(Something a Bit Different, Part II) by Gordon Lawrie

4. Aboard the U.S.S. Enterprise

They’d brought a little electromagnetic cobalt to fuel the engines, the refit’s final stage. Scotty was beside himself.

“Captain, I’m warning you! The Enterprise won’t be the same without dilithium crystals!”

Kirk smiled. “Nonsense, Scotty, we’ve got to move on. Dilithium crystals cause universal warming, electromagnetic cobalt’s the greener option. Four million light years per teaspoon, zero to warp speed in three seconds.” He sat back in his seat. “OK, engines to warp speed!”

The Enterprise spluttered to a halt. Scotty reached for the owner’s manual. “Captain… I think they put in four-star electromagnetic cobalt.”


“This is a diesel.”

5. The Four Gifts

They’d brought a little electromagnetic cobalt. At the door, however, they met three shepherds who were just leaving.

“Hey, Your Majesties, whatya brought?” said one.

The kings proudly displayed their cobalt. One explained, “Hang it above the cot and its light shines.”

The shepherds frowned. “Emm… nice, but they need practical stuff. Baby lotion. Something sweet-smelling – it’s a manger after all. Some hard cash – it costs a fortune to raise kids nowadays.”

Fortunately, the local supermarket had a couple of things, as well as a gold-dispensing machine. The kings left the cobalt too, but no-one ever discovered who brought it.

6. In the Beginning

They’d brought a little electromagnetic cobalt: tiny particles, not in themselves significant because the real stars of the process were hydrogen, oxygen, carbon, nitrogen and phosphorus atoms. But critical players all the same.

Across the universe there were thousands, perhaps millions, of equally suitable deserts, just waiting for something to happen. But that special solar storm, surging as it did with radioactive power and subatomic protons, carried that little piece of the jigsaw needed to kickstart the process. Those elements – in the presence of electromagnetic cobalt – formed an acid, specifically deoxyribonucleic acid.

And in that moment life on Earth began.

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