Chapter 3. Dark Matter
Niles yawned and scratched at his hair as he met James at the front door.
“We believe we spotted a dense dark matter cloud last month, we are just now processing the images from the short-range WAM sat.” Niles grinned. “It is different from the halo that is nearby. I think we found a clue on snowball earth comparing what we have now to what would have been in the solar system early in the system history.”
“Well, don’t get too carried away, I have video and stills of what this looked like before it melted.”
Niles looked at the images on the phone, he was no longer the grinning astrophysicist and surfer, but a deadly serious research scientist.
“What the hell is this?” He looked at the video where James had walked through the frost.
“It is what you hold in your hand.” James tapped on it. “It became clear when it melted.”
“Well, first, let’s spin it down and collect whatever it is in the bottom with my centripetal accelerator.”
“Pfft. You should have said so.”
“I did.” Niles smiled. “It was one of Professor Cuba’s words. I always liked them.”
“Yeah, well, let’s get to the task. I want to know what this is.”
“You and I both.” Niles said as he touched the power button on his computer. “If this was dark when cold, perhaps we should freeze some of it as well. I have a good freezer we keep at minus-forty. Get me a couple of tubes out of that cabinet there while I boot up the SEM and the Mass Spectrometer. The staff will be in an hour anyway, they will have all the tools they need online for them.”
“Oh yay, like that is something they will love. Work before they have had their coffee.”
Niles chuckled. As director of the department he had driven the lab to a higher production level. They had discovered many things on the collections of dust from the space station that orbited the earth.
“Let’s get that bag of water into the tubes.” Niles said as he put the tip of a pipette into the baggy and drew up some of the clear fluid. transferring the water to the twin tubes he placed one in the rack in the freezer.
An hour later of spinning and mass spectroscopy, James and Niles looked at the screen.
Niles with a cup of coffee in his hand leaned over the keyboard.
“Almost zero bandwidth response. There is no change of mass for the amount of volume. This stuff is cryptic.”
“Look at the ice! It has stayed clear.”
“Not everywhere. It has stratified.”
They shaved off a series of thin wafers a few molecules thick and looked at them under a microscope in polarized light.
“Pfft.” Niles swore. “We will have to do some in-depth looking at this. Dude, this is stupid, nothing shows as being different. Refraction even. Nothing.”
“Niles, I have to get to the lab, I am out of contact here, no service at all.” Jim said looking at his phone.
“It’s the lab, it blocks everything.”
“Okay, call me what you find. I have a feeling that there will be a discussion over this at some level.”
“Dude, I’ll have a report for you later. Get on to work, we will scan this the SEM in the cryochamber. It will take some time to set up. Jim, it is my top priority.”
“Okay, dude Niles. I’ll head on to the observatory. Crap, I’m late, I have a meeting in a half-hour. I can just make it.”
“Say Jimmy, don’t use ‘dude’, you don’t dude it well.”
Laughing, Doctor Cutter walked out to his electric eco-car, his attempt to talk like Niles being the entertainment of the hour.