The Quartermass Experiment

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The Quartermass Experiment

Post by Siege » Tue Sep 30, 2008 8:23 pm

It's been some time since I wrote anything for Comics. So, here we go:

The Quartermass Experiment

“The impossible in a straight jacket.”

The institute known as the Quartermass Experiment is the most celebrated research institute in Europe and indeed, as many would say, the world. Founded and run by the imperturbable Professor Harold Quartermass, the Experiment is dedicated to the pursuit of the sciences. It seeks to do nothing less than make the impossible, possible. The Professor’s goal, and by extension the goal of the institute he founded, is to unravel the secrets of the cosmos, and use his knowledge to better the world.

It is arguably this singular devotion to the sciences combined with the unique talents of the people of the institute that have lead the Experiment to progress so far beyond bleeding-edge science. After all, there are many brilliant minds on Earth, but most of them have turned their inventions into business, and business into massive megacorporations. The sale of the fruits of their labors has netted men such as Saint and Andrews tidy profits, but running a corporation still means one has a market to please. The Experiment has no such issues, even as its myriad leased patents furnish it with all the funds it needs, whilst allowing the core business to remain science, and only science.

The non-profit worldview of the Experiment allowed Harold Quartermass to put the designs to the world’s first fusion power plant up on the Internet; likewise, it allows him to keep inventions for which the world isn’t ready under wraps until such time that it is. In his function as proverbial Dean of the Experiment he is free to make such decisions, whereas in a business he would have a Board of Directors to answer to.

Of course, that isn’t to say that the Professor runs the Experiment on his own. In reality, the institute is divided into research departments which are run by the various department heads. These have a great amount of freedom in the way they run their departments, simply by virtue of being some of the foremost experts in their respective fields of research. In the end however, everyone, from the lowest intern to the department heads, answers to Quartermass.

The Department Heads

Professor Harold Quartermass is the founder of the Experiment and its nominal leader. He runs Sector E Temporal Department. He is one of Earth’s most brilliant scientists.

Doctor Tiffany Jones is one of Quartermass’ closest confidantes, and has been for years. She is also a metahuman with an unfortunate talent for building impossible machines. Tiffany Jones runs the Sector D Test Labs and Control Facilities.

Professor Erik Magnusson is an insufferably arrogant Scandinavian rocket scientist. However, he is also very good at what he does, which is why he was eventually promoted to the position of head of Sector F Transspace Laboratories.

Professor Helena Vance is a woman best described as unassuming. She knows everything about power and the many ways of transferring one type into another. This is why she runs Sector G Universal Electrics.

Richard Duvalier, M.Div is a wizard with a masters in applied theology. Little wonder is it then that he runs Sector H Irregular Sciences. His opinions on scientific matters often run contrary to those of his colleagues, for a number of wildly varying reasons.

David Kendrick is accountant by profession. He runs the more mundane departments of the Experiment: the training facilities, the administrative divisions, the regular space infrastructure, and so on. The alien invasions, extradimensional threats and temporal paradoxes in which the Experiment frequelty is caught up give him headaches.

The Central Complex

The Experiment’s main facility is simply called the Central Complex, and is located in a remote area of the Shetland Islands in the North Sea. The Central Complex started out as an abandoned UK missile base in which Quartermass set up shop, but over time it has grown into a massively multifarious network of bunkers, domes, buildings, landing pads, instrument towers and other less readily identifiable constructs, covering nearly the entire 100 square kilometer island. Although nominally under UK law, the island is de facto independent, if only because after all these years British lawmakers have given up on trying to regulate Quartermass’ unstoppable scientific advance. By the time a law has passed through parliament restricting the use of a certain device, chances are it’s already obsolete in the eyes of its inventors.

A notable feature of the Central Complex is that it is larger inside than outside. The scientists of the Experiment are masters of relativity and time-space manipulation, and thus when the island became to small, they simply stretched out the space on it until their equipment would fit. Conveniently, hiding equipment in pocket dimensions also limits the damage they can do should something go catastrophically wrong (which it rarely does, but it pays to be cautious). Visitors should not be surprised when they find out that there is actually more equipment stored on the island than should physically fit on it – always remember: the laws of physics only apply here insofar as the Experiment wants them to.

Sector A Science Centre has been known as the ‘Quartermass Experience’ in the past, but in the end it was thought better to return to the old, plain name. The Science Centre is the public image of the Experiment, a place where statesmen and schoolchildren alike are introduced -in layman’s terms- to what the Experiment does. It is part educational, part theme park: it’s an exposition that among other things contains a working replica of Quartermass’ first fusion plant, one of the Atmospheric Control Towers that have curbed global warming, several basic teleporters, and an introduction tour in an anti-gravity train. Of course, the Science Centre also produces educational material for schools, and corresponds with institutes of learning world-wide.

Sector B Personnel Facilities contains dormitories, training and recreational facilities, the topside hangars (including the anti-grav bays and launch pads), the harbor complex, and a small mall.

Sector C Administration contains a satellite and translight communications centre that facilitates all satellite links out of the complex, a Situation Room, an extensive library, a spacelift centre, the task force Extraterrestrial Activity and the Alien Liaison, Research & Development offices where theoretical groundwork is done, and -obviously- administrative offices.

Sector D Test Labs and Control Facilities is one of the largest sections by far. Once the theoretical groundwork is done, it is up to the Test Labs to implement it. For this reason, it is located deep underground, so as to contain any peculiarities in the basement. Not that the Experiment has anything terrible to cover up, but considering Doctor Jones’ unusual abilities things tend to go wrong often and in rather spectacular fashions in the Test Labs, although luckily a self-preservatory streak seems to prevent her eccentricities from simply blasting the Central Complex (and a large chunk of the North Sea) off the face of the planet.

Among a great many other things Sector D contains the supercooled state laboratory where experiments are done freezing things to temperatures below 0 Kelvin; an anomalous materials lab for unstable, hazardous and off-world materials; the stasis labs; the Advanced Automatics Section; a high-energy particles laboratory with adjoining hypercollider pit (watch out for black holes); the phase pits; the translight experimentation lab; an auxiliary generator facility to sustain the pocket dimensions in several of the labs; a biodome for unusual creatures; and the Experiment’s prototype laboratories where new machines are tested.

Sector E Temporal Department The Experiment is the leading expert on temporal mechanics bar none, and anyone who has been around the Temporal Department will have to confirm this. Run by Harold Quartermass himself, Sector E contains the Temporal Cores, the Manifold Initiators, the Displacement Field Generators, and the Teletemporal Complex that contains the time machines themself. It and Sector F are located next to each other (most of the time).

Sector F Transspace Manipulation Laboratories The Transspace Laboratories research anything involving space, exodimensions, space travel, or teleportation without temporal displacement. Sector F contains the Omnilabs and the Dimensional Colliders where interdimensional research is done, the Special Hangars where a wide variety of material is stored; the Experimental Propulsion Laboratories (don’t look into the light); the Special Launch Centre; the Moon Room (which is as the name says); and the Spectral Shields which protect the entire Central Complex from all kinds of incursions.

Sector G Universal Electric provides the suprastellar levels of power demanded by the various experiments run by the institute. Unfortunately the Experiment requires on a daily basis far more power than the sun generates, so Quartermass has resorted to a number of highly unusual methods of energy generation. Most famous are the massive banks of Dark Energy Reactors and the Fusion Ring, but recently these have been exceeded in potential (and potential danger) by the Crisis Labs, where crisis engines are tapped for energy.

Sector H Atypical Sciences is run by the enigmatic Richard Duvalier. He rarely leaves his labs, and almost never leaves the island – this has something to do with the irremovable tattoos on his temple, that allow his evil twin sister to access his thoughts (and vice versa) any place that isn’t protected by the Spectral Shields or some other high-end obfuscatory mechanism. Atypical Sciences attempts to construct working hypotheses to explain phenomena like magic and metahuman activity. Although they have come up with some theories, they are unfortunately… Well, atypical, and can’t really be published in peer-reviewed journals. Sector H contains the M-labs, the Omega Laboratory, the Department of Quantifiable Sorcery and the Metaphysical Section, although they themselves might disagree.


“The definition of the impossible is ‘lack of imagination’.” – Prof. Harold Quartermass

“The major difference between a thing that might go wrong and a thing that cannot possibly go wrong is that when a thing that cannot possibly go wrong goes wrong it usually turns out to be impossible to get at or repair” – Dr. Tiffany Jones*

“It's kind of fun to do the unthinkable.” – Prof. Erik Magnusson

* Actually, Douglas Adams.
"Nick Fury. Old-school cold warrior. The original black ops hardcase. Long before I stepped off a C-130 at Da Nang, Fury and his team had set fire to half of Asia." - Frank Castle

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Re: The Quartermass Experiment

Post by Shroom Man 777 » Tue Sep 30, 2008 9:41 pm

Awesome. I totally can't believe that I failed to notice the stark similarities of the Experiment to Dexter's Lab, and only did so when Siege pointed it out! That must mean the Technocracy is MANDAAAARK!

In the Quartermass Experiment, we don't collide particles. We collide DIMENSIONS! (Or gods)

Yeah, I like the Experiment. A British island totally converted to SCIENCE!

I wonder how Hero Labs (must re-read) compares. That place is similarly high-teched, but is geared for commercial purposes. It must be just as HUEG, or HUEGER on account of having to make MONEY!

Still...
Unfortunately the Experiment requires on a daily basis far more power than the sun generates
:P
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"Sometimes Shroomy I wonder if your imagination actually counts as some sort of war crime." - FROD

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Re: The Quartermass Experiment

Post by Ford Prefect » Tue Sep 30, 2008 11:59 pm

Shroom Man 777 wrote:I wonder how Hero Labs (must re-read) compares. That place is similarly high-teched, but is geared for commercial purposes. It must be just as HUEG, or HUEGER on account of having to make MONEY
Hero Labs is a multinational megacorporation, whereas the Experiment is more like CERN on whatever steroids Rock Stronggo was taking. Strictly speaking, Hero Labs is probably bigger, but the Experiment would actually be bigger.

This is a good article. It's amusingly tongue-in-cheek, and I like the Half-Life references (MAGNUSSON!). The introduction of Duvalier is an interesting one; though I don't see any reason why you wouldn't have a magical sciences division (it is as observable and quatifiable as anything else in the universe), it just wasn't something I quite expected. You never know, you might see Daniel Stephenson giving lectures there. :)
a high-energy particles laboratory with adjoining hypercollider pit (watch out for black holes)
And quantum vacuum events. Seth Sahitan is very sorry about that. :lol:
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Re: The Quartermass Experiment

Post by Siege » Wed Oct 01, 2008 3:26 pm

Ford Prefect wrote:This is a good article. It's amusingly tongue-in-cheek, and I like the Half-Life references (MAGNUSSON!). The introduction of Duvalier is an interesting one; though I don't see any reason why you wouldn't have a magical sciences division (it is as observable and quatifiable as anything else in the universe), it just wasn't something I quite expected. You never know, you might see Daniel Stephenson giving lectures there. :)
I would expect him to, just like I'd expect other renowned scientists to drop by to exchange knowledge and insights. The Experiment isn't above hearing what other people think, after all. That is, if said other people can cope with going to a place where they might be informed that their lecture has been moved to another hall because there's a problem with some interdimensional critters near the old one :). But that's not something I expect would bother Mr. Stephenson much.

As for size, like Ford said, I'd expect Hero Labs and Saintly Concerns to be far larger in terms of worldly possessions. They are industries; the Experiment is a laboratory. A giant laboratory perhaps, but still not a place that needs things like massive assembly lines, marketing offices or a huge accounting department (and let's not get into the flying submarines or the base with modified space-going B-52s. At least Quartermass has the decency to store his outrageous inventions in other dimensions ;)).
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Re: The Quartermass Experiment

Post by Ford Prefect » Wed Oct 01, 2008 11:17 pm

I knod of feel sorry for CERN and Fermilab, but you know, it's for science! Also, this raises an interesting idea in regards to Anthony Andrews - I wonder how alienated the scientist feels having to pursue the working of his company. Though Saint is an engineer himself, after a fashion, he is not so concerned with science for science's sake, compared to Andrews. Doctor Difference might, at time, feel rather envious of his two major scientific rivals, who seemingly have all the time in the world to explore science for science's sake (though Weir is a crazy man, so that envy wouldn't last long).
FEEL THESE GUNS ARCHWIND THESE ARE THE GUNS OF THE FLESHY MESSIAH THE TOOLS OF CREATION AND DESTRUCTION THAT WILL ENACT THE LAW OF MAN ACROSS THE UNIVERSE

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