Numinations — September, 2000

The Z-Field

© 2000, by Gary D. Campbell

From the History of Man:  The z-field.  Discovered in the 25th century, the z-field enabled a bubble of space to be adjusted to a smaller volume with respect to the rest of normal space.  This discovery caused an almost immediate revision of the standard model of quantum physics, and led within a few years to the Theory of Everything that physicists had been searching for during the preceding five centuries.

The following is a “snap shot” of the first voyage taken by a manned probe using the z-field.

* * * *

“Let me get this straight,” I said to my uncle.  “You’re saying that this z-field can be made to enclose a pressurized capsule holding two people, and shrink them down to any size at all?”

“That’s right,” he answered.  “And, not only that, but certain other changes occur in the physics of the bubble space with respect to normal space.”

“And, those would be?”

“Everything within the bubble scales down.  That includes the wavelength of light and intervals of time.  In the first case, it means you can shine light out of the bubble and it will reflect off of any object in normal space outside the bubble, so we can actually see what’s there.  In the second case, it means that as bubble space gets smaller, time outside the bubble slows down relative to time inside the bubble.  If the bubble gets small enough, photons passing by in normal space appear to go by so slowly that they can actually be seen.  Light from within the bubble reflects off of them without affecting them in any way!”

“So, for the first time, people can actually observe photons and elementary particles with their own eyes?”

“That’s right.”

“What about maneuvering the bubble around?”

“Just like any other space vehicle, we use reaction mass.  My own opinion is that the z-field violates our normal definition of conservation of matter and energy, because when we return in size to normal space, the mass and energy we have expended during the voyage are gone, as you would expect.  But, where did they go?  They do not return to normal space, they remain scaled down.  They exist in the interstices, as it were, of normal space.  The light energy and reaction mass that we have expended are essentially lost to our universe, in that they are completely undetectable.”

“Just one more question,” I said, “How do I fit into this?”

“We’re ready for a manned probe.  We decided we could only risk one member of the team, and I drew the short straw.  I want you to come with me, and the fact that you are a science writer for one of the planet’s biggest websites doesn’t hurt, either.  Are you game?”

“I guess I am.  You’re a smart guy, and I’ve never thought you were suicidal.  I’ll put my trust in your judgement.  When do we go?”

“The equipment’s ready now.  We can go at any time.”

And that’s how the most incredible journey ever taken by a human being began.  The next morning we entered the capsule.  It looked a little like a flying saucer with a clear glass canopy over the top, and lights all around its circumference.  The cockpit consisted of two bucket seats facing a control panel, sort of like the front seat of an old-fashioned car.  A display showed the position of the capsule in relation to the laboratory room, and two joy sticks were used to control capsule attitude and acceleration.  The setup was familiar to anyone who had ever used a computer game, and that was just about everyone.

Capsule size was controlled by what looked like an old-fashioned calculator built into the console.  You simply keyed in a number smaller than one and pressed enter.  If you keyed in a number larger than one, it would use its inverse to compute the target size.  Apparently, the physics of the thing would not allow an increase in size, only a decrease.

My uncle said, “Let’s see what atoms look like when they are the size of basketballs,” and he keyed a number into the control pad.

Instantly, everything changed.  At first I felt it was like being in a spaceship in deep space.  Then it seemed more like being in a deep sea submersible.  I tried to get a grip, but it was like nothing I’d ever experienced.  Only the closest objects were illuminated by our lights.  Blackness deeper than velvet closed in, some distance away, and nothing at all was visible beyond that.  In that sense, it was more like being deep in the ocean than in outer space.  There were certainly no stars.  The occasional objects that became visible, were also like creatures of the deep ocean.  From time to time, some kind of long, skinny “worms” appeared to cork-screw by.  They looked very similar, as if they were all of the same species, but they differed in length and thickness.  Some were the length of freight trains; others reminded me of very thin eels, but 30-40 feet long.  These “eels” were few and far between.  I wondered what would happen if one ran into us, but my uncle was able to steer between them quite easily.  We saw no “basketballs.”

I was fascinated by the creatures we did see, however.  They all appeared to move at the same speed, but in every different direction.  Their edges were indistinct.  They appeared to undulate about twice from their tiny, pointed heads to their identical tiny, pointed tails.  You couldn’t really see where they began or where they ended.  They were slightly thicker in the middle, but the longest ones were also the skinniest.  They appeared to consist of a single gossamer thread that spiraled through space, like a huge corkscrew.

Then it hit me, I was looking at photons.  They appeared to be moving at about ten miles an hour.  We observed perhaps 40 of them in the hour or so that we remained in the same vicinity.  Some of them took several minutes to go by.  Still being careful to avoid any kind of collision, my uncle then began to move our probe through space.  We wanted to encounter an atom.  This took us the better part of another hour.  We saw quite a few more photons, and then we finally noticed what appeared to be a constellation of tennis balls about twenty feet away from our canopy.  It was coming toward us.  My uncle jerked the controls to avoid a collision.  Coming back around, we maneuvered up to this constellation and matched speeds so that it appeared to be at rest.  When it was about 10 feet away, its properties began to be apparent.  We had encountered a molecule of nitrogen.

We moved up to this configuration of 14 “tennis balls” until it seemed only a couple of feet away.  Looking into its center, we could see two smaller objects about six inches apart, each about the size of peas.  Around them, the tennis balls seemed to be pulsating or vibrating.  None of the objects had any distinct edges.  As we watched them for several minutes, the tennis balls seemed to be changing position.  They were moving very, very slowly.  I was expecting to see a single object about the size of a basketball, and sure enough, this swarm of tennis balls was just about that size.

We decided to get a closer look at one of the individual balls.  My uncle keyed in another number and the constellation jumped away from us and became much larger.  Each of the tennis balls was now larger than a basketball.  We selected one of them and moved in on it.  Again, our rate of time was affected.  The ball now appeared to be standing dead still, and its internal vibration was also slowed down.  Now, we could see what was actually happening.  Each globe consisted of a thick wriggling strand.  My first thought was of entrails in motion, then I noticed the similarity of the thing to the photons we had seen.  The difference was that these were knotted together and were quite a bit thicker for their length.  The corkscrew effect was causing the pulsating appearance.  We knew we were looking at electrons, but each seemed to consist of a knotted-up photon traveling in an undulating loop.

It took us another couple of hours to get a visual record of these electrons at several size scales.  When this task was finished, we moved in on one of the two nuclei of this nitrogen molecule.  We began our observation when the nucleus appeared to be about five feet away.  It also consisted of 14 separate objects, much like the constellation of 14 electrons we encountered when we came upon the molecule in the first place.  With the whole nucleus seeming to be about five feet in size, the individual objects were about the size of large, fuzzy grapefruits.  Again, each grapefruit pulsated and appeared to be constructed of thick pieces of writhing, knotted rope.  We spent several more hours getting a complete visual record of these incredible sights.  Finally, after an elapsed time of nine hours and thirty-five minutes, we resized ourselves, and “returned” to the lab.  We were quite surprised to find the lab personnel still enjoying their coffee break.  But, of course, virtually no time had elapsed in normal space.

* * * *

The next two Numinations will snatch two more of the someday-to-be-historic z-field voyages from our future.  Some of the amazing conclusions drawn by our progeny from those incredible journeys will be revealed.

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