Plasmoids of Shanghai

12 Aug

Wu Xue, impressively tall and thin, enjoyed standing at his office window and looking out over growing Greater Shanghai, currently possessing a population of over forty million.

He was continually proud of his company’s enormous floor space high up on the Shanghai Tower, the highest building in all China. It was located at the center of the Lujiazui Finance and Trade Center in busy, crowded New Pudong.

The structure was guaranteed never to sway, for it had an advanced damping system built into it.

Xue turned around and focused his almond eyes on Lin Huan, the small young man who was his research and technology director at Nano-Electronics of Shanghai.

“What do you say, Huan? Do we have a chance of success if we enter and compete in the area of plasmoid storage devices for electro-energy? Or is that only my own mad pipe=dream?”

Huan, standing as if at attention only a few meters away, gave his boss a shining smile. “I have for a long time believed that the producers of those systems are stogy and non-adventurous. There are wide openings and opportunities like Nano-Electronics. I have great confidence in our management team under you, sir.”

Xue suddenly gave the scientist a wide, cunning grin. “Let us, then, make our careful entrance into that up-to-now backward industry here on the Shanghai landscape. We shall surely enjoy our victory over them.”

Plasma Batteries had its main office next to its manufacturing plant in the southwestern Songjiang District of Shanghai, close to the University area. The neighborhood contained many firms involved with innovative high technology. Plasma Batteries was still comparatively small, but its president was himself an experienced, gifted physicist named Chen Kang. He was in conference every day with his Chief of Research, an older man who had for many years been a pioneer in plasmoidals, Zhang Qi.

“What is this that I hear about the entrance of Nano-Electronics into energy storage?” asked Kang, an orange-skinned southerner from Canton. He spoke with a still noticeable provincial accent.

Qi, standing upright, stepped closer to the president’s aluminum desk. “Yes, there are frequent rumors about the strategic moves by Wu Xue into the storage battery industry. They are a bit frightening, taking into consideration how that clever developer operates in nano-technology. He has made his company a major factor in nano-telecommunications and nano-intelligence. What other outfit can match his in the production of advanced quantum wires and quantum dots of many varieties? No question, Wu Xue is the dominant figure behind progress in the newest nanobots, nanoids, and nanoids that can be found throughout all branches of China’s technological and industrial expansion. I am unable to understand what this corporate wizard is up to in the field of plasmoid energy storage. He must have something in mind, and I fear that it will have enormous consequences for our own business. But what in particular the man may have in the back of his mind, that remains a cloudy mystery for me.”

The research director seemed lost in revolving circles of inner thought, his attention distant and distracted for a brief time.

“We have to find out what his plans are before they are further along, before it becomes too late for us to do anything on our own,” muttered Chen Kang in a low, guttural tone. “The last thing I want is to read about great achievements by Wu Xue on internet news reports. We must order our informants and contacts to delve deeper into the nature of his new project that is interfering into what has long been our own industrial turf across Shanghai.”

Qi’s tired eyes caught the degree of alarm and despair on the still youthful face of the company’s chief executive.

It was Research Director Zhang Qi who managed and coordinated all the industrial espionage programs of Plasma Batteries. Over a long period, he had recruited important figures in many areas of high technology and the new industries of Shanghai. Meetings with these informal agents occurred in out-of-the-way taverns and eateries in the heavy industry district of Yangpo. Textile and paper mills continued to operate in this region once famous for its busy ship-building activity. No one would notice casual meetings with nondescript characters in such a seedy setting, believed Qi.

‘What is behind all this newly found interest in plsmoidals? What in the world is Wu Xue looking for in our particular sector of Shanghai imdustry?” inquired the Research Director of the man sharing orange tea with him.

The other, a low-ranked clerk inside Nano-Electronics, was slow and hesitant in giving Qi an answer.

“It is not easy for any of us in the inferior positions of the corporate unit to learn much about the plans of our top executive and his assistants, but I have been fortunate in overhearing rumors told from one person to an old, very close friend. It is most interesting, because it fits the widespread picture of our president, Chen Kang, as a bold and fearless daredevil in advanced industry. He believes that he has gone as far as is possible, for the present at least, in the field of nano-communications and nano-computers. It will take a span of years before a new, complete technological revolution will again become possible in that sector. In the meantime, he thinks that it would be extremely wise for his company, Nano-Electronics of Shanghai, to take command of an area, however small and minor, that holds the promise of a potential great leap forward.

“Mr. Chen has carefully surveyed most of our scientific frontiers, and he has come to the conclusion that there shall soon be a spectacular historical breakthrough in plasmoid energy storage devices. He foresees trillions of yuan in gains for his corporation from explosive discoveries and developments in plasma-based batteries, although no one can yet specify the exact details that will soon be invented and applied. That remains to be seen.”

Qi grew restless and impatient. “Tell me this: what aspects of plasma development is the man most interested in at the present moment?” He waited with nerves on edge to hear the answer from his informant.

“It is quite unusual what he is focusing upon. Chen appears to believe that there will in the near future be the creation of a method of preserving astronomical volumes of electrical energy, as well as unlimited, nearly infinite amounts of digital data. He has had his research scientists collect all the information available in the world concerning boson particles. His people have searched everywhere for what they can find about the so-called Bose-Einstein variety of condensates.

“That subject is too advanced and abstract for my own limited knowledge of theoretical sub-atomic physics, I’m afraid.”

Qi rose suddenly to his feet, excusing himself and making a rapid exit. He had found out what he was after.

Chen Kang appeared overjoyed with the information brought to him by his Research Director.

“This will be something of great usefulness,” he commented to Qi, sitting across from him in the top executive’s office. “I can now be certain that Wu Xue is on a quest that is doomed to failure. Many laboratories in different parts of the world have attempted to discover some method of exploiting the bosons that make up a Bose-Einstein condensate, but none has ever come close to achieving such a victory. No, the project remains a futile one, impossible to fulfill with the technology we have today.

“I am not afraid of any practical applications resulting from the efforts under way over at Nano-Electronics of Shanghai. But we have to be watchful and always on guard, Qi. There will certainly be attempts to spy on what is going on in our own plasmoidal laboratory work. We cannot take unnecessary chances where espionage is involved.

“I want you to take personal responsibility for the safety and security of our research secrets, Qi. You must not allow our enemy to pick up anything that might have value to him. I am thinking about our general work in all areas of plasma development. In a hunt for non-existent data about Bose-Einstein condensates, we must not permit Mr. Wu to steal any of our new inventions in conventional fermion development.”

“You are absolutely right, Chief,” gushed Zhang Qi with fervid enthusiasm.

Wu Xue loved having his corporate headquarters high up in the 128-storey Shanghai Tower.

The curved double-skinned façade and spiraling shape that reduced wind load, the sky-lobby atriums, the endless shops and restaurants: all the buildings advanced features heightened his pride as a pioneer developer of the city’s innovative industrial complex.

Nano-Electric of Shanghai enjoyed a worldwide reputation as a producer of micro-electric systems and quantum dots.

But now Xue dreamed of revolutionizing the energy industry with completely new power storage devices that applied boson-based condensates as their central component. He drew prophetic verbal pictures for Lin Huan when he conferred with his Research Manager in his office overlooking central Shanghai from the hundredth and tenth floor.

“Bosons will be the key to a technical miracle,” held the industrial titan. “We will supply China and the entire world with high energy storage capacitators unlike anything ever seen before. There must be super-low temperatures, of course. But we have the nano-tools capable of producing the right conditions for the Bose-Einstein Condensate to form and store infinite amounts of electrical energy.”

“Huan, sitting opposite the president’s zinc desk, smiled triumphantly. “I believe that we are close to selecting the optimal material to be used in the process defined as quantum confinement. Up until now, boson condensates have been based on using rubinium, or even sodium. My laboratory associates are still testing and searching for the best substance for use, the most effective.”

“Do you know what will might be?” questioned Xue.

“We are still on the hunt for the optimal solution, sir. Have no doubt, we shall discover it.”

With the coming of the last week in September, Shanghai was ready for its gigantic International Music Fireworks Festival. All of the central city, and especially the Central Park in the Pudong New Area, was in full decoration and preparation for this annual event.

The latest and newest of pyrotechnics would be exploding over the financial hub of the East China metropolis.

Zhang Qi was relieved to be able to take some hours off from his strenuous work managing the laboratories and test facilities of Nano-Electronics. It would do his health a lot of good to get away from his labors for a brief period, the scientist told himself.

He had the opportunity to make a long trek through the milling crowds filling the blocked-off streets around the Pudong Central Park. From a short distance came the sound of European classical music being played by a select of the Shanghai Philharmonic Orchestra. Qi realized that he was on the periphery of a marked-off area of seating reserved for Party-governmental officials as well as members of the city’s industrial and financial elite.

All of a sudden, Qi caught sight of two figures he was long acquainted with coming towards him.

They were the president of Plasma Batteries, Wu Xue, and his chief of research development, Lin Huan.

It was evident to Qi at once that the pair were present to enjoy the festival’s music and the grandiose pyrotechnics scheduled for the evening.

I have to be cordial and show them politeness, the scientist from Nano-Electronics said to himself. He approached them with a broad, shining smile on his face. As soon as they recognized him and returned smiles, the two stopped and gave him slight bows. Qi did the same to them.

Wu Xue was first to speak. “Good afternoon, Citizen Zhang. How is your health? It is good to see you outdoors taking in fresh air and getting yourself some physical exercise. It looks like this is going to be a successful holiday and festival. Yes, our beloved Shanghai is rising from success to success in all areas of endeavor.”

Qi replied in a sweet, melodious tone. “I am feeling well and whole, sir. It is a pleasure to see the two of you here on this glorious occasion. This enormous crowd of people makes me proud to be a loyal resident of Shanghai. Like so many of us, I was not born in the city, but was brought here by my parents from the Far West of China as a very small child. But I, like so many millions of others, am thrilled by the advancement and never-ending progress being made by our high-tech industries. And of course, you and the company you lead are among the foremost explorers of the frontiers of scientific development.” He gave a slight nod with his head.

Lin Huan then made a comment. “There can be no question that Nano-Electronics continually adds much to the prosperity of today’s Shanghai. Your firm never rests in its work,” he said with a cunning grin.

“Plasma Batteries shall soon have much more to add to our city’s onward march,” declared Wu Xue proudly. “It is no secret, and the mass media will be carrying this news tomorrow morning. What our company is about to do will give us added weight in the battery industry. You see, we are in the process of acquiring control of the Hunan Lithium Company. This new combination will provide us a stream of metal necessary for production of better, improved lithium-ion batteries, so common in every aspect of life in today’s China. Our firm is on the verge of becoming a major producer of that element. We will have the capability of supplying others as well as our own needs.”

Qi made a small bow and stepped along the pathway, away from the duo he had encountered by chance.

The industrialist had been bragging and gloating about his achievement in merging with Hunan Lithium. That grated for a while in the mind of the Research Director.

In a few minutes, the fireworks display began over central Shanghai. Dusk was quickly falling over the skyscrapers of New Pudong. Loud explosions and lurid flares of color came down from above.

A single idea took possession of the thinking of Qi. What is driving Plasma Batteries to take control of a major supplier of a material so important to modern industry as lithium has become?

There has to be more behind the scheme than simple ion batteries, decided the canny researcher.

As soon as possible the following morning, Qi reported to Chen Kang on what he had learned at the Music and Fireworks Festival. The president of Nano-Electronics of Shanghai at once understood the possible importance of what had been revealed by the boastful but careless Wu Xue.

“There is strong reason, then, to suspect that this acquisition of the lithium-producing facilities must have some unseen connection to hopes for a method of developing a Bose Einstein concentrate usable for energy storage. Is that what you believe it implies, Qi?” He looked inquiringly at his Director of Research.

“I see no other logical reason for this sudden obsession with a supply of lithium, sir. It cannot be merely to construct a larger number of ion batteries. The market in China and around the world is saturated with devises from scores of different companies. It has to involve much more, I believe.”

Kang thought with effort for several moments.

“Yes, you must test whether gasified lithium might be the substance suited for an effective boson-based storage apparatus. Get to work on such a project at once. We have no time to lose if that happens to be what Wu Xue is thinking of trying out.”

Qi hurried out of the office, his mind full of ambitious hope and aspiration.

Within a month, I will have a storage device that will change how the world produces and saves up electricity, an inner voice said to him.

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