Quantum Quake

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Dr. Gore was not an eccentric man. Quantum physics is just a ludicrous field, and trying to convey some of the finer points to laypeople was frustrating. This often ended with him pulling at his hair and accelerating the pace of his speech while he frantically tried to explain how the world was controlled by a kind of microscopic magic, which only caused him to seem more eccentric. He had spent the last year studying the theories behind dark matter and its place in quantum mechanics.

Dr. Mann was eccentric. Evolutionary biology is not a ludicrous field, but he somehow made it seem outlandish with the presentation of his ideas. Trying to convince everyone that the mammoths died from a comet impact that somehow left absolutely no tangible trace always raised a few eyebrows. He embarrassed his colleagues, and he knew they felt that their theories were less credible by proxy. He had spent the last decade trying to prove them wrong.

Dr. Jackson was near the brink of madness. Non-euclidian topology is insanity. He spent all of his time trying to visualize the fourth dimension – rereading Flatland and staring at colored, translucent cubes that he kept scattered about. Coworkers would catch him swiveling his desk lamp to illuminate the cubes - which created pretty little shadows all over office walls - like a stagehand operating the spotlight while under the influence. People talked. He had spent the past twenty years trying to find a fourth spatial dimension.

Gore needed Mann’s help to pin down the approximate dates of mass extinctions in Earth’s history (something he knew very little about), figure out which ones were theorized to be linked to volcanic activity or asteroid collisions, and see if these cataclysms could have anything to do with his project.

Originally, he was exploring the way dark matter interacted with the regular kind. In the process, he had chanced upon the relatively new theory that Earth passes by a dark matter halo (roughly) every 30 million years, causing volcanic activity to go haywire and facilitating comet impacts. Long story short: no more dinosaurs. Not only that, but most of the other mysterious extinctions on Earth could be explained away as well! If this was true, then the Earth itself would hold some sign, some scar of the last encounter with the spectral substance.

Mann was ecstatic about this chance to work with his old friend. The Quaternary Extinction Event could have been caused by a comet hitting Earth, but that idea had lost popularity a few years back. Fortunately, this dark matter stuff was sexy and exciting to the public, and the elusive and shadowy filth that they called dark matter could have pulled a comet into Earth. This also pulled his “crazy” theory back out of the shadowy fringe world it had been dwelling in - and made him look like a real scientist again!

Both men wanted to meet with Jackson after he had called them up separately and invited them “to tea”. He had proposed that the framework of dark matter throughout the Universe was proof of the fourth dimension’s existence – and claimed to understand the hidden pattern behind it all. Both of them were so desperate and curious that they agreed immediately, despite their shared skepticism.


“Gentlemen, please take a seat and let us waste no Time”.

Jackson gestured to the triangular table with one of his cubes on top while his guests sneered knowingly and took a seat.

They have heard the stories…

The bastards could be less conspicuous with their blatant mockery.

“SILENCE!”

His guests stopped jeering and straightened.

Neither of them had spoken.

Ah.

Fear.

Good.

They will listen to you now, but fear won’t help them understand.

“Firstly, get Minkowski spacetime out of your minds. It is a lie. Time is not the fourth dimension. To any being in dimension n, time will always appear to be dimension n+1, but this is an egocentric assumption. Ignore time – it is not important”.

Mann furrowed his brow, but Gore just nodded casually. The physicist lit a cigar and noted that the chairs and table were bolted to the floor. The rest of the room was bare… a safeguard against earthquakes?

“Secondly, you will have to just accept the fact that Hinton was right – the Fourth Perpendicular exists and we are capable of perceiving it with human brains through effort and training”. Jackson pointed to his colored cubes in the adjacent room. They vibrated softly through the open door as he gestured. A trick of the light – or just another Californian tremor?

“Thirdly, observe the cube before you. It is not one of my visual aids for dimensional analogy that you scoff at so openly”.

The bitterness was palpable, and both guests squirmed uncomfortably in their chairs. This felt…wrong. Why did this guy sound like an evil villain from a movie? Plus, the man wasn’t asking for any feedback, just telling them how it was. Like he knew. Gore felt like all of the hairs on his entire body were pointing straight at the demented lecturer - not up from fear, but towards the man himself.

“It is a divine gift. My prayers have been answered, and the blueprint of the Cosmos lies before you, wrapped in a bow. This device is actually a 3-D map of all the dark matter in the observable universe, to-scale and beyond human comprehension in accuracy. Proof of alien life? No doubt. The culmination of all my work? But of course!”

Mann stood abruptly. He had been stroking the cube’s black surface while Jackson prattled on, and seemed less than impressed.

“This material is just basalt, and how can this encode data, let alone all of creation? I see a smooth, homogeneous surface!”

Jackson smiled. It was a predatory grin that was the facial equivalent of a feline before the pounce.

“Let me show you.”

The door slammed.

Another tremor, perhaps?