Wednesday, August 12, 2009

A Fable From 2005

“The Wormhole”

Once upon a dimension of perception, there was a boy named Stephen. Stephen was similar to most young children in that he loved to explore. It was on rare occasion that he came in for dinner without scuffed pants and plenty of extra dirt added to his already dirty-blonde hair. What differentiated Stephen, however, was the unique rapidity with which his curiosity evolved into determined fascination. Even as an infant, he was possessed by an obsession with the unknown. At the ripe young age of seven days, Stephen made his first solo journey into uncharted territory. When his parents found him, he was lying on his back underneath the crib, his little legs squirming in a victory dance. Indeed, his young mind grew to embrace the continuous expansion of his surrounding world.

By age nine (years), Stephen had learned all he could understand about math and science, and some he couldn’t. He still wanted more. The world, it seemed, was not big enough for Stephen. So he took to the stars. Stephen began reading everything there was to read about space. In his mind, he was making the obvious jump from physics to astrophysics.

Eventually, astronomical phenomenon became Stephen’s main focus. Black holes, in particular, sparked his interest. Stephen made it his personal duty to read every book ever written on the subject. He discovered that there were different types of black holes. Some were located at the centers of galaxies. These supermassive black holes acted like nuclei or suns, powering their systems. Other black holes were left over from the deaths of massive stars.

The black hole that intrigued Stephen most was the Schwarzchild black hole, one characterized by its nonrotating, collapsed core. Stephen believed that this particular entity acted as wormhole, through which one could enter alternate universes. It was within these regions of dark matter, Stephen decided, that he had found and would find his grand purpose. He would find the gateway to more.

So at the seasoned age of twelve, Stephen traded his muddy sneakers for work boots and his grass stains for oil streaks, and he began building his spaceship. He worked day and night on the spaceship, isolating himself in his garage, leaving the rest of the world behind. Days became years.

Sometimes “by the will of physics,” so he told himself, a young girl from the neighborhood would approach Stephen. She would ask him questions about why exactly he spent so much time locked in a garage. He would reply by asking if she would like to see his spaceship. Usually if this didn’t just scare her away, it would earn Stephen a slap in the face. But that didn’t matter much.

On his twenty-first birthday Stephen wished the world farewell and launched himself into space. He’d set his course for thousands upon thousands of light years away to the Schwarzchild black hole. As decades became millennia, two things kept Stephen alive: blind determination and the advanced stellar-powered computer system wired to his brain and other organs.

By the time a few hundred thousand years had passed, only mind and machine remained. Stephen was consoled thinking of himself as a powerful mechanized druid traveling on a necessary quest for the greatest truth. His many gears and circuits agreed. His spaceship affirmed that the destination grew nearer with each passing light year.

When the event horizon finally became imminent, Stephen’s mind prepared itself for entry. The memory banks erased any and all doubts from their emotional database. There would be no turning back now.

Stephen watched the surrounding light experience extreme shifts from blue to red, and for a second he felt a bit younger. Then, Stephen and his machines entered the event horizon. As he was sucked in beyond the speed of light, Stephen’s robotic hindsight witnessed the end of the universe. Shattered fragments of universal catastrophe reflected themselves in passing instances. Stephen bid his universe a final farewell as he approached the lightless core.

The instant he entered, however, was the instant in which he was completely destroyed. Even the strongest, most rare metals in the universe could not have saved Stephen from the immense pressure of the core. As soon as he began his journey through the wormhole, he was crushed into nothingness.


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