Le chapitre 56
Jean stood over his latest creation with his pride beaming brighter with ever notch that the needle climbed. He had invented the first lunar heat engine. It extended barely 2 metres high and wasn’t much more than a bunch of pipes but inside of it Nitrogen flowed. It flowed as a liquid. It flowed as a gas. And it completed a cycle in about 30 seconds. The top of his engine shone brightly in the Sun’s rays. The base lay in the shadows. It was really a trivial exercise if done on Earth as a person could easily duplicate his engine by using water. But the Earth had the advantage of a standard atmosphere and water was a cheap common medium. On the Moon nothing was common except the lack of everything. So Jean had laboriously designed his heat engine with a very special version of his fluids code and then he pleaded for the material to be sent along with the regular supply ship. Finally it had come and he had felt like a child at Christmas as he took the parts out and began putting reality to his imagination. And now his engine confirmed his predictions and calculations. This wasn’t anything a robot could have ever done. Rather, he had invented this engine in answer to a basic need for energy. And now he was going to design a production model. His smile almost extended past the edges of his suit’s faceplate. For him life was indeed good.
He wondered to himself if he would be able to stay out longer. There wasn’t much to do. The heat engine would cycle as long as there was a temperature difference between its top and its base. Once the difference disappeared then the engine would cease until the difference reappeared. As this was purely a demonstration model then he had expected little else. His production model would reside in a location that had near perpetual sunlight together with a nearby spot of perpetual shade. With this, the engine should continue endlessly whether humans were on the Moon or not. And this engine would provide useful energy for humans or for robots for as long as they needed it.
Jean softly chuckled to himself. He could just imagine a line of robots forming behind a charging station fed by his heat pump. Each robot thirstily waiting for its turn to draw energy into its battery banks. Each robot relying upon the spigot’s drips just as the plants in a solarium relied upon the water the colonists dripped to them every day. This ultimate mastery over the machines gave Jean a slight shiver of power. He liked it. He’d always thought it odd that he never had any desire or interest in having power over people. Maybe that was partly why he was on the Moon. He never ceased to be amazed that he had been chosen; he who had no scientific training and he who had pretty well been ready to retire, at least career-wise. He began softly whistling to himself which he typical did whenever things were going smoothly. Over the comms Zara pipped up ,”How’s it going big fellah. Sounds like you just found the motherload of all Vegemite.”
“Oh nothing so heavenly” quipped Jean who was very glad that the Hab had no Vegemite. As far as ethnic treasures went that was one that he never wanted to try again. His first exposure to it was at a team building exercise in the Australian outback. It had left him sour for the remainder of the day. Only a solid barbecue supper and a few rounds of the local brew returned his humour and taste buds to their natural robustness. He continued, “I’m just looking at the answer to one of our biggest problems. Here’s the Moon’s version of black gold! And we’re going to mine as much of it as we can.” he proudly exclaimed.
“Yah mate. Your headcam’s showing everyone here your success. Be careful not to do a full jig on your way back to the Hab” she playfully instructed. “Who knows though? Once you get here then maybe we can have a celebratory dinner. I’ve got a bit of my famous barbeque flavoured spice that we can sprinkle on the imitation Spam and I think Aditya has been putting his copper tubing to good use. How’s that sound to your ears?” Zara lazily drawled out using her broadest of accents.
Jean almost tripped over himself. For whatever reason Zara’s accent did things to him. Made him glad that he could share close personal times with Zara. Made him want to spend extra long evenings together just with her; in their beds. No one else around and no live microphones or speakers. He smiled to himself at the thought. Again he wondered if a good luck angel was permanently attached to his shoulder