Tuesday, 13 September 2016

Dawn of a new era

Ritwick Sinha
I was waiting at the Los Angeles H-Station for the transport pods of the Hyperloop to arrive. They were arriving within five minutes. 

After five minutes…

So, the pods have finally arrived. I got into the SF6 pod. It was to leave ten minutes later. To kill time, I started playing League of Stars on my virtual gaming iconsole. 

After ten minutes…

An announcement was made that the pods were leaving in ten seconds. I put my gaming iconsole inside my suitpad. Soon, I was experiencing near to zero gravity as the pods started travelling. Since it would take 35 minutes to reach San Francisco, I decided to take a nap.

After 35 minutes…
I woke up and yawned and realised that I was in San Francisco. The other passengers had disembarked. I quickly took my suitpad and got out. I booked a taxi pod and set off for the Universal Institute of Technology and Space Research (UITSR). I showed my I-card at the entrance of the towering institute and went in. I had been called by the Managing Director of the institute. I just didn’t know why he had called me. He told me it was something important. So, I went into his cabin. He greeted and asked me to sit down. He questioned me, “Do you know why I have called you here?” “No, Sir,” I replied promptly. He continued, “Let me tell you all about it. We’ve been working on a model of the warp drive, a faster-than-light (FTL) spacecraft propulsion system, supposed to be a means of travelling to outer space at fantasy speeds greater than that of light by many orders of magnitude. We’ve not publicised our experiment so that the reputation of this institute doesn’t go down if this mega-experiment fails. At present, our team of engineers have successfully completed the making of the spacecraft but they have not been able to figure out how to make the warp bubble, which would be the basis of its travel. I know that you are more than capable of helping our engineers with this. So, what do you say?”

I was speechless. I had never thought that the warp drive experiment would be carried out so early in the 22nd century. Achieving the goal of successfully making this warp drive would be a dream come true. As I was thinking of the warp drive, the MD interrupted, “What are you thinking, Mr. RS? Accept the proposal.” I thought for a moment, then replied with some hesitation, “Okay. But I can’t assure that the experiment would be a success.”
“It’s alright. At least you can help us.”
“Yes.”
“Let me take you to the 51st floor, where our engineers are presently working on the model,” said the MD. We entered the huge cubicle where the experiment was being carried out. The MD addressed the team of engineers, “Let me introduce all of you to Mr. RS, the engineering director of the Los Angeles Institute of Technology (LAIT). He’s going to help you with your work.” Then he addressed me, “Mr. RS, this is my team of engineers. This is Ronny, Michael, Thiago, David, Jamie, Ryan, Pierre, John, Charles, and he’s Chris.” “Hello, everyone!” I greeted them. 

“Hi!” they greeted me in chorus. “Ryan is the leader of the team,” the MD said. I shook hands with Ryan. The MD spoke once again, “So, Mr. RS, you can start your work from tomorrow? There is an empty room in this floor. You can stay there, free of cost.” “Thank you so much, Sir,” I replied. He showed me to the room, then left. I went inside the room, locked the door and was shocked to see that the digi-clock had struck 22:00. I didn’t realise that so much time had passed. I quickly kept my suitpad on the table, had a bath, changed my clothes, had dinner and went to sleep.

Next morning… I woke up and yawned and realised that the digi-clock had struck 08:30. I had to start my work at 9:00. My automated-brushing-device brushed my teeth. I hurriedly took a bath and had my breakfast. The digi-clock had struck 09:10. It was already late. I quickly took my r-pad (research-pad) and shot off to the research cubicle. The team was waiting for my arrival. I addressed them as I entered the cubicle, “I’m sorry for being late!”
“It’s okay,” replied Ryan.
I started my research on my r-pad. Ryan spoke to me, “Sir, we’ve not been able to create the warp bubble which is our topmost challenge. Without it, this spacecraft would be of no use.” “I know, Ryan. Your MD told me. I’m thinking about this only.” As we got busy with our work, the alarm bell started ringing with a voice announcing, “Warning! Warning! Three unidentified creatures have suddenly appeared at the 51st floor of the building! Please be careful.” This warning halted our experiment. “Are they aliens?” I asked Ryan. “I don’t know,” he replied. Then he addressed all of us, “Guys, let’s move on to the safety compartment. Sir, come along with us.” He led us. We all followed. As we stepped out of the research cubicle, we were astonished to see three extraterrestrials hovering in front of us. Their facial expressions showed that they were terrified after seeing the eleven of us. They said something among themselves, which none of us understood. At that moment, five robocops came to attack them. Ryan stopped them from shooting the aliens. Then he tried to communicate with the ETs. But language was the biggest barrier between them and us. Then, one of the ETs took out something (a gadget?) from his glowing pouch, pressed a button on that gadget and we were taken aback as he started speaking in English, “Please don’t attack us. We have come from planet Z3 of the Alpha-ray Galaxy… I am Mazzid, he’s Pozzid, and he’s Lazzid… We received ultraradio signals from your institute and we observed on our crystal i-ball that you all are trying to build a warp drive but not being able to create the warp bubble.” There was a pause. Then he asked his fellow companions to switch on the language changing buttons (as I called it) of their respective gadgets. They did so. Then, he spoke to us, “I think we can help you with your experiment. We have carried out a similar experiment on our planet but we don’t call it a warp drive. Instead, we have termed it as Dizwazz, which is quite parallel to a warp drive. So, will you take us in your team?” Ryan replied, “We’ll ask the MD. If he agrees, only then we will take you in our team.” We all proceeded to the MD’s cabin along with the ETs.

The MD was flabbergasted on seeing the ETs and he fainted. Ryan sprinkled some water on his face and he came back to consciousness. He asked Ryan timidly, “Who are these… three creatures?” “They are aliens, Sir.” “What? But how did they come here?” “Sir, they belong to Planet Z3. They received ultra-radio signals from our institute and observed on their crystal i-ball that we are trying to build a warp drive but are not being able to create the warp bubble. So, they’ve come here to help us with our experiment. Please grant me permission to include them in our team,” Ryan pleaded. Then the MD asked me, “What do you say, Mr. RS?” “I have no problem. The decision is all yours,” I replied. The MD thought for a while. Then he spoke, “Well, Ryan, if you think that they’re trustworthy and can really help your team, then I have no problem in granting you permission.” Ryan thanked the MD. Then he spoke to the ETs, “So, my friends, you are the new members of our research team.” “Thank you, Ryan and MD,” the ETs said in chorus. The MD nervously replied, “Yes, yes, it’s my pleasure.” We all chuckled at his reply. Then we moved towards the research cubicle to continue with our work.

We introduced ourselves to the aliens. Then the aliens began their work. In the meantime, I obtained some information from my r-pad about negative energy, very useful to warp space, as it provides the anti-gravity force to push the spacecraft around. I showed this information to the ETs. Mazzid said to me, “Thank you, RS. You reminded me of negative energy. I had totally forgotten about it. Give me this information. I’ll check it out.” He took the r-pad from me, thought for a while, then exclaimed, “Yes! Friends, I’ve found out the secret of the warp bubble.” “What? But how? We’ve pored over so much information. Even then we were not able to get any idea,” Ryan spoke with surprise. Mazzid said, “Calm down, Ryan. Let me explain it to you. Actually, your planet does not have a particular kind of negative energy, without which you can make an ordinary bubble, but a warp bubble needs that kind of negative energy not only to maintain the balance of the spacecraft inside it, but also to help the spacecraft remain virtually stationary in its own little patch of space time inside the warp bubble. This negative energy is important for another very important reason, as it would make space-time expand strongly behind the spacecraft, while ordinary energy would create a powerfully contracting area of space in front of the spacecraft, thus, enabling the warp drive to travel faster than the speed of light.” Ryan responded to Mazzid’s explanation, “Okay, I understand. So now, what do we do?” Mazzid replied, “Pozzid and I will bring the required negative energy from Z3. Lazzid will stay here.” Saying this, the two ETs disappeared. We were stunned at their sudden disappearance. I asked Lazzid, “How do you disappear and reappear?” He replied, “Through teleportation.” 

“Teleportation? The name sounds familiar,” I said. Ryan burst out, “Quantum teleportation, the theory provided by Einstein and Bohr. Isn’t it, Lazzid?” Lazzid said, “Yes, something like that.” “My goodness! So you have developed teleportation too, thought as impossible by humans,” I exclaimed. At that moment, Mazzid and Pozzid reappeared with air-tight containers full of negative energy. They handed these containers to Ryan, and Mazzid explained to all of us how to use them to create the warp bubble and complete the warp drive. Then he addressed us, “Friends, we had a nice time with you all. Our near and dear ones are waiting for us. We have to leave now.” Ryan then said, “But friends, we don’t know where exactly your planet is located. Please tell us, so that we humans may visit you someday and help you if needed.” Mazzid spoke to Ryan, showing a card, “This is a digi-card. It may look small but it contains all the information about our planet and about us. Keep this card with you.” He handed over the card to Ryan. Then all of them bade us adieu and disappeared.

I noticed the time on my smartwatch. It was already 7:00 p.m. I didn’t even realise that so much time had passed by. But we still had five hours in which to complete our experiment, as the research cubicle closed only at midnight. I told Ryan to continue with the work. We all got engaged in our work, concentrating more than ever before.

At 10:00 p.m., we heaved a sigh of relief as the gigantic warp bubble was finally fabricated. Ryan pressed a button on the research-cubicle-mega-screen (rcm screen) which prompted a robot to place the huge spacecraft inside the bubble. Jamie, the youngest member of the team immediately called the MD to have a look at the warp drive. The MD was amazed as he saw the mighty warp drive lying on a platform in front of his eyes. He congratulated our team and didn’t forget to ask about the ETs. Ryan told him that the ETs had left. After that, we all left for our respective rooms and eagerly waited for the next day to arrive – so that we could test the warp drive. I couldn’t sleep properly out of excitement.

Next morning…

I woke up early and proceeded to the research cubicle. The MD and all the others were waiting for me. Ryan initiated the transfer process of the warp drive to the Launchpad by pressing a button on the rcm screen, after which two enormous flying robots transferred the warp drive to the institute’s rocket Launchpad. We were to send the warp drive with two humanoid robots for a short journey to Mars. The humanoid robots pressed the launch button on the warp drive’s dashboard and the warp drive was not to be seen. It had shot off so fast that it was not possible for us to see it directly, though we were tracking it on a computer. To our amazement, the warp drive successfully landed on Mars in a mere 150 seconds. We had found out through our calculation that even light rays took 182 seconds to reach Mars from the Earth. The MD pumped his fist in excitement. Tears rolled down Ryan’s eyes as he saw his hard work yield success. The other nine members of our team did a few dance steps. I felt happy, too, as I had the privilege of making a small contribution towards this incredible experiment. This splendid experiment, thus, started a new era of space travel and human communication with the extra-terrestrials.

(ritwicksinha01@gmail.com)

This FICTION was published in The Assam Tribune, Sunday Reading Supplement on 31st July, 2016 and 7th August, 2016.
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