3. Open House

McMurdo team has arrived

Wednesday, December 16th, 2009

AmericanHelicopter The helicopter from McMurdo is landing as I type this. I just got word that one of the scientists on board is Director of the Organization of Space Astrophysics in Italy, Dr. Dante Alfieri.

Dr. Alfieri just published his 12th book, a series of essays entitled “Quantum Field Theory and Black Hole Thermodynamics”, which I read from cover to cover in one sitting, and probably screamed “YES!” and pumped my fist like a million times before I finished.

However, given my recent discoveries, he is probably the last person I want to see at Station151.

Geek fest

Thursday, December 17th, 2009

BlackHoleIf you’ve never hung out in the middle of Antarctica with half a dozen Ph.D.s, a billion dollars worth of the latest in astronomical interferometry, and a Krups Compact Fully Automatic Espresso Machine, I highly recommend that you add it to the top of your bucket list.

Dr. Alfieri and the rest of us geeks spent the whole night analyzing x-rays from a nearby black hole and remotely operating Alfieri’s Laser Interferometer Gravitational-Wave Observatory in Italy. Without a doubt, the greatest 24 hours of my professional life.

So great, that I nearly forgot that I’m hiding the biggest discovery in the history of mankind right under their noses. :(

Staycation

Thursday, December 17th, 2009

I just got word from my employer that Dr. Alfieri and his team are so impressed with the facility that they will be staying for two weeks to conduct a series of cutting edge experiments. Translation: I get a 2 week Antarctic staycation in the rec room.

Normally I’d be able to stay reasonable and composed, but considering the fact that I’ve concealing regular and frequent radio transmissions from a source 650 million light years away and 176 years in the future, and I was planning to send my first reply tomorrow night… I’m having a minor freak-out.

Talk to me, J&B

Friday, December 18th, 2009

J&BOK, my minor freak-out has turned into a major freak-out. I have to, have to, have to get back on the Array. Dr. Alfieri and his team have taken over everything and I am literally just sitting in my quarters drumming my fingers on an unopened bottle of J&B….

Do I tell the McMurdo team everything and risk a massive government takeover and cover-up? Or, do I wait two weeks for them to finish and hope this Maxim Akihiko Broussad is still transmitting? What if the window is closed by then?

Surely there’s something else I can do. Something….

I’ve done it now.

Friday, December 18th, 2009

Sabotage

The Big Idea

Sunday, December 20th, 2009

Two nights ago J&B and I had a Big Idea. We decided that Station151 was too small for a big, fancy research team, so we made friends with a bucket of gas and a strike anywhere match, and melted the ARC terminal down to the ice.

ARC terminals are responsible for synchronizing radio telescopes, facilitating their communication, and relaying interferometry to software for analysis. But when all that turns into magic smoke and floats away, geeky astrophysicists apparently get fussy and want to do all kinds of mean things to the guy they found passed out next to the charred remains of said ARC terminal.

OK, so maybe not my brightest moment. But the good news is that I’ve escaped from their little makeshift prison, rescued my laptop, some bacon, and disappeared myself. I’m currently writing this from a nearby hut built in 1911 by a team of Norwegian explorers. There are some basic supplies inside, but I won’t last long out here.

Old supplies in the hut

Last chance

Monday, December 21st, 2009

I have no idea if the group from McMurdo is still at Station151 or if they have returned to their base, but you can bet the area will be crawling with security teams in the next 24 hours.

So, I am going to attempt to sneak down to the Array before 18:57:09 to do another experiment. It could be my last chance. The ARC terminal may be wasted, but I believe I can still operate a single dish from my laptop. That may be enough to pick up a few new messages and get a single transmission out.

I am guessing that the pilot of the ship who has been transmitting messages into the past probably has the ability to receive messages from the past as well. So, even though he may be 650 million LY from Earth and 167 years into the future, if he’s scanning all frequencies throughout time, he should be able to receive my message.

After having at least a week to consider it, I’ve decided to send one and only one word in my transmission: “SPEGG”. I think that will be enough to get the pilot’s attention.

If I am caught, this will be my last entry. Hopefully someone will find this and continue my work. Godspeed.

They’re still there

Monday, December 21st, 2009

Two people from the McMurdo team were out at the ARC terminal when I sneaked back. Luckily the Array is spread out in a long, “Y”-shaped configuration, and the dish at the bottom of the “Y” is half a kilometer from what’s left of the ARC. However, I couldn’t risk staying, so I connected my laptop to that dish’s SIMPC interface and programmed it to transmit my message at exactly 18:57:09. With any luck, no one will notice my dish out of alignment with the others while it transmits.

Oh, and you’re not going to believe this. When I returned to the Norwegian hut, I found Buzz patiently waiting for me :) Hopefully no one followed him.

Happy solstice. Full 24 hours of sunlight today. Pretty inconvenient if you’re on the lam.

I’m done for

Tuesday, December 22nd, 2009

I just woke up to Buzz barking like mad and the roar of helicopters and snowmobiles outside. They’re at the door. It’s over.

Mad Men

Wednesday, December 23rd, 2009

This morning half a dozen men dragged me out of the old Norwegian hut, shoved me to the ground, cuffed me, and strapped me face up on a snow machine. Buzz protested, bit a man, and got shot. And then the machines grumbled away, the cold 24-hour sun whirling overhead.

As we slid over the barren Antarctic landscape, back to Station151, I assume, for processing and to arrange travel back to the States for prosecution, my mind finally broke. It simply threw in the towel. For, in one moment I was a prisoner, and then there was a sudden flash of amber light, and in the next I found myself tumbling, violently, on the ice, as if I had been thrown from the machine, head over heels, the hard Antarctic desert punching me in the face with each rotation, until, finally, I slid to a halt on my back, staring upward through a mixture of snow and blood.

I picked myself up, slowly. The men and their guns, and their snow machines, and my handcuffs, and the helicopters tracking us from above, and all the noise and confusion was utterly, impossibly… gone. Not even the tracks in the snow remained.

My broken mind and I shambled back to Station151 to find the ARC node fully intact, Buzz patiently awaiting me on his mount, and no sign of any team of researchers from McMurdo ever having been there.

Is there a therapist in Antarctica?

Next: Chapter 4. Division