SPOILER ALERT: This page reveals plot points that spoil the story. Read the book first!
A Flat Robotic Vacuum
Robot vacuums have so much personality. Jack sees the very first one, which glitched out, became self-aware, and tried to destroy humanity (bet you never heard about that one).
A Bronzed Apple with Two Bites Taken out of It
Adam and Eve shared this apple a really, really long time ago.
A Giant Clock with its Hands Chained in Place
This is the Doomsday Clock, which once represented the threat of global nuclear war. The clock still hangs in the offices of the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists in Chicago.
A Set of Rusty Shackles
In keeping with the “S” theme of the aisle, these are the shackles of Spartacus, the gladiator-slave who led an army against the forces of Rome. He ended up chained to his work (his army wouldn’t let him go) and died in battle.
A Bronze Axe with a White Tag that Read Sargon II
One of the most successful Assyrian kings, Sargon II pursued a longtime enemy into the mountains, where previous Assyrian kings had feared to tread. In his own account, Sargon II claims he gave his engineers bronze axes to cut through the mountain stone and make a flat road for his troops.
A Jar Full of Sickly Grapes
Arthur Schopenhauer famously said, “It is bad today and every day it will get worse, until the worst of all happens.” Thus, he is known as the father of pessimism. Until late in life, he failed at writing and teaching, and he failed in love until his death. By his forties, he had become something of a dirty old curmudgeon. At forty-three he tried charming a seventeen-year-old girl named Flora Weiss by offering her a bunch of grapes. According to Flora’s diary, Schopenhauer repulsed her, and she slipped the grapes into the water. The jar that Jack saw contained Schopenhauer’s Sour Grapes.
A Black Staff with a Cobra-shaped Head
Jack accidentally activates a staff that can turn into a snake. This, of course, once belonged to a magician of Pharaoh, and appears in the biblical account of Moses.
The pair of mirrors by which Jack escapes the QEDs are a reference to Erwin Schrödinger’s rather sarcastic critique of Heisenberg’s interpretation of quantum superposition (namely that an object in a system can exist in multiple states simultaneously, until observed). Falling into Erwin’s mirror is relatively safe. The effects of falling into the cat’s mirror are as uncertain as Heisenberg’s Principle.