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Authors: Dan Brown

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Angels & Demons (9 page)

BOOK: Angels & Demons
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Langdon thought.
THE debate

“The Bible, of course, states that God created the universe,” she explained. “God said, ‘Let there be light,’

and everything we see appeared out of a vast emptiness. Unfortunately, one of the fundamental laws of physics states that matter cannot be created out of nothing.”

Langdon had read about this stalemate. The idea that God allegedly created “something from nothing”

was totally contrary to accepted laws of modern physics and therefore, scientists claimed, Genesis was scientifically absurd.

“Mr. Langdon,” Vittoria said, turning, “I assume you are familiar with the Big Bang Theory?”

Langdon shrugged. “More or less.” The Big Bang, he knew, was
scientifically accepted model for the creation of the universe. He didn’t really understand it, but according to the theory, a single point of intensely focused energy erupted in a cataclysmic explosion, expanding outward to form the universe. Or something like that.

Vittoria continued. “When the Catholic Church first proposed the Big Bang Theory in 1927, the—”

“I’m sorry?” Langdon interrupted, before he could stop himself. “You say the Big Bang was a

Vittoria looked surprised by his question “Of course. Proposed by a Catholic monk, Georges Lemaître in 1927.”

“But, I thought . . .” he hesitated. “Wasn’t the Big Bang proposed by Harvard astronomer Edwin Hubble?”

Kohler glowered. “Again, American scientific arrogance. Hubble published in 1929, two years

Langdon scowled.
It’s called the Hubble Telescope, sir—I’ve never heard of any Lemaître Telescope!

“Mr. Kohler is right,” Vittoria said, “the idea belonged to Lemaître. Hubble only
it by gathering the hard evidence that proved the Big Bang was scientifically probable.”

“Oh,” Langdon said, wondering if the Hubble-fanatics in the Harvard Astronomy Department ever mentioned Lemaître in their lectures.

“When Lemaître first proposed the Big Bang Theory,” Vittoria continued, “scientists claimed it was utterly ridiculous. Matter, science said, could not be created out of nothing. So, when Hubble shocked the world by scientifically proving the Big Bang was accurate, the church claimed victory, heralding this as
that the Bible was scientifically accurate. The divine truth.”

Langdon nodded, focusing intently now.

“Of course scientists did not appreciate having their discoveries used by the church to promote religion, so they immediately mathematicized the Big Bang Theory, removed all religious overtones, and claimed it as their own. Unfortunately for science, however, their equations, even today, have one serious deficiency that the church likes to point out.”

Kohler grunted. “The
.” He spoke the word as if it were the bane of his existence.

“Yes, the singularity,” Vittoria said. “The exact moment of creation. Time zero.” She looked at Langdon.

“Even today, science cannot grasp the initial moment of creation. Our equations explain the
universe quite effectively, but as we move back in time, approaching time zero, suddenly our mathematics disintegrates, and everything becomes meaningless.”

“Correct,” Kohler said, his voice edgy, “and the church holds up this deficiency as proof of God’s miraculous involvement. Come to your point.”

Vittoria’s expression became distant. “My point is that my father had always believed in God’s involvement in the Big Bang. Even though science was unable to comprehend the divine moment of creation, he believed someday it
.” She motioned sadly to a laser-printed memo tacked over her father’s work area. “My dad used to wave that in my face every time I had doubts.”

Langdon read the message:



“My dad wanted to bring science to a higher level,” Vittoria said, “where science supported the concept of God.” She ran a hand through her long hair, looking melancholy. “He set out to do something no scientist had ever thought to do. Something that no one has ever had the
to do.” She paused, as though uncertain how to speak the next words. “He designed an experiment to prove Genesis was possible.”

Prove Genesis?
Langdon wondered.
Let there be light? Matter from nothing?

Kohler’s dead gaze bore across the room. “I beg your pardon?”

“My father created a universe . . . from nothing at all.”

Kohler snapped his head around. “What!”

“Better said, he recreated the Big Bang.”

Kohler looked ready to jump to his feet.

Langdon was officially lost.
Creating a universe? Recreating the Big Bang?

“It was done on a much smaller scale, of course,” Vittoria said, talking faster now. “The process was remarkably simple. He accelerated two ultrathin particle beams in opposite directions around the accelerator tube. The two beams collided head-on at enormous speeds, driving into one another and compressing all their energy into a single pinpoint. He achieved extreme energy densities.” She started rattling off a stream of units, and the director’s eyes grew wider.

Langdon tried to keep up.
So Leonardo Vetra was simulating the compressed point of energy from which
the universe supposedly sprang.

“The result,” Vittoria said, “was nothing short of wondrous. When it is published, it will shake the very foundation of modern physics.” She spoke slowly now, as though savoring the immensity of her news.

“Without warning, inside the accelerator tube, at this point of highly focused energy, particles of matter began appearing out of nowhere.”

Kohler made no reaction. He simply stared.

,” Vittoria repeated. “Blossoming out of nothing. An incredible display of subatomic fireworks. A miniature universe springing to life. He proved not only that matter
be created from nothing, but that the Big Bang
Genesis can be explained simply by accepting the presence of an enormous source of energy.”

“You mean
” Kohler demanded.

“God, Buddha, The Force, Yahweh, the singularity, the unicity point—call it whatever you like—the result is the same. Science and religion support the same truth—pure
is the father of creation.”

When Kohler finally spoke, his voice was somber. “Vittoria, you have me at a loss. It sounds like you’re telling me your father
matter . . . out of nothing?”

“Yes.” Vittoria motioned to the canisters. “And there is the proof. In those canisters are specimens of the matter he created.”

Kohler coughed and moved toward the canisters like a wary animal circling something he instinctively sensed was wrong. “I’ve obviously missed something,” he said. “How do you expect anyone to believe these canisters contain particles of matter your father actually
They could be particles from anywhere at all.”

“Actually,” Vittoria said, sounding confident, “they couldn’t. These particles are unique. They are a type of matter that does not exist anywhere on earth . . . hence they
to be created.”

Kohler’s expression darkened. “Vittoria, what do you mean a certain
of matter? There is only
type of matter, and it—” Kohler stopped short.

Vittoria’s expression was triumphant. “You’ve lectured on it yourself, director. The universe contains
kinds of matter. Scientific fact.” Vittoria turned to Langdon. “Mr. Langdon, what does the Bible say about the Creation? What did God create?”

Langdon felt awkward, not sure what this had to do with anything. “Um, God created . . . light and dark, heaven and hell—”

“Exactly,” Vittoria said. “He created everything in opposites. Symmetry. Perfect balance.” She turned back to Kohler. “Director, science claims the same thing as religion, that the Big Bang created everything in the universe with an opposite.”

itself,” Kohler whispered, as if to himself.

Vittoria nodded. “And when my father ran his experiment, sure enough,
kinds of matter appeared.”

Langdon wondered what this meant.
Leonardo Vetra created matter’s opposite?

Kohler looked angry. “The substance you’re referring to only exists
in the universe. Certainly not on earth. And possibly not even in our galaxy!”

“Exactly,” Vittoria replied, “which is proof that the particles in these canisters had to be

Kohler’s face hardened. “Vittoria, surely you can’t be saying those canisters contain actual specimens?”

“I am.” She gazed proudly at the canisters. “Director, you are looking at the world’s first specimens of


hase two,
the Hassassin thought, striding into the darkened tunnel. The torch in his hand was overkill. He knew that. But it was for effect. Effect was everything. Fear, he had learned, was his ally.
Fear cripples faster than any implement of war.
There was no mirror in the passage to admire his disguise, but he could sense from the shadow of his billowing robe that he was perfect. Blending in was part of the plan . . . part of the depravity of the plot. In his wildest dreams he had never imagined playing this part.

Two weeks ago, he would have considered the task awaiting him at the far end of this tunnel impossible. A suicide mission. Walking naked into a lion’s lair. But Janus had changed the definition of impossible. The secrets Janus had shared with the Hassassin in the last two weeks had been numerous . . . this very tunnel being one of them. Ancient, and yet still perfectly passable.

As he drew closer to his enemy, the Hassassin wondered if what awaited him inside would be as easy as Janus had promised. Janus had assured him someone on the inside would make the necessary arrangements.
Someone on the inside. Incredible
. The more he considered it, the more he realized it was child’s play.

Wahad . . . tintain . . . thalatha . . . arbaa,
he said to himself in Arabic as he neared the end.
One . . . two .

. . three . . . four . . .


I sense you’ve heard of antimatter, Mr. Langdon?” Vittoria was studying him, her dark skin in stark contrast to the white lab.

Langdon looked up. He felt suddenly dumb. “Yes. Well . . . sort of.”

A faint smile crossed her lips. “You watch
Star Trek

Langdon flushed. “Well, my students enjoy . . .” He frowned. “Isn’t antimatter what fuels the

She nodded. “Good science fiction has its roots in good science.”

“So antimatter is

“A fact of nature. Everything has an opposite. Protons have electrons. Up-quarks have down-quarks. There is a cosmic symmetry at the subatomic level. Antimatter is
to matter’s
. It balances the physical equation.”

Langdon thought of Galileo’s belief of duality.

“Scientists have known since 1918,” Vittoria said, “that
kinds of matter were created in the Big Bang. One matter is the kind we see here on earth, making up rocks, trees, people. The other is its inverse—identical to matter in all respects except that the charges of its particles are reversed.”

Kohler spoke as though emerging from a fog. His voice sounded suddenly precarious. “But there are enormous technological barriers to actually
antimatter. What about neutralization?”

“My father built a reverse polarity vacuum to pull the antimatter positrons out of the accelerator before they could decay.”

Kohler scowled. “But a vacuum would pull out the
also. There would be no way to separate the particles.”

“He applied a magnetic field. Matter arced right, and antimatter arced left. They are polar opposites.”

At that instant, Kohler’s wall of doubt seemed to crack. He looked up at Vittoria in clear astonishment and then without warning was overcome by a fit of coughing. “Incred . . . ible . . .” he said, wiping his mouth, “and yet . . .” It seemed his logic was still resisting. “Yet even if the vacuum
, these canisters are made of matter. Antimatter cannot be stored inside canisters made out of
. The antimatter would instantly react with—”

“The specimen is not touching the canister,” Vittoria said, apparently expecting the question. “The antimatter is suspended. The canisters are called ‘antimatter traps’ because they literally trap the antimatter in the center of the canister, suspending it at a safe distance from the sides and bottom.”

“Suspended? But . . .

“Between two intersecting magnetic fields. Here, have a look.”

Vittoria walked across the room and retrieved a large electronic apparatus. The contraption reminded Langdon of some sort of cartoon ray gun—a wide cannonlike barrel with a sighting scope on top and a tangle of electronics dangling below. Vittoria aligned the scope with one of the canisters, peered into the eyepiece, and calibrated some knobs. Then she stepped away, offering Kohler a look. Kohler looked nonplussed. “You collected

“Five thousand nanograms,” Vittoria said. “A liquid plasma containing millions of positrons.”

“Millions? But a few
is all anyone has ever detected . . .

“Xenon,” Vittoria said flatly. “He accelerated the particle beam through a jet of xenon, stripping away the electrons. He insisted on keeping the exact procedure a secret, but it involved simultaneously injecting raw electrons into the accelerator.”

Langdon felt lost, wondering if their conversation was still in English.

Kohler paused, the lines in his brow deepening. Suddenly he drew a short breath. He slumped like he’d been hit with a bullet. “Technically that would leave . . .”

BOOK: Angels & Demons
2.3Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub

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