Age of Cosmic Exploration

Author: Zhttty

Translators: EndlessFantasy Translation , Lonelytree, _Dark_Angel_

Editors: EndlessFantasy Translation , Lucas

Chapter 101: A Conundrum

The discovery of the UFO was quickly treated by Yao Yuan to be the Hope’s foremost secret, bypassing even the secret location of the ship’s store of atomic weapons. Simultaneously, Yao Yuan tightened the security around the central mainframe, increasing the previous 50 unit patrol to a 200 unit patrol. He also added the robots Bo Li had returned to the security unit, with some directly assigned to secure the hidden cache.
"Yes, I’m certain that we’re looking at a UFO. The fact that it is floating without aid confirms that it is the same UFO that the US government found, because man doesn’t have the technology to create something this advanced!"
Yao Yuan announced, in a firm voice that brooked no argument in a room where a secret meeting was held.
The attendees of this secret meeting included members of the Black Star Unit, who were present during the discovery, engineers, computer scientists, explosives experts, and a group of scientists led by Bo Li.
Currently, on a screen embedded into one of the room's walls, a private documentary on the US government’s initial discovery of the UFO was being played. The raw video files were taken from the central mainframe.
"…As all of you know, this UFO escaped our analytical prodding. Its metallic casing… Actually, I’m suspicious of whether the casing is actually metallic, because our team until now is still unable to get an exact reading of its chemical make-up. But, as they say, seeing is believing... This UFO has a round casing that is silver in color, and that casing has the reflective quality and feel of a metal… So what else could it be?" said a scientist, with the UFO hovering in the background.
Suddenly, a few robed assistants appeared on the screen to set up several devices around the metallic ball.
"Everyone, what you’re seeing now on the screen is the UFO under 10 times magnification. You can see that it has no grooves and is incredibly smooth…
"Now we’re increasing the magnification to a 100 times, and the image looks the same…
"And 1,000 times magnification…
"…Now 2,000 times magnification…
"Alright, you might think we are duping you by playing the same image over and over again, but I can assure you that they are all different. And we are as confused as you are. But what I can say for certain is that this thing is 100 percent well beyond our current scientific comprehension…
"And with that in mind, we will continue to increase the magnification… What you’re seeing now is at a 2,000,000 times magnification, and it still looks the same as before…
"Finally, I will present to you the image taken under our most powerful laser microscope. Its magnification power is at an unbelievable 300,000,000 times magnification because this microscope is normally used to observe items at the atomic level…
"As you can see, there is no evidence of protons, neutrons, or electrons. It is just a smooth surface… This is a material that we have not seen before… It violates our most basic chemical and physical laws…"
All of the scientists in the room watched the documentary with increasingly stunned expressions. Some of them were so taken by surprise that they didn’t notice that they were drooling.
"Dear viewers," the scientist in the video continued, after wiping the tears in his eyes. "I have nothing more to say. If you are still unclear about what we have discovered, please refer to the memo that I’ve given out to you before this video. Everything we know about this thing is on there. And this ends the current sessions. Sorry, there will no Q&A after this because I’m too exhausted preparing for this conference…"
With that, the screen turned black. It was followed by a line of English, stating the year and date of recording. After that, another wall of text appeared, declaring the unfortunate death of the scientist three days after appearing on the video. With a will and no suspect, his death was ruled as a suicide.
As the video drew to a close, the many attendees of the secret meeting, with the exception of the group of scientists, looked at one another with puzzled looks in their eyes. The many scientific terms and implications referred to in the video flew right over their heads. They also didn’t understand the relevance and reasoning behind the scientist’s suicide. Ebon asked the people around him why the scientist committed suicide. He intended for a whisper but his booming voice was heard by everyone.
"…In a way, the scientist committed suicide out of despair. Just imagine, after you have been blinded, silenced, incapacitated, and left in a locked room to die, wouldn’t you search for an early release as well?" sighed Yao Yuan.
"But I don’t see how the two are related," said Ebon. "I understand your premise. Indeed, in the case you described, it’s understandable for there to be a desire to seek self-inflicted death, but doesn’t the scientist in the video appear healthy?"
"It’s easy, that’s because the world he lived in operated on the basis of science… When this ultimate source of meaning crumbled, it was like the light of his world was cruelly shut down. Trapped in despair, he could see no other way out but death," explained Bo Li.
Ebon shrugged and responded rather condescendingly. "I still don’t get it."
"That’s fine. I just hope that our group of scientists on the Hope isn’t as fragile as this scientist in the video," Yao Yuan said as he cast worried glances at the scientific community members that were in the room.
The truth was that Yao Yuan had seen this video before on his own when they first secured the Hope. Like Ebon, he was initially unaffected by it until he got more familiar with the workings of the Academy. Then he realized the true impact the video could have on students of science.
"Let us collect our feelings for the next documentary…"
With the press of a button, another scientist appeared on the middle. This scientist was in his middle age and looked more collected and inspired than the previous scientist.
Nevertheless, he had the same look of despair in his eyes as his predecessor when he talked into the camera, "I’ve been fielding many question regarding the circumstances around the lead scientist that held this post before me, and there are many about the reasons for his suicide… To be honest, I too had the same hopeless thoughts crowding my mind when I saw this UFO, but somehow I survived. In any case, I see that there are new faces among us, and so let me start by explaining what this UFO’s smooth metallic outer casing represents.
"First, I believe everyone here has basic knowledge about atoms, so I will only provide a cursory introduction. Everything, including metals, is made up of atoms, and each atom consists of subatomic particles, protons, neutrons, and electrons. Take for an example my wedding ring. It looks solid, but at the atomic level, there are many spaces between the atoms that make up this carbonate."
Right then, a window appeared on screen beside the scientist displaying the structure of an atom. A proton sat in the middle while electrons and neutrons circled around it.
"The picture you see on the screen is an enlarged image of an atom. As you can see, there is a lot of empty space around the proton that sits in the middle. From the perspective of atomic science, 99 percent of any given atom, and thus all objects, are empty spaces. There is energy between an element’s atoms that helps to keep its atoms at a fixed distance. This energy between atoms both attracts and repels one another to maintain the specific chemical construct of an element. Therefore, protons from different atoms will not come into contact with one another if there is no application of external force. And this law is true for all known substances on Earth.
"This UFO, on the other hand, is something else completely. If you can remember from the images shown previously, the surface of the UFO, even magnified at the subatomic level, is completely smooth. There is no evidence of any protons, electrons, or neutrons. The empty space normally occupied by mobile electrons is noticeably missing…"
The scientist paused for a long time before finally adding, "So, even though the surface casing of this UFO looks and feels like a metal, it defies identification because it is nothing like anything we have on Earth. I’m afraid I’m going to disappoint you if you came here with the intention of finding out what this thing is, because… we, the scientific community, can’t provide the answer. What I can say for certain is that the technology behind this UFO… based on its surface casing alone… is at least thousands of years, or even more, ahead of our current technology.
"I’ve heard people tried using lasers, explosion, quakes, and even atomic fission to crack this open, but they were all to no avail. In fact, they were unable to scratch its surface. However, if you still want my opinion from a scientific perspective on whether there is a way to open it, my answer to you is…
"You have to understand that this is an impossible metal with no spaces at its atomic level. It literally couldn’t be broken apart. The only logical hypothesis we have regarding the nature of this metal is that it is one that is made up from a tight weaving of protons and nothing else. This is what we can call… a protonic element!
"Sadly, I have no idea how such a protonic element could come to be, or in fact, how this UFO could defy the laws of existence." The scientist sighed. "We humans are as backwards as primates, no, as unicellular organisms before this UFO’s technology. But I have to inform everyone who is now present and all future viewers of this recording...
"…To not waste energy or time forcing this UFO open. Unless the UFO is willing to open on its own, using our technology to force it open is akin to a child trying to put off the sun by shooting at it with a water gun…
"It is an impossible conundrum!"