Michael pulled back the end of his fishing rods line over his back. He then gave a quick flick of his arm and sent the line out into the water again. Satisfied with where his line landed this time he let out a soft grunt. He relaxed his back and nestled himself back against his small fishing boats over-sized captain’s chair.
The lake was quiet.
**(Something is wrong with the formatting in above two lines but whatever…)
Kennedy, his adult daughter, said, “You know you can do that while making less noise.”
His eyes narrowed on her but in the predawn light he wasn’t certain she could see his frown.
She gave a soft laugh. Either she had seen his facial reaction or she had imagined it. Either way Michael was satisfied and let out a chuckle of his own.
They sat there in silence amongst the cacophony of primal noises. A duck quacked somewhere in the distance. A bullfrog croaked in its efforts to find a prospective mate. A chorus of crickets each played their own symphonies trying to out compete their peers.
Michael asked in a voice just above the natural noises, “Your mother tells me your idea is creating a lot of noise.” He could hear her let out all of her breath in one quick gasp. He knew, from years of experience, that to mean she wasn’t ready. “If you don’t want to talk about it it’s okay-”
She cut him off, “No, it’s okay.” She pulled in another lungful of morning air. “I just wanted to get away from all that and spend some time with you.”
He chuckled, “We are alone… okay… if you ignore the hormonal bullfrog and all the crickets trying to get some we are basically alone.” He looked out towards the water, “Especially with the fish choosing to ignore us.”
She chuckled and then gave a sigh. She started pulling her line in again to cast it out in another direction. “Are you sure you want me to bore you? It’s a lot of nerlingo.”
Michael chuckled. Nerlingo was the phrase he had coined and used whenever his daughter’s academic nerd lingo went over his head. “Just try your best to use simple words.” He cleared his throat and said, “I’m proud of you even if I don’t fully understand what you’re doing. To be honest I feel dumb even listing to it.” Kennedy let out a soft sympathetic chuckle, He then added, “Still… I want to better understand what it is you do.”
“Oh you make yourself sound so pathetic. I mean feeling stupid comes so naturally to you. Try not to let this be an exception.”
Michael felt the slightest flicker of anger start to come over him but it evaporated just as quickly over the love he had for his daughter. “You…. You little bitch. For that you get to gut and clean the fish.”
She chuckled, “What fish?”
He swiveled in his seat and looked glanced out over the dark lake again, “True…”
At least until the bullfrog started up again.
She asked him, “What do you know of my work on the Green-deGrasse probability engine?”
He turned his head towards her, “Not enough, other than it sounds like some kind of lawn mower. Aside from that I know that you’re working on its guidance system.” He could see a sliver of a smile form on her face.
She nodded and said, “The engine creates an artificial particle in duality.” She paused to look at him.
He cleared his throat and said, “It magically creates a particle of which is comprised of Adam and Eve.”
She smiled again. “We capture one of the particles and partially encase it within a vortex of proto particles.”
“Adam and Eve want to desperately be together. As one gets closer to the other we create an artificial chastity belt of particles around the other to prevent their union.”
A croak from the bullfrog broke the night air.
“Kind of what our bullfrog friend’s dealing with?”
She gave a snort, “Are you sure you are into this? It seems you are more interested in discussing the bullfrog’s attempts at promiscuity?”
Michael waited a long second before answering. “How do you think that bullfrog got there?”
She sounded, at least to him, as the sweet young girl he remembered from long ago. “It swam?”
He kind of felt bad for going the direction he’s going with this but he knew she was an adult now and so everything was fair game. Especially after she had made that insulting comment to him. “No, it’s parents ‘got it’. Sometimes it takes time and effort but hopefully he too will ‘get it’.”
She snorted, “Your analogies suck.”
“But you ‘got it’.”
She groaned, “Fine, turn this weird, you win.”
Pleased with himself he adjusted the position of his ass within his captains’ seat. “So they, or rather your work, has you capturing Adam or Steve-”
He grinned, “No. I said it correctly.”
She rolled her eyes and shrugged her shoulders. “Fine. Whatever. Are you done yet?”
His grin widened, “Never.”
“What do you get out of trying to play this game with me?”
“What game? Don’t forget I’m too stupid to know any better.”
With her free hand she made a playing motion of trying to hit a drum set with an imaginary stick as she made the sounds, “Dun-done-dun.” She then cleared her throat, “Are you done trying to be funny?”
“Looking or smelling?” He then laughed and quickly added, “Yes I’m done. Please get back to explaining how much smarter than me you are.” She gave him what he liked to call ‘the stink eye’. “No, I’ve been following along. Adam and Steve, being kept apart by a partition of fake particles, yeah I got it.”
Her gaze of stink eye narrowed some. “You have been listening?”
“Yes I’ve been listening. You are the seed of my loins and I am proud of you.”
Her stink eye level remained the same, “Do you want me to keep going or do you want to keep talking about your seed?”
“Keep going, I need to find out if Adam and Steve end up happily ever after or not.”
She groaned, “Kinda yes, kinda no.”
“What? Don’t I get my fairytale ending where they rush into each other’s arms and kiss passionately?”
“What do you know of quantum entanglement?”
“I know it’s a difficult word to say.”
Kennedy grinned, “It states that all matter has a partner particle and-”
“Whoa- whoa- whoa. Try and remember who you’re talking to here. Bullfrogs and kissing, that much I understand.” He gave a sheepish look. “I mean from what I’ve… been told.”
She rolled her eyes “Okay Romeo.” She let out a soft chuckle but it ended up sounding like a half snort. She brought her hand up to her mouth and covered it saying, “Oops.”
Michael, quick to leap onto the humor of it, said, “Looks like I’m not the only one here with farm-fever. Don’t worry I won’t tell your mom.”
She winced and said, “You can be such an as-.” She tried to catch herself before finishing her sentence but was too slow.
“Ass?” He grinned, “Now you’re getting it.”
She scoffed, “Why do I even bother?” He could tell she was at her limit with his juvenile antics.
Then, just like that, all the humor was gone from him. “Don’t.” She looked at him. “Finish explaining it to me. I really do want to understand this stuff better. Believe me. I know this stuff’s going to change the course of human history. I am way past figuring this stuff out myself but that doesn’t mean I am any less proud of you. All this stuff makes me feel so small when I try and figure it out on my own. I can’t but help trying to bring this, our time, back to a level I know I can relate to you on. The level where you are young and I still have a chance of being your equal in intellect. The you that you have become is so far beyond me, how else do I converse with a person on your level?”
Her face melted and a soft smile formed there. “Okay… I get it. I just don’t get why you have to be such a screwball about it?” She lifted her hand up to motion for him to not answer, “It’s because that is who you are. I get it.”
He grinned, “I love you.”
She grinned back, “And I tolerate you.”
He chuckled, “That’s the same thing your mother says.”
“Hey, I can’t help it if she finds me attractive, she picked me.”
“I have no idea what she sees in you.”
He deepened his voice a bit, “[Rib-it].”
Her eyes flared wide, “Uhhggg. Enough already.”
Michael knew he had reached a limit with her. His mind, wisely, rewound its way through their conversation, and pulled out a question he had. “So… when something is quantum entangled, doesn’t it try its best to join back up with its partner? Why doesn’t it just match up with another closer particle?” He then sucked in a deep breath and answered his own question, “Never mind I forgot that all the other particles are already bonded and that this one particle is a unique construct so it would have only one other match in the entire universe… or is it multi-verse?”
Her lower jaw descended a few centimeters.
He felt himself grinning again, “What?”
She reached over and slapped her hand against the water and cupped it back towards her father which splashed him with near freezing water. “Stop playing dumb with me.”
Half swiveling his chair as to get himself out of her arc of fire. “It’s what I do, and I’m good at it. I like screwing with people.” He should have held back what he said next but with it being his daughter he didn’t feel the need, “Especially with your mother.” He then caught the double entendre he had placed himself within and truly felt stupid. “Oh that sounded worse than what I had intended.” His moral compass then corrected himself again, “But you are my daughter and you know that your mother and I had to have some history for you-”
She splashed him again, “Would you just stop it already?”
“Okay, I deserve it, just stop.” She pulled her hand back and then once he started to twirl his chair back around she reached out and splashed him once more. He knew he had to call her on this by threatening to double down. “Okay, stop now stop or I’m going to start describing the sounds she makes.”
She leaned back and pulled her arm out of the water.
Lacking any kind of segue he said, “Yes, I have been brushing up on all these theories, at least what I can understand.” His grin came back, “Most of it being video programs as I can’t understand all the big words they use in the written stuff. There is a reason most everything is done at a third grade level.” He cleared his throat, “So you are responsible for creating the magnetic lock mechanism that keeps the local half of the artificial particle in flux?”
Her lower jaw dropped in what looked like awe again. “Yes….”
“It is because of its state of flux that the partner particle gets to wander around all of existence.”
Her jaw realigned itself, “Yes….”
“So then how do you get the partner particle to align itself in a desired direction?”
“We create an intentional weak point in the containment in the direction we hope to travel.”
“But not weak enough for it to be broken through?”
“Exactly. Just weak enough that the probability of the partner particle will lie within the desired destination arc.
“So this allows you to steer?”
“Okay I think I get that part; now how do you control how far you go?”
“That’s something we’re still working on improving.”
“Okay so I’m still not certain about the blinking arc thing. How long does it take for you to determine where the particle is and by then hasn’t it already moved?”
“Yes, but think of it as a board game. Your piece can move one square every turn. Now how long would it take you to reach the finish line that is ten squares away with a certainty of that you have a one in ten chance of going left, a one in ten chance of going right, or a one in ten chance of going backwards?”
“The reason for the motion being forward is due to the containment field you’re working on isn’t it?” Kennedy gave a nod, “So what you’re describing is like a checkerboard?”
She gave another nod, “Sure, if that helps you. I wasn’t thinking that way but, yeah.”
“It’s a good thing you didn’t say chess.” He looked out over the lake started talking aloud, “I’m going to say that out of the ten moves, seven get me in the desired direction. Then out of the three others I would have to spend an extra turn going the distance I lost. I would have to spend two turns to make up for the distance I traveled back.” He looked at his daughter, “So out of those turns I’m burning to correct my misdirection, those too can go off course?”
She nodded, “You understand the idea.”
He focused on her again, “It’s just a matter of when more than it is if.”
“We’re working on the math to allow us to minimize the amount of time wasted inside of misjumps and terminate them earlier.”
He brought his hand up to his forehead and slapped his palm up against it. “All this is making my head hurt.” He turned away once more and put his rod into the holster as he was too engaged in all this to focus on fishing. “So how do you control the advancement of going one space forward or is it possible to go multiple squares?”
She chuckled, “Who are you and what have you done with my father?”
He laughed, “No, like I’ve said, I’ve been trying to figure all this out and all you’ve been doing is giving me more questions than answers.”
She laughed again, “That’s what I do, welcome to quantum science.”
“As much as I hated paying those college bills I can see we got our money’s worth.” He gave a quick scoff, “My daughter, helping to lift mankind off of this world.” His voice softened as he faced her again, “The little girl I used to change diapers on, the little girl who used to put makeup on me and for some weird reason had a knack for doing it right before my friends would come over.”
She teased, “Oh I knew they were coming.”
The bullfrog croaked.
Michael just sat there.
He had dropped his question as he tried to come up with his own answer.
“Ask away dad.”
He hadn’t come up with an answer he was satisfied with. “So… how do you get the drive ship to move at faster than light speeds using a fishing line to an artificial quark?”
“With the energy being produced by the particle, we harvest it and use that to power up our phase screen around the ship.”
“So does all this fancy talk actually get you going faster than the speed of light?”
“In our reality, no. In the phase reality, yes, but only in quick little hops.”
“How do you control the distance traveled?”
“That’s something we’re still working on. Right now we can only do short little jumps but we hope to expand upon that given time.”
“So, I know Alpha Centauri is four light years away. How long would it take, if everything went perfectly and you didn’t go to the side or backwards on a jump, to reach there?”
“We don’t have the means to build a prototype engine just yet-”
“Why is that?”
“The design requires materials we just haven’t been able to manufacture. Materials that have the density to withstand forces and stress needed to contain the proto-particle.”
“Ah, I get it.”
Kennedy’s head tilted towards the side, “Get what?”
“You aren’t giving up all your eggs in one basket. Gotta earn that second award.” He tapped the side of his head with his finger, “Smart.”
She laughed, “No, it’s nothing like that. I swear I’m not holding anything back.” Her face then twisted into a partial frown. “I just haven’t been able to figure the math out yet.”
“So how long?”
She blinked several times and said, “What?”
“To reach Alpha Centauri?”
Her grin came back, “Oh yeah. Right now, if we have the materials, we could go about .01 light year on a single jump.”
“That isn’t that far. So it would take you-” He gave a nod towards his daughter, “If everything went perfectly for every jump, 400 jumps to reach Alpha Centauri? How long does it take to do a single jump?”
“In perfectville, about a day.”
Michael got himself out of his seat and came close to tumbling off the side of his boat, “Get the hell out! You mean I could fly into space and reach another star system in just over a year?”
“Be careful. I don’t need you tipping the boat.”
“I don’t think you understand just how much this is blowing my mind.” He half sat back down in his chair, “My daughter is the Christopher Columbus of the galaxy.”
“It’s all math at this point. Nothing has actually been built-”
“Who cares. It’s just a matter of time before that happens.” He stood up again, “My daughter is the Henry Ford of interstellar space travel.” He looked up into the still dark early morning sky and stuck extended his index finger out towards the stars. “You hear that? My daughter has designed an engine that is going to bring us to you.”
“Dad, please sit back down.”
He looked at her with eyes wide with bewilderment, “How do you expect me to sit after what you just told me.”
She shook her head, “I know you are excited and it’s a lot to take in but it’s still not ready and probably won’t be for another hundred years.”
His head reached behind him and touched the arm rest of his chair. “What do you mean?”
“We don’t have the means of creating the materials needed. They just aren’t the next rung on the ladder but are in fact several higher up. We have to first invent other things that will help us eventually invent the materials needed to fabricate the engine.”
“Oh…” He sat himself back down.
“I’ve just found a way, mathematically, for an engine to work. It’s going to take a long time before we can actually build one. Besides I still don’t have the math figured out on how to create the harmonic envelope large enough to encompass an entire vessel. Something small, yes, but not for something that large.”
His eyes crossed, “You have already moved something through space?”
She nodded. “I got a small amount of pure plutonium halfway to Jupiter a few months back.”
“You got something to move at the speed of light?”
“Not exactly. The sample I moved, having that much more mass than the half particle it was anchored to, moved at about ten percent the speed of light.
“You are brilliant. If there was one smart thing I did it was marrying your mother so as to give my kids good brains.”
Kennedy laughed, “See, you’re not completely brain dead.”
“So how does this half particle bonding thing end? Does the meeting of these two particles end up causing some sort of explosion?”
“The greater the distance, the greater the pull of attraction. When the containment field and the particle get close enough the energy drops to a point where the vessel drops its containment field which allows the particles to meet unobstructed in deep space.”
“I get it now. You use the trapped particles attraction like some sort of tug boat to pull the vessel through deep space. I just don’t get how something that small can create that kind of energy.”
“You have to remember that the universe is infinite. Dark energy does play a negative roll in the pull but you have to also understand that the greater the distance the greater the pull of attraction.
He reached up and rubbed the side of his head, “This is making my head spin.” He cleared his throat. “So if something is halfway across the universe, and it travels all that distance to reach its contained partner, then the contained partner would also exert the same amount of energy which is what you use to enforce the containment and allow the ship to be drug in the direction of its partner. The one half essentially goes .999% of the distance and the containment vessel covers the other .001 distance.”
“You are a bit generous with the math but yes that is close enough it. It would be like having a star that’s gravitationally pulled by a golf ball. They both get pulled towards either other, only one is almost negligible. Now when you increase the distance to include the entire universe those distances can start to add up.” The bullfrog croaked again. “Repeat the process over and over again and you now have our rudimentary dimensional space engine.”
So even though I haven’t been working on cleaning up my Mr. Kobayashi (thanks crappy boss) I have been picking along at this short story.