4 of 6 | Chapter 12

 

“Sounds exciting. I think I already have a few ideas.” Gibbs smiled.

“Such as?”

“We can move virtually anything using anti-gravity force and it could work equally well in space, in low gravity environments too. We just need to induce motion indirectly. Because it doesn't strongly interact with anything, we should accelerate and eject material from the drive that pushes the vehicle body in the opposite direction.”

“The same principle as rocket engines.”

“Yes, it's an old and well established principle.”

“Okay.”

“It will even work with light, if the anti-gravity force is strong enough,” Gibbs hypothesized, almost to himself.

“Well, these projects will run in parallel with one another. Like I said, we need to resolve many issues. It's not enough to prepare the vessel, we'll need a crew as well. Moreover, the vessel has to operate as an independent ecosystem.”

“I'll get planning started as soon as possible,” Gibbs mumbled.

“We're heading into uncharted waters. Make sure you load absolutely everything into the CCI database, right from the start,” he warned the scientist, whose mind was already working away at the problem.

“Of course.” He looked up at Steersman, but seemed preoccupied with the ideas running through his brain.

“Talk to you later,” said Steersman as he left.

 

Hashimoto

At ASEC, Steersman had undertaken a lot of restructuring since that first aerial demonstration. He'd had to rebuild and fine tune the quickly growing organization more and more often as one problem arose after another. Besides that, the first year of teaching had commenced at PrEUST with approximately two hundred thousand students in more than one thousand faculties. Professor Kazuma Hashimoto had built a traditional university system, but according to Steersman this would provide only static knowledge for the future scientists, something that could be achieved by anyone with great perseverance. He needed more. He wanted to see how someone was able to test theoretical knowledge in practice. He considered the scale of an individual's effort relevant because the only thing that counted for Steersman was creative force. In other words, how much could someone break out of the box that sheltered them so comfortably. The greater the divergence, the greater the independence of thought.

The professor was being shown around the ASEC research and development departments for the first time, and they began their circular journey at the main block. Steersman wanted to show the professor what they were doing. Meanwhile, he sketched out his ideas.

“I feel that the rating system is generally quite outdated. There is a scale, according to which we traditionally assess knowledge, based on how much they could possibly learn from a whole during this time. I would like to evaluate their knowledge according to their previously evaluation see to what extent they can develop in their areas of expertise. Do you understand, Professor? This way, we would be evaluating their progress not by an absolute, but according to relative development,” explained Steersman as they turned towards the main block's distribution center.

“Yes, it's indeed a rather different system than anything I have worked with before,” said Professor Hashimoto, thinking aloud.

“I understand that.”

“What do you intend to achieve with this?”

“I don't want to create a group of people with the same knowledge base. Because they all learn the same, and the requirements are the same, it doesn't particularly focus on developing or activating the student's brain. Obviously, there will be exceptions, but most will be rather mediocre. I want those good enough to remain in the school to all be exceptional, one student unique in one area, the next in another, but they shouldn't be comparable to each other, they should think differently. They'll need to learn how to work independently; besides, knowing the fundamentals of their specialist area, they will be expected to use the highest level of creativity.”

“This is not a simple exercise, Mr Steersman.”

“No, it's not, I agree. Still, by looking at the process, we will be able to produce scientists of true value with real skills, much faster that we can now, in half the time. By the time, they graduate from PrEUST they will be experienced specialists that we can hire immediately.”

“I don't really know … ” said the professor, still sounding unconvinced.

“Listen, the PrEUST entry system remain the same, as students come from traditional educational institutions. Those who we admit still gained the basic knowledge they need. Here, they will learn how to make practical use of it in a way as if they are going on journey of conquest each time they do an experiment or try an idea. Those, who are not capable of adapting, will not be trusted at ASEC.”

“What do you expect the dropout rate to be?” asked Hashimoto, a little suspiciously.

“It'll be roughly 90%.”

“Good grief,” laughed the professor. “That's a little unexpected.”

“We are not producing children's toys, as you have no doubt noticed.”

“Of course, I'm in complete agreement.” The professor nodded.

“We are currently starting the biggest project we have ever dealt with. Therefore, we will need geniuses who are able to stand on their own two feet and not puppets; people who don't need to have their hands held and bottoms wiped whenever something goes wrong.”

“What are you up to?” asked Professor Hashimoto, looking at him quizzically.

Steersman stopped at the edge of the distribution center.

“An expedition in space,” he said quietly.

“Why!?” asked the professor, with a short laugh.

Steersman smiled, then went on. “Listen.” His expression changed to a serious frown. “You need to listen very carefully to what I'm about to say, because it looks very much as if we're no longer alone in the universe.”

“Pardon me? What do you mean?” asked the professor, a little louder than he perhaps realized. “What do you mean we're not alone?”

“We have a message in our possession, from out there,” Steersman answered looking up for a moment. “From out there … from an alien civilization.”

“Are you kidding me?”

“No, not at all. The message is genuine. We know by now that it's definitely not from Earth; and what's more, Professor, it is absolutely certain that this was sent by creatures of highly advance intelligence.”

“I must admit that I find it rather hard to believe,” said the professor, wiping his forehead.

“I know. I had the same reaction until I saw it for myself.”

“Is this why you want to go into space?”

“No, there is a much simpler reason for that. My aim is to find new raw materials and resources. This is now our most important focus, and the construction of a space program is now fact, so I need good people to implement it.”

“I see. In light of this, the restructuring of our university system becomes understandable, as does the speed at which it is happening.”

“Good,” said Steersman, finally.

“I've never been in such a huge research center,” said the professor, changing the subject. “I've been informed that you are expanding it.”

 

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CHAPTER 1 | EXCOLOPOLIS
CHAPTER 2 | MACHINES
CHAPTER 3 | A NEW TECHNOLOGY
CHAPTER 4 | ATTACK
CHAPTER 5 | THE SOURCE
CHAPTER 6 | THE SCIENCE CENTER
CHAPTER 7 | UNIVERSITY CITY
CHAPTER 8 | GLIDECRAFT
CHAPTER 9 | SECTOR TWO
CHAPTER 10 | THEY KNOW WE ARE HERE
CHAPTER 11 | GRAVITOR
CHAPTER 13 | ENERGY WAR
CHAPTER 14 | AFTERSHOCKS
CHAPTER 15 | INITIATION
CHAPTER 16 | PREPARATION
CHAPTER 17 | DEFENSE CORPS
CHAPTER 18 | TRUTH
CHAPTER 19 | BEYOND EARTH