The Torus Project

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Status: Finished  |  Genre: Thrillers  |  House: Booksie Classic

Chapter 25 (v.1)

Submitted: February 12, 2011

Reads: 72

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Submitted: February 12, 2011

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Chapter 25
2:15 p.m., Monday
Torus, quantum . . . the concepts seemed way out of Brian’s league, but after he split up with Jackie and Carol, he decided he needed to know more about these things if he was to understand what was happening to those around him. He also knew he needed to find the home of Dr. Kevill, for there, he felt, was Amber, trapped and alone.
With Wilson safely tucked away in daycare, he drove to and approached his apartment in as much wariness and secrecy as possibly, with thoughts of people popping up and trying to infect him at any time. Brian felt good about his body and his instincts, though. While not in as great a shape as he had been in the Air Force, he knew he could outrun most or defend himself (and Wilson) if anything came about, unexpectedly or not. Still, a quick spray in the face, like Mike had detailed to him, was something no one could outrun.
His trip back to the apartment was uneventful, and he quickly settled down in front of his computer.
“Kevill, Kevill,” he said to himself, first accessing the university’s Psychology Department page.
He had actually visited Kevill’s bio before; this information was nothing new. So he took “Andrew Kevill” and entered the search term in a ‘Net engine for a blind look and a hope at finding something he didn’t already know. Brian actually felt a little guilty at probing into his ex-role model. For over a year the man had been at the top of Brian’s list. He had looked up to Dr. Kevill, admiring the man’s knowledge and self-confidence. Some of those feelings, after so long in cultivating and after hitting a need so deep in Brian, were having difficulty eroding in the face of new evidence against his psychology professor.
Beliefs, he thought again. Beliefs are so hard to understand, to overcome.
But Brian kept pushing, knowing he was one of only a few who could actually stop this madman.
The search produced results, although few. Brian soon realized that his Andrew Kevill was one of maybe two even listed on the web, with the other man living somewhere in Australia. He quickly narrowed his search by eliminating any reference to the island continent.
What was left didn’t yield a quick home address like Brian had hoped. Kevill was mentioned in a few psychological journals, came up in a picture with some other psychology staff at a recent scholarship presentation, even popped up with a list of other donors to a local jazz club. But no home address.
And then Brian stumbled across today’s date under one of the links produced by his search. He quickly hit it and scanned the contents. A lecture. Tonight. Dr. Kevill was to give a presentation as part of an intersession class on neuropsychology, with the public also free to attend. Montor Hall Auditorium. Seven o’clock.
I’ll show up and follow him back home. He felt instantly nervous at the prospect of stalking the man but also excited. Let’s see how he likes being the hunted.
He plugged the time and place into his head and turned his attention to the two topics that didn’t bring up as much excitement. Brian was intrigued by the new information Dr. Romber had given him earlier that day, but he wasn’t willing just to sit on what he had been given. He knew he needed more. If Amber was to be free of whatever was inside her, Brian wanted to be the one to help her out.
A picture of Rebecca next to the computer caught Brian’s eye, tugged at his heart. “What would you do, babe? Wil’s okay, you know. He’s going to be okay. But what should I do? This girl. She’s nice. I’ve got to help her. I need to . . .”
Wiping away tears, he purposefully turned his attention back to the search.
Most educated people had at least an inkling of quantum physics. They thought of Einstein, of tiny particles flying through the air, of scientists and long formulae that might just as well be an alien language. That’s where most people stopped. The field was just too weird and didn’t seem to directly correlate with their everyday lives of getting up and going to work or school, of family and kids and what their eyes and ears and noses told them everyday what to take as real or not.
What a Torus had to do with quantum stuff, Brian couldn’t begin to guess, but he started with a straight search of quantum physics and soon found a number of good pages that gave him an introduction to the field. He was no mathematician or really that interested in “hard science”, as those in the “soft sciences” like psychology and sociology liked to call areas like biology, chemistry, and physics. But Brian did find himself quickly drawn into to this wonderful, wacky world that, really, operated all around without him really realizing it.
One of the first things Brian had to change his mind about was how different things seemed to operate at a subatomic level than they did to things on a large scale. For centuries, Newtonian physics had ruled our thoughts, putting things into fairly straightforward cause-and-effect paradigms. The bigger the planet, the bigger its gravitational pull. Stuff like that. But then came along people like Einstein a century ago, and even though Brian found out Einstein couldn’t stomach quantum physics (“God doesn’t play dice,” the man had said), the theory’s viability grew more and more throughout the twentieth century . . . even though its implications were somewhat disturbing.
Brian soon read about a now classic experiment in the field. You point a light at a wall with two slits in it, another, solid wall behind it, and the beam so low that only one light photon at a time approaches the wall with the slits. If we measure for a particle—that is, a photon—then we find only that, a photon. But if we measure for a wave—that is, a particle drawn out, fluid, like a wave at sea—we find a wave pattern. But the phenomenon never demonstrates both particle and wave attributes at the same time. It seems to know when to act like a particle and when to act like a wave depending on what is being measured.
This experiment brought up Heisenberg’s Uncertainty Principle. At large scales, we can deduce, say, the rate and projected path of an asteroid--or even that of an airplane, a car, a bowling ball. But at the atomic scale and below, a creeping uncertainty settles in: we cannot, despite how advanced the measuring equipment is, ascertain exact position and speed of a particle-wave, no matter what, because if we focus on one aspect, the other area becomes fuzzy and indecipherable.
What does this all have to do with computers, though? He turned his search to that area.
He found quantum computers had propelled to actuality in recent years. Though in its infancy, the technology had become a big research point for many engineering firms, who hoped to get on the bandwagon of the next leap in computer science. Why were quantum computers so different? Well, a classic computer operates on bits of data stored as binary code, code that, basically, operated as an on-off switch, identifying pieces of information on series of zeros and ones. The number six, for example, in binary code was “110”. The number six hundred, “1001011000”.
Quantum computers, Brian discovered, operated under the strange Uncertainty Principle but also were a big step upover classic computers that were pushing their limits of size and speed with silicon-based microchips. Quantum computers could perform all possible calculations simultaneously, just like quantum particles could really be at all places simultaneously since there was no way to pinpoint exact location and speed as in classical physics. A weird thought indeed.
Quantum computers also operated on qubits instead of bits, with the quantum data possessing both zero and one at the same time. Thus, different than old computers, quantum computers and their engineers strive for ways to both examine all possible combinations of data simultaneously while also reducing error rates, capturing data, and, eventually, producing single results before the process itself eroded.
Didn’t Romber say something about erosion? Brian thought.
The information boggled Brian’s mind, but he could see the possibilities. Much faster computing power. And much smaller. Hence, nanotechnology and manufacturing quantum computers as small as an atom but as powerful as the supercomputers of the late twentieth century.
Next, he did a search on the Torus. For Brian, this topic somehow seemed even more intriguing than quantum physics.
He soon found out that the Torus, though grounded in mathematics like quantum theory, centered on the very big instead of the very small. Like Dr. Romber had said, the Torus was a geometric pattern for the shape of the universe. He didn’t hope to understand the big formulas that showed up in reference to the donut shape, but Brian soon sawthe inherent beauty in the concept. Everything connected to everything else in a simple shape holding all the complexities of the natural world. The Torus seemed to represent both finite and infinite space at the same time.
Dr. Romber had said the figure-eight aspect of the pendants Dr. Kevill was giving out was a natural progression of one of his quantum projects. Brian thought about this. He also recalled Romber saying something about the “fourth dimension” and a “hypersphere”. These were his next search terms.
For most, the fourth dimension was time, with space in 3-D. We were 3-D creatures, and, while theoretically sound, the next dimension up wasn’t one we really experienced. Or did we? Brian found in his searching that some believed the fourth dimension to really be the next step in spatial dimensions, with time only a way we humans keep track of our movements in 3-D space. Thus, a universe in four dimensions could be represented by the alternate Torus image replicated on the pendants of those infected by Dr. Kevill. Was that squished figure eight, all silver and shiny around people’s necks, really a symbol of twisting the Torus itself to be what we could only guess at and not see?
Brian also looked over the term “hypersphere”, which, actually, coincided with a 4-D environment. Like the Torus, a hypersphere was a geometric design to explain universal proportions, what was called non-Euclidian or hyperbolic geometry, though, a geometry that Einstein himself used to make his Theory of Relativity. Brian saw the resemblances of quantum physics and hyperbolic geometry, for they both seemed to have outcomes or observances that changed depending the test or the observer. By taking a 2-D circle, it seemed, you could make a sphere in 3-D, but by then taking that 3-D sphere into the next dimension, a hypersphere was produced. And, what really seemed interesting to Brian, all points in a hypersphere were the center, meaning any point in the universe is viewed as the center by an observer from that particular point.
As 3-D creatures, we can only theorize the existence of the universe as a hypersphere, with four dimensions, but Brian was surprised to see the donut-shaped Torus metamorphose in ‘Net literature when it was taken to the next dimension. Evidently, Mike’s earlier critique of Brian not being “one with the Torus” didn’t mean he wasn’t but maybe just wasn’t aware of it. Is that what Doctor Kevill is all about? Brian thought. Is he trying to get people (to force them, really) to see outside the box, to view themselves and their lives as part of some dynamic whole?
Somewhere inside of him, things started to click. He didn’t fully grasp all of the concepts he had mulled over that afternoon, but Brian felt elevated from his research, and, strangely, a little awe-inspired by his psychology professor Doctor Kevill all over again. 
He looked at the time and chuckled. He was late to pick up Wilson from daycare. Or was that all relative? Got to feed and play with the guy a bit before the lecture, he thought, and I hope to God Jackie or Carol can watch him while I’m out. God?
 
#
 
After meeting with President Nelson at the lab, Kevill went home to relax and clean up before his presentation at Montor Hall that evening. Daka and Josh had strict orders to keep tabs on all inoculants. Madalene, sunning in the heated pool in a revealing two-piece, waited for him at his comfortable house, which sported a long, gravel drive, two stories, and three acres of land tucked away in some woods outside the city limits of Norman.
“How is she?” he asked after taking off his shirt and tie and getting into some long, black swim shorts.
“Okay, I guess,” said Madalene, still not moving from her perch on an oversized inflatable raft. She looked over the top of her designer sunglasses. “How long are you going to keep her that way, Andy?”
“As long as it takes.” Kevill sat on the side of the spacious pool and dipped his feet. “I don’t like it any more than you do, Madalene, but she has become somewhat of a liability lately. Truthfully, I don’t understand why she’s going downhill like this. It disturbs me.”
Madalene said nothing for a minute or so but then got off her raft and swam over to where her lover sat. She grabbed his knees with her hands and looked up into his face.
“Because she loves, Andy? Because she loves? Don’t you want to teach love in this project of yours?”
“Oh, don’t give me that, Madalene! Love is so . . . ephemeral. All based in brain chemistry anyway. Yes, we must learn to work with each other, to see everyone as equal, a fellow being, worthy of compassion and grace. The project implants thoughts of unity and simplicity, gives people the power of thought before action!”
Madalene knew she had sparked her mate into another one of his “little speeches,” as she liked to call them. But his answer, though it sounded nice, didn’t quite soothe her on the inside.
“Do you love me?” she purred, stroking his inner thigh with a long nail.
Kevill looked down at her and blinked. He saw the trap and tried to avoid it.
“Of course I do, my sweet. Of course.” He stroked her dark, wet hair and pushed himself off to stand in the pool’s cool water next to her.
“You do?” Madalene batted her eyes and looked down to swish the water casually about.
“Madalene,” Kevill grabbed her and pulled her close to him. “How do I treat you? Do I keep any secrets? Don’t I share my most intimate thoughts and times with you? Didn’t I take you into my life?”
She opened her eyes fully and puckered up. “Yes. But . . .”
“But what?” he whispered. “Stay with me, Madalene, and you will see the world change, evolve! Be with me, my sweet, and ride the crest of magic in a new world!”
Madalene squeezed him back and gave Kevill an endearing smile in return. But, inside, his words rang a bit hollow. His words were what had caught her initially, she knew it. His words had spun a web around her early on, words that promised just as he promised now—power, knowledge, a seat as his queen. She had loved the sweet meaning behind his baby face, had given herself fully to this man who had offered her so much. Yet she couldn’t push a nagging thought aside. Did he really love her? He spent time with her, yes. He gave her things. He trusted her with secrets about his mission. But wasn’t this mission really his true love? If he had to choose, Madalene thought she knew who would soon be left outside her lover’s little loop. And the thought scared her. She didn’t like the concept of being alone. Truthfully, she had few friends outside Kevill and his group. The man had swept her up soon after she had arrived from Mexico to teach Spanish at the university.
She had gone from a woman who had still lived close to her parents in a one-bedroom apartment in Mexico City, someone overwhelmed with the mass of humanity there, the poverty. Her only goal then was to get an education and to get out. And she had. Her life here was completely different, with less people, more power, and access to a world she had never dreamed of in the dirty, crowded corners of her homeland.
She smiled at Kevill again, this time looking over his shoulder to the beautiful house and a trapped Amber inside. Was this girl so different? she thought. Kevill had scooped her up as well, placing her in his wake. But, when Amber had turned a little and showed a little individuality, his charm had quickly faded to a man solely intent on one purpose, with no pity for those who stood in his way. What if Madalene stood in his way? What would he do? Did he really love me?
She gave her lover a soft kiss on the lips, turned, and swam away.


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