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When David Harrington, an experimental physicist, discovers that one piece of the universe can be exchanged for another, he and his two sons become stranded in an alternate universe, pursued by murderous thugs who conspire to steal the secret of his discovery. Reissue.
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John Cramer is the author of the acclaimed hard-SF novel, Twistor, and writes a bi-monthly column for Analog Science Fiction/Science Fact magazine. He lives in Seattle, WA, where he is a professor of physics at the University of Washington, and travels regularly to Switzerland to work at the particle accelerator at CERN.Excerpt. © Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved.:
WEDNESDAY MORNING, OCTOBER 6
The towers and battlements of Physics Hall shone wetly in the morning light filtering through the Seattle drizzle. The structure would have been well suited for shooting arrows and pouring boiling oil down upon some horde of barbarians, were any so foolish as to venture onto the campus of the University of Washington to besiege Physics Hall.
On its north and east sides the 1920s yellow-brown brick structure was embraced by the Suzzalo Library, a gothic pseudo-cathedral of arching marble and stained glass, straining along its angled length to contain its overburden of books as it metamorphosed into Bauhaus glass and concrete at its southeastern terminus. Physics Hall stretched north to south along Rainier Vista, a broad walkway so aligned that when the Seattle weather cooperated it looked out across a large circular pool and fountain past the cityscape of Capitol Hill to a stunning view of Mount Rainier some eighty-five miles to the southeast.
But this particular October morning the sky was overcast, and a light rain dampened the walkway. The arching water plumes of the fountain were absent, leaving only a dark circular pool that reflected the ragged downslope of Capitol Hill, its indistinct edge shading into grayness in the space where giant Rainier belonged. The giant's absence was ignored by the interweaving of bicycles and quick-stepping students on Rainier Vista.
Inside Physics Hall the activities of the morning were beginning to build as the outflow of milling and chattering undergraduates, their eight-thirty classes just ended, diffused from the large upstairs lecture halls to collide with the inflow of nine-thirty replacements. But behind the closed doors on the ground floor, within the long rectangular lab oratory rooms, a calmer, more focused atmosphere prevailed. Here, carefully tended by faculty and the most recent generation of graduate students and postdocs, were ongoing long-term experiments that might reveal more about the inner workings of the universe, or at least provide the basis for a Ph. D. thesis or a respectable journal publication.
Behind one glass-paneled door an arcane array of hardware imprisoned a single atom of antimatter, a nucleus made of antiprotons and antineutrons and surrounded by a swarm of positrons. The anti-atom, created at a large accelerator in Geneva, had been carefully imported to Seattle riding in its own electromagnetic trap. It had been held here for over a year, while ever-changing probes extracted secrets of the symmetries between matter and antimatter. In another room a coherent beam of X-rays was meticulously mapping the arrangements of a single layer of atoms clinging to a cold graphite surface, the holographic interference patterns revealing unsuspected regularities and geometrical connections in their configurations. Behind another door a gleaming, rainbowed laser disk spun within its drive. Its data stream, beamed down from an orbiting telescope and captured in plastic, aluminum, and gold, was now with systematic reconstruction yielding an emerging vista, a giant galaxy suspended in the act of a violent explosion that had occurred over a billion years ago. And in another laboratory room just down the corridor, a doorway on another universe was about to open . . . .
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