Copyright 2017 Mario V. Farina
Shakespir Edition, License Notes
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Mario V. Farina
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I stared at the computer monitor. “Where has Abbie’s Future Gone?” I exclaimed audibly.
“What was that, Professor,” my student assistant, Jason, asked?
“I was mumbling to myself, Jason,” I replied. “I made a test today of the FA by pointing the wand at the students in my class, and I was looking at the display. It was set for only three months into the future and everyone is there except Abbie Wallace. Do you know her?”
“Yes I do, Professor. Very smart girl!”
“Like you,” I asked? He smiled.
We were in my office discussing a project. Jason Perkins was indeed very smart, even more than that, he was brilliant! He had been in my advanced physics class, but I suspect he knew more about the subject I was teaching than I did. When I was asked by the Department Manager to work on a Future Analyzer, or FA, as we called it, I asked that Jason serve as my assistant. I could think of no one who could assist me better.
“Jason, I didn’t tell the students what I was doing because I didn’t want them to think I was intruding their privacy. The Analyzer is capable of looking many years into the future. Even you and I have no idea exactly how far. And, where I’m concerned, I don’t want to know more than what is necessary to complete what we’re doing within the time frame allowed.”
Jason, a young, twenty-year-old lad, was in his second year at the University. He was tall and thin with jet-black hair. He wore horn-rim glasses, which gave him an intellectual appearance. His school records indicated he had scored IQs that were almost off the chart.
“You said something about Abbie Wallace’s future,” Jason commented.
“Yes,” I responded. “The computer monitor shows the faces of all the students clearly except Abbie’s. Where her photo should have been, there is only the picture of an empty seat. I was surprised by this and spoke to myself too loudly.”
“I’m surprised by this,” Jason responded. “This is a problem for both of us, not just you, Professor.”
My name is William Johnson. I’m Professor of Physics at Linden Square University. I’m thirty-three and was just made full Professor last year. The school was asked by the United States Government to create a device that could test the future deterioration of certain marine equipment, and I was chosen to research the feasibility of inventing such a device, and, if so, to devise one. With Jason’s assistance we had been able to create a machine that analyzed the forces surrounding a marine part when we pointed a wand at it. A picture was taken that showed the condition of the object at that time and/or are some future time. I had performed a surreptitious test in class that would confirm that the device could predict the condition of an item being tested at the three-month point. I had pointed the wand at the faces of students, because their faces were to represent marine parts. Students would be simulating marine parts though they would not be aware of it. I had not expected the FA would fail to show one of the students!
“What do you think, Jason,” I asked? “Could it be the machine that’s at fault? Have we overlooked something?”
“Nothing comes to mind immediately, Professor,” he responded. “When you designed the analyzer, I did not detect any flaw in your logic. I’ll study the plans for the design this evening to see if I can find anything that escaped us. Honestly, I don’t expect to see anything wrong. You’re the expert in this field, and the design is mostly yours.”
Jason was being too generous. He was giving me praise that I did not deserve. He had contributed more to the design than he was willing to admit. I knew that if anyone could find a flaw in the design, he would. But, if there was no flaw, did this mean that Abbie would not live another year? This possibility concerned me greatly.
“Jason, I hate to ask you this,” I said, “are you thinking what I’m thinking concerning Abbie?”
“Yes Professor,” he said. “She was the only one that you did not see in a photo. Were all the pictures that you saw of good quality?”
“Yes,” I said. “They appeared as if they had been taken with an expensive digital camera. What I’m going to ask you now has nothing to do with marine parts. Do you think it is possible that, knowing what we know, would it be possible to prevent any action that the Analyzer predicts?”
“You’re believing Abbie will probably die within the next the three months, Professor?”
“Yes, Jason! Assuming the Analyzer was working properly, what other conclusion could we come to?”
“You’re asking me a question, that a lot of fiction writers have dealt with,” Jason said. “Is it possible to change events that have taken place in the past or are destined to occur in the future? I don’t know the answer. Here, we are not actually attempting to go into the future, but simply to look at it. If something were destined to happen to Abbie, and if somebody were there at the time it was happening, would there be any way to prevent the occurrence? That is the issue we’re both wondering about at this time.”
“Jason,” I said, “our machine is capable of taking pictures of several future periods instead of just one. Can we use this feature to find out more about what happened to Abbie?”
“Yes,” he responded. “It’s possible to takes pictures dealing with several months or several years in the future. At present, it can handle only one time period, but I can change that in a flash!”
“Instead of checking the design tonight, Jason, would you set up the Analyzer to take several monthly pictures with one click for a full year?”
“No problem, Professor.”
“How long will it take?”
“I can have it for you in time for tomorrow’s class.”
“Thank you Jason. I thought that is what you would say. Let’s call it a day and meet again tomorrow after class.”
Jason came through with what I had asked. On the following day, waving the wand as if it were a pointer, I took a secret picture series of Abbie for twelve months into the future. I felt one of them would tell me what I needed to know about when Abbie would begin being absent from her seat.
After class, Jason and I met as we had on the previous day. I connected the FA to display on a wall screen. Then, I began showing the photos in fast mode. Abbie was regularly seated at her desk at class time during the first part of the pictures series. After fifteen photos had been seen, Abbie disappeared and was not seen again. The seat was present but not Abbie. Jason and I could not contain our excitement. We knew we had found the approximate time when something unpleasant might have happened to Abbie.
Jason and I decided that the last date Abbie had been at class as scheduled had been on August 17. She had not been in class on the 18th and never again so far as the pictures could tell us.
“We need to act upon what we know, Jason,” I suggested. “Do you agree?”
“We can certainly try,” he commented. “If you think it’s a good idea, I can secretly stalk Abbie after class on August 18, ready to prevent anything bad that might happen.”
“You can’t be with her every minute,” I muttered.
“True, but I can try to do the best I can!” he replied.
It was decided this was the best plan we could think of using. “Jayson, if this turns out well, would you and she come to see me so we can discuss the whole thing afterwards,” I asked.
“Absolutely,” he said. “And, of course, I’ll do my best to ensure that this does turn out well!”
Time passed slowly. Jason and I were anxious to put Abbie’s danger behind us. On August 18, I held my class as usual. Abbie was sitting in the front row, seemingly unaware that this was an important date for her. Class ended and I went to my office to wait. I was not expecting to see Jason because I knew he was probably already shadowing Abbie.
At about 4:00 that afternoon, I received a call from Jason. “Mission accomplished!” he announced excitedly. “Abbie is safe! We’re on our way to your office.”
Ten minutes later, a beaming Jason, accompanied by a puzzled young lady walked into my office. “I’m happy to see you, Abbie,” I said. “Thank you for coming. You look like you’ve had some sort of adventure!”
“Yes!” she exclaimed. “I was crossing the street on my way to dinner when a car came charging at me from around the corner. I was frozen in place when Jason came from nowhere and pushed me out of the way. He and I were nearly killed by that car. We reported it.”
I glanced at Jason. “Thanks for what you did, Jason,” I said. “I was not expecting you’d be in danger.”
Jason smiled again. “Happy to have been there to help,” he declared. “Besides, I think I made a friend,” he said glancing at Abbie. She was glowing with a smile that covered half her face.
“Abbie, I have a question that I would like to ask you,” I said.
Her countenance resumed its former bewildered expression. “Of course,” she said. “I’ll answer as best I can.”
“Jason tells me you are a brilliant student,” I began. “I’d like your opinion about this: suppose forces are set up to cause a particular outcome. Is it possible that even though the forces positively indicate that outcome, can it, somehow, can be changed or even prevented?” I didn’t really want an answer to the question, but I needed to present a plausible reason why I had asked to see her.
To my surprise, she stated, “Why, yes, the Heisenberg Uncertainty Principle might step in, and . . .”
“Of course,” shouted Jason. “Why didn’t I think of that? It was in 1927. The German physicist, Warner Heisenberg stated that the position and velocity of an object cannot both be measured accurately at exactly the same time! This could explain why a particular action might not take place even if it was supposed to. Abbie, I’m so proud of you!”
Stunned by what the two students had said, I did not speak realizing that these two were a most unusual pair.
“Have you had lunch yet?” Jason asked Abbie.
“No, I was on my way but never made it, as you know,” she said.
“Let me take you to lunch now,” He said excitedly. “I want to talk to you more about Heisenberg!”
“I’d be pleased to do that,” she said.
She and Jason began walking toward the door. “Wait, Abbie,” I called out. “When you have time, come back and see me. I think I can use another assistant in my work!”
When I took pictures of the students in my class, I had expected to see Abbie in one of them. She was not present. The picture had been taken to show the students three months into the future. I thought she must have died during the next three months. I wondered whether there was a way to prevent this event. My student assistant, Jason Perkins volunteered to shadow her to prevent the tragedy. Was he successful?