Gene said the telescope had picked up a dragon egg, but Maria seriously doubted it. Sure, the Thirty Meter Telescope was, well, big. Yes, its range was remarkable. And one of its purposes was exoplanet discovery and characterization. But the resolution to make out an single egg on a single planet just wasn’t there, let alone finding a planet close enough to determine the mythical provenance of said egg.
Maria wondered if Gene had gone on a serious bender the night before. He’d been drinking way too much since his sister had been killed by a drunk driver three months before and it wasn’t unusual for him to show up at the observatory still feeling the effects from a hard night of drinking. Interventions hadn’t worked – at least not for long. Had he been anyone else, he would’ve been fired long ago. But Gene was one of the best astrophysicists in the southern hemisphere, let alone this remote region of Chile, and Maria couldn’t think of a finer scientist that she had ever worked with.
This whole dragon egg thing, though, was going a little too far, even for a scientist of Gene’s eccentricity level. Skepticism was writ on her face as she turned to face her colleague. His thick eyebrows knit over his bloodshot eyes when he saw her expression.
“Maria, I’m serious. I swear there’s an egg on the surface of this planet and it looks like a dragon egg. Come and see for yourself.”
There is more to this story, but I’m currently hung up on a technical issue. I’ll have to research it (i.e. ask the astrophysicists I work with), but I don’t think I’ll get the answers until next week. Stay tuned…