A view to the future
A hush came across the theatre. It seemed as if everyone one of the 200 or so invited guests were holding their breath as professor Adrian Davis stepped confidently onto the theatre stage and smiled out across his audience.
He gazed into the darkness and smiled as he slowly raised his right arm above his head. Beneath his jacket he could feel a tiny bead of perspiration making its way down his long slender spine. He had every right to be nervous. He was about to present the accumulation of ten years exhausting work to an audience of the worlds greatest minds. Mathematicians, programmers, chemists, philosophers religious leaders of all faiths all of whom had been drawn to London on the premise of being there to witness a key moment in scientific history.
The professor stepped to centre stage aware of a silence, a feeling of anticipation perhaps? He slowly pulled a small silver pen shaped object from the inside pocket of his jacket and holding it above his head he opened his palm allowing it to rise gracefully from his outstretched hand. It was an old ‘Phasalight hovering projector.’ The professors pride and joy – a labour of love that had taken him two years to restore. As it circled silently above their heads, some of the audience looked up and watched its majestic progress. Many had never seen one in use, and those that had looked on with a distant gaze that betrayed a sense of nostalgia. There was a brief ripple of applause the sound of random chattering and the drawing of breath which seemed to soften the atmosphere in the theatre for a moment. As the ‘Phasalight’ hovered motionless and silent above the gathering it projected the image of a huge clock face onto the screen behind the professor. Not unusual in any way other than the fact that the second hand was ticking meticulously in reverse.
‘Ladies and gentlemen, my learned friends welcome to London. It is good of you all to come. Firstly I would like to apologies for the security.’ The professor paused and looked up to the highest part of the room while allowing a slightly trembling smile to play across his lips. ‘Many of you are very well known and there are people out there that do not understand what it is that we try to achieve or why.’ He stepped back across the stage and the audience shuffled slightly in preparation for his presentation.
‘Some of you may have heard that we,’ he raised his right hand by means of providing an introduction for the four other people sitting, in semi darkness, at the side of the stage, ‘have now completed our research and confident that we have been able to achieve our aims, feel it is time to inform the world, starting with you good people.’ His voice was strong crisp and gaining in confidence with every syllable.
‘Curiosity has been a motivator to man since time began. Curiosity led to the discovery of continents, to the finding of new planets. Curiosity led to the discovery of drugs and cures. Curiosity plays with Mans mind. The only antidote to curiosity is the discovery.’ He paused and slowly took a sip of water, the slight tremble of his hand only being noticeable to the front two or three rows. ‘Discovery of fact.’ He looked pensively into the darkness. ‘But how many questions must we remain curious about? How many unanswered questions remain simply theory. Not just small questions, but some of the moments in history that changed the world. Some recent, some hundreds some thousands of years in the past. Seemingly destined forever to be unanswered, to be forever curiosity?
‘Today, we are going to change all of that. We are going to provide a way to quash theory and hearsay and present a real view of the past. A view that until recently could only be dreamt of. H G Wells wrote of the fifth dimension. He presented his ridiculous, but curious theory of time travel. In his mind he developed a way that a man could move through time back and forth. What folly. Imagine the consequences of such a mission. If it were possible which of course it is not. However he touched on an important thought. An important idea, an idea that triggered our research.
‘Time is a constant. It moves in one direction – away from us. Our perception of time is through our senses. We see the sun, and feel its warmth. We hear sounds made in nature and by man. And all of those senses coupled with actions, thoughts and decisions create a moment. Every, moment is unique. It can be captured using technology, but the moment itself as a living experience can never be repeated. And what about all those moments, those world changing moments when there was no technology, no data capture, no film? All those moments remain often frustrating curiosities.
‘But let us ponder for a while. There is one thing that helps us to determine the edge of time. A carrier of information. Light. When we look into the sky, we see millions of stars, so far distant, so tiny. And when we see that light we are looking at something that happened hundreds, maybe thousands of years ago. But it is delivered to us through light, as Hoppolite Fizeau calculated at around 300,000 kilometres a second. Unfaltering.
‘A view of our history therefore is still available, it is travelling in an ever increasing circle like a ripple away from us at the speed of light. So to access that information, all we have to do is catch up with it. But what use would it be. The image of a distant star is a clear enough image. And many systems allow us to see colours perhaps within the shape. But that is all. That is all until now.’
Suddenly the image on the screen changed to a darker shape. It looked at first glance as if it were the surface of a planet, its curve sweeping from the bottom left of the screen to the top right. About a quarter of the sphere being visible. Then gradually at first the sphere became larger until it filled the whole screen. Patterns appeared and took on the appearance of a vast rutted barren landscape. Down and down, the images became increasingly clear, huge valleys appeared with vast strange shadows, cracks became canyons which in turn became pointed jagged ridges and cliff faces until the image came to rest as if it were being filmed from a craft landing, gently, without sound. It seemed almost as though there should have been clouds of dust rising from the ground as whatever it was rested on the firm rough surface.
‘Ladies and gentleman. This remarkable footage is filmed by the ‘Helex Nebula 1’ space search telescope situated in Greenwich London. You are looking at the surface of the moon’
The audience shuffled slightly and eyebrows were raised as if to say ‘so what?’
‘What is truly remarkable ladies and gentleman is that you are looking at a single atom on a single grain of dust on the surface of the moon. And if that was not enough, we could continue to magnify it the over 4 trillion times, making it possible to create a 50,000 dpi image that if printed full size, would cover not just the UK. But the whole of the Earth.’
‘The humble Hubble toiled a little over two hundred years ago and sent crude images from distant galaxies, the Diamond Synchrotron struggled in its massive state to provide images of atoms. And at such a huge price. We are able to look beneath the cloud cover of planets light years away. The bad news is we have not found a single one that can sustain life as we know it. The good news is we still have around 1050 trillion more to examine.’
A ripple of laughter lightened the mood.
‘We are all aware of and work with nano technology, this ‘Phasalight’ projector is a classic example of an early commercial application. We have taken it a stage further. By the combination of near infinite frequency transmitting and by ‘lodging’ in the memories of every mechanical and organic based computer, we have been able to instruct minute ‘worker bee’ robots with the latest free thought programmes to work on two highly complex projects. The first was the completion of the Helex Nebula 2. It has one thousand times more power than its older brother but is less than a quarter of its size.’
A white lazar beam picks out a plinth to the left of the stage which has a silver cube of approximately 30cm’s square.
‘The second project used the same technology. We employed 15 million ‘worker bees’ for six months. And maintained a less than 12% failure rate.’ He raised his right eye brow allowing himself a moment of self congratulation. ‘Their aim was to complete the ‘Arc’ a vessel built atom by atom. But as you would expect, no ordinary vessel. Powered by a ‘Nalythian carbon antibody fusion’ motor with a unique thrust delivery.’
He paused and took another drink before continuing. ‘All things are relative,’ he looked slowly around the room. ‘Our thrust delivery is designed and proven to provide 1 kilometre per hour speed every time it fires irrespective of velocity. This thruster rotates and delivers 300,000 pulses an hour. The ark is capable of firing this remarkable level of energy for 2000 hours resulting in a final land speed of 2000 times the speed of light.’ He smiled, ‘I hope you will be interested to discover that it was launched in top secret from Salisbury plane a little over 14 months ago.’
A sound reminiscent of falling rain rose from the assembly as they exchanged glances and whispered words.
‘As it travelled, the Arc emitted atoms at regular intervals approximately every 100,000 miles. These atoms help to make up a ‘virtual fibre’ that allows signals to be returned while not instantly due to the huge distance involved, but almost.’ This time the gasps were clearly audible and more than ever a contented smile played across his lips. ‘It takes around ten days for images collected by Nebula 2 to reach us here in London.
‘So what are we looking for out there in the infinity of space, well actually, nothing. Nebulla 2 is focused on a single subject. It is focused on earth.’
Professer Davis smiled again at his audience and ran his long fingers through his thin white hair, brushing a few lose strands back into place.
‘The images that you are about to see were captured by Nebula 2 on the journey out and provide snapshots of selected subjects. Some were selected out of idle curiosity and others were not. The final image that you will see is live action, taken from the Arc as it sits on the edge of time looking back at the light emanating from this from this planet. What you are about to see are not reconstructions, they are computer enhanced but to all intent and purpose, they are the actual captured images from the unique moments as they happened. They are of course collected in reverse time so these pieces have been transposed to be viewed ‘as live action.’
The screen flickered and once again the audience could be heard to shuffle slightly – as the image became clear an excited voice called out in recognition of the scene that unfolded in front of them. Like a satellite image a plan of a cityscape came into focus, a cavalcade of cars could be seen turning sharp left, almost doubling back on itself – it proceeded slowly between the building toward a railway underpass. ‘My god its Dealey Plaza,’ a voice called out from the darkness. An audible gasp came from the auditorium. Professor Davis stepped forward once again ‘yes it is Dallas, November 1963. You can see President Kennedy and his wife in the back of the second car, but more than that,’ the image focused in and moved across to the Plaza – back toward the book depository and there pointing from the top floor window was a rifle barrel.
‘We are unable to see who is holding this weapon but can confirm it certainly fired the first bullet. This however is more interesting.’ Once again the image swung across the cavalcade and onto the grassy knoll. It then zoomed in. ‘This ladies and gentlemen is another gunman – watch as he fires, and turns away form the scene – this individual fired the head shot – and if we look at this one taken a few moments before as the gunman looked up to the sky we can clearly see that it is none other than Jack Ruby.’ The silence in the room was unearthly – as Professor Davis uttered the name even he felt a tingle in his spine. ‘We have been able to track his escape from the scene and noted how he was driven away by men that we know were acting as officials. We believe that we have sufficient information to be able to be able convert circumstantial evidence and hearsay into fact – to be able to once and for all determine what happened on that day.’
The screen flickered and changed – it showed a vast white landscape and bursting from it clouds of smoke. From the left a line of what looked like insects appeared from another darker line and made its way slowly weaving left to right. Suddenly some would stop, in neat diagonal lines. Members of the audience to turned to one another, they frowned and shrugged their shoulders.
‘Ladies and gentleman this is northern France on the 1st of July 1916. The first action on the first day of the Somme – these are advancing,’ he paused and shrugged, ‘and falling Newfoundlanders.
‘We have so many hours of material, The Norman conquest, The assassination of Gandhi, Henry the Eighth travelling in a barge from Hampton Court – a man we believe to be Shakespeare at his Globe theatre – but most importantly we have this.’
The professor moved into the shadows and a hush fell across the auditorium.
On the screen a small crowd could be seen to have gathered and was moving slowly around a central figure between light stone buildings on a narrow cobbled street. That figure, a man was taking long awkward steps, he was bent over as if carrying a burden. He was naked, his body was young and wiry his ribs clearly visible through his dark brown skin. As he struggled he could be seen to stumble and when he did those around stood back - not helping him – but taunting him perhaps. And as he slowly raised himself to his feet he turned his face, taught, and strong toward the heavens, his long thin hair stuck to his perspiring scull, his dark features were curiously blank, free of emotion, gentle. Watery streaks of blood were running down his forehead and into his eyes causing him to blink as if he were being stung. But despite all this, despite the whipping and jostling of the crowd, despite the near visible heat and the weight of his burden, his figure was resolute his face was calm – his parched lips stretching a tiny smile. He could be seen to nod in acknowledgement to the few that stepped forward to help – who were pushed away by the throng.
Soon the group were in the open and before they stopped between two other clearly visible figures. He was forced, to the ground, the shape of the cross for the first time clearly visible. He was bound with ropes and nails were expertly driven through his hands and feet.
Many in the auditorium openly sobbed as they watched the spear enter his chest beneath his second rib. His head rolled and once again He looked to the sky, this time directly and deeply into the eyes of the audience that had assembled two and a half thousand years later to watch history in the making and each and everyone of them knew that any doubt that had existed in them before that moment had disappeared – they could see in the dark depths of his eyes a sadness like that of mother holding her starving child, a forgiveness like that of a father comforting his prodigal son, a will to live like that of a innocent standing before his executioner. And at that moment each of them mourned the passing of generations that had not been able to see what they had seen to feel what they were feeling at that moment as his eyes forgave them for not believing………………….
The audience sat stunned in silence. The lights in the auditorium were slowly intensified and then one by one they stood and left – each of them realising that by seeing the past, nothing in the future could ever be the same.