Wednesday, January 4, 2012

Future Origins

It was 2052 when scientists first figured out that they could potentially create a black hole in the lab with tools they already had. Naturally, the world of science was excited at the possibilities for study. The general public, however, only needed to hear the phrase ‘black hole’ and commenced with a large outcry of worries and fear.

Science marched on undaunted, though, and research began on how the inevitable lab-made black hole would be contained. If the hole proved powerful enough, any containment system would merely be the first thing sucked inside.

For another forty-seven years, scientists struggled with the problem of how to contain one of the most powerful forces of nature. Some rogue elements of the field began working on creating their homegrown black holes, but were thankfully stopped by world governments. It marked the first time all of the governments of the world came together in agreement on something, that such an experiment should not be undertaken anywhere near the planet. Even when the material for containment had finally been figured out, experiments on creating a black hole were still banned worldwide. The risk was just too great. At the turn of the 22nd century, the scientific community had seen the idea of researching a real black hole up close go from an almost certainty, to nothing more than a dream.

The material they had created for the purpose of containing their dream, however, became widespread in its uses. It was a light, rubbery material, pink in color upon creation, that was able to bend and flex in shape, yet was also able to keep its form rigid when exposed to strong forces. It was called a ’Non-Newtonian Solid,’ a nickname that stuck likening its properties to those of Non-Newtonian fluids. For it’s flexibility, yet incredible resistance to force, it soon showed up anywhere and everywhere. Building materials, soldier’s armor, vehicles; everywhere you looked, you saw the material either shining pink or painted some other color to blend in. It even had the ability to take on properties of certain things injected into it, inject something hot in the material and the material would constantly give off heat, electrify the material and it would become something of a generator, every year a new mixing of the material would be discovered and put to use all over the world in items and fields the material hadn’t previously reached.

It was the material’s ability to constantly give off energy when mixed correctly that caused it to be a major component in the first interstellar spaceships. It was nearly a century after the material’s creation that the world was finally ready for such exploration, due to the public’s fear of the unknown and the world’s governments willingness to bend to fear. Science kept marching on, however, and by the time the first ships were being built, there had been enough research and new theories to greatly diminish any concerns about such travel.

For a time, humanity seemed to forget about creating small black holes for research. The species spread across space, colonizing other worlds, finding previously unknown life, and basically living the sci-fi dream.

Eventually, the fates aligned and science finally saw an answer to the problem that had plagued research for what was new a few hundred years. Black hole research had improved by leaps and bounds due to the constant space travel, but observing from a safe distance can only reveal so much. The desire was still there to create such a powerful entity in a lab, where it could be studied up close and personal. Now, finally, there was a planet willing to see the research begin. It was a mostly uninhabited planet, given up to the animals and plants left on it.

It was a misshapen and oddly luminous planet, which previously served as a host to all sorts of entertainment venues. If you were a pop star, you very likely would have performed on this planet multiple times for broadcasts reaching out all over the universe. In more recent years, it lost the luster that fame brought to it, as an asteroid field had sprung up around the star system, making the planet much too much of a hassle for most to bother going to. Virtually no one lived on it anymore, so no government saw much of a problem with running the experiments there. The worst possible scenario would lead to a number of casualties reaching a few hundred maximum. Less than even the amount made from recent problems with starship captains texting while driving.

By 2463, the lab, which had gained a silly nickname from scientists who saw it as a land where the great research dream of the past few centuries would come true, was up and running, ready to begin creating the Non-Newtonian Solid container that would house the lab’s main focus.

The design of the container was spherical, with two pads on the bottom for stability and a short handle on each side. The front could be opened to get at the contents inside, but when closed created a perfect seal. Getting the device, which they called a ‘research ball,’ to work exactly as they hoped against stress tests was harder than expected, though. Research balls A through G had failed, leading to a discovery that the factory providing them with the Non-Newtonian Solid material was not working up to code, and as such were providing an inferior batch.

Funding was beginning to run low, forcing the scientists to reach out for funding from more sources. The main source turned out to be Klaxxon Industries, who had an interest in black hole study as a leading transport company. Learning more about black holes would lead to more efficient routes around them. The only minor issue the lab had came to be that the company required that the K.I. logo be stamped on just about everything in the complex.

With the new money, the lab was able to put together more of the new ‘Klaxxon Industries Research Ball’s, trying to get just the right mix and setup so they could ensure there would be no catastrophic failure once they finally created the most dangerous thing in space inside. Balls H through L didn’t mold correctly, M through O didn’t hold up to stress tests, and all sorts of various little problems continued to plague ball after ball.

Finally, Research Ball Y held up to all the tests. It was perhaps the perfect container, coming up with less than a ten-trillionth of a percent of error in any test they put it up against. Once it was set, they hooked it up to the computers and added new programming to the nanochips embedded inside. With this programming, the container would have enough of an artificial intelligence to monitor its own vitals and move to shut down experiments if they became too dangerous, or perform some of the actions needed for the experiment on its own if situations called for the human team to avoid close contact.

Soon, the galaxy’s first lab-created black hole came into existence, and was placed inside Research Ball Y, which the scientists affectionately referred to by the initials painted on its side. The results were immediate. Within a few months, more knowledge about black holes had been figured out than anyone could have ever dreamed. New safety measures were designed for dealing with wild ones, new technologies in major fields were being created, and like when the material of the container was created, there was a general boom of advancement.

With new technology, however, comes new ideas for war. The Non-Newtonian Solid leant itself towards defensive tech, but artificial black holes and black hole study leant itself more easily towards weapons. All it took was one rogue faction with extremist views to get hold of the tech in order to start a war reaching across the galaxy and wiping out a large percentage of the human race.

Eventually it ended, and things began to rebuild. The pop planet turned land of scientific dreams, however, was still difficult to get to and as such became forgotten. The lab fell into ruin, and nature continued to take over the planet, eventually turning the area once full of science into a field the greenest of greens.

The small container filled with a black hole survived, though, wandering the world and slowly learning more than its programming began with. The initials may have worn off its side, but it still remembered what it was called, and it still knew that its purpose was to swallow whatever it could find in order to learn more about the universe, and to keep everyone safe while doing so.

It would always be hungry. For matter, and for knowledge.

File Photo: Klaxxon Industries Research Ball Y