A Tale of Obsession, Consequences, and Redemption
A Short Story by
In a decaying mansion in bucolic Arkham, Massachusetts, mere blocks from campus lives Dr. Thomas Katonosai, a man whose brilliant mind vacillates between two passions, the first being a passion for temporal science.
Dr. Katonosai has ensconced himself in the intellectual enclave of Miskatonic University. Nestled between mist-shrouded hills, the revered institution becomes center stage for his relentless pursuit of the mysteries that lie hidden within the fabric of time itself.
Within chambers of his laboratory, Dr. Katonosai delves into the enigmatic realm of quantum-temporal physics. He has adorned his workspace with art and instruments devoted to marking the passage of seconds and eons alike. Pendulums sway hypnotically, antique brass and glass equipment, delicately calibrated, glimmer with an otherworldly allure, their purpose obscured; a dramatic device for the studies therein pursued.
Students, captivated and perplexed by the convoluted ramblings of their esteemed professor, huddle in the lecture hall shadows. The atmosphere hangs thick with a dire blend of anticipation and incredulity. Dr. Katonosai, cloaked in his frumpy, threadbare tweed suit with his wild hair flying, leads them on a bewildering journey through the enigma at the intersection of quantum mechanics and temporal physics, his authoritative delivery veering so near to the realms of insanity as to seem indistinguishable from lunatic ravings.
Behind closed doors, these same students find amusement in mocking his eccentricities and deriding his theories, their whispers of ridicule a private counterpoint to the thin façade of public respect.
Gossip about his radical ideas reaches the ears of academics and university management alike, kindling derision, fascination and trepidation. His quest to unlock the secret of time’s inexorable grasp consumes him, straddling the oft dotted line between science and obsession, with an occasional lane-change into insanity.
In his laboratory, strewn with half-completed contraptions and dusty paraphernalia, the physicist toils. His gaunt figure hunches over a complex apparatus, the hum of computers intermingling with the mutterings of a tormented soul. As he calculates the elusive equations of temporal transcendence, time seems to warp and bend around him, the very fabric of reality trembling in his wake.
He is building a time machine.
Once outside the ivy-covered walls of academia, Dr. Katonosai’s secret second passion burns. Time’s physics is his day job. After hours, his heart belongs to another.
Each night, after an early dinner, he retreats to the solitude of his study. Much like his university laboratory, he has adorned the massive room with the paraphernalia of his esoteric obsession.
There are no clocks here.
Instead, in his most private sanctum, his sacred space dedicated to his secret devotion, an awe-inspiring tapestry dominates the room. A colossal wall-hanging, reminiscent of a grandiose movie poster, adorns the east wall. Its surface, a mosaic of intricately woven symbols and lines, depicts the genesis of bitcoin—the elusive enigma of Satoshi Nakamoto.
The depiction encapsulates the ethereal essence of Satoshi’s brilliance, interlacing fragments of the famed white paper with cryptographic signatures and enigmatic pseudonyms. As flickering monitors cast dancing shadows upon the tapestry, the room resonates with an air of mystery, evoking a sense of reverence for the remarkable creation that stirs the depths of his soul.
Here, surrounded by crypto paraphernalia and kitschy crypto merch, he explores the realm of digital currency. He is obsessed with an elusive goal, a treasure hunt unlike any other. The math is compelling. He covets the digital gold.
His pursuit of bitcoin is about much more than monetary gain. It is an all-consuming intellectual and philosophical quest. The very concept of a digital currency, free from the shackles of traditional financial institutions and government meddling, captivates his imagination. It represents a new paradigm, a monumental shift in power and control. The seductive promise of a world shaped by an unalterable, immutable, and non-inflatable cryptographic currency drives him to the brink of madness.
Bitcoin charts, real-time tickers and historical graphs, the intangible embodiment of the financial zeitgeist, adorn the walls and displays. Dr. Katonosai’s eyes dart across the screens, analyzing patterns and trends, and surfing the volatile waves of cryptocurrency with a fevered determination, seeking the hidden codes that will unlock the secrets of this decentralized realm.
Within the realm of crypto, his idolatry for BTC burns fiercely. At all times, he carries a tiny booklet that resembles the pocket New Testament frequently carried by evangelical types. His holy document, however, is a compact version of Bitcoin A Peer-to-Peer Electronic Cash System, better known as Satoshi’s Bitcoin White Paper.
Yet his meager professorial salary has relegated him to a tiny fraction of the digital treasure he craves. Despite his relentless dedication to crypto, the tiny stack of satoshis in his virtual wallet serves as a painful reminder of dashed hopes and dreams.
For all his passion, for all his knowledge, the obsessive goal of owning even a single whole bitcoin, a mere 100 million satoshis, eludes him. His desire for BTC is all-consuming.
Within the realms of academia and the shadowed corners of his private study, Dr. Thomas Katonosai embraces two worlds. His mind traverses the enigmatic depths of time while his soul dances with the ephemeral allure of golden digital treasure.
Late into the night, he immerses himself in the intricacies of blockchain technology, dissecting its inner workings like a master surgeon. He delves into cryptographic puzzles, mining algorithms, and the intricate dance of nodes that sustains the network. His mind, honed by years of scientific inquiry, becomes a conductor orchestrating a symphony of ones and zeros.
As the night deepens and the moon casts its ethereal glow through the window, a breakthrough emerges from the depths of Dr. Katonosai’s weary mind. A startling idea takes shape, intertwining his passion for temporal science with his obsession for Bitcoin.
“What if,” he muses to himself, “time itself is a blockchain? What if the immutable ledger of time itself is proof against alteration? If so, does it mean that time travel is impossible? Perhaps it means it is inevitable! Or perhaps, it gives us a fresh mechanism with which to examine the past, much like we can examine every transaction on the blockchain. That would be a boon for historians! Turn the Wayback dials and examine any historical event, no matter how small or distant.”
Obsessed by this insane simile, he restructures his theory of time around the idea. Weeks of sleepless nights fly by as he builds and demolishes mathematical models until one stands unbroken, even as dawn breaks over the mist-laden hills.
At last! His model holds! Then a new realization dawns. “While we often refer to a blockchain as ‘immutable,’ it is more accurate to say that it has a high level of immutability or resistance to tampering. The immutability of a blockchain is based on the assumption of decentralization and the difficulty involved in controlling a majority of the network’s resources.
“If an entity were to build computation capability large enough to overwhelm all existing validators and take control of the blockchain, they could mount a 51% attack, and exclude or change transactions as they please. The model of time as a blockchain thus strongly implies that time is mutable! With enough power, time travel and even changing history is possible!”
Driven by this audacious idea, Dr. Katonosai redoubles his efforts. His classes languish, days blend into nights as he feverishly lashes his prototype together, a fusion of temporal science and blockchain technology. The time machine he had long been attempting is finally taking form!
On the morning of his prototype’s inaugural test, Dr. Katonosai enters his laboratory with a mixture of trepidation and exhilaration. The air crackles with an electric anticipation, mirroring the charged atmosphere of his psyche.
As he examines the intricate apparatus, he spots a peculiar object resting in the chamber—an ordinary 25-cent piece, unassuming, yet weighty, with extraordinary implications.
He almost swoons as he realizes the significance of this unanticipated finding. In his pocket, he discovers a perfect look-alike. On microscopic examination, he determines it indeed is identical, right down to the near-invisible scuff marks. “This coin,” he mutters, “is about to alter time’s ‘immutable’ ledger.”
With a shiver, he contemplates the balance of the time-space continuum, the necessity of sending this quarter backwards in time on this very day to ensure the preservation of cosmic harmony. He dare not endanger the integrity of time’s blockchain!
His hands tremble with a mix of anticipation and reverence as he places the fated coin within the time machine.
Dr. Katonosai stands before his creation, his hair flying wild and eyes fixated on the convergence of past, present, and future. But first, he needs energy, lots of it. His historic usage—for which the Dean’s office has already chastised him—is nothing compared to the $200,000 of university money he is about to waft into the power company’s coffers.
Gigawatts are expensive.
He steps to the back of the lab and throws a series of heavy-duty breakers. The hum intensifies, harmonizing with the rapid beating of his heart. The moment of truth approaches, as fleeting as a heartbeat, yet pregnant with infinite possibilities.
With a resolute flick of a switch and the infusion of 1.21 gigawatts, the apparatus hums, glows, and the room crackles with electric energy as the time-miner wakes.
He writes a new chapter of physics as he takes the first step into the uncharted realms of temporal manipulation.
The air shimmers, and the coin vanishes!
Dancing a jig, he clasps hands in an overhead victory clasp in celebration as the machine continues to hum, standing by, burning kilowatts at idle. He reaches for the ‘off’ switch, but reckless inspiration strikes. He needs indisputable proof! The coin alone is insufficient.
On impulse, he drops the pocket bitcoin pamphlet into the sending chamber and twiddles the dials. He will have a copy of the booklet before Satoshi wrote the white paper itself. That will unquestionably prove his discovery.
Before he considers the consequences, or the cost to the university of so much power, he hits the ‘go’ button. Moments later, the machine unleashes a bone-rattling bang that shakes the walls and causes plaster to fall. A tremendous cloud of smoke belches forth and the throat-gagging stench of burned insulation fills the lab with an unholy stink.
The very fabric of reality trembles and time itself seems to hold its breath as he jumps to yank the breakers and open the window.
The prototype is a wreck, and the stench of charred electronics wafts around the entire campus. Never mind that. The machine’s spectacular RUD is a perfect example of failing fast and learning faster. He will rebuild. He examines the wreckage for the pocket pamphlet, though he cannot find it. It must have burned.
But no matter, there are other copies to be had. He has done it! Unimaginable fame and recognition lies at his doorstep. He will go down in history as the man who discovered time travel. Scientific immortality is within his grasp.
The harbinger of paradoxes and possibilities, the coin he earlier found, serves as both a testament to his achievement and a reminder of the delicate equilibrium he is jostling.
With a mixture of exhilaration and caution, his imagination embarks on a daring odyssey through the corridors of time.
Lost in a trance, he cleans the lab on autopilot, clearing out the burned debris and cleaning up the mess. Well, the worst of it, anyway.
That night in his study, a revelation unfolds, intertwining his relentless pursuit of time travel with his insatiable longing for bitcoin. As if struck by a bolt of lightning, he gazes at the intricate tapestry adorning the wall—a testament to the enigmatic origins of the fabled digital currency.
A mad glimmer dances in his eyes as he envisions a convergence of his two fervent obsessions. The concept takes shape, weaving threads of possibility and impossibility until the audacious idea assumes full form.
He imagines himself, armed with the knowledge of the future, embarking on a daring temporal escapade to acquire Bitcoin at its very inception, a chance to witness its nascent glory and gain unimaginable wealth. For mere pennies, the cost of a 2010 pizza, he can amass thousands of BTC.
The notion consumes him, driving him to the precipice of sanity and tempting him to tinker with the fabric of time. His imagination embarks on a perilous journey where the boundaries of reality blur and the allure of both time and cryptocurrency entwine into an irresistible dance of probability and consequence.
Grappling with the idea, he sets up the extensive calculations necessary to shift from moving a 5.7 gram object some 18 hours, to a 75 kilogram man moved some fifteen years. The math involved is intense.
Time itself flies as he delves deeper into the math and theories until realization and daylight dawn together. The energy and computational power he needs is staggering.
Before, he had needed 1.21 GW for the quarter, plus an unknown greater amount had he succeeded in transporting the pamphlet. That total was insignificant beside these fresh numbers. Dancing across the 4K display, the string of zeroes is daunting.
This is far beyond the capacity of any existing power within his reach. Indeed, it exceeds all the electricity generated on earth. Even with his passion and determination, he confronts the harsh reality that his dream may remain forever elusive unless he can craft a massive alternative energy source.
Like Sisyphus, he cannot quit. He must again push his rock up the mountain. After a night wallowing in despair, he embarks on a new quest. He must find a way to access massive quantities of electrical power for his rebuilt machine. His mind swirls as he imagines and discards potential sources.
Time flies until he considers the realm of quantum mechanics and the quantumania of zero-point energy. He shouts, “Eureka!”
The grey and white tomcat sleeping in a nearby chair jumps at his outburst.
With effort and creativity, he can leverage his radical understanding of quantum time in this new direction. If he can tap the zero-point energy of the universe, he can yet bend time to his will.
Plus, he will solve all the world’s energy problems in one stroke, for zero-point represents unlimited energy. He slams the table, causing the already nervous feline to scamper from the room. “Goodbye ESG worries!”
Brimming with excitement, he races to the university, and to his lab, to launch this fresh field of research. Upon arrival, he finds his classes canceled, and the classroom empty. When he discovers the locked door of his still somewhat smelly lab, he becomes alarmed.
Upon checking his messages, he finds an ominous text from the Physics Department head, Dr. Victoria Whitaker. She demands a meeting.
As a respected scientist, she had supported Dr. Katonosai’s research. Now, given the derision his ideas have attracted, and aware of his obscene power usage, she falters, and calls his work into question. The explosion and stink of his failed lab machinery was the last straw.
In an era plagued by pressing environmental concerns, the staggering energy demands of Dr. Katonosai’s temporal research are untenable. As the world grapples with the urgent need to reduce carbon emissions and transition towards sustainable sources, the extravagant power requirements of his experiments stand as a stark contradiction.
Critics argue that dedicating vast amounts of electricity to enable a single individual’s needs is a blatant disregard for the global effort to combat climate change.
Sensing weakness and opportunity, an old enemy joins in. Professor Harold Winslow despises Dr. Katonosai for no other reason than he detests the man. It’s a visceral reaction, not from any analytic process. Professor Winslow’s opposition seems to stem from a personal bias rather than any objective analysis. He just hates him for his appearance alone.
The senior faculty member takes any excuse to challenge Dr. Katonosai’s ideas, questioning their merit and raising concerns about every deviation from conventional scientific ideas.
That the higher-ups in the university even allowed him to research these areas must be because of some
imagined inherent privilege.
He argues the potential consequences and ethical implications of meddling with the fabric of time outweigh any benefits. They caution against tampering with the delicate equilibrium of existence, pointing out that diverting substantial amounts of electricity towards any endeavor lacking oversight, shrouded in uncertainty, and awash in moral quandaries, is a misuse of valuable resources.
The Dean of the science department, Dr. Robert Morgan, oversees academic propriety. Once a staunch supporter of Dr. Katonosai’s work, his support has faltered as reports of unconventional experiments, radical theories, and excessive energy consumption reach him.
Various student organizations had begun to stage protests against Dr. Katonosai’s research. After the lab explosion, their protests had kicked into high gear.
In a world striving for a more balanced coexistence with nature, the extravagant power demands of
temporal research has become a symbol of excess and disregard for the interconnectedness of all life on Earth. It serves as a reminder that we should hold even the pursuit of scientific discovery accountable to principles of sustainability and environmental stewardship.
The expenses of so much energy are unbearable, the purpose untenable, and the risks of the university becoming associated with pseudo-scientific quackery are too great. As Dean, he has no choice but to protect the university’s reputation and ensure compliance with established protocols.
Fired, cashiered, and set adrift, they cast him out without even permitting access to his work or his apparatus. He is permanently banned from campus. They promised to ship any personal effects, along with his severance package, once the damage to the facility has been assessed. He must begin anew, and regain his lost progress, reconstitute his notes and rebuild his machinery.
Standing amidst the ruins of his shattered dreams, dismissed from the university and cut off from his research, a profound sense of angst and agony overwhelms him. As the public becomes ever more environmentally conscious, it should be no surprise that calls to curtail energy-intensive research would gain traction. One may not question the emperor’s new clothes.
Whenever the anointed rub blue mud in their navels, we must rub blue mud in ours just as solemnly. Disregarding the law of blue mud risks dire consequences.
No one knows he has broken the time barrier and without his notes and apparatus, he cannot prove it. He has the time-traveling quarter, but nothing to prove its provenance. He also believes he was on the verge of forever solving humanity’s energy woes, and that too is lost. Defeated and cowed by the turn of events, he trudges into his study. He is in no condition to work. He is an unemployed pretender, a laughingstock. He slumps heavily into the recliner facing the east wall.
As he sits in front of the giant tapestry, contemplating life’s cruelties, something tickles his brainstem. His memory becomes blurred and confused, then swirling and churning, clarity takes hold. He rises, walks to the wall and swings the tapestry aside, revealing a wall-safe hidden behind it. His jaw drops as he stares at it, confused, as though he has never seen it before.
Hand trembling, he dials the newly well-remembered combination and opens the safe. On the front shelf lies the pocket booklet, charred and burned. Under it is a photograph. A photograph of himself, holding the charred booklet in one hand, and a newspaper in the other. The date reads October 10, 2008. Under that is a piece of paper with a handwritten character string, a Base58-encoded bitcoin private key: 5JSAjnsyZ6HMtkd2ofbv1MgGjgCp3QgmX7fHmDuvv5vjGyazAwr
Eyes goggling, he stares at the artifacts. Shaken to his core, he slams down into the chair and stares at the tapestry, mouth agape. After a while, he begins to laugh. Giggling lightly at first, then great guffaws, as he collapses and rolls on the floor, tears streaming, convulsing uncontrollably. Finally regaining control, he staggers to his feet and stares at the tapestry once more.
Reverently, he whispers, “I am Satoshi Nakamoto!”