by Wendy Wheeler
Gyroscopes whir and hum around me like celestial music. "Prowl the air," I mumble, head spinning. I come to, contorted and cramped into some tiny space, my nipples brushing the tops of my legs through my thin blouse. Where...?
Oh yes. I am tucked into the center of the seven spinning globes of the LevoGyre. Though the device is as large as we can make it, it is barely big enough for tiny me to climb inside with curled arms and legs. Today I also had to strip off my sweater and boots.
I focus a dozen inches from my face. The bright red polish on my toenails shines like a beacon. Today was the first time I arrived with a manicure and pedicure, but my boss, Professor Paul Laffley, hasn't even noticed. Why am I not disappointed? A slim memory trickles in. My plan, my juvenile quest...
The thrumming dies down, but the hoops of steel and copper woven about with sparkling fiber optics continue to slowly revolve. Laffley himself comes closer to peer through the machinery. "What did you say?" he asks. "For a moment you seemed... in a fugue." The way his chestnut hair flopped across his forehead once filled me with such yearning. Now... I remember that feeling distantly, like the ghost of a dream. What was it I had learned?
"A moment of interdimensional clarity?" I mumble. This second formal trial of the LevoGyre had started like the first, then things got vague. Concentrating, I restate what I know. "The gravitational time dilation this time was... deeper."
Laffley pulls his lip with long thin fingers, drops safety glasses over his blue eyes. "Before, the LevoGyre was attuned to the earth's g force. This time it was set to emulate the gravitational pull of the sun." He's keyed up, impatient with my maundering.
I have just been through something no human has before, a gravitational redshift on steroids. Quantum theory supposed gravity as a manifestation of space-time curvature, so Laffley's experiment hinged on a known principle: time dilation created by spinning objects, like a merry-go-round or the LevoGyre, using centripetal acceleration. "You appeared to be there the whole time," he says. "I'll play back the film frame by frame to see if you traveled even for a microsecond." Traveled. Blinked out, then in again. As in, traveled through time.
"Prowl the air means...? Dr. Laffley. Paul. You said time travel might not be a purely physical event, but also a psychotropic one. Maybe the biological observer-participant result is separate from the body entirely?" I wriggle my toes and rotate my shoulders. The machinery is so close around me, and though I remember the lab always being chilly, now my own body heat feels suffocating.
Laffley is turned away reviewing diagrams on a blueline covered with his eerily mechanical handwriting. "Keep your head still; don't dilute your IGF-II chemistry. The human brain retains more memories if it stays in the same orientation." He brightens and turns back. "Do you feel lighter?"