Tuesday, March 11, 2014


At this point, it might be useful for you to get an inkling of where I came from. Of the circumstances that gave rise to my megalomaniacal love of science and technology. You might be curious about the early life of one of humankind's greatest geniuses. Well, you are talking to the right guy.

I was born to Anastasia Seaborg, in the Soviet Union. My father was a wandering drunk. I only saw him once as a child. He was peeing on a car at the time.
My mother was a hard-working woman, who did her best to provide for me and see that I was given a challenging education. She gave up on the challenging education thing when I was three years old.
I never met other children until I started my formal schooling at age six. I attended what was probably the crappiest educational institution the crumbling communist empire had yet established. I still remember finding out how different I was, how far my mind towered above theirs.

Now, it probably wasn't some epiphany brought on by a single event. It was probably a gradual process, one which occurred and reversed itself and occurred again. But I remember it as one event.
There was some minor treat to be dispensed among me and my three friends. And I say friend in the loosest sense of the word. The teacher thought of a number between one and a hundred. Whoever guessed closest to the number could have the candy.
"Thirty-one," said one child, almost immediately.
"Sixty-three," said another.
"Fifty," said one of them, trying to chose a middle ground.
"Sixty-four," I said. That was the number which would give me the greatest possible chance of winning.
"You can't do sixty-four, I did sixty-three."
"And I did sixty-four."
"You can't be that close to me."
"Yes, I can."
The teacher looked on disapprovingly. "Well, my number was twenty-four so you both lose anyways."
I thought about the other players. How their performance wasn't nearly optimal. As I thought about it some more, I came up with more and more examples of how silly the other children were. They couldn't answer any of the questions the teacher asked. When they walked somewhere, they wouldn't take the faster route, or the most scenic. They squabbled over nothing, and didn't care about the world around them.
The adults I saw didn't seem much better. It seemed like most of them could go days at a time without thinking. And so it came about, that at a tender age I began to consider myself the only sentient human in a world of zombies.

Now, there is only so much a child can do. I might be able to see through the fog that filled most mortal minds, and glimpse the deepest truths of reality, but first, I was going to need textbooks. I scrounged around for sources to teach me calculus. I simply went without trigonometric tables, deriving sines and cosines on the fly. Working out Maxwell's equations for myself. Basically, I was infinitely more brilliant than any Western scientist, yet my government let me languish with infinitely fewer advantages.
By the age of thirteen, I had resolved to move to America, where I could enroll in several top-notch universities and hopefully learn at something close to the speed I was capable of. "I'm sorry, mother, but Estveria is an intellectual wasteland. If I go west, I'll finally learn the answers to all of my questions."
"This country has plenty of smart people. Your father was a scientist."
And he was a great success. The way he calculated the trajectory of that urine... "This country has some relatively intelligent people. But Eastern Europe's scientific establishment is decaying. Even if I went to a top-notch facility in Moscow, I couldn't get nearly the amount of stimulus that the Americans would provide."
"Why can't you just stick to your books." Finally, a serious objection.
"First of all, I can learn more effectively from lecturers than from books. Second of all, I can read a three-hundred page text in about an hour, so I would fill this house with books in less than a year." A quick glance around showed I was well underway with this process. "Thirdly, in America I would have access to top-notch laboratory equipment, which is tightly regulated in this country."
"So, you're leaving your mother and everyone you hold dear just so you can read books in the West."
I thought about that for a second. Who was there that I cared for? My mother? I spent time with her, and occasionally talked with her, but I didn't really care about her. My father? I wasn't going to let his inability to reach his potential stop me from reaching mine. My classmates? Why would I ever want to talk with an army of mindless drones? There really wasn't anyone on the entire planet that I cared about. Probably related to my career choice as a megalomanical mad scientist.

In the early nineties, David Spader was the hotshot CEO of one of the most advanced tech companies in the world. So it was a little bit of a shock that he received an unscheduled call on the IBM company line. "Who is this," he asked.|
An adult voice responded on the other end. It dripped confidence and poise. "My name is Aleksandr Seaborg. I live in the Republic of Estveria. I have a proposition for you."
"Sorry, who are you?"
"I invented a new type of transistor. Based on gallium-arsenic. It uses nanotubes to control the current with fine precision. That information was free. The technical specifications will cost slightly more."
"You're trying to sell me some crackpot invention."
"I'm on your private line. I'm no crackpot."
"Supposing you do have some brilliant invention, what do you want."
"A million dollars."
"Excuse me?"
"I estimate the technology will earn you about four billion dollars over the next ten years. So after your first successful test, you'll send a million dollars to my home."
Spader chuckled to himself. After the first successful test, there would be no need to give this Seaborg character anything at all.
"Of course, you might be tempted to stiff me, but that would be akin to killing the goose which laid the golden egg."
Spader considered. "Okay. When my technicians create your magic transistor, you'll get your million."
"Excellent. I expect to have it by the end of the month." The smooth voice hung up.
On the other end of the phone, a young Extervian peasant with a cracking voice held his phone for a second. "Mother. We are both moving to America."
\Three months later, I was enrolled in MIT, Harvard, and Princeton, and was working on a new transistor design which would make the one I sold to IBM obsolete. My mother was in a retirement home.

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