The space station staff was preparing for the arrival of the Pilgrim experimental spacecraft. It would not be worth even mentioning this event if it were not for one “but” - the ship was returning from a flight that passed with superluminal speed. Such a speed would allow Alpha Centauri to reach two months, but now the main task was to make sure that such flights are dangerous to humans no more than a flight to the moon.
Station commander Kyle Cook watched the process from the control center. On a huge screen was a countdown of the last seconds before the ship was supposed to appear.
- A photon trace was detected. The manifestation procedure has begun - a pleasant female voice sounded in the speakers.
The joke of nature was that, even dropping the speed to the speed of light, it was impossible to return to Newtonian space - the time at that moment stopped, and the subsequent deceleration to zero should last for decades so as not to crush people with overload. Therefore, the ship in a probabilistic way "manifested" from the track, which arose at the moment when the body reached the speed of light. The process was gradual - at first the body became visible for fractions of microseconds, then the probability of its presence in the Newtonian space gradually increased, and it manifested itself as the image in the photograph.
From the side of the spectacle was majestic - the ghost ship slowly appeared from nowhere.
No one at the station or on the ship knew that a few minutes ago the Sun had released a stream of ultrahigh-energy neutrinos, which inexorably approached the station and the ship. The station reliably protected the camera with the ship from all types of radiation and even from elementary particles, but could not fight with neutrinos. According to calculations, neutrinos should not interfere with the manifestation process, so no additional protection was provided at the station.
Unfortunately, the engineers were wrong. The neutrino flow went straight through the Pilgrim reactor, intensifying the fusion reaction. Unable to withstand the load, the cooling system failed. The automatics shut off the reactor, but it was too late — one of the walls instantly evaporated, and the next bulkhead melted, triggering an explosion of liquid oxygen. The explosion struck a hole in the hull and stunned all the people on the bridge. Until the ship was fully manifested, everything was perfectly visible from the outside.
Kyle looked at all this as a ridiculous nightmare:
- Urgent rescue team on the ship!
- In no case! - sounded the voice of Dr. Zola. “Until the manifestation process is complete, nothing should appear in the chamber!”
Kyle clenched his fists.
“Rescue team, hang up.” Be prepared - as soon as the ship appears, immediately proceed.
In the meantime, everyone watched the events on the ship. The captain, who was farthest from the explosion, came to the first to come to his senses. But instead of helping the others, he began to move toward the exit of the wheelhouse.
- What is he doing? - Kyle was surprised.
Behind the captain, people began to regain consciousness. But he still did not pay attention to them. It was visible, as the first assistant shouted something to him, but the captain, not listening, closed the only door leading to the bridge.
“Why the hell didn't he help anyone?” Is he just running away?
The captain had already reached the boat. As soon as she separated from the ship, he was drowned in a blinding explosion; at the same time a voice sounded:
- The manifestation is complete.
Now on the screens there were only 2 small points moving towards each other: a boat and a rescue ship.
- Is he alive, conscious? - asked Kyle.
- Yes. Yes, - heard the voice of a medic in response. - Devices show that with him everything is more or less normal.
- Good. As soon as you finish the inspection - let me know. I will be in my office.
- Yes, sir.
- Hi Tom. How do you?
Tom turned to Kyle and replied:
- I know that you were examined by a doctor, nothing hurts?
- Good. Let me ask you a couple of questions about what just happened? Just a couple, I do not want to bore you.
- I managed to review the accident record several times, and I got the impression that you didn’t even try to save your comrades. Tell me, is that so?
- But why?
- It was unprofitable.
Kyle was taken aback.
- As you said? Unprofitable?
- Yes. It was not profitable for me.
- Explain, please.
“If I tried to help them, we would all probably die.” And so I saved myself.
Kyle was incredibly surprised. Tom, whom he himself knew very well from school, talked about his carriage as if it were old furniture, which is not a pity to throw away.
“But you knew these people for many years, didn't you really want to help them?” In the end, you are the captain of the ship, and, therefore, must leave the ship last!
- According to clause 5.6 of the charter, the captain in an emergency situation can make decisions independently, even if they contradict other points of the charter.
Kyle wanted to ask something else, but he felt that it would give nothing.
Coming out of the detention center, Kyle immediately went to the medic who examined Tom.
- Mary, hello. What can you say about Tom's condition? Does he have any injuries?
- Hello, Commander. No, he is physically healthy physically - the girl answered slightly bewildered.
“And what did the brain scan show?”
- The structure of brain tissue coincides with the pre-flight state of 99.997%. This is normal, because cells constantly die and new ones appear.
- Well, it means that he passed the IQ test without any problems?
- Yes. We observed 40% acceleration of answers to test questions, although the proportion of correct answers has not changed in general.
- What follows from this?
- He began to hesitate much less when making a decision.
“I noticed this ... What about psychological tests?”
The girl obviously hesitated:
- I ... I do not know how to explain it, but ... he failed them all.
- How did you fail? It's impossible!
- I thought so too, but see for yourself: a test for emotional intelligence, a Tolly survey, a socioreversive test — everyone has such weak results that I don’t know what to think!
“Don't worry, there must be some explanation for this.” Come back to yourself.
Kyle went to his cabin to ponder. Something didn't work in his head. Apparently, Tom became a complete egoist and pragmatist. But when did it happen and why? It doesn't seem like a shock, and Mary would have said it right away.
Kyle called the technicians:
- We managed to get some information about the flight of the Pilgrim before its arrival?
- In the boat remained a copy of the logbook and video from the ship.
- It fits. Send me everything.
On the records, Tom, and all the other crew members, looked as usual - they talked, sometimes laughed, and helped each other. No sign of selfishness and indifference. If Tom has changed not before returning and not because of the explosion, it turns out that he has changed at the moment of manifestation. Cook went to the cabin of Dr. Zola to ask him more in detail about this technology.
- Ah, Commander Cook! Come on in.
- Thank. Do you already know what happened to Tom?
- Well. Then I would like to ask you, can you find an explanation of what happened as a physicist?
“I can, but I am afraid that this explanation will not suit you.”
- It is, let's say, slightly unscientific.
- I do not understand.
- The fact is that you understand the process of subspace manifestation is wrong. Of course, you cannot understand it as well as I, for example, but a simplified explanation of the process distorts its essence and leads to profanation. Only specialists can understand the whole essence of what is happening and correctly interpret the observed effects. All others seek to find the most familiar analogy, often incorrect, and pin it on. Especially ignorant believe in some supernatural forces and paranormal phenomena, if not able to find an explanation within their own knowledge.
- I do not understand what you are driving at?
“I just wanted to emphasize what the misunderstanding might be.” So, with the subspace manifestation, we do not get the same object that entered the tunnel. A photon trace is only a stream of information, using which we can restore a material body. In other words, we receive not the object itself, but its exact copy.
“What happens to the uh ... source object?”
- Unfortunately, no one knows. Maybe time just stops for him, and he doesn't even notice it. Perhaps, at the time of reaching the speed of light it breaks into pieces. Or maybe something else is happening that we cannot even imagine.
- Oh well. So, the original object for us is lost forever, and it is useless to even try to find it, right? But if we get an exact copy of it at this end, then it should remain exactly the same as it was before entering the tunnel?
- Yes it is. But in the case of people, we forget about one small detail.
- Which one?
- Our technologies allow us to get an exact copy of the human body, - here the doctor was slightly embarrassed. - But we still have not learned to copy the soul.