Big Data

Tuesday, 2pm. Somewhere near the edge of human endeavour.

There were no windows to open and the station was at perihelion; they’d been working solid for a week and the furniture had become impregnated with sweat.

‘I understand everything you’re saying, but…’ Henry started.

‘We can monitor the flow of magma in real-time using the modelling software Lucia and I developed…’

‘I’ve built a beautiful representation of the corona based on the satellite imaging…’

‘Given enough time we could give you a precise origin, maybe even a trajectory post-impact….’

Henry gripped the top of his nose and massaged it gently, pushing his glasses up against forehead. Brilliant minds, all of them; the room was a veritable who’s who of astrophysics, hyperspace navigation and interstellar engineering.

‘Okay, I understand what you’re telling me. Sort of,’ Henry paused and looked at them. They were listening, but he didn’t think they’d taken notice of a single thing he’d said since he started as Station Chief. ‘Well, not really. Look, to be honest, I don’t much care. All I need to know is: Is there anything we can do to stop it?’

The air conditioning hum-hum-spluttered alone for some time. It reminded Henry of a distressed prop aeroplane engine running out of gas; Icarus flapping failing wings, desperate to stay in the air.

‘A solution might present itself if we diverted all processing power to the cruncher?’

‘I don’t think your jumped up calculator has the capacity to handle all of the data we’re getting. My paper in the Journal of Combinatorial Astrochemistry clearly demonstrates that if we analyse the plasma field we can determine the Durning frequency and hence any particular weaknesses inherent in its constitution.’

‘And then what? Without accurate spatial reports we can’t make changes to the specimen, even with your fundamentally flawed paper. In any case, it would take us two days to get approval from Earth to run the analysis.’

The air conditioning quietly popped and the cool air pump ground to a halt. It could barely cope with one sun, let alone two. Henry knew how it felt.


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