Saturday, February 12, 2011

Chapter 14 - Prototype

Despite the efforts of Christopher to keep the AG7 prototype under the radar of the media, somehow they caught wind of it just the same. The details of it were still confidential, but nearly every scientific journal had run articles about the breakthrough with great expectations. This new prototype was more difficult to build than the previous version. The algorithm for AG6 was simple compared to this new revision. The circuit design and the processor microcode was so complicated that they had to hire consultants from outside MIT to complete it. And although they could not test the entire prototype until it was fully assembled, every component test passed based on the proposed AG formula. “If” the calculations were correct, each AG7 module would be able to create an anti-gravitational field bubble that would be able to surround and support any object within 3 meters. The AG7 prototype was comprised of a single AG module measuring 1 meter square by 25 cm high and weighed a mere 28 kg (62 lbs). The cost of this single module totaled nearly $1.2 million dollars, but Christopher and the team were estimating that it could be mass produced for under $15,000 each. Power consumption was still a problem. There was no small portable power source to sustain an AG bubble for more than a few milliseconds. In the lab, they would be using a 220 volt 3-phase 12 amp power source – not something you could just pick up and put in the trunk of your car.

Only 19 weeks had gone by since the team began work, and Christopher estimated that AG7 would be completed within 2 weeks – a full 3 weeks earlier than the original estimate. The entire team had been working overtime so they could take a well deserved vacation during the Christmas holiday. The unveiling was set for December 15th, but Christopher wanted to begin testing 1 week prior to iron out any problems. He had given the team a strict charge to not discuss the pre-test period with anyone. The last thing they needed if things needed adjustments was to have the press breathing down their necks. It was bad enough that the Dean was checking on the status multiple times every day.

Today was final assembly. Dr. Timothy Kirk, one of the brilliant minds behind the circuit design and who had been involved in the last three prototypes, was working with Christopher on the sensor array. “Chris,” he said, “I'm very surprised you've already set an unveiling date before we've even run preliminary tests. You're taking a pretty significant risk if this thing doesn't get off the ground.” He smiled, “Pun intended.”

I've just got a feeling about this.” answered Christopher. “I'm 100% confident in the calculations and we've been very careful with all other details during production.”

Timothy didn't look convinced. “We have met all specifications, but what makes you so sure that the modulation calculations will achieve a sustainable AG field? I'll hand it to you and Warren, it is brilliant, but if you were off by just a microsecond in the modulation delay - or if the gravity constant you derived is incorrect, we won't see the load lightened by even a milligram.”

Christopher looked up at Timothy. “You are correct, but I've heard every argument over the last few weeks – putting so much at stake on an unproven formula. But once we've had a successful test, we'll talk about the method behind all this madness.”

Timothy just shook his head. He had seen his share of failures over the years and he had never seen a prototype work the first time, especially with calculations that were unproven. It was impossible to even run a simulation on this process since the field of anti-gravity was still largely a mystery. “If this thing works right out of the box,” he said, “I'll be hanging on your every word. It will be nothing short of a miracle.” He grinned, then said under his breath, “If we believed in that sort of thing.”

Christopher just smiled.

Assembly had been completed the night before – very late and only a small number of the team was there when the last connection was soldered and the last screw driven. Christopher decided that he wanted the entire team there when they tried the prototype for the first time. They deserved to be there – and he wanted to begin any necessary adjustments right away to be ready for the press demonstration in 10 days. Everyone arrived at the lab on time.

As Christopher looked around the room, he was moved by what he saw. Here were assembled some of the brightest people he had worked with in his long career. It was truly a pleasure to be associated with each one of them.

Since his dream, Christopher had been a little different. A little more patient, a little less haughty, and a little more jovial. Everyone had noticed it. At first they thought it was just temporary, but it had been weeks now so they had resigned to the fact that Christopher's condition appeared to be permanent. The little secret between Christopher and Warren was bursting at the seams and Christopher was going crazy with the anticipation of letting it out – but they had to wait until AG7 was announced. He knew that the ramifications would be dire – perhaps even devastating, but he was willing to handle whatever may evolve. He even pictured the headlines, “Mad Scientist” or “Brilliant Idiot”.

Since his dream, he had been using Sunday's to attend churches in the area, trying to locate the church that Jesus had referred to. He mentally listed the attributes that had been mentioned. 1) Structure similar to the original church established by Jesus. 2) Stress the importance of faith, repentance, baptism and the gift of the Holy Ghost. 3) It must somehow help with the work in the spirit world. 4) It must teach the real purpose of life – to be able to become like the Father and Jesus Christ.

So far he was unable to find one that met all criterion. He had learned so much however by attending each church and had become acquainted with many good people. When he began asking questions with regard to the search criteria, some were critical and emphasized that despite some minor differences, all churches would lead to heaven if you confessed Jesus. Others just smiled and wished him luck with a pat on the back. But nobody had given him any further clues as to what this church may be. He began to think it may only be in a foreign land, but was not discouraged. Once this project was over and he retired, he would spend his entire life searching if necessary.

Although he had his dream memorized, he read through it often, wanting to keep the feelings alive. He never wanted that experience to fade. When he closed his eyes he could still picture Jesus Christ, the Savior of all mankind, stretching out his hands for Christopher to touch. Then feeling those strong but gentle arms around him. How he longed to return to that lovely place – but he knew his life was not yet completed, and he remembered the charge given him by Jesus with regard to his church: “Please find it.” He was excited to talk with someone about his experience; someone who could relate to this knowledge that he now treasured more than anything else he had learned in his lifetime. It truly was “good news”.

He was still scanning the room. How many of these good people before him would be able to accept his experience as real? Or would they think he had had one too many accidents with the nuclear accelerator? He dearly wanted them all to accept the gospel of Jesus Christ so he could speak freely with them about it with no criticism or judgment about his sanity. But he knew this was too much to ask. He tried to put himself in their place. How would he react to someone, even someone who he greatly respected, that began talking about God and the spirit world. He smiled at the thought.

He then became sober and said, “I have a deep appreciation for each one of you.” He looked into their faces one by one. “Your dedication has exceeded all expectations. As you know, this will be my last prototype - succeed for fail. Many of you I have worked with for a good number of years, and you have become my family. I know that over the years I have not been the most pleasant person to work with.”

Some smiled in agreement but said nothing.

I want to ask for your forgiveness. I want you to know that I greatly regret any disrespect I have demonstrated by my behavior. Nobody deserves the treatment some of you have received at my hand. I want you to know that I have been trying to overcome some of those faults. If any of you are ever caught in the same trap as I had found myself in, I hope you will recognize it and make the appropriate corrections. Some of you have skills and knowledge held by a very small percentage of humankind. With the knowledge we have, it is too easy to feel self-important. Too easy to despise or look down on others. Too easy to bask in the notoriety, fame, and great respect shown by others. Appreciate this respect and admiration, but never inhale.”

Some of them laughed.

Always keep in mind that everyone has their purpose and we could not do our job if everyone else didn't do theirs. We all need each other. Not just everyone in this room today, but everyone you come in contact with and everyone you don't.”

Christopher paused for a few moments. He could feel emotion welling up inside of him, but suppressed it as best as he could. Despite his efforts he knew his eyes were moistening and he noticed that some had seen it, and to his surprise he noticed others eyes were doing the same.

This was too much, so he had to break the emotional tension before he prematurely spilled the beans. “In the words of the immortal Bill & Ted, 'Be excellent to each other'.” This was so out of character for Christopher that everyone didn't know how to react. After a few awkward moments of silence someone began to chuckle and soon everyone was laughing and came up to Christopher and shook his hand.

Christopher shook hands with each of his staff, then said, “Let's give this thing a crank shall we?”

The news of AG7's unveiling had spread like wildfire. AG6 generated great interest in the scientific community, but the excitement now was unprecedented. Although no private testing results were known, the speculation that everyone around the country would be likely to see true anti-gravity today brought in the media like MIT had ever seen. The Dean had limited the number of reporters that could attend the demonstration, but had allowed all networks who wanted to carry the event, to get the feed from attending camera crews.

AG7 was on the stage in the main auditorium. The room was full of scientists from around the world, who either wanted to see it work and rejoice in the ramifications it would have on the world, or who wanted to prove that any successful demonstration was rigged.

Sitting on the stage was a large scale that had a digital readout large enough so the entire audience could see it. Nothing was currently on the scale so it read 0.0000. Beside it was AG7 which was the size of a typical pallet found in any warehouse. Attached to its sides were a series of white dome-shaped nodes that looked similar to motion detection units. A single large electrical cable connected AG7 to a simple desk with a laptop. Beside AG7 was a shrink-wrapped pallet of books with a small forklift under it.

Christopher entered the stage and approached the podium. It took a moment for the audience to settle, but when it did, there was no sound. “Ladies and Gentlemen,” he said with a slight bow of his head, “today we are all here to witness a momentous event in the history of mankind. Ever since Sir Isaac Newton defined gravity for us, using the Latin 'gravitas' meaning 'weight', mankind has been trying to figure out how to counteract the natural law. Even before then man watched birds fly in the sky and wondered if humans could ever participate, and have tried to remove man's gravitas from the equation. Science fiction writers have fantasized about ships that defy gravity as they take off with no need of massive propulsion or thrust. I'm certain the thoughts of piano movers have delved into the realm of weightless objects.”

The audience laughed.

But today, by the great gift of God, we will see the law of gravity defeated.”

The audience went silent. Many looked at one another to be sure they heard what they thought they heard. Did Dr. Christopher Jenkins just attribute God to this scientific discovery?

Christopher smiled and continued, “Yes, you heard right. We've been blessed with the knowledge that you will see demonstrated here today. Just as other men and women throughout history have been given treasures of knowledge beyond their own brilliance, I claim no less. Even Sir Isaac Newton said, 'Gravity explains the motions of the planets, but it cannot explain who set the planets in motion. God governs all things and knows all that is or can be done.' [1] But this is for a later discussion.”

Dr. Timothy Kirk recalled his discussion with Christopher during the assembly of AG7 and suddenly everything made sense. How he knew even before the formula was tested that it would work. Christopher was either telling the truth or he was completely out of his mind. Even though Dr. Kirk never believed in the existence of God, he was always open to the idea if there was ever a reason to believe. He shook his head as he watched Christopher walk toward the laptop.

As Christopher approached the desk he said, “We have asked an independent auditor to verify the accuracy of the scale.” Christopher motioned to his right.

Two people entered the stage with a cart full of cylinders. The team spent the next two minutes verifying the weights of the various objects on the scale, then approached the podium and announced their credentials and certified that the scale was calibrated properly.

Christopher then asked two members of his team to place AG7 onto the scale. They entered the stage and lifted the device onto the scales. Everyone noticed the weight of AG7 alone was 28.1227 kg (62 lbs).

Christopher then said, “Please load the pallet of books onto AG7.”

As the crew were approaching the forklift, Christopher took a moment to look over the audience. He recognized many of them, and he felt a small pain knowing that he would be leaving his position soon and that he would no longer be working side by side with this scientific community that had been a major part of his entire life. These were good men and women who for the most part used their skills and abilities to further the knowledge of mankind. As he continued to sweep his eyes across the people in attendance he noticed that when some saw him looking at them, that they looked away. “I will have to get used to that.” he thought. “Already the rejection begins for my admitted belief in God.” Suddenly his gaze fell upon a man in the very back of the auditorium that made his heart jump. How was this possible? How could he be here? The man looked at him warmly and smiled. Christopher felt the love radiating from him and immediately felt an overflowing gratitude for the gift that this man had given him. He felt unworthy, but was willing to give him the rest of his life in showing that gratitude. Christopher bowed his head slightly and smiled to let Jesus know his appreciation. Jesus nodded back.

Someone tapped Christopher on the shoulder. “We are ready Dr. Jenkins.” It was Warren. Warren squeezed his arm warmly and nodded.

The digital readout on the scale read 141.9744 kg (313 lbs). The audience was silent.

Christopher said, “I want to thank my entire team for their dedication. Please come out here.”

The audience began clapping as fourteen more people entered the stage and stood behind the desk where Christopher and Warren were standing.

Thank you.” said Christopher as he turned to face his team. “Thank you.” he said again as he looked at each one of them. They all held his gaze.

As the clapping subsided, Christopher reached down to the mouse and positioned the cursor on the over-sized button that said, “Engage”. He smiled as he thought of the programmer who wrote the user interface. This reference to Captain Picard's famous saying brought home the gravity of the situation. He smiled at his own silent pun. He clicked the mouse. It was almost like a vacuum had sucked all air out of the room. In the perfect stillness, and almost as if in slow motion, Christopher turned to the scale. The large numbers read 0.0000.


Chapter notes:

[1] Tiner, J.H. (1975). Isaac Newton: Inventor, Scientist and Teacher. Milford, Michigan, U.S.: Mott Media. ISBN 0915134950.

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