Mostrando las entradas con la etiqueta scientist. Mostrar todas las entradas
Mostrando las entradas con la etiqueta scientist. Mostrar todas las entradas

jueves, 25 de febrero de 2016

Jovian loop

   It was a completely closed room. It had no windows, only one door and no visible openings for heating or air conditioning. However, the temperature in the room was very nice and the two women and three men inside were chatting just as if they were out in the park with the sun above their heads. There was a large table shaped like a U on one side of the table and in the other there was just the empty space where they were talking to each other. Next to the table there was a wall covered in TV screens that looked more like very black glasses. The room fell silent the moment the door opened and a woman, accompanied by a gentleman in a military suit, entered the room talking. The only word heard was “people”.

 The two stopped talking when they saw the rest of the people and just went on to the table. Each seat was occupied and the small woman that had entered last had the central seat, facing the screens. No one said a word for some minutes. They glanced at some sheets of paper in front of them and just gave each other strange looks. The woman looked at her hands, also waiting. Finally, the screens turned on and formed one big image in high resolution. Everyone was even more silent then, if that was possible. They appeared to have no ability to breath or be relaxed. They couldn’t believe their eyes.

-       This is the only image taken by the Hercules probe as it descended through the clouds of Jupiter only two days ago. The image was beamed to an orbiter before the probe was crushed by atmospheric pressure.

 The small woman read this from one of the papers and when she was done she looked at the image, apparently trying to figure out what she was seeing.  Noticing no one said a word, she told them to state their view on the matter, starting by one end of the table. When they were all done exposing their theories, she wasn’t any more relaxed than before. She looked at the screen again; her hands in the position of prayer, and talked as calmly as she could, her voice trembling a bit.

-       Life, then?

 The group around her, nodded. They seemed terrified but not of her. Each one of those scientists had gone through the picture once and twice and even thirty times, checking every single variable and making copies of different sizes and colors and formats and the conclusion was always the same. As the probe descended through the clouds, it had taken a picture of things that were clearly alive. It was hard to describe the creatures but the movement was obvious and the camera on the probe was state-of-the-art, the best one ever on a machine sent to space. Many had thought it wasn’t worth it to put that camera in a probe that was going to be destroyed.

 The woman told them that, as the president, she was entitled to accept or dismiss their theories. So, again, one by one, she asked them to explain why the image depicted living beings. Why those couldn’t be just clouds or errors or whatever else. There was a scientist, a woman, who stood up and said in squeaky voice that the image was not the only thing they had gotten from the probe. A couple of the others looked at her surprised, clearly they had no idea about this new information. The president looked tired and asked the scientist to show them the information she had.

 The scientist went to the wall, were a small keyboard appeared and introduced a code no one else knew. Then, the screen changed in order to show a very small video on a loop. It was only six seconds long and the quality was not as good as the picture’s but it was clearly visible that those things in the image were moving. There was no sound but everyone seeing the footage supposed it would have been a very noisy environment. There was something like a flash at the end of the video, possibly a thunder.

-       Could any of you describe… the creatures?

 Another scientist, a bald man, said he was a biologist and had concluded that the creatures appeared to float in the upper atmosphere. They seemed to control their elevation perfectly and had a look between a cloud and an elephant. The comparison was very strange but they could all agree with the man, who sat down very fast after concluding his theory. The video kept repeating itself on the screen and the president just looked at it, as if trying to decipher some other meaning behind it.

 The aide she had come with, an older gentlemen in a military uniform, stood up and asked the rest of the people if the creatures were hostile. Surprisingly, it was madam president who told him that was the stupidest question she had heard recently. He told him it was impossible that those creatures could be any threat. The implication of their existence went much farther than just aggression. It made a change in our collective minds, our societies and civilizations. There was life on another planet and they had the proof right there.

 The man sat down, embarrassed, and the woman inhaled some air and just pulled back into her chair, thinking about many things, some of which they hadn’t even been talking about. After all, she had a daughter and was thinking of how weird it would be to explain all of that to her. She was a smart young woman but was curious to see if a young person would be as shocked as she was. To her the revelation had been too much to handle, so much she didn’t really know what was the next step.

 Apparently everyone was thinking the same thing because one of the scientists asked exactly what they were going to do with this information. Would they keep on studying the data or would they just released the video to the public and let them decide what it was? The president had no answer to that and her military aide was not going to say one more word on the matter. Silence again and the video in a loop. The creatures moving up and down, through the clouds. They had lights or something on them and had a strange color. The president wondered how it would feel to fall through the Jovian atmosphere.

 Her mind went back to the room when the video disappeared from the screen, instead being replaced by a white flag, whit a skull in the center, flanked in the back by two crossed swords. It was a pirate flag. Everyone in the room looked at each other, is if they were looking for someone to jump from their seat and excuse themselves for the mishap or the joke or whatever that was. But no one moved. Worst even, someone let out a gasp and said almost in a scream: “The Pirates!” The statement was a little obvious at first but then, slowly; the y understood what he had meant.

 The president said a course word and asked the military counselor for her phone but he reminded her that no phones worked in that room. He then yelled at him, ordering him to run out and tell the security forces to confront a cyber attack.  But it was too late. The famous Pirates, a band of virtual brigands that dedicated to looting governments and stealing their most precious belonging, had already done their deed. The Pirates were famous because of their logo with the white flag instead of a black one and their tendency to never ask for money. They said people paid them, with their honesty and enthusiasm.

 The flag on the screen disappeared and then they were looking at a webpage, more precisely it was someone going to YouTube. One of the videos the site recommended, as it was knew, was the one they had just seen. It played in a loop again and the comment and number of viewings rose in only fifteen minutes, time it took for madam president’s aide to go out and make all sorts of calls that wouldn’t make one ounce of a difference. The information was public and they could not make unseen what had been seen millions of times.

 The president couldn’t move, couldn’t keep her eyes apart. The man she had come in with tried to help her up but she just wouldn’t budge. She saw the creatures going up and down, and up and down. And she realized that the world had just changed. Her daughter would now next time she saw her. She cried a single tear, cleaned it and marched out of the room.

jueves, 3 de diciembre de 2015


   Devastation. That’s the only word she could think about. Tally Green had been taught, throughout her life, that science was inherently good in its intentions and only very devious men, often on the side of the scientific path, would used it for dark purposes. But now, seeing what she had helped create, Tally was not very sure of that any more.

 She saw herself as a good person. She always helped various organizations during Christmas time, she gave money to non-profit groups that helped women and children around the world and she had never been particularly nasty against anyone. She didn’t liked violence, to the degree of never having seen a real fight between two people. Tally thought herself innocent even, of some of the things that human life had to offer.

 But that was the past. Wearing her light gray uniform, checking every camera in the field to check if what she was looking at was real, Tally realized her so-called innocent days were over.

 Applause came from her side, from the politicians and high-ranking military people that had attended the demonstration. They were all please and she could see in their faces that they were not innocent. Actually, it was rather easy to see they loved everything that had to do with destruction, with war and the capacity that someone had to destroy every single thread of decency left in this universe.

 The machine was identified as XLIU897 but the team that had created it called it The Fireman. It was a term of endearment for a weapon able to destroy entire acres of vegetation. It had been created so it would destroy all organic life but leave all the rest intact. They said it would come in handy if an army needed to liberate a city or if some townspeople needed to begin again with their crops. The weapon would destroy it all and then new crops could be put in place, as life could grow again on site.

 That was actually the only thing those men in ties didn’t like about the Fireman. They said they didn’t see the use of a weapon that destroyed and then left the land untouched. It was clear that the military uses for the weapon were a priority and that no government would really let farmers use it in their lands. All they wanted to do was to create hell on Earth and they had already done so.

 Just minutes ago, when everything disappeared under a red light and a hot wind, those awful men were smiling and apparently felt exceedingly happy with themselves. They were awful people, Tally knew that, but she felt she was an even worst person because she had helped create what those men were enjoying and were going to use to destroy.

 When she went back home that night, she was not only exhausted but the weight on her back felt much heavier than usual. Tally thought of the various books she had read about science and instantly remembered of Oppenheimer and all the other men and women involved in the creation of the first atom bomb. She thought that they were even guiltier than she was because an atom bomb had no possibility of being used as any other thing than as a weapon. The Fireman, on the other hand, had real possibilities as a helper to regenerate the land on places were it was needed. Tally had always wanted to help people and thought she was going to do it with that creation.

 But now, opening a can of beer in the kitchen and taking a sip, she realized she couldn’t just let things be. She left the can alone on the counter and grabbed her phone. Without thinking much about it, she called a friend that worked for the ethics committed of the department of defense. Tally told him about her case (she knew he was aware of the weapon) and asked him if was possible to stop the use of such a weapon in the world. After all, it had been created in an independent laboratory.

 The answer was somewhat disappointed, as he told her that if the army decided to acquire the weapon, the government would just block everyone trying to talk or know more about the subject. He said that they could even make her loose her job, just to make her look desperate and use her in public as a case of anti-patriotism.

 When Tally hung up, she had another idea in her mind. She knew her friend was honest and that the army was practically taking over the project. As she walked out of the laboratory, she saw some more military men arriving. That wasn’t normal and it was very likely the department of defense was already enabling the purchase of the weapon, even if the army wanted it to be changed and target also the ground itself.

 In her bedroom, Tally put some clothes on a backpack and also some food. She carried that to her car and drove back to work. As she was one of the main people on the project, she had every key possible. She entered the building, smiling to the security man and hoping she wouldn’t find any military men inside. But there were none. So she entered her lab and almost ran to the main computers. The idea was simple: to erase everything and make it disappear or simply take some vital piece on a portable device and just vanish with it.

 But she was too late. There was nothing on the computers. It had already been taken and people hired by the government were already monitoring the project. She had acted too slowly against them and the world would pay.

 Tally found a job in a pharmaceutical company, not a big one like those in movies but a smaller company that produced cheaper versions of very expensive drugs used to treat HIV and many virus related diseases. The company was controversial because it gave a chance to people suffering the AIDS pandemic to survive and live a happy and healthy life. She loved it there and loved to see reporters and protesters every morning. That way she knew she was finally doing some good in the world.

 She was not really involved in the creation of the drugs but rather on something even more interesting: the development of an effective cure. And they felt they were closer and closer and she felt proud of herself everyday because of that.

 That was until it happened. Half of the whole woke up to the news, the other half saw it begin live. Something was happening in Eastern Europe, some kind of wave was burning every single piece of land, meter by meter. People could see how everything died, slowly. Some ran away from the wave, others stayed and were burned alive by the invisible wall that advanced toward the east. Entire countries were burned alive and survivors were very scattered and not many.

 Then, out of nowhere, a huge army appeared and started invading the devastated lands. It was the first time in History that Moscow fell into foreign hands, half of its population killed slowly by burning. The men that had taken the city proclaimed the end of the failed Russia and announced the annexation of the country to their own new empire.

 All work at her company was stopped that day. Outside, there were no protesters or really anyone. People were too scared to go out to the street. What if one of those invisible walls advanced towards them and turned them into ashes in a matter of seconds?

 It was announced the next day that it had been, as Tally knew, a move by the most powerful country in the world. She had left that place years ago and it haunted her that her work was killing millions somewhere else. What she had been working on now just didn’t cover the evil she had helped create, the enormous guilt she felt for what she had done with her so-called innocence.

 The next day, as more and more troops, more and more bombs, and another wall advanced to the west, Tally decided she just couldn’t keep on living. She hung herself in her living room and was only found weeks after, when the invading army entered the city and saw her charred bones.

sábado, 10 de enero de 2015


   The office was located in a very tall building somewhere in the middle of a big city. Two walls were made of glass and many parts of the city could be seen from it. Inside the room there was only a large table, capable of seating a dozen people. When the door opened, late at night, each seat was rapidly occupied by a person. Each one was identified by a small tag in front of them, on the table, with their name and position written on it. They waited a while until a woman in black came in and sat down in one corner: in front of her, she had a small table with a laptop, a remote control and the light switch.

When everyone stopped talking or arranging their belongings, the woman turned off the lights and turned on a projector with the help of the remote. The machine started making noises until it formed an image on one of the walls. Only one of the twelve scientists reunited there had to move in order to appreciate the image: a simple shot of space done by an orbiting observatory, highlighting a specific star, which bore the name Scorpius II written in read, just below the circle highlighting the star.

 The scientist that had moved to see the image stood up and looked closely to the image. The light flickered a bit but the man didn’t stop watching. It was as if the image, the name, the information clustered in one single slide was just too much not to take a moment to process it and, even, to accept it as it was.

As you know, the probe known as New Horizons has detected a signal coming from space. The transmission was sent back to Earth from the Oort cloud, where the probe now is. The source signal was also detected on Earth, days after. After some days of evaluation, we can assure the signal came from there…

He pointed to the name “Scorpius II”, glowing in the darkness of the room. The scientists didn’t say a word. Most of them had some idea of the announcement and those who didn’t, highly suspected the reasons why they were summoned to a secret office that had only be used once in the past, some ten years ago.

Any idea what the message says?
We should get there later but what I can say now it’s that the message is only half of the story we have come here to discuss.

He nodded to the woman seating in the corner, just as she pointed the remote once more to the projector. The image changed instantly, to another picture of space, this time portraying something like a stain against the black of empty space. The picture also bore the name “Scorpius II” but the magnitude of approach was highly augmented in this one. It was apparently a portrait of the vicinity of a star located far away.

This second picture, which is currently being processed to get a much better resolution, shows something rather alarming, specially considering the message we just showed you.

The various eyes in the room tried to analyze the picture rapidly but the scientist standing up gave answers to their questions faster that they could ask them.

It shows that Scorpius II has gone supernova. The star, previously analyzed, just exploded and probably affected all the system it illuminated. The various projects profiling worlds capable of sustaining life had found a super Earth orbiting Scorpius II. We don’t really know if there was something in there but we are sure it was destroyed due to the massive explosion.

The man then sat down. The woman in the corner stopped typing and turned off the projector and turned on the lights of the room. The scientists looked more confused that overwhelmed, which should have been the ideal state of mind, at least for the one leading the conversation.

Finally, someone else spoke. A young woman:

What I guess you are suggesting is that message somehow has to do with the supernova forming in Scorpius.
That’s correct.

Another scientist, a tall black man, looked confused:

Has there been any further analysis of the situation in Scorpius?
Yes. According to previous reports of the system, we can be sure that Scorpius wasn’t ready to become a supernova. It hadn’t reached that degree of maturity. It was a rather young star.

Now this had the effect he wanted on his audience. Every single person had their eyes widely opened and had suddenly chosen a better way to seat, as if their current position had not been the ideal one to receive such news.

Do you know or not what the message is about?

This was asked by a skinny and very white man, he could practically be called “albino”. He had turned slightly pink because of the recent news and because he really wanted an answer to his question.

We think we do.
What’s that suppose to mean? Do you or don’t you know?

The presiding scientist stood up again and started to pace. After a couple of rounds along the wall, he started talking.

The meaning of the message was what took longer to decipher. Actually, I was handled the last report on it as I entered the building. I read it on the lobby and, to be honest, it made me feel kind of sick.

Now everyone was truly worried. The sun was shining brightly outside and even birds could be heard. It was very strange that the world went on as usual as a small group of people talked about something as significant as what they were discussing.

We believe, and there’s no real way to be sure, that the message is a warning of some kind. We have to be mindful that the message was sent thousands of years ago, due to the distance of Scorpius. We know, because of the analysis, that the signal was actually given more power. If got to us faster than it should. Maybe it wasn’t sent thousands of years ago but hundreds and that makes a difference.

A very tanned and old man coughed before standing up and staring down at the city. Everyone saw him to this and there was a reason why: he was the oldest scientist invited and was still one of the most important astrophysicists in the world. His genius was renowned and, when his pupils saw him worry, it meant something was really hard to solve or was something to be really scared about.

It didn’t happen often, but there he was, with a very stern face, looking at the park below.

Have you sent the information to various agencies? – He asked.
Yes. At least one group in each continent has seen it. We have kept it secret too. We believe it’s dangerous to inform it to the politicians, at least for the time being.
Scorpius… What does the message say?

The leading scientist in the room sighed. Suddenly his face looked fifty years older, as if time had just realized he existed and had caught up with him.

It’s a warning about something or someone. We have concluded someone other than the inhabitants of the Scorpius planet are responsible for the implosion of the star and that they knew it. They sent the signal preventing others from the unknown danger. The signal is still travelling, though they’re all probably dead.

Now everyone seemed even more worried. What made them uneasy was the fact they weren’t able to do something to prevent or act against what had happened in Scorpius. For all they knew, whatever happened there could happen to the Sun any day.

We are waiting for another report on the event, including more information about the signal, the planet that had been detecting near Scorpius II, the star and whatever else New Horizons and James Webb can provide. When we have it, we will inform the IAU of everything and it will be them who inform everyone else.

When he stopped talking, everyone moved in their seats. But not because of what he had said, but because the sunlight had suddenly being blocked. They got scared for a moment but realized the city was in full celebration because of its birthday, and many large hot air balloons were doing rounds all over town. Sunlight came back and the scientist left, worried all the same.

Somewhere deep in space, the remnants of Scorpius floated slowly, forever denying the existence of life in that corner of the universe.

jueves, 13 de noviembre de 2014

It came from us...

 - The place is deserted.
 - It is a desert, after all.

Lin and Allan had been inside the crashed craft for over an hour now and there were no signs of survivors to the crash.

The day before, radars had detected the ship near the planet. Several times the people at Jongjin base had attempted to establish contact but the ship but hey were unable to. Then the ship appeared to lose all stability and fell into the planet.

A scientist and a military officer had been sent to check the crash site. No living beings were onboard. From the look of it all, it appeared as if the ship had been empty all along but that was impossible as radars and other technology had verified the ship was on a strict course before they stopped and fell into Katf II, the second planet in a system not far from Earth.

Both astronauts came out of the ship and entered their vehicle, a four wheeled rover that could travel as it would in Earth. The atmosphere was similar but not breathable. As they traveled back to the base, two hours away, they started talking about the possible reasons the ship was there and why it crashed.

Suddenly, the wind started to blow, getting stronger by the minute. The vehicle had to stop and, in these cases, the astronauts were required to raise stay still as storms normally moved a lot and it would be soon be away from them.

 - I'm so hungry.
 - Didn't you eat before leaving?
 - No, I had to submit my report on that rockslide on the far side last month. Pain in the ass.
 - Did someone got killed?
 - No, but...

But Lin didn't know more of the matter. The wind, that had formed a tornado of sorts, was moving away from them. What had impressed Allan to the point of being rendered speechless was a figure that had appeared from the other side of the storm, it moved slowly but towards them.

Lin realized about it too and grabbed the binoculars that they kept between the two seats. She could see what the creature was: it seemed like a man with a limp but its looks were far from that. It was made of something green and seemed to be furry. Furry...

 - What is it? - Allan asked.
 - We need to get to the base, now.

She restarted the vehicle and pressed on towards the base.

Once there, Lin asked for an emergency meeting with the top minds and chiefs in the base. They were all there in a matter of minutes. Allan was the last person to arrive. He approached Lin and said something to hear, almost in a whisper.

 - May we know the reason of your call, Ms. Lin? We have things to deal with.
 - I know and I'm sorry to call you like this but it is urgent.

Lin asked Allan to turn off the lights and then presented to the audience with a video, apparently footage made with a handheld recorder. The video depicted a woman in a lab. She seemed very intelligent but very worried too. She said that she worked with a company from Earth that dealt with biogenetics and related topics. Her duty was to study all pathogens that could affect humans but that her bosses had asked, in a top secret document, to start the creation of a special virus, a strong one, able to resist any plague.

To her own surprise, research and its costs were not a problem and within a couple of years they had a prototype. Unfortunately, the experiment had worked all too well: the virus had proved its resistance to everything, even to humans. When scientists decided the project was too dangerous, the virus took possession of several members of the scientific body, killed them.

The female scientist said that their last opportunity was to send the virus to the Sun, so it would be destroyed for good. They shipped the virus in an automated craft and launched it but they soon realized they had failed. They realized the virus had taken control of the ship.

She finally stated she did this video for the people to know the company wanted all record of the virus erased as it was "no longer their problem", as the craft it inhabited had left the system.

When the video stopped, the lights turned on and Lin explained the video had circulated for years amongst scientists but everyone had thought it was best not to mess with it all. Until now.

Lin explained that her and Allan had witnessed a creature walking towards them in the desert, limping and deformed. Checking the data they had gathered on the crash site, she realized the ship may be the one carrying the virus.

One of the men laughed and said it was all ridiculous. He said that, even if was all true, the possibilities of the craft with the virus landing in Katf II were very slim as larger planets would have attracted the craft.

Lin responded by telling him that her team had been investigating a life source near the crash site. An oasis of life on the planet. The creature seemed covered in moss, similar to the one that grew in that oasis. She theorized the virus had gotten close to it for water but then used moss to form a body.

Suddenly all lights went off and the red emergency ones were on. A voice in a speaker told everyone on the base the exists were now closed and that everyone should remain calm.

Allan approached a computer and logged on the security cameras on the outside. They all scanned the images until a woman from the mining commission yelled "There!".

On a camera registering the outside of the parking area of the base, they could see a creature resembling a man but with no face or fingers. It was banging at the door, possibly attempting to go in.

Then, everyone's cold got ice cold: from the "belly" of the creature, a face came up, that of a man. And the man screamed. And they knew all was lost.