An excerpt from
Only Some Can Hear My Voice
Allan Landry was equally frustrated and elated. FermiCorp’s tesseract was everything Elliot Freeman had promised and more. In the three weeks he spent in Illinois, Landry had seen the machine in action six times and they progressed a little further into the unknown with each trial run. Still he couldn’t understand why Freeman and his boss didn’t turn the machine up. They were still working at only 15 percent of the machine’s potential and had no plans to push beyond this point until they had a better understanding of the physics. The team was working in absolute secrecy, so only Freeman and the other four physicists on the team were debating how much faster they could progress, which to Landry was depressingly slow.
“Allan, I know that you are paying the bills.” Freeman and
Landry had moved past the initial awkward phase of their relationship and were comfortable with first names. When Landry first arrived to FermiCorp and met Andrew Simmons, the founder, he realized why Elliot Freeman was the face of FermiCorp. Simmons was clearly brilliant but had no social skills. He had a pathologic fear of communicable diseases and was never without a surgical mask and gloves. Landry had silently accepted Freeman as his contact. “I realize that I am being impatient, but we come from two very different worlds. I expect immediate gratification and generally get it. It’s been three weeks and we’ve barely scratched the surface of what this machine can do.”
“You have to understand that we have no idea what lies beyond this point. I have a genuine safety concern even at this level.” Freeman sat in his small crowded office in FermiCorp’s main facility and cradled the phone with his shoulder. Landry was half a continent away, sitting in his spacious office on the forty-eighth floor of a building he owned, and stared out over a breathtaking view of the Pacific Ocean.
“Your colleagues don’t agree. My understanding is that magnetic fields pose no serious harm to organic life—”
Freeman cut his benefactor off in mid-sentence. “At these levels no one can know what poses a risk. The results of our last firing are concerning. We may be approaching or have passed an event horizon. The coherence and density of the plasma has decreased with each increase in the strength of the magnetic field. Do you understand the importance of this fact?”
“Not even remotely,” Landry conceded.
“It means that with every increase in the tesseract we lose just a little more plasma. Most things in physics are exponential. We are bound to reach a threshold where instead of a little more plasma we will lose a lot more plasma. I don’t know what that threshold is, and I don’t know what will happen when we reach it, but I’ll tell you this, I don’t think any of us want to find out.” Freeman started strangling the phone as if it was Landry’s neck.
“But I have heard you and Dr. Simmons arguing the matter. You clearly have different opinions.”
Freeman stomped his feet and then threw another sharpened pencil into the ceiling tile above his head.
“Yes, we do disagree, and in our world when there is disagreement we become more cautious. We never blaze ahead,” Freeman said resolutely.
“So, put simply, we are losing some of the plasma when it is energized to these levels. It is not combining into fused atoms, it is simply disappearing. It is going somewhere, only to reappear moments later. Which could pose real problems if we are sending a ball of gas hotter than the center of the sun to an elementary school, or an oil refinery plant.” Landry paused and gave an exaggerated breath. “You told me before we started all of this that you believed that we had broken out of our universe and ended up in subspace. Could that be where the missing plasma is going?”
Freeman regretted introducing the phrase “subspace” to Landry so long ago. He was sure the computer genius had a head full of wondrous and completely fanciful images. “It’s a possibility. Simmons disagrees. In fact, most everyone at FermiCorp disagrees, but it’s a theory that we have to entertain.”
Landry was quiet for a long moment. “Well,” he said, “it would be something.” He drew out the last word twice as long as it needed. “Still, you’ve achieved the remarkable by sending that same ball of gas, what, two thousand miles?”
“I just wish we understood it better.”
“I gotta say science is frustrating.” Landry exhaled resignation.
“Imagine it like a large bulldozer. It moves slowly but it creates a path that others can follow. Give us some time and we will figure this problem out.”
“Did you confirm the time manipulation?” This is what really excited Landry.
“Yes, we confirmed that the plasma displacement on run two occurred seventy milliseconds after we initiated the run, so it moved forward in time, and run three appeared nearly half a second early.”
“So we manipulated time. We sent things forward in time, right?”
Landry knew that his voice had risen an octave and he sounded just like the prepubescent boy everyone accused him of being.
“That I can confirm. We are manipulating both matter and time. If you remember, we’ve even sent things backward in time. On that point I think we are making some progress.”
“And you’ve figured out the parameters that direct the plasma stream? In time I mean.” Landry tried to lower his voice but even to his ears he still sounded like a twelve-year-old.
“We have a pretty good working hypothesis, but everything is on hold until we know where all of the plasma is going. If we don’t understand it all we don’t understand any of it.” Freeman had used this line on Landry half a dozen times, and the computer scientist was becoming a little frustrated hearing it. “Allan, give us two days and we will understand what we are doing to a better degree. That will significantly improve our safety margin. It will take at least half that time to refit the vertical tube.”
“All right. Let’s wait until all the tests are back,” Landry said, defeated. He knew from the start that working with Freeman and Simmons would be a new experience for him. They were dispassionate, cerebral, and cautious to a fault. “Have you tested the Faraday device?” Allan’s largest contribution, aside from his first infusion of $25,000,000, was a 12 x 12-cm box that conceivable could deflect enough of the plasma ion stream that would allow material to survive the deadly environment inside the tesseract. It had been created at Caltech at Landry’s personal request, and for any normal computer scientist a Faraday box would have seemed odd request, but Allan Landry was accepted as anything but normal.
“We exposed it to an electron beam at 50 percent power and the cage functioned perfectly. I have every expectation it will stand up to full power as well as the actual plasma stream in the tesseract. After all of this is over, I would like to talk to the engineer who designed the device. It’s a brilliant solution. Revolutionary.”
“High praise from you. So, you think it will be possible to translocate more than just the plasma stream?” Once again Landry betrayed his excitement. Sending objects, in time possibly humans, through magnetic wormholes into time and space would change the course of human history, quite literally.
“As I’ve said before, it will either work or we will completely destroy the tesseract. You do know that we are a long way from testing the device? We have to rewrite the entire computer program and likely make extensive modifications to both units before any testing?”
Landry again felt that Freeman was patronizing him. Gently asking him to wait until the time was right. “Yes, of course. I’m willing to wait,” Allan said aloud. “But it won’t be a patient wait,” he whispered.
“I’m planning on flying out tomorrow night. You will be ready for another run on Thursday?”
“If everything is in order.” Freeman prepared another pencil to launch into the ceiling above.
“Okay, I gotta go. I’m really late for a meeting. I’ll see you day after tomorrow.” He hung up quickly. In the real world most people would view his behavior as rude, but one thing both Landry and Freeman learned from the start was that neither was sensitive to social norms.
Freeman counted the four new pencils in his ceiling and placed the fifth back on his desk. One a minute, he said to himself. Andrew Simmons suddenly appeared at his door and took a seat unannounced. His boss was dressed like a surgeon with cap, mask, gown, and gloves. He was obviously having a bad day. Simmons was tall and emaciated. Years ago, he had tried to grow a beard but could only manage what politely could be called fuzz. Like Freeman, Andy Simmons had a pale almost translucent complexion. Neither man had spent much time in the sun. His white lab jacket was a throwback to his training at MIT, and the multitude of small tears and repairs spoke to the possibility that this very jacket dated back three decades to grad school.
“We have something completely unexpected with the chromatograph findings and I’m afraid you were right.”
Simmons passed over a file and Freeman read it quickly. “Carbon, hydrogen, and oxygen.”
“The computer theorizes a ninety-seven probability of chlorophyll.”
Freeman stared at the file as if by concentration alone he could change the results. The residue found in the tesseract after the last firing was at one time a plant. The problem was that the sterile test facility where they had been sending the plasma stream had no plants.
“It estimates a 74 percent probability of the chlorophyll being derived from a grass. Probably St. Augustine. I’m afraid you were right. Some of the plasma stream is diverting to another location and then recombining back in the tesseract.”
“The plasma field split,” Freeman said absently, deep in thought.
“Which means the magnetic field split.”
“Two sets of magnets rotated perpendicular to the other. It’s not inconceivable that they act like individuals as opposed to a single coherent field.”
“That is totally counterintuitive to traditional physics.” Freeman remained mentally absent. “Magnetic fields always combine. No matter how many magnets are involved.”
“Obviously, we are dealing with a new form of electromagnetism. The power we are putting out is hundreds of times above anything anyone has ever seen or even theorized.”
Freeman slowly nodded his head. Physics was full of examples of matter and energy changing their behavior at extreme environmental ends. “The formation of plasma is an example,” he answered his own thought aloud.
“Now the question becomes: Where are we sending the residual plasma?” Simmons said, crossing his long thin legs. Freeman causally noted that the normally fastidious Andrew Simmons wore mismatched socks. He more than casually noted that Simmons had finally agreed that some of the plasma stream was missing.
“Or into what world,” Freeman answered.
He was the first to raise the possibility that a powerful, linked, and coherent magnetic field could temporarily bridge the gap between different universes more easily than it could alter both space and time. The idea went a long way to explaining why no temporal paradox had been observed. Why at times two plasma streams appeared in the test facility and at other times no translocated plasma stream could be observed at any location. Freeman looked back at the file and wondered if this material, these blades of St. Augustine grass, came from our universe or a neighboring one. “Or in what world,” Freeman echoed quietly.
“What if we did an extended dry fire and tried to map out the magnetic field?” Simmons asked. It was a concept no one would ordinarily consider. The original goal of the tesseract was to compress a plasma stream into combustion. Without the plasma stream a tesseract was simply a massive set of magnets around an empty tube.
“We would basically be firing up the magnets inside a vacuum. It would eat up a lot of electricity, but it won’t hurt the physical plant. Now you do know that without the plasma all our calculations will be off. We’ll have a high error rate,” Freeman pointed out.
Simmons nodded his head.
Flowing plasma was in essence a stream of dissociated electrons and protons which produced their own magnetic field. This locally produced field would interact with the magnetic field produced by the tesseract in a complex manner. It was a problem well known in the world of nuclear fusion research.
“We could partially compensate for the lack of the plasma by turning up the power, to say 17 or 18 percent.” Simmons paused and did some rapid calculations with his laptop. “No, let’s try 20 percent. That should fully compensate for the lack of plasma.”
Freeman was more than a little taken aback. “Twenty percent? That’s way more than what we need to compensate for the lack of plasma. We have no idea what that amount of power will do.” He was having virtually the same conversation for the second time, but this time with someone who should know better. “We’re talking about creating a field that potentially could trip breakers and possibly blow electrical transformers all the way to Pasadena. It’s theoretically possible that a field of that strength could have biological effects.” In the two seconds Simmons had proposed a 20 percent run Freeman’s blood pressure had doubled.
“Elliot, that’s silly. There have been hundreds of studies that disprove any consequential biological effects from magnetic fields.”
“Andrew, those tests were done on fields hundreds if not thousands of times smaller than ours. We’re playing with matches here.”
The two men had known each other for decades and the one thing Elliot had learned about Andrew was that he had to be gently steered. Never pushed.
“We are sixty feet below the surface with concrete and steel shielding. Aside from us the nearest individual is over a mile away. I’m not worried about biological effects. As far as the electrical disturbances a magnetic field this size produces, who can say? But whatever we find it will be a first.”
The argument continued for another five minutes until Simmons held up his laptop. “Our own computers, running programs you wrote, say twenty percent is safe, especially with no plasma
Simmons had made up his mind. They were going to use 20 percent and that was the end of it. Freeman could see the excitement in Simmons’ normally placid expression. He heard the pressure in his boss’ speech. Nothing he could say would sway Simmons towards a more conservative course. He had nothing objective, only a gut feeling to counter his very own computer predictions and his boss’ determination. Andrew Simmons had always had a tendency toward manic depression, and he had definitely swung to the manic side. Freeman had to admit that this tendency of Simmons to suddenly abandon reason and forge ahead into unknown territories had served the man well. His entire professional life was characterized by giant leaps of imagination. His talent had been recognized early, and after finishing at MIT with a PhD in particle physics he was invited to Geneva to join CERN in its search for the Higgs boson, the elusive subatomic particle that created mass from energy. It was an unprecedented honor for one so young and he took every advantage of this singular opportunity. After four years he had become one of the most respected authorities in particle physics. His approach, which was generously defined as unconventional, worked to both his advantage and his undoing. The European Organization for Nuclear Research was traditional to its very core, and the American wunderkind’s fits of unsupported insight, no matter how brilliant, began to raise eyebrows and eventually questions about his suitability to work within a hierarchal structure. After a particularly critical review of his personal and work habits he too wondered if Geneva and even particle physics was where he belonged.
Eventually Simmons returned to the United States and decided that he could put his talents to something more stimulating. For eighteen weeks he locked himself in his parents’ garage with nothing more than a computer and an internet connection. When he finally emerged, he had created a protocol that prevented the corrosion of silver, allowing the metal to be used in high-voltage situations.
The applications were easy to see. Silver was the element with the highest electrical conductivity, much better than copper or even gold. That property was well known, but silver was limited by a form of corrosion which quickly limited its use. Simmons had derived a simple and elegant solution that in an instant improved the function of every new electrical device by 30 percent. At the tender age of twenty-nine, he had changed the world. His patent made him rich. Not Alan Landry rich, but he had more than enough money to start FermiCorp without outside assistance.
His first purchase was a warehouse in Pasadena. He had no intention of resuming his work on subatomic particles. It had become boring and had no practical applications. He couldn’t stomach one more meeting with brilliant but esoteric minds debating the inconsequential. Instead he chose the holy grail of physics: sustainable nuclear fusion. It took him two years and a progressively larger team to completely rethink and reengineer the approach to nuclear fusion. He designed and built four prototypes until he had perfected first the synderact and its larger brother the tesseract. He built part of the massive structure with his own hands, spending weeks as thick cords of silver wire were carefully wound around rare-earth metals, creating a revolutionary new series of electromagnets which were the heart of the machine that he knew would one day initiate a stable fusion ignition. On several occasions he had come breathtakingly close to a breakeven point where the energy expended equaled the energy produced. A year earlier, after a result that was as close as they had ever come, he had a flash of inspiration. The following morning he was found in the reactor room carefully reorienting the alignment of his seventy-nine electromagnets. That was the day his world changed.
“To track such a field, we would need hundreds if not thousands of magnetometers arranged from here to the test facility in Pasadena.” Freeman knew what was coming next and it explained why Simmons was pretending to have a collegial debate after he had made up his mind.
“You still have access to the Magnetospheric Multiscale Mission. You can redirect the sensors and intercept the data. They are a perfect platform for what we need.” Simmons smiled broadly. In 2014, NASA launched four spacecraft to study the intermingling of the Earth’s magnetic field with that of the sun. The MMS tracked and studied strange points of convergence between the two fields called X-Points. At these special locations, a portal formed creating an uninterrupted path from our own planet to the sun ninety-three million miles away. As early as 1998, NASA had discovered that dozens of times a day streams of energetic particles from the sun would suddenly appear in the empty space a few thousand kilometers away from Earth and bombard the upper atmosphere, creating magnificent auroras and communication disturbances. The press had called them cosmic wormholes, but Freeman and most of NASA believed that a less exotic explanation was responsible. “NASA will know. They can’t possibly miss the sudden appearance of a massive magnetic field extending from Chicago to Pasadena.”
“I’ll take that risk. Besides, you’re the one they will call to explain the anomaly. How close are we to finishing the repairs?” Simmons asked.
“We still need most of the day. We can initiate an ignition sequence sometime this evening. You do know that a lot more people are going to know, especially the university. We are still on their grid, and they will notice the sudden power drain.” Freeman squirmed at the idea of pushing the tesseract until they had a better idea regarding the physics involved and tried one more time to dissuade his boss.
“We will tell them exactly what we’re doing. A test fire after repairs.”
It was obvious that Simmons was pleased with himself. “Let’s plan for ignition at 1800. That will give you some time to figure out how to quietly redirect a couple of the MMS satellites.”
As it turned out, redirecting the MMS sensors was as easy as a phone call to the University of Iowa. One of Freeman’s old grad students was the director of MMS and was more than willing to help his old professor recalibrate and test the new tesseract configuration.
“How much accuracy do you need? I have two crafts in near- Earth orbit. We can get you down to the millimeter if you like,” Erik Lindgren asked Freeman.
“I don’t think we need to be that precise. Maybe down to the meter. It’s going to be a wide area, from Chicago to Pasadena.”
“Peanuts. We’re used to scanning regions orders of magnitude greater than that. So, you think you’ve created an artificial X-Point like those guys did in Barcelona a couple years ago?”
“Possibly. It’s more just a theory at this point. We have the magnets, and if you bring the sensors we should probably learn something.”
Freeman wasn’t happy with the half-lie, especially to an old student, but no one could be trusted with the whole truth.
“You got it, Professor. Call me when you get started and I’ll point my babies your way.”
At 6:14 p.m., the lights across western Illinois dimmed slightly as FermiCorp powered up their machine. MMS satellites #2 and #4 immediately detected the presence of a powerful magnetic field close to the Earth’s surface and automatically started to map it. Freeman, Simmons, and most of the FermiCorp team anxiously watched the initial data download on the control-room screens. The intensity of the initial field was thousands of times stronger than anything the satellites had mapped from a terrestrial source, and for a time the computers struggled with the volume. Two minutes into the test the single field reconfigured itself and split into two. For almost a minute the dual fields appeared to be stable, with one swinging to the east and the other to the west, but both converging on their test facility in Pasadena. Then, with a burst of magnetic energy that covered most of the southwestern United States, the two discrete fields became three. The weaker third stream aligned itself directly from the main facility in northwest Illinois with the test facility in Pasadena.
“We have created three massive bar magnets,” Simmons said to the room. He pointed at the icon representing the main lab in Illinois. Here is the positive pole.” Next he pointed to the accessory lab in Pasadena. “Here is the negative pole. This is completely unreal.”
He was silent for a moment as everyone watched the slow oscillation of the three fields. “Why three?” he asked.
“The polarity?” Elliot Freeman answered and asked. “These two larger fields are oriented north to south, which is why initially they were swinging away from each other. This new field is south to north.” As they watched the real-time feed from the MMS satellites the middle field seemed to pull the outer fields closer. Then, when the three fields had nearly combined, a second burst of magnetic energy filled the screen and the third stream disappeared entirely. The two outer streams, each repelled by the other, immediately swung away from each other and for two minutes all was stable. “I changed the pulse frequency and intensity slightly,” Freeman said over the now louder drumming of the tesseract. Unexpectedly, the fields began to swing further away from each other. The western field swung out over the Pacific and the eastern field nearly made it to the Atlantic.
“Well that shouldn’t have happened.”
“Interesting. How far can you separate them?” Simmons asked Freeman.
“As far as we want them to go. I think I can—” Freeman went back to the keyboard. “I think I can also narrow the bands as well.” Both fields had now swung to the limit of the MMS satellites and had appreciably narrowed. The drumming of the tesseract eased some.
“A steerable magnetic field,” Simmons said with excitement. “None of this is possible. It violates just about every rule of electromagnetic physics.” Freeman watched as his partner vibrated with unrestrained excitement. It was a new look for him, and it only increased the growing anxiety in Freeman’s mind.
“But there they are,” a voice said from the back of the room. Simmons’ excitement was beginning to infect the room.
“Remember our protocols,” Freeman admonished everyone, including Simmons and himself. “We need to narrow these fields and begin to restrain them.” He chastised himself for getting caught up in the excitement. He had literally allowed a powerful magnetic field to swing across the entire continental United States without so much as a thought. He returned to the keyboard and the tesseract began to take on a more normal tone. The two fields began to swing back to their original positions and narrow to only a few kilometers. At the six-minute mark they were separated by only dozens of miles when a burst of magnetic energy much larger than the earlier pulses filled the screen. Once it cleared, the middle stream had reappeared. It wavered in intensity and then, for a fourth time, a pulse of energy covered the southwestern United States, and the middle stream disappeared. “These blooms.” Freeman pointed at the fading magnetic signal. “We have no idea what they are or what they’re doing. I’m shutting us down.”
It took a little longer than a moment for Simmons to respond. “Agreed. I think we have more than enough data to work with.” It took almost a minute for the tesseract to completely power down and the fields to disappear.
“Damn, that was stupid,” Freeman said to himself. Simmons, who was within earshot, put a hand on his shoulder.
“We just did the impossible. Be happy.”
Simmons was as manic as Freeman had ever seen him. He was chatting up the staff and had slipped his surgical mask down to his chest. For the next several minutes the team watched the data stream from space and Andrew kept up a running commentary about what each change could represent when the data stream from MMS suddenly stopped.
The team waited, but the computer simply flashed “Loss of Signal.” Two minutes passed. Then five. Before ten minutes had elapsed, half the team was up pacing, waiting for Simmons to say something.
“Could we have fried MMS?” he finally asked.
“I don’t think so,” Freeman finally answered. He picked up his desk phone and dialed a ten-digit number.
“I shut off the download,” Erik Lindgren said as a greeting. “You have the entire NASA team crawling all over this data. My phone has not stopped ringing. You need to level with me and tell me what you’re really doing up there. The guys working tonight in Houston don’t have a strong electromagnetic background but in a few hours you can bet your bottom dollar that they’ll have sent the data to a dozen different experts. For all I know they’ll be calling you.”
“We aren’t ready for the world to know this,” Freeman answered. He hit the speaker button so the entire team could hear. “Erik, I just put you on speaker.”
“It’s too late to keep this quiet. The cat is definitely out of the bag. You realize that you just produced the strongest, most coherent magnetic field by a factor of a thousand. This is solidly in the territory of solar flares. In fact, this looks just like the readings we get from a massive solar flare. Those electromagnetic pulses probably fried thousands of electrical transformers, countless cell towers, and damaged a dozen electrical grids. I . . . I . . . don’t mean to be critical, sir, but this was reckless. Can you tell me what you folks are up to?”
“Can you give me a moment, Erik? I need to check on something first.” Freeman put the call on hold and turned to the dozen men and women who had crowded into the computer lab. “I need some of you to quickly check on the electrical grids from here to Pasadena, along with satellite communications and cell towers.”
“Cell service is out. Land lines are obviously still working,” said a voice from the back after only a moment.
“Satellite service was disrupted for about a minute but is back on,” another voice said.
“GPS too?” someone else asked, but no one answered.
“We still have power. Pasadena is experiencing a brown out and their lab is running on auxiliary power. We’ll have more information in a couple of minutes about the rest of the country,” answered another voice.
Freeman went back to his phone. “Erik, are you still there?”
“I’m here. We are getting reports of communications interruption and widespread electrical outages.”
“We are as well. Hopefully, they will clear up quickly.” Freeman scanned the room and then gave Simmons a long look. “Erik, I’m going to break a confidence because we may need your help. Your help, specifically your help, not the University of Iowa’s, and definitely not NASA’s. Can I have your word that this goes no further than us?”
“You’re asking me to swear secrecy to something I know nothing about,” Lindgren responded.
“Yes, I am. Can you trust me?”
“If you asked me about thirty minutes ago I would have said ‘yes’ without a moment’s hesitation.” Lindgren paused. “Okay, Professor. This goes no further than us. Now tell me what’s going on at Fermi-Corp.”
For the next five minutes Freeman gave his former student a summary of their research and findings.
“It’s not much different than what NASA have been doing, although we have just been mapping and not creating these portals. You really recovered organic matter? The implications of that are astounding.”
“Any ideas?” Freeman asked. “I know you’ve had less than a minute, but what do you think is happening?”
“It’s obvious why your plasma lost density. It is being distributed between the magnetic streams, and when the third disappears it takes some of the plasma with it to God knows where. What I can’t explain is why the third stream blinks in and out of phase.” Lindgren stopped to think. “It may be that you created a point of cataclysmic magnetic engagement. That would explain the widespread electromagnetic pulses.” Lindgren paused. “That’s my initial take. It’s a—” he struggled for words “—heresy, but I’m less interested in what you did than how you did it. None of it makes sense. Before tonight, the strongest magnetic field ever created was a fraction of what we just mapped and that field lasted milliseconds and was contained in a space no bigger than a small box. Elliot, I don’t know whether to congratulate you or have you arrested.”
“Honestly, I don’t know how we did it. This was an unexpected finding. All we were doing was trying to produce a magnetic field powerful enough to cause plasma to detonate.”
“Well, I’ll bet that you achieved that. Where do you go from here? Do you restart the fusion work? Follow your magnetic fields? Which means following it beyond the bounds of our universe? Because that’s what I think you did with that third stream. I think you just sent somebody a signal that we’re here.” Lundgren went silent.
“If the Department of Defense gets word of this, they’ll be all over you.” Lindgren’s last comment filled the room, and everyone began to look at each other. Freeman instinctively looked at the tesseract sitting quietly in its shielded room.
“I don’t even want to think about that,” Freeman said seriously.
“Elliot, can you give me the night to think about all of this and maybe review the final data. I’m going to download the rest to my computer and work with it. I have ten people at my door right now and I’ll have to do some pretty fast talking to keep all of this on the down low.”
“I appreciate it, Erik. Call me in the morning.” Freeman hung up the phone. A dozen eyes stared at him, waiting for an explanation.
“A point of massive magnetic entanglement? Up until now that has only been a theoretic possibility.” Simmons pulsed with excitement and the whole room waited for an answer.
Freeman nodded. “Each time that third stream phased in or out, we saw that magnetic bloom. It has to be entanglement.” He was embarrassed. He knew he should have said no when Simmons pushed the power to 20 percent. And then, to compound his error, he himself had changed the tesseract’s parameters and swung a massive magnetic field across the continental US as if it were nothing. “We were reckless,” he said loud enough for everyone to hear. Simmons waved off his concern and was still alive with excitement.
“For those of you who work more on the material side, let me explain. Our magnets both here and the ones in Pasadena create powerful individual fields that were strong enough to reach across thousands of miles and unite. We should have seen only one coherent field extending from here to California, but for unknown reasons it splintered into two and then three discrete fields. Electrical fields have a polarity. Everyone is familiar with bar magnets that have one side that attracts metal and another that repels metal. Things are okay, so long as all the lines of force are headed in the same direction.”
“North to south,” a senior physicist interjected. “Or south to north.”
“When the third field appeared, it was of opposite polarity; therefore, you have opposing lines of force rubbing up against each other. Eventually these lines begin to intermingle or entangle. They start to bend and twist, storing energy in the deformity just like when a rubber band is deformed by stretching it. The lines of force can be deformed only so much before they explosively snap back into place. That’s when we get the big EM pulses.”
“This is why Professor Lindgren described it as a solar flare?” a PhD candidate asked.
“Exactly. The sun has nearly an infinite number of magnetic fields caused by the flowing plasma near the surface and in the depth of the star. If two opposite fields entangle and deform, eventually they will be forced to release the stored energy in a massive explosion of plasma. A solar flare. In our situation we have no plasma and the energy is released locally in the form of a magnetic burst.”
Freeman watched his partner espouse about the intricacies of electromagnetic energy and he wondered how many employees of FermiCorp realized just what their small group had just done.
“As most of you know, magnetic energy is identical to electrical energy.” Simmons was obviously smiling under his surgical mask.
“When an electrical circuit is exposed to a magnetic field the energy is converted to electricity . . .”
“What did he mean by sending a signal out of the universe?”
Freeman recognized the young post-doc’s voice and wondered how he would explain his participation to a half-dozen federal agencies that would surely be interested in their eight-minute experiment. The question was aimed at Freeman who deferred to his partner.
“Our own Dr. Freeman is famous for believing that the walls of our universe are lined by dark-matter, held together by dark energy.”
Simmons was inviting Freeman to engage in some good-natured ribbing. Freeman was too caught up in the consequences of what they had just done to participate. “He is also one of those that believe we live in a multiverse separated by a potential region he has dubbed subspace,” Simmons continued.
“Subspace?” a post-doc asked. “As in Star Trek?”
“It’s not as outrageous as I once thought,” Simmons conceded.
“What if we were able to drill down past quarks and leptons. We could find super-large particles that support the physical universe. It’s possible that a concentrated and powerful magnetic field could ruptured that membrane.”
“And shoot something out of our universe perhaps into an adjacent universe?” a third voice asked.
“Possibly create a bridge between universes?” asked the first voice with just a trace of sarcasm.
“Okay, that’s enough fun at my expense.” Freeman tried to appear unconcerned, but the concept of a portal was a real possibility. One that would have to be explored as soon as the immediate crisis had passed. “We have work to do. The first thing is to find out just how much damage we’ve done tonight . . . ” He continued relaying orders for two minutes and then found himself alone with his excited boss. Simmons was still riding the high of discovering a whole new dimension of electromagnetic physics.
“Can you imagine what Landry is going to say?” Simmons said with an excited tremor in his voice.
“Andrew, we may have done some serious damage to the US infrastructure.”
“I doubt it. Maybe some circuit breakers or even some transformers, but our electric grid could easily handle it.”
Freeman stared at his boss and, for the first time ever, wanted to slap him in the face. Instead Simmons slapped Freeman on the back and left the control room. Simmons was right about one thing. Allan Landry, who at this very moment could be sitting in the dark, would hear about this as soon as the communications were back on line. The computer scientist would immediately jump to conclusions. He would believe that FermiCorp had created a portal, a wormhole as he would understand it, which in time could be stabilized to transport matter, even humans, to dimensions unimaginable. How could he explain these extremely complex issues to a man who thought more like an excited child than an insightful man with the capacity to understand subtlety and scientific limitations? He took off his glasses, rubbed his eyes, and decided that he would deal with that problem tomorrow.