Will here. On my business card I am J. Willard Carleton. Professor of Physics. Please call me Will. Charlie approached me to give you an insider's view of the super collider. I said, "Sure," and began to think a little about what to write. Then he told me to read the earlier episodes of this story on-line and use them as a guide for what I should write. Well, surprise, surprise, it was very clear that he was going to want more than just a story about the super collider. If I am to be faithful to the spirit of what's gone before, I'm going to have to bare my soul about my sexual experiences. Then, just to add insult to injury, the story of our getting the super collider contract has already been told, and Kay has already let you know that it became operational on time and under budget. So just what am I supposed to tell you? Well, let's begin, and we'll see. As I start, I'm not really sure what I'm going to tell you either.
Charlie expects his authors to begin with a little autobiography, and not to leave out sex-evidently the more embarrassing the better! I won't have a hard time with that.
I grew up a California kid, luckily northern California and not southern. Most of California is socially liberal (at least as far as straight sex is concerned), but the south is politically conservative and the north is politically liberal. In the north the sexual liberalism is much more likely to extend to gay sex. But as is almost universal in America, smart kids were nerds, and not particularly respected. Athletes, "ladies men," and sexy girls ruled. I didn't fit any of those categories.
It didn't help that my father had been an athlete, basketball star and surfer, and my mother had been the prom queen and his high school sweetheart. As I look back on it, the amazing thing about their marriage-right out of high school-is that they both made it through college, had successful careers (he ran a sporting goods store and she taught elementary school), and a successful marriage. The odds were against them, but they really loved each other-and me-and they made it work. But they didn't really understand that what worked for them wasn't going to work for me.
My penchant for math and science was evident from an early age, and I sailed through science gifted and talented programs (they had some different names then, I'm not sure what mine were called), high school advanced placement, honors physics courses at Berkeley and a summa cum laude physics degree from UC in three years. I did it in three years by presenting advanced placement courses in physics (12 credits), chemistry (11 credits, including organic chemistry), mathematics (11 credits including differential equations), and computer science (6 credits). That gave me sophomore standing when I entered. It was the general policy of the UC physics department to not accept physics advanced placement for physics majors, so that they would actually take the courses at UC. However, my AP scores in everything were so high, my recommendations so good, and my interview so impressive that I began upper division physics courses my first, sophomore year. (That wasn't my first draft of that paragraph. I wrote a considerably more modest description of my academic career and showed it to Charlie. I would tell you that he tore it up, but he had an electronic version which couldn't be torn up, and deleting it on his computer wouldn't have deleted it on mine. What you just read is Charlie's rewrite after he wrung details out of me for about half an hour.)
Academic success doesn't equate to social success. Add in that as I moved from middle school to high school I slowly began to realize that my sexual inclinations favored men over women. In middle school I was part of a small group of boys-there were five of us-that were smart and pretty asocial. We were considered to be "stuck up," and we probably were a pretty snotty bunch of nerds. In 8th grade the tension between our little group and the jocks of the 8th grade grew as the year progressed. We didn't date at all, and our counterparts were dating the glamour girls of the grade. It didn't help that in the classes we took with the general student body (we were separate for our gifted and talented math and science) teachers often held one or the other of us up as an example ("Will, would you read your composition?") ("If Will can get his homework done, so can you.") We weren't above teasing those who got poorer grades, and we got teased back about our never dating girls and not participating in sports. It finally reached the breaking point one day after school. The five of us were walking to one of our houses, via the shortest route, which was through one of the local parks. We noticed that there was a larger collection of other eighth graders than usual around the park, and too late we realized that we were the reason. We found ourselves surrounded by about a dozen of the toughest athletes in the school and they were pushing us into a small wooded area at the north side of the park. The spokesman for our herders, for that describes pretty well what had just happened to us, was a big kid whom everyone called Squire.
Squire announced, "We have been talking and have decided that the reason that you guys never date girls is that you're queers. We don't think there's a cure for being queer, but we don't think you should move on to high school without some sexual experience." Then he whistled loudly and exactly ten girls came out of hiding. Squire said, "OK, girls, now."
They came inside the circle of herders and two approached each one of us. Squire said, "You guys just let the girls do as they please, or two of us will hold you very uncomfortably while the girls do their thing." One of my friends, Phil, was standing just to my left, and the two girls next to him started to undo his belt. He pushed their hands away and almost instantly two of the jock-herders grabbed him from behind, twisted his arm up behind him in a hammer lock, and made it very clear that the pain would increase if he continued to resist what was happening to him. He didn't. Nor did the rest of us. I had a tee shirt on and the front was pulled up over my head and left behind my neck, baring my chest. Then my belt was opened, my fly and waist button opened and my pants pulled down to my ankles. The two girls massaged my very hard boner through my underpants until Squire said, "Push 'em down." In an instant they were down to my ankles with my pants and the massaging continued, only more vigorously. My comrades found themselves in the same situation. Then Squire said, "OK, girls, that's enough. Boys, check and see if they're really hard, or maybe they only get hard when they're touched by boys."
Well, we were all really hard; there was no question about that. But our herders all came up and felt our erections, squeezing pretty hard. Then we were told to kiss the girls goodbye. When I kissed Mary, the girl that had actually pulled down my underpants, she lifted her sweater and told me to kiss her exposed tit. I did. I wanted to bite it, but I didn't dare. Then, all of a sudden, the group was gone and we were standing in the woods, struggling to get our clothes back together.
We walked to a picnic table in the park-the kind with benches attached-to talk about what had just happened to us. One of us said, "Do we call the police?"
"Shit, no. We didn't get hurt. I don't think it's going to happen again. I think we were being tested. We could tell our parents, or the school, or call the police. So many were involved it's hard to tell what would happen. It might just turn out to be our word against theirs, and there were about two dozen of them."
"I don't think they should be allowed to get away with that."
"We could've fought, even if we lost. I don't think they'd deny it happened, I think they'd say that we liked it. That we encouraged the girls to pull down our pants. That we liked having our dicks rubbed. That we ended by kissing the girls as a way of saying, 'Thank you'."
"That's bullshit, and you know it."
"I know it, but would the police or the school? If they accept that as the official version then we're all equally guilty, but not of a very serious violation, and we can all get a slap on the wrist together, and forget the whole thing. Otherwise they're going to have to suspend two dozen students."
"I don't know about you, but it was kind of fun to have a girl pull down my pants and play with my dick. I'd never have had the nerve to do it with a girl except in that situation."
We talked a while more and finally decided that what had happened to us wasn't really that bad, and we weren't going to tell anyone. Then one of my four friends asked the $64,000 question. "Well, Squire says we're queer. I think a nicer word is gay. Are we? Are any of us? If so, are we willing to say so in this group?"
My good friend, Andrew, spoke, "I am."
That gave me the courage to say, "I think I am."
The boy that had asked the question said, "Well, I don't think I am, but I want you two to know that nothing has changed in our friendship as a result of your saying that."
The other two boys expressed similar sentiments.
Andrew said, "Well, if the kidnapping, or whatever you call it, this afternoon got us to have this conversation, then I would say it was a plus."
I said, "I'm not sure that I'm willing to go that far. We weren't raped this afternoon, but it was a sexual assault. I'm not sure we're doing the right thing by not telling; they really shouldn't be allowed to get away with that. But I think we've correctly judged that it would be better for us to say nothing; and, in this situation, what is best for us is what we should do."
Well, that turned out to be a correct judgement. For the next week at school the kids involved in the incident seemed to be waiting for the shoe to drop. Finally, after about a week, Squire came up to me after lunch and asked, "You guys aren't going to tell?"
I said, "Let me make it clear. We aren't giving you a license to do that again, or to do it to anyone else. But, no, we decided that we should simply let it go."
Squire said, "You know, even if you are queer, you're a better man than I thought you were."
The tensions in the school eased considerably. One of the straight guys in our little group actually got up the nerve to ask one of the girls that had stripped him to go on a date. As they walked home from a movie he pulled her behind some bushes in one of his neighbor's yards. He told her, "OK, you pulled down my pants and felt me, will you let me do that to you."
"If you pull your pants down first."
He did, and then he pulled down her jeans and panties. There wasn't much light to see, but he got his hands all over her, and she did the same to him. As his finger worked his way into her vagina she said, "You know, the boys I've dated have talked a lot, but you're the first boy who's ever had the guts to actually stick his finger inside me. But doing it standing up in the dark behind bushes is bad form. Walk me home after school tomorrow. Both my parents work and we can explore each other in my bedroom."
The next afternoon he had the most embarrassing moment of his life. He let her pull down his pants and play with him, and all of a sudden he ejaculated into her hands. It was the first time in his life he'd come, and he simply wasn't ready for it. Neither was his date, who'd never played with any other boy's dick, except for some groping in a movie theater. They cleaned up and he excused himself and went straight home, never having gotten her pants down. It was his last date in eighth grade.
Andrew and I'd made a mutual confession, though mine was qualified with, "I think." It was a couple of weeks before we got up the courage to talk further about what we'd said. I started it as he and I walked home to my house after school one day.
"Are you really gay?"
"I dream of nude boys, cute boys, masturbating boys, boys playing strip poker, boys kissing; I never have dreams like that about girls."
"What about after the business in the park? Did you dream of what the girls could've done if they'd wanted to?"
"No, I dreamed that the boys who were standing around were the ones that pulled my pants down."
"Do you think any of them would've liked to pull your pants down?"
"If any of them are gay, in that crowd they'd never admit it."
"I think Squire is gay."
"What makes you think so?"
"He was very accepting of our being gay. I think he might've been trying to send me a message."
"Why don't you ask him?"
"I'm not sure he's ready. I'm going to wait until we're in high school. I'll see if I think I get another message."
"What about us? Do we want to do anything about the fact that we both seem to be gay?"
"Do you masturbate?"
"Yes, do you?"
"Yes. As I was reliving the thing in the park at night, doing to my dick what the girls and later the boys had done, I came in my bed. I wasn't ready for it, but I liked it. Thank God I didn't come while one of the girls was playing with my dick."
"Oh, God, that would've been embarrassing. I've been jacking (that was our term back then) for a few months. I can't go to sleep at night without relieving myself. God, it feels good."
"When we get to my house lets go up to my room and we'll jack together."
We did. We lay side by side on my bed and each masturbated. It wasn't long before Andrew's hand reached over and took hold of my dick, and my hand reached over to his. We both came at about the same time, making a mess all over our stomachs, chests, and hands. I got a rag and wiped us both up, and as I was doing that it came to me that I'd just had my first homosexual experience. I hoped it wouldn't be my last.
It wasn't; Andrew saw to that. However, we only "played" when it was the two of us, and our group of five was often together. We found enough occasions to be alone to keep us from being too horny.
Then in my freshman high school year I was approached after school one day by Squire. I guessed, quite correctly as it turned out, that sex might be on his mind. He said, "I know you often walk home with the same gang you ran around with last year. Today could you walk with me?"
I said, "Sure, Squire, what's on your mind? Or, can I guess?"
"You can probably guess. I think I gave myself away when we talked a little last year."
"You're gay, aren't you?"
"OK, now be honest. Was that little incident last year driven by your hormones wanting to see five naked boys-even under rather strange circumstances-or was it to cover your own homosexuality with your friends?"
"I guess I have to be honest with you if we're going to continue this conversation, don't I?"
"It would help. We sort made peace last year, but you weren't high on my friendship list, you know."
"I know. I didn't deserve to be. OK, I think both of those reasons apply. I think the first more than the second. Nobody had ever suspected I was gay, so I really had no need for cover."
"OK, we forgave you last year. What's on your mind this year? Just true confessions, or are you looking for some action?"
"I really don't know. You know, Will, you're the only person on the face of the earth that I've ever told I was gay. Just saying it out loud is new for me. I have no idea where I want to go from here."
"OK, I'll make a suggestion. Walk to my house with me, come upstairs to my room, take your clothes off, and I'll jack you. Then not only will you be gay, but you'll have had a gay experience."
"What about you?"
"Squire, I forgave you for last year. But it's going to take me a while to feel very comfortable around you. Before you get your chance at me I going to have to think a little. It won't happen today."
"I guess I deserve that. OK, I'll take you up on your offer." He paused a moment and continued, "Shit, did I really say that? I can't promise that I have nerve enough to go through with it, but let's go to your house."
"No promises required."
We walked the few blocks to my house, had 7-Ups in the kitchen, and went up to my room. I said, "You know, Squire, looking at you with your clothes on makes me think you have a pretty nice body. Since I'm never in the locker room when you jocks are, I've never seen it. I've certainly never seen your dick and balls. It's time to show off a little."
"Shit, now I've got a hard-on."
"Well, it seems to me that I remember that you've seen me with a hard-on. And when you told me to take my clothes off, you expected me to do it right away. Well, get your clothes off."
He did, with only a little hesitation. I continued, "Stand up straight, stick your hips out, and let's see what you got."
What he had was beautiful. It was long, thick, cut, and with a very bright, pink head. His balls hung low. His pubic hair was thick and dark. His dick stood straight out at me, inclining upwards away from his body. And his body! Lean and strong, the muscles and conditioning of a fine athlete. I was as hard as he was, and I wasn't sure that I was going to stick to my plan that he not be allowed to play with me today. I moved close to him, took his dick in one hand and cupped his balls with the other. I could feel the blood pulsing in his dick, and I was afraid he'd come right then. I said, "Calm down, relax. Move over to the bed and lay down." He did, and I lay on my left side next to him, never letting go completely with my right hand.
I tickled his balls and he murmured, "Oh, God. That sure beats jacking."
I moved to his dick and stroked it up and down. I knew there was no way he was going to last very long, and I let him come quickly. He shot almost to his face, getting squirt after squirt all over his chest.
Well, from reading the story thus far, I know that Charlie, or any member of the Gang, would've gotten their hands right into his cum, smeared it around, and probably fed it to him, if he was willing. But Andrew and I hadn't reached that stage, and getting my hand, much less my mouth, in his cum wasn't my style. I tossed Squire a towel and let him clean himself up. He said, "Thanks, Will. It means a lot to me that you were willing to do that. I'd like to go further with you sometime, but I'll understand if we don't. We didn't treat you very well last year."
"Squire, I'm so horny right now that I'm either going to take off my clothes and let you jack me, or I'm going to have to push you out the door so I can come back up here and jack myself."
In the same commanding tone he'd used in our encounter the year before, Squire said, "Stand there and let me do as I please. No girls between us this time." I stood, and he slowly undressed me, exploring my genitals very carefully with both hands. As I had been, and as I was with Andrew at this stage, it was completely focused on the genitals. No kissing, no exploring the other interesting parts of the body. Just the dick and balls. But that felt good. He pushed me to the bed, lay beside me as I'd lain beside him, and went straight to jacking me by making a fist around my dick and pumping pretty vigorously. I came quickly, putting much less cum on my stomach, and squirting not near as far, as he had. But he fooled me. He moved his hand up onto my stomach and played in the cum with his fingers. He pushed it down and got it into my pubic hair and onto my dick and balls. He made quite a mess of it. I enjoyed it, and just let him play. I got soft and he continued. Soon he said, "How soon do you think you could come again?"
"I have no idea. I usually only jack once a day, or at most morning and night as I go to bed."
"I think I could come again now. Try me. And don't clean yourself up, that dick covered in cum is sexy."
We had to trade places so I could use my right hand. I grabbed his dick just as he had mine and pumped just as vigorously. Very quickly he came again, but with a lot less cum. What he had, however, I rubbed into his public hair-fair is fair. It was my first experience playing with cum; Andrew and I had just cleaned up after we came.
I need to move this story forward. The following week Squire, Andrew and I all jacked together. Remember, this wasn't love, it was physical sex. Honestly, I don't think it was a lot more exciting than masturbating, and, in fact, the frequency slowly declined through the year-both with Andrew and me, Squire and me, and-much more infrequently-the three of us. By the end of the year Squire and I hardly saw each other, and Andrew and I only rarely were sexually involved. That state of affairs prevailed for the next two years. I never had any other sexual outlets, but I didn't need them. If masturbation didn't subdue my hormones, I called up Andrew, but not often.
Squire came back into my life at some point in my senior year. He caught me in the hall and asked if he could come over after school. Of course, I said, "Yes," and we met after school and walked to my house. "What's up?" I asked.
"You know, we haven't had sex for two years."
"I know. Are you hoping to have sex this afternoon?"
"No, not unless you do. I'd like to talk."
"Talk away, I'll try to be a good listener."
"Two years ago I got brave with another member of the baseball team. I thought I saw him staring at dicks in the shower, and I said something. He correctly assumed I was gay, and we got to talking. He was gay as well, and it wasn't long before we were doing things together. That's been going on for two years. Last week he told me that he loved me. It hit me like a ton of bricks. I haven't thought in terms of love; I've just thought in terms of sex. It's been a Hell of a lot of fun. With you, with Andrew, with Gar-that's his name, please don't let it out."
I said, "But there's a lot more to it than fun and jacking. And Gar's looking for that, right?"
"Yeah. And I'm scared. You, and Andrew, are the only people I can talk to. Nobody else knows I'm gay."
"You know, Andrew and I have drifted apart, though we still do things from time to time. I kind of figured that the problem was that it was only sex and not love. I think you're lucky to find a guy to love you."
"Easy for you to say. But loving him means a long term relationship. Sharing a home. Making him my partner. Not all at once, but unless we're willing to think in those terms, love is a meaningless idea."
"Well, are you?"
"Am I what?"
"Are you willing to think in those terms?"
"Shit, Will, that's why I'm talking to you. I just don't know."
"Well, what's the problem? Are you ready for love, or are you afraid of gay love?"
"The gay love thing. It would mean coming out. I guess we'd live together as roommates or housemates for a while, but people would figure it out. I can't have a love affair with Gar, not long-term, and not come out. I'm the big stud athlete. I'm not sure I can come out. It scares me shitless."
"Well, Squire, I can't help you with that. I haven't come out, and I'm not in love. I'll have to face that sometime, I guess. As for you, it seems to me that you have two decisions. First, is Gar the right man for you? If not, then shut down the relationship, and the problem goes away until the right guy comes along. The older you are, the easier coming out will be, so that isn't a bad course of action. On the other hand, if you think there's a chance that Gar is the right person, then you have to do some serious soul searching. You have to choose between love and safety. But, shit, Squire, if you've got the guts to face a football team, or let a pitcher throw a fastball past your face, you shouldn't be scared of coming out."
"Hell, Will, physical things don't scare me. But saying to the football team that I'm gay would be the hardest thing I ever did."
"Have you had this conversation with Gar?"
"Just a little of it."
"Is he willing to come out?"
"I don't think he's really dealt with it. I think he dreams that we could be in love forever and keep it secret."
"You don't see that as a reasonable course of action?"
"I think you're smart. Either go all the way, or forget it before you and Gar get too serious. You know, if you're willing to go forward, and Gar isn't, you might have reason to question how serious he is about loving you."
"I've thought about that. Shit, I'm all mixed up. But it's been helpful talking. Do you want to take up my offer of a little fun this afternoon?"
"Are you hoping I'll say, 'Yes."?
"Not really. I made the offer. It would be fun."
"I think I'll pass. Save it for Gar."
I didn't see much of Squire or Gar for a while, and then one day when I came to school Andrew came up to me and asked, "Did you hear the news?"
"I don't think so. What news?"
"Squire and Gar asked the baseball team to stay a minute or two after practice yesterday. They told the team that they were gay and in love! Did you have any idea?"
"Yes, Squire told me in confidence that he might be falling in love with Gar. I didn't know about this. What was the reaction?"
"As I heard the story, Bill Hogarty, the team captain, said, 'What's the big deal? Come on guys, let's go home'."
"Was that it?"
"Somebody asked, 'Do we want queers on this team?' Hogarty said, 'I want those two gay guys because they're damn good baseball players. What I don't want is to hear the word queer again, OK?'"
"Good for Bill Hogarty. How did the coach take it?"
"The coach wasn't there, but Bill, Squire, and Gar, have a meeting with Coach and the principal this morning. I think it's going to be OK."
It was. As I said, thank goodness it was northern California. Still it was new for my high school. I'm sorry to say that Squire and Gar didn't push their luck and go to their senior prom.
As for me, I was left to my solo jacking for the rest of high school, and for most of my time in college. Exactly one girl and one boy came onto me pretty strong. I went out with both of them. Sally was very nice, very eager, and she got my clothes off on our second date. We limited ourselves to hand jobs, but that was my decision, not hers. Clearly she wanted a lot more than I was able to give and we stopped dating after the third date. The boy, Fred, told me he was gay and said he hoped I was. I have no idea how he decided it was safe to come out to me, but he did. He invited me up to his room, assuring me that his roommate was gone for the evening. He fucked me, very hard and very unpleasantly. I was so eager to leave I didn't even have an orgasm. And that was the end of sex in college for me. Since, I've tried a couple of guys I met in gay bars in Morehead-just about as unsatisfactory. Then Ronnie, Kyle and Sharon introduced me to Jimmy. You know the rest. My God, what a guy Jimmy is! He's beautiful. He's loving. He loves me. It's wonderful.
As aside: After settling in with Jimmy, I got to thinking about Squire. Only after I'd found my love, did I really understand what Squire was talking about. I called the Alumni Association of my old high school, got his phone number and address, and gave him a call. He's living with Gar in Chicago. They both have jobs in the Cubs organization. They're happy as larks, and completely in love. Jimmy and I visited them once in Chicago, and they did truly seem to be happy and in love. Jimmy and Gar suggested that Squire and I sleep together, "For old times sake," but we declined. We both decided that that was then and this was now. We weren't in love then, and we weren't in love with each other now. It was, however, wonderful to see how things had worked out for them.
Let me backtrack a little. I am remembering sitting in a meeting room in a conference center in Tokyo, pleased to have gotten a grant that enabled me to hear a presentation by three young physicists from Stanford, Drs. Ronald Littleton, Kyle Rogers, and Sharon Maxwell. All of a sudden I was startled to hear Dr. Maxwell make reference to a paper that I'd written as a result of my thesis research at the University of Illinois. I almost fell off my chair, I was so excited and so thrilled. After the meeting I introduced myself, and, well, you know the rest. Changed my life is a mild description, as you well know.
Then, just as things seemed to be settling down at the Institute for Advanced Physics, Tim and Fred, along with the trio, told me that I was going to be leading the effort to build a super collider in North Dakota. It was one of the more ridiculous suggestions I'd ever heard! Neither the state, the university, nor the IAP had a chance in winning such a contract. But that conventional wisdom didn't take into account the duo of Tim and Carl. I knew who Carl was and had met him a few times, but I hadn't had much occasion to work with him. What a dynamo! But his real strength is his insistence that no detail be missed. How he and Tim were ever created from the same gene pool remains a mystery. Tim thinks in broad terms, giant dreams, pencil sketches on a huge canvas-leaving the details for others. Carl is the detail man. He fills in the blanks on Tim's canvases. They were the perfect combination to lead the super collider project. It never would've started without Tim's vision. We would never have won the contract without Carl's insistence on detail-and his reputation for on time and under budget projects-a reputation earned by his attention to detail up front.
My world turned completely upside down on the day the super collider was awarded to the IAP. I had to resign as Director of the IAP in order to devote full time to the super collider. More importantly, for me at least, was the night I spent with Ronnie, Kyle, and Sharon the day the contract was announced. In short order that led to my meeting Jimmy, falling in love, and partnering with him. Talk about a life being turned upside down.
I was so busy I didn't know what to do. And it was going to continue, without let up, for six years. It was interesting to watch the changing attitudes to the IAP and the super collider. At first, we were almost considered a joke. Very few in the scientific world thought we had a chance of actually completing the super collider. Major foul-ups, serious delays, and significant overages were predicted. As we went along, met deadlines, never went back to congress for more money, passed various inspections of the work which the contract required, successfully completed each contractually called for test, people began to realize that we were really going to pull it off. The tone changed to one of disbelief that the IAP had any chance to staying on time and under budget.
It was at this point that Tim insisted, and I agreed, on one of our more audacious stunts. The contract stipulated that after all of the final inspections and preliminary tests were completed, there would be a first operational test. It would be the first time that all of the electromagnets were fired and hadrons (a class of large subatomic particles defined as being held together by the "strong force" and the key objects of research in large particle accelerators) actually accelerated to a high energy collision. The test run would replicate collisions that had been achieved at CERN in Europe and at Fermi in Illinois, but would be a final proof of performance for the IAP super collider. The normal plan would bring a few key scientists and observers for the test, the results would be analyzed, and success would be announced. A failure would be no big deal; we would simply figure out what was wrong, fix it, and conduct another test-a not unusual course of events, and the possibility for the need for it was built into our timeline.
Tim came to me about a month before the first run of our final test was scheduled to occur. He asked, "Is this thing going to work the first time?"
"How sure are you?"
"Virtually every preliminary test has worked after we got around the magnet problem in year three. There's no reason to believe that this one won't, but there can't be any guarantees."
"That's what I wanted to hear."
"Why? What's the big deal?"
"Instead of waiting for the test to be run, and then inviting everyone to a grand opening of the IAP Super Collider, I want to invite everyone to the final performance test/certification and grand opening of the IAP Super Collider."
"That would be a gutsy move."
"What about this whole thing wasn't a gutsy move?"
"Point for you. Who are you going to invite?"
"We'll start with Bill Clinton and work down from there, Governor, Senators, Congressman, Secretary of DOE, the Under Secretary for Science, and all of the assorted people they'll bring with them. Then I have a special invitation for Dr. David Silverman, who was the Under Secretary for Science when the contract was awarded. It was he that had the final say in the awarding of the contract. I remember his telling me how far out on a limb he'd gone in choosing the IAP, and he almost pleaded with me not to screw up. He told me that if we pulled this off, it would be his greatest achievement as a career bureaucrat. He deserves a sterling silver invitation, and he'll get it."
"You don't want to wait for the first trial to be completed?"
"Nope. I want Bill Clinton to flip the ON switch. When he does that, how do we know the thing has worked?"
"Well, the ON switch won't really turn it on. That will happen about six hours ahead, and we'll have to track a half dozen measures of energy levels and other things. None of that will be new, and I'm quite confident that we'll get green lights to proceed. The switch that it would be appropriate for the President to flip will open the lead door that releases radiation into the magnetic field and starts the acceleration of heavy particles. About fifteen minutes later we'll reach the energy level needed to create the reaction we want and the two particle streams will be diverted so they aim directly at each other. We should get impacts immediately, and we'll have radiation detectors deployed that will record the particles produced by the impacts. All of the data will be recorded, and it'll takes days of computer analysis to know exactly what has happened. However, we can design the computer that's monitoring the data to ping when the particular particles that we're seeking are detected. It'll be a little hokey, but a ping rate of one every couple of seconds will almost certainly indicate success, pending confirmation by detailed data analysis."
Tim said, "All of this has to be set up just for my show?"
"No, we planned to do that anyway. Regardless of who's present, we all want instant feedback. Nobody's willing to throw that switch and then wait days for an answer. We've been working on the computer program to produce the pings for a while now. It's ready for test, and it'll work, I'm sure."
No one on earth but Tim would've had the balls to invite the President of the United States, with all of the media coverage that entails, to a test run of this nature. He had two ribbons set up. The first was cut by the President to allow the test to begin. The second would formally open the super collider site when the test was declared successful. It was to be cut by Chelsea Clinton, along with Kevin and Kay Littleton, Ronnie's children, the three of them representing the next generation
Never before had a presidential ribbon cutting involved waiting for a suspense-filled fifteen minutes while we waited to see if there actually was going to be a ribbon cutting. The President's Chief of Staff was adamantly opposed to the plan, saying that a failure would be a political disaster for Clinton. Tim had argued that it would just lead to a second trip, and a opportunity for the President to sound most erudite in explaining the science of the whole thing. He'd have no trouble explaining that science can never avoid minor failures, and that they lead to bigger successes. Clinton's Under Secretary for Science had presented Tim's case directly to Clinton. He was assured that the chances of success were great, and that the fifteen minutes of suspense would make wonderful television, and assure a good audience for the event. Never to pass up a good PR opportunity, Clinton overruled his Chief of Staff and approved Tim's plan. Tim told us, "Now, pull it off."
You know from Kay's episode that we did! It went exactly according to plan. During the fifteen minutes Ronnie, Sharon, and I gave a greatly oversimplified version of what was about to happen. Then Ronnie moved the lever that aimed the two particle streams at each other. Instantly the speaker attached to the monitoring computer started to ping. Actually more rapidly than expected, but not outside the theoretical limits, which would've discredited the results. It foretold a huge success. The TV cameras caught everybody smiling and hugging each other, and then the three kids taking huge scissors and cutting the second ribbon in three places. That gave us two cut pieces of ribbon, and Tim picked them up and handed one to the present and former Under Secretaries for Science, acknowledging that it was their faith in the IAP that had led to the success of the day. Champagne (from California) flowed, and Carl was invited to give a final report: the ribbon cutting was exactly 17 days ahead of the timeline and we'd spent 96.435% of the budgeted funds. We were on time and under budget-the largest government contract in history to be able to make that claim. Tim had put the University of North Dakota on the map far beyond anyone's dreams!
A lot of fuss was made over me as the Project Director. I did a good job of herding the cats that were responsible for the success of the project. But Tim, Carl, Fred, Ronnie, Kyle, and Sharon should get the credit-all six of them are truly extraordinary people, and it's been my privilege in life to know them and work with them. I said that at the ribbon cutting. Here I can also tell you that sleeping with them has been equally rewarding.
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