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Moonseed

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Язык: Английский
Год издания: 2018 год

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‘Elementary particles as massive as bacteria. Yes.’

‘A tear in space, in the heart of the Solar System,’ he mused. ‘A pocket universe … Strange days indeed.’

‘Certainly we’re looking at a release of energy more than enough to overcome gravitational binding energy.’

‘Umm. But why?’ Alfred asked. ‘What’s it for?’

‘Since we’ve no idea how this is being done,’ she said, ‘we’re nowhere near an answer to that.’

She scanned through more preprints. A flood of them, a kaleidoscope of theory, scattered shards of calculation and insight and speculation. Too much for anyone to read, let alone review. ‘Makes me wish I was young again,’ she said.

‘Umm?’

‘The excitement out there. String theory describes the high energy stuff. Energies of up to ten to power nineteen giga-electronvolts. Which is ten million billion times higher than anything we could create in any conceivable accelerator. So much was hidden from us, in this low-energy world we inhabit. Like trying to deduce the nature of a lion, after being given a glimpse of his tail.’

‘And string theory is a description of the rest of the lion.’

‘With about as much guesswork involved. Yes. But now, it’s as if Venus has conveniently transmuted into the biggest particle accelerator in the universe. We can see the stuff we struggled to describe before. Now, even the sceptical types are saying we might reach a true Theory of Everything in five, ten years at most. The excitement is extraordinary …’

But now Alfred had found something else on the IAU net. Evidence of more Planckian cosmic radiation, just a trickle of it, coming – not from a remote planet, not from exotic sources that lay maybe beyond the Galaxy itself – but a lot closer to home.

He pulled up a sketchy diagram from a new preprint: a circle centred on a schematic Earth, two points picked out on the orbit of the Moon. ‘L4 and L5. Gravitationally stable, like shallow pits in spacetime: the places in the Moon’s orbit, ahead of it and behind it, where you’d expect debris to collect. Dust, whatever.’

She looked at the closely-printed text, tried to follow it. ‘What are they saying? That the Venus killer is there?’

‘No. Just that, on a small scale, the processes we’re observing on Venus are replicated there, on a much smaller scale.’

She frowned. ‘How so? Something working on the raw material there? But what?’

‘I don’t know.’

‘And how did it get there? Did it start on Venus, and come here, to Earth-Moon? Or …’ Or did it start here, on Earth or Moon, and spread out across space, to Venus?
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