Probability of collapse

Your rating: None
Average: 3.8 (6 votes)

The lab looked unlike anything they showed in movies. No mysterious equipment on huge tables, no expressionless people in white coats. Just a single desk with electronics, connected with untidy cables. Weird little stickers with red bears hang from every piece of equipment, including the cables. A half-empty bottle of champagne lay on the desk.
“Hail to the Chief,” my sergeant, Lewis, entered the room running, sporting a haughty smile. Murders make her happy, it’s an opportunity to shine and get promoted; above me for a start. Unlike her TV namesake, she is rather ambitious.
“What happened here?”
“Classical locked room mystery. According to the records the only person entering the lab last night was the victim.”
“We will catch the killer, if we discover the means of entry.”
“We are looking for a person with strong hands,” she pointed at the purple spots on the neck of the victim. “His name was Kron-strin-tin-ash K-Kz-Kzhiemo-...”.
“Kronstrinash Kzhiemoschiewski”, a tall man with broad shoulders, dressed in a perfectly pressed lab coat, corrected her from the doorstep. He looked like a real movie scientist, in spite of his obvious astonishment to find a female policeman in charge.
“And you are?” I asked.
“Doctor Terbandib Veniaminuschvilly. We were friends. He was terribly smart.”
The movie-star-turned-scientist didn't seem upset. Lewis noticed that too, and was already staring at his muscular hands.
“Where were you last night between twenty three and midnight?” she asked.
“Next door, in my lab. Locked behind a meter thick wall of concrete.”
“Why locked?” Lewis persisted.
“These experiments can be dangerous, we don't want someone walking in.”
“Was there anybody with you?” my sergeant shot at him.
“I have an alibi, if that is what you are asking. I was alone, but these labs record all movements. Safety procedure.”
”Did you work together?”
“Then why is your name not here?” Lewis pointed at a copy of a paper authored by the victim.
“My ideas were often better, as the list of my research awards shows. So, occasionally Kronyo, I mean Kronstrinash tried to prove that he can do it too.”
“What have you been working on recently?” I intervened.
“Manipulation of probability functions for macroscopic bodies.”
“Can you translate it?”
“Please follow me.” He led us to his lab. Nothing like the mess that his friend had tolerated. “Microscopic particles can be represented by wave functions that describe the probability for their whereabouts.”
“Are there any practical applications?” I steered him in the right direction.
“The potential is there. Energy efficient communication. Transport of particles across potential barriers. In fact, that’s exactly the application I’m pursuing.”
Stamped bears smiled at us from all his equipment, but they were green.
He noticed my amazement.
“This is a game, Kronyo stamped his stuff in red.”
“Then this must be yours?” Lewis held out a small chip with a green bear. “I found it next to the body.”
“Impossible! We never borrow equipment from each other.”
“If needed, we buy it. And change the stamp.”
“But how did your chip ended in his lab?” Lewis could hardly hide the triumph in her voice.
The doctor suddenly turned pale. His large hand stretched and flipped a switch.
“We powered now a source of electrons,” he started an obviously well-practiced demonstration. “They have kinetic energy and move. We don’t see them, unless their wave functions collapse. That’s when they appear at specific positions in space, positions determined probabilistically by their wave functions. If we can control the collapse, we could ensure that the electrons appear at a predetermined point...“
“Are you talking teleportation?”
His babble sounded like the fascinating stuff by Asimov, Clarke, and the others I used to read.
He stared at me in shock.
This is too…”
“But you said macroscopic bodies?”
“This is just a pitch line” he spoke slowly, “for the funding agencies."
The doctor looked smug, but I knew better.
“Let me tell you a story. Perhaps, it started with the fierce competition of two smart school kids, and it grew into an intellectual combat that you fought through university to the research labs here. Each one wanted to be a genius, to prove his own way. This is why you stamped everything in different colors. And never borrowed from each other.” I smiled. “You dropped the chip while you were killing him, didn't you?“
He didn’t care to answer, he had an alibi.
“These awards of yours; he chased them too. But he was always the second. However, this time it was him who made the big discovery, he made teleportation happen, your dearest friend and finest adversary. You duplicated his set up. . .“
“Oh, that was easy, his set-up was so primitive, a child’s play. But I improved it and sent through a living human being! I sent through myself! Do you understand the difference?“
I nodded.
“What happened then, doctor?“
“I materialized behind Kronyo. He was celebrating, drinking from the bottle, the poor pig. And laughing at me, mocking my meticulousness, my logic, my... Then, I did it.”
I checked Lewis's shoulder camera. It flashed red, recording. Smart girl. I saw too the unmistakable hatred in her eyes. I had somehow snatched the victory from under her nose, again.
”What now, doctor? Are you going to admit it and go down the history as the first. . . teleportnaut, or whatever they will call you?”
He silently extended his hands. Lewis snapped her cuffs on his wrists, and started to recite his rights.
Later, I pondered if Lewis would try to kill me someday, if I keep delivering the punch line in our murder cases. Her desire to shine. . .
Reading Asimov and Clarke told me about teleportation, but this wasn't the main thing; they taught me how a scientific mind works and what drives the scientists - the same thing that drives the cops.

About the Author: 
I am a father, a scientist, a SF writer, a ..., well, most importantly a human.