Thursday, August 11, 2016


Questions of Time and Matter
By Thomas G Schmidt

The physicist pondered the problem while looking at his cat. “Apollo” had been physically teleported between his lab and his assistant’s lab multiple times. The PDU (physical displacement unit) worked as designed, for the most part. Apollo had been successfully moved between the two labs via quantum electro-displacement a total of 8 times. However, upon each physical reconstitution, he had been changed in a number of ways. Graying of the cat’s fur, eye color changes, as well as nose and ear size changes had occurred with each of the teleportation. These were the visible changes that could be seen. What about possible internal changes to the animal? Could the process even be changing the animal’s “soul”, his essential being in some way? There was no easy way to tell.

What was clear was that the process was still flawed. The physicist turned his eyes back to the laboratory white board where a long string of quantum physics equations were written. For the time being, he had focused his work on living matter transportation, leaving the more involved issue of time travel for the future.

Somewhere within the theory was a logic error. But where could it be? The lab assistant walked into the room and quietly watched the scientist for a few minutes. The physicist did not like being disturbed when he was deep in thought. The quiet room seemed stressful to the assistant. Finally, the physicist sprung up from his chair and shrieked with excitement.

“Of course, of course. It’s clear for anyone to see. We need to take the third derivative of the Borhn displacement function and then integrate the Collier time equation to correct for possible matter or time related distortions during the teleporting process.”

“That makes sense, sir,” replied the lab assistant as he watched the physicist make the mathematical changes on the white board. “I think you have it now.”

“Of course I do,” cried the physicist. “It’s simple, straight forward. I am embarrassed that this type of error went undetected for so long.” The physicist shook his head as he re-read the equations on the white board. “How could I have missed these parts of the theory for so long?”

“And the timing of this discovery is most important,” replied the lab assistant. “As you know, Dr. Rochelle at MIT has been making progress on his work on teleportation. Some think he may be closing in on some important milestones.”

“Rochelle? He is a quack, an amateur. Don’t even mention his name in this lab.” The physicist was clear perturbed. “Rochelle is an idiot”.

“Yes, yes, of course. My apologies sir. I did not mean to upset you.”

The physicist did not respond. Instead, his focus was entirely on making adjustments to the PDU unit in front of him, using the equation modifications he had just created. These adjustments to the process would finally allow him to have his first fully successful teleportation using his quantum physics theory. When published later this year, he was sure the work would put him in line for a Nobel Prize and tremendous academic admiration from his peers. Accolades that he definitely deserved.

He scribbled down the needed adjustments for the second PDU unit and provided the information to the lab assistant. “Make these adjustments to your unit and then call me when you are ready. I want to make a teleportation attempt with these new conditions today. We have no time to lose.”

“Yes, sir.” The lab assistant scampered out the door and down the long hallway to the receiving lab. The physicist was a demanding man and he did not want to delay his request.

As the lab assistant rushed out of the room, the physicist walked over to his cat. Apollo was needed for this last teleportation of the day. But when he went to pick up the animal, Apollo hissed and growled in a manner never seen before. The cat was definitely defensive and lashed out at the physicist when he moved toward him.

“What is the matter Apollo?” The cat scampered away and hid behind a cluttered area of lab supplies just as the lab phone rang.

“All set on this end, sir. Just let me know when the teleportation has been activated on your end. I have the second PDU set to receive.”

“Thank you Daniel,” replied the physicist. “It will just be a minute.” But try as he might, the scientist just could not get Apollo to settle down. The cat continued to lash out and scratch the man in anger. What was wrong with the animal?

Finally, in a fit of frustration, the physicist tossed his lab book aside as he went over to the PDU unit. Why waste time with an uncooperative animal when he had important work to do. Why not use a human subject for this work? Someone who could describe the miraculous phenomenon to the world when the announcement of this achievement would be made later in the month. Why not use himself?

The physicist energized the unit and made some final adjustments to the settings. The PDU hummed and buzzed as he watched the equipment reach steady state. After a few deep breaths, the scientist jumped inside the unit and disappeared from sight.


The lab assistant cleared the smoke from his laboratory, wondering all along about what had happened. A close look inside the second PDU unit found several pounds of charred ash inside the unit. The debris seemed large for an 8 pound cat.

The lab assistant made some notes in his lab book and then hurried down to the physicist’s lab. He needed to talk to the scientist in order to pass on the bad news about Apollo. He called out for the physicist as he walked through the lab door. But the only reply that he received was the hissing and growling of the lab cat, still cowering behind the lab equipment in the back of the room.

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Tom Schmidt is a Chemical Engineer working in medical diagnostics in upstate New York. He has been published on and in the past. He is currently working on the “Paul Garigan Crime Mysteries”, a collection of short stories centered around a Malibu based police detective which he hopes to publish in the future.


Anonymous said...

Best story yet, Tom!

Anonymous said...

A well written story. Good mix of speculative science and drama.

Patty Panther from USC said...

I know this author from high school. He has had a passion for writing for many years and I am glad that he is now writing these short stories.

Looking forward to seeing that novel you always talked about writing Tom!


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