JB: Yeah. They think that it's getting further away. So they think that it's either going to come back and crunch it all together into another thing and then have another big bang or just keep on going until-.
JW: So it's a cycle?
JB: That's what they think, that it goes and then it crushes and then it goes because there was nothing before the big bang. So there-, and that's just-, I don't believe that there would have been nothing until like 15 million years ago.