Age Of Cosmic Exploration - Chapter 52
Chapter 52: Risks and Rewards!
Translator: Lonelytree-EFT Editor: Lucas
The explosion shook the Hope down to its core. Of the twelve million people onboard, there was none that didn't feel the reverberating tremor. In fact, more than a handful had sensed it before it actually occurred.
Among them was Yao Yuan, who was one of first respondents. Accompanying him were Zhang Heng, Jay, and a platoon of soldiers who were stationed near the lab.
The plasmatic explosion evaporated more than half of the lab. The scientist who was standing closest to the exit suffered from severe first degree burns, and naturally, the remaining people who were much closer to the origin of the blast weren't any better off.
Soon after the blast, the rest of the military began arriving in droves. Using a factory-grade water hose, they started putting out the fire. Yao Yuan stood in despair at the sideline as the vapors rose up like hellish mists...
They had lost almost one hundred scientists on Planet Sahara, and now they had to account for about fifty more?! It was pure devastation because when they left Earth, the Academy totaled at barely a thousand! When hope at the Academy dimmed, so did humanity's chance at survival!
’’Who was in the lab? Give me a list quick!’’ ordered Yao Yuan grimly to the stunned scientists beside him. They were academic committee leaders with the same amount of power and job-scope as Alan and Silewei.
They were still too dumbstruck to answer until a chemist offered, ’’If I'm not mistaken, this lab was led by Ivan's group... They were conducting experiments to induce the reverse crystallization process through biochemical methods.’’
This biochemical method was itself a source of contention within the Academy. Many argued that the energy extraction process should be based on physics principles because they were dealing with matters of energy and force.
The opposite camp, the one which Ivan was in, retorted that even if they wanted to, their technology couldn't afford a purely physics-based approach. Plus, they were dealing with alien plant. It could only be beneficial to include perspectives from the fields of biology, chemistry, and genetics. And this explosion announced that Ivan's group had indeed happened upon a breakthrough.
’’Ivan?’’ Yao Yuan said as his expression grew somber.
Not only did Yao Yuan remember Ivan, he valued this up and coming scientist. Ivan showed brilliant promise when he offered his groundbreaking and lifesaving proposal on Planet Sahara. Furthermore, he was one of the two known Whisperers.
The Whisperer was one of the known Homo Evolutis type. With the exception of the Deceiver, they were incredibly unique in the sense that they were different from other powers which were only useful in battles. Instead, they inspired progress and revelation, valuable assets in both times of peace and war.
This was why Yao Yuan regarded both Ivan and Bo Li, the pair of known Whisperers, highly. Their possible achievements could rival that of Newton and Einstein. In other words, they were crucial to the Hope's advancement and its survival.
But now the hopes he had placed on Ivan had literally gone up in smokes...
’’Damn! Doesn't Ivan know how to follow safety protocols?’’ Yao Yuan cursed. ’’How could there even be an explosion in the first place? Wasn't it the Academy who reported that the energy crystal was stable?’’
A physicist replied timidly, ’’Yes, Major, that is true. Even though its chemical structure remains unknown, based on a multitude of tests, its stability is well documented. For example, when the crystal was subjected to extreme pressure, it was reduced powder but didn't explode. That is why shaving of the crystal could be done without fear of an explosive reaction... So, logically speaking, it is not that Professor Ivan didn't follow protocol, but he had indeed engineered a way to make the plant reverse its crystallization process.’’
Yao Yuan wanted to yell at the scientists, but he knew that they weren't to be blamed, so he could only resort to stomaching his frustration as he planned his next course of action. Suddenly, shouts could be heard from the team who was sent into the lab to do a perimeter check.
Without hesitation, Yao Yuan grabbed hold of a nearby water bucket and doused himself. Then he charged bravely into the lab, cutting through a solid wall of heat wave. Inside, he was shocked to find a few figures with blistering and cracked skin moaning on the floor.
Cursory inspection told Yao Yuan that the lab had an embedded fire alarm system. It must have been triggered during the explosion and its outer covering most likely had shielded it from severe damage. In fact, Yao Yuan could still see weak mists of water spraying out of its many spigots.
The lucky few were standing right under these spigots when the explosion occurred. However, even though they were lucky enough to have survived the explosion, whether they could live another day was altogether a different issue.
Based on their moans, Yao Yuan started locating these survivors. There were in total five of them, and one of them was Ivan, who was found collapsed atop a computer.
Hanging on to his life via a slim thread, he was flittering in and out of consciousness. Yao Yuan could even hear his breath weakening.
As soon as he saw him, Yao Yuan yelled, ’’Get the doctors in here! There are survivors! Quick!’’
And chaos ensued...
It was only on the following night that the situation on the Hope began to settle.
Of the five who survived the explosion, two died in surgery while the other three remained in coma. They were kept under 24-hour watch in ICU for they were still not out of danger zone.
Furthermore, the injuries and deaths were not the only mishaps that followed the explosion. A maintenance crew found out that the blast had caused a short circuit in the Hope's anti-gravitational system. With the lab as its center, a zero-gravity area started to spread.
Regarding this, Yao Yuan had merely ordered the area to be cordoned off. The gravity of the situation hadn't registered on him.
The next morning, a few flustered physicists rushed to meet Yao Yuan. Only then did he understand that the zero-gravity area could seriously compromise the Hope's structural integrity.
’’Major, you have to understand that there is a tension that exists between a spaceship's inner and outer walls. Pressure on the inner walls comes from the ship's load, while the outer one comes from the pull between the ship and other intergalactic entities. To ensure the ship is safe, these two forces must be balanced at all times. There is a reason why the Hope is built in a cone shape. It is the only shape where our current technology can accurately calculate strategic locations where anti-gravitational units can be placed! The correct placement completely neutralizes the conflicting tension. Without these exact calculations, cracks would form at its weak spots and the spaceship would fold unto itself thanks to the imbalance in applied pressure!
’’As I've mentioned, the cone-shaped spaceship is the easiest to build because these pressure points could be easily determined. Following that is the flattened shape, the one reflected in popular culture. Then is the spherical, and each of these changes in shape means a quadrupling in manufacturing difficulty! Of course, when one's technology is advanced enough, these shapes would matter no more, but we humans have not gotten that far.
’’That is why, Major, this ship took twenty years to make. It is not the assembling that was time-consuming but the math behind it!
’’So, this new zero-gravity area creates for the Hope the aforementioned weak point! Its effect won't be obvious while we're idling in space, but when our surrounding pressure increases like it does during warp, nearing a star, or even turning, that will be the point where the Hope starts to fall apart!’’