Sanshirō looked around the room. There was a large rectangular oak table in the middle, cluttered with various articles. There was an apparatus with thick wires protruding in every direction, and next to it stood a glass bowl filled with water. There were tools for filing and knives for cutting, and there was even an old necktie among the odds and ends. In the far corner of the room was a granite pedestal a meter high, and on the stone was a complicated device the size of a pickled vegetable can. Sanshirō's attention was caught by two holes on the side of the can that shone like snake eyes. Nonomiya smiled at his interest and proceeded to explain.
"I do my preparation during the day. Then at night, when traffic is still and the world is quiet, I sit in this dark cellar and peer at those shining eyes through a scope. I'm studying the pressure of light beams. I started around New Year's, but the apparatus is touchy, so I haven't produced the anticipated results yet. The work is quite tolerable during the summer, but winter nights are another story. Even with coat and scarf, the cold is unbearable."
Sanshirō was duly impressed. At the same time, he struggled to imagine what pressure light beams could exert and what use there could be in measuring it. As he was pondering, Nonomiya invited him to take a look. Curious, he approached a scope that was set some meters in front of the stone pedestal and put his right eye to the eyepiece. He couldn't discern anything. "What do you see?" "Nothing at all." "Ah, the cap's still on." Nonomiya rose from his seat and removed a cover from the other end of the scope.
Now Sanshirō saw a bright center with fuzzy contours and a graduated scale. Below the scale was the number 2. "What do you see?" Nonomiya asked again. "I see the number 2." "Keep watching," he said, as he circled around to the apparatus and made an adjustment.
The scale began to move against the lit background. The 2 disappeared. Then a 3 appeared. Next a 4 appeared. Then 5. Finally, the progression of numbers reached 10. At this point, the scale began to move in reverse. 10 disappeared, then 9, then 8 to 7 and 7 to 6, on down to 1. "What do you think?" Satisfied with the demonstration, Sanshirō removed his eye from the scope. He didn't care to inquire about the meaning of the numbers.