14 September 2012

"Birds and Bogeys"

By Curtis C. Chen

The satellite fell to Earth in the year 65 million BCE, landed in an active volcano in the South Pacific, and melted before it could take a single reading.

The satellite crashed into a French village in 1439, where it was completely dismantled and its parts scattered throughout the countryside.

The satellite attempted to photograph the Colossus of Rhodes in 250 BCE, but its transmission was interrupted by what appeared to be a surface-to-air missile.

That was when the scientists knew they had a problem.


"I told you time travel was a bad idea," Olivia said.

Light from the computer monitor illuminated her face. The light flickered as Emma stepped through the satellite video frame by frame.

"You didn't want to try that Vietnamese food cart, either," Emma said, "and look how well that turned out. Stop overreacting."

"Overreacting?" Olivia pointed at the screen. "This image was recorded over two thousand years ago, and I'm pretty sure the ancient Greeks didn't have rockets. Especially not rockets that could reach orbital altitude."

"That could be anything." Emma waved a hand. "Clouds. Sunlight reflecting off something metallic. Video artifact."

"No! You can't rationalize your way out of this one." Olivia put her tablet down on the desk. "Look at the sensor data. That's a radar blip, coming up from sea level at Mach 3."

"Fireworks," Emma said. "Maybe some visiting Chinese traders—"

"Do not make me smack you in the face."

Emma folded her arms. "So what's your explanation? Or do you want to scrap three years' worth of research and start on a new thesis?"

"Many worlds," Olivia said.

"There's no way to prove that."

"Not yet."

"You know what she's going to say," Emma grumbled. "Extraordinary claims, extraordinary evidence, yada yada yada."

"So we re-point the tunnel."


Olivia nudged Emma out of her chair, sat down, and called up the satellite guidance software on the computer. "Okay. We know there's always some variance in the chronological targeting, right?"

"Yeah, and nobody knows why."

"What if it's multi-dimensional?" Olivia entered new parameters into the software. "We've always assumed we were doing one-dimensional targeting, using the Sun as an anchor point and positioning the satellite in space to match the Earth's position in the past. But what if we've been using two-dimensional coordinates all along, and we just didn't know it?"

Emma shook her head. "But we don't know how that works. We can't control the targeting, which means we can't experiment."

"So we remove a variable." Olivia finished typing and waited for Emma to read the screen.

"You're removing time?" Emma said. "Doesn't that kind of defeat the purpose of a time travel experiment?"

"We're investigating the variance," Olivia said. "If we don't target a different time, then we force any variation into the other dimension."

"Parallel universes," Emma said. "That's your hypothesis."

Olivia grinned. "You got a better idea?"

"Yeah, but happy hour doesn't start until four." Emma waved Olivia out of the chair. "What the hell. Let's provision another satellite and see what happens."


Image: SterretijRadar by Rupert Ganzer, November, 2006