The discovery, like most truly great breakthroughs, came about entirely by accident.
We had received a DoD contract to develop nuclear power for smaller machines, with the original intent of the grant being nuclear powered drones. Between our engineers and our more abstract researchers, we had plenty of knowledge and experience, and we figured that it wouldn’t be hard to miniaturize the reactors.
The discovery came about in a rare moment of shoddiness. We had just loaded up our Mark III prototype, but Jed, leaning on the switch board as he sipped his coffee, accidentally hit the ignition sequence before Samson was clear of the room.
Oops. The alarms sounded, of course, and since this was just a rod exposure test, we were able to reverse the ignition before we achieved full power output. Still, Samson got a pretty big radiation dose, and we were pretty worried when we pulled the blast door back open so he could stumble out.
As we clustered around him, planning on escorting him to the medical wing, Samson made a mad grab for a notepad and pencil off of the nearby counter. As we pushed him on a cart down the hall towards the med bay, he scribbled furiously, tearing off sheet after sheet as he scrawled out equations and charts.
By the time we reached the medical area, he had lapsed into semi-consciousness, but Jed, following guiltily behind, had been collecting the sheets of torn-off note paper. “Damn!” he breathed, as we watched the doctor wheel Samson away. “Alf, you’ve gotta take a look at these!”
Jed passed over the top few sheets, and I began reading. As I worked my way down the page, my eyebrows slowly rose until they were in danger of leaping off my head. This was insane.
Samson had been writing out string theory equations related to atomic decay – one of the thorniest problems we faced, and one that we had not found any solutions for. And yet, here on the pages in scribbled pencil, the formulas were elegant and complete. This was years ahead of any research we had performed.
“Well, shit,” I exclaimed, gazing after the unconscious victim. “Where did he get that burst of knowledge from?”
As Samson explained after undergoing radiation scrubbing, the knowledge had apparently popped into his mind at the moment of exposure. “It was like a big burst of light, shining all this right into my brain,” he explained two days later from his infirmary bed. “It all started fading as soon as you pulled me out, so I had to get as much down on paper as I could.”
Sure enough, when we showed Samson the pages he had written, he had only faint recollections of them. “It’s like I’m seeing everything through a haze,” he complained. “I see an equation and I’m like, ‘oh, yeah, that makes sense,’ but I don’t remember how I got it in the first place.”
Of course, what kind of researchers would we be if we didn’t probe further? Jed, maybe feeling a little guilty still, volunteered to be the next subject, and we hit him with a smaller, controlled exposure. He wrote out several pages of sheet music before puking. We showed them to a composer and he nearly cried as he read them. “It’s pure beauty in sound,” he kept on exclaiming.
So apparently we get randomized bursts. Jed said that he felt as though he could sense more, just beyond the reach of his consciousness, while he was exposed. But he also nearly hacked up a lung afterwards.
We managed to finish the drone project well in time and budget, thanks to Samson’s equations, and the DoD was pretty pleased. So pleased, in fact, that they were willing to underwrite our next request: we needed prisoners for radiation experiments. Unethical, certainly, but we have high hopes of getting something useful out of the gathered data.
More discoveries hopefully soon to come!