From ``Fantastic Voyage II: Destination Brain'', by Isaac Asimov.

Published by Doubleday Books, New York, 1987.

Well over half an hour had passed before Morrison felt convinced that the objects he could see outside the ship were shrinking and were receding perceptibly toward their normal size.

Morrison said, ``I am thinking of a paradox.''

``What's that?" said Kalinin, yawning. She had obviously taken her own advice about the advisability of relaxing.

``The objects outside the ship seemed to grow larger as we shrink. Ought not the wavelengths of light outside the ship also grow larger, becoming longer in wavelength, as we shrink? Should we not see everything outside turn reddish, since there can scarcely be enough ultraviolet outside to expand and replace the shorter-wave visible light?''

Kalinin said, ``If you could see the light waves outside, that would indeed be how they would appear to you. But you don't. You see the light waves only after they've entered the ship and impinged upon your retina. And as they enter the ship, they come under the influence of the miniaturization field and automatically shrink in wavelength, so that you see those wavelengths inside the ship exactly as you would see them outside.''

``If they shrink in wavelength, they must gain energy.''

``Yes, if Planck's constant were the same size inside the miniaturization field as it is outside. But Planck's constant decreases inside the miniaturization field -- that is the essence of miniaturization. The wavelengths, in shrinking, maintain their relationship to the shrunken Planck's constant and do not gain energy. An analogous case is that of the atoms. They also shrink and yet the interrelationships among atoms and among the subatomic particles that make them up remain the same to us inside the ship as they would seem to us outside the ship.''

``But gravity changes. It becomes weaker in here.''

``The strong interaction and the electroweak interaction come under the umbrella of the quantum theory. They depend on Planck's constant. As for gravitation?'' Kalinin shrugged. ``Despite two centuries of effort, gravitation has never been quantized. Frankly, I think the gravitational change with miniaturization is evidence enough that gravitation cannot be quanitzed, that it is fundamentally nonquantum in nature.''

``I can't believe that,'' said Morrison. ``Two centuries of failure can merely mean we haven't managed to get deep enough into the problem yet. Superstring theory nearly gave us out unified field at last.'' (It relieved him to discuss the matter. Surely he couldn't do so if his brain were heating in the least.)

``Nearly doesn't count,'' said Kalinin. ``Still, Shapirov aagreed with you, I think. It was his notion that once we tied Planck's constant to the speed of light, we would not only have the practical effect of miniaturizing and deminiaturizing in an essentially energy-free manner, but that we would have the theoretical effect of being able to work out the connection between quantum theory and relativity and finally have a good unified field theory. And probably a simpler one than we could have imagined possible, he sould say.''

``Maybe,'' said Morrison. He didn't know enough to comment beyond that.

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14.01.18 / Garth Huber