THINK is Doomed

June 06, 2015:

An open house at THINK includes a demonstration of the efforts of Doctors Miyazaki and Tamago, who end up with a visit from the sovereign of Latveria.

THINK

THINK's lobby is more or less complete, though there's signs that the building is still under renovation. The whole thing has a sort of retro-futuristic flare, with a lot of chrome and subtle lighting, but also mid-century furnishings. Somehow it all works together without looking tacky or like something that belongs in Tomorrowland.

A young woman is seated behind the curved reception desk. She works the holographic display while switching between several different conversations, some of which are not in English. She looks more like the majordomo of an alien space station than a receptionist. Security is nearly invisible, but ever-present. There's no keypads. Everything is biometrically sealed. The building uses highly sophisticated facial recognition to determine who is authorised to be in the building.

The labs themselves are split over several floors. For the most part, the labs are separated by discipline, though there are several shared spaces for scientists who prefer to work in a cross-pollinating way. The rooftop sports a helicopter pad, hangars and a small lab space. There is a street-accessible lab that is part multidisciplinary lab, part garage. There's a heavily reinforced sub-basement that houses a firing range, munitions testing area and more…volatile scientific experiments. The one thing ever lab has is common is that it's equipped with some of the best gear money can by - and several pieces that money can't buy at all.

Characters

NPCs: None.

Mentions:

Plot:

Mood Music: None.


Fade In…

THINK is open! Open for an Open House. Visitors are welcome to come in, and many have. Of course, the Stark name draws them in, but fascinating displays of SCIENCE and the enthusiasm of the scientists themselves keep many around far longer than they had originally planned. The more sensitive work being done in some labs is lacked down and hidden away, but a lot of it is still out in the open, being celebrated and discussed, sparking ideas and wonder and the love of science itself. And yes, there are more than a few school field trips coming in, from mid-elementary school ages all the way through college science clubs and graduate students. It's a blast!

OK, OK. Yes. There are even minor explosions.

At the moment, the brilliantly bright YELLOW of Aiko Miyazaki is settled near the doorway to a lab near the garage of the facility, watching as her best friend and teammate is demonstrating one of her latest prototypes for the fascination of visitors, and discussing the wonders of carbon nanotube construction and magneto-repulsion. Aiko, being the more social of the two, is the bright and smiling face of greeting and the better chatterbox about /other/ topics.

"No. Actually, Leiko came up with that color scheme herself. But I think it suits very well. Otherwise, I'd probably just turn it bright pink!" She's teasing. Mostly. Chemical metal embrittlement, baby!


"…" GoGo Tomago rolls her eyes. She's dressed for the rather hot weather in New York today. Bike shorts and a bright yellow tank top and a light, black silk shirt. Plus a pair of roller blades which use the same electromagnetic suspension as her armor. She waits until Honey Lemon finishes talking and then talks.

"Principle's simple." GoGo explains. "Every solid surface the wheels touch causes drag. Less contact. Faster wheels."


Like a wave ahead of a sharply rolling tide, whispers and worried looks precede the arrival of an unpleasantly notable attending the Open House. Dictator, magician, villain, conqueror… even those who know him best as a scientist can never shy long away from the reality of standing in the same room as the meanacing DOCTOR DOOM!

But a scientist he is, and THINK represents a consortium of some of the best and brightest minds in the world. One of a handful of guards moving in satellite orbit of Doom's position shows the doorman Dr. Doom's passport, in Latverian green, and the menacing armor-clad figure strides into THINK with a powerful step and loose swinging arms. His presence rushes ahead like a bow wave, sending fearful attendees scurrying out of his path, and with his entourage hurriedly staying in his wake. The ruler of Latveria turns his grim death mask from one display to another before beginning a deliberate path around the open area, looking at what the innovators of THINK are spending their time upon.


Hearing someone say something about Doom, Aiko leans closer, listening to whatever the other has to say, while watching Leiko's latest demonstration. She cues up the large holographic display, so that everyone can see the comparison between this design's efficiency and that of a standard set of rollerblades.

"Surface area for drag has been reduced to one third of a standard design. Factored for the drag coefficient and the maximum speed of the magnetic resonance pulses, the wheels can achieve a speed just shy of five times the maximum of the original units. But that required adjusting the materials being used, because that friction level would have melted the original wheels to slag in short order." And Honey Lemon is big into materials science.

"You'll also notice that we chose to go with a gold color, rather than standard black. Of course, it's prettier that way. But it also reduces the radient light absorption. Every colorie of heat we avoid increases the lifetime of the units." Fun, right?


"Science." GoGo agrees. She rolls over to the hologram, then through it and out to the other side. She comes to a stop, turning, blows a bubble, pops it. Sucks it back inside. GoGo uses both hands to enlarge the hologram as if it were on the screen of a StarkPad.

"A system likes this needs computer guidance. Each wheel can be positioned independently to maximize grip on the road."


The whispers around Doom's arrival mostly herald how he's likely there to kidnap, extort, or compel scientists to emigrate to Latveria. Only the greediest or most narrow-focused of innovators seem interested in the notion of being employed by the like of Dr. Doom- most seem horrified by the notion of aiding the (literal) tin-plated dictator's rule over his nation.

His path brings him to Aiko and Leiko's demonstration, where between his sizeable bulk and the rolling barrier of his bodyguards, he moves to a place where he can easily observe the demonstration. The mask makes his expression unreadable, but his eyes are drawn to the infographics set up, more particularly the innovations regarding the guidance and stabilization systems over the use of electromagnetic suspension. The crowd milling around the two women starts to move quickly away from Dr. Doom, until the bulk of their weight is distributed so that Aiko and Leiko are between them and the tyrant, rather than vice-versa!


Annnnd … suddenly the arrangement of the audience has changed completely. And they're putting on a demonstration for Doom! A part of Aiko is intimidated, just like anyone else would be. But part of her is also insatiably curious. After all, who really knows the heart, the mind, the madness of Doom? Few and far between, to be sure. Even SHIELD boasts few analysts who would dare to imply they can accurately divine the villainous dictator's intentions or goals.

"The whole point of all this innovation, of course, is speed." Aiko continues. "Here is a real-time video reel, scaled to one to fifteen, demonstrating GoGo moving through the course with standard rollerblades." The holographic video begins, taking up about half of the remaining available space.

"Now, here is another real-time video capture, also sped up to one frame in fifteen, showing GoGo on the second effective trial of the completed and finalized prototype design." The gold-suited rollerskating woman's form very nearly blurs, even given the advances of laser-scanning hyper-reality three-dimensional projection cameras.

"Good afternoon, Sir." Aiko offers Doom, respectfully, after helping to introduce the latest videos. Politeness counts, right?


The skates aren't as fast as her superheroing suit but they are fast enough to beat most cars on the test track. Based on their previous rehersal, this is where GoGo points out that this level of speed in skating requires new safety gear. Reinforced helmet and body armor. But then someone with one of the most advanced suits of body armor in the world is there. Watching. And the audience isn't so much interested in them as they are in the man carrying more firepower than an entire US Army Batallion in his left shoe.

GoGo doesn't move on. She regards Doom, eyes flickering down the deceptively primitive looking armor. She waits.


Doom doesn't respond to Aiko's greeting, his eyes moving to the video screen. He waits with the patient deliberation of a scientist for the entire mo-cap screen to play Leiko's run, standing akimbo, ignoring the stares and mutters that he can surely hear from across the room.

"How did you develop your traction stabilization routine in the software?" Doom asks, finally, looking at the two women. His tone is gruff, bassly patriarchal, and yet surprisingly eloquent and conversational. Rather like many senior scientists. "Is it algorithmic in design or have you adapted a heuristic model to describe the action of the wheels?"


"Ummm…." GoGo isn't much for words but she's rarely at a loss for them. Of course she's aware Doom's a genius. But knowing it and having him ask questions are two different animals. She pulls out her gum and slaps it against the side of the holographic projector.

Heuristic." GoGo says, as if she were explaining this to Howard Stark or a professor back at school. "An expert system. Scans the terrain and models it to work out solutions to problems ahead of time."


"We ran algorithmic models and the first prototype runs with those systems, so that we could break it down and analyze performance. That gave us bounded datasets to determine how to shape the heuristics." Aiko adds, respectfully. She knew Doom was a genius, of course. But having the armored intimidator/dictator show up to their demo and ask such sternly insightful questions is off-putting, to say the least.

Aiko then goes into a discussion of the materials used in the enhanced safety systems, since that's her specialty. It even includes an all-up air-ball deployment model for emergency crash situations, not dissimilar in design to those developed for the 'crash' landings of the Mars rover units.


If Doom is bored by Aiko's lengthy description of their modelling and design process, it doesn't show. The armor is perhaps the most unnerving thing- were it not for the flickering blink of the eyes hidden in the mask's shadows, it would resemble a statute that neither twitches nor breathes. Even the shifts of his weight are somehow mechanical in motion, nowhere near as fluid as the second-skin approach Tony Stark has taken with his golden design.

He listens until Aiko literally stops to breath, then lifts one hand a few inches in a small gesture to emphasize his speech. "The capture metrics indicate the heuristic model is potentially limiting reaction times due to loss of traction or variations in surface level." He swivels his mask to the two engineers. "What were your results comparing the heuristic model against physical reaction sensors? Traction differential sensors are antiquated but effective means of maintaining a connection with surfaces."


"None. Less than none." GoGo shrugs her shoulders. "Predictive algorhythm based on billions of points of data. Surface structures. Material compositions. Modeling data on disintegration of surface materials based on age, weather, use. There are no gaps because the program fills them using data modeling. What it doesn't know it figures out. So far the program's run over six hundred thousand miles without a single error."

GoGo glances at the hologram. "We're adding traffic patterns in now. That needs to be localized. Traffic is a living thing. It changes from city to city."


"And, because traffic patterns are made up of human beings, there are outliers that come much closer to standard deviations than one would see in purely static datasets." Aiko answers.

Addressing Doom's particular point, however, Aiko doesn't try to hide her pride in her best friend's talents. "Our attempt with pure sensor-feedback systems did show a marginal improvement, for a pilot with GoGo's skills. But all other pilots showed significant losses, and vastly increased odds of catastrophic accidents. Meanwhile, our attempts with the heuristic expert systems reduced accidents below the statistical threshold for the unenhanced platforms. The decision was made to go with the heuristic models for a breadth of application and benefit analysis." Yes. Honey talks a lot. but she's not babbling stupid when she does.


Doom listens patiently to the engineers. "Considerations of the human element should not be discounted in engineering," he agrees. "You likely would find cybernetic prosthesis to be a viable replacement interface. Reflex-driven input engaging the heuristic analysis programs would permit operators to take advantage of the native model-mapping programs as well as provide user override when uniquely advantaged pilots are in control." If he's aware of the other onlookers- many of whom are veering towards degree of impression with the quick exchange of jargon and dialogue- it doesn't show. GoGo and Honey's labors seem to have capture his interest.


"Maybe." GoGo agrees. It might take full-out cybernetics for most people to skate as well as she does. "You might be right. But my guess is you're one hundred percent human under that armor despite the advantages of, say, a neocortical implant or bone density grafts using an aluminum-titanium alloy. Prosthetics are useful. Life saving. But they aren't the answer."

GoGo grabs her gum off the holoprojector and pops it back into her mouth. "These wheels aren't for kids. You put someone in them, they need to be trained, need to be skilled. Need to be the best. These are expert only and the human brain of an expert's good enough."


Honey Lemon nods. "At the same time, it wouldn't hurt to develop an additional prototype using similar interfaces to the latest jump-leg and alpha-hand prostheses. We'd want to do the same cross-sectional multi-pilot comparative study, not only of performance curve,s but also the speed at which they can adapt and learn."

Honey may be intimidated by Doom, but like GoGo, she thrives on mental stimulation and challenge. "The anti-arc coating on the armor is very impressive. I'd guess your electro-attraction index is cut to barely over a two, despite the full metal alloy. And it seems to include refractive elements, likely attenuating light-based systems as well." Including reducing radar cross-section /and/ better defense against the likes of repulsors and lasers.


Doom looks down at GoGo with a vague narrowing of his eyes at her sudden shift in tone. "Functional engineering needs to anticipate the broadest number of users possible," he tells her in the same even tones, though somehow more cold than when they were discussing pure design theory. "Integration of cybernetics would provide accessibility to a broader array of users than your current schematics permits. If these-" he gestures with one gauntlet- "can only be employed by a fractional percentile of all operators, then they are useful only as a stepping stone to a more practical design."

The mask turns from GoGo to Honey, with that same odd precision that seems just on the shady side of the uncanny valley. "I've had frequent cause for confrontation with the likes of Tony Stark and his sycophantic gallery of allies," Doom states matter-of-factly. "Designing armor to prevent injury from primary energy sources was a matter of survival. The technology is widely employed in a number of common designs worldwide at this point. You more commonly know it as electroplaz," he says, naming one of the primary components of hazardous energy handling suits.


"I'm afraid I don't often have much contact with military hardware. I was unaware that something like that coating was quite so common." Honey Lemon offers, honestly. She'd still bet it's not nearly so cut and dried or common as all of that, but she won't argue. It's Doom, for pity's sake.

Honey follows up GoGo's point. "I'm also investigating a means to generate similarly capable materials without the rare earth metals that we had to use for these prototypes. But we anticipate that process to take another four to six months, and we cannot anticipate, currently, what materials requirements we'll be stuck with at the end of that effort."


"Production of my inventions is limited only by the accessibility of materials," Doom replies to GoGo's assertion, though he captures Honey in the periphery of his words. "I am in a constant state of revision and improvement with many of my designs. Because I use a modular approach to building most of the technology employed by my people, it is easy to adapt old designs to new technologies- or as more ecologically efficient production processes become available, to upgrade existing machinery to use more commonly produced or available compounds. We recycle well over ninety percent of finished production components into new machinery or devices. Latveria's dependence on native resources for both our economy and industrial complex is unsurpassed save by landlocked nations that do not engage in /any/ national trade, at all," he says in a lecturer's confident, if somewhat boring, drone.


"I'm in favor of good recycling and reclamation efforts." Honey Lemon responds with a nod. She doesn't interrupt the lecture, but she doesn't let it drone on to another one right after, either. "In addition, there's a downloadable series of chemistry workbooks, including programs for atomic and molecular modeling and analysis that can be downloaded. And our contact information is on each piece. Thanks again for coming." She says this last not just to the other visitors, but also turns to address it to Doom, sure he'll be moving on now that their points of interest have been closed up. Hopefully, he'll see no need to demonstrate his weapons tech today.

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