"What is the result?" shouted the Professor. His rigid demeanor was betrayed by excitement.
The assistant read off of ticker tape spilling out of the machine, "Zero-point-zero-one-zero-three-five-three... seven... repeating." Looking up with anxious eyes behind thick protective goggles he offered, "That's an all time best, Professor- nearly a 40% reduction."
The Professor did not reply. For the moment he simply stood back and surveyed the elaborate assembly of equipment filling the room. He arched a scrutinizing eyebrow. The technological amalgamate before him did not spy the stern gaze of its progenitor, nor did it realize that its efforts were being evaluated- nor even that they might be deemed unworthy. The equipment did not fret, it simply waited.
Of course the Professor expected no such thing from the inanimate objects. He finally relaxed and approached the assistant. "That is not the target result," he finally said. "That is not Zero."
"Again," directed the Professor.
"Yes, Professor," replied the assistant, snapping presently to attention. "It will take several hours..."
"I know how long it takes. So get started."
As the assistant set about preparing the equipment again, the Professor retreated to his study to examine the data and adjust the parameters of the experiment. He had convinced the investors that he could produce a result of exactly Zero despite every precedent in the history of science. He had every intention to deliver that result exactly. If he was successful the ramifications would be Earth-shattering. What had been imagined as an impossible dream since humankind first began to study the nature of the world around it would finally be reality. Countless lives could be saved. The global economy would be redefined.
But, it had to be perfect. The smaller-minded might accept encouragement in a result of zero-point-zero-one-zero-three-five-seven repeating, or perhaps even zero-point-zero-zero-one-zero-three
And so, the Professor returned to his data, and he pondered and he pored and he calculated. Every variable was studied, every deviation eradicated. Several hours passed.
"Yes, I'm coming. The equipment is ready?"
The Professor recalibrated the equipment per his redefined parameters. The assistant engaged the power switches and pushed the execute button. The lights went down as the equipment energized an the experiment commenced.
When it had concluded the Professor asked, "What is the result?"
The assistant did not reply. The ticker tape was still printing.
"The result?" demanded the Professor.
"Yes, Professor," the assistant nervously replied as the tape continued to stream out of the machine. "Zero-point... zero-zero-zero
The Professor did not respond. For a moment there was no sound and no movement at all except for the endless printing of the ticker tape.
The assistant finally asked, "Is that close enough, Professor?"