Sample Pages Allegedly the two visitors were scientists,
not bureaucrats-although Jantowitz maintained that once Government got into science
it made little difference. Stan Strahan, the head of Biophysics, brought them
down to the lab after lunching with the faculty dean. He didn't say where they
were from or what the reason was for their interest in the work at Berkeley.
The first, Strahan introduced as Dr. Kintner.
He was a biggish man in his mid-to-late fifties. Although his belt had probably
inched out a notch or two in the last fifteen years, he was trim enough for his
age and still hefty around the shoulders. He had a smooth, expressive face with
a high forehead accentuated by receding hair, and wore gold-framed bifocals, a
charcoal-stripe suit, and subdued maroon necktie. Hugh thought he smiled too much,
with a geniality that became condescending. He distrusted smiling people from
the government. There was always the possibility that they might be here to help
Kintner's companion's name was Ducaine, again
a doctor. He was in his mid thirties, with a heavy, rounded jaw, protruding eyes
that stared intently, and a florid complexion, which with a halo of crinkly, overgrown,
yellow hair, gave him a wild look. He was wearing a tweed jacket with knitted
tie. From the moment that Strahan showed them into the lab, Ducaine's gaze darted
ceaselessly this way and that over the equipment. Hugh was unable to tell whether
it signified complete cluelessness or an expert's sure and silent assessment.
Strahan pointed out the component parts of
the QUIC, which they had evidently talked about over lunch. Ducaine stooped to
peer at the antenna-boxes in the top frame of the main cabinet, then transferred
his attention to an uncased module that Strahan offered as a sample. "What
discrimination method do you use on the coupling from the antenna chips?"
Ducaine inquired. Strahan nodded at Hugh to take it.
"You mean for directionality resolution?"
Ducaine's yellow halo bobbed vigorously. "Yes.
Multiphase arrays? Masked sequential? Group extraction filtering?"
"Multiple phased arrays," Hugh said.
"Your own design?"
"Mainly-although the basic idea was published
a few years ago. We added a filter stage that performs partial extractions as
a second stage."
"A variation of it, yes."
"Hm. Interesting." Ducaine turned
the assembly over to inspect the other side. Definitely not bureaucrats, Hugh
told himself-and not amateurs when it came to the science, either.
"And yet the project originated from
work concerning evolution," Kintner said, directing himself at Jantowitz
to bring the professor more into the conversation. "It must have taken a
remarkable insight to connect Multiverse cross-communication with evolutionary
dynamics. What prompted it?"
Strahan had explained over lunch that it had
been generally conceded for some time that the theory was in trouble. While few
seriously doubted that evolution happened, it had become increasingly clear that
the mechanism traditionally upheld as the driving force-natural selection, or
the progressive accumulation of random mutations-did not possess the innovative
power to explain what was observed.
Jantowitz had developed a hypothesis that
the geometric configuration of DNA could cause it to function as an antenna. He
was a theoretician. Circuits and chips were not his line, which was why he had
teamed up with somebody like Hugh. Hugh's thesis had been to test the idea by
attempting to build an artificial device to do the same thing.
Jantowitz regarded the visitors balefully
through heavy, horn-rimmed glasses. He never allowed himself to be enticed into
returning smiles. "The evidence that Darwin predicted would be everywhere
found for the gradual changes that he proposed-found, it has not been. The intermediate
forms do not exist." He didn't like officialdom in any form. But he evaded
rather than confronted. His way of putting off people who irritated him was to
provide answers that had no connection with the questions asked.
Jantowitz was in his early sixties, getting
somewhat corpulent now, with a snub nose and thick lips that thrust forward to
give him an appearance of gazing disapprovingly on everything that he scrutinized-which
was often the case. He had a head of white but full, wavy hair, and a matching
droopy mustache. But for his clothes, he might have looked quite distinguished.
They gave the impression of having been thrown at him and somehow stuck, rather
than put on, and clashed colors and styles with a determined consistency that
Hugh thought was surely genetic in origin. Today he was wearing a tan lab coat
unbuttoned to reveal a red-and-blue check hunting shirt and the collar of a hand-knitted
gray cardigan that he had owned for as long as Hugh had worked with him, and which
Hugh sometimes suspected he'd been born in.
Ducaine tried to pick up the gist of what
Jantowitz was saying. "You couldn't have bursts of rapid evolutionary change
instead, separated by long periods of stability? Wouldn't that explain the absence
of intermediate forms?"
"Waves and weather, the superficial aspects
of geography, they might shape," Jantowitz said. "But to build mountains
and move continents, you must have deeper forces." The visitors looked at
Strahan for enlightenment.
"Explanations along those lines were
tried, but they didn't really work," he said. "Every cell is a miniature
factory containing millions of specialized parts, all interdependent. On every
level up to a complete organism, too many unlikely changes would have to take
place at the same time to transform one viable form into another. It would be
like mixing parts from an auto engine and a washing machine. The in-between forms
wouldn't be functional."
"It sounds as if you're saying that evolution
can't happen at all," Kintner remarked.
"Not in the time that the evidence points
to," Strahan agreed. "Even with the most generous allowances that you
can plausibly make, all the calculations said that what had happened couldn't
"So how are we here?"
"If the Earth were a few million times
older, then, maybe, something like the orthodox mechanism might have been adequate,"
Strahan said. He waved a hand. "But not as things are. Something more had
to be going on."
"And your suggestion was quantum-level
communication arising from the DNA structure tuning to leakage frequencies,"
Ducaine said, looking at Jantowitz.
They went on to talk in a little more detail
about the origins of the QUIC. The basic idea had been that the same interference
that made particles appear to interact with themselves, and which had linked the
machines being operated by the juxtaposition of Alices, also enabled certain biological
molecules in different universes-specifically, the nucleic acids and their evolutionary
predecessors-to communicate naturally. The information accumulated in the genomes
of the species making up the Earth's biosphere was not a product of the evolution
taking place on just one Earth, but from a huge ensemble of Earths exchanging
results. Hence, there was no need for the computer to have been running for millions
of times longer to have produced the super-computation that had resulted. It consisted
of countless "regular" computers cooperating in parallel.
Whether or not the model was correct had never
been established. The work had been completely sidetracked into developing the
hardware, and the QUIC was the outcome of it.
When the talk reached this point, it became
clear that it was not curiosity about evolution that had brought Kintner and Ducaine
to Berkeley. Their questions had been for form's sake. What they really wanted
to hear about was the QUIC hardware and its underlying multiple-universe physics.
It turned out that they were fully conversant with Hugh and Jantowitz's published
papers. They showed great interest in the theoretical basics that Hugh had employed
in his designs and asked for copies of his calculations and schematics. And then
they departed, still without giving any hint of where they had come from or why,
leaving the campus after a final session alone with Strahan in his office upstairs.
"Okay, Stan, would you mind telling us
what all that was about?" Hugh invited when he and Jantowitz made their way
up to Strahan's office a quarter of an hour after Kintner and Ducaine had gone.
"Those two were not dummies from some PR office putting together a career
guide for the schools. They're right out on the edge of this business. What does
the government want with QUIC?"
Strahan had been expecting it and had prepared
a line to stall things until he heard definite word from the Board. But after
putting up with two hours of what had amounted to cross-examination, Hugh was
in no mood for stalling. Beside him, Jantowitz simply stood with his lower lip
thrust out in a way that dared Strahan to try it. Strahan capitulated with a sigh.
He sank back in his chair and showed his palms in a conciliatory gesture.
"Okay, I'll be straight. It isn't the
QUIC per se that they're worried about. It's the whole field of MV physics. Apparently
it has defense implications. The federal government have got their own thing going,
and they want to classify all allied work."
"Classify it?" Hugh exploded.
"Evolution? What the hell kind of defense implication is there in that?"
"Oh, come on, Hugh," Strahan said
tiredly. "You know it isn't that. It's the physics. They're concerned with
how the QUIC works. And in any case, don't try that one on me. You know as well
as I do that the QUIC hasn't had much to do with evolution for a long time now."
"Why do they want to put it under wraps?
What kind of work are they doing?"
"I really didn't ask."
Jantowitz brought them both back from a line
that was leading nowhere. "What is it, then, you are telling us?" he
said. "Are they wishing to take control over our project, these governments
Strahan massaged his temples for a moment,
then looked up. "Oh hell, I really didn't want this to be so soon. . . .
It's worse than that. They're closing it down."
Hugh stared disbelievingly. "You're not
"I wish I weren't. They're serious all
"But . . . it's ours! We created
it. It's opening up a whole new world. . . ."
"I think that may be the problem,"
Strahan said. "It's opening up more of a new world than you think."
"What are you talking about?"
"Let's just say I get the feeling that
they're a bit farther ahead than they're letting on. This work leads into areas
that they don't want everybody in the world picking up on."
"Would you believe they didn't tell me?"
Hugh shook his head protestingly. He didn't
expect answers, but now it was he who needed to stall while he pulled his thoughts
back together. "You can't let them," was all he could muster finally.
"Hugh, it's out of our hands."
Hugh's color deepened, and his breathing became
short. Jantowitz knew that for most of the time he tended to be fairly easygoing.
His ability to escape totally into his work kept him detached from the worst of
life's stresses and tribulations. But on the occasions when he did lose his cool,
it could be spectacular. Now everything that he had worked for in years was about
to be snatched away, and Jantowitz saw one of those occasions about to happen.
He caught Hugh's sleeve and tugged lightly.
"Come, Hugh," he urged. "Time
it is now for us to get some coffee, I think. Cooler heads make the better sense,
yes? Maybe we come back tomorrow and talk with Stan some more, when we have together
our questions thought out."
Hugh drew back, exhaling a long breath. He
nodded. "I guess you're right."
"I'm really sorry about it, guys. Believe
me," Strahan said.
They left the building and went to the snack
restaurant situated oncampus. By the time they sat down, Hugh had lapsed into
brooding restlessness. Jantowitz did little to lift him out of it.
"The protesting will do you no good.
It just makes ulcers faster," he said. "These situations, I have seen
before. Everybody fights for the same moneys from the government's pig-trough.
And on top of this, you have all the administrators and faculty heads who think
they make good politicians, caring more about being somebody at Washington cocktail
parties more than they care about science. No one will be on your side."
"What are you saying, then?" Hugh
asked him. "We just let them wrap it up and walk away, without even trying
to fight them?"
"I'm simply saying that perhaps the time
has come to be a little philosophical. We have nothing to fight them with,"
But then events took an unforeseen turn. People
from an undisclosed department in Washington appeared at Berkeley a week later
and quizzed Hugh and Jantowitz separately on their backgrounds and experience.
Soon after that, Kintner came to California again with another colleague, called
Mulgrave, to talk to them some more, this time in the federal offices across the
Bay in downtown San Francisco. It turned out that Hugh and Jantowitz's work didn't
have to be wasted after all. All work on the new physics, they were told, was
being concentrated under government direction. Subject to satisfactory background
checks for the necessary security clearances, they were offered positions on the
All they knew about it at that stage was that
it was run by the Defense Research Administration and would involve moving from
California. But really, there was little choice. As Jantowitz had prophesied,
no serious internal opposition materialized to terminating the Berkeley project.
Hugh's work was his passion, while Jantowitz, at his age, had no other future.
The offers were subsequently confirmed.