by Bill Suboski “Angela, I think we should wait. There’s no rush. You’re being hasty.” Dr. Angela Tremino snapped at her assistant, “Wait for what? We have checked and re-checked everything. What are we waiting for, Rick?” “We might have missed something, Ange. More experiments. More research. More math…” And he realized he had said the wrong thing. Dr. Tremino was a brilliant theoretical physicist—with insights to match those of Bohr or Einstein—but mathematics was her Achilles heel. But surprisingly, her shoulders slumped, and she said, “Okay, Rick, have it your way…” The time dilation field was her greatest theory. Imagine if we could dance with time, slow or speed it to suit us? We could ride to the stars in subjective minutes. A man dying of a heart ailment could ride to the future in slow time to when the cure for his ailment was commonplace. She had pushed for this first human test. She would set the field for a slowing factor of one hundred. She would count to three, then inactivate it. For her it would be a few seconds, but in the external world five minutes would pass. She would see the minute hand on the wall clock jump forward by a twelfth of a circle. And Rick would spend five minutes staring at the black sphere of the changed time field. She had agreed to postpone the test. But as Rick turned away, he heard the crackle of ozone and saw the wall in front of him light with the unleashed energies of the time field. You lied, he thought, and then he sat down to wait. Three hours later, the day was drawing to a close, and graduate student Rick Forster alerted the university officials. The next day those officials contacted the local police, who filled out an official report and left. Three days later, scientists from around the world began arriving. Two weeks later, a preliminary report suggested that Dr. Tremino had misunderstood the shape of the changed time function. She had believed it to be a linear function, and it was in the low digits. But somewhere around a dilation factor of sixty, it became a steep exponential function. It was expected that Dr. Tremino would finish her countdown and turn off the field in just over twenty-eight thousand years.
“This next exhibit dates from three hundred years ago. On the right you see the black sphere in which Dr. Tremino remains frozen in time. To the left of it is the strange quark image of Dr. Tremino. This imaging technology is very new, just a few decades old. It uses a sort of quantum tunneling technique to create an image of Dr. Tremino as she currently appears. “She is thirty-seven years old. She will be thirty-seven years old in twenty-eight thousand years. Our museum holds this exhibit in trust, providing a shelter for it, for as long as we are here. This exhibit represents many things to us: The hubris of science, the folly of arrogance, the tragedy of trust. “There are different schools of thought around the question, has Tremino’s arm moved a millimeter? Just two such schools are locked in pitched debate. The Observationalists claim it is obvious it has and offer images. The Calculationists present mathematics to demonstrate that it will be at least several hundred years before enough time has passed. Both arguments are compelling. And there are many other schools of thought. “Notice the smaller exhibit in front of these two. I’m sorry, we can’t approach any closer. The smaller exhibit is a diamond ring, what was then known as an engagement ring. It was donated at the same time as the primary exhibit, by Rick Forster, himself a theoretical physicist, and a graduate assistant of Tremino’s. He had secretly loved her and hoped to propose what was called marriage to her, just as she had hoped to win the now defunct Nobel Prize. Mr. Forster spent the rest of his career and life trying to disrupt the field. He was not successful. Of course, he and Tremino did not marry, and she did not win the Nobel. “The official name of this exhibit is ‘Woman Frozen in Time’ though the colloquial name, ‘Brilliant Theory, Bad Math,’ was popularized by many news outlets. Who knows what will happen in tens of thousands of years, what the world will be, what wonders or horrors will await when she presses the button to inactivate the field and steps forth. Again—this is most definitely not named ‘Brilliant Theory, Bad Math.’ “Now, this next exhibit…”
Bill is an aspiring fiction writer with a background in computer programming. He is still trying to decide what he wants to be when he grows up. Born in Indiana, Bill is a transplanted Hoosier living as a Buckeye by way of Canada and the Netherlands. Contact Bill at WSuboski@yahoo.com.