Author : Patricia Stewart, Staff Writer

The Deep Space Explorer held its position one kilometer from the anomaly. “What do you make of it, Cortez,” asked the commander?

“If it didn’t sound so stupid, Commander, I’d say it was a massless black hole. It’s spherical, about ten times the diameter of our ship, and is pitch black. But it has no mass that I can detect. I don’t understand how it is able to block the light of the stars that are behind it. There doesn’t appear to be anything there. We should be able to fly right through it.”

“Do you think that’s safe” inquired the commander?

“Honestly, sir, I don’t know. According to our sensors, there isn’t enough energy in that volume of space to melt an ice cube. I don’t see how it could possibly be dangerous. Although my gut says it’s a dumb idea, my brain wants us to enter it. After all, we came out here to explore the unknown.”

“Do we have any more unmanned probes?”

“Sorry, Commander. We launched the last one into the Helix nebula.”

“Then I guess we go in. But let’s minimize our risks. We’ll coast through the anomaly using only our inertia. We’ll set sensors on passive mode, and record everything. After we emerge on the other side, we’ll analyze the data and determine our next move.”

The black circle in the foreground of the main viewscreen began to grow as the ship completed a five second burn of its aft impulse thrusters. The background of stars disappeared one by one as the anomaly expanded to fill the screen. The helmsman announced, “Entering the anomaly in three, two, one…” The image on the black viewscreen suddenly burst into hundreds of fiery purple streaks shooting from the center of the screen toward the periphery, like a continuous fireworks explosion. Several seconds later, the lightshow abruptly ended. It was replaced by a field of stationary stars. The black anomaly was gone.

“Are we through?” asked the commander.

“Negative,” replied the science officer. “That isn’t the original star field. Whoa, sensor data are really bizarre. All of the fundamental universal constants have changed. The speed of light, Planck’s constant, and Boltzmann’s constant are trillions of magnitudes smaller than they should be. Even the four fundamental forces are different. Their ratios are the same, but their absolute magnitudes are way too low.” After a few awkward minutes of silence, he added. “Commander, perhaps the anomaly that we just entered is an independent universe, with different properties than our own. It has billions of galaxies crammed into a few kilometers.”

“That’s crazy,” remarked a navigator. “If that were true, our ship would be millions of light-years long in this universe.”

“Not necessarily. When we crossed the boundary, our matter must have been converted, so that now it is consistent with the fundamental laws of this universe. We’re probably super small now too.”

“Can we get home?” asked the commander.

“We should convert back to normal size when we pass through the boundary going out. Let me see if I can locate it.” After thirty minutes of intense analysis, the science officer reported, “I was afraid of this. It looks like our conversion didn’t occur until the aft end of the ship passed through the boundary. The bow of the ship was over a billion light-years into this universe before we fully converted. Each of those purple streaks must have been a blue shifting galaxy as we flew by. At maximum warp, it will take us over 10,000 years to reach the boundary.”



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