The God Patent

The God Patent by Ransom Stephens Read Free Book Online

Book: The God Patent by Ransom Stephens Read Free Book Online
Authors: Ransom Stephens
across the bay at the Stanford Linear Accelerator Center—SLAC.”
    The clock ticked to 10:50. The student in the top row tossed aside his newspaper and walked out of the room. The other students packed their notebooks and laptops into their backpacks.
    Fifteen minutes later, Emmy was in her office on the hill over the Cal campus at Lawrence Berkeley Lab. She had three offices around the Bay Area; this one, where she spent most of her time, one in the physics department on campus that she only visited to hold office hours, and one at SLAC. She set her notes between the latest edition of
Physical Review Letters
, the premier research journal, and a prototype circuit board and saw her phone’s message light blinking.
    She picked up the phone and punched in her PIN. The message was from her brother, Dodge. She could guess that he’d called for a favor. Dodge was almost fifteen years older than Emmy and somewhat of a mystery to her. Though he had doted on her since the day she was born, her parents always tried to keep them separate. She was aware that he’d had some trouble with the law but didn’t know any of the details. Dodge would only joke about it when asked. He once told her that he considered suicide every day, that everyone should consider it, and that most people ought to act on it. He was a weird guy, all right, with that gun out on his desk. He was always up to some ridiculous, though mostly harmless, plot to generate wealth. She’d been caught in her share of his schemes over the years, but at thirty-four she thought she’d matured beyond his reach.
    Dodge answered on the first ring and didn’t waste time with pleasantries. “Can you read a couple of patents for me?”
    Instead of replying, she sipped her coffee and relaxed at her desk. She was pleased to hear his voice but knew better than to encourage him.
    After a few seconds, Dodge launched into the sad story of his new tenant: a good guy but down on his luck, a talented engineerburned by his employer who had a couple of inventions whose rights had been purchased by a university.
    When he finished, she said, “So you conned this poor guy into giving you a piece of the action on patents that he doesn’t even own.” She dropped down a few octaves when she said “a piece of the action,” mimicking her brother.
    “The contract hasn’t been written that doesn’t have a hole that I can’t find,” Dodge said. “Between the four winds of menace, fraud, undue influence, and mistake, I’ll find a way to get a piece of the action.” He went up an octave to mock her. “It’s a great case.” Then his voice took a different turn, a turn that she’d heard before and should have recognized. “Especially if I can get it in front of a jury.”
    “What university bought them?”
    “Now I’ve got you.” Dodge chuckled. “See, that’s the weirdest thing about it—Evangelical Word University, somewhere in Texas.”
    “Evangelical Word University? Never heard of it. Okay, Dodge, I have real work to do…”
    “Five minutes, that’s all I want. A quick look at these patents, no more.”
    Emmy groaned but brought up a web browser and surfed to the patent office web page. Dodge told her the patent numbers. She downloaded the text and started skimming. “Dodge I’m not an engineer, I don’t know what this—wait a minute. This is kind of interesting. No.” She started to giggle. In contrast to her brother’s raspy chuckle, Emmy’s rang with the song of a schoolgirl, but the overall effect, mixed with her sharp blue eyes and accompanied by just the wisp of a smile, conveyed the same sense of ironic amusement. “Okay, here’s the giveaway line: realization of the symmetric conditions of the Big Bang allow energy release through vacuum fluctuations.” She stopped laughing. “Please tell me this is a bad joke.”
    Dodge said, “Why would anyone invest in them?”
    “Remember cold fusion?”
    “What about it?”
    “It was totally debunked over

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