Ok, people. I need your help.
I love science fiction. I love it so much that I think I would die if someone made this genre illegal. I dream science and SF the way I dream poetry. As a result, there are some stories that are simply a part of who I am. Stories that have actually changed the way I think or the way that I interpret the world around me. After all, that is the goal of good science fiction, and always has been.
Anyhoo... I have been trying for what seems like forever to find one of these fantastic stories. The problem is, that I can't figure out what this story is called or who wrote it. As a result, I have been unable to find it again. It was in a science fiction short story anthology I read once. That's ALL I know.
I am hoping that someone, somewhere also read this story and can tell me what it is.
Here's a synopsis.
Two astronauts/explorers encounter the remnants of a once grand civilization on a distant planet. In the remains of a city are a couple of locals who travel by jet packs or some sort of hover/flight equivalent.
The explorers want to replicate the technology and desperately plead with the locals to explain how the packs work. (perhaps even how all of the technology they see around them works) The locals are unable to answer. One of the explorers believes that the locals are purposefully refusing to answer the questions, that they are unwilling to share the knowledge. He becomes increasingly agitated and angry.
The second explorer has a moment of insight at the end of the story where he asks the first to explain how a match works.
The first says, "You take it out of the box and strike it to ignite."
The second then repeats the question. "No. Not 'How do you use one?' I meant, 'How do they work? What's on the match stick? What's on the strike strip? How do you make a match?' "
The first stares at him, dumbstruck, realizing they will never understand the technology because the locals' culture had advanced beyond the point where they knew how to create what they used.
Any ideas? I read this story probably 20 years ago. It is one of my very favorite moments in reading, but I cannot recall what the story is called....
You will be my hero forever if you know what story this is.