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Chapter 30 Two Protons

Novel:The Three-Bodyauthor:Cinxin Liu pubdate:2019-02-14 15:07

Chapter 30 Two Protons
INTERROGATOR: We will now begin today's investigation. We hope you'll cooperate again as you did last time.
YE WEI JIE: You already know everything I know. In fact, by now there are many things that I'd like to learn from you. 
INTERROGATOR: I don't think you've told us everything. First, we want to know this: Among the messages that Trisolaris sent to Earth, what were the contents of those portions that the Adventists intercepted and withheld?
YE: I can't tell you. They have a tight organization. I only know that they did withhold some messages. 
INTERROGATOR: Change of subject. After the Adventists monopolized communications with Trisolaris, did you build a third Red Coast Base?
YE: I did have such a plan. But we only built a receiver, and then construction stopped. The equipment and the base were all dismantled.
YE: Because there were no more messages coming from Alpha Centauri. ".There was nothing on any frequency. I think you've already confirmed this.
INTERROGATOR: Yes. In other words—at least as of four years ago— Trisolaris decided to terminate all communications with Earth. This makes the messages intercepted by the Adventists even more important.
YE: True. But there's really nothing more I can tell you about them. INTERROGATOR: (pausing a few seconds) Then lets find some topic where you can tell me more. Mike Evans lied to you, is that right? 
YE: You could put it that way. He never revealed to me the thoughts buried deep in his heart, and only expressed his sense of duty toward the other species on this planet. I never realized that this sense of duty had caused his hatred of human civilization to develop to such extremes that he could make the destruction of the human race his ultimate ideal. 
INTERROGATOR: Let's look at the current composition of the ETO. The Adventists would like to destroy the human race by means of an alien power; the Redemptionists worship the alien civilization as a god; the Survivors wish to betray other humans to buy their own survival. None of these is in line with your original ideal of using the alien civilization as a way to reform humanity.
YE: I started the fire, but I couldn't control how it burnt. 
INTERROGATOR: You had a plan to eliminate the Adventists from within the ETO, and you even began to implement this plan. But Judgment Day is the core base and command center for the Adventists, and Mike Evans and other Adventist leaders usually reside there. Why didn't you attack the ship first? Most of the armed forces of the Redemptionists are loyal to you, and you should have enough firepower to sink it or capture it. 
YE: It's because of the messages from the Lord that they intercepted. All those messages are stored in the Second Red Coast Base, on some computer on Judgment Day. If we attacked that ship, the Adventists could erase all the messages when they realized that loss was imminent. Those messages are too important for us to risk losing them. For Redemptionists, losing those messages would be as if Christians lost the Bible or Muslims lost the Koran. I think you are faced with the same problem. The Adventists are holding the Lord's messages hostage, and that is why Judgment Day has remained unmolested so far. 
INTERROGATOR: Do you have any advice for us? 
YE: No.
INTERROGATOR: You also call Trisolaris your '"Lord." Does this mean that you've also developed religious feelings for Trisolaris like the Redemptionists? Are you already a follower of the Trisolaran faith? 
YE: Not at all. It's just a habit. ... I do not wish to discuss it further. INTERROGATOR: Let's get back to those intercepted messages. Maybe you don't know the exact contents, but surely you must have heard rumors of some of the details?
YE: Probably only baseless rumors. 
YE:.. .
INTERROGATOR: Did Trisolaris transfer certain technologies to the Adventists, technologies more advanced than current human technology?
ye: Not likely. Because such technology would risk falling into your hands.
INTERROGATOR: One last question, and also the most important: Until now, has Trisolaris sent only radio waves to the Earth? 
YE: Almost true.
YE: The current Trisolaran civilization is capable of space travel at one-tenth the speed of light. This technology leap occurred a few decades ago in Earth years. Before that point, their maximum speed had hovered around one-thousandth the speed of light. The tiny probes that they sent to the Earth have not even completed one-hundredth of the journey between there and here. 
INTERROGATOR: Then I have a question. If the Trisolaran Fleet that had been launched is capable of flight at one-tenth the speed of light, it should take only forty years to reach the solar system. So why do you say that it would take more than four hundred years?
ye: Here's the thing. The Trisolaran Interstellar Fleet is composed of incredibly massive spaceships. Accelerating them is a slow process. One-tenth the speed of light is only their maximum speed, but they cannot cruise at this speed for long before decelerating as they approach the Earth. Also, the source of propulsion for the Trisolaran ships is matter-antimatter annihilation. In front of each ship is a large magnetic field shaped like a funnel to collect anti-matter particles from space. This collection process is slow, and only after a long wait can it gather enough antimatter to allow the ship to accelerate for a brief period. Thus, the fleet's acceleration occurs in spurts, interspersed by long periods of coasting to collect fuel. This is why the time it takes the Trisolaran Fleet to reach the solar system is ten times longer than the flight time of a small probe.
INTERROGATOR: Then what did you mean by "almost" just now? 
YE: We're talking about the speed of space flight within a certain context. Outside this context, even backward human beings are capable of accelerating certain objects to close to the speed of light. 
INTERROGATOR: (a pause) By "context," do you mean at the macro scale? At a micro scale, humans can already use high-energy particle accelerators to speed up subatomic particles to near the speed of light. These particles are the "objects" you meant, correct? 
YE : You're very clever.
INTERROGATOR: (points to his earpiece) I have the world's foremost scientists behind me. 
YE: Yes, I meant subatomic particles. Six years ago, in the distant Trisolaran stellar system, Trisolaris accelerated two hydrogen nuclei to near the speed of light and shot them toward the solar system. These two hydrogen nuclei, or protons, arrived at the solar system two years ago, then reached the Earth. 
INTERROGATOR: Two protons? They only sent two protons? That's almost nothing.
YE: (laughs) You also said "almost". That's the limit of Trisolaran power. They can only accelerate something as small as a proton to near speed of light. So over a distance of four light-years, they can only send two protons.
INTEKROGATOR; At the macroscopic level, two protons are nothing. Even a single cilium on a bacterium would include several billion protons. What's the point? 
YE: They're a lock.
INTERROGATOR: A lock? What are they locking? ye: They are sealing off the progress of human science. Because of the existence of these two protons, humanity will not be able to make any important scientific developments during the four and a half centuries until the arrival of the Trisolaran Fleet. Evans once said that the day of arrival of the two protons was also the day that human science died.
INTERROGATOR: That's . . . too fantastic. How can that be?
YE: I don't know. I really don't know. In the eyes of Trisolaran civilization, were probably not even primitive savages. We might be mere bugs.
It was near midnight by the time Wang Miao and Ding Yi walked out of the Battle Command Center. They had been invited to listen to Ye's interrogation due to Wang's involvement in the case and Ding Yi's connection to Ye's daughter.
"Do you believe what Ye Wenjie said?" Wang asked.
"Do you?"
"Many things that have happened recently are incredible. But for two protons to block all progress of human science? That seems..." 
"Let's focus on one thing first. The Trisolarans were able to shoot two protons at the Earth from four light-years away and they both reached the target! That accuracy is incredible! There are numerous obstacles between there and here: interstellar dust, for example. And both the solar system and the Earth are moving. It would require more precision than shooting a mosquito here from Pluto. The shooter is beyond imagination."
Wang's heart clenched when he heard "shooter." "What do you think this means?"
"I don't know. In your impression, what do subatomic particles such as neutrons and protons look like?"
"They would just look like a point. Though the point has internal structure."
"Luckily, the image in my head is more realistic than yours." As Ding spoke, he tossed his cigarette butt away. "What do you think that is?" He pointed at the butt.
"A cigarette filter."
"Good. Looking at that tiny thing from this distance, how would you describe it?"
"It's practically just a point."
"Right." Ding walked over and picked up the butt. In front of Wang's eyes he tore it open and revealed the yellowed spongy material inside. Wang smelled burnt tar. Ding continued, "Look, if you spread this little thing open, the adsorbent surface area can be as large as a living room." He tossed the filter away. "Do you smoke pipes?"
"I no longer smoke anything."
"Pipes use another type of more advanced filter. You can get one for three yuan. The diameter is about the same as a cigarette filter, but it's longer: a small paper tube filled with active charcoal. If you take out all the active charcoal, it will look like a little pile of black particles, like mouse droppings. But added together, the adsorbent surface formed by the tiny holes inside is as large as a tennis court. This is why active charcoal is so adsorbent."
"What are you trying to say?" Wang asked, listening intently.
"The sponge or active charcoal inside a filter is three-dimensional. Their adsorbent surfaces, however, are two-dimensional. Thus, you can see how a tiny high-dimensional structure can contain a huge low-dimensional structure. But at the macroscopic level, this is about the limit of the ability for high-dimensional space to contain low-dimensional space. Because God was stingy, during the big bang He only provided the macroscopic world with three spatial dimensions, plus the dimension
of time. this doesn't mean that higher dimensions don't exist.
Up to seven additional dimensions are locked within the micro scale, or more precisely, within the quantum realm. And added to the four dimensions at the macro scale, fundamental particles exist within an eleven-dimensional space-time."
"So what?"
"I just want to point out this fact: In the universe, an important mark of a civilization's technological advancement is its ability to control and make use of micro dimensions. Making use of fundamental particles without taking advantage of the micro dimensions is something that our naked, hairy ancestors already began back when they lit bonfires within caves. Controlling chemical reactions is just manipulating micro particles without regard to the micro dimensions. Of course, this control also progressed from crude to advanced: from bonfires to steam engines, and then generators. Now, the ability for humans to manipulate micro particles at the macro level has reached a peak: We have computers and nanomaterials. But all of that is accomplished without unlocking the many micro dimensions. From the perspective of a more advanced civilization in the universe, bonfires and computers and nanomaterials are not fundamentally different. They all belong to the same level. That's also why they still think of humans as mere bugs. Unfortunately, I think they're right."
"Can you be more specific? What does all this have to do with those two protons? Ultimately, what can the two protons that have reached the Earth do? Like the interrogator said, a single cilium on a bacterium can contain several billion protons. Even if these two protons turned entirely into energy on the tip of my finger, at most it would feel like a pinprick."
"You wouldn't feel anything. Even if they turned into energy on a bacterium, the bacterium probably wouldn't feel anything.
' Then what were you trying to say?"
Nothing. I don't know' anything. What can a bug know?"
"But you're a physicist among bugs. You know more than I do. At least you aren't completely at a loss when faced with the knowledge of these protons. I beg you. Tell me. Otherwise I won't be able to sleep tonight."
"If I tell you more, you really won't be able to sleep. Forget it. What's the point of worrying? We should learn to be as philosophical as Wei Cheng and Shi Qiang. Just do the best within your responsibility. Let's go drinking and then go back to sleep like good bugs."
Chapter 30 Vocabulary Note
imminent - if an event is imminent, it will happen very soon
unmolested - not attacked or prevented from doing sth
annihilation - the process in which a particle combines with its antiparticle, destroying both and releasing their energy in the form of radiation or other particles
in spurt - when an amount of liquid suddenly comes quickly out of something
be interspersed with - if something is interspersed with a particular kind of thing, it has a lot of them in it
coast - to move without any power from the engine
backward - developing slowly and less successfully than others
nuclei - the central part of an atom
cilium - a hairlike thing from the surface of a cell
bacterium - a very small living things, such of which cause illness or disease
adsorbent - having the ability to attract things to form on the surface
pinprick - a quick pain that you feel when a needle is pushed into your skin


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