The Sixth Sense

Humans hardly ever ventured into the colony of mutants, and mutants almost never came into the human world. What little interaction there was was limited to necessary trading of commodities that one needed, and the other possessed. This too was always done through chosen representatives, and the masses never participated in these exchanges, most were unaware of it.

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 What do the bright lights all over in Tokyo, dazzling Las vegas visible from space, and a dimly glowing incandescent lamp in a dark village have in common? Energy. This intangible object is at the center of all human actvity, however primitive or advanced it may be. The source of the energy can be as varied as the activity itself : while a leisurely walk down a park draws its energy from our own bodies, a particle physics experiment in a particle colider gobbles up several megawatts of electrical energy supplied by perhaps a nulcear reactor. Whatever be the nature of the work, energy is central to our civilization, and following the trend since ancient times, our energy needs will only grow even though the usage becomes more efficient.


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2063 AD

On October 21, 2063, as the maglev train shot silently through the tunnel connecting the cities on opposite sides of the chain of hills, there was just a single sound that rang out feebly. A tiny pebble, dislodged from its place at the ceiling of the tunnel by a small rodent, had struck the side of the train. The impact at 450 km/hr had created a nasty gash about an inch long on the glossy surface of the train. Immediately, there started a silent movement among the meshwork that lay below the surface of the vehicle. The arteries that were exposed by the gash were now sensing an imbalance between the chemical potential within them and outside. The pasty material inside them started diffusing out of the semi-permeable membrane of the mesh. As it came into contact with air, it slowly hardened. The rate of diffusion got slower, but it was never quite zero. As the train emerged out of the kilometer long tunnel, its surface was smooth and flawless to the human eye. To the computer eye, that is, sensors, the surface was near perfect. There was a recorded log of the outflow of material from the meshwork in the concerned area. A repair schedule had been fixed when the train would reach its terminal station.

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