First of all, I just want to say, on the record, that I'm sorry. We had no idea what was going to happen when we did the experiment. Heck, that was why we were doing it. I'm sorry. We're not going to do it again, regardless of how improbable the results were last time we tried it. Nor is anybody else.
Okay. What basically happened was that one of the collisions we engineered produced two of the rarest particles known to physics. Now, these are shortlived things so we've seen one at a time on many occasions, but two existing alongside each other even for a matter of nanoseconds was pretty exceptional in itself, if scientifically uninteresting. But what was amazing - the factor that we've never been able to engineer again - was that these two particles curved around in the magnetic field and they collided as well.
And both of them totally vanished. Not even a pulse of electromagnetic radiation marked their disappearance. They completely vanished from the reaction chamber. Now obviously the first thing you're thinking and the first thing I thought is "this has got to be equipment fault", but the trails of all the other particles in the experiment all came out fine. How could the chamber record one set of trails but not others? Selective failure like that doesn't happen.
Now obviously we spent some time investigating what theoretically should have happened when the two particles collided, but all the numbers went berserk and just added to the growing body of evidence that physics was in need of a totally new theory of everything. So when numerous attempts to duplicate the experiment failed (luckily), we hesitantly suggested that the particles might have decayed into neutrinos - a fudge of an explanation, they were both positively charged for heaven's sake - and moved onto something else.
That all happened twelve years ago.
One year ago that new theory arrived, so we decided to dig up the results from that old experiment and run a simulation based on the new equations. The numbers went berserk again, but this time in a quantifiable way. We ended up with a particle that breaks pretty much all the conventional laws of physics. Firstly, when it decays - after about a quintillionth of a second according to its personal timescale - it releases a quantity of energy so gargantuan it could annihilate a planet. Or a star. Secondly, in that quintillionth of a second it fires itself across the space at relativistic speeds, and homes in on the first point mass it comes near. Like a star. You see where I'm going with this.
So we asked ourselves, if the energy wasn't released inside our reaction chamber, then where was it released? Where did the particle end up when it decayed? Obviously not in our own Sun, as proven by the fact that it's still there. So we decide that the thing to do is predict and plot the particle's instantaneous trajectory through space. Its life-line.
The next bit was fun; pulling out star charts, figuring out the orientation of the reaction chamber in space at the exact date and time of the experiment... you can guess what we found. It headed out of the solar system, towards another star. It homed in on it, and after a quintillionth of a second by its personal timescale, but about six years by ours, it decayed.
Yeah. Barnard's Star. Six light-years away. Now Barnard's Nova.
I said I was sorry.