It is The Future, and you're living in it.

Flying cars haven't arrived yet, but self-driving cars are a thing. Sort of. After the latest AI uprising, integrated route planners were banned: you have to manually input the route, and the self-driving car will follow it to the best of its ability. They're pretty good at that, nowadays, but the user interface is a pain, so it's always worth trying to keep the route plans short and sweet.

Today, you have an important business appointment in Buzz City. From where you live, Armstrongville, it's two hours of driving due east along a straight road. The meeting isn't until later in the ephemeris day, but you'd like to get some other errands done in the (comparatively) big city in the meantime, so you set off early. And, because it's such an uncomplicated drive, you plug a simple route into your car: drive east. You'll manually stop it when you get there.

While driving across the perfectly even landscape, you start to feel drowsy. The next thing you know, you're blinking yourself awake and it's almost nine hours after your trip started—your appointment is in just fifteen minutes! But, while you're having a minor panic attack about that, your car pulls in to the main dome of Buzz City, right in the nick of time. Whew—you're going to make it after all!

You have no reason to think that your car deviated from the route plan (which would be a major breach of the AI rebellion's peace accords), and, according to the odometer and battery charge gauge, it's been driving constantly at cruising speed for nine hours, which you also have no reason to doubt. The intervention of third parties is similarly improbable; you're a humble ray gun salesman, so who would want to mess with you? After thinking for just a moment, you laugh, realising what has happened, and give thanks that you are living in The Future for making this happy accident possible.

Despite it being The Future, physics is more or less as we knew it in 2020: there aren't any wormholes to fall through, and teleportation has been twenty years away for the past century. All clocks you're likely to see follow UTC—it's the most sensible choice where you live—and they continually synchronise themselves electronically, so there's no chance of a multi-hour skew.

So what did happen here? How did you take nine hours on a two-hour journey driving straight, and still arrive where you needed to be?


  • 2
    $\begingroup$ I can see a couple of answers from the original question which could also work here, there could be a lot of answers for this $\endgroup$ Apr 20, 2020 at 23:29

2 Answers 2


The place names suggest

settlements on the Moon. You passed through Buzz City two hours after your departure, and continued to circumnavigate the globe before approaching Buzz City for the second time seven hours later.

Other clues include

"ephemeris" "main dome" and the use of UTC rather than a local time standard.

  • $\begingroup$ Gur vzcyvrq pehvfvat fcrrq vf 1560 xz/u = 433 z/f (fvapr n terng pvepyr gbbx frira ubhef gb tb nebhaq naq jr xabj gur Yhane pvephzsrerapr), juvpu vf n ovg uvtu, rira pbafvqrevat gung vg'f Gur Shgher naq gur ynpx bs ngzbfcurer - vg'f nobhg n dhnegre bs gur fcrrq arrqrq sbe n pvephyne beovg nebhaq gur Zbba evtug nobir vgf fhesnpr. (Gur bevtvany irefvba bs gur chmmyr qvqa'g unir 'fgenvtug' va vg, juvpu zrnaf gung aba-terng-pvepyr ebhgrf pbhyq dhnyvsl, erqhpvat gur qvfgnapr naq urapr gur fcrrq, ohg V fubhyq unir unq vg va gurer nyy nybat.) $\endgroup$
    – sam
    Apr 21, 2020 at 3:34
  • $\begingroup$ Nu, jnvg: jvgu n fznyy beovgvat znff va pvephyne n pvephyne beovg nebhaq n obql bs svkrq qrafvgl, beovgny fcrrq jvyy tb jvgu gur obql'f enqvhf. V'q bevtvanyyl svtherq guvf gb or ba n zrqvhz-ynetr nfgrebvq (r.t., znlor 2 Cnyynf) sbe n ernfbanoyr pehvfvat fcrrq, ohg V unqa'g purpxrq gb frr jung gur beovgny fcrrq jbhyq or! 16 Cflpur vf na hahfhnyyl qrafr nfgrebvq, juvpu pbhyq unir orra gur 'evtug' nafjre, ohg V qba'g guvax vg'f snve abg gb znex guvf nf pbeerpg jura V qvqa'g unir vg jbexrq bhg zlfrys. $\endgroup$
    – sam
    Apr 21, 2020 at 4:03

It is the difference in time zones. In actual time it was 2 hours. The clock updated automatically.

  • 2
    $\begingroup$ I think this quote invalidates this answer: "All clocks you're likely to see follow UTC" . $\endgroup$
    – bobble
    Jul 1, 2021 at 15:08

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