The Forge Region – Anttanen Constellation
Uitra System – Planet VI, Moon 4
State War Academy Station
23 January YC 121
Despite my refusal to take a Miner as a reward for the previous mission, Kokseri sent the boring thing to my item hangar anyway. I decided not to press my point but neither did I thank him. I took a day’s break to let any residual emotions settle and came to Kokseri’s office on Wednesday. He met me with a fixed mask of indifference on his face and immediately got to the business.
“Your next mission, Mr Korff, will be transportation. You need to deliver a crate of electronic parts to Peace and Order Unit Logistic Support station in Abagawa system. The cargo is being moved now to your hangar and the coordinates are sent to your ship AI. Questions?”
“Whew! So I am ‘Mr Korff’ now,” thought I. “I guess I shouldn’t have thrown that bloody Miner in his face.” Aloud I said, “Yes, I have one. What am I supposed to learn during this mission?”
“Route planning, task scheduling and punctuality. Upfront, you will be provided with an afterburner to facilitate a speedy delivery, and if you finish the mission within 2 hours and 56 minutes, you will receive a cash bonus.”
“Hmm, I understand,” said I. “See you in 2 hours and 55 minutes.”
At the docks I loaded the crate into Mole. Although its cargo hold was the smallest among my ships, it was big enough for the task; also, I didn’t want to use my combat frigates for haulage – it didn’t feel right.
“Hello, truckie,” greeted me Aura.
“Oh, shut up,” I said listlessly. “Just make sure that our flight path does not go through null-sec.”
“Thanks for letting me know – I was about to take a scenic route. By the way, what’s in the crate?”
“Some electronic parts.”
“Oh, I didn’t know the War Academy produced electronic parts,” said Aura.
“It doesn’t. I think they are salvaged from the ships of students who failed the previous mission.”
“Really? So we might be transporting the body parts of my deceased sisters?”
“Don’t think so. As far as I know, the rogue drones are not interested in chatbots. Can we talk about something more amusing than this stupid mission?” I asked grumpily.
Aura made a grimace at ‘chatbot’ and said pompously, imitating an Amarrian chamberlain, “Your wish is my command, milord. Choose the topic.”
I rolled my eyes at ‘milord’, then thought for a while and said, “You know that gizmo that we use for faster-than-light communications?”
“You mean fluid router?”
“Yeah, that thing. Yesterday I read an article about how it was invented. Apparently, the particle entanglement, which is the basis of this technology, was known millennia ago. As soon as it was discovered, people thought about using it for FTL comms. The idea was to change the state of one of the entangled particles and thus influence the state of its remote counterpart, instantaneously transmitting one bit of information. But this didn’t work out because ‘due to the statistical nature of the quantum particle, only noise would be transmitted’.”
Aura took a couple of seconds to find the article in The Net and read it. “Yeah, that’s what it says. So what?” shrugged she.
“Well, I was thinking, if they could detect the very fact of transmission, why did it matter whether it was noise or not? Even if they could not control the level of the signal, detection of noise was an event which represented one state of the transmission, as opposed to silence which represented another state. Having two states is enough to encode one bit and, therefore, transfer any type and amount of information.”
“Hmm, and how would you do it? What if you needed to send a sequence of values represented by silence? How would you know whether it was a transmission or simply an absence of transmission?”
“Elementary. For each byte I would send a noisy signal to indicate the start of the packet. After that, the receiving end would expect eight signals separated by, say, one nanosecond. If the signal is received then it represent a value of 1; if not then the corresponding bit is set to 0. Voila! If someone thought about it all those millennia ago we would not have to wait for Li Azbel to do all those fancy calculations on chaotic attractors. We could have had FTL comms for ages now!”
“You look very excited about that but if it happened, what good would it do you?” said Aura sceptically.
“Fast interstellar comms would tremendously expedite the exchange of information and the progress of the human race. Who knows, maybe because of that I would be healthier, richer and smarter than I am now!”
“I think you are already too smart for you own good. By the way, we have arrived, Professor. Time to unload.”
I blinked. Indeed, while we were discussing the finer points of Heisenberg Uncertainty Principle, Mole had dutifully dragged us through seven systems and arrived to Peace and Order Unit’s station. After we docked I unloaded the crate, registered it with SCC and called the agent.
“Good morning again, Mr Velen. I have delivered the cargo to the recipient, and since it is still morning I believe I am entitled to a bonus.”
“Acknowledged,” brusquely replied Kokseri. “Over and out.”
A minute later Neocom notified me that my account got fatter by 126,000 kredits.