Billionaire’s Treasure Hunt

Billionaire’s Treasure Hunt

TRAPS : Theta Region Articles on Popular Science
Billionaire’s Treasure Hunt: TRIS researcher Oriza won the dream prize

An interview with CMDR Oriza and CMDR Imrus76, senior research fellows at TRIS: Theta Region
Information Services

TRAPS: It was a top news headline throughout the Theta Region that TRIS researchers won the recent treasure hunt announced by the famous billionaire Alfred Jeffress. The „Galactic Treasure Hunt” entailed one overarching task: to find and retrieve a „treasure”. Our guests today are CMDR Oriza and CMDR Imrus76, senior research fellows at the independent research institute Theta Region Information Services aka. TRIS.

My first question is for CMDR Oriza, who won the prize offered by Alfred Jeffress. What was your main motivation for accepting such a great challenge, mobilizing numerous pilots and covered by the GalNet? Was it a personal decision or was it an official assignment from your institute?

CMDR Oriza: Frankly, it was a bit of both. Finding a tiny object in the vastness of the black space is a romantic and challenging endeavour. It is a perfect task for someone like me who dedicated his life to research and to find and signal an unbeaten path. On the other hand members of the board of trustees of TRIS were aware that previous challenges and riddles of Mr. Jeffress consisted of questions closely linked to disciplines like science history, early human history and astrography. That is a nearly perfect match for the experience of researchers working at a significant research branch of TRIS.

TRAPS: Why does a research institute attribute importance to a treasure hunt? What is the relevance of a popular event like this for a scientific body? Is it fair even for a professional researcher to enter such an event? As the „treasure” was found with a very convincing time record in the Galactic Treasure Hunt series many observers claimed that this event was easier than the usual.

CMDR Imrus76: First of all let me state that the Treasure Hunt series are providing wide publicity for applied science in a very popular manner. It is a very commendable initiative sharing one of the underlying missions of TRIS: bringing science closer to people. That was the main reason for joining the initiative. The series is so successful that we are considering to adopt a similar format for the Theta Region or perhaps to all citizens of the Galaxy some day. As for the easy treasure hunt I can assure you that it was extremely demanding but the dedication of my colleagues with a bit of luck could address this challenge in a more swift manner than other times.

TRAPS: Most of our readers are interested in uncovering the mystery and the way of solving the riddles of the treasure hunt. Could you elaborate it providing some interesting details?

CMDR Oriza: The first riddle is well known as it was brought to the interested audience, researchers, adventurers and all citizens by the Galnet, a fantastic medium that squeezes some room for science related news in the flood of political communication. “The king’s resting place is where I’m hid. Entrusted to a queen, with a spring in her steps.” As in this riddle we observed a pattern throughout the stages of the treasure hunt. One riddle helped to narrow down the search to a solar system and another helped to identify the source of pointers to the location of information to forthcoming stages or essential objects of this exciting quest. The first element of the riddle to uncover was the king’s resting place. „King” is a loose term from early human history. It usually refers to a monarch who inherited, grabbed or was elected to wield the power to lead a community or a designated area with a significantly varying size and importance.

We are talking about thousands of historical and fictional persons. Kings used to be important agents in organization of human society in Earth history, many times in the capacity of spiritual leaders among others. As such great importance was attributed to the resting place of kings, especially by the kings themselves, but often serving the purpose of strengthening the influence of the king on the population to further consolidate power and direction. Some of the most impressive achievements of early engineering were king’s burial sites. Vast burial mounds, pyramids, necropolises, mausolea were erected for kings, others were buried in prime religious centres: temples and cathedrals to name a few categories. Not too much help to narrow our search. We also had to consider fictional locations for rest or live the afterlife of leaders, warlords so we had to look into mythological sources as well. After careful consideration the latter seemed to be more logical as we looked for extraterrestrial locations from the perspective of humanity predating the spacefaring ages.

Mythology served as a prime resource for nomenclature used in astronomy, a science well developed in very early human history for practical purposes like navigation as well as for pseudo scientific and religious purposes. We tried to further focus our search rating mythological sources based on popularity. Along with numerous other written sources that was the way we identified the reproduction of Geoffrey of Monmouth’s Historia Regum Britanniae from the early second millennia in the Friar Julian Bibliotheca of TRIS. In this remarkable source the island of fruit trees, the „Insula Avallonis” served as an important location for the protagonist King Arthur throughout his legendary adventures and become his resting place as well. It was a pointer to the Avalon system. Now for the confirmation we looked into the various locations in Avalon system and at this stage we could easily find Persephone Station, featuring the goddess from Greek mythology, also queen of the underworld. Hades and Persephone were prominent figures of Greek mythology that contributed richly to nomenclature of astrology widely used to the present day and associated with the afterlife more than any other legendary figures in the aforementioned mythology.

Persephone is also (part of the dual) deity of rivers, springs and vegetation according to various sources or the deity that invokes the springs of the eyes of the crying people mourning on their loved ones passing to the afterlife to her realms. Hence the spring reference. Of course during this phase we considered dozens, if not hundreds of other locations until landing at Persephone station to find the next element of the riddle in the local GalNet. Does it still sound easy? (The researcher smiles.)

TRAPS: What exactly did you find?

CMDR Oriza: Along with the next riddle an instruction to bring back a mystery object to the starport. The riddle read as the following: „The path leads to a writer of epic tales who enlightens a tenant to temper their dependence for reactions.” It was also a tough riddle. There are thousands of renowned writers, pseudo historians and collectors of pieces of mythologies and epic tales. Not too many of them are commemorated in astrography but still enough to consider numerous options. We were checking late 2nd millenium collectors -Elias Lönnrot of the Finnish Kalewala if I can recall it well- when we realized that most of the sources we were exploring were secondary. Primary sources of epic tales are often spiritual, political or tribal leaders, specialists like shamans, scribes, priests, professional poets and singers, skalds, minstrels. Their names were never recorded or long forgotten. That has led us to the collective term „bard” from Celtic that had a matching solar system (Bard System) to be explored.

The remaining mystery was „the tenant enlightened”. Retrospectively it is easier to do than realizing it on the spot but for the first time in the course of the treasure hunt we had to switch our mindsets from cultural history to science history. To be scientifically correct the link we sought was the temperature dependence of (chemical) reaction activation and rate. This is a core matter in physical chemistry and the corresponding equation is published by one of the great forefathers of the discipline, Svante August Arrhenius. He was also renowned scientist in the field of cosmology, astrophysics and atmospheric physics, contributing to current technologies even like terraforming with his proven theory of the greenhouse effect. No wonder many stations and stellar bodies are named after him; incidentally one of them is in the Bard system. I leave the rest to the imagination of the kind readers.

All in all in a short time I had the opportunity to read the excellent Bard Herald that among other exciting subjects published the next element of the riddle: „In its current state I cannot confirm its existence or not but the speech of man shows my unclear vision.” For a researcher it was quite clear for the first glance that the first element of the next riddle was focused on natural sciences. A statement that is conditional on a specific state: it is again something about physical chemistry, like colloid or plasma chemistry or applied systems theory inter alia in physics or ecology. I was lucky as at the TRIS we often use the example of popularizing a very complex theory of quantum mechanical superposition and it’s interpretations with the so called „Schrödinger’s cat” paradox at the end of the second millennium. Without further elaboration of the theory this example refers to the physicist Erwin Schrödinger and covered quantum systems that remained in a superposition, a state of several definite states until interaction or even observation from an isolated environment: the outside world collapses the superposition into one definite state.

As promising as this theory was our astrographic research into Schrödinger did not reveal any promising solar systems. We did find, however a number of objects named after him in various systems. Now we started to narrow the potential systems with the mysterious „speech of man” that serves to show the unclear vision, probably of the eccentric billionaire. That turned our focus to the Bunganditj system. It is named after the language of an ancient ethnic group of people indigenous in the largest island or smallest continent in the pre-spacefaring history of humankind. They referred to their language as the „Drualat-ngolonung” roughly translated as the „speech of man”. So it was time to pay a visit to the station „Scrödingers Vision” to read the infamous Bunganditj Herald.

TRAPS: That indeed sounds like an overwhelming assignment from various aspects. I assume that was the last element of the riddle.

CMDR Imrus76: It was indeed the last riddle and as we made a post field evaluation of the various stages later at TRIS it was also the hardest one. For the sake of a brief overview and the perspective of an objective researcher let me elaborate. The riddle was the following: „My antiquated prize lies in the belly of a monster as she calculates with demons to find the magic number: Beware not to feed the beast for it will run and not be seen again.” It is a tough riddle as from the ancient cultural history we have thousands of myths populating the skies and hence various constellations, groups of solar systems with mythical monsters. With the overwhelming number of potential monsters narrowing down the potential range of monsters was essential.

First the hint in the riddle was used. That suggested some kind of instability and even potential material/mass exchange inside the system. Secondly the search was narrowed and prioritized by such factors as visibility from Earth factoring the human eye and changing observation technologies in as well as changing light and air pollution, science history records about date of identification and studies of various stellar bodies and solar systems. Binary and tertiary systems close to Earth were great candidates due to both luminosity and potential instability. That as well as being a model system for observations and modelling from the XVII. century directed our attention to the Winking Demon, Algol. In this system the B8 star being close to the K2 distorts the shape of the K2 to a water drop and pulls some material as well. In addition to instability of the binary the material exchange is the reason providing a dynamic that makes „the beast run” in the long term. The magic numbers are the 2 and the 8 from the B8 and the K2 stars referring to the concept in nuclear physics to the number of nucleons in nucleus to form a complete shell. Incidentally in some cultures 3 is considered to be a magic number, and as CMDR Oriza reached the third planet of the system and dropped from supercruise at an unidentified signal source he could find four canisters of Earth Relic. The canisters were transported back to Persephone Station at Algol system without further bravado and the prize claims were recognized and undisputed.

TRAPS: I understand that this treasure hunt is not regarded as an easy quest by TRIS officials. A final question: can you please introduce TRIS to those of our readers living outside the Theta Region who does not know your institute yet?

CMDR Imrus76: With pleasure. Theta Region Information Services is legally a subsidiary of SSL Interstellar PLC that has the mandate, policy and a mutually binding commitment to operate as an independent research entity. Major research fields of TRIS are history, including science and cultural history, astrography, interplanetary economics and management, systems modelling and methodologies and finally social effects and influence dynamics of economic, security and research policies and operations.

TRAPS: Thank you for the interview.

CMDR Oriza: It was our pleasure.
CMDR Imrus76: It is our mission to bring science to the people, thank you.

Jelentkezzen be, kapitány!