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Careful what you wish for! How a simple and controlled experiment in developing a time machine can make life a living hell.

10 Seconds into the Future

by Neta Priel

All in all Gold has slept for four hours in the past two days. He knew that it simply had to work. If it was not going to work within a short period of time he would probably lose it all to Professor Geruk.

Gold and Professor Geruk never liked each other. When a person enters a room full of strangers within minutes some of them like him and some don't. Or won't even notice him. What causes that? The small differences? The similarity? One thing was clear: Gold and Professor Geruk were both theoretical physicists. And that was all the resemblance between them. Gold was as a typical scientist as it gets: short, thin, wearing glasses. Choosing cloths at random. He passionately loved science and almost as passionately despised most other things. He was a theoretical wizard and an annoying person.

Contrary to him Professor Geruk was well dressed and a big man: He was a tall and fat man that usually radiated pleasantness. He had the same passion but manifested it very differently. He knew that science was pursued by curious and motivated people. And the people that funded it were at least as emotional. Sometimes more. Though he was brilliant he recognized that some of the people in the department bested him, and Gold without a doubt was one of them. But he didn't mind. With his deep understanding of people he motivated people and with deep understanding of science he led his crew into progress. Although he was technically Gold's boss, most of the time general directions were enough. That was all that Gold needed. None of them would admit it but mostly they have both benefitted from their mutual work.

But one day Gold went too far. It was during a conference on the time operator in quantum mechanics. Professor Geruk gave a completely mathematical lecture. At the end of the lecture, as always, he spoke for several minutes about the potential effects of quantum mechanics on the sending of electrons ten seconds back in time.

Less than two minutes after Geruk professor started talking Dr. Gold got up, and simply said: "You are wrong. There is no basis to what you're saying. Not a theoretical one and certainly not a technological one. Everyone knows that but no one has the courage to say it." All the sudden the attention turned from the quiet chit-chats to Dr Gold. Even Old Professor C'Ssyak in the last line woke up. The tension between this two was no secret but a full frontal confrontation like this was something new.

Geruk stopped his lecture and with a confident smile invited Dr. Gold to the stage. He waited for a confrontation with Dr. Gold for quite some time now. It's time to put him in his place. If he insisted on doing it right now and before of everybody so be it.

Assumptions on going back in time were Geruk favorite topic. No one else has spent so much time in such an unestablished area. When Gold joined him on stage everyone expected some trouble, but no one has foreseen the coming events. Within ten minutes, Dr. Gold outlined the general structure of his proof: a journey back in time is impossible. The proof itself was of course too long to be shown in ten minutes, but he showed enough to bring down the foundations of Geruk's claims. He showed that the principles that Geruk talked about were, of course, totally incorrect. As the proof progressed Geruk's smile disappeared, his eyes narrowed and he became pale. At the end of the proof his face was the same color as the wall behind him and he was panting. Encouraged by the absolute silence in the room Dr Gold started a full frontal attack: Based on completely different principles he outlined the general idea behind what would be the next scientific revolution: the theoretical possibility of throwing electrons ten seconds ahead in time.

Dr. Gold has finished. The following the lecture already had to begin, but no one dared to talk or get up. Everyone watched Professor Geruk and Dr. Gold, as they both watched each other. Dr. Gold smiled victoriously. Geruk looked like a man that intended to deliver the death blow but found out that he wore no pants and was holding an umbrella instead of sword. His faced changed color completely. He became red - almost shining red. His mouth twisted in a slightly wacky smile. Then he said: "Actually you should be sorry that you can't go back in time. Your wife finally agreed to join you yet you have no idea where she is and what she's doing right now. Maybe time machine could help you ". Now it was Gold's turn to turn white. He was going to giggle or smirk. His mouth opened but no sound came out of it. Angie never cared about what he did, but showed an extraordinary enthusiasm to join him this time. He wanted to have lunch with her. She wanted to tour the city. And he did not want to argue. The personal attack on him completely threw him off-track. In a trembling voice he said: "You were always a fucked up person, but now everybody can see that you're also a fucked up scientist. Within two years I'll develop the first device that will throw objects ahead in time." Still trembling with anger Gold dropped from the stage and went back to his room. The room emptied and Geruk was left alone.

After trying unsuccessfully to get his wife Gold packed his things and left her a note: "Hi Angie. Something came up and I have to go back. I couldn't reach you. To room is let till tomorrow morning, so get some rest and have fun. Call me when you get this message. Your husband, Gold ". He was about to leave the room but couldn't help himself. He came back and added "Dr." next to his name.

A few hours later he was back in his office. He looked absent mindedly at his private library. Books. A lot of books occupied the room. That and a phone, a desk and a computer. He was an expert in theory, but he never planned experiments before. What he was lacking in organization and experience must be compensated with persistence and strong will.

For three straight days he locked himself in a laboratory he "borrowed" from a professor who was on a Sabbatical abroad. To save some time, he slept there in his clothes and hardly had anything to eat. But the first experiment was about to start. A projector cast a circle of red light one meter in diameter on the floor. The red light served both as a security measure and as a dramatic effect. A paper clip lied in middle of the circle. All the clip had to do was to disappear and reappear ten seconds later. Ten seconds between him and an unlimited budget and eternal fame. Maybe even a Nobel Prize too. He paused for a second and pressed the operating button. He was sure that nothing would happen. The likelihood that a complicated machine would work in the first attempt after assembly is quite negligible. He expected the machine to run through one or more of the launching sequence steps and then halt. What actually happened was beyond his wildest dreams. The clip simply disappeared all at once, as if it never existed. Gold counted out loud his lips shaking with excitement and exhaustion:


Copyright © by Neta Priel . All rights reserved unless specified otherwise above.

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