Castle Roland

Book I - Global Explorer

by David McLeod


Chapter 7

Posted: 15 Jun 15

Global Explorer

by David McLeod

Neutrinos and PCBs

"Three quarks for Muster Mark!"—James Joyce, _Finnegan's Wake_

Davey's question—whether I preferred top or bottom—had triggered a thought. Top and bottom quarks are created only during high-energy collisions. They decay almost immediately to up and down quarks. Neutrons are composed of two down and one up quark; protons, which carry an electrical charge and could therefore interact with an electromagnetic field, are composed of two ups and a down. It was the beginning of an idea. I pulled up Richard Feynman's papers on my iPad®, and began reading.

Two days later, I had a headache, but the idea had grown. Time to bring in Jonathan and the boys.

The theory was good. By focusing three gamma ray burners 120 degrees apart in three-dimensional space, we were able to bring three times as many "tiny hammers" to bear on a microscopic piece of the mineral that triggered the hydrogen fusion reaction. However, that's all it did. We began experimenting with other materials but it wasn't until I managed to have a microgram of _______ delivered from the Montana labs in a heavily shielded container that we got the results we wanted: a neutrino detector of strange matter—up, down, and strange quarks—gluing together atomic nuclei into a substance which created an electromagnetic signal when struck by a neutrino. Our three-times-a-trillion hammers approach was beating the high-powered CERN collider hands down!

We could create neutrinos, but so could the whole universe. And the universe created a lot of them. The problem then became one of separating our "signal neutrinos" from the background radiation "noise." The second problem was creating a chunk of strange matter large enough that it wouldn't get used up by the neutrino reactions. That was just technology. Turns out, the solution to the first problem was just technology, too.

"It's TDM all over again," Nicky said, and giggled.

Jonathan, Davey, and I must have looked pretty blank, because he giggled again.

"Send a coded pulse at the beginning of your neutrino signal stream, and train the receiver software to react only to that pulse. You have six times ten to the twenty-third neutrons times the number of neutrons per atom in one mole of the sample. You can afford to burn up some of them. Besides . . . "

It was not long before Jonathan, Davey, and I began to drool—our mouths were hanging open. Nicky had not only solved the detection problem, he'd also shown us how to renew the detector in real time. Nicky was going to be a very rich boy—as soon as we could find commercial uses for this. Neutrino toasters? Neutrino HDTV? Actually, that last idea had some merit. We could put the entire cable and satellite TV rackets out of business.

For now, however, we decided to install a neutrino-based remote control system in one of the submersibles. It would remain strictly an experimental test bed. We weren't quite ready to completely cut the cord since that would mean revealing the source of the submersibles' power.

Jonathan and I had lingered in the shower, and were changing into our dress clothes for Saturday supper. I was wearing a set of Navy whites, with a UN patch and commander's insignia. Jonathan wore black tie. I'd tried to get him to accept a UN commission, but he'd demurred. He started the conversation.

"Davey and Nicky are pretty smart, aren't they?"

"Smarter than the average bear," I said. I knew Jonathan was trying to be serious, but I wasn't sure how to take that, so I joked.

"Smarter than we are?" Jonathan asked.

I couldn't joke, any more. Something was bothering Jonathan, and I owed him a serious answer. "Maybe. It's hard to tell. Both of them have come up with some pretty impressive ideas."

Jonathan dropped the bombshell. "Are we holding them back? Are we being selfish?"

I understood that he wasn't talking just about science.

"You're asking," I said, "if we've broken their bond. You're asking if we have taken advantage of them?"

Jonathan nodded. I understood. Jonathan and I could read Nicky and Davey. Had we read them correctly? Did they really want intimacy with us, or had we forced it using knowledge that we had no right to have? Had we done a bad thing?

"Tonight," I said. "After supper. We should talk."

Jonathan nodded his agreement.

It wasn't difficult, but it was a little awkward to put off Nicky and Davey, who expected to be invited to our quarters after supper.

"Guys? Jonathan and I need some alone-time," I said. I read their disappointment. It was an input to the discussion Jonathan and I would have, but it was only a little part of it.

"You felt the same disappointment I felt when I told Nicky and Davey not tonight," I said.

Jonathan nodded. "I know they like having sex with us. How much of that is just physical, animalistic, orgasmic? How much is just neurons being reinforced by oxytocin? How much is mission commander and head of IT, and how much is . . ."

Davey and I had talked about this, but I'd not shared that discussion with Jonathan. I should have. I'd never heard Jonathan so passionate about something, and I'd never heard him curse. He was, and he did.

"Damn it, Alexander! I love those two boys. I think you do, too. But . . ."

I explained what Davey had said about the professional conduct training, and what he and I had agreed. Jonathan was, at first, pissed that I'd not told him earlier, but calmed down after a while. He understood that we'd both been under a lot of pressure.

"Still," I said, "we need to talk to them."

Jonathan's face went from the red of his anger to white. Then he calmed. "You're right," he said.

We had several days of down time before we reached the second of the two small tectonic plates. Jonathan and I got Davey and Nicky in the conference room to go over some software issues. The two boys were nervous when they reported. I think they knew something was up.

"Guys?" I began the meeting. "Jonathan and I have never told you this—we should have—but we love you, and we would never hurt you, deliberately. I'm afraid—"

Nicky interrupted me. "We love you, too," he said. "Davie and I've talked about it. We love each other, but we love you, too."

Davey chimed in. "And we know you wouldn't hurt us—deliberately or not."

"You both are really smart, and you were boyfriends—in love—before we met," I said. "Jonathan and I have come between—"

"No!" Nicky interrupted. "Not between. It's like . . . it's like we are four jigsaw puzzle pieces that are nearly alike, with holes that need to be filled, and—

"I know what you're thinking, Davey! Get your mind out of the gutter! You know what I mean." Nicky said.

"A lot of puzzles have pieces with bumps on two sides and gulfs on two sides. Except for the picture they're making, they could fit together. But there is only one right way. I think we are like that. We can fit together by twos, six different ways. But we're still trying to make the picture the right way.

"I don't know if this makes sense," Nicky said.

The rest of us looked from one to the other. Then, Jonathan and Davey stared at me. My turn to answer.

"Yes, Nicky, it makes a lot of sense. A lot more than anything I could come up with."

"So, until we figure out what the picture is, it's okay for me to sleep with you?" Jonathan asked Davey.

"Have sex with you," Davey said. "I hate that particular expression."

"Okay, have sex with you," Jonathan said.

"Speaking of which," Nicky said, "it's getting late. Alexander? Will you . . . uh, have sex with me and then sleep with me? Will you cuddle me after I blow you . . . your mind, that is?"

Nicky had walked toward me as he talked. When he reached me, we hugged, then closed our eyes and kissed.

After a motionless moment, I opened my eyes to see his blue eyes staring into mine. I felt his happiness, and tried to project a little of mine to him. Then, I broke the kiss, took his hand, and led him to the bedroom.

Jonathan and Davey shared a similar embrace before going into the second bedroom.

The repeat of the testing at the second of the two small tectonic plates was anticlimactic, except for the cadets who got to fly on the fixed wing planes or to help launch and recover the seismometers, and the two new cadets on the tectonic test stations who got to launch the charges. On the other hand, we did get more information for both my uncles, and I got a couple of messages from them that sounded . . . kind of relieved!

25-14-37 South; 130-22-08 West

"Alexander? Would you look at this?" Jonathan had called me into the conference room where he was monitoring the special sensors that he and I had added to the sensor train.

"What 'cha got," I asked, and sat beside him. I put my arm over his shoulder.

"These readings just don't make sense," he said. "It's almost—"

A buzzing phone interrupted him. I answered. It was Dr. Brewster. He was getting unusual readings in density, conductivity, and turbidity in the upper 100 meters or so.

"We need samples," he concluded. "And perhaps a run by the fixed wing planes." I looked at Jonathan. He nodded.

I stepped onto the bridge. Lt. Anik was in command.

"Lt. Anik? The science mission requires some water samples. Would you stop the ship and begin station keeping while we rig up the sampling system? We'll likely begin aerial operations, too."

He acknowledged and ordered the rudder to be placed amidships and sent all stop to the engine room. Reactor room. Whatever.

Water sampling wasn't much different from what Taro Takahashi had done from the Verna in 1957: we lowered a thingy with twenty sample containers. Each container had a lid that would open only at a certain pressure of water—that is, only at a certain depth—and that would close after the container had filled. The only difference was that ours were more high-tech and smaller, and our analytical equipment was more precise.

We spent five days steaming in a widening spiral pattern, taking samples in a regular grid. The helos and fixed wing planes ranged even farther, dropping and then recovering sample thingies attached to buoys and making laser readings. As soon as samples were retrieved, they went to the lab. The first set of samples gave us our answer; the rest merely confirmed it and mapped the problem.

We had discovered the South Pacific version of the Great Pacific Garbage Patch. Contrary to popular belief, it wasn't a whirl-a-gig of Styrofoam® picnic coolers, coffee cups, and packing peanuts, but nearly microscopic plastic particles plus chemical sludge and some debris that had been trapped by the currents.

Most of the particles were at or just inches below the surface of the water. These particles were giving us the strange sensor readings. But why were we getting readings from sensors tens of meters below the surface?

"The ship's wake," Nicky said. "It's affecting the readings of the sensors closest to the surface by churning up the water. Normally, that wouldn't matter, since we aggregate and smooth our sensor readings. But the plastics, as small as they are, are not only affecting the parameters, but may have fouled some of the sensors."

"They poison the sea life, too," Davey said. "Especially the plastics that release PCBs into the water."

The location of the gyre would be of interest to Uncle Carlos; however, he'd understand when we made it available to the world in hopes that others would avoid seafood from the area. It was one of those "do it because it's right" things.

After we were clear of the mess, we replaced about a dozen sensors, just to be safe. And Davey and Nicky didn't know it, yet, but they would be listed as "principle co-researchers" on the paper Dr. Brewster had submitted to be published by the university's journal, as soon as the paper passed peer review.

We were moving northwest, and were near the upper boundary of the gyre, when the cadet standing watch at the bridge comm station got our attention.

"There's a Japanese research vessel 500 nautical miles northwest of us. They've encountered a pod of whales, and are launching boats." Bobby, one of the Sea Cadets on our team, was pulling signals from a Chinese communication satellite—meaning spy satellite. It had been easy for Jonathan and Bobby to break the encryption, and Bobby was receiving both imagery and radio traffic from the boat via the satellite downlink.

In the years immediately following World War II, Made in Japan had meant cheap junk—sort of like what we were importing from China, now. American management and marketing experts had flocked to this island nation, teaching Total Quality Management and other techniques. Soon, Japanese automobiles and heavy equipment—as well as their early lock on video games and electronic gadgets such as the Walkman®—had dominated the USA markets, and Japan began accumulating dollars.

When the Fukushima nuclear plant was breached by a tsunami and Japanese nuclear power plants had been forced by public opinion to shut down, the Japanese had enough dollars to force up the price of natural gas from the former Soviet Union, precipitating the crisis in the Ukraine. The Japanese still had enough dollars in reserve that the USA didn't dare criticize them in public. Besides, they were the world's third largest economy . . . another reason not to piss them off.

"Research vessel, my butt," I said. "She's nothing more than a modern day whaler." I didn't care who I pissed off.

That these research vessels were whalers was common knowledge, and it was common knowledge that they killed whales not for science, but to satisfy the appetites of the ultra-wealthy of Japan and the hyper-wealthy of the rest of the world. Their claims of research were thin and utter lies. However, no one dared say that in public—no one except perhaps Greenpeace, but their voice was small, and the right wing press in so many countries had attacked them that their voice had almost been silenced.

How long before we can reach them, I wondered. "Captain? We need to do something about this, and I believe we've all agreed that this sort of thing supersedes our measuring mission."

The captain nodded, and issued orders for the towed array to be reeled in, and for the reactor crew to prepare to make steam for flank speed.

"The cable was extended to 8,000 meters." Dr. Brewster had reached the bridge after being briefed. "It will take about five more hours to reel it in."

"At flank speed, we should reach the whaler in ten to twenty hours after that," the captain added.

The Sea Cadet on the helm asked, "Sir? Why such a range of uncertainty?"

"That's a good question," the captain said. "You see, we've never been at flank speed, before."

The captain and I looked at one another, and grinned. I knew that the Sea Cadets caught our excitement. I wasn't as sure about Dr. Brewster, though.

Five hours later, the sensor cable had been secured. The captain spoke to the Sea Cadet who was standing watch on my "old-fashioned" side of the bridge. "Mr. Samson? I think this moment calls for something more than a computer signal. Using the engine order telegraph, signal the engine room: flank speed. One bell."

The kid complied quickly, and professionally, but I could feel his excitement. Everyone's eyes were on the indicator as it moved to show that the engine room had received the signal.

"I understand flank speed, but what did you mean by one bell?" Dr. Brewster asked.

"When Mr. Samson moved the telegraph handle, it rang a bell in the engine room. If this were an emergency, he would have moved the handle back and forth three times to ring the bell three times. That's called a cavitation bell, because bringing the screws to full speed quickly can cause cavitation which can make more noise than one might want to make in a combat situation," the captain explained.

I think the captain lost Dr. Brewster's interest when he first said "three times."

"Time to break out the water skis!" Cadet Samson said a bit later. "We're at 25 knots."

It wasn't much after that when a call from the engine room told us the reactors were operating at 100%. Our speed was over 40 knots.

Cadet Samson's watch was over. He didn't leave the bridge, but stood out of the way near the starboard bulkhead. No one was allowed to come onto the bridge unless they were assigned duty there or were invited, but once present, people were permitted to remain as long as it didn't get too crowded and they stayed out of the way.

I caught the boy's eye, and gestured to Jonathan's station, now dark. Jonathan had checked in, briefly, and was now in SVRC, training a couple of crewmembers in the submersible controls.

"Thank you, sir," the boy said.

"Alex," I said. "At least when we're not being official. You're Thomas, right?"

"Thomas is my dad, sir . . . I mean, Alex. The guys call me Tommy."

"Then Tommy it is." I held out my hand to be shaken. His palm was damp. He didn't look nervous when he was at the helm. Am I making him nervous? I was careful not to wipe my hand.

"You're from Edinburgh, aren't you?" He would have known that I had access to the cadets' personnel files.

"Actually, Clyde. My dad's Royal Navy, a sub captain. I was in University in Edinburgh reading in physics—nuclear physics."

I knew that Clyde was home of the British nuclear sub fleet, and figured he was hoping to follow his father to sea.

"Have you had a chance to see our reactors?"

"No, sir."

"Alex. Would you like to?"

"No, Alex . . . I mean, yes Alex. Please. I would like to."

They're operating at max, right now. This may be the best time. Let's go."

There really wasn't much to see, actually. It's not like watching men shovel coal into furnaces while reciprocating rods control steam-powered pistons. There was no noise in the reactor room, and only a susurrus of sound in the turbine room where steam from the reactors drove generators for the ship's electrical power. It was a little noisier in shaft alley, where larger steam turbines drove the propellers, but even there I was reminded more of the sound of a library than of an engine room.

Tommy was not quite drooling, but he was very close to it. He wore his dosimeter as if were a medal for heroism. However, he wasn't too overwhelmed to ask some astute questions. Dr. Purdom, the reactor chief, seemed impressed by the questions, and by Tommy's answers to Purdom's questions. I resolved to ask Dr. P privately if he'd consider adding Tommy—and perhaps some other cadets—to his crew.

As it turned out, that wasn't necessary. Dr. Purdom spoke to Lt. Griggs. I received notification of the change in Tommy's duty status the next morning.

Tommy and I got right close to one another crawling around the equipment, and I could feel some lust overriding the excitement he felt at the reactors and steam turbines. On the other hand, I didn't want him to think that he had to have sex with me because I'd done him a favor. So I made up an excuse, and went looking for Jonathan. I found Davey, first, and learned that Jonathan and Nicky were asleep.

Davey and I made short shrift of our shower, and tumbled into bed still a little damp. Davey's lips were quickly all over me—mouth, chest, tummy, belly button, penis. He was becoming more comfortable with oral stuff. I was about to lose it when he slowed down. And stopped. And started talking.

"Alex? Who is going to be your next boyfriend?"

I wasn't ready for talk, and I certainly wasn't ready for that question. I tried to put him off. "That's a silly question, Davey. You know—"

I felt intense disappointment from Davey, and knew I'd messed up, badly.

"I'm sorry, Davey! I'm sorry—" I turned away, crossed my arms on my chest, drew my knees up in a foetal position and began crying.

I felt Davey's arms wrap around me, and his body press against my back. I wanted to shrug him off, but didn't have the energy to do that.

"Shhh, Alex. I'm sorry. I had no right to ask. Please, don't be hurt. I'm sorry I hurt you." Davey was babbling, now.

It took a while for my hurt and Davey's confusion to go away.

"Davey?" I said. "It wasn't a silly question, but it did surprise me. We've talked about love shared is love enlarged, and we've been open about our—and I mean all four of us—our being polyamorous. I guess I was just surprised.

"Something's changed, hasn't it?"

Davey nodded. We were now sitting up, knees touching.

"Yes," he said. "I'm . . . falling . . . no, not falling, 'cause . . . I'm getting deeper in love with Jonathan. I still love you and Nicky, but . . ."

"I guess this isn't something they covered in the professional conduct classes," I said. Davey understood that I was babbling. He grinned, and nodded.

"No," he said. "But it's something we need to talk about."

"Davey? I'm happy that you are getting closer to Jonathan—that you are falling deeper in love with him."

I told Davey about giving Jonathan the code to the lab, and explaining that I'd not give it to anyone I didn't trust—and explaining what that trust meant. Davey got a kick out of that.

"You told him five minutes after you met that you'd trust him with your penis in his mouth? You're nuts!"

"Yeah, but it sure broke the ice—we had sex for the first time that night. If I hadn't been so open, who knows how long it would have taken.

"You're right, Davey. I'm a pretty shallow guy when it comes to boyfriends and sex. I hope that you and Jonathan and Nicky and I can always be friends, and I would understand if you and Jonathan became exclusive sexual partners—as long as we remained friends.

"I don't think I could stand to lose either of you, as friends, I mean."

That earned a kiss from Davey. I think we both were more comfortable with our relationship, and we both enjoyed simply cuddling, that night.

Less than twelve hours after we reached flank speed, the captain ordered the screws to slow, and then ordered "full speed astern" to further slow the ship. The Explorer needed at least 30 minutes and 30 kilometers to go from flank speed to full stop, even using the maneuvering thrusters and reversing the propellers. When we were ten kilometers from the Japanese ship and at a slow five knots speed, we dropped an active sonar transponder 100 meters below the ship on a cable that not only tethered it but also provided power and signal.

Twenty years of recording whale song, mostly by people from Greenpeace and the Scripps Institute, had revealed what we knew to be a song of danger, one that would send any whales in the vicinity fleeing. Within minutes of deploying the sonar, we were broadcasting the danger song.

An hour later, Dr. Gannon, a handful of cadets, the captain, Jonathan and I—with fresh coffee—were seated in the conference room. Through a speaker mounted on the bulkhead, we could hear the danger song coming from our sonar. The captain gestured to one of the cadets, who turned down the volume.

"This was the first test of the deployable sonar and the transmitter," the captain said. "What is the sound?"

"It's playing a song that will frighten whales away from the Japanese whaler," Jonathan said.

"Do the Japanese know that?"

"They'll probably figure it out soon enough."

The next morning, we moved to within a hundred meters of the Japanese ship—a very impolite distance for a ship our size—and began to shadow her. The captain of the Gingko Maru hailed us. He demanded that we stand off, and demanded that we stop playing whale song on our sonar.

"He's apparently got some sophisticated sonar gear," I said after reviewing the message. "He's figured out that our transmitter is suspended under the ship."

"If we see any sign of divers . . . " the captain began.

"Good point, Captain," I said. "We should deploy the array. We'll be moving slowly and perhaps not far, but we'll gather data while we can. And, perhaps Drs. Brewster and Gannon should come to the bridge to see this.

"Jonathan? It's time you earned your keep," I added. Jonathan, Nicky, and Davey grinned. They knew what I meant, and I knew that they were ready for this.

Jonathan sat at his position on the bridge, and brought up several large, hi-def screens.

"It's time to see another system," I said to the observers, as Jonathan typed in the command to send all the signals from the towed array—including our ELF detector signals—through the server racks in the conference room to his display screens on the bridge.

The captain, having been exposed to more of our technology, kept his cool. Dr. Brewster, who had seen only one aspect of it, gasped.

It was as if the ocean around us had become transparent. One screen showed our immediate area; another showed everything within ten miles of us; another, all within 50 miles.

"The sensors on the towed array are good, but they're not that good," Dr. Brewster said. "Where are they being processed?"

"Computers in the conference room," I said. "Massive parallel processing. We take the signal from all the sensors—including some that are not part of your package—, combine and synthesize them."

"This will revolutionize oceanography," Dr. Brewster said. "Why have we not seen it before?"

"Only because it wasn't working until about an hour ago, Doctor," I apologized. "It's a prototype, and if Jonathan and Cadets O'Brian and Jones hadn't worked their butts off since we left San Francisco, it would still be a prototype.

"So far, the only part that is working is the imagery; we hope to have more, including a mapping function, working soon."

Nicky gasped as I slid my mouth down his chest, and past his tummy. I was able to see his surface thoughts well enough to know just where he was most sensitive, and to focus on those places. There was, however, something else, something deeper, that I couldn't read.

Nicky gently pulled on my head. I lifted it, and looked into his eyes. "Alexander? The condoms are in the top drawer of the nightstand."

Nicky was an eager bottom, pulling on my buttocks, pleading for me to go faster and deeper, pressing our bodies together with his arms and legs, kissing me deeply when he wasn't crying out his enjoyment. More than once I bit my tongue to stop my orgasm so I could keep giving him the pleasure he wanted so badly. Finally, he cried out my name and poured his essence between our bodies. In an instant, I called his name, and came.

My penis softened, and I could no longer keep it in Nicky, even though I felt he wanted that. Gesturing for him to remain in the bed, I walked to the bathroom and stripped off the condom. I wet two towels with hot water, wrung them out, and brought them back to clean Nicky. I think he enjoyed that as much as the sex. I was pretty sure I heard him purr during the process.

I had asked Nicky and Davey to meet me in the conference room after lunch. Jonathan and I were waiting. I sat at one end of the table and gestured the boys to take the two chairs on either side of me. Jonathan was leaning against the wall nearby. I think his casual posture reassured the boys.

I spread out some papers on the tabletop.

"Nicky? I told Davey that you and he could do anything you wanted to do after this voyage, meaning, actually, that you could sign on as regular crew, you could take a job for which you were qualified anywhere in Anconia Industries, or you could attend any university to which you could get admitted. I do, by the way, have some influence at the university where Dr. Brewster and his people teach.

"I want to make that offer official, just in case something happens and I'm not around. That's what these papers are all about."

We spent about an hour going over papers that Tom had drawn up for me, explaining what they meant and what to do with them after this voyage, whether or not I was around. There were provisions for salary and benefits, tuition at university, help getting any visas or work permits that might be needed, and more. Both boys were a little glassy-eyed when they left.

"Alex? Thank you," Jonathan said.

"You don't need to thank me," I began, "and—"

"Alex, you're so full of shit," Jonathan began. "You love those boys as much as I do, and I know that. You've done what I want to do, but cannot. Please, please let me thank you for doing what I cannot do, and please don't blow it—or me—off."

"Jonathan? When the dryads rescued you, I told them that all I had was theirs. They blew me off by saying that they were my family, and that I owed them nothing. You are my family, too, and although there is never a debt between us, all I have is yours, too.

"Every Anconia child is given a trust fund. We are all expected to do something good with it. I just committed part of that trust fund to Davey and Nicky. There's a lot more, left. Whatever you want to do, as long as it's good, you will have my help."

Jonathan understood. I was rewarded with a hug, and then a kiss. The kiss was more chaste than our past kisses had been. I was beginning to understand the new relationships that were developing among the four of us.

The Greenpeace ship Rainbow Warrior arrived six days after we got on station. We had never seen the Warrior, although we knew about her. It was we who the Warrior signaled first—before signaling the Japanese ship. Captain Izzard invited the Warrior's captain and his staff to join us for lunch. With their tie-dyed T-shirts, shorts, and sandals, they fit in perfectly with our science crew.

"I don't understand," the Warrior's captain said. "We've been listening to their radio traffic, and the Japanese are fit to be tied. Our sonar is picking up whale song but no whales; and you are commanding a thousand-foot-long warship playing tag with the Japanese. And you're flying the UN flag as well as a USA ensign. Of course, we've heard rumors and stories about the Explorer, but we never believed half of what we heard.

"I'm sorry, but I'm way over my head, here."

Captain Izzard looked at me. Rather pointedly, I thought.

"Captain Muir, we are broadcasting whale song that we know to be a song of danger. It's keeping whales away from the Japanese ship. Greenpeace and Scripps are largely responsible for our knowing what that particular whale song means. We've just taken it a step further."

I described our mission, including the overriding concern that had caused us to abandon measurements in order to intercept the Japanese ship.

Greenpeace was happy to take over the task of shadowing the Japanese ship, especially after we gave them a new sonar amplifier and a recording of the danger song. The Japanese captain kept sending messages demanding the Explorer and the Warrior lay off. We kept ignoring them.

Chapter End Note: The descriptions of quarks, neutrons, and protons, as well as strange matter, are correct. The notion that strange matter could be created other than, say, in the core of a star; using strange matter to bind neutrons; and using such a construct as a neutrino detector are hypothetical.

Richard Feynman (1918—1988) is the father of Quantum Electrodynamics (QED) and perhaps the preeminent theoretical particle physicist of the 20th century. The quotation from James Joyce, the source of the name for certain sub-subatomic particles, is in the public domain. Oh, and now-a-days, it's postulated that even quarks are made of something else: strings. Six times ten to the twenty-third is a rough approximation of Avogadro's number and is the number of atoms per mole of a substance.

The sensor cable on the Global Explorer is normally run in/out at 25 meters per minute. At 12,000 meters, it then takes 480 minutes or 8 hours to fully deploy the cable, or to retract a fully deployed cable.

A description of Taro Takahashi's 1957 sampling mission is in Chapter 6 of "Fixing Climate" by Broecker and Kunzig.

Once again, Brendan's thoughts and understanding of relationships, and his willingness to share them, have had a significant impact on this chapter. If you like what you read, thank him. If not, castigate me.

Bacteria in a Petri dish will often kill themselves by their own excrement. For some reason, humanity seems to think we're different. For information on one form of excrement that's killing us (through the food chain), Google the term "great pacific garbage patch." readers Yettie One and Daddydavek inspired the scenes dealing with the "south pacific garbage patch." Thank you, both, for reading and for sharing your ideas.

Previous ChapterNext Chapter