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"The SF approach: an awareness that things could have been different, that this is one of many possible worlds, that if you came to this world from some other planet, this would be a science fiction world."
- Neal Stephenson

Miniature Universe  
  A microcosmic universe created in the laboratory.  

In this short story, Arnold Fessenden is an eccentric scientist who shows a friend his greatest discovery.

It consisted of two twelve-foot metal disks with grid-like surfaces, one on the floor and one on the ceiling directly over the other. They were connected by cables to the electrical machinery, and their grid-like surfaces shone faintly with wan blue light or force.

Between the two disks, floating unsupported in the air, hung a cloud of tiny sparks of light. It looked like a swarm of minute golden bees, countless in number, and the swarm was lenticular in shape. Mounted near this weird thing were several instruments that looked a little like telescopes, though unfamiliar in design. They seemed to be trained on that thick little cloud of shining sparks...

"Fessenden's eyes had been following my stupefied change of expression. He said calmly, "Yes, Bradley, it is true. That is a tiny, self-sustaining universe, with its own suns, nebulae and worlds. Everything in it, down to the atoms which compose it, is infinitely smaller in scale than our own. But it is a real universe, like our own."

From Fessenden's Worlds, by Edmond Hamilton.
Published by Weird Tales in 1937
Additional resources -

The two disks neutralize gravity between them. It turns out (conveniently!) that time proceeds much more quickly in the miniature universe; a year of their time was just a moment of ours.

Fessenden conducted a series of experiments in which he altered the conditions - and destinies - of tiny inhabited worlds to see what would happen, often destroying entire civilizations in the process.

For a similar story, see the much more famous Microcosmic God, a 1941 story by Theodore Sturgeon.

Another point of interest in the story is the name of the main character, Arnold Fessenden. Hamilton probably took it from Reginald Fessenden, a Canadian-born inventor who was the first to figure out how to transmit natural sound like speech and music by radio (as opposed to Morse code signals). On the evening of December 24, 1906 (Christmas Eve), Fessenden used the alternator-transmitter to send out a short program from Brant Rock, which included his playing the song O Holy Night on the violin and reading a passage from the Bible.

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Additional resources:
  More Ideas and Technology from Fessenden's Worlds
  More Ideas and Technology by Edmond Hamilton
  Tech news articles related to Fessenden's Worlds
  Tech news articles related to works by Edmond Hamilton

Miniature Universe-related news articles:
  - Universe Kits Now Available From Jonathon Keats
  - 'Bubble Galaxy' NGC 3521

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