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Challenge #01448-C353: Long-term Effects of Stupid Decisions

"In a fit of rage, he got extremely scientific."

Tour guide at the Oregon Vortex, possibly describing Stanford Pines. -- RecklessPrudence

"He employed every sensing device available, in the place where horses refused to go," said the guide. "And more than a few that he invented himself. Results were confounding, to say the least. Keep in mind that this occurred in the early twenty-first century, well before post-Shattering complete scanners. He had to collate and calculate his data on his own."

The effort, according to the guide, took months. During which, the investigator took more readings to feed into analytical programs of his own design.

After two years of solid work on this anomaly, he was left almost exactly where he started. All he had was a pile of data and no idea what it meant. It went entirely against everything he knew... and this was a man who studied outlier phenomenon.

He sought permission to dig in the area, but was denied.

He was not daunted, and predicted that the area contained a deposit of some high-energy material that would upset normalcy. In his notes, he named it, Unlikelium.

And it would be centuries before other deposits were found outside of already protected areas. This ore was the key to the specific gravity generator, and the beginning of the modern human age.

If only the people who owned the tourist centre in Oregon had allowed Stanford Pines to do a minor excavation to take a ten-gram sample to investigate its properties. But in this case, money won out, and the inventor of the Gravity Drive was Wen Min-Jun, from a small province in China. She had Stanford Fords notes on the phenomenon and used his readings and observations to find another deposit of Unlikelium and extracted ten grams that changed human history.

"Which just goes to show," summarised the guide, "that short-term monetary profit is the worst thing for any given civilisation."

Moq'bor lifted a manipulating tendril. "I know humans are insane," she said. "But how could they prefer money over knowledge gain?"

The guide sighed and adjusted her hair. "This is the Territorial Identity that also elected an ignorant plutocrat because of his alleged monetary success. Which lead to the Greater Global Depression."

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