Distractions in virtual worlds

Here is a daft little science-inspired  short story I wrote a while back. The ‘freezing’ aspect of it is, amongst other things, likely to be prohibitively expensive. I’ll say no more.  I indend it as a playful offering. It contains puns.

 

 

The Perfect Stillness

 

When she began to call herself an ‘alternative therapist’, Kelvin dumped her. Maybe not as brutally as that. It was more that he said it was time that they moved on. Exactly what the significance of this time was, Cressida wasn’t sure. It happened after the party when he’d spent much of the evening talking to another woman called Dee. Dee was a spectroscopist, which Cressida thought it must have something to do with rainbows. Kelvin said, ‘Sort of…’, before launching into I think it’s time to… etc, etc. All she could say was, ‘Thank you for taking me to the party’. It was unclear whether he expected her to cry. She wasn’t clear about it either.

Whilst Kelvin was talking rainbows with Dee, Cressida spent time talking to Dee’s companion, a scientist man in a suit. Whilst the others were glugging free wine like there was no tomorrow, this one drank water. He told her about the perfect stillness, a point in a complicated array of numbers that could perfectly describe the universe and everything it contained. A point has no beginning and no end, it is where it is, he said, even in infinite set of coordinate axes. And that is that…

Admittedly, her response, ‘You are one hot physicist!’ had probably alarmed him. But he was polite, rather handsome. He had a mop of hair that fell over his forehead as he moved his head stiffly on his shoulders.

She tried to sound intelligent. ‘That must be a lot of numbers?

To do him credit, he took her seriously. ‘Yes, indeed. More than can be contained in this universe.’

She felt privileged that he had chosen to tell her this. She, no physicist. No scientist of any kind. But a massage therapist/crystal healer and a little aura reading on the side.

‘How can there be so many numbers, and where are they kept?’

The man had a gnomic smile. He tapped his head. ‘I can imagine them,’ he said. ‘Much can be held in one human head without it imploding!’ But he winced as he raised his hand.

‘Frozen shoulder,’ he said. ‘Computer.’

Now that was something Cressida did know about. She told him this, producing a pretty holographic business card.

‘Frozen shoulders a specialty…’

 

Kelvin said the man was a ‘theoretician,’ as if that explained everything. Kelvin was a lab man. Low temperature physics. He talked a lot about helium, but nothing to do with balloons. He had some ridiculously expensive experiment with tonnes of liquid helium and was doing large-scale experiments. ‘You wouldn’t believe my budget for helium,’ he had boasted.

Then Kelvin disappeared. The university phoned Cressida’s mobile. Did she know where he was? She hesitated, the woman on the phone got impatient, ‘There are only two possibilities: yes or no’. Cressida said ‘no’. She wasn’t sure how they got her number, but perhaps frozen shoulder man had taken it from her business card. He had come for therapy. Under the shiny suit, he had some very frozen muscles. She had worked them with infra-red and deep-tissue massage. He had almost cried with the pain of it, but he made another appointment.

Frozen shoulder man, whose real name was Roger, came for his second pummelling and unravelling. He seemed to look forward to the pain. She admired his expansive and vibrant aura. She asked him if he knew anything about Kelvin’s whereabouts. He said, between yelps of ,good pain… that he had not seen Kelvin since the party. He spoke about Dee, saying that spectroscopy could be regarded as the mother of modern physics, but that Dee would never be the mother of his children.

Roger invited her to a physics consortium. It sounded like a date. Not that she was sure what a consortium was, only that lunch was provided. Possibly wine.

 

Cressida didn’t tell anyone at the consortium that she knew nothing about physics. She spoke vaguely about energy and that she got really excited by crystals. They laughed at her purported joke, and said she wasn’t alone… Roger was thoughtful, maybe a little excited afterwards. He told Cressida that it was rumoured that Kelvin had had an accident. He had more than a frozen shoulder to worry about. He had managed to deep freeze himself in his experiment, a complicated, but brilliant, process involving nanolayer polymers, various cryogenic materials, and liquid helium. He had designed the polymer so that given a tiny electric current, the structure became superconducting at room temperature. In a heat exchanger cascade, it was capable of extracting bulk heat at a prodigious rate, although it got through a lot of cryogenic material. Effectively, he had locked himself in a freezer, but one set at not far above absolute zero. The university was keeping it quiet for now, on account of funding. His experiments were excruciatingly expensive. Cressida had no deep idea what any of this meant, but she didn’t hold out a lot of hope for her ex.

There had been a silly suggestion that the frozen physicist could be incorporated into some kind of particle detector, hushing it up. But others, very influential others, were curious about his brain. There were those who entertained notions about quantum consciousness. It was all untested, of course. No one had been frozen alive so quickly, and so close to absolute zero before poor Kelvin. There were significant practical difficulties in freezing a whole human rapidly to a temperature close to absolute zero, but Kelvin had solved them, albeit to his disadvantage. Being so cold meant it could be that a moment of quantum consciousness had been preserved at the point of his death. Something about entangled states in microtubules. The trick was to design an experiment that wouldn’t damage his delicate state.

Cressida knew her moment to impress Roger had come.

 

If his conscious survives, it will have an aura…

 

 

 

 

 

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