Within a Glass Sphere

“Dr. Gammet, the data from the Hubble Telescope is finished downloading – I have it here.”

“Thank you, Higgins.” Frank Gammet took the flash drive that the young intern offered him in a long-fingered hand, and turned to insert it into his computer. “Isn’t this exciting, John?” he said to the screen. “Finally, images from the very beginning of the universe itself!”

“Oh, I suppose a little,” John Adelman said, his image carried from the other side of the planet to be displayed on Frank’s screen. “It’s not as though we don’t know what to expect, though.”

Frank shrugged as the data from the flash drive was transferred over to his computer. “When the Higgs Boson was found, that was exciting, wasn’t it? Even though it behaved exactly like everyone thought it would.”

“True,” John agreed. “I’m sure my brother will make an even bigger deal over this, though.”

Frank chuckled. “Just because Chris is the Prime Minister of England doesn’t mean he controls the press, you know. And they sensationalize everything anyway.”

“I don’t mean in the media,” the older astrophysicist clarified. “I mean in person. He doesn’t understand this kind of thing very well, will probably think that we’ll be able to make a new universe with this data or something silly like that.”

Frank chuckled, then fell silent.

“Frank?”

“Making a new universe…” he mused. “Now there’s a thought…”

“Frank, you’re babbling,” John said. “What the hell are you talking about?”

“Just a little one, obviously, but…”

“Frank…”

Frank blinked, then smiled at John. “Think about it,” he said. “We have a better understanding of how the universe began than ever, with these new images.” He gestured at the images which now filled his screen, and would be visible on John’s as well. “What if it was possible to replicate it, only on an infinitely smaller scale? Something we could look at and watch. It would be an amazing tool for generations to come.”

John considered it. “Assuming it’s even possible, which is a big assumption…”

“I’ll grant you that.”

“Then it’s something that should be pursued.”

Dr. Frank Gammet and Dr. John Edelman spoke to friends of theirs, who spoke to colleagues, who began to form a group, and at the next International Astronomical Convention, three years later, the group presented their idea.

They were led to speak with members of the theoretical physics community, who began to ponder. Twenty years after that, the problem was passed on to members of the experimental physics community, who pursued and obtained funding for the project. It wasn’t long before construction began on the new machines needed for the experiment.

Finally, forty-nine years to the day after the Hubble Telescope’s pictures were delivered, an aged Dr. John Adelman pressed the button to begin the experiment. He dedicated it to Dr. Frank Gammet, who had passed away three years earlier, never to see his dream completed.

The massive machines hummed, the turbines whirred, and steam billowed from the spigots. Everyone’s attention was focused on the large glass sphere, three-meters in diameter on the inside edge and nearly five inches thick, within which the results of the experiment – a Big Bang in miniature – would be seen.

Nothing happened.

“How disappointing,” commented John after nearly a minute of silence, running a hand through his gray hair. “You know, I always did think this was a bit mad.”

The machine was dismantled, the giant glass sphere rolled into a basement. People tried to forget about the great, failed experiment.

Thirty years later, however, a janitor cleaning in the basement of Harvard University, where the sphere had ended up, noticed that it was glowing. In fact, there was a tiny pinprick of light in the exact center of the sphere.

A professor was called to examine it, then one of the physicists who had been part of the experiment, and they eventually declared that the experiment had not been a failure after all, that it had simply taken time for light to propagate through the edges of the little universe. The sphere was brought out and began to be examined.

It did not take long to decide, however, that little could be learned from the sphere. It was placed in display as a triumph of science, and occasionally people came not to stare at the slowly expanding pinprick of light within the sphere but to experiment. Mostly, however, the implications of an entire universe contained within the glass sphere was lost on its owners.


13.8 billion years later, within the glass sphere…

“Dr. Gammet, the data from the Hubble Telescope is finished downloading – I have it here.”

“Thank you, Higgins.” Frank Gammet took the flash drive that the young intern offered him in a long-fingered hand, and turned to insert it into his computer. “Isn’t this exciting, John?” he said to the screen. “Finally, images from the very beginning of the universe itself!”

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One thought on “Within a Glass Sphere

  1. Cute. Breaks a few rules of science as we know them though (speed of light, size of an atom, etc.).

    Like

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