Kress was already spluttering farther along the table. "But . . .
now wait a minute, I mean, what does that do to the weak nuclear force? Youve
just pulled the rug out from saying there is a weak force at all. I mean . . ."
Kurishoda shrugged. "I agree. And you are about to remind me of the theoretical
work that has unified the weak and the electromagnetic forces since the 1980s.
But I suggest that the weak interactions are nothing more than electromagnetic
forces acting between the dipoles of elementary particles and those of electrons
in negative energy states. So, if the two forces were actually only one to begin
with, then the whole thing will have to be reexamined."
A lot of muttering and head shaking was going on in the audience. "But
its been verified, hasnt it?" someone objected. "I mean,
neutrinos are detected routinely. They have been, ever since the fifties."
"Cowan and Reines," another voice supplied. "Neutrino-induced
transmutation of chlorine into argon."
"Presumed to be neutrino-induced," Kurishoda threw back, beaming,
as if he had been waiting for just that. "The mechanism I have just described
accounts for it equally well."
"Experiments have been conducted which suggest they not only exist, but
possess mass," another member of the panel pointed out. "Its
"How else do you account for the missing mass in the universe?" somebody
else in the audience called out.
"And other experimenters have found no indication of mass," Kurishoda
replied. "Some experimenters have reported that neutrinos oscillate among
three forms, while others say they dont. As for the missing mass, well,
maybe we just have to look for another kind of galaxy-glue." He half-turned,
and motioned with his head. "Phil Kress himself has told us about the difficulty
in observing anything, and then the ambiguity in deciding what it is. In short,
it all relies on statistical methods that are questionable. There is nothing
conclusive that proves neutrinos have mass, that the oscillate among
three types, or that they exist at all. I contend that everything attributed
to them can be explained more simply in terms that are already familiar. William
of Occam would have approved."
The audience was clearly all set for a showdown on this. Dupalme raised a hand
before anyone else could respond. "Ladies and gentlemen, lunch is
waiting. Perhaps we could arrange a special session this evening to explore
this subject further?" He looked down inquiringly to someone in the front
row, who leaned forward to mutter something up at the dais. "Yes, well
post details later this afternoon. . . ." He searched for
something with which to wrap the topic up for the moment. "Maybe our speculations
on neutrino-beam communications through the planet were a little premature,
Some of the panelists grinned, while others shook their heads. The atmosphere
"Well, theres always tachyons to think about," someone quipped
from the audience.
"How about that, Professor Kurishoda?" another called. "Do tachyons
The professor beamed back over the top of his spectacles. "But of course,"
he replied. "A tachyon is a quantum of bad taste."
Five minutes later, the attendees were spilling through into the central dining
hall and dispersing among the tables, already set with a fish appetizer, fruit
juices, and tea. Melvin Bowers headed for a quiet spot in a far corner of the
room. Jenny Hampden, a research manager from Bell Labs, joined him. Theyd
met the previous day at breakfast in the hotel, and talked briefly during some
of the breaks between sessions. She liked caving, classical music, and cats.
"Well, there goes my favorite theory," Bowers said as they sat down.
"My neutrino-bomb theory."
"Neutrino bomb? Thats a new one."
"Think about it," Bowers said. "It meets all the requirements
for the perfect strategic weapon. It keeps defense contractors profitable and
employs people. It justifies the jobs of Pentagon generals and defense analysts.
And it gives the media a new scare-word and the peaceniks something to howl
about." He smoothed his napkin across his knees and turned up his palms.
"But, it has no undesirable side effects: it doesnt damage
property or kill people. The perfect bomb!"
Jenny laughed. "Maybe we could have neutrino-power reactors, toosomething
to divert the oppositionists away from fusion. Then maybe it could all come
on-line, and they mightnt even notice."
"Hm, there might be something in that, too. I wish somebodyd thought
of it back in the seventies."
Jenny put down her fork suddenly. "Oh, Mel, theres something I forgot.
Look, I have to see Takuji right now. I promised him some slides for the talk
hes giving this afternoon. Would you excuse me? Ill be back in five
"Sure. Ill have them hold the entree."
"Thanks." Jenny got up and disappeared in the direction of the door.
Bowers carried on eating alone. Was it called the Yellow Dragon? Red Dragon? . . .
No, not Dragon, but Red something . . . He didnt notice
the tall, elegantly groomed figure approaching from among the bodies still milling
about to find places in the middle of the room. "Ah, Dr. Bowers, good day
Bowers looked up. "Igor Lukich," he said, using the Russian familiar
"Do you mind if I join you?"
"Not at all. Sit down, please. Oh, not there. That sides taken."
It was Professor Dyashkin, the director of a Soviet communications-research
establishment in Siberia. Dyashkins name was known internationally, and
he and Bowers were friends from previous professional gatherings in Moscow and
Bombay. They had both been involved in an informal spontaneous discussion that
had taken place the night before among a group of scientists at one of the hotels
in which the conference attendees were staying.
"An interesting notion of Kurishodas," Bowers said after Dyashkin
had sat down. "I was just saying to the friend Im withJenny
Hampden of Bell, I dont know if youve met; shell be back in
a few minutesneutrinos would make the perfect bomb. Then all of you and
all of us could stop worrying, eh?"
Dyashkin smiled automatically, but he didnt ask Bowers to elaborate and
was evidently not in the mood for small talk. He scanned the surroundings constantly
with his eyes, and seemed nervous. Bowers became serious and looked at the Russian
inquiringly as he continued eating. "We know each other from several years
now, yes, Dr. Bowers?" Dyashkin said. He spoke guardedly, with an elbow
resting on the table and a hand covering his mouth.
Bowers nodded. "I guess soin a formal kind of way, anyhow."
"Even so, sometimes we must take risks and trust our judgment. I judge
you as someone who can be trusted."
Bowers wiped his mouth with a corner of his napkin and resumed chewing slowly.
When he spoke, his voice had dropped to match Dyashkins. "What are
you driving at?"
"When are you due to go back to the USA?" Dyashkin asked.
"Well, Im on a one-year exchange here in Osaka. But I was planning
to go home for a vacation right after this conference is over. Why?"
"Anyone might join us at the table, so I come straight to the point while
we are alone." Bowers waited. Dyashkin drew a long, shaky breath. "Look,
Dr. Bowers, it is possible that I might be interested in coming over, if the
conditions were right. You understand?"
It took Bowers a moment. "To us, you mean? Over to our side?"
Dyashkin nodded almost imperceptibly. "Yes. Personal reasonstoo
much to go into now. But what I want to know from you is, would you be willing
to convey my proposition to the appropriate authorities?"
"Proposition? But I dont know anything about what it is. How would"
"I can arrange that. What I have to know now is, would you be willing
to help me?"
Bowers chewed in silence for a while. "Ill have to think about it,"
he said finally.
"How long will you need? Please understand that we constantly risk being
under observation when we travel abroad. The KGB even infiltrate their people
into conferences such as this."
"Give me until tonight. Ill meet you in the bar of our hotel at,
say, eight. Do you think it would be safe to talk there?"
Dyashkin shook his head. "I dont want to talk. All I need at this
stage is a yes or a no answer."
"Okay, I wont say anything. If I offer to stand the first round
of drinks, the answers yes. Okay?"
"As you say, a deal."
Two more figures materialized at the table. "Gustav and Sandy," Bowers
greeted. "Its about timewe were starting to get lonely here.
Say, did I ever tell you my theory about the perfect bomb? . . ."
That afternoon, Bowers called the US embassy in Tokyo for advice. Later, back
at the hotel, he went through into the bar for an after-dinner drink. Precisely
at eight oclock, Dyashkin appeared and joined him. "Hi," Bowers
said. "Quite a day today, eh? What are you having, Igor? The first ones
on me." The Russian asked for a vodka and soda.
Later, while they were talking, Dyashkin pointed to the orange document folder
that Bowers had placed on the seat beside him. It was one of the packages issued
to each attendee, and contained the conference agenda, copies of the papers
being presented, and other information. "Obtain another package from the
registration desk," he said. "Tomorrow there is a paper on laser solitons
scheduled for three oclock. Be there, and place the folder on the floor
by your chair. I will exchange it for one Ill be carrying, which will
contain details of the proposal that I wish you to carry to the American authorities."