This is one of the universal constants of nature, and relates the energy of a single quantum of radiation to its frequency. It is central to quantum theory and appears in many important formulae, including the Schrödinger Equation.
“What do you want from me” I asked coolly - my hands raised above my head.
“You know exactly what I want old man!” snarled my potential killer as I stared into the barrel of his cocked pistol. Oddly enough I didn’t fear death as much as I thought I would.
“The secret! Now!”
I took a calm step back and paced around for a moment. This secret that I had burdened myself with was no ordinary one. The fate of the world, nay, the fate of the universe depended on what was in my mind.
“Put that gun away young lady. After all, if I die, my secret dies with me.” I huffed, “You should know better than to threaten me with my own gun! In my living room too!”
“This living room is as much mine as it is yours. So is this gun”, she snapped. She looked no older than twenty, but her face wore the weariness of someone who was thrice her age. Wise beyond her years, her features had hardened into someone who had tried to carry the weight of the world in her hands.
“Now tell me quickly. What happens to the experiment? Project Sigma.”
“The black swan…” I thought to myself. The project, however, was just a concept. A concept that I had never discussed with anyone. It was device which enabled one to locally switch off the Higgs field locally. The implication? Rearrangement of matter fields – fatal to humans of course. Controlled locally, Project Sigma would unearth myriads of possibilities. From particles with negative mass to time and space travel beyond our wildest dreams.
“You’re wasting my time. I need answers. Now. The fate of my world depends on it.”
Her hand twitched nervously on the trigger; almost daring me to stall further.
“You know you can’t change the outcome of the experiment. It’s already been determined and is well out of our control,” I muttered
“That’s wrong and you know it. Your timeline might end from this experiment but at least let mine live. You could save so many lives,” she pleaded as she lowered her gun and her features softened.
“You have already caused enough disturbance to this timeline by communicating with me! Let alone coming here,” I sighed. I knew that the project was doomed to fail.
“Then I suppose shooting you wouldn’t make much difference,” she snarled as the gun was again level with my head
“Believe me. If there was a way to stop the project, I would have tried. The probabilities are much too high. We play a dangerous game with numbers here. By changing the outcome of the experiment, the world you return to will not be the same as the one you came from. You may very well not exist at all!” I said – an air of finality in my voice
“It’s a lot to think about,” she murmured.
It wasn’t the first meeting I had hoped for, but I was seeing my granddaughter for the first and possibly the last time. After all, my secrecy about Project Sigma had been the very catalyst that ended the world. My son’s yearning for greatness had led him to concoct ill-conceived theories based on my papers and rough workings. My unwillingness to divulge the information had just pushed him harder than ever. By the looks of it, this deadly torch had been passed on to the one in my living room. His daughter. My granddaughter.
“If you do not tell me the result of the experiment, you will become the biggest murderer in history. Not that anyone will be left to know your name,” she added. Ironic.
“The longer you speak to me, the more the result of the experiment changes!” I yelled. A last ditch attempt. “You could be the one increasing the probability of doomsday as we know it.”
“You’re bluffing. You know what happens and so do I. My only chance of saving my timeline is to create a big enough disturbance to shift the probabilities. Enough to tip the scales.
I stayed silent – for silence was my only hope at survival. Her features hardened once more as the gun found its place between my eyes.
“I know what I must do.”
The seconds seemed to slow as her index finger tightened around the trigger and pulled decisively.
In my last seconds of clarity, I knew that this was the only chance of saving their timeline.
“The End” I concluded hastily as I closed the book I was pretending to read.
“What do you mean ‘that’s it’ Dad?” asked my ten-year-old son, puzzled.
“I mean. What’s more to say?” I gave a nervous chuckle as I looked at my reflection in my son’s dark brown eyes.
“I mean – How did you survive getting shot?” he replied.
“All tall tales, son,” I answered “All tall tales”
As I tucked him in to his bed, I felt a strange sense of foreboding. I turned the lights off and proceeded out of his room. Knowing that his future daughter would be my past murderer.