The Sequels to Syrrah's Game SGSequels




CHAPTER 22

 

OCTOBER 7TH, 1426 HOURS (1326 HOURS MOUNTAIN TIME)

 

The words were unruly and couldn’t be contained from launching havoc in Colonel Stevens mind: ‘Ma’am, THREE down, four to go, if you don’t mind me saying.’  He could almost hear them actually being spoken.

Don’t think about the last one. Just don’t.

They walked up to the table. “Tom, sit here.” Colonel Stevens offered Tom the seat normally occupied by Major Ko.

Tom eagerly sat down, while Major Ko and Captain Indalo moved on to the next two seats.

Though wanting to ask Captain Indalo if Tom appeared to be the man in his third image, Colonel Stevens stopped himself; Indalo gave Tom a good once-over and instantly appeared distraught.

This alone gave the answer.

Tom had to be the one.

Colonel Stevens himself gave Tom a quick look. Rushed here, from his classroom in Fargo, in a matter of about an hour and a half, primarily on an underground maglev train he didn’t even know existed, and then led around an underground base with advanced technological features, of course pale disorientation would color Tom’s face. And, as a devout Christian, it could only get worse once he learns telepathic communication and aliens do exist. “Tom. I’m sorry you had to come here so abruptly.”

“It’s all right, Ward.” He gave a slight nod toward the table’s head. “Your General.”

General Tauring was about to sit down. “Well, looks like the third one. Correct, Captain?”

Arising to salute, Colonel Stevens was stopped abruptly by the downward flick of the general’s hand. Of course. Time is of the essence.

“I’m not sure, sir,” Captain Indalo said quietly, obviously lying.

Tom perked up. “A third one?” He looked down on the table, at those papers he had clenched while hurrying into the room.

Colonel Stevens eyed them too. Quickly he realized the papers were a summary of the hull’s behavior, especially deep in mathematics and physics.

“It’s an inside thing, Dr. Maplen,” General Tauring said. “Not to worry.”

Things felt so different right now. Because Tom was here? And it didn’t help that Hakan sat across the table, in Colonel Jennings’ usual seat. She instead sat across from Tom. And Nylander sat across from Major Ko.

Hakan didn’t look much better than earlier – tired, haggard, his assured demeanor reduced considerably.

“So, Dr. Maplen,” General Tauring continued, “have you read the document, describing our ordeal up to this point?”

“My apologies, General. But I haven’t yet.”

“All right, that’s understandable. But keep in mind, we believe time is running out very, very quickly for the afflicted people. So, please, doctor, speed read if you will.”

Though harsh in his tone, the general was absolutely correct.

Tom, yet distraught, and pressured, glanced at Colonel Stevens. Then he focused his sight and energy toward the many-page document. His hands trembled slightly, holding the paper, reading. So sad, so brutal, yanking Tom away from his peaceful college classroom, to here, and now expecting a quick answer to a mountainous dilemma.

But slowly, his hands trembled less. He seized the papers with confidence and flipped through each page with enthusiasm. He stared eagerly. His breathing elevated. A transformation was occurring. “Ward. I can’t believe this.” Tom’s eyes brightened and he seemed ready to break out in a wide smile. “I know exactly what’s going on here. Our conversation. Do you remember?”

Colonel Stevens thought for a moment. “You mean when we last met at Perkins?”

“Yes! And how you told me the c-decay theory couldn’t possibly work, especially with that article based on Planck units.”

“Of course! Heck, Tom. I can’t…I can’t believe I didn’t think of this!”

“All right, you two school girls,” General Tauring said. “Can we share this with the rest of the table?”

Hakan now held his head higher and some color had returned to his face. 

“Sir. I apologize,” Colonel Stevens said. He turned to Tom. “Tell General Tauring, but try to keep it concise.”

Tom nodded eagerly. “Certainly. I understand. As Ward, I mean, Colonel Stevens probably told you, I am a born-again Christian. Some time ago, a few colleagues and I became very hopeful about the changing c theory of creation, also called c-decay theory. It’s a theory that the speed of light, c, was much, much faster at the beginning of the Big Bang, due to the amount of zero point energy, or ZPE. The less ZPE, the faster the speed of light, the more ZPE, the less the speed of light.”

“We already discussed this,” Colonel Jennings said. “Photons interact with virtual electron-positron pairs.”

“Yes, that’s correct, they do,” Tom said, his voice excited. “Which is why c is the same velocity between virtual pairs, but the overall velocity taken from point A to point B is diminished if more ZPE is present.”

“Just like light passing through glass.” Colonel Jennings’ eyes were wide and interested. “More atoms in glass mean the speed of light between atoms is the same, but light must interact with more atoms, slowing down its overall velocity.”

“Yes, exactly.”

“So,” General Tauring said, “what’s the point here?” His words carried impatience.

“Uh, yes, General. I’ll continue. Because there was less ZPE in the beginning, we determined, through our calculations, that a faster c therefore led to faster time. This was beautiful to us, because it could explain how the Earth was only around six to seven thousand years old, similar to what the Bible claims.” He sighed. “But then, various physicists brought forth theories that discredited c-decay theory. Would you like me to expound on these?”

“No, no need to expound. We just need to know what’s happening here, in that document you read through. People’s lives are in the balance, Dr. Maplen.”

 “Oh right then,” Tom said, his face tinged red slightly, his tone more serious. “Although c-decay theory proposed a change in c, a physical constant, it also proposed a change in a few other physical constants. However, it was chiefly a theory proposing a change in light speed. So although the discrediting theory I’m about to explain doesn’t precisely apply to c-decay, it’s pretty darn close.” Tom looked around the table. “Are any of you familiar with the fundamental dimensionless physical constants?”

 “I am,” General Tauring said. “Colonel Jennings, your team? Colonel Stevens, yours?”

“Absolutely, sir,” she replied.

 “Yes, sir,” Colonel Stevens said, after glancing at Hakan; Hakan not only appeared haggard again, but confused. “Although, a refresher would be nice right now.”

“I will get to that,” Tom said. “And General, are all of you familiar with systems of measurement based upon physical constants?”

Irritation showed on the general’s face. “Look. Dr. Maplen. Simply describe this theory, and if anything is unfamiliar, I’ll stop you and ask.”

“Okay. My apologies.” He took in a deep breath. He looked down, and was quiet a short moment, probably grasping at his professor instincts to present complex information in a concise, understandable manner. “A common system of measurements based on natural physical constants is Planck units. Planck units are based upon c, the gravitational constant G, the reduced Planck’s constant h-bar, the Coulomb constant, and Boltzmann’s constant. The derivation of Planck units gives--”

“I remember the math from college,” General Tauring said, abruptly cutting him off. “And they can all be expressed as unity. It actually wasn’t that difficult, deriving the base units of Planck length, mass, time, charge and temperature.”

“W-w-well yes,” Tom stuttered.

Didn’t General Tauring realize Tom was completely out of sorts here? He needed to ease up on the overbearing behavior. And the general obviously was no longer humbled much by the hull.

“That’s…that is true,” Tom continued. “For instance, a Planck length is the square root of h-bar times G over c cubed. And the other units are similar.”

“Yes, I remember,” General Tauring said. “But please try to get to the main point promptly.”

“Y-y-yes. Of course. You see, the speed of light, though a physical constant, is a dimensional constant, not dimensionless. In other words, c depends on distance per time.”

“Meters per second,” Colonel Jennings said suddenly, her gaze as in a trance, watching Tom closely, obviously mesmerized by his words.

“Yes, absolutely. One of the theories proposed…that, well, helped to destroy c-decay theory, though doesn’t apply definitively, claims that if all fundamental dimensionless physical constants, and ratios, such as the proton to electron mass ratio, remained unchanged, but some dimensional constant, or rather dimension-dependent constant, such as c, did change, we would never know the difference.”

“So, how does that apply here?” General Tauring asked. “We ARE seeing a difference when the speed of light changes in the hull.”

“I know…I, um, I’m not s-s-sure why.”

Maybe Tom wasn’t just uncomfortable because of General Tauring - maybe it was the weird, otherworldly scenario of the hull itself that disturbed him.

“I just know,” Tom continued, “that the mathematical calculations you provide are in line with this theory, with a changing light speed. For instance, if c were cut in half, while all the twenty-six fundamental physical constants, and ratios, remained unchanged, then the new Planck length would have a factor value of square root of eight, or about 2.83. Therefore, one of our meters would now be 2.83 meters long.”

“What would the new second be?” General Tauring asked.

Tom thought a moment. “It would be slower, by a factor of the square root of thirty-two, which basically means our second would take longer to occur.”

“General, hold on a minute,” Hakan said, his deep voice a sudden, surprising disruption in the room. He still looked haggard and worn-out, but was obviously curious. “I would think changing the speed of light would be a huge change. And the way you two are talking, it is.”

“Oh, you’re right, it is a huge change,” Tom said “…that is, only to an outside, supernatural God-like observer. To those of us living within the changing speed of light universe, we couldn’t notice a thing, since again, c is a dimensional constant and depends on other dimensions, and units are arbitrary. If all other physical constants stay the same, we would never know it! See, since all other Planck units, like mass, charge, density, etc. would change too, then light would still pass by us at 3 x 10^8 meters per second, since our meters would be longer, our second would be slower. So even though light speed decreased by one half, all else would balance it out. We could not tell the difference!”

“That still doesn’t make sense to me,” Hakan said. “How would changing the speed of light cause a change in the meter length, time length, and mass weight?”

“Because if you look at the Planck units for length, time, and mass, they all involve c in their derivation. And also you have to keep in mind that G, h-bar, and c are relegated to the number one. So, for instance, when the Planck length, which is the square root of h-bar times G divided by c cubed, has c replaced with one half instead of one, with G and h-bar still one, then the Planck length is the square root of eight. Again, Planck units are based on physical constants, so this is basically the measuring system of the universe, and we--”

“That’s quite enough,” General Tauring said. “Dr. Hakan, you don’t have the math or physics background to fully understand this, trust me.”

“Very well then.” Hakan gave a nod, though some disgust crumpled his face. “I’ll just accept it as is.”

 “My apologies, General,” Tom said. “I should have asked first. I assumed all present here would have this basic knowledge.” Tom stared curiously at Hakan. “Why would this gentleman be--”

“Our time constraint, Dr. Maplen.” General Tauring looked down at his papers. “In the document I provided for you, I purposely omitted the calculations for the last decrease event. I want you to use your theory to prove it works.”

Colonel Jennings lifted her hand. “Sir, if I may.”

“Yes, Colonel, but keep it brief.”

She looked at Tom. “Dr. Maplen, I just want to be certain about this. The twenty-six dimensionless fundamental physical constants are the masses of the six leptons, six quarks, the Higgs boson, the masses of the W and Z bosons, and then those constants, like the fine structure constant, strong coupling constant, and the cosmological constant in Einstein’s equation for general relativity. Right so far?”

“Well, yes. The last eight are constants too - the four parameters of the CKM matrix and the four parameters of the Maki-Nakagawa-Sakata matrix.”

“Refresh my memory, Dr. Maplen,” General Tauring said. “Those matrices are used for what?”

“Uh, well, the CKM matrix is used to show how quarks oscillate between different types of quarks and the Maki-Nakagawa-Sakata matrix is used to show how neutrinos oscillate between different types of neutrinos.”

“Wouldn’t the weak coupling constant be included too?” Colonel Jennings asked, her knowledge impressive. “Or is it determined from the others you listed?”

“It’s determined from the others.”

“And, the dimensionless part and ratios,” she continued, “dimensionless in that these constants are just numbers, numbers due to division by the Planck units. In other words, if the mass of an electron is divided by the Planck mass, the electron mass becomes dimensionless. And ratios must be maintained, such as the ratio of the electron mass to the proton mass.”

Tom nodded quickly. “Yes, of course. You have that right.”

General Tauring sighed, slumped back in his seat and folded his arms across his chest.

She looked at him. “Sir, if I may. I know I’m asking a lot of questions, but I want to fully understand this.”

He didn’t say anything, only forming a crooked smirk and flipping his hand outward for her to continue.

“Thank you, sir.” She stared at Tom. “You say this theory works if these twenty-six constants are held steady, constant. But the fine structure constant, rather the electromagnetic coupling constant, depends on light speed, so if light speed changed, then…”

“No, I wouldn’t say it depends on the speed of light. I would say the fine structure constant is measured experimentally. It’s just that the fine structure constant can be expressed in terms of other fundamental physical constants.”

“But so are the Planck units. They all incorporate light speed, c, and likewise are altered when c changes.”

“Yes, but Planck units are based upon dimensional constants. The fine structure constant is dimensionless.”

“I don’t know,” she said, shaking her head a little. “Seems to me that you’re opening up a whole new can of trouble by altering one of the constants used to derive the other Planck constants. Some sort of chain reaction would occur, upsetting balances of constants everywhere. There has to be more to this. I can’t buy it.”

“Can’t say I buy it completely too.” General Tauring leaned forward to the table. “But, doesn’t matter. Enough discussion. I want to see if it works. Dr. Maplen, if the speed of light was multiplied by approximately four thirds of what it is now, give me the new length, mass, and time factors.”

Passing a pencil to Tom, Colonel Stevens regrettably saw worry in Tom’s gaze. He gave Tom a brief smile in the hopes to relieve some of his angst.

Tom flipped the papers over, to a blank page, and went to work, scribbling out the calculations. “Defining G and h-bar to unity, that is, to be one, and defining c as multiplied by four thirds, the new length factor is approximately 0.6495, the new mass factor 1.1765, and the new time factor is 0.4871.”

General Tauring nodded very slightly. “All right. Let’s take Lang’s original height, in inches. He was originally seventy-two inches tall. Give me his new height, Dr. Maplen."

Tom penciled out the calculations. “He would be approximately 46.764 inches tall now.”

Unbelievable! Tom was right on target!

“Bingo, Dr. Maplen. Now give me the new mass. Lang’s original weight was a hundred and ninety pounds.”

“Oh my God,” Colonel Jennings said, staring at her report. “That is the same height.” Nylander, obviously hoping to sneak a move, nudged himself closer to her to see the report too.

Confusion contorted Tom’s brow and eyes. “Wait a minute. You’re actually seeing this man, Lang…his…his size decreasing, because the speed of light is changing where he--”

“It’s all in the report, Dr. Maplen,” General Tauring said abruptly. “I’ll give you more details in a moment. The new mass, please.”

Tom stared down at the paper. He didn’t use his pencil. “Approximately two hundred and twenty-three pounds.”

General Tauring slammed his fist on the table. “Bingo again, Dr. Maplen!”

Many at the table did a startled shake from the fist-slam, especially Tom.

“And I don’t need to have you tell me the new calculation on the second,” General Tauring said. “You found it to be about 0.49, approximately half a second.” He stared directly at Colonel Stevens. “That’s why Lang now has two seconds of his time pass by one of ours.”

“Yes sir, that’s right.”

“You win the prize, Dr. Maplen,” General Tauring told Tom.

A quick scan around the table revealed eyes filled with awe, shock or disbelief.

“Now we just need you to tell us how to reverse the process.” General Tauring folded his arms across his chest. “Zero point energy, is that the key?”

Tom began breathing heavier. He shook his head and stared at the general. “What? What are you…talking about?’

Was Tom panicking?

“You did glance over the report. I saw you do it.” General Tauring placed his forearms on the table and gave Tom a direct stare. “Why do you think I told you to hurry, that people’s lives were on the line?”

“I thought…I thought maybe this was some hypothetical, theoretical thought experiment, for a near future event that could occur. You actually have people, you’re all viewing, that are experiencing a changing light speed?”

“Dr. Maplen, I believe the severity and reality of our problem is just hitting you. Forgive me for being blunt to your Christian religion, but with a massive YES, aliens DO exist. And what you are reading, and what you will soon observe, are some very unfortunate people caught up in some aliens’ idea of either a practical joke or a massive, detailed experiment. Now, again, will adding more ZPE to their realm reverse the entire process?”

“I…I might be a dopey, blind-faith Christian to you, but I’m no fool. I’m a professor, remember. And aliens live in this universe. But what you’re talking about could not possibly be from aliens. You’re viewing people caught up in another universe! Did you hear anything I said?”

This was getting out of hand. Colonel Stevens touched Tom’s shoulder. “Tom, please, settle down.”

Tom’s eyes held confusion, betrayal. “Ward. How could you…you never told me you worked in such a place. Aliens?”

“I’m sorry, but it was classified information.”

General Tauring sat up straight in his seat. He crossed his arms once more and stared with intensity at Tom. “I’ll ask again. Will adding more ZPE to their realm reverse the changing light speed?”

Unexpectedly, Tom stood up and slammed his palms on the table. He leaned closer and glared at General Tauring. “Did you hear what I said earlier? Only a God-like observer could be a witness to any of this!”

The general shot up out of his seat, arms yet crossed, his tall presence threatening. He glared back. “Dr. Maplen. This is a United States government compound run by the US Air Force. I would advise you to control yourself. Now.”

“Tom. Please. This is not like you.” Colonel Stevens stood up and placed his hand on Tom’s shoulder again. “We are desperate to help these people. If they are existing in some other universe, if that is the case, how do we get them out? Please, help us…to help them.”

Fear and agitation brewed in Tom’s glare and his rigid body. But slowly he relaxed his arms. He inhaled deeply and stared down, and then he looked up, his eyes calmer, at General Tauring. “The only means I know to decrease ZPE is the Casimir effect. But you could not ever access their realm, because…” He slowly slumped down to his seat. Colonel Stevens did the same. “Because if this is all truly happening, they’re not in our universe.”

General Tauring kept his stern posture and arms crossed, head tilted back, and sat down too.

“Sir, if I may,” Colonel Jennings said.

“Yes, Colonel.”

“Dr. Maplen, the possibility exists that the people in the changing light speed realm are not even real anymore. All of what we are sensing could simply be some form of generated holographic images.”

“You better hope that’s what’s happening. Because, in my opinion…only God could be causing this effect.” Tom looked at the general again. “Only God.”