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Sequel to "Lunatic idea"; prior reading strongly suggested. But hey, "Lunatic idea" is a little less than 600 words long, so it won't take you much time. ;)
I didn't plan the sequel at all, but when I read shirebound's comment here on SOA (about Maglor approaching Schrödinger one day), I thought – that's it! It is just not possible not to do it!!!
And here it is. :) shirebound, thanks for this bunny. This one is for you. *hugs*
Thanks to Cairistiona for beta-reading. *hugs*
Maglor has never been interested in science before. As it progressed with time, he had taken all the innovations for granted, not trying to understand all the underlying details – just like the majority of people. After all, why would he? It's not necessary to understand the moving of electrons in a cathode tube to enjoy watching the movies, or the principal of an internal combustion engine to drive a car. So he hadn’t paid much attention to science news.
But that changed the morning six years ago when he read the article about parallel universes. There is a first time for everything – including Maglor's interest in science. He started to follow events in science from that day, sometimes borrowing popular-scientific books and attending lectures when his work allowed. He was particularly interested in astronomy; he was an elf, and his people were people of stars.
When he dived deeper into modern astronomy, he was surprised by how much scientists have already discovered. At the same time, he was very happy that many groups of stars in the sky still bore the same names given by the elves many eons ago. But most of all, he thought about parallel universes.
Vienna. The city of beautiful architecture and rich history, and above all, a capital of art. He discovered something new at each visit. Maglor loved any reason to return to Vienna.
Now his orchestra was in Vienna for several days; they'd have three shows during the week, and on other evenings they were free. He browsed the newspapers, searching for interesting events he could attend in his free time, and when he saw one particular headline, he just couldn't believe his luck.
Nobel Prize winner Erwin Schrödinger, who has lived in Vienna for the last two years since his retirement, was delivering a lecture that evening about quantum physics and the nature of light. Although the announcement contained words like quantums, energy levels and wave-particle duality, and sounded as if he was reading Chinese or maybe even Khuzdul, he knew right away he would go. The opportunity was too good to miss. He wanted to listen to that man and, if possible, talk to him.
He arrived about half an hour early, bought the ticket and took his place. By the beginning, the hall was completely full; it was a Nobel Prize winner involved after all, and more than that. An Austrian by origin, born right here in Vienna, Maglor remembered what he read about Schrödinger, who spent a part of his career in Ireland, where he also held citizenship. No wonder so many people came. Schrödinger was welcomed with long, loud applause.
Maglor tried hard, but he couldn't understand all that the lecturer said. Besides, his thoughts occasionally wandered off, because this was the man who first spoke of parallel universes, and Maglor couldn't help thinking about it although that was not the topic of this lecture. In some moments he was here in Vienna, and in others his thoughts carried him to that other universe, to beautiful and distant – and out-of-reach – Valinor.
After the end of the lecture there were several questions, and after that everything was over. While Erwin Schrödinger was collecting his papers and other things, Maglor quickly climbed the stage and approached him.
"Good evening," he said and nodded. The physicist quickly turned to him.
"Good evening, young man," the man replied, and Maglor had to put all his effort not to smile. After all that time, he was still amused when someone called him that. "Do you have a question you hadn't dared to ask publicly?"
"Actually, no... I approached you for another reason," answered Maglor. "I didn't understand everything you talked about today, but I wanted to speak of another topic. I wanted to say that I had heard your presentations about parallel universes, and that I agreed with you. You explained that very well. I think that there are absolutely no reasons that would prevent the existence of other universes."
Schrödinger gave him a sharp, insightful gaze.
"I see," he said slowly, still piling his notes. "A colleague physicist?"
"Oh no, not at all!" Maglor shook his head and laughed. "I am a musician, I perform in an orchestra. I have no talent for science, and my interest in it is amateur level only. But that hypothesis of yours impressed me very much. I hope you'll find the confirmation for it."
Truth be told, experimental proof of the hypothesis would have a lot of consequences... and finding a portal between the two universes even more. And perhaps not all of them would be good. But he still had to express his hope for confirmation.
Schrödinger finished collecting his papers, closed the bag and gave Maglor a thoughtful look.
"I am an old man. My health is far from perfect. I try to be as realistic as possible, so I know that the probability of seeing that confirmation is very small... just as I want to fully understand so many other things." He fell silent and looked somewhere in the distance, while Maglor carefully observed him. The scientist was still pensive, but fire appeared in his eyes. "And I'd like to find the proof, you see... I want to know. I want to know if there are parallel universes. How old our universe is. What happened during Planck time. What ignited the Big Bang. How many elementary particles there are. Why they have mass. If we are correct about the Standard Model. And so much more... everything! I want to know everything!" He abruptly turned his head towards Maglor, and although Schrödinger was over seventy, Maglor saw in that eyes that his spirit was so very young and alive. "I feel lucky for living in twentieth century and not before, because this is the age when we are starting to discover things," Schrödinger continued passionately. "But at the same time I regret not being born much later – in the time when our knowledge will be more extensive. I want to know!"
I will live to see that later age.
"You are one of the people who contributed and still contribute to building the world of science as it is now," said Maglor gravely. "You are one of those who build the knowledge of the whole civilization, who create the foundations of the new age. Yes, the future will bring new things... and those who will discover them will be able to do it thanks to you. There are very few people who will achieve immortality, and you are one of them."
They looked at each other for a few moments, and then the scientist slowly nodded.
"Well... if I have to look for some sort of comfort... this one is not so bad, I have to say. You made a good effort, young man, and thank you."
Schrödinger nodded as a sign of acknowledgement and they shook hands, and then the old physicist took his bag and slowly stepped down from the stage. Maglor watched him as he walked away.
One day, when the Prophecy fulfils and Final Battle comes, and all the separated children of Iluvatar meet, you will find out you were right about parallel universes. I will search for you then, and I will tell you about all the secrets that will then be unveiled. All you want to know.
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