To defy the fundamental principle of conservation of matter of not being able to be created or destroyed, more apparently, to now create matter out of nothing but visible light trapped in a metal container was almost impossible until the year 2078, when Dr. Funsho and Tchalla made a breakthrough with what the world referred to as pure Magical Science in the valley of Yaba, Lagos.
Momentum Energy was in turbulence over the breakthrough made by some of their scientists. It would be a myth to Dr. Ajala, Director of Momentum Energy, and yet, the discovery was something that would give Momentum Energy a new look and allow them chart a new course. Creating an element, a compound, or a substance out of nothing but visible lights could actually be a myth to everyone, but not to Dr. Funsho, and his freak assistant with the burnt face. Dr. Ajala, despite having a PhD in Quantum Mechanics and Space Discovery from University of Lagos, was still skeptical about the scientific explanation of the breakthrough. More to it, the middle-aged Director would later conclude it was magic. Perhaps, it was better said as magical science if actually there was something called magical science. After all, Tchalla, the assistant to Dr. Funsho, who was so imperatively obsessed with magical science was involved. Perhaps, it was apparent to say it was pure magic.
The days before the breakthrough came to place, Dr. Funsho and his assistant, Tchalla, had been on seclusion from other staffs in the company. They had been working days and nights, away from their friends and loved ones. They had wanted to be dauntless, just so they could create something that would change the universe. But some things were better left undiscovered, some things were metaphysics, like the study of super-sensual realm, or of phenomena which transcend the physical world – like the theory of reincarnation and communication with spirit.
But Dr. Funsho crossed the boundary through the selfish desires of his assistant. He thought he made new discovery, he thought he was playing God, he thought he got lucky this time around, that his physics was actually at its crescendo since he could explain the theory behind it even that he did not think the theory really explained it. But he forgot, there were decisions and consequences. He had taken the decision to create something out of nothing, and in subsequent years he knew not, the consequence of his decision would glare at him.
The night before the day of exhilaration, the night Dr. Funsho termed night of quandary and fate of tomorrow. He was in trepidation as he wasn’t sure whether it would work out or not, he had only resided his fate in Tchalla, who had said it would work out. If it did, he had got a new face in the technological sector, and if it’s the other way round, he was going down to an abyss where he would never see the radiant of discoveries again.
The clock sounded tick tock on the mantelpiece, he became the warden of the time since Tchalla said they would run the quantum machine at twelve midnight. Anxiety beclouded him as he checked the clock frequently, it was few minutes to 12. The midnight seemed long, dark and peaceful. He needed to do something to keep himself busy till twelve. So he picked his cell phone, the first time he would hold his phone after two months. He checked the screen of his cellphone, there was nothing absurd other than him missing his wife’s call eighty nine times. He opened his mouth aghast, he knew what would transpire missing her calls, they had not been on good terms before, and then, missing her call would only aggravate and facilitate their divorce. He fixed a stern gaze on his cellphone’s screen, he wasn’t sure whether to put a call through to her or wait till the next dawn. But the next dawn might be too late, he thought. Just as he wanted to dial her number, the alarm sounded from the clock.
“It’s twelve” Tchalla said as he came inside. Dr. Funsho slid his cellphone in his pocket, and walked to the control console.
“Is everything ready?” Dr. Funsho asked, while fixing his gaze on the monitor screen.
“What’s the power supply, Tchalla?” Dr. Funsho furthered.
“25000 megawatts!” Tchalla responded.
“I’m still ignorant to why we need a power supply of such value!” Dr. Funsho commented.
“We are practically doing the impossible Funsho. Creating something out of nothing” Tchalla paced the room back and forth. “The success of this will make you extraordinary, somewhat like a god!” He beamed.
Perhaps, that was what Dr. Funsho needed to hear, to be called a god. His adrenaline rose spontaneously, this time it seemed there was nothing taking him aback, nothing apparently.
The thought of working on creating a new substance out of nothing had occurred to Dr. Funsho 5 years earlier after meeting Tchalla at the Space Exploration for New Science (SPEN) Conference in Wakanda. Tchalla was a bright young physicist who had picked interest in how photo-electrons travelling at a specific velocity in a vacuum could create a new substance. Being a student of Physics at University of Benin and his scientific theory on how substances can be formed beyond chemical reactions made his application stand out to attend the conference. Tchalla had attended the conference with the hope that someone will buy into his hypothesis, and would work with him in the scientific exploration.
“I read your theory of creating a matter through lights. I must admit that it is astounding, but why are you so confident about this working out?” Dr. Funsho had asked Tchalla when they bumped into each other at the reception of the Babel Tower.
“If you would invite me over at your office in Yaba Valley for a tea chat, I might as well show you all of my findings and mathematical calculations!” Tchalla had replied. That was all Dr. Funsho needed at that time to save Momentum Energy from closing up – a young brilliant physicist who had the gut and zeal to push beyond the boundaries of modern scientific discoveries. Dr. Funsho had handed over his card to Tchalla who beamed with excitement. That moment started the scientific bond between Tchalla – a physicist hellbent on pushing scientific boundaries and Dr. Funsho, a Space Physicist wanting to save his position as a Director of Momentum Energy, a company fighting it’s way out of bankruptcy.
“Are we ready, Tchalla?” He asked delightedly. Tchalla locked the metal door of the quantum machine, took few steps backwards, and signified to Dr. Funsho with a gesture of his hand.
Dr. Funsho adjusted his glasses that seated at ease on his nose, and thereafter switched on the Operator-X and Pulse Processor machine before pressing the green button on the Machine Console. There was first a low humorous hum, and then, it grew louder consequence of the spinning machine. Dr. Funsho and his assistant, Tchalla watched as the machine spun endlessly, emitting ultraviolet lights which was contained within the machine. Few minutes later, both of them at a considerable aloof watched as the ultraviolet lights escaped through the chamber above the machine, causing an interference with signals along its way.
“What just happened Tchalla, the system is offline?” Dr. Funsho asked with frightful trembled voice.
“What do you mean offline?” Tchalla responded.
“It seems the escape of the UV light has caused the shutdown of the systems.” Shrieked Dr. Funsho.
The room was plunged into darkness, Dr. Funsho retrieved his cellphone from his pocket to provide illumination to the room, but his phone had been switched off autonomously. He tried putting it on but it was to no avail.
“I think this escape of this UV light has caused a transient electromagnetic disturbance” Dr. Funsho muttered, “This is a complete failure!”
Tchalla was silent, he knew it wasn’t a failure, he was certain, but how could he explain it to Dr. Funsho? Dr. Funsho fell into the swivel chair beside him, sweat formed beads gradually on his face, his eyes penetrating through the glasses on his face into the quantum machine. He was expecting a miracle, perhaps he would see a miracle, but that was just practically impossible at the moment.
“All that we need now is a glimmer of hope!” Tchalla finally said.
“Glimmer of hope when imperatively everything is off? Can’t you see it?” Dr. Funsho objected. The argument went on silently in the dark for more than thirty minutes, they were both tired, their glimmer of hope had faded at that point, and all what they awaited was the dawn to provide them the light to navigate their ways out of Momentum Energy.
The mechanics and mathematical calculations of the quantum machine came afresh in his head. He kept on rummaging through his brain to detect where the possible errors maybe. He murmured loudly, talking arcane in some mathematical expression. After minutes of his self-revision, he thought of the possible errors from his empirical analysis. Then reality loomed, it was a deceit, Tchalla had tricked him. The Quantum machine wasn’t creating a new substance, or perhaps, that was not its sole purpose. The quantum machine was a portal to perhaps another world. But why could he not understand this earlier, surely the book was comprehensive, beyond ordinary imagination.
“What actually does this machine do, Tchalla?” Dr. Funsho’s voice journeyed in the darkness. Tchalla was mute, he wasn’t responding as he himself wasn’t sure if the mechanics of the machine actually worked. He wanted to reply Dr. Funsho, but the low humming of the machine disrupted him.
“It..It worked Dr. It worked!” Tchalla beamed with excitement. There was an emergence of light in the quantum machine, and then in the control console. He checked his cellphone again, and it was back online. He leaped with joy toward the quantum machine, and lo, the new substance lay in the metallic case. That was close. That was a great discovery. This was revolution, or so he thought. He relieved himself of the distress of doubt, of deceit from Tchalla. After all, it came as a success.
“What do we call this substance?” Tchalla asked.
“No name yet until we test completely its properties.” Dr. Funsho responded with excitement. There was bundle of joy in him. He chuckled lowly at the success, Tchalla could see the excitement through his finely placed dentition. The dawn approached with great enthusiasm, the staffs at the Momentum Energy could feel the elation parading the air. Dr. Funsho smiled at everyone as he walked down the corridor of the company, which was the first in months for him – giving a genuine smile.
“Director! Dr. Ajala” Dr. Funsho called, “it’s a success”
“You mean …”
“Yes, Director!” Dr. Funsho interrupted, “we created something out of nothing. We created a new substance! We finally defied the fundamental principle of conservation of Matter”
“Beyond matter being able to transform between states, matter can now be created, and tentatively, can also be destroyed!”
“Sophia!” Dr. Ajala paged his secretary, “make preparation for a press conference right away” He instructed as he walked out of his office to the laboratory to have a sightseeing of the matter created out of nothing for himself.
This story is an excerpt from the author’s unpublished book, Before The Dawn.
Malik Kolade investigates mental health. He is a graduate of Electrical Engineering from The Polytechnic, Ibadan. His works are published or forthcoming in Agbowó, Tell!, Punocracy, Modern Ghana, and WRR Anthology. He has twice been a finalist for the Brigitte Poirson Poetry Contest and was shortlisted for the 2018 Albert Jungers Poetry Prize. In 2018, he made the longlist for the Union Bank Campus Writing challenge with his short story, Dividend of Democracy and in 2020, he made the longlist for the Punocracy Prize for Satire.