Day 28 - katerauner's Cosmological Constant

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Cosmological Constant

by katerauner

"Hey, a new posting." Chaz paused at the corkboard outside Professor Klein's office and flattened the notice with one hand. "I didn't know Klein was accepting students yet." He read out loud. "Summer semester, Exploring the Multiverse. An empirical lab in theoretical physics."

"That's an oxymoron." Li Na leaned forward and Chaz caught a whiff of herbal shampoo clinging to her smooth black hair. As she ran a finger along the printing her tawny hand came close enough to his to make his pulse race.

"They'll use the quantum computer Klein brought with him from Bucharest," she said. "Rumors say it's a really powerful machine, but I can't find any official description. I'd love to try it."

Chaz cleared his throat and read on. "Anthropic Theory holds that physical constants in the universe are fine tuned to allow life to evolve. Students will propose a range of values for the cosmological constant and calculate values for the other so-called-constants such that complex organic molecules could form."

He smiled down at her. "I haven't found a modeling class my advisor approves of yet. But no one can reject this - a cutting edge hypothesis modeled on a groundbreaking system, from the department's latest star - the mysterious Doctor Klein."

"Space limited." Li Na pulled out her phone. "I'm applying now."

"Should be no problem getting in," Chaz said, dropping the pack from his skinny shoulders and fumbling for his own phone. "Graduate level students only, with an impressive list of pre-reqs."

***

Doctor Klein presented a brief orientation in the small control lab. They gathered around a console covering half a metal desk. The system's name, Qbit, was scrawled on a piece of tape. The computer itself hummed away in an adjacent room, shielded behind a concrete block wall.

"I offer a significant challenge this summer." Klein was a short man with bushy brows over diamond-sharp eyes in a head like a cubist sculpture. His papers were brilliant and provocative and, in his tweed jacket, Chaz could imagine him arguing uncertainty with Heisenberg or black holes with Hawking. No one knew how the university had lured him out of Europe, or how Klein managed to take Qbit with him.

When Chaz told friends he'd be studying with Klein, they'd shook their heads and whispered gossip. Bucharest threw him out because he's crazy. Or worse, they shared dark rumors of lab assistants disappearing without a trace. That's why he's never been nominated for the Nobel.

No way, Chaz told them, would the physics department give Klein a research lab if anything weird was going on. Not even if Qbit did jump their reputation to top tier status overnight.

It was an honor to work with him.

"Do you know the Anthropic Hypothesis?" Klein spoke slowly with a roll to his Rs.

Chaz was saved from saying it seemed more philosophy than physics because Klein continued without a pause.

"I propose to elevate this hypothesis to an undeniable theory - to demonstrate, only true constant is the cosmological constant. All other parameters derive from this energy-density measure, and such relationships constrain the multiverse. I will return Einstein to his proper, preeminent place in physics. Will create a true Theory of Everything.

"How will we discover these relationships?" Alfie was a goofy slope-shouldered guy, blond and even whiter than Chaz. All his weight seemed to have slipped off his sunken chest and settled on his hips. They'd had classes together - theoretical physics was a small department - and Alfie was brilliant, but an unlikely competitor for Li Na's attention.

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