Chapter 6: Alpha
Monday, July 7, 2008
The artifacts were secured at the ASF headquarters in San Diego under guard over the coming months. The photographs of the spectroscopic scans were delivered to the three worldwide teams as outlined at the press conference by Sanger.
“Alpha” arrived in Berlin on the last day of June and was presented to a team of five German scientists for analysis. The assigned leader was Dr. Fritz Gerhard, renown stellar astronomist. Assisting were Dr. Karl Weiner (physicist), Dr. Hans Friedmann (astrophysicist), Dr. Marta Keim (astrophysicist), and Dr. Luther Zerwick (stellar astronomist).
Sanger assembled the Berlin team based on the recommendations of Project CB. Since the latter team was convinced the capsule and its contents originated in space and the markings resembled a diagram, they believed a collection of astrophysicists should perform the initial analysis of this stone. And they were correct. Within days, the Gerhard team agreed with their San Diego counterparts: “Alpha” was a diagram. But, exactly what that diagram represented was unclear.
Then, over an intensive working weekend, Zerwick found the keys to interpreting the markings on the stone. He called a meeting for late Monday morning to share his conclusions with the team. The five members gathered in the conference room next to Gerhard’s office and Zerwick began his presentation.
“Fellow members, the ‘Alpha’ stone is, in fact, a simple star chart. I believe its simplicity is what has caused us such difficulty. We have missed clear markers as to its meaning.”
“Simple?” asked Keim.
“Well, we agree it is an illustration or a diagram, Zerwick,” replied Weiner. “Is that what you mean by ‘simple’?”
“No, Dr. Weiner. I know what this stone represents,” Zerwick answered slowly and clearly with an air of intellectual prowess.
“Then, please,” pleaded Gerhard impatiently, “tell us what you have found.”
Zerwick turned on the projector and the photocopy image of the “Alpha” stone appeared on the screen behind him. The size of the image was naturally enlarged by the projector but enhanced in no other way.
“As each of you have observed, the markings appear to outline a set of ovals from one end of the stone to the other. The oval at the bottom appears larger than the others. And, at the other end of the stone are multiple small ovals just above a slightly larger oval.”
“Yes, I counted sixteen small ovals near the top,” said Keim.
“If you consider that the top,” chimed in Friedmann. “We really don’t know which end is ‘up’.”
“True,” Zerwick added, “but it makes no difference really. Have you noticed anything else unusual about the diagram?”
“Just above the larger oval near the one end of the stone are some scratch marks, somewhat wavy, that I do not see elsewhere on the image,” added Weiner.
“And, as others have observed,” responded Keim, “the fourth oval from what we are calling the bottom has a bluish color rather than red.”
“True,” said Gerhard, “but that may be accidental.”
“Well, doctors,” Zerwick continued, “I think those wavy scratches near the oval at the bottom are not accidental but purposeful. They and the oval represent our sun.”
“Our sun?” questioned Friedmann. “Why our sun?”
“Friedmann’s right, Dr. Zerwick,” joined in Weiner. “Even if that largest oval represents a star, why do you think it is a diagram of our sun?”
“Oh, I see,” answered Gerhard. “You base your conclusion not only on those markings but also on those found on the fourth oval.”
Zerwick smiled broadly. Gerhard saw where he was going with this and Zerwick was correct. The diagram was truly simplistic.
“That’s correct, Dr. Gerhard. The fourth oval has a unique color in addition to a single mark to its left. That mark almost appears to be a stray mark, an accidental scratch. But I’m convinced it’s not.”
“You think it denotes earth, don’t you Zerwick,” added Keim excitedly.
“Yes. ‘Alpha’ is a simple illustration of our solar system beginning at the bottom with our sun. The two ovals above it represent Mercury and Venus followed by earth which has a distinctive color from all the other ovals.” Zerwick paused to consider the responses of his teammates. None gave any appearance of disagreement.
“But is that a stray mark or not?” asked Friedmann.
“Hey,” shouted Weiner, “I see a similar stray mark near the top of the diagram.”
“Indeed,” responded Zerwick with a triumphant attitude. “Only two such out of place markings appear on the diagram. I believe they are indicators—arrows so to speak—pointing at the origin and destination of the capsule and its artifacts.”
“But to what is that other mark pointing?” asked Keim.
“If Zerwick is correct,” concluded Gerhard, “the largest oval near the top of the stone must represent Neptune.”
“And the small ovals above it?” asked Weinger.
“Neptune’s moons, doctor,” answered Zerwick.
“Wait a minute. Neptune has but fourteen moons. I count sixteen ovals above the one you are calling Neptune,” answered Gerhard.
“Well, doctor,” noted Weiner, “as far as we know, Neptune has fourteen moons. Who is to say if we, at this point, have failed to find the other two?”
“So, which moon has the additional marking?” asked Friedmann.
“If I count the moons correctly,” said Keim, “the capsule originated from Proteus, a moon of Neptune.”
“In other words, Dr. Zerwick, you conclude there are beings living on one of the Neptune moons who manufactured the capsule and its three artifacts and launched it to Earth,” summarized Gerhard.
“I do indeed, sir!”
“Incredible!” shouted Weiner.
“Utter nonsense, Zerwick,” snapped Keim. “Proteus?! Proteus is only 400 kilometers in diameter and over 100,000 kilometers from Neptune. Voyager photographs reveal a rough, barren surface. There’s no way life could exist on that moon.”
“Not life as we know it, Keim,” replied Friedmann. “But, perhaps there is some form of life we know nothing about and can’t even imagine. Maybe those creatures live beneath the moon’s surface.”
“Like the Morlocks,” chuckled Weiner.
“I’m not convinced,” explained Keim, “that the capsule came from Proteus. But I do agree in the alien origin of the stones. At last we know that we are not alone!”
“It appears not, Dr. Keim,” said Friedmann.
“Not only are we not alone,” added Zerwick, “but the fact intelligent life lives elsewhere in the universe should put a nail in the coffin of those religious fanatics who believe in creation. Life was not created by the divine here on the earth. No, since the formation of the universe, life has evolved over time in multiple locations. And, the ‘Big Bang’ is the best explanation for the ultimate origin of all matter.”
“But why did they send it to earth? How do they know anything about us or where we are?” queried Keim.
“Questions for another day, doctor” said Gerhard.
The team reviewed Zerwick’s conclusions and each of the project members agreed with his findings though Keim remained unsettled on Proteus. At the end of the week, they issued their findings to Sanger in San Diego.
“’Alpha’ is a stellar map of our solar system. As we interpret this map, the capsule originated on Neptune’s moon Proteus and was purposely sent to Earth. We are convinced the capsule has an alien origin and that life does exist elsewhere in the universe. We further recommend this information be kept confidential until the other two teams reach conclusions concerning their respective artifacts. As a result of our conclusion, we have renamed ’Alpha” as the ‘Cedarbrook Map’.”
Sanger immediately contacted Gerhard who assured the administrator that his team was one hundred percent in agreement that the capsule was extraterrestrial and purposely sent to earth from the Neptune moon. The administrator realized the importance of these findings as well as the potential chaos which would result from their release to the public. How would people respond when they learned they were not alone even in our own solar system? How would the major religions of the world react when told their version of the universe’s beginning must be incorrect since none of them mention other life forms? Such information would impact not only the general public but also the religious and political sectors.
Sanger decided he would notify the other two teams of Gerhard’s findings but, for now, those findings would remain hidden from the eyes of the general public.
Author’s Note: The author received a copy of notes from the Zerwick meeting and the Gerhard team report from an unidentified source close to the project. The contents of that report have been confirmed by a second source.