Author : J. S. Kachelries

I am very, very sorry. What else can I say? If it means anything, at least I will die before you. I probably only have a few hours left…just enough time to tell you what happened, and to ask for your forgiveness.

I am (actually, was) a graduate student of the Department of Theoretical Physics at Cambridge. My Ph.D. thesis involved achieving absolute zero in the laboratory. Others scientists have gotten close. My colleges at the Helsinki University of Technology got down to 0.000000001 K. But my technique was a quantum leap beyond theirs. I could suspend all atomic motion. The electrons, protons, and neutrons would be instantly locked into place. No motion, no temperature. I had already prepared my Nobel Prize acceptance speech.

I was completely certain that my technique would work. What I wasn’t sure about was what would become of my my 1 gram target of osmium. My gut told me nothing would happen. I’d just have 1 gram of very cold metal. But, like any great scientist, I had to consider all possibilities. There was a slim chance that the electrons could collapse into the protons, giving me 1 gram of neutronium, i.e., a mini-neutron star. Since a neutron has more mass than one proton plus one electron, I’d have to supply additional energy. You know, the e=mc2 stuff. Then, when I ended my experiment, the neutronium (being unstable), would revert back to protons and electrons, and I’d have to dissipate the energy. Nothing I couldn’t handle. So, this morning, I performed the experiment.

At the critical moment in the experiment, something catastrophic happened. I had overlooked the obvious. I had not considered the effect my experiment would have on the elementary particles (quarks and leptons) and I had assumed neutrons were the ultimate termination point. When absolute zero was achieved, my osmium collapsed past neutronium into a singularity. With nothing to contain the singularity, gravity caused it to drop toward the center of the Earth. In the second it took to descended through the lab bench and the floor, sucking in everything in its path, it exposed me to a lethal dose of X-rays and gamma rays. In freefall, with nothing of consequence to slow it down, the singularity will reach the core in a few minutes. It will shoot past, stop somewhere near the upper end of the southern mantle, and return through the core again, continuing the cycle for hours. Eventually, it will settle down at the precise center of the Earth. Then, over the next few days, it will devour the core, the mantle, the crust, and the atmosphere. The Earth will shrink from its current 8,000 mile diameter to an infinitesimal speck. The astronauts in the space station may live to see it, but you won’t. The earthquakes, the tsunamis, the volcanoes, and the radiation will end your innocent lives long before the conclusion of this tragedy.

But, as I said, I am very, very sorry.

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