Chapter no 13

Quantum Radio

Two hours into the flight, Richter stood, gripped one of the seatbacks, and propelled himself down the aisle toward the back of the jet. In the cramped galley, he worked for a few minutes.

Soon, the smell of meatloaf and mashed potatoes filled the small cabin. Ty hadn’t realized how hungry he was until the aroma reached him. He wondered if the man was bringing enough for both of them.

The microwave dinged, and Richter returned to the small table he shared with Ty, indeed carrying two trays with heated meals.

Each man dug in without preamble, their motions practically a mirror of each other.

“One thing is bothering me,” Ty said, taking his second bite of the meatloaf, which was better than he expected (or maybe he was just hungrier than he realized).

Richter raised an eyebrow as he finished his bite. “There’s only one thing bothering you?”

“Okay, there are two million five hundred and fifteen thousand things bothering me, but one thing sticks out.”

“Which is?”


Richter gave a knowing nod. “The same has occurred to me.”

“The fact that you’re involved in this—and that I discovered the quantum radio broadcast, the fact that I was in Geneva, and you were in Zürich when it happened. Those two coincidences, they’re just… too convenient to be random.”

“On that point, I agree.” “What does it mean?”

“I can’t say yet.”

“But you have an idea of what it means.”

“The shape of one.” “Which is?”

Richter took a bite of mashed potatoes and stared out the window. “Too early to speculate.”

“I’m a scientist. I’m used to speculation.”

“As an investor, so am I. But I prefer not to. I prefer facts. As I’m sure you do.”

“What do you think is happening here?” Ty asked.

“I think what’s occurring is a bit like your Higgs boson. What is it you call it? The God particle?”

Ty cringed. “That’s what the media calls it. The articles get more clicks that way. We don’t call it that.”

“Nevertheless, consider what it represents—something that you knew existed, or at least theorized—an unseen yet vitally important component of the workings of the physical universe. That is what I believe is at work here: something that will make sense once we see the entirety of it, yet defies comprehension now. We have only seen pieces of a larger whole. Yes, the pieces fit together, and later, we will know why.”

Ty considered that as he finished the meal. Then, choosing his words carefully, he brought up the other subject that had been nagging him for the past few hours.

“I need to contact Mom.”

That drew Richter’s stare, and an explanation from Ty: “She’s probably seen the articles by now—including the manhunt in Geneva for me. She’s probably worried sick.”

“You don’t need to contact her.” “Why?”

“Because I already have.” “You have?”

The news was a bit like his discovery at CERN: something that turned his world upside down. His parents hadn’t spoken in thirty years—as far as Ty knew. He couldn’t even imagine the two of them communicating. When he was growing up, his mother wouldn’t even let Ty mention the man.

“She’ll be waiting for us in DC,” Richter said.

Ty opened his mouth to speak, then closed it, dumbstruck. “What… did you tell her?”

“The truth. That you are safe. And that the articles are lies.”

“Well. Okay. Good.”

“She’ll meet us at DARPA.”

“DARPA? As in the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency?” “Correct.”

Ty leaned back in his chair. “I… didn’t see that coming. It’s a lot to unpack. First, is DARPA where you sent my research?”



“They have been working on a similar project, which, as I mentioned, I am involved in. And have been for quite some time.”

“The Origin Project.” “Yes.”

The truth occurred to Ty then—the obvious reason for why his mother would be waiting at DARPA. “Mom is part of the Origin Project too, isn’t she?”

Richter cocked his head and studied Ty. Was the man surprised? Ty thought so.

“Correct,” Richter said. “Her research into evolutionary biology is funded by DARPA.”

Ty saw the connection then. “She’s really researching quantum evolution, isn’t she? The prospect of quantum radio intervention in our species’ development.”

“Yes, that is the true premise of your mother’s work. Consider it: if someone could change a few DNA base pairs in the distant past, the entire future would change. She’s found plenty of possible evidence of this phenomenon. Periods when human evolution seems to leap forward or when the human race was clutched out of the abyss, from the edge of extinction, only to return stronger than ever with survival advantages that were not predicted by the biological arc of our species. In short, if you think history doesn’t make sense, human evolution, at times, seems even less logical.”

“The Origin Project believes there’s already been quantum intervention in human evolution?”

“That is the question. There’s evidence, but as yet, your mother feels it’s inconclusive.”

Ty felt as though he were seeing his whole world in 3D now—as if it had all been a flat image before and a new dimension had been added. It wasn’t

just the added perspective on human history—it was the revelations about his own family history.

“What is the Origin Project going to do with my research?” Ty asked. “Complete it.”


“Simply put, they have the resources and manpower—and a head start.” “A head start?”

“DARPA has a series of existing initiatives related to your research. Have you ever heard of the QuEST project?”


“QuEST stands for Quantum Entanglement Science and Technology. It was started in 2008 at the DARPA Microsystems Technology Office, MTO. Its predecessor, QuIST, was the agency’s first foray into quantum data sciences. The project is looking at a wide range of things: secure quantum communications, quantum machine learning, game theory using quantum mechanics, quantum image processing, quantum radar and metrology, and even entanglement-assisted gravitomagnetic interferometry. The group has gone as far as applying entanglement principles to an old CIA initiative: remote sensing. But QuEST is just the tip of the iceberg.”

Richter held his hands out. “QuBE is another DARPA initiative to examine quantum effects in biological environments.”

“Is it part of Mom’s research?”

“Tangentially. There’s also the Quiness project, which is building new types of quantum repeaters that could one day form the backbone of a new quantum internet.”

“Interesting.” Ty had no idea so much quantum research was being done by the military.

“What you’ve stumbled upon, Ty, is the missing piece that a lot of people have been trying to find for a very long time. The pattern you identified is a sort of key. We had the pieces before, but we didn’t know how to put the puzzle together. Now we see the picture.”

“And what does it look like?” “We’ll know soon.”

“What do you mean?”

“Right now, DARPA and its funded projects are using your algorithm to decode the data stored on the LHC Computing Grid.”

“I want to be there. I can help. It’s my research—that’s why I gave the presentation at CERN, to ask for funding to do what DARPA is doing right now.”

“I know. And you deserve to be. That’s the other reason we’re going to DC.”

Ty nodded, feeling a sense of relief and, surprisingly, gratitude to this man whom he had hated for so long but who was so strangely part of this moment, which looked like the culmination of his life’s work.

After a long silence, Richter spoke again. “I heard your brother got into some trouble.”

Ty studied the man, wondering how he had heard. And how much to say. “Yeah. He did.”

“Where is he now?”

“A federal prison in Butner, North Carolina.” “Do you blame yourself for what happened?” “Every day.”

After a long silence, Richter motioned to Ty’s tray. “Are you finished?”

Ty nodded, and Richter took the empty carton away. Instead of returning to the table, the older man pulled the shades down on the plane’s windows until it was pitch black in the cabin.

“I know you had a long night. And this has been a lot to process. Why don’t you get some rest?”

With that, Richter retired to a seat in the back and took out his laptop, and Ty, despite all the questions racing through his mind, realized that he was indeed quite tired. The lack of rest, the adrenaline, and the belly full of meatloaf and mashed potatoes combined to drag him toward sleep, which came within minutes of stretching out on the couch.


Ty woke to Richter’s hand on his shoulder. “We’re landing soon.”

Ty sat up and swallowed. His mouth felt like he had been gulping sawdust. His body was sore—more tender than when he had been awake.

Across the aisle, Richter raised the shade, letting a beam of light in that sent Ty reeling back, covering his eyes with his arm. The brightness hurt.

With his eyes closed, he heard Richter’s voice close by. “They found it, Ty.”


“Your code. It works. Your quantum radio is transmitting data—and DARPA has decoded it into files.”

You'll Also Like