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I read this book (pretty sure it was a novel and not just a short story) maybe 10-12 years ago. All I really remember about this book is part of the ending, but I think what I do remember is so specific that it should be easy if you know the book I'm looking for.

There was a group of children who had either mutated or evolved into being much smarter than the usual Homo sapiens. They were being kept in a space station, possibly by government/military, to keep them away from "regular" humanity. Towards the end, the kids - who seemed to be able to cooperate almost telepathically and had little interest in the humans caring for them - had built a device out of seemingly innocuous parts and captured a Strangelet.

It was very hard science fiction, and I thought it might have been by either Greg Bear or Stephen Baxter, but none of the book summaries by either one sound familiar, unless I'm just missing the right one, or these details have been left out of the summaries I've found.

  • Did they have another set of arms instead of having legs? – EngrStudent Jan 9 '18 at 19:46
  • I'm away from home, so can't be sure, but this sounds very much like Manifold: Time by Stephen Baxter. The Wikipedia article (en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Manifold:_Time) just mentions "...the appearance of super-intelligent children around the world". – Aric TenEyck Jan 9 '18 at 19:52
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Going off of my original thought that it might be Stephen Baxter, and Aric TenEyck's suggestion it is Manifold: Time I used some more specific search queries, found some more in-depth reviews and plot summaries, and it certainly is Manifold: Time.

The plot is precipitated by the "Downstreamers" - effectively omniscient descendants of humanity who exist at the time of the ultimate heat death of the universe - who are determined to do something about the fact that, in the entire history of the universe, only humanity developed intelligence. The "Blues" are super-intelligent children being born around the globe thanks to Downstreamers meddling with the past. The Blues are feared and hated by normal humans and rounded up into prison camps. The Downstreamers send information through time about where to find and how to catch a "quark matter nugget" [which is, in fact, a Strangelet but not called such, hence my lack of positive search results] that is picked up by a group of Blues in a research facility on the moon. The Blues use the Strangelet to initiate a vacuum metastability event. The end-result is that the universe is "re-made" to a universe vastly more conducive to the development of intelligent life.

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