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Gravity Falls

Gravity Falls

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Gravity Falls

valutazioni:
5/5 (1 valutazione)
Lunghezza:
252 pagine
3 ore
Pubblicato:
Jul 13, 2020
ISBN:
9781005161323
Formato:
Libro

Descrizione

A secret experiment gone horribly wrong and the results are disastrous for the Earth. CERN had attempted to create a new type of micro black hole, one that twists spacetime around itself. The hope is to create a new power source, perhaps even an interstellar starship drive. Instead, they may have created their own ultimate destruction.
The black hole escapes its magnetic confinement and sinks into the planet. There, the thing swings like a pendulum through the Earth. Wherever it surfaces, terrible devastation occurs. In some regions, it increases gravity, crushing Skyscrapers, cars, people and anything incapable of withstanding such a powerful force. In other places, the reverse occurs. Gravity is nullified. Anything not tied down is propelled into the skies, even to space, whether automobiles or icebergs. Oceans, no less than the land are affected by the black hole. Tsunamis 1,000 feet high race toward land. Countries are drowned. The world is dying.
A small group of scientists, led by physicist and inventor Gavin Williams, struggle to find a solution but time is fast running out. A desperate world struggling to survive has decided the only two safe places on Earth, the “axis points” must be under their own control. Nations approach the brink of a nuclear holocaust.
Worse, any day, the mini black hole may surface near the Large Hadron Collider, humanity’s one chance of stopping their own annihilation. The CERN facility could be wiped out. If it is, so is the future of mankind. When Gavin does discover a remedy, the problem is how to use it. The world is falling apart. Countries are turning against countries. Gavin’s family must make a grueling journey by land across a now dangerous United States. All this while the clock is ticking down to zero. Gravity Falls, a science fiction thriller of the first order!

Pubblicato:
Jul 13, 2020
ISBN:
9781005161323
Formato:
Libro

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Anteprima del libro

Gravity Falls - Kenneth Testa, Jr

FALLS

CHAPTER 1—Feeling Lighter Than Air

As if by magic, the piece of paper floated. Gavin Williams was convinced of that fact, for it was the only way he could describe what he had just seen. Moreover, there was no obvious cause of the event. There was no practical explanation as far as he could determine.

For instance, there had not been even a tiny hint of a vagrant breeze to lift the sheet of paper and cause it to drift gently upwards. The train’s interior was hot and sultry. The atmosphere bordered on the usual summer suffocation that was the lot of those riding on New York subways in late July. If there was air-conditioning, it must have long ago ceased to function. There wasn’t a single breath of coolness to be had, not so much as even a wisp of moving air to stir the paper from its original location.

To occupy his time and to take his mind off the stifling environment Gavin was trapped in, he had been studying the woman seated opposite him across the aisle when the thing had happened. His observing her wasn’t for romantic reasons of any sort. Gavin was happily married. He just liked trying to figure out people’s occupations judging by what evidence he could see. It was just a guessing game and nothing more to keep his mind occupied.

Gavin had plenty of opportunity to observe her without her seeing him do so, because her attention was riveted on the pad she held in her right hand. It was one of those legal yellow ones with widely spaced green lines. Each page was filled with cursive writing. She would read a page, tear it from the pad and lay it neatly on top of a growing pile of such pages on the empty seat next to her.

She came across as very professional to Gavin, being dressed in a dark gray business attire and wearing black, low-heeled shoes. Her chestnut-colored hair had been pulled back and tied in a neat bun. She wore nondescript tortoise-shell framed glasses. Her full attention remained on her pad.

Probably going over her own work, he guessed. Most likely a lawyer or paralegal, then. He had no real factual evidence to base this conclusion on other than the fact she dressed in such a business-like way and was reading from a legal pad.

Why a paper pad? he wondered. Most people didn’t use them anymore. Certainly, everyone else in the subway car seemed glued to their ever-present phones, tablets, or laptops, either reading or sending texts, or perhaps just playing games. One couldn’t be sure since everyone seemed to intent on what they were doing, whether work or play. Gavin had read somewhere that people used their phones to act as a block or barrier to having to interact with other people, especially in public places. When focused on one’s phone, people left you alone, it seemed.

It had been just then, while he was observing her and trying to guess her career, that the topmost piece of paper had floated off the pile. The page had gently, oh ever so gently, lifted up several inches from the seat and had just hung there. This was the only way he could think of to describe it. Even as his eyes widened at this phenomenon, as his mind sought to find some reasonable explanation for what he was witnessing, the page drifted slowly back down again. The woman was oblivious to the whole event, having never taken her eyes off her reading.

Gavin took off is glasses to rub the bridge of his nose. He then examined the lenses. Nothing wrong with them. They were clean enough, so they weren’t the cause. Glancing around him, Gavin realized nobody else had apparently witnessed anything strange. There was one other thing; just when the page had drifted upwards to hover there in the air for several seconds, a feeling of inexplicable lightheadedness had come over him at the same moment.

Am I having a ministroke? he wondered, suddenly worried. Had it been just a hallucination of some sort, something induced by some peculiar medical condition he might have, and one he was unaware of? No, he was too young for such a thing to happen, surely? Moreover, he felt certain he had seen what he had seen, unless again, there was some sort of problem with his brain causing to him to see things otherwise, things that weren’t real. This idea scared him. Images of brain tumors, mini-strokes, aneurisms and more suddenly crowded his thoughts.

The train slowed now, braking, clanking loudly, and swaying as it neared his stop, which was116th Street Station, the closest one to Columbia University where he worked. In preparation for disembarking, he blanked his phone’s screen. He then shoved the device inside the breast pocket of his suit jacket, and rose from his seat.

Gavin, out of habit, straightened his tie, although it didn’t need it. He only just remembered to pick up his Rubik’s Cube from the empty seat next to him. He carried the thing with him wherever he went. He found playing with it helped his concentration when he was trying to solve various engineering or physics problems, which he was almost always trying to do, except for when he was guessing people’s careers.

Even before he had stood, the momentary lightheadedness he’d been experiencing had vanished. He glanced over at the woman once more. Then he headed away from her and toward the doors. That last glance was more to reassure himself all was normal once more. She and her pile of papers seemed perfectly ordinary now, everything in place and nothing untoward happening. She didn’t even so much as raise her eyes for a moment to give him a cursory glance, as he passed by, but remained intent on her work as he moved away from her.

Gavin shook his head a little in frustration and perhaps to try to clear his mind. This caused his dark curly locks to partially spring from where he had them carefully slicked back. No matter what hair gel he used, and he had tried many different ones, his curls, sooner or later seemed to develop a mind of their own. A wild head of curly hair as a professor was not something he desired. Such might have somehow worked for that most famous genius of old, Albert Einstein, but Gavin felt he was far too young and better looking to try emulating that particular scientist’s hair style. And this, despite some people said that he, too, was just as great a genius.

Everyone has a certain look they desire, he thought as he waited in front of the subway car’s doors. For him, it was the slicked down, no-nonsense look of an educated elite. For the woman with the legal pad, it was a business-like version of beige camouflage.

Each to their own, he mused, as the doors before him slid open and he exited the subway car. Now the mental image of the floating piece of paper came to his mind once more. This wasn’t something Gavin could mentally brush off so easily. After all, if the paper hadn’t been carried on some secret and weird current of air that had only existed immediately around it, then the page had defied gravity. And that idea, Gavin didn’t like at all. It disturbed his sense of reality.

CHAPTER 2—Flights of Fancy

You’ve got to be kidding me? Johnathan Hargreaves’ tone was harsh, not so much with disbelief, as sheer anger. Alternatively, he secretly suspected it just might have been with some emergent fear, as well. Then, who wouldn’t be afraid of hearing such a thing?

I assure you, I’m not. Melody Branford’s tone sounded as sweet as her first name implied. However, her demeanor was more like that of a statue of some ancient Celtic goddess. She was average in height, but made to look taller because of her thin, almost to the point of borderline-anorexic figure. She made for a stoic and somewhat forbidding presence. Then, she was head of an entire division of DARPA here at that organization’s headquarters. With her forefinger, she tapped the manila envelope containing the dossier that lay on the desk in front of her. It’s all in there and it’s all true. Every word of it, she said.

I…I…I don’t understand, he stuttered. How could this have happened? I thought every effort, every possible precaution was always in place to protect from just such an eventuality as this. Now you’re telling me those idiots still managed to let it happen? Johnathan shook his head in frustration.

He turned and stalked over toward the floor-to-ceiling sheet of glass that fronted the DARPA headquarters’ office. The window gave a view down onto busy Randolph Street below. The road was full of electric cars, the sidewalks teeming with people going about their daily business. Even in midmorning, Arlington, Virginia was a very busy city.

Eternal rush hour, he muttered to himself, as he gazed at the scene below him.

Eh?

Sorry, just thinking aloud.

About the traffic? Her tone, although still sweet-sounding, had an edge of hardness to it. Mightn’t you be better off concentrating on the problem we have here, instead of woolgathering? she asked. It’s certainly big enough.

He turned to face her. Just what do you suggest I do about it? he countered, flatly, and with a tinge of anger. This isn’t something that sending a bunch of agents out into the field can readily fix, you know. In fact, I doubt it’s fixable at all!

I’m all too aware of that. Melody slid into the chair behind her desk. Now seated, she folded her hands together on the desktop, and steepling her fingers, she looked over them at him, as she said, It will get worse, much worse if we don’t do something about it. Do you have any idea just how bad the word ‘worse’ means in this case?

Johnathon shook his head, before saying, Not all that bad, I would think. The thing should evaporate rather quickly according to everything we know about the physics of micro or mini black holes. Even so, I’m surprised.

Surprised they managed to finally create one, or surprised they let the damned thing escape?

He shrugged. Either—both, I guess. I mean, there has been enough warnings over the last decades about the possibility of such a thing happening by accident. What did they do—just ignore those warnings and take no precautions at all?

He shook his head. Again, this seems like some sort of macabre joke rather than something that could really have happened.

According to you?

No, he snapped. According to physics and the world’s physicists in general from everything I’ve been taught. But never mind that. What did you mean, this will get much worse? It has no chance of eating up the Earth, does it? If it’s a micro black hole, its Schwarzschild radius is just too small, so it won’t allow it to eat enough to maintain itself, let alone grow. It should, by everything we know of the laws of physics, simply evaporate…eventually.

Yes. Melody nodded as she spoke. That’s true enough, but therein lies the problem. The scientists at CERN estimate this particular micro black hole will take slightly a little over fifty years or so for it to do so, evaporate, I mean. Even if it doesn’t cannibalize the Earth in the process, which they agree on with you and so say it won’t, it’s still going to be with us a long time. Our scientists think they are wrong, though, and that it will grow.

Stunned, Johnathan asked, How? How could it possibly take that long to vaporize? It shouldn’t last long at all, seconds, minutes, hours, days at most, before it disintegrates in one brilliant flash.

You need to read the dossier. It contains everything we know. Again, she tapped the folder with one manicured forefinger.

He nodded. I will. But humor me. Explain it to me firsthand. This isn’t easy for anyone to get a handle on, or to accept, you know.

Again, his boss nodded. Yes, I know. It floored me, as well, when I heard about it this morning. Well, it seems they’ve been experimenting with creating mini black holes for a while now, using head on collisions of protons to produce them. They were successful and had created quite a few, and yes, they did evaporate almost instantly, just as predicted. Then, one of the physicists, a man named Omar Abadi, convinced the heads of the Large Hadron Collider, along with the new CERN Oversight Committee, to let him try to create a particular kind of black hole, a so-called knotted black hole."

Oh, those are just theoretical, Johnathan said, dismissing the idea with a blithe wave of one hand. Impossible to create given our current technological level, or so I’m told.

Now Melody shook her head. Then you’ve been misinformed, apparently, because they accomplished just that. They created a micro or mini black hole, however you want to refer to it, of the knotted variety and it immediately collapsed the magnetic bottle they had contained the thing in, much to their surprise and chagrin, I suppose. Then the black hole promptly sank into the Earth, as it would because of its infinite density. And as I’ve already mentioned, our scientists are sure it is growing.

But if it grows, then it could eat the Earth. It’s event horizon would keep expanding and so allow more and more matter to be swallowed at an ever faster rate.

Yes. Eventually, given enough time, it could do just that, they assure me. However, because of the nature of the space-time knots composing the thing, the good news is that it will unravel of its own accord and so evaporate, or so we’re told. However, in the meantime, it is hungry for matter. They say the thing has already acquired the mass of a Mount Everest and are sure it’s still developing.

Johnathan exhaled loudly, before saying, So again, I ask, what can we do about it? Why talk to me? The thing must be at the center of the Earth by now, way beyond anyone’s reach, let alone that of mere field agents for DARPA to be able to accomplish anything.

She shook her head again. This time, the gesture seemed almost an impatient one. No, it’s rate of descent accelerates, meaning it goes on, passes through the core of the planet and then the black hole moves back up toward the outer crust on the other side of the planet. This will keep repeating with it, but never quite attaining the velocity to escape Earth’s crust entirely before it sinks back down again. Still, the black hole will get close to the surface each time it’s swing brings it back to its highest point. Too close to the surface for comfort, as things stand. It’s doing this in a sort of pendulum motion they say, one that orbits around a central axis point.

And where is that axis?

She shrugged. We’re not positive, but it seems to be in the region of Madagascar.

Shouldn’t there be one on the opposite side of the Earth from Madagascar, as well?

The other antipode of the axis, you mean? Yes, certainly, there should be. They said it would be close to San Francisco if their theory is correct.

The safe points where there should be no gravitational effects from the black hole at all, then?

Correct. They aren’t large areas, though, and parts of them lie in the ocean, so that further narrows the useable land area.

You mean safe land areas, don’t you?

If you wish to call them that, yes. They would be places relatively unaffected and so safe for whoever lived there. The problem is, we can’t crowd eight billion people onto Madagascar and into a small area of land just south of San Francisco. There’s not nearly enough room.

Johnathan walked the few steps to where she sat at her desk. Stopping in from of it, he said, You’re right. If we can’t evacuate everyone into the safe areas, the problem is going to get worse, tragically….

I told you so, was her simple reply, but the look she gave him was one of real anguish and without a trace of any triumph in it. It seemed she wished she had been wrong.

The good news, as you said, is it will eventually evaporate, but the bad news is people are going to die, he said, a lot of people.

Yes, in due course, most people, if not all in the end. Billions. In the meantime, the death rate will get steadily worse as time goes on. That rate will continue to speed up as the black hole gets bigger. I rather think that long before the black hole evaporates, we may see the extinction of complex life on this planet, and I’m not just talking about the human race.

Johnathan didn’t speak. He simply did not know what to say, what he could say under such circumstances, such horrible news, so he simply stared down at Melody where she sat at her desk. In his wildest flights of fancy, he had never considered such a thing to be possible, let alone practically feasible. Humanity had created a tiny knotted region of space time that swallowed matter into an infinitely small point? The idea was incredible.

His own background in physics meant he didn’t really need for Melody to explain the situation to him in any more detail. He already knew the characteristics of black holes. He knew the thing would grow in power and destructive force as it mass increased. That was a given.

The black hole would become so dense that it would slash its way back and forth through the Earth, plunging in and out of it in an ever expanding pattern, disrupting gravity around it as it went. The anomaly would behave like the proverbial bull rampaging in a china shop. The black hole would cause upheavals and devastation wherever it went. There would be ever greater distortions in gravity as more time passed and with all the horrible consequences such a thing would bring.

Gravity, that most stable constant as everyone on Earth knew it to be, would begin to fluctuate wildly, rising in some areas and causing crushing catastrophes. And if what he knew about knotted black holes was correct, in other areas, gravity would fall and do the same, causing yet more catastrophes, as well, but in different ways. The resulting damage would spread on a scale almost impossible to comprehend. There would be chaos, confusion, and mass hysteria. There would also be mass deaths.

Moreover, it would not be a quick or painless death for humanity. Instead, the demise of countless humans would go on, year after year, the numbers ever growing, and despite any government’s best efforts to save their populations. This would most probably be true of the majority of members of other species on Earth, as well. No creature would be spared. Furthermore, the rate of destruction

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