From: Evelyn R. Yalow
Contact restricted; return communications must be sent via the Molecular Murmur Laboratory, Water Murmur Working Group A (ref MIT grant #1499256)
I hope all the different pieces of this message have reached you. If you didn't get the full hypertext, write back immediately and let me know. If you did, sit down before you read any further. And take your medication. I don't want to make your heart palpitate but the computers are adamant: you are the only person I can share this with.
Are you sitting down yet? I'm serious.
And get a glass of water handy. Wait, on second thought...
Lydia, I am counting on you as a friend to use this material as you think best. I will be relying on your wisdom and friendship more than I ever have in the past. Much more than at Caltech. Even more than at NIH. I trust that these place names bring back memories and you get my drift.
I can't remember how much I told you about my project when I visited you last spring. Our team records the vibrations of water molecules, and tries to decode their meaning. It's not like the work you've heard of about carbon atoms: the variations are more profound and dramatic. For background, I've attached some of our grant application.
Early on we found that the "messages" in the vibrations varied depending on where we had gathered each molecule. (That may have been one problem with the carbon experiments: they used the same lab-molded molecules, over and over.) That's why, while you were cooking breakfast, I grabbed some droplets from your sink. Do you remember? That's the only reason I can write to you now. Anyway, we started by compiling a lexicon. We were able to expand it dramatically after we analyzed samples from the Sargasso Sea, which turns out to be one of the "quiet water places" where the molecules keep their inventories, and do their tabulations...
Now all of a sudden we've been confined to campus. All external visits and communications are prohibited. Our contracts give permission - do yours? - but those clauses are so rarely invoked - the Navy brought back the postdocs from the mid-Atlantic under military guard -
As you may suspect, how I'm getting this out is a story in itself. Our departmental Ethics Committee was replaced, just after the turn of the century, with a first-class artificial intelligence. I've become quite fond of her - him - it - because it's scrupulously fair. And it turns out that one of our old (but still current) ethics guidelines, in regard to experiments with human subjects, is that subjects have a right to see results of the studies in which they participated. SO, despite the general hush-hush, Ethicomp is letting me write to you in order to share "the material that concerns the subject Lydia Barthus," that is to say, the translations we made from your wash water. It's not a large amount of text but it might be enough. Your receipt of this message means that Ethicomp has vouched for me with the other computers and they've let it through. (Note that I've never caught the computers disagreeing with one another. It's the humans, always.)
My inbound email seems to be functional, because I got your invitation. So let me hear from you soon! Or, if it's not possible for you to get back to me, know how much I have always trusted your judgement and valued your friendship, and never more than now.