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Chapter 11

Hari Seldon remained uncomfortably silent for a while after Hummins quiet statement. He shrank within himself in sudden recognition of his own deficiencies.
He had invented a new science: psychohistory. He had extended the laws of probability in a very subtle manner to take into account new complexities and uncertainties and had ended up with elegant equations in innumerable unknowns.
Possibly an infinite number; he couldnt tell.
But it was a mathematical game and nothing more. He had psychohistory--or at least the basis of psychohistory but only as a mathematical curiosity. Where was the historical knowledge that could perhaps give some meaning to the empty equations?
He had none. He had never been interested in history. He knew the outline of Heliconian history. Courses in that small fragment of the human story had, of course, been compulsory in the Heliconian schools. But what was there beyond that? Surely what else he had picked up was merely the bare skeletons that everyone gathered--half legend, the other half surely distorted. Still, how could one say that the Galactic Empire was dying? It had existed for ten thousand years as an accepted Empire and even before that, Trantor, as the capital of the dominating kingdom, had held what was a virtual empire for two thousand years. The Empire had survived the early centuries when whole sections of the Galaxy would now and then refuse to accept the end of their local independence. It had survived the vicissitudes that went with the occasional rebellions, the dynastic wars, some serious periods of breakdown. Most worlds had scarcely been troubled by such things and Trantor itself had grown steadily until it was the worldwide human habitation that now called itself the Eternal World.
To be sure, in the last four centuries, turmoil had increased somehow and there had been a rash of Imperial assassinations and takeovers. But even that was calming down and right now the Galaxy was as quiet as it had ever been. Under Cleon I and before him under his father, Stanel VI, the worlds were prosperous--and Cleon himself was not considered a tyrant. Even those who disliked the Imperium as an institution rarely had anything truly bad to say about Cleon, much as they might inveigh against Eto Demerzel. Why, then, should Hummin say that the Galactic Empire was dying--and with such conviction?
Hummin was a journalist. He probably knew Galactic history in some detail and he had to understand the current situation in great detail. Was it this that supplied him with the knowledge that lay behind his statement? In that case, just what was the knowledge?
Several times Seldon wa............
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