"Anyone who is not shocked by quantum theory does not understand it."
-Neils Bohr, 1927
Kuala Lumpur, an Asian city elevating higher than the landscape of Nepal. Modern. Autos weren't limited to two dimensions, 'droids continually cleaned every city edifice as a public service, and the console cowboys coordinating the easy frictionless pace of life were the most respected members of society.
A man born Job Khalid was a pathogen to this city, a development of a landscape baleful toward the Malaysian Peninsula. His stride moved as confidently as that of the wage workers walking the escalators in the rail depot. He mingled with several other cotton golf shirt-clad males. These men, middle income members of the nascent artisan class, belonged to separate guilds.
Today was the opening of the New Economy Artisans Guild convention, an event for someone of Khalid's legend to visit. He was registered as an entry level personal fabricator, someone highly interested in such an industry convention.
And it was true, Khalid had experience as a personal fabricator, maybe even enough to convincingly work in his new identity. Ahead lay the franchise the mission-planners coveted, the Lucky Dragon. This Dragon had been set down by an air crane very recently. In fact, the neon sign still announced it had just opened.
Job, whose name rhymed with robe, deliberately entered behind a taller Malay in bowling stripes, to avoid notice from that boot stomping Orwell's head, the storefront webcam, the adolescent-riddled video kiosk.
There it was, the device required. It looked like a fax machine. In fact, it was a fax machine, one of the newest sorts. This one was in fact a nanofax machine, a 3D type significantly more complex than the classical macro compiler like the fabricators used by the new artisan class.
In the USB slot, Job stabbed his storage device. Quantized data splurged. The fax gorged, sucked in the code, every qubit. Encoded was the most innocuous of open source data a normal person could think of, the bland raw data of a high-energy physics experiment, some twenty years old...
And the chemical description of a block of aluminum.
The clerk with his pink bullet-proof apron eyed the Caspian artisan carefully. The speaker pumped out the syrupy tune exported from Tokyo, to the inevitable English line with the big cymbal crash and cat-on-string riff on the axe.
The interface was simple enough. It came with an alphabetized drop-down list of Lucky Dragon store locations. Job verbally requested delivery to a short list of stores.
"Are you sure?" The ATM's eunuch chirp asked for certainty. Job affirmed.
"Time of delivery?"
At all tomorrow's parties.
He specified a time after daybreak.
"Have a nice day. Please shop again at the Lucky Dragon."
The next day
The event occurred not only on the American west coast, but that's where the majority of the stores in this cursed chain were located. California bled that day, but they didn't bleed out alone.
Blood entered the same pool on a vast locus circumscribing the Pacific. Every population center on the rim had a Lucky Dragon. Every metropolis had several.
The nanofax housed horrors unknown within the context of an ordinary 3D fax machine. They'd been careful. A Detective Ryoshun, a Federal Bureau physicist, walked the blast site of one of these evaporated stores. Glass shattered under his footfalls. Organic matter was rarely found this close to ground zero. The picosecond of detonation triggered instant oblivion for those. From there the next thing they'd face would be the truth behind metaphysics. They'd study just what their maker was.
Perhaps he'd explain their demise, and how the researchers at Lucky Dragon had tried to save them with safeguards against constructing items from an anarchist's cookbook. How an asymmetric thinker had ordered the faxes to construct their deaths in mid explosion. How the developers had overlooked the published results of tabletop lasers!
A central database housed records of those last orders. One of the Sacramento agents realized the
scientific notation beside the K meant a really high temperature, like someone had placed an order for the Sun.
Ryoshun's boot crushed more glass.
Other orders in the batch were aluminum, magnesium, sodium, and many other "ums" were ordered in conjunction with water and a flashpoint...
Stereolithography will doubtlessly face motions for abolition. People could make stuff! Anything!
Their implementation had already been a nodal point in history. These free lunches counter-productively turned culture up and down the clock, by simultaneously returning the artisan class and making consumerism even easier. At Lucky Dragon's cost, one could perform the most restricted art in alchemy, fabricate duplicates of precious metals. The first users had in fact ordered riches, devaluing almost all international standards. The standard-bearer filed sanctions. People got high.
Through long legal sessions, litigation prohibited the manufacture of copyrighted material, precious metals, "historical" artifacts, radioactive materials, "dangerous" chemicals, "exotic" animals, narcotics, hallucinogens, and various items "valuable to the national defense."
Detective Ryoshun grunted. After a while, the only thing the nanofax seemed to generate was paper in the state capitols, just like the original fax machine... or any development that threatens the existing powers. It was just as well that the machines be banned, with the existing power structure around.
But someone found use for it, reproducing the only thing not litigated to death; theoretical physics. Brilliant. The paper had been published at the University of Chicago. That had been easy enough to find out, once Ryoshun recognized its importance. Google's scholarly paper search fetched it. The order had been for the picosecond of a tabletop laser striking a heavy water drop. The heat detonated the aluminum block, silencing the rhythm of hundreds of cities, as if a tsunami crested over every terrestrial shelf in the Pacific Rim. No seismograph warned the geologists. No NORAD alerted the president. It just happened that men have conquered nature's laws by learning to mail shockwaves at the cosmic speed limit.
The perp got away.
The detective filed a detailed report to the White House staff. These men were smart, but their fields were related to law and business. He hoped he conveyed the facts of the case correctly. Laymen are a difficult audience.
A call came through. He checked his wrist. It was the state police in Kuala Lumpur.
"He's faxed, you say?" It ranked as the most bizarre phone conversation of his life. Faxing a human being anywhere on Earth wouldn't do Job Khalid any good. The manhunt was international, transcontinental, panpolitical. International bodies would brave deadspots on the globe to capture him.
He knew that.
Quantum foam, the name for rugged imperfections in space-time. Within it are tiny wormholes to other points in the multiverse. A human can't fit, but a photon, a particle of light, light being a carrier of information, can. No special technique is required. Nature has sent everyday light through wormholes since the beginning.
"He transmitted himself through a wormhole?"
Like Wan Hu and his rocket flight, determining if the escape was a success or not is an open case into infinity.