Dark Star Rising Second Edition (Pebbles in The Sky)

Dark Star Rising Second Edition (Pebbles in The Sky) by Jeffery Bagley Read Free Book Online

Book: Dark Star Rising Second Edition (Pebbles in The Sky) by Jeffery Bagley Read Free Book Online
Authors: Jeffery Bagley
driveway of the suburban Washington home promptly at five o’clock.   He rang the doorbell and it was answered by a darling little girl with blonde hair who looked about five or six years old.  “Can I help you?” she asked. “We don’t want any today, and I am not supposed to talk to you anymore because you are a stranger.”  Then she shut the door in his face.  Eric just stood there a moment and checked his email to make sure he had the right address.  The door opened again, and this time he was greeted by a face he knew, Dr. David Honstein, Director of NASA.  “Come in Mike.  Come in, sorry about Sally, my granddaughter.  She can make it to the door before I can even get out of my chair.  Sally dear; run tell your granny that our company is here.  If you will come with me Eric, it is so pretty out this evening we are going to grill some steaks out on the patio.  We’ll stop and grab a beer from the kitchen on the way.”
    On the way through the kitchen David said, “I have not seen you but once or twice since the Spitzer project ended.  I see your name on lots of budget requests from JPL though.  I usually have the uh, misfortune of disapproving a lot of your requests.  I do hope you do not hold that against me.  Right now though, let’s enjoy dinner and we will talk about what brought you out east after we stuff ourselves.”
    A delicious dinner of steak, grilled corn, and salad was served and was accompanied by the charming company of David’s wife and his granddaughter Sally.  Afterwards, Mike and David sat down and nursed a couple of more beers in lawn chairs on the patio.  Sally and her grandmother had left to go do some shopping for some springtime clothes so they had the house to themselves.  Your wife is just as attractive and charming as I remembered her and your granddaughter is adorable,” Mike complimented. “Does Sally live with you?”
    “Oh no,” replied David.  She comes and stays for a couple weeks every spring and fall.  At least she has been the past few years.  She starts school this fall so that will probably and unfortunately change.  We will definitely miss the time she comes and spends with us.”
    David cleared his throat and said, “I love the chit chat Mike, but I know that you did not have your secretary track me down so you could fly all the way to Washington just to have a steak dinner with me.  What can I help you with that is so pressing?  I want to warn you it better not be a project budget request.  You know that NASA’s budget has been whacked and trimmed to the point where we are going to have to start staying home and watch the Chinese explore the universe while we sit here and buy all the things they make to sell us.”
    Mike stood up to pace. “I will try and condense all of this down for you and get right to the point of my being here.  Have you heard of Doctor Eric Casselman?  He is a professor of astrophysics and astronomy at Cal Tech.”
    “I seem to recall coming across him at a conference somewhere before,” said David.
      “Well,” said Mike.  “It appears that one of his grad students, and a very observant one at that, has discovered a previously un-noticed brown dwarf.  We are guessing it is a low to mid-range Y classification.”
      That is quite an accomplishment,” said David.  “Unless I am mistaken there has been maybe only one Y class dwarf confirmed and there was debate about whether it was a gas giant or a dwarf star.  How did he find it, by detecting orbital variations in a binary pair?”
    “No,” replied Mike, he actually found it with direct observation from some old Spitzer Telescope studies.”
    “So Mike, what do you want from me?  The discovery is interesting but not something that would drag you all the way out to Washington to inform me on a weekend. If you are asking me to give him a job then I probably cannot help you.  We are actually cutting staff and having to let some very good people go as

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