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Chapter no 12

Quantum Radio

Inside the Mercedes SUV, Gerhard Richter leaned forward and said a single word to the driver, “Walküre.”

The word meant nothing to Ty, but it must have to the driver. He gunned the vehicle and weaved through the streets of Zürich, changing lanes often to beat the morning traffic but never breaking the speed limit.

Richter drew out his phone and typed furiously, ignoring Ty. “Where are we going?”

“To an airport,” Richter replied, not looking up from his phone.

“That’s going to be a huge problem. The police are looking for me.” “I’m aware of that.”

“Okay… What’s the plan here?”

Richter eyed Ty, then let his gaze drift to the driver. “Be quiet, Tyson.”

The words sent a spike of rage through Ty. It wasn’t just the dismissive comment—it was the last thirty years of silence and absence and one particular afternoon Ty had spent a lifetime trying to forget. But there was nothing Ty could do. He needed the man’s help.

As they exited Zürich, Richter leaned over to Ty. “Are you hurt?”

Ty assumed the man was referring to his harsh command to be quiet. “What? No. Of course not.”

Richter nodded to Ty’s ribs, which he had been massaging without thinking about it. “Do you require medical attention? Are you injured?”

“I’m fine.”

They rode in silence then, the vehicle traveling at high speed until it turned off on a private road that led to a small airfield with a single runway. In the parking lot, Richter exited and beckoned Ty to follow. They passed the gate of a chain-link fence, where a uniformed security guard merely motioned them forward without a word.

A woman in her twenties wearing a pantsuit and stylish sunglasses stood on the tarmac, an overnight bag sitting on the ground next to her. When Richter reached her, she put a hand in her pocket and drew out a small pill bottle, which she handed to him without a word.

“Danke, Ilse,” Richter said as he pocketed the bottle, reached down, took the bag, and continued onward.

The jet waiting for them had no logo or insignia, only a number across one of the engines. The two pilots standing by the outstretched stairs nodded as they passed, and inside, Richter threw the bag on a couch and said to them in English, “Gentlemen, please depart with all possible haste.”

Ty took the seat across from Richter, who didn’t look up from his phone.

He tapped away, occasionally pausing to read a response. “Hey.”

Richter looked up.

“I have some questions.” “As do I.”

“Where are we going?” “DC.”

“Washington, DC?” “Correct.”

“Why?”

“For help.”

“Help from whom?”

“The only people who can help us: the United States government.”

Ty spread his hands out. “Just like that? I show up, so we hop a plane to the US to get help?”

“It is the only solution.”

“What. Is going. On. Seriously.” “It’s complicated, Tyson.”

“First, I go by Ty now. Second, if it’s complicated, that means you can pretty much start anywhere. So, start. Anywhere. It’s a long way to DC, and I’m all ears.” Ty nodded, prompting the man. “Go ahead.”

For the first time, Richter smiled. “You were always high-strung. Even when you were young—”

Ty held a hand up. “Don’t. Don’t even act like you know the first thing about me. You left Mom high and dry, on her own, and you didn’t care one bit.”

“You’re very wrong about that, Tyso—” He took a breath. “Ty. But you are right. We should put the past aside. It clearly has an emotional impact on you. Your mind needs to be clear for what comes next.”

“Which is?”

“I’ve just read the slides from your presentation.” “What? How—how did you even get those?”

Richter ignored the question. “It’s impressive. I don’t understand it all, but I believe perhaps I understand how it fits into, shall we say, the grander scheme of things. I understand what it represents. What will happen.”

“How is that possible? You’re an investment banker.” A small smile formed on Richter’s lips.

“You’re not an investment banker.” “I am. And more.”

“More how?”

“That’s not something you need to know right now.” “What do I need to know?”

“So many things. But we will start with the items that I hope might keep you alive.”

The way Richter referred to his possible death—casually, frankly, without a shred of emotion—sent a chill through Ty.

“Okay,” Ty said, trying to keep his voice even.

Richter leaned forward. “Have you ever felt like the world was wrong, as though events simply didn’t make sense, as though the course of history was being altered by some unseen force?”

Of all the things Ty expected him to say, this was perhaps the last. And yet, his answer came readily, instantly. “Yes. I have. I’ve felt that way a lot. And more often lately. Like things didn’t add up—logically. Why? What are you telling me?”

“Have you ever heard of a group called the Covenant?” “No. Who are they?”

“Are you familiar with something called the Origin Project?” “No. Why?”

A message popped up on Richter’s phone. He read it, typed a reply, and said to Ty without looking up, “Who else knows about your research?”

Ty exhaled, frustrated. “Are you going to tell me who the Covenant are?

Or what the Origin Project is?”

“Yes. Soon. But time is of the essence now, and I must know: who else is aware of your discovery, Tyso—” Richter stopped, then corrected himself: “Ty?”

“The people I presented to at CERN. There were probably forty people in the room. Are they okay?”

“Yes. As far as I know.”

“Two other people know—at least a little bit. Penny Neumann. She’s an exchange student at—”

“The University of Geneva. Yes, I know about Neumann. Who else?”

“A truck driver named Lars. I don’t know his last name, but he drove me up the A1 from Geneva to Zürich last night. He shouldn’t be hard to find. I think he was headed to Winterthur. He doesn’t really know much at all. Only that I got in some trouble. The guy probably saved my life. He certainly risked his own freedom to do it.”

Richter nodded and typed on his phone.

“Can you help him? Protect him? He also could use some assistance— financially. He’s had some bad luck.”

“I can try.”

When Richter finished typing, he set his phone on the arm of the chair. “Do you still have your research?”

“Yes.”

“Good.”

Richter reached inside the bag on the couch and took out a laptop. “We need to send a copy to the Americans.”

“Why?”

“For one, it will give the people after you less incentive to hunt you down. They managed to delete your research from the servers at CERN. If we turn everything over to the Americans, it shifts the game slightly, but in our favor. And puts them at a disadvantage.”

“They who? The Covenant?”

“Yes. Based on what I know now, they are the ones who sent the explosive device to your apartment.”

“Penny was working for them.”

“I assume so, though whether she knew—and what she knew—remains unknown.”

Richter typed on the laptop, then handed it to Ty. “Plug the drive into the port, please.”

Ty hesitated a moment but decided he had little to lose. He had to start trusting someone. Still, he wondered if he would regret what he was about to do.

He inserted the drive into the USB port. A message flashed on the screen:

UPLOADING…

Ty handed the laptop back to Richter, who set it on the couch next to them, the screen still open so both men could see the progress.

“What does quantum entanglement represent to you?” Ty was again surprised at the sudden change of subject.

“Well,” he began, collecting his thoughts. “Quantum entanglement is part of the disagreement between quantum physics and classical physics. Einstein called entanglement ‘spooky action at a distance.’ It’s this phenomenon where one or more particles can act as mirrors of each other. The astounding thing is that it can happen over vast distances. So, for example, if two particles were entangled and one was here on Earth, it would have the same properties as the entangled particle even if the other one was in another galaxy. The problem is that entanglement communicates the quantum state of the particles instantaneously over millions of light years—which obviously violates the theory of special relativity, which established that the speed of light was the fastest anything can move in the universe. Einstein also felt that entanglement wasn’t possible based on the local realism view of causality. He authored a paper in 1935 with Boris Podolsky and Nathan Rosen describing their arguments against it, which we call the EPR paradox today. But we’ve actually observed entanglement in all kinds of particles: photons, neutrinos, and electrons. Entanglement shouldn’t be possible, but it is.”

Ty held his hands up. “It’s a perfect example of one of the biggest problems in physics: the way things work at the macroscale—what we can see—basically breaks down at the subatomic scale. At scales larger than atoms, the universe seems fairly logical and well-ordered. Cause and effect govern the behavior of the universe, time moves in a forward direction, and the objects we observe are measurable—and, most importantly, predictable. That all changes at the subatomic level. Things occur there that shouldn’t be possible based on our current theories. Entanglement is an example of one of those things that shouldn’t be possible.”

Richter nodded. “That’s what entanglement is, but what does it

represent?”

Ty shrugged. “Just what I said: a sort of paradox between the major branches of physics.”

“You’re seeing it like a scientist. Zoom out for a moment. If you can entangle particles and indeed link them over great distances, what are the implications?”

“Well, there are arguments that you could communicate faster than light, but it doesn’t really work that way. With entanglement, it’s the act of observation that determines the particle’s state. Once you observe one of the entangled particles, the others take the same state. But you can’t force one of the particles into a state and instantly change the state of the others.”

“But what if you could? What if someone figured out a way to entangle two particles and control their states? Even across vast distances. Even after observation.”

“If you could? Well, that would change everything again. You’re talking about faster-than-light communication, sending messages across the galaxy, maybe even across time.”

“Apply that to what you found at CERN.” Ty squinted. “What do you mean?”

“Describe for me what you think your… quantum radio is.” “I’m not entirely certain.”

“Why not?”

“Well, the very nature of the discovery. Look, the LHC crashes particles together so we can see what they’re made of. I designed an algorithm to analyze the data from these collisions. It revealed that the subatomic output of the collisions added up to more than the particles that were collided. Not only that, but in the wreckage of these particle collisions, there are exotic particles that shouldn’t be there—and they’re organized. A data stream.”

“That’s what it is. What do you think it means?”

“Personally, I think it’s our first glimpse of some larger phenomenon at the subatomic level.”

“Such as?”

“I don’t know. But the theories behind how the quantum radio works could be one of the big answers in quantum mechanics, possibly the key to unifying the opposing branches of physics. It could be a Theory of Everything.”

“Consider, for a moment, if you will, entanglement in the context of your discovery. Consider the idea that I previously proposed, that it was possible to alter the states of entangled particles after observation.”

Ty shook his head. “I don’t follow.”

“What I’m suggesting is simply this: what if the particles you’re observing at CERN are entangled?”

“As in…?”

“What if they are entangled with particles very far away? In another part of our universe? Or in another universe entirely? Or in another time?” Richter leaned forward. “What if the phenomenon you’re observing, the pattern you’ve been able to detect, isn’t a natural phenomenon?”

“You’re saying you think that’s how the quantum radio works. Our particle collisions make our universe porous enough for someone to send entangled particles through and use them to communicate? Is that it?”

“I’m merely posing some questions. But the real question is this: if that were the case, what would it represent to you?”

“The greatest discovery in history—period. It would be a monumental scientific breakthrough, but it’s far larger. We’re talking about first contact. A new understanding of our place in the universe.”

Richter smiled. “You’re still thinking like a scientist. Consider the prospect that someone in another place or another time can alter the state of subatomic particles on our world. Think about what one could do with that power.”

“Well, I think that’s unclear. For us, even smashing particles requires extraordinary amounts of energy, and we can only do it for a fraction of a second. It’s unknown what the limits of long-range—or long-time— entanglement might entail.”

Richter held his hand out and rolled it forward. “Play it out, Ty. Think about if you could force entanglement on a grand scale and affect matter here on our world. After all, a brain is composed of neurons that are made of atoms and their subatomic constituents. If those pieces were entangled and you could alter them, what would be possible?”

If that were the case, you could change the state of neurons, change the electrical impulses they fire. You could actually control what someone thinks. But that’s only the start. You could conceivably alter a child’s DNA the moment an egg was fertilized. Simply put, anything would be possible.”

“What would you call that?”

“A breakthrough.”

Richter shook his head. “A threat. That’s what the people I work with would call it.”

“Are you saying this is happening? Has happened?” “We don’t know.”

“What do you know?”

“We know that, to a large degree, the world doesn’t make sense. Take your physics example—some things seem well ordered and predictable while others seem totally illogical, inconsistent with what is to be expected.”

Richter stood and moved to the small bar in the corner of the cabin, where he opened a bottle of water and offered one to Ty, who shook his head.

“I grew up in West Germany in the 1960s. People were asking some very deep questions then—about whether the world truly made any sense, about whether things were broken at some fundamental level. About whether there was intervention or manipulation on a grand scale. An unseen hand shaping the future. We went looking for answers in the only logical place in which to search: the realm of science.”

Richter sat again and stared out the window. “Is that what the Origin Project is?” Ty asked. “Yes.”

Richter took another sip of water. “What you’ve discovered is the closest anyone has come to a real answer about what’s happening. I assume you’re familiar with Alain Aspect’s experiments in the 1980s.”

“Sure. He’s a French scientist who built on Stuart Freedman and John Clauser’s work on quantum entanglement. His experiments were the first to really demonstrate the violation of Bell’s inequalities, essentially confirming that quantum entanglement was possible.”

“Aspect’s experiments also sent a shock wave through the global military industrial complex in the early eighties. The atom bomb had changed the world a few decades earlier. It was widely expected that a quantum breakthrough would be the next logical step—and a much more drastic leap. It was believed, by many in power, that the next true battlefield wouldn’t be one of tanks and mortars and planes or even nuclear bombs but instead a quantum war. Whether that’s true remains to be seen, but it is very likely that somewhere within the mystery of entanglement and your

quantum radio lies the key to not only understanding our past but to controlling the future. That’s what they’re willing to kill for. In fact, there’s no sacrifice too great to obtain the details of what you’ve found.”

“So what do we do? What happens now?”

“What happens now is very simple: it is a race.” “What kind of race?”

“What you’ve discovered—with your quantum radio—is a code, a message written in exotic subatomic particles, particles that may have originated from outside of our universe, particles that were created elsewhere, entangled at their point of origin and sent here, then modified in an ordered way to provide a message to us—a message that could only be detected with a super collider. What does that tell you?”

“That it’s a message that is very hard to find.”

“Correct. Specifically, that a species must achieve a certain level of advancement to detect that message. For the first time in history, we have reached that level of advancement. Whatever the message is, it implies that it is the dawn of a new era in human existence. Whoever is the first to understand what the message means may well control the future.”

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