“My son will grow to be a man; and love me for it. His future will not be for my hand to feel; I know that it will be great.
His eyes have never met mine; when I rock his cradle gently he never opens to me, but I have imagined them to be like Silvia’s. Though my attempts have been futile, those eyes have seen the light.
The housekeeper coaxed those eyes open on many occasions; she has seen those eyes and she smiles every time I ask her of them.
My pure son, my guilt is incomparable and my love is just the same. Do not hate me when those eyes seek the truth, I was always there to hold you in the dark.
Although science might not be to your liking, I implore you to accept it and continue my work as I am sick, and shall not carry on. Be nimble on your feet and feel the water for what it is.”
Those words have been troubling me ever since I read them first, and I always interrupt my father there. I don’t want to think of what he says later on in his letter. I’ve tried, but I can’t get myself to read further on, and that letter has always stayed on my mantle. In ways, it is something to keep the memory of my father still alive, so that I never forget. The constant nagging will always remind me of my father.
That letter was the main reason why I became a scientist, and curse him for it – father is still dictating my life. The university said that I have a talent, but my dreams are of something else. If I can just get myself to burn that letter, then I can move on.
I walked over to the mantle and snatched the letter, holding it in my hands and feeling the paper crinkle under my touch. The matches have always been beside and I seized the box, striking a flame, but snuffing it out. I would need a new box soon.
The door opened softly, as not to disturb and a woman walked through, my wife. I have sometimes begged my wife to burn the letter while I’m away, but she doesn’t. She is too kind.
“A friend called, he said that he needs those papers by today”
“I’ll try, but I think tomorrow is better.”
She put a parcel on the dining room table and dug through her clothes to find the watch.
“You’ve been up all night, it still amazes me how you can do that to yourself, but I try”
“My research is coming to a point, the discovery is soon – I can feel it coming. Things are going to change – and then we can move out of here, go somewhere up north – somewhere quiet. We can just leave everything and walk to our new home in the countryside. Just me and you”
My sweet wife always smiled at me.
“We’ve never been alone; your father” she said, gesturing to the letter on the mantle “Has always been there too. Maybe today is time.”
“We’ve run out of matches” I say nervously and she looks sadly to her parcel.
“Please, not tonight”
The mind of a scientist is never still, and by nature’s science it was designed for it. Cars that drive by, it might spark an idea. I have learnt to move my attention towards a certain object, or task – and it becomes done by some divine will. Switzerland has a very calm atmosphere; and the particle accelerator was a good project to work on – it paid well, but that was only a trivial pursuit.
The science which was involved, astounded me. The height of my interest was the atom – and I had a direct portal into its ways, every scientist’s dream.
The letter was in my breast pocket, it felt right and was certainly good company to have on lonely, cold days. I had a lot of work to finish, but something had puzzled me the previous night; something was out of place. I had delayed my work for such anomaly, an inclusion in the data that I had to sort through. Something peculiar…
If I only knew what it was, the interest could calm – but the spotting of the unknown is the point of my task. When the two atoms collided, the individual elements were decaying with some sort of anomaly that only the advances in sensory equipment could detect. A bizarre stray of one, minute unit of atomic mass that previous tests had missed. Something was decaying into nothing – the law of conservation of energy certainly did not agree.
My car rounded the street to the entrance of the facility, the guards knew me by my troubled face – they would always stop me if I did not have it.
We all liked a sense of order in our paths of work, and my colleagues parked directly next to me – curse them, why did they have to ruin my day so early. Their pricy saloons always glared at me – and warned of the unfairness. They were dim-witted, pests, blemishes against the huge feat of engineering that was the particle accelerator.
A knock on my window, they had been waiting for me to arrive.
“Let’s go, you’ve been keeping us here for hours” said a portly man wearing a tweed suit.
“There is nothing to keep you from going in-” I said, he was riled.
“Have you forgotten? If I do not go in with you, and they give me work – how am I meant to work? How?”
“Calm yourself” said another one, but I was calm. Oh yes, it was the day that I would make my discovery. It was the day that I would free myself, and I was even amused when they shared their hopelessly lost statements – my discovery. I would discover that, which would make my name shine through the history books – it was my time.
I patted the letter in my breast pocket. I would do my father proud, and I would finally be grateful of his letter to me.
We walked to the elevator just next to the car and breathed in. Whenever we climbed into the elevator; my colleague who chattered the most became scared – hence the silence. His vertigo was always on the mood whenever an elevator became handy, or essential.
There was no staircase in the world that my colleague could climb, and so I sometimes wished for a fire to start. My cruel sense of humour was active whenever those men came with me, but my moment of peace was when in the elevator.
The man would always seize his face, and clutch the sides of the elevator as if the floor beneath him was loose – even the slightest chuckle from me would earn stares from all sides – my other colleague was one who had warmed to my foe with a drafty heart and I still cursed him. He did hold talent, but was as lazy as a lounging brick.
The elevator shuddered and my colleague let out a small yelp of surprise and I laughed. Nothing was going to get my humour.
“Keep your mouth shut” said the shaking man. We were halfway down our journey, that shudder was caused by the slight shift in the two sections of equal shaft.
The nuclear laboratory was constructed deep underground, so that if there was an accident, it would conceal itself from the world – no panic, nothing. Depleted uranium was one of the main subjects of study. If another use for it was found – or another way of destroying its toxicity was found, then the laboratory would immediately receive more funding, and more funding meant an equal share towards the particle accelerator.
The particle accelerator did have its purposes, the lab made sure of that – but this was not as important as what was just behind it. There behind the giant machine stood an even greater experiment – and I might have been lying to you. What I was working on, it was not the particle accelerator. It was a much grander project.
We used vast supercomputers to predict the weather, but we could not predict it in painstaking detail. The computer was limited before I started working at that laboratory – but when I started, it was not.
We were perfecting a new computing technique. It’s architecture was very bizarre but it allowed for greatly, greatly improved performance.
This new technique harnessed light.
You might be wondering how on earth something like that could be achieved, but I will explain it here.
In your time certain materials had been discovered to change their electro-conductivity when introduced to light – due to light’s ability to behave like a stream of particles (namely photons). Such materials had their uses, but something much bigger was in store.
Since scientists discovered that manufacturing certain materials in space made them purer – away from the earth’s harsh gravity, more experiments were conducted in space laboratories and finally a material was made that could – on exposure to light – produce a larger than expected electric charge. This material had its electrons positioned in a certain way (Which became known as volatile engineering) so that when even one single electron was moved out of place, a chain reaction caused the entire atom chain to shift completely – thus, moving the electrons (And more importantly, a single delocalized electron) as well in a linear pattern. Such a substance produced an astonishing amount of heat but its implications were enormous.
It was a major breakthrough for solar technology but it also benefited the discreet science lurking in the back.
Unfortunately at that stage scientists could not in their wildest dreams get rid of the electron as a power source but the new material could replace how the CPU (central processing unit) performed.
A new light based model was formulated while the scientific community went crazy. A system that harnessed the complexity and flexibility (The ability to perform as a wave or a stream of particles) of light and its terrific speed as a way to process instructions.
When we stepped off the elevator; my colleagues were still hounding me. Politely I told them to go away, but unfortunately they did not. My work was private and I didn’t want – or have authority – to bring anyone besides me and my other, secret co-workers with to the underground lab.
When a security guard finally removed them from the ‘special staff only’ area of the nuclear laboratory, the other scientists came to meet me. I needed to sort through the other data collected from the particle accelerator but something else was happening that required my attention.
“There was an accident last night” One of the scientists said.
“We had to drain the coolant and shut down the system, but none of the data sects were melted.”
I nodded and proceeded to pass but the scientist stopped me.
“Raj was killed.”
I had worked closely with the Israeli physicist but he was also secretive about his business, he also wanted the glory of the first discovery. But as scientists were in that community; we shared a respect for each other and a sad grief descended on me.
The scientist paused and looked around before continuing.
“They say that the system is unstable – unusable in fact”
How could anyone say such a thing, I still wonder.
“That’s nonsense. Our calibration fixed almost everything. We’re at the forty seventh clock cycle and we haven’t even blown a single capacitor!”
“I know, but this project is using a lot of resources”
“Nonsense again. We had an entire nuclear power station set up for this on a private budget – Which the lab already runs. No more funding is going into it by the government and the private companies investing are not going out of pocket anytime soon. Microsoft invested about 10 billion dollars alone! And that’s nothing compared to what they can make out of it in the future.”
My colleague looked worried.
“You don’t know how bad this accident is”
“Then tell me”
“You have to see it for yourself”
I followed him as he led me into the elevator and pressed for the lowest level; to descend down the shaft. I could feel that something was wrong; the atmosphere had shifted when Raj died but the silent dribble of blood against the elevator door was even more frightening.
When the elevator lurched to a stop and the doors opened, I could immediately smell the scent of burnt human flesh.