Sliders: The Dimension of Continuity
Egyptian Timer Mysteries
 
Sliders DoC   Continuity Chronicles

With all the problems the Egyptian timer had and all the mystery surrounding its operation...one may begin to wonder if the Egyptians didn't build in a curse along with the LED displays. Once you think about it, though...there are some very logical and scientific explanations for all the mystery surrounding this device.




Why Was The Egyptian Timer Counting Down On Its Own World?

This has been one of the most pervasive mysteries surrounding the Egyptian timer. As we all know, when Quinn found the timer in the architect's office, it was already counting down...in fact, with approximately 13 hours left until zero when the end of the episode came around. Why was this? Arturo and Quinn couldn't figure it out...but the answer was there.

First, let's examine a few facts that are easily established in the actual aired episode. At the beginning, the paper tells us that the pharaoh will be sealed in the tomb at noon tomorrow. Quinn's time of death is logged as 3:15pm...and it's night time of the same day when he finally makes it to the other Sliders in the pyramid. From all of this, we discern that the episode lasted for about 10-15 hours in continuity time. How much time was left on the timer when they advanced it? 13 hours. When one adds up it...13 hours would have placed the timer going off sometime after and around noon the next day...just around the time the pharaoh was to be sealed in the pyramid. We are also told later in the episode that only royalty is allowed to use sliding technology.

Now...to go along with this...we look at lines from the original script for "Slide Like an Egyptian" that did not make the final episode. In these lost scenes, it is revealed by the law enforcement agents that the timer was in fact stolen from the dead Pharaoh's possessions that were to be sealed in the pyramid with him.

This brings us to the history lesson. The purpose for pyramids in Egyptian belief was to be a house for the departed's remains and possessions until they could return to reanimate their body and continue their journey to the land of the gods. This is why the Egyptians mummified...to perserve the body until that day when the body would come alive again. This pyramid right was only held for royalty though...because royalty were considered gods. Another aspect of Egyptian mythology is the scarab and the ankh. The very design placed on the bottom of the timer is the Egyptian hieroglyph representation of the Sacred Scarab that pushed the sun across the sky (the red light on top of the scarab is representative of the sun). The symbol itself stands for power. The scarab is also holding two Ankhs in its claws...the Ankh was a symbol for life and immortality.

Putting all these various pieces together leads to an inescapable conclusion as to why the Egyptian timer was counting down on its own world. The Egyptian timer was actually meant to be a head piece on a sarcophagus...a head piece that was set to activate a vortex after the pyramid was sealed so that the pharaoh could continue on his journey. It is just an extension of old Egyptian myth. This is why the timer was counting down to that time. This is why only royalty could slide. This is why the decorative scarab is prominently featured on the bottom (for the same reason such symbols were engraved on ancient sarcophagi).

What it comes down is that the architect really did have an accomplise as the police suspected. The architect somehow smuggled the timer out of the pyramid at a time when people weren't paying as much attention and left it in his office. Then, the architect would have escaped the pyramid through the secret exit before the scarab got loose. The scarab would be the reason he just didn't slide from within the pyramid or just hide the timer in the pyramid...too much risk that he would be killed before he could get to it. Also, the scarab would likely be released before the timer was to count down...and the architect didn't want to activate prematurely since the Egyptians could obviously detect when a vortex was opened (as evidenced by the news report). So, this is why he would have had someone else meet him with the timer on the outside...where they could slide in safety from under the pyramid...a place that wouldn't raise suspicion (since it would appear to be in the pyramid), yet would still be safe.

Once you get the pieces out in the open...it all really falls into place. A very subtle and complex addition to Sliders lore that practically everyone overlooked. But one interesting note comes out of all this...after all, that pyramid wasn't the only one. On how many worlds...in how many barren locales...are there strangely out of place Egyptian sarcophagi...each adorned with one very familiar looking Egyptian timer?


Why Didn't Quinn Just Replace The Geographic Spectrum Stabilizer?

In season three's "Double Cross", the original timer's laser gyro geographic spectrum stabilizer (which kept them in the two mile radius inside San Francisco) was replaced. The new stabilizer was a whispering gallery (that worked off sonics) and was much less accurate than the laser (it only kept them within a 400 mile radius of San Francisco). A question on many people's minds is...why didn't Quinn just build another laser gyro like he did the first time and replace it back out?

One thing to remember is that they didn't have that much spare time during that period. Half of season two and the first half of season three took place in 1996 (one of the few times in the series where things are consistent - it works out due to the mention in Post Traumatic Slide Syndrome that they had been sliding for 18 months). So, no swap was made before they obtained the Egyptian timer.

As we know from outtakes, the whispering gallery stabilizer was swapped out from the defunct original timer into the new Egyptian timer (so that they would remain within their 400 mile radius). This could very well be the explanation why Quinn never worked to make a better laser gyro later.

As we found out in "To Catch a Slider", the Egyptian timer largely worked off crystals (unlike the original which worked off more modernly accepted devices). It very well may be the case that the Egyptian would only operate with a whispering gallery stabilizer (since sonics would cause a crytal to reverberate at a certain frequency). A laser couldn't do much to change the vibration of a crystal...and this may be the reason Quinn never sought to put a laser back in there. It wouldn't have worked if he did.


Why Does That Timer Break Down So Much?

One question that has arisen often deals with the timer's seeming ability to always be on the fritz. With the original timer, this is pretty easy to figure out...after all, it was basically a piece of creative engineering that looked more like some nicely soldered spare parts from a trash can. The Egyptian timer was a well refined mechanism, though...why the problems?

Well, the answer to the Egyptian timer's woes is the amount of foreign parts that were introduced into the machine. Going by the original script for "Slide Like An Egyptian", the Egyptian timer immediately had some new parts introduced. Quinn swapped out the geospectrum stabilizer from the original timer into the Egyptian (this was done so that they could keep the same sliding radius of 400 miles centering from San Francisco). This is the first bit of foreign technology introduced. Later, Dr. Steven Jensen (in "Exodus") would add in wormhole tracking technology as well as a coordinate storing feature. Then in season four's "World Killer", Quinn integrated even more foreign circuitry of his double's design (so that they could input the special coordinates for Colin's world).

As was discussed on Star Trek: Deep Space Nine...the integration of foreign technologies to work in tandem isn't an easy task. In fact, it leads to constant problems and many glitches (and that was just with trying to meld 3 different technologies...Federation/Cardassian/Bajoran). As you can see, we have three separate types installed in the Egyptian not too long after its acquisition. In the case of Logan's stabilizer, this was the inclusion of lower technology (a "whispering gallery" gyro that worked off sonics...not as accurate as Quinn's original laser gyro). With Jensen's additions, we had the inclusion of moderate level (around the same as Quinn's original timer and the Egyptian timer in its original form). Then the "World Killer" Quinn added his circuit designs...this was a much higher level of technology (after all, you heard him say that his original slidewave device was much smaller...smaller integrated circuits that don't burn out are a much higher level of tech). All of these would have been constantly fighting with each other...the high tech circuits pushing more power through the low tech stabilizer...the low tech stabilizer slowing the operation of all other circuits...and that doesn't even get into the differing methods in design used on each world. I believe you can easily see why the Egyptian timer would act up so much...in fact, you may be left wondering why it didn't malfunction more than it already did.


How Did The Egyptian Timer Read The Amount Of Days?

One long standing question on the Egyptian timer's operation concerns how it gives a readout on Days. The original timer had a special window for this near the top of the timer...but the Egyptian readout only gives room for Hours, Minutes and Seconds. Our clue as to how the Egyptian timer displays Days is found in the season four finale "Revelations."

At the beginning of this episode, Quinn states that they are on Gas Station world for 624 hours (or roughly 3 1/2 weeks). But the window for Hours only has room for two digits. The rest of the scene gives us the story. Just before reading the time as 624 hours, Quinn is hitting on the timer talking about how it seems to be acting up. Then suddenly he comes to the 624 hour realization. I believe the reason for this is because all the numbers shifted to the right to make room for the hundreds position in Hours. This would mean that slot normally meant for the ones position in seconds...was at that time the tens position slot. So...instead of that far right digit changing every second...it would only change every 10 seconds. Because of this, the timer would appear frozen (or acting up) for 10 second intervals until the digit changed. And there we get our answer for how it displays Days.


How Could They Lose The Coordinates To Remmy's Homeworld?

The answer to this question lies with another aspect of the timer's operation...how did the Egyptian timer display stored coordinates? We were told time and again that the timer had a memory...and there are even left and right arrows on the numerical keypad so that one could scroll through coordinates. But how did they know what world was what? Simple...they didn't.

Once again, the only display on the timer is the time readout. This is the only place the stored numerical coordinates could have appeared. But...there's only room for numbers...no words. So, they didn't have a nice note that said "Earth Prime - 123456."

This is where the problem arises. It's easy to go back to the world you just came from...just scroll back one. But after the amount of sliding they had been doing...it would be hard to keep up. Quinn likely had an estimate of around where it was in the order, but even he wouldn't remember for sure. This is why Quinn asked his father for the coordinates in "Revelations"...it was easier than racking his brain for the right one...or even worse, sliding to find the right coordinate by trial and error.

Now enter season five...Quinn and Colin are gone (the only two people who would have had a vague recollection of the coordinate and its approximate place on the list - Remmy and Maggie wouldn't have a clue). For the first part of season five, Remmy wasn't wanting to go home...he was still looking for a Kromagg weapon and a way to save Q-Ball and Colin. By the time of "New Gods for Old", he had seemingly struck out on two of those issues.

The first time, however, that we hear mention of "finding Remmy's homeworld" is in the episode "A Thousand Deaths" (well before anything was replaced in the timer that could erase coordinates). This was also coming off the events of "Requiem." After the events of "Requiem", I believe Remmy got ready to go home. The problem was...which stored coordinate to take? This began a process of trial and error...and so each world we saw after "Requiem" was a world the Sliders had been to before (either on or off screen). You see, the timer has a 400 mile radius...revisiting a world doesn't mean they would see the same aspects they did the last time. Things change from region to region. This also adds sense to the reference to Diana's comment at the beginning of "To Catch A Slider." It is noted that she said they were getting closer to Remmy's homeworld with each slide. If they were using a trial and error method on a coordinate list...then each slide would eliminate another number on the list and thus put them closer to finding the destination they wanted.

Of course, after "To Catch A Slider", the Sliders lost their ability to use trial and error. With the replacement of the vibration focusing and memory storing crystal...all saved coordinates were lost. And so, the Sliders were left sliding blind again.

This theory must be credited to the Dominion Sliders BBoard poster known as forceflo.




Sliders DoC : Continuity Chronicles : Egyptian Timer Mysteries