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The missing planets

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Chapter 1

May 22 Morning, 2081.

First conference: Erzeran Kandahar, physicist, Iran.

The physics of the quantum telescope.



«One, two, three, One, two, three... Ooops, the mike is on»

The huge conference hall was crowded with people and buzzing like a swarm, with, sitting in front, representatives of the United Nations and various governments, renowned scientists and spiritual leaders, then reporters of information networks and scientific medias. Simultaneously, all over the world, other meetings were taking place, with huge screens in amphitheaters, to give a representation as lively as the reality, including even the sound of the assembly hall.

Erzeran was perfectly mastering the situation. She climbed on stage and modestly answered the cheers. Everybody was waiting for the announcement three days later, but it was necessary to retrace the odyssey of the quantum telescope, and that strange Missing Planet affair.


«Hello, Hello.

«Dear colleagues and people of the entire world. This is an historic announcement which is to be made. But my purpose here is only to recall how this historical discovery was made possible, the technological leap which allowed it.

«Although everybody is educated with bases of quantum mechanics today, it is still useful to recall about this. The beginning of the 20th Century witnessed the discovery of atoms and their constitutive particles. Accustomed since an unmemorable time to think in terms of material, solid and «concrete» objects, scientists of that time imagined subatomic particles as beings some «balls of matter» having a shape, a volume, a solid surface. But in 1930, some theorists, known as the Copenhagen School, refuted this naïve conception: particles are abstract objects, which cannot be located, which do not have any shape, surface, etc. A particle can appear and disappear, can be simultaneously in several places, or have influence at an arbitrarily high distance, as demonstrated in the Aspect’s experiment, in the 1980’.

«But there was still a lack of understanding, preventing most people to figure what particles really are. There was still the idea that particles were «something material», and thus it was very difficult for most persons to understand how they could disappear, travel instantly or exist into two places simultaneously. This last barrier was overcome by Richard Trigaux, in 2000, who explained in his Book «General Epistemology» that particles are just mathematical objects, and nothing else. So they obey to mathematical laws, which are true everywhere at the same time, without accounting with distance, as observed in the Aspect’s experiment. They appear or disappear according to the true or false value of logical relations, without the need for anything mysterious beyond, which could «explain what is really matter». So all the odd results of the quantum mechanics appear in fact quite ordinary. Only our prejudices from our common experience make us find extraordinary or «unexplainable» that matter could appear and disappear, or exist in several places simultaneously. And what gives us the feeling of our solid «concrete» world is only the fact that our sensory organs are also made of the same mathematical objects, so they are able to give us data about other particles with which they interact: we touch, see, smell, and the like, and have the feeling of the things existing concretely, although our bodies also are only made of equations, of nothing. This discovery was the beginning of a completely new approach of metaphysics and relation between consciousness and matter.

«Already at that time Richard Trigaux after many others had some feeling that the notion of place and distance could be overcome in certain conditions. He described in his book a system of quantum isolation caissons: We place a shuttle into one caisson, where it is completely isolated from the outside world. Thus its place loses any mathematical definition. The shuttle could thus as well reappear in another caisson, which could be located as far as we want, on another planet as well. On Earth, such a transportation mean could make completely obsolete train, plane, and even the Planetrans.

«We did not really achieve such an enthralling experiment, at least not with objects of daily life. But quantum physicists working in this field were able to achieve a slightly different process: photons, i.e. particles of light, could be detected at an arbitrarily high distance. More precisely we can detect photons which are at a very high distance, using a very common fluorescent material enclosed into such a quantum isolation caisson.

«The photons at high distance are not absorbed, but in fact they stimulate the emission of photons in a fluorescent screen, as in a laser. But unlike the laser, the stimulating photons do not pass by, they can be arbitrarily far. So there is no transmission of energy from the far object to the telescope, and the far photons are not altered in any way. There is just a transmission of mathematical properties: the photons emitted by the screen have the same direction and phase as those in the far object. We just have to place a lens before the screen to get images, and we could even gaze with the eyes if it was possible to be into the screen room.

«Although the basic process is quite simple, it was extremely difficult to build a working device. Development began in about 2050, and I and my colleagues of Teheran only succeeded 16 years ago, where we could make the first observations. The main difficulty cames from the fact that the fluorescent screen material had to be placed at an extremely low temperature, one tenth of million degrees above absolute zero. It was thus very difficult to maintain a wide caisson at this very low temperature, a quantum isolation caisson with perfect mirror-like superconductive inner walls, and to protect it from the Earth magnetic field with a quantum accuracy, from cosmic or ground radioactivity, and all that -A more than 1000 tons assembly, without the 2400 tons superconductive magnet for Zeeman correction- protected from vibrations and earthquakes. Another difficulty was, in order for the fluorescent material to emit light, it had to be excited, and re-excited at need, while keeping at a very low temperature. The first model had to be excited with a flash of purple light, and then cooled to make an image, then excited again, cycling in more that 34 hours. Only some molecules with special quantum properties allowed for continuous re-excitation at the required temperature, and thus for a continuous working.

«The distance where photons are really detected cannot be fixed at will. There is a matter of Doppler effect, when the far object moves regarding the Earth, at velocities ranging from 0 to 250km/s in our galaxy. The light frequency is somewhat shifted, and we must compensate this by surrounding the screen with a powerful superconductive magnet. This magnetic field shifts the frequency where the screen will be sensitive (This is Zeeman effect), in order to compensate for the Doppler effect. This was extremely difficult, as the magnetic field has to be constant in a great volume, with quantum accuracy. When we apply a given Zeeman correction, the device becomes sensitive to light having the matching Doppler shift, whatever its distance. More, when we begin to receive light, it is possible to apply some feedback to the Zeeman correction, and thus to lock on an observed object even if it moves, like in an autofocus system. This also compensates for the fact that the Earth itself moves. We do not really master the distance where the photons are observed, but it is very rare that several objects have exactly the same speed on the same observation line. We are now able to obtain an extraordinary resolution of half a meter on an object everywhere in our galaxy, and moving at 200km/s! Things happen as if the screen was a porthole opening thousand light years from there, and showing objects as if they were at only some metres from us! We could even have stereo views of metre-scale objects with using two lenses.

«A tradeoff is that the screen only reacts to photons of a given wavelength, and this explains why the images you will see are only one-colored, more often in green. We were somewhat able to make color shots by mixing several views of the same place, with different telescopes having different screen materials, but this is difficult and the basic researches are still one-colored.

«But one of the most astounding properties of the quantum telescope is that, not relying on classical propagation laws of light, it is not sensitive to obstacles interposed on the observation line! We can thus observe through rock, through the entire Earth, and even to look at the heart of planets and stars! One of our first observations was to survey a true three-dimensional temperature map in the entire Earth, just under our telescope! This allowed of course incredible discoveries in the field of geology, including metre scale structures of metal flow in the core of the Earth and other planets. But of course while looking into a star, we only saturate the screen and no information can be obtained from this. On the other hand, using screen materials sensitive to far infrared light allowed us to look into obscure caves of far planets, and this was a key feature for the most recent discoverie we are to speak about.

«We assembled the first full scale working device in the Khorasan Mountains, near Bodjnurd, in the North East or Iran. It was deeply concealed in a cave, and protected from earthquakes, vibrations, radioactivity, etc... The day where the first spatial observation was to be attempted was very moving: all the team, together with the local people, all prayed together to have success!

«And we had success, after some adjustments.

«And it was so marvelous!

«It was as for a blind person to discover vision!

«We had of course a very close look to all the Solar System.

«But soon we escaped in the deep space, toward the galaxy.

«We already knew, since the 1990’, that many stars also had planets. Some where even already seen with the conventional interference optical telescope based in the Lagrange points of the Moon, or by radio telescopes. But no details were really known, those planets were mere spots on the images.

«And we discovered planets of other systems, their surface, their landscapes, their moons, and even the comets and asteroids. The first model of quantum telescope was not accurate enough to give precise images of their surfaces, but soon other projects flourished all over the world. It was really difficult for us to design the technology, but once this done, it was relatively easy to spread it. Only three years after a second quantum telescope was built in the USA, and now many are working all over the world: five in the Middle East, 12 in the USA, 8 in South America, 10 in European Union, 7 in Africa, 9 in China, and some others in the world.

«Some were designed to observe very small objects, such as microorganisms; others were designed with a very strong magnetic field to reach velocities of more than 10,000km/s, which is the speed of other close galaxies. But the magnifying power of the devices is limited by various phenomena, especially the scintillation of the light with gravitational waves, which is difficult to overcome, and which blurs the images, in a way very similar to the atmospheric disturbances in the ancient ground based optical telescopes. But we are now able to obtain images of continents on planets in the Andromeda galaxy.

«The power of these new telescopes is astounding. Basically looking in such a telescope is really like being in a spaceship, looking in space through a porthole: there is no need to enlarge the image or to use a large mirror. Even the screen does not need to be very large, except if you want to observe weak light. By positioning the «porthole» close or far of the observed object, we can see details or have a global view of great objects. What is thus very relevant to evaluate the power of a quantum telescope is the accuracy in positioning the «porthole» on the observed object: one metre now, at a distance of thousands light-years! And only some fraction of millimetre, on close solar systems! This allows nearby to read the title of a book, or to recognize somebody, at the other end of our galaxy! The second measurement of power you can make, is the number of images we can record in a given time. The very first model took only one image every 34 hours, but the latest models are now able to snapshot more than hundred times a second, in different places, or to give a moving image of animals, like a movie. But this arises a huge problem: how to store and study so many images? In fact the quantum telescope program now progresses only with our capacity to record and analyze so much data, and most of the time only selected views of other planets are available. We did only an extremely small sample in a nearby infinite set of possible observations.

«Of course, quantum telescopes allowed so many discoveries in astrophysics and astronomy that we are not yet able to evaluate all the consequences. The main discoveries are about the first stages of the life of a star, with peering through cloud dusts which hide its birth. Also significant is that we now have a precise view on the formation of planets, from an accretion disk. More incredible, we were able to have close looks on the surface of neutron stars, and views of black holes! But not inside them, as we are still bound with the curvature of space.

Quantum telescope is even a greater breakthrough than the optical telescope in 1610!

«But of course the most exciting discovery was life on other planets. Life everywhere, life in extraordinary aspects. But even this discovery is now pale in comparison of what the found only some weeks ago, and that Jean Delcourt will explain in three days now.

Thank you for your attention»

Cheers, and excitement among the hearers.

Jean Delcourt was sitting somewhere in the first rows, with his friend Steve Jason and Liu Wang. He very modestly heard cheers on his address.

Sangye Tcheugyal arrived during Erzeran’s speech. He was a tall and impressive man, completely bald and somewhat athletic, wearing a dark traditional Tibetan robe. He did not hand shook Steve, when introduced by Liu, but he just leaned with hands joined on his chest, following his customs. Steve did not dared to ask him any question.



The missing planets

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