The Experiment by Robby Charter



Robby Charters

So, there you are, a failure before you even start, in a lose-lose situation. How did you get yourself into this mess to begin with? Oh, that’s right, the I can do it thing. All that “I am a success–I am a success…” all that talking into the mirror–and who was your reflection to tell you you’re an idiot? Next time, listen to someone who’s got sense, like me.

Okay, so they say the I can do it thing is healthy. It builds the self-esteem–as if you needed self-esteem–it rallies your hidden reserves. Well, okay, maybe it does. So, run in a marathon! Climb Mt. Everest! Quit smoking–well, okay, you don’t smoke–but, build a time machine? C’mon! Nobody’s going to build a freak’n time machine.

Alright, so Albert Einstein said it’s possible–according to your professor. And I suppose you’re Albert Einstein? Of course you’re not! So why don’t you just stuff the whole thing now and–oh, that’s right, you made a commitment.

The professor said you’d not only get an “A” for the course, but he’d recommend you for the professor’s chair if you do it. He wasn’t counting on anyone being as stupid as you, now, was he!

So, you did all your calculations, and my goodness! A maths formula that fills the whole blackboard! And it took you a good three days just to do one maths problem! Well, this had better work.

The equations are right, you said. It’s a sure thing, you said. You were so sure about yourself that you skipped a vital exam just so you could do this. And now, where has that got you? What if one figure is wrong? What if there’s one needle in that haystack that won’t pull its thread? You fail the course!

So, you’ve got it sure-fire–or you’ve failed. Right now, you’re as alive and dead as Schroedinger’s cat!

And now you’ve got to see it through, or they’ll call you a two-faced, unreliable schmuck. So better to go through with it and settle for being a failure, right? I told you it’s a lose-lose situation. But, I guess there’s no backing out now…

So Einstein, where do we start? That’s right, frame dragging. A spinning black hole pulls time-space around with it, like a wooden spoon pulls at the cake batter and creates a whirlpool, and that’s called frame dragging.

A black hole? The only black hole you have is in your head!

Well okay, so light also has mass, and if you can make light go around and round you’ll get just a little bit of frame dragging.

Light goes in a straight line, but you can make it go around in circles by using fibre optics, or use mirrors. With fibre optics, you can make it go in a spiral. But what if you want it to be one continuous circle?

Ronald Mallet sent a message back in time using a spiral, but you want a closed loop, so you can build up the strength of the particle beam by continuously shooting in more light so you can send an object. How do you shoot light into a fibre optic ring?

You’ll use mirrors then. One of them has to be like a two-way mirror so the light can be shot in, while still reflecting it as it comes around. That’s what they used for their beam splitting experiments. But with the mirrors, you don’t exactly get a perfect circle. You’ll get a triangle if you use three mirrors, a square with four, a pentagon with five and so on.

After all those calculations, you’ve decided you’re going to use six mirrors, and use a 432 watt laser shooter. You’ve got that, and you’ve got a secondary spiral of fibre optics shooting a one-way 920.7 watt beam. And there’s a bunch of other little gadgets, electrical pulsaters, cathodes, everything but the cat-in-the-lead-box.

It’s taken you a whole week to get it right, clumsy oaf that you are. The mirrors have to be angled just so. If they’re off by just one micron, the light goes veering off in a spiral towards the edge of the mirrors. You try this, you try that, but light gets away quickly–at the speed of light. Albert Jones in the supply room lets you borrow some precision tuners that you attach to the mirrors. Bless his dear heart! You spend all day tuning that. You know you’ve finally got it because the light just goes around in one continuous circle, getting brighter and brighter until you have to turn it off before you burn the house down. Then, the circle in the six mirrors just sort of fades away in a fraction of a second–but just slow enough that you can actually see the fading. That looks kinda cool! If only this were just a science fair project, and not the whole freak’n course!

Okay, so you’ve got the contraption all up with a small table at the centre. You’ve even figured out a way to make sure only the object goes back in time without taking a piece of the table with it. You’ve adjusted it for five minutes. And what are you going to send? A Charlie Brown figurine–a McDonald’s happy meal toy for gosh sake! Now, see how you are?

And what if your calculations are off, and next week they discover a cave man stuck in a glacier, and in his tote bag is a plastic Charlie Brown?

You’ve got the secondary spiral of fibre optics switched on, yes? Good. It’s just like you to forget things.

Speaking of which, where is Charlie Brown anyway? On the book shelf in the bedroom. You better go to get it–no, wait! There it is on the little table! You weren’t supposed to put it there yet, it might… Hey! It just arrived from the future, didn’t it! Wow!

So, you go get the original from the bedroom. And look! Now there you are with two identical plastic Charlie Brown toys, one from the bedroom and one from the future!

Now, all you have to do is … er–hey! Don’t even think about it!

Don’t tell me you’re going to send the ceramic angel you got from your mother instead? No way! You’ll cause a paradox in the time-space continuum!

Okay, so we only have Emmet Brown’s word for that–or Stephen Spielberg’s, whatever–and time-space doesn’t work like that? Are you absolutely sure? Well, you’d better be!

Alright, have it your way. But if the whole universe hangs, like a cheap computer running Windows Vista, don’t come crying to me!

Well then, take the angel figurine off the little table and put its double there. Okay?

There! You run the lasers for just a few seconds, the ceramic angel–disappears! And you’re left with just one.

Well, it’s a good thing that you listened to me, and didn’t substitute the Charlie Brown figurine for the ceramic angel, or you would have caused a time-space paradox!

And, you’ve done it! I always knew you had it in you! Where would you be without my encouragement?

About the Author

Robby Charters has lived in many parts of the world, mostly Thailand, but has now settled down in Belfast, Northern Ireland, where he writes science fiction, and designs books (eBook and print) for self-publishing authors. His 14-year-old son, Abe, also likes to write, and has started about four or five novels of his own (good writing style, actually). You’ll find more about Robby on his website,, or just Google “Robby Charters” (no one else spells their name like that, apparently)

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