Back at sea again, and this time we aren’t even within site of land. We did pass an oil rig in the distance, and I suggested we do a dive around it, but Captain Anderson didn’t see a need for it. So we’re on our way.
I did spend some time talking around to the other teams. Dr. Stepherson was busy but Dr. Perimala was quite willing to talk to me. She dragged me to the back of the Arkham to show me her equipment.
They looked like buoys to me. Yellow barrels with masts extending above them. There were a few dozen of them sitting in racks above deck ready for deployment, and she told me that there were dozens more waiting below.
“I’m afraid I’m probably taking up most of our space,” she said with a laugh.
I pointed to the minisub my team had brought, currently strapped in the middle of the deck but under the crane ready to deploy it.
She shook her head. “I’m still ahead.” She seemed excited. “Do you know that the South Pacific is one of the least explored areas of the planet? Yes, there are standard freight and air traffic routes across it, but outside of that no one goes there. There’s no reason to. That makes it a prime area for research.”
“And what is your research?” I asked.
“Gravitational mapping!” she said, gesturing towards the nearest buoy. “Each of these contains a sensitive gravimeter, paired with an inertial unit to compensate for the movement of the buoy. We hope to get the most detailed gravitational map of the South Pacific ever created. The most detailed anywhere in the world, actually, since we’ll be making measurements away from the continental plates.”
“So you’re… measuring gravity?” I had barely any idea what she was talking about.
She nodded. “Yes. We should get a much better idea as to what the inside of the Earth looks like. The geologists would love that. And, what I’m hoping to find, we’ll find any variations in the local brane.”
“Brain?” I asked, tapping my head. “What?”
“Not brain,” she laughed. We aren’t zombies. “Brane.”
I shook my head. “Sorry, but I’m in one of the squishy sciences.” I smiled. “What are you talking about?”
She shook her head but smiled. “Brane. B-R-A-N-E. As in ‘membrane’.” How much do you know about Physics?”
I shrugged, a bit embarrassed. “I had basic physics in undergrad?”
She did laugh at that. “OK, what do you know about String Theory?”
“I’ve… heard of it?”
She shook her head again. “Well… that’s something. Anyway, a lot of current physics is working on the theory that everything is ultimately made up of tiny, vibrating ‘strings’.” She held up a hand. “Don’t ask, it takes an entire semester to explain beyond that; just go with it.”
“Anyway, these strings are attached to the surface of a ‘brane’; an 11-dimensional construct. And that’s an extreme simplification so don’t worry about what it means too much.”
“Now, all the basic particles and forces are made up of looped strings. Again, just go with it. Except gravity. Gravity is an unlooped string.”
“OK…” I said, slowly. I had no idea what she was talking about. “So what does that mean?”
“Other particles are constrained to the Brane,” she said. “Our brane. But Gravity? It might. Might be able to interact with other Branes! And with these sensors, this far away from the continental interference, we might be able to detect the influence of other Branes on our own.”
I was completely lost by this point. “Meaning?”
“Other universes!” she said, excitement spilling over. She grabbed my arm. “Other realities! We, we might be the one’s who prove their existence! Isn’t that exciting?”
I looked down at my arm. She winced slightly and took her hand away. “Sorry.”
“It’s OK.” I shrugged. “Do you think you’ll be able to find the reality of these… other universes?”
She nodded, slightly subdued. “Yes! If we can find gravitational fluctuations that can’t be explained by local phenomena, then we’ll have it.” She frowned, excitement draining. “But first we’ll have to make a detailed map of the Earth’s own Gravity, and account for all of it. Then, and only then, will we be able to know for certain that we have something.”
Her smile returned. “But this is the groundwork. We need this before we can proceed. That’s why I’m so glad to be here. Most everyone else? They reject the idea immediately. Miskatonic was the only place that would even consider my research. They gave me this chance! I have to take it!”
I nodded slowly. “Yeah, we’ve sponsored a lot of research at Miskatonic. Not all of it has… ended well.”
She shook her head. “The Saudi Arabia expedition to Irem couldn’t have known a war would break out. And the Northwest Passage Expedition last year? They couldn’t have expected that weather.”
I frowned. “Yeah, they sent the Miskatonic up there this year. Supposedly they’re monitoring sea ice levels, but you know they have to be looking for any trace of Dr. Kanda and his team.”
She looked away. “Yeah, that made all of us look bad.”
“Well, we’ll make it up this year.” I reached out and patted her shoulder. “We’ll show them that Miskatonic isn’t just the local Arkham branch of Boston University!”
“Right!” She took my hand for a moment, then shifted it to a handshake. “I hope I gave you what you needed for your posting, Dr. Ferris!”
I nodded in return. “Thank you, Dr. Perimala.’