HUMANITY’S earliest examples of technology, some of our greatest leaps forward in evolution, were based upon the tiniest of objects, at the smallest of scales. Sunlight heralded the discovery of firelight, firelight into electricity, and electicity into power centers. Photochemistry. High-resolution microscopy. And measurements of molecular distances. Doctors Alvin Schwartz, Ana Ortega, and Smith Maynard spearheaded a military-industrial juggernaut bankrolled by the wealthiest nations and most powerful corporations in the history of human civilization, an attempt to weaponize the most powerful force in the universe – black hole singularities.
And now there they stood, drawn into it as though it were physically present in the room with them, pulling at the very fibres of their existence with the shameless and unconscious nature you would expect an object to do so of such immensity and utterly untamed raw power as a black hole.
“Clearly,” Maynard’s said, his light voice piercing an air grown shackled to the overbearing and awe-striking dominion of what science had come the closest to identifying as a living, breathing, all-consuming, all-powerful God spoken of in the holy texts of religions the world over. “This is the single-greatest achievement of humanity since the creation of fire itself.”
“Something as small as a hadron,” Schwartz said, shaking his head. “A photon… and… this.”
The ball of fire was less than a few nanometers across, yet its accretion disk – if not contained within the quantum bubble within the TITAN superconductor – would have swallowed the moon and its Mother World along with it.
“Are you really that surprised,” asked Ortega, taking a seat and kicking back.
Schwartz could tell she was suddenly feeling boisterous, despite the fact that everyone else felt about the same as the nuclear scientists at Castle Bravo on March the First, 1954…
…When the United States detonated the first Hydrogen Bomb in the depths of the Cold War.
“I mean, a few years ago we did find out that Quintessence is simply the four forces wrapped up tightly at the smallest of dimensions to form a new substance that explained the weakness of gravity and gave us the enigmatic ‘Theory of Everything,” she gloated,
“Which I happened to point out when I–”
“We know, Little Miss Sunshine,” Maynard croaked, pouring sweat. “I-I really don’t think any of you fully grasp what’s going on here, not even a little,” he added in a stammer.
Schwartz had taken on a thiny-veiled look of concern himself as he appeared at his cohort’s side.
“What’s your point?”
Maynard swallowed. “Nobody has even thought of how the **** we’re going to turn this thing off?”
Right there, the dead silence gripped the room once again, this time with a furor that felt almost sapient.
“Well,” Ortega said. “We could, you know, just… turn it off?”
“And where does all of that energy go? This is a ****ing black HOLE, it doesn’t get any smaller. It’s… a ****ing SINGULARITY. It’s INFINITE.”
Schwartz glanced over at the beast, his eyes suddenly fixed on it, reflecting back through them as though it were an external marvel to behold… whilst also a reflection of the deepest… darkest recesses of the biological collective unconscious.
The psychotic break of the universe itself.
Back then it all seemed so simple. Back in the 2050’s, the budding societies on Jupiter and Mars were just that – tiny saplings that had just sprung forth from the Mother Earth’s bosom, just beginning to open their sore eyes to look around at the vast universe around them. Begging for the teat, and entirely dependent upon the economic powerhouses of the United States of the Americas, Europe and the Moon.
Although in the depths of a Frozen War between the West and the East, ongoing since the turn of the millennium… the battles were among wits, and logic. ‘Hard War,’ bombs and fire of yesteryear – masses of people dying by sword or by nuclear weaponry – gave way to ‘Soft War,’ as they called it.
Autonomous war bots.
Staking out cosmic territory. Establishing dominion over the resources yielded by asteroids, moons and the like… and accumulating as massive a wealth gap with your next-closest competitor as possible… this was the warfare of the future.
Alvin Schwartz fought in this war, although the propaganda and societal programming was so powerful that he didn’t even realize it. For the first year at Lunar University, Schwartz spent all of his time either with his nose in a kiosk or his hand around a beer, palling around with the friends he made throughout. It had arguably been the best year of his life socially, the first twenty-one years of his life being rather abysmal, boring and depressing – according to himself anyway.
But he was always the ‘bookworm,’ so-to-speak. He was around long after most of his friends had graduated or dropped out, most of them being more of the ‘street-smarts’ types.
Halfway through his third year, the last of the original – ‘close’ – friends he’d made in his second semester of his Freshman year had departed Lunar-One back for Earth or to new frontiers… and Al began to realize how badly his GPA had fallen.
“You can do better than this,” his quantum-mechanics professor said almost immediately – Al’s bag had barely had time to make contact with the carpet floor and the door had barely had time to slide all the way closed.
Al sighed. “I know, I shouldn’t have plagiarized.”
“I should suspend you, hell I should have you expelled… this is the third time.”
“Third time,” he repeated more sternly.
An awkward silence followed momentarily.
“Are you getting enough sleep,” the professor asked randomly.
He suddenly looked embued with new life.
“No,” he said. “You’re not.”
He pulled out a note, and began writing on it.
“I’m writing you a sick note,” he said. “So you can take a day off and re-write your paper. I am also a medical doctor, after all.”
He finished scrawling on it, folded it up and handed it to him, but before he let go, he leaned in.
“Do. Not. Let. It. Happen. Again.”
It was this solitary act of kindess from Doctor Ron Warden that allowed Alvin Schwartz the chance to do what he did – and he turned his career trajectory around with a quickness.
It was in 2058 – the sixth year of his Doctorate residency – that he met Smith Maynard… his newest roommate.