Thursday, June 13, 2024

Null Infinity - Chapter 7

Previous chapters can be found under the Forgotten Earth tab above.

Chapter 7

The ride back seemed to take much longer than Harry expected. By the time the van stopped Lauren had fallen asleep. Soon the sliding van door opened.

Let's go,” said the lieutenant.

Harry woke Lauren and they both exited the van to face what looked to Harry like the same building they been kept in before. Once inside, he was sure it was the same, he even stopped at “his” door waiting for the soldiers to open it so he could enter.

Inside he sat down on the bed and looked at the same room only this time without his luggage. He didn't even have a change of clothes and after the past couple of days he really needed a change of clothes. Even as uncomfortable as he was he finally fell asleep on top of the bed covers.

Harry was awakened by a knock on the door and then a soldier entered with a tray of food. After exchanging a brief greeting the soldier left. Harry looked at the tray, it was the same as before. This time he ate everything, not knowing when he might get to eat again. Just as he was finishing there was another knock on the door, this time Lieutenant Levi, his questioner entered.

Good morning Mr. Stimson,” said the lieutenant.

Good morning lieutenant,” said Harry.

I've come to take you to the colonel's office, are you ready or do you need a few minutes to prepare?”

I have nothing to prepare with Lieutenant, so I guess I'm ready,” said Harry.

Harry followed the lieutenant out of the room. He thought they would wait for Lauren but the lieutenant and another soldier rushed out of the building. It was just becoming daylight and the air felt clean, Harry wished he felt the same. They made their way to the administration building and were soon in the colonel's waiting room. A few minutes and Harry was called into the colonel's office without the lieutenant.

Inside Harry saw the colonel behind his big desk and another man in one of the chairs in front of the desk with his back to Harry. The man started to rise and turn. It was professor Zee.

Professor,” said Harry.

Harry, I got your letter, how are you,” said Dr. Zee extending his hand.

I'm kinda surprised to see you Professor,” said Harry. “We tried a few days ago but ...” Harry stopped a moment. “But failed.”

Yes, I know Harry, the Colonel and I were just discussing your situation. And I think we both agree that what happened was unfortunate. The Colonel has informed me why you came here and I am eager to help you get started.

After we finish here I want to take you to the lab and bring you up to date on my research, at least the part that has not been classified,” said Zee nodding to the colonel.

That's great Professor, only I wonder if I could do something first?”

What's that Harry?” said Zee.

I would like to get Lauren and get cleaned up some if the Colonel could help me get my luggage,” said Harry.

Of course, Mr. Stimson,” said the colonel. “Just let me tell my admin.”

The colonel rose and left the room.

How did you get the to cooperate Professor?”

I had to make it clear to the Colonel that I needed to see you before I continued my research. The Colonel is eager to have me working and happy, so here you are.”

The door opened and the colonel came in.

Your luggage and Ms. Cauley's will be here in twenty minutes Mr. Stimson,” said the colonel.

Thank you sir,” said Harry.

I'm sorry Harry, I was just too worn out to get up and go with you this morning,” said Lauren.

I understand,” said Harry, “I was pretty tired also.”

But I feel better now that we got our things back and Dr. Zee is involved. He's really going to let us begin researching the warp bubble?”

Yeah, and he's going to bring us up to date on what he's discovered since we worked on it at the university. Only there are apparently some things that he can't tell us because they are classified,” he said.

Doesn't matter,” she said, “we're on our way now.”

She hugged him and he held her a little bit long.

Harry, there's one thing though,” she said.

What's that?”

Mr. Lawer, we need to tell someone about him. His relatives need to know what happened.” she said.

I already spoke with the Colonel, he will take care of it,” he said.

You think we can trust him?” she asked.

I honestly don't know but I think we'll have to accept his word until we get off this base,” he said.

You're probably right,” she said.

They spent the rest of the day with Dr. Zee as he explained and showed them what he had discovered since university.

The most important thing I've found since I was at the university is that spacetime bubbles have a natural frequency. And that the frequency is related to their size,” said Dr. Zee to Harry and Lauren. “And that leads to some amazing results.

You see here,” said Lee pointing to some printouts on a screen, “I started introducing a frequency component into the laser output because some calculations I had done suggested I look for the bubble's natural frequency. Now look at this.”

He brought up another graph, it had the rise and fall of a resonant response, that is it looked like a mountain peak.

As I change the frequency superimposed on the laser I get a larger spacetime bubble. And as you probably remember Harry, a bubble's size and speed is directly related to the energy input.”

Harry looked at the graph.

So, you are saying that by introducing a frequency component in the laser energy you are getting a bigger or faster accelerating bubble without adding more energy?” said Harry.

Exactly,” said Dr. Zee.

But Dr. Zee,” said Lauren, “since a bubble is a void, that means that the something responding to the frequency must be the walls of the bubble. You are then imparting a frequency to the surrounding spacetime which would act to carry energy away from the site of the bubble as gravity waves.”

You are correct Lauren, but since the fabric of spacetime is so stiff the energy imparted to it is negligible,” said the professor.

Almost like an adiabatic process for energy,” said Harry.

Yes, it would be interesting to express it in thermodynamical terms Harry,” said Zee. “Anyway, I believe that with some careful fine tuning you can get the energy requirement reduced by a factor of six.”

A millionth of the energy,” said Lauren.

Right,” said Dr. Zee.

That's impressive Professor,” said Harry.

Resonance phenomena often are,” said Zee.

After transferring his work to Harry's Emmie, Dr. Zee said, “Now why don't you two go get your luggage together, I'll get the Colonel to fly us into Albuquerque. We'll get a bite to eat at a great pizza place and then you can catch a plane home.”

At dinner over pizza Dr. Zee discussed a bit about his work with the military even though this was strictly prohibited.

I want to tell you something,” he said. “And this is between us, don't share this with anyone else. At least until I'm finished with my work with the military.

As you know, geopolitical events are not too stable. The world is going through a period of uncertainty. It's still an effect of what started over twenty something years ago, before you two were even born. You are probably aware of the Asian uprising?”

Harry shook his head yes, as did Lauren.

Well, China as a failed state has been desperate to meet the challenges it sees from other Asian states, particularly southeast Asian states and Japan. They've barely been able to hold their own and this has contributed a great deal to its internal turmoil. Anyway, when totalitarian government has problems such as these, it makes them look weak and they try to make up for it by building up their military and create a patriotic passion in its citizens.

So, it turns out that the United States government has reason to believe that the Chinese are developing something very similar to my research. The government even thinks they are ahead of us, though I doubt it. Probably just the government trying to build up some urgency.

So, that is why I don't quit and come back to university and because I can't quit at this time I am hoping you will continue the work.”

Dr. Zee left Harry and Lauren at the airport. They had some time to kill before their flight.

Harry, did any of the last couple of days really happen?”

It does seem unreal, doesn't it?”

Yeah, I'd say. We were basically kidnapped, escaped, hunted, recaptured, and then set free with best wishes,” she said.

When you put it like that, it sounds like an adventure movie. Going back to university will be rather boring, want it?”

Well, after what we went through, I'm all for being bored.”

Agree,” he said.

But Harry, one thing,” she said.


You were pretty great when things got a little intense.”

Yeah?” he said.

They were sitting side by side and he turned to face her.

Yeah,” she said, as she turned too.

He bent toward her and she leaned toward him until there lips met.

Back at the university Harry was a bit distracted from getting the project going as he was often thinking about Lauren, they had held hands all the way home on the plane. But she was more focused and getting things done. They both got the departmental okay to pursue the experiment. It would eventually serve as a doctoral thesis for both. The only catch was that they would pretty much be on their own, except for some monetary support from the department. Their thesis advisers would not even be directly involved.

The first thing that had to be done was to find a test site since the university prohibited any more testing on any of its campuses. Lauren had found a possible site in the southern part of the state. The university had a forestry department and the forestry department had a lease on several hundred acres down there. The head of the forestry department was supportive, suggesting there were several open areas that might be used. The biggest problem was logistical. Lodging, equipment, transportation, and power were just some of the things that would have to be worked out.

I think it's great Lauren,” said Harry, “it's just a little overwhelming. I mean here, everything we need is readily available, but down there we have to bring or find sources. It's over two hundred miles from here, it's kind of, well, overwhelming.”

We can't do the experiment here and we have no other offers so either we make it work down there or we give up before we start,” she said.

You're right, I just didn't expect the setup would be so . . .”

Don't say it,” she interrupted. “We commit to doing this or we give up now.”

Okay, I'll commit,” he said.

Good, we can get started then,” she said.

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