Einstein's Lenses: Ring Around the Rosie
“Just in case I do think of something and there is a possibility, which I’m not saying there is... I’ll come over just after breakfast.” said Rigby.
“See you soon, soldier.” And with that Casey hung up the call.
Rigby rolled her eyes.
Her husband must have gotten up before her. She went to get a sweater out of the closet before heading downstairs. On her way down, she held the railing tightly. Her thoughts from the conversation she had with Casey were distracting her. The dead woman lying on the floor moved past her mind's eye. She had probably been moved to the morgue by now. After a few moments, pausing halfway down the stairs, Rigby looked down at her two dogs. They were both lying in the light by the front door. Patiently waiting for their morning walk, heads on paws. One followed her into the kitchen.
As Rigby was walking, she could smell coffee dripping down into a pot and she could hear her husband rustling around the pantry trying to find something to eat for breakfast. She was thinking about an obstacle in getting Casey clearance to the full crime scene when a smile came over her face as her husband turned to her and said,
Rigby walked over to her husband, gave him a kiss and made a beeline for caffeine. Although, these days she kept it to a minimum.
“I hope you weren’t up too late last night.” said Cameron.
“I actually wasn’t up that late!” said Rigby, “Even though you weren't here... I managed all on my own. Had a bath and everything. How are you?” said Rigby.
"Rested, الحمد لله." replied Cameron. They both looked at eachother. Rigby began again, “How was your trip yesterday? Tell me all about it?”
Cameron was beaming. New terraforming projects were springing up all over the solar system and Rigby had no idea which ones he'd seen. “If didn't know any better, I’d say it was all magic!” said Rigby.
Cam replied, “Well, it's definitely not magic, I'll have you know. We saw it for ourselves.” He then walked over to Rigby looked at her straight in the eyes and said “...it's amazing what they're doing.”
It was commonly understood that the movement for terraformation and colonization was in large part due to one man winning an election. This man was the Director of the Systems Alliance, Noah Murtagh. He was a man of humble beginnings, growing up on a family farm on Earth. He had won by a landslide vote. The people trusted his work ethic and candid speeches. And so far, developing moons and planets into stations for research, industry and recreation had been a great success. The economy was good. People had homes and food and, for the most part, the freedom to do as they pleased. There was a lot of excitement for the new changes too. After Mars was completed and life was found below the ice on Europa, the frontier had been expanding like a bomb.
“They have really gone beyond any expectations I might have had. They have created new heating mechanisms that use chemicals already on the surfaces and there are infrastructures, you would hardly believe it, that are self-sustaining, self-cleaning, automated paradises. And you’ll be happy to know we saw the new garden station for the rings.” said her husband.
“Is it finished already? That was fast.” said Rigby.
“Not quite… almost.” said Cam “They have a lot of testing to do, but they are pretty much done with construction. They do have enough produce to support the residents of garden station as it is though. They say by next season they may open their doors up for bulk orders to the rest of the moons of Saturn.”
Rigby walked over to put butter and honey on the roll her husband had gotten out for her. They both finished breakfast together, chatting about garden station and automated paradises, and went about their morning routines. After walking the dogs, Rigby left first, saying goodbye to Cam on her way out.
Casey worked at Rubin University. Rubin University had been established on Diem Deus 3 as the premier center for studying dark matter, dark energy, and intergalactic structure. It’s sister university on Mars, Meitner Tech, was building a new particle accelerator. Casey had started out with a career in nuclear physics, trying to understand the quark gluon plasma that comes about in jets after the collision of heavy ions. She also participated in the discovery of new isotopes for medical applications, for example ones with short half-lives that can be made into a drink and then images can be taken of the isotopes in the body. Although, often times overlap between physics and medical research can be tough to traverse due to bottlenecks in getting the resources for animal trials. Casey had pushed for greater collaboration on this front, trying to get physics research to have more of an impact in the medical community. After a number of years, however, she felt like she needed a change, so she switched to cosmology. In particular, she was drawn to the problem of dark energy, which tells us that the universe is expanding at an accelerated rate.
Casey moved from the Mars facility to Rubin about two years ago. She first met Rigby through a recommendation from a colleague at Meitner Tech. Casey had proven invaluable in the past, and Rigby was both appreciative and weary of Casey’s enthusiasm to assist. The subway dropped Rigby off in the center of campus and she found herself standing in the middle of a large and very green courtyard. Rigby knew the layout of the campus well. There was a light wind and she could hear leaves rustling in the trees that lined the walking paths. 不可思議, every time she visited she had the same feeling that this path was exactly like one on Earth leading up to an old school house she lived near as a child. Rigby spotted the building. Casey’s office was on the 6th floor. Rigby got out of the elevator and started walking down the hallway. She heard two people shouting at one another. She went forward cautiously.
“Of course you are. Stop this.” said Casey.
“No. I'm not. I got f'ing lucky and you know it. Enough of this bullshit.”
“For heaven's sake... what does that say about the rest of us?” Casey asked.
“It's not going to work! It's never going to work... I can't fix it. I have so much f'ing work to do..." she paced back and forth in the room, "Why did they have to choose me! They should have chosen someone better than me and smarter than me. Which would be pretty much anyone!” screamed the other woman in the room.
“Look, you need to go take a break.” stated Casey.
The woman in Casey's office stormed out. She didn't even notice Rigby waiting around the corner. Rigby slowly went over to Casey’s door and knocked three times in a row. Casey said, “Come on in Rigby.”
“Who was that?” said Rigby.
“An extraordinarily talented woman that needs to have more faith in herself.” said Casey. “She’s stuck on something and now she is convinced she shouldn’t be employed here. That all of her success has been a series of lucky guesses and tricking people into thinking that she is smart.”
“What’s her name?” asked Rigby.
“Jennifer Klein.” replied Casey.
“Seriously? The mathematician that got a Fields Medal last year?” said Rigby.
“That’s the one.” said Casey. “It’s sadly common for good people to think they are really inadequate. Constantly worrying over how little they feel they have accomplished or feeling like they should give up because they think everyone else is probably smarter than they are. I really hope she can get on track soon."
After a pause Casey asked, "I’m going to get some coffee, do you want anything?”
“I’ll just take some water. Thanks.” replied Rigby.
Most people never even try, thought Rigby. She sat down in one of the armchairs in Casey’s office. While she waited, she thought back to the terraforming projects her husband had described earlier in the day. When Rigby was a little girl, she first met a kid from a different planet through school. Growing up on Earth, it was common to have a penpal on Mars. Elementary schools would pair up and each child would be assigned a partner to write to. Twice a week during recess the kids would come together in a virtual reality (VR) playground. There was a lag in the time it took for the messages to send and be received, so every other time they would come up with VR responses to puzzles or other simple games, sometimes questions about what it's like on Earth or Mars.
Rigby briefly drifted off into a thought wondering about whether or not any of the children on this new synthetic moon she was living on were singing "Ring Around the Rosie" outside, right now. Dancing in a circle, holding hands. She put her hand to her belly.
Make sure to check out the post this scene is paired with, Imposter Syndrome and Self-Selection. This blog post is also available as a podcast, as read by the author, Erin Blauvelt.
Author: Erin Blauvelt