Gregory tried to write in the dark of the auditorium but could not see the lines in his notebook. He scribbled the words anyways, hoping that later he would discover what he did not want to forget: where melting begins.
It was a simple enough line, an elementary concept, and just three words.
He’d remember, most likely, but in this moment, he felt as if it would be catastrophic to forget. That the remainder of his life depended upon understanding these words. Those three words in his notebook might serve him well in the days to come. They might even change the world.
Nonsense, he thought.
The solidus is where melting begins. Where the state of a substance begins to change from solid to liquid.
“A man has a solidus, too,” Gregory wrote. “We’re all looking for it. I’m looking for it. The man of faith wants to become more like a spirit or a flame. The government wants to vaporize the solid man. If you can manipulate the solidus point of a human being, you control the world.”
He’d been writing lately. Ideas, trying to find an intersection between the unseen and the seen. For fifty years he had only been interested in science, in how the world worked, in the way the human body interacted with sickness and disease. But on the cusp of his greatest achievement a new door opened and the universe he believed was limited suddenly revealed itself to be unlimited. He was only seeing a fraction of a fraction of the reality he had tried to define over a career. Science alone could not explain human existence. Ironically, he confided to friends he was having a crisis of faith—faith that he could know anything with certainty.
They assured him that once the project was finished he would feel better.
His mind was as sharp as ever and needed to be in order to finish the project, but it was his commitment that had gone soft.
On the stage, a man stood before the packed audience speaking now of Constantine and coins with the faces of Roman gods, also called the Solidus. Thus far the lecture had ranged from the promise given to Hagar by a well of water to reports of people seeing light and hearing a voice when they briefly died—on an operating table, in battle, in a car wreck—then came back to life. NDE’s, as they were known, had little scientific research that was credible, and everyone in the audience knew it. But they were enraptured nonetheless by the figure on stage and his thesis that the greatest mysteries of math and science could be explained with a simple truth. The lecture was titled ‘An End to Metaphysics’.
Most of those in attendance probably came hoping that a case would be made to end the study of metaphysics, a field they believed drew more madmen and con artists and philosophers than actual scientists. Instead, the man on stage made the case that metaphysics had been completed. There was an end to the field itself, and he had found it. Not only that he had found it, but that his finding made all other scientific fields obsolete. They were simply building the steps along the journey to his own discovery.
If it weren’t so compelling, he would have been laughed off the stage. Or flogged. But no one said a word. The auditorium remained silent, minus the scratching of Gregory’s pencil in the notebook.
The speaker was nameless.
He never introduced himself or his credentials but simply opened by saying, “The universe began with a spoken word. Call it a bang. Call it whatever you want. You cannot change the truth.”
Gregory had been told about the lecture by a colleague, and that if he decided to go, he should be careful. They were watching everyone closely.
“The issue, of course, is time. Time in general, as a concept, but also your own perceived limitations with time. You don’t have time to explore the gaps in your field of study, not sufficiently, at least. You get good at what you know. You become an expert in the thing that is known by knowing it a little more than the ones who came before you. And so the instinct is to dismiss the gaps completely, to leave the mystery for preachers and yogis. To let them make up whatever they want about the nature of the universe so long as they don’t get in the way of your research.” The man walked to the edge of the stage and looked out. “But please don’t mistake this lecture for a defense of relativism. I want to be certain that you’re hearing me. If we’re talking about how time moves, understand that we are talking about intention and order. If we’re talking about multiple lines of time happening simultaneously, we’re talking about order. If we’re talking about consciousness, we’re talking about how it was ordered from the beginning. We are not creatures of chaos nor are we living in a chaotic universe. Everything works the way that it does because it was intended to do so. The mystery is built on order. The universe exists. It’s objectively here. We are objectively in this room. This is not merely a figment of your imagination. It doesn’t only exist because you want it to exist. Your hand is your hand. But listen, my friends, the gap in scientific knowledge and achievement can only be answered with divine love.”
The speaker ignored the groans from the crowd. They knew the lecture was leading to this. Another soft answer where a hard one was needed. The lecturer dismissed the jeers and looked directly to where Gregory was seated. Their eyes met. This why he had come. He knew now. The crowd grew more defiant and someone shouted an insult that made the others laugh. But Gregory could not look away from this man.
“Gregory,” he said. “The answer is divine love.”
At once, the doors burst open and police rushed into the room.