The man tipped his head back, looking into the red sky. He raised a hand to shield his eyes from the harsh sun. After spending a minute gazing, he sighed and set off, his break over and time was getting short.
Turning back, he looked at the building that was in front of him a short distance away. A large, non-descript white building sitting in what was once a military base. It was however, dwarfed by the structure behind it.
Two massive cooling towers, which most people would recognize if they had ever seen a nuclear reactor in person or in a picture. These however were much larger.
The fact that they had been constructed in under a year showed in their workmanship, and aesthetics, but those weren’t really a factor. All it had to do was produce the power needed for the following year – after that, it was moot.
Time was short and thousands of workers worked 24/7 to finish the construction as quickly as possible. And this was only one such installation around the globe.
As the man walked back to what he thought of as his building – and at this point it was truly his and his alone – he thought about the scientific discoveries made in the last two years.
The Hubble III deep space telescope found an exoplanet in our neighbor, the Alpha Centauri galaxy. It orbits Proxima Centauri. The astronomers named it Proxima 95b. They hadn’t had time to build and send a space probe to verify it could sustain life, since it would take an estimated 90,000 years to reach it, but there were other scientific breakthroughs that would help.
The elusive dark matter had been proven to exist, and theoretical physics shifted into reality. This came as a relief since the planet had warning. Well, some wouldn’t call it a warning really.
Global communications were disrupted by massive solar flares at first. Coronal ejections that actually reached Mercury or would have had it not been on the opposite side of its orbit.
Earth took a hit, although not directly. Passing through what would have been an extinction event had the flare extended as far as Earth, global temperatures rose, and for several weeks being outdoors was unsafe due to radiation and UV levels.
As Earth passed through the path of the end of the flare, things returned somewhat to normal, but now the scientists focused all of their energy towards the sun. It didn’t take long for the facts to present themselves. The sun was having problems. Serious problems.
At first, panic spread throughout the globe. People demanded answers when no one had answers. What was going to happen? How were we going to survive? How long did we have? No one knew how to answer any of these questions. Solutions were demanded, but no one had those either.
While those same scientists were trying to find answers, others were working on other things. A group of Swiss scientists at the Large Hadron Collider (LHC) site were working on particle physics experiments and had stumbled on a way to move matter quickly from one point to another. The only problem was it was quantum matter.
The news spread and people envisioned matter transporters like those seen on Star Trek. What people didn’t understand was that it took enormous amounts of energy to do. It would take a single nuclear reactor to transport even a small object, like a golf ball. Small inorganic objects. Organic objects didn’t fare so well.
Now scientists were split between their studies of the outer space, and now, the inner space. It seemed that everyone was thrown into one or the other. If they could contribute in any way, shape, or form to either endeavor, they did.
Within months, engineers had drawn up plans for the super reactors to power the physicists’ experiments. The astrophysicists informed the matter physicists that if they were going to make a difference, they had better hurry.
Humanity had to thank a brilliant young genius, still in his teens, who used a creative artificial intelligence program he had written. Its neural network made some rather outstanding deductive inferences. A computer problem pointed out what was right in front of their eyes.
When questioned, the AI responded that they hadn’t seen the forest for the trees. It was more like they couldn’t see the sun for the light.
Things progressed quickly from there, but it wasn’t known whether or not it would do any good. What good was a matter transporter if there was nowhere to go?