The discovery of a new chemical element that had something to with energy ore was bound to spark heated discussion in many fields.
Articles and pieces in the mainstream press on the naming of the new element listed about a dozen people with naming rights.
As the person who discovered the power ore, Fang Zhao had first naming rights and was ranked first. Members of the Academy of Science team that had just arrived on Baiji had made an offer to buy his naming rights, which Fang Zhao had rejected, but he had agreed to adding a list of advisors to the naming document. In accordance with Academy of Science guidelines, their personnel files would be marked with the honor of having contributed to the naming of the element "Zh."
Of course, given the amount of public scrutiny, it was hard to get away with landing naming contributor honors based on connections alone. In an age where information flowed freely and rapidly on the internet, even if that was what you wanted to attempt, you had to lay the proper groundwork. As such, the listed contributing namers mostly comprised genuine scientists, including the several lab technicians addicted to studying new elements Fang Zhao had met.
That was why Fang Zhao hadn't rejected the idea of contributing namers off-hand. He had already secured his interests as the first namer, not to mention that his discovery of a new power ore and a new element had been a stroke of luck. He'd had nothing to do with scientific research and hadn't produced any concrete results, so when it came to issues other than naming the new element, Fang Zhao decided to step aside and make way for the professionals.
Little was known about the new element. There was scarcely any information about Zh in existing literature. As researchers made more progress, the science textbooks would fill with more details, but that would come later. What the general public cared about more for now was Fang Zhao and the new power ore.
"If only I were as lucky as Fang Zhao, maybe I could become famous overnight."
"What you're lacking isn't luck but Fang Zhao's hearing."
"That is to say that the following line will be added to Fang Zhao's personnel file: discoverer of the Baiji power ore and namer of the 'Zh' element. Sounds pretty kick-ass."
"This is the first time I've seen a celebrity cause such an uproar while performing military service."
"If serving in the military generates this much buzz, then celebrities won't dodge the draft anymore. Typically, when they serve, they leverage their connections into a cushy assignment and disappear for a year. This is the first time a celebrity's service period has been so high profile from the very outset."
"That's because Fang Zhao was very lucky that his service period coincided with 'Project Starlight'."
"He was the first celebrity to broadcast live during his military service, the first celebrity to discover a new power ore on a live broadcast, and the first celebrity to discover a new element and name it."
"Speaking of which, will Fang Zhao keep broadcasting live from the mine?"
"Probably. He is still completing his military service, after all. He won't enjoy as much leeway as the other four celebrities."
People had to bust *ss during their service period. As a public figure, it was even harder to slack off. In any case, even if he played hooky in private, it was impossible for Fang Zhao to take things easy during his live broadcast every day.
Meanwhile, while everyone was busy discussing the new power ore, the new element, and related topics, Fang Zhao was holed up in his room, composing.
Every conscript on the base had been given three days off, although they had to remain on base. It was a rare extended vacation for the conscripts. Typically, the conscripts worked every day, unless there was harsh weather. Now, not only did they have a three-day vacation, the cafeteria was also serving better food.
Now that Baiji base was more bustling, losing some of its doom and gloom of the past, the conscripts felt quite proud. They felt they had bragging rights for when they went home after completing their military service. We served on Baiji, all right. Have you heard of Baiji? The one designated as a high-priority planet for development?
If they were assigned to the Baiji mining team after vacation, then they would have bragging rights for the rest of their lives.
Teams of career soldiers and professional experts had already been assigned to the mine. No one else would be included before the higher-ups decided on a mining plan. The conscripts were the least likely additions, as they hailed from a wide range of backgrounds; base command would definitely not let them butt in. They'd rather give all the conscripts time off. The base wasn't short on funds anymore. One word from Shanta and folks would be scrambling to wire money over. Such a prime investment opportunity might even set off quite a bit of feuding and bickering.
Fang Zhao was required to stay on base as well for the time being, even though he was the one who had discovered the Baiji power ore. Shanta had banned them from broadcasting live from the mine, which was now under curfew.
Still, Shanta had extended many privileges to this key figure. Fang Zhao was allowed to roam around in many parts of the base, but he didn't wander much, instead spending most of his time composing in his dorm room. The process of discovering the Baiji power ore had given him a great deal of inspiration.
Old habits die hard. This was how Fang Zhao had survived the Period of Destruction. Back then, it hadn't been realistic to carry a notebook on him at all times, so he had simply remembered all his ideas.
Not far away, Kevin Lin was listening to music while fidgeting with his feet. He was feeling cocky. His boss had already promised that he would be rewarded handsomely when he returned to Yanzhou. Besides a cash bonus, he would also enjoy many other perks.
But Kevin Lin's mood soured when he thought of the several reporters for the military publication that had arrived on Baiji with the new batch of soldiers. They enjoyed better access than he did. Journalists like him were part military, part paparazzi, while the new arrivals were full-fledged soldiers and were trusted by Shanta and his staff. He could predict now that any scoops about the Baiji power ore and the new element from now on would definitely come from them. Meanwhile, Kevin Lin would be left with scraps that the military reporters intentionally passed on.
He'd be lying if he said he wasn't upset. Kevin Lin felt that he was at a major disadvantage. He had tried persuading Fang Zhao to lobby Shanta for more access, but unfortunately, Fang Zhao had ignored him.
Kevin Lin snickered when he saw Fang Zhao sitting in front of his desk in a daze. Kevin Lin couldn't figure out what was going on in that kid's head all day.
Not that he was a snob, but Kevin Lin had indeed looked down on Fang Zhao in the past, dismissing him as a young starlet who was mildly popular. He was nothing in the eyes of a seasoned journalist who had interviewed many big stars and government and military officials. Even Fang Zhao's looks irked Kevin Lin.
If you weren't good-looking enough, you could make it up with a cool haircut, yet Fang Zhao was a conscript, and conscripts were forced to get the standard crew cut. His hair had been trimmed down to the required length by a designated barber after he had arrived on base. Even though he had nice features and was far from ugly, his looks weren't as refined compared to the other four celebrities, and in addition to being good-looking, the other four had dedicated hairstylists who changed their hairdos every day. Thus, their ability to attract fans was formidable. Not to mention that the other celebs all had considerable track records built up over the years on top of their good looks. Their popularity was established. By contrast, it was understandable why folks didn't see much promise in Fang Zhao.
Kevin Lin had never thought much of Fang Zhao either. Lo and behold, Fang Zhao had become a major sensation on the first day of his military service.
But after spending some time with Fang Zhao, Kevin Lin could tell he was different from other mainstream celebrities.
This was probably what folks called an artist's aura? Fang Zhao did look like an artist, somewhat.
Yet as far as the live broadcasts were concerned, Kevin Lin couldn't count on Fang Zhao. There was a big story all right, but how would he cover it from here on out? He had to brainstorm.
Should he try the lab on the base? If he couldn't get any updates from the mine, a few strands from the lab would do, but Kevin Lin shook his head and dismissed the idea quickly. Word had it that the labs studying the new power ore and the new element had already been upgraded to classified. It was unlikely he would get any access there.
Fang Zhao seemed to enjoy great renown as the person who had discovered and named the new element, but in reality, he had little say on Baiji, or perhaps none at all. These were all empty laurels.
"Oi, what can we do?" Kevin Lin sighed and glanced at Fang Zhao, who remained catatonic. He let out another sigh. Doesn't this kid understand the urgency of the situation?
A visitor interrupted Kevin Lin's moping.
"Prof. Fan?" Kevin Lin was caught off guard.
The visitor was a middle-aged man, someone from the Academy of Science headquarters who had arrived along with the fresh batch of soldiers. Kevin Lin had heard that Fan Lin was a botanist.
Fan Lin was in his 90s, only middle-aged by New Era standards, but he looked older than his contemporaries. He seemed to be aging prematurely.
Fan Lin was from Muzhou. He had been a key figure behind the improvement of Muzhou crops. Now he worked at the Huangzhou Academy of Science.
Fang Zhao had already put down his pen and gotten up. "Prof. Fan."
"Am I interrupting? So you're composing? Not bad, not bad!" Fan Lin had small eyes, so he winced whenever he smiled.
Some folks gave the impression that they were up to something when they winced, but when Fan Lin smiled, he gave a very friendly vibe.
Of course, the friendly act was just a facade. There were plenty of friendly people among the senior ranks of the Academy of Science HQ. All of them knew how to schmooze, but there was always a purpose behind their friendly demeanor, even if no harm was intended.
Fang Zhao poured a glass of water and handed it to Fan Lin. "You have something you want to discuss, esteemed guest?"
Even though Fang Zhao was older than Fan Lin in reality, his host body was in its early 20s. He had to extend the necessary niceties, not to mention that this was a scientist who had made major contributions to his field. Fang Zhao always held accomplished scientists like him in high regard.
Fan Lin sat down, accepted the glass of water, and took a long slip before asking, "You two have anything scheduled the next few days?"
Kevin Lin's heart leapt. He had been about to bail and give Fang Zhao and Fan Lin their privacy, but he halted when he heard this comment. Fan Lin had said "you two" and glanced at him. Fan Lin had no intention of kicking him out, so Kevin Lin reversed course and said, "No. We're banned from the mine. We were just brainstorming what to do for our next live broadcast."
"So I heard," Fan Lin responded with a nod.
Fang Zhao came in handy when the base didn't have the necessary equipment. Now, the most cutting-edge probes had been shipped over, and three upgraded versions at that. There was no use for Fang Zhao any more. Even if he was hailed as "Diting" or "godly ear," humans couldn't rival the efficiency of machines.
"They no longer need you to 'listen' in the mines anymore. You also won't be allowed to keep mining any time soon." A beaming Fan Lin looked at Fang Zhao. "Mining is very boring. I suggest you not waste your time there. Why don't you come farming with me?"
Kevin Lin: "..." As if farming is not boring.
Kevin Lin hesitated. Compared to exploring a new mine, farming wasn't exactly a crowd-pleaser.