Fourth Dimension

AMP co.’s experiments were progressing. Alfred’s innovative 3D printer had so far fabricated another 3D printer, a worm, and a baby. With the right data and ingredients – chemical or organic – it could produce almost anything. The process was now proven.

“What do we do now?” said Sami, his regular helper. “Shall we start making and selling stuff?”

Alfred said, “People are bored of buying stuff here, my friend, but I would like to monetize my invention. We must do something original. You know that so many inventors have gone mad or gone broke, leaving others to benefit from their work. Another thing to watch for is corporations. They try to buy your idea for peanuts, and if that fails they launch their own version, differing in a few details, and if you complain they launch a battery of expensive lawyers at you, and sometimes send crooked cops and heavies.”

Sami didn’t like the sound of any of that. “What should we do then? Should we sell basic versions of the printer for people to use at home? They could make spare parts for domestic items, and maybe copy precious objects; they could replicate seeds, and make their own medicines and cosmetics.”

“They could certainly do that,” said Alfred.

“You could keep the full-scale printer here, and charge a premium for complex jobs. That way you could also safeguard the technology.”

Alfred stared hard at the printer’s levers and cogs, as he often did when mulling over an issue. He said, “Sami, I’m enjoying working with you. You are an asset to AMP co. How would you like to work full time here, helping me with development of the 3D printer?”

It was an unexpected offer. Sami’s day job – if you could call it that, for it sometimes involved working all night – was assistant to retired holy man Guru Baba. He’d learned so much from him; he was like the grandfather he’d never known. He didn’t want to abandon him. Sami said, “Can I continue to help you casually? That’s what works for me right now.”

Alfred was surprised at the rejection of his offer. Rather than dwell upon it, he said, “Okay, let’s get moving then. Something has been niggling me for a while. Production takes time, too much time in my opinion. I want to integrate time into the process.”

“You mean accelerate production? We could fabricate more machines, and break down jobs into parts.”

“I’m not sure that would work. Each job is processed as a whole. Anyway, I meant something else. I meant using time as a fourth dimension.”

“You want to make a 4D printer? Is that possible?”

“I’m not sure, but I have an idea. We could integrate the start time and end time of production into the process – so the object exists in both times at once – and then compress them into a singularity. I’m not sure if that would make the object unfinite or infinite though.”

They adjusted the 3D printer’s settings, fed in crustacean data and plenty of calcium and chitin – and produced a pink crab. It moved and stopped, moved and stopped, moved and stopped. It was hard to say if this was the crab’s erratic motion, or continual flux between life and death. This was the secret hidden by its shell.

Whether or not the experiment was successful, it amused the baby they’d fabricated the day before. She kept waving her arms and legs about, clamping her fingers together, and laughing.

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