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To the insatiably curious—science is the greatest adventure. So, when scientists at CERN announced the discovery of the ‘God’ particle in 2012, all the world wondered, “How did they find it?”
A decade later, despite his past academic failures and egregious family circumstance, Andrew Lawrence embarked on a journey of discovery, competing against rival scientists to be the first to solve the greatest unsolved mystery of the universe—dark matter—and win the ultimate prize; the Nobel.
Emma Franklin, a PhD candidate at Harvard, developed software for detecting particle reactions using a quantum computer. To the amazement and excitement of the scientific community, her work revealed two possible bumps in the energy curve that were not predicted by any established theory.
At MIT, Lawrence created a model that predicted the scattering processes of a dark matter supersymmetry particle. Though his early work was disparaged, he improved his theory and found that it predicted the data Emma had discovered. Their professional collaboration deepened into a personal relationship, but when critical data was stolen, Emma found evidence that incriminated Lawrence. Though she withheld the impeaching material from the authorities, she felt she could no longer trust him.
Despite their troubled partnership, and notwithstanding the complexities of nature, Lawrence and Emma persevered against the egos, jealousy, and envy of rivals, on their exhilarating quest to find the ‘Holy Grail’ of physics.
In one well-lit corner, Professor Stanley Prost sat at his desk studiously examining a computer screen. His long straight nose, jutting prominent chin, and carbon black eyes, gave the appearance of a man not to be trifled with. He held his hand to his brow, masking his eyes, as if to conceal his innermost thoughts. However, his red pitted skin and the twitchy lips destroyed any semblance of a distinguished pose. His overweight frame and slumped shoulders made him look like a bloated figure despite his close-cropped hair and clean-shaven face. An expensive, but ill-fitting suit, hung like a sack over his body leaving an overall appearance of discomfort.
While Prost rapidly slid his finger across the computer screen, Lawrence stood waiting like a statue. He let his gaze wandered to the scene visible from the window—scampering students making their way on their personal college adventure.
Finally, without extending his hand, or looking directly at his visitor, Prost ordered, “Sit.”
“Thank you, Professor,” said Lawrence in a clear strong voice, despite a peculiar stir of emotions—doubt, tension, apprehension. He had prior experience with this man—with unhappy consequences.
Prost leaned forward and curled his lip as he spat out the words, “Your postdoc appointment was made by the Professor Lloyd—during my absence—without any input from me.”
Lawrence’s eyes darkened to match his tousled hair, but he remained quiet for what seemed a portentous moment. He clenched his teeth and was self-conscious of a bead of sweat on his brow.
Prost waved his right hand in the air and said, “I took no pleasure in the failing grades I gave you, some years ago. Your dismissal from MIT was unfortunate, but I wasn’t the only professor who was disenchanted with a prodigy who skipped classes, took exams cavalierly, and disrupted class with impertinent questions.”
Lawrence shifted in his chair, uncomfortably.
I’m to be rebuked for the sins of the past.
About the Author
As a scientist and author specializing in technology innovation, H. Peter Alesso has over twenty years research experience at Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory (LLNL). As Engineering Group Leader at LLNL he led a team of scientists and engineers in innovative applications across a wide range of supercomputers, workstations, and networks. He graduated from the United States Naval Academy with a B.S. and served in the U.S. Navy on nuclear submarines before completing an M.S. and an advanced Engineering Degree at M.I.T. He has published several software titles and numerous scientific journal and conference articles, and he is the author/co-author of ten books.