Anil Aggrawal's Forensic Science Fiction: Story 4: THE NEW ANTIBIOTIC



-Dr. Anil Aggrawal

AIDS had struck planet Akashgriha too!

It was AD 2073. Man had colonized about 500 odd planets of the Milky Way and more than 200 planets belonging to other galaxies of the universe. Planet Akashgriha was one of the farthest planets man had colonized. It was at a distance of 15 million light-years, located in a galaxy named Doosra Akash. Such a large distance meant that light with its fantastic velocity of about 2 lakh kilometres per second would have taken about 15 million years to reach that galaxy!

Population on earth had increased beyond all projections. In late 1990s, the world population was increasing at a rate of 170 people a minute. According to these figures, scientists in 1990s calculated that the world population would reach about 12.5 billion in AD 2050. But the population increased much beyond those levels, thanks to the advent of interplanetary travel and colonization. In AD 2050, the total number of human beings anywhere in the universe were a staggering 125 billion! Of these, less than 4 billion were living on earth, meaning thereby that there were lesser number of human beings on earth in AD 2050, than there were in AD 1990! No scientist in 1990s could have imagined that.

Effective antibiotics for AIDS had been discovered by an Indian scientist Dr. Shekhar in AD 2001. It had rightly been named Amrit Jal. Mankind on earth was free from AIDS by AD 2010. No one going to other planets used to carry Amrit Jal with him, because it was considered a useless accompaniment.

But now the denizens of Akashgriha were in real trouble. They had no supply of Amrit Jal and AIDS was spreading fast on their planet. The disease must have entered the planet through interplanetary human travellers from other planets, where the disease was not yet extinct.

An emergency message was sent to earth. Urgent supplies of Amrit Jal were requested on an urgent basis. The authorities on earth acted fast. There was one problem though. How to trasport Amrit Jal to Akashgriha?

The enormous distance of that planet meant that even light at its fantastic speed would take 15 million years to reach that planet. Will this remedy be of any use at that time?

Of course there was a way out. The medicine would be sent through the same route, through which humans had gone there to colonize those planets - through Black Holes.

As we all know, Black holes are supercompressed stars, which distort the time and space around them to an unimaginable degree. If someone could enter a black hole and somehow manage to keep him intact, he would enter the so-called 4th dimension. Thus his travelling distance would be greatly shortened.

An analogy could perhaps make things easier to understand. Cosider an ant resting of a big piece of paper, who wants to travel to the other side of the paper. The only way it can do so is to travel to the edge of the paper first and then travel all the way back to where it was stationed, but on the opposite side of the paper. All this involves useless travel. If the ant could somehow pierce the paper, which is equivalent to travelling in the 3rd dimension, it would not have to take all that useless journey. All it would do would be to pierce the paper and voilą, it would be on to its destination!

Amrit Jal was sent to Akashgriha through the Black hole Maha Chakra, which was stationed just on the fringe of Milky Way. The inhabitants of Akashgriha were very grateful to earth and its authorities. However to the astonishment of all, the antibiotic failed to work. No matter how much antibiotic was given to the patient, it would have no effect on the virus. Nobody knew why the antibiotic was not working. All communications with earth, failed to find an answer. The batch was fresh, and had been tested in the laboratory on lab-cultivated viruses, before being dispatched to Akashgriha.

Dr. Ghosh, who was in-charge of the whole operation contacted Tarun, the space chemist, to solve this riddle. Tarun heard the whole problem patiently, and then tested the antibiotic in his lab. Finally he smiled as he seemed to have found an answer.

"Dr. Ghosh, a strange thing has happened during the transportation of Amrit Jal to this planet. We should have guessed it earlier actually. We transported the antibiotic through the black hole-isn't it? When you enter into a black hole you enter the forth dimension, right. Now when a particular thing is stationed in four dimensions, it can accidentally take a turn in the forth dimension and become a mirror image of itself. It is just as if you flipped an 8-anna coin on your table, so that it shows tails instead of heads. It is surely the same coin, but it shows a differet face to you. You could flip it back anytime. But imagine what would happen if you were prevented to flip it back. It would be an entirely new coin. A shopkeeper who has only seen the "heads" surface of the coin, may refuse to accept it when he sees a new surface - the "tails". Something similar has happened to Amrit Jal. It is a giant molecule, having more than 10,000 atoms of various kinds. It has its own 3-dimensional structure. When it is stationed in a 3-dimensional world, no matter how you rotate it, it remains the same molecule, because it can be rotated back to its original configuration. While it was being transported through the black hole, it made an accidental turn in the forth dimension. When it landed on our planet, it was in its new configuration. Since it is now in a 3-dimensional world again, it can not flip itself back to regain its original configuration. The result is that it is an entirely new molecule now, with entirely new physical and chemical properties. That is why it has failed to act against the AIDS virus."

"Ingenious!", said Dr. Ghosh, " but what do we do now"?

"I will have it sent to my space lab, orbiting round this planet. It is very close to a mini-black hole. We are actually using that mini-black hole to investigate the various properties of the forth dimension. The drug would be recycled through that mini-black hole. Once the antibiotic is in the mini-black hole, we will instruct our computer to give it a command to flip it back to its original configuration. That way when the drug emerges from the black hole, it should be its original self."

Sure enough, the trick worked and the antibiotic started working on AIDS patients as effectively as it was supposed to. To prevent the recurrence of such an occurrence later on, Dr. Ghosh advised the authorities on earth to put this label on all future batches of the drug.

" Warning! Transport carefully, if using a black hole as a short-cut to destination. The drug may alter during travel in the forth dimension. Preferably check for chemical properties at the destination. The authorities on earth assume no responsibility for damage, if the drug is accidentally altered during transportation due to carelessness."


This story was originally published in Hindi as Black Hole ke us paar in the newspaper Aaj on 3 February 1996 on page 12



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