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|Aperture Science, Inc.|
Scientific research corporation
Shower curtain manufacturer
|Date of establishment|
Aperture Science, Inc., often referred to as Aperture Science or simply Aperture, is a United States-based scientific research corporation appearing in Portal and Portal 2, as well as other sources.
Its main facility is the Enrichment Center, located in Upper Michigan, with at least one other base of operations in Cleveland, Ohio. Originally a shower curtain manufacturer named Aperture Fixtures, it evolved over the course of half a century into an experimental physics research institution and a bitter rival of Black Mesa.
Aperture Laboratories is also used as a trade name by Aperture Science for most of its products, as Aperture Science dba Aperture Laboratories. Aperture Science Innovators was the brand used before the 1970s.
- 1 Overview
- 2 Behind the scenes
- 3 Artwork gallery
- 4 List of appearances
- 5 References
Cave Johnson era
In 1947, Aperture Science's predecessor, Aperture Fixtures is founded by Cave Johnson, as a shower curtain manufacturer. The name "Aperture Fixtures", seemingly random, is chosen "to make the curtains appear more hygienic". In 1956, the Eisenhower administration signs a contract with Aperture to manufacture shower curtains to all branches of the US Military, except the Navy. From 1957 to 1973, the company produces mostly shower curtains, eventually making Cave Johnson a billionaire. Early work on the Aperture Science Handheld Portal Device began at this point as well; the early version, called the Aperture Science Portable Quantum Tunneling Device, proved to be too bulky for effective use, while poor surface conductors for the portals often caused mangling or death of the test subjects when they tried to use the portals.[source?] Repulsion Gel was first developed around this time as well for use as a diet aid. At first only the brightest and best of society was chosen for testing, but after being connected to a string of astronaut disappearances, Aperture Science focuses on recruiting homeless people for testing instead starting in 1976. (Propulsion Gel was released around this time too.) As far as 1973, Aperture also uses a bulletin board system.
In 1974, Cave Johnson is exposed to mercury while secretly developing a dangerous mercury-injected rubber sheeting from which he plans to manufacture seven deadly shower curtains to be given as gifts to each member of the House Naval Appropriations committee, likely because the decision of the Navy not getting its shower curtains from Aperture depended on that committee, and Johnson probably held a grudge against them for that. In 1976, both of Cave Johnson's kidneys fail. Brain damaged, dying, and incapable of realizing time is not now flowing backwards (thus realizing his time will come soon), he lays out a three tiered research and development program. The results, he says, will "guarantee the continued success of Aperture Science far into the fast-approaching distant past." What happens to Cave Johnson afterwards is unknown, although it is surmised he dies. It was later retconned that his cause of death was not from mercury, but from Conversion Gel, made out of ground-up moon rocks, mentioning in Portal 2 that Conversion Gel is a lethal poison that has left him deathly ill. The three tiers of this research and development program are:
- Tier 1: The Heimlich Counter-Maneuver - "A reliable technique for interrupting the life-saving Heimlich Maneuver." In other words, ensure choking.
- Tier 2: The Take-A-Wish Foundation - "A charitable organization that will purchase wishes from the parents of terminally ill children and redistribute them to wish-deprived but otherwise healthy adults." It counters the real-life Make-A-Wish Foundation, designed to grant wishes to terminally ill children.
- Tier 3: The 'Portal' project - As said by Johnson when it was first laid out: "Some kind of rip in the fabric of space... That would... Well, it'd be like, I don't know, something that would help with the shower curtains I guess. I haven't worked this idea out as much as the wish-taking one." This is what will become the 'Portal' project, involving the Aperture Science Handheld Portal Device and its creation of portals.
Post-Cave Johnson era
In 1981, Aperture engineers complete the Heimlich Counter-Maneuver and Take-A-Wish Foundation initiatives. The company announces products related to the research in a televised ceremony. These products become immediately wildly unpopular. After a string of very public choking and despondent sick child disasters, senior company officials are summoned before a Senate investigative committee. During these proceedings, an engineer mentions that some progress has been made on Tier 3, the "man-sized ad hoc quantum tunnel through physical space, with possible applications as a shower curtain." The committee is quickly permanently recessed, and Aperture is granted an open-ended contract to secretly continue research on the 'Portal' and Heimlich Counter-Maneuver projects. From 1981 to 1985, work progresses on the 'Portal' project. During this time, several high ranking Fatah personnel choke to death on lamb chunks despite the intervention of their bodyguards, showing that the US government has apparently put the Heimlich Counter-Maneuver to work.
As far as 1982, the Enrichment Center, where Test Subjects undergo tests, is functioning, as the Enrichment Center Test Subject Application Process, a 50-question questionnaire destined for applying Test Subject, is already used at that time. It is unknown if the Enrichment Center is already "computer-aided" in 1982, as scientists have been known to supervise them from small offices until an undetermined date. The Enrichment Center Test Subject Application is operated by version 1.07 of GLaDOS, later "1.07a" and "1.09". In 1985, the Aperture Image Format is created.
In 1986, word reaches Aperture Science management that Black Mesa is working on a similar portal technology. In response to this news, Aperture Science begins developing GLaDOS. It is unknown why and how her name was already in use as far as in 1973. In 1985, the Aperture Image Format is maintained by Doug Rattmann. In 1996, after a decade spent bringing the Disk Operating System parts of GLaDOS to a state of more or less basic functionality, work begins on the Genetic Lifeform component. During that time, the Aperture Science Red Phone plan is implemented in case GLaDOS appears to become sentient and godlike, requiring an employee to sit by a red phone on a desk in GLaDOS chamber's entrance hall. In 1997, GLaDOS' version is 3.11.
In 1998, Aperture Science releases the Propulsion Gel to the public as a diet aid, serving as a dietetic pudding substitute made out of liquefied, slightly less non-toxic fiberglass insulation (i.e. slightly more toxic) and marketed under the name "Propulsion Pudding". However it is a failure and must be pulled from shelves. Later that year a new formula, the Repulsion Gel, is released, and is another failure. Both Gels are subsequently recycled for use with the ASHPD in Test Chambers instead. The same year, Aperture releases other testing elements, such as the Excursion Funnel, a tractor beam-like funnel made of liquid asbestos, the Thermal Discouragement Beam, a laser to be used with a Weighted Pivot Cube to destroy Sentry Guns and activate some buttons, the Aerial Faith Plate, a catapult plate flinging into the air Test Subjects or any other object upon contact, and the Pneumatic Diversity Vent, a variant of the Vital Apparatus Vent used for distributing objects to Test Chambers.
In May 200-, the untested AI of GLaDOS is activated for the first time as one of the planned activities on Aperture's first annual bring-your-daughter-to-work day. Upon being activated, she almost instantly becomes self-aware, takes control of the facility, locks everyone inside, floods the Enrichment Center with a deadly neurotoxin, but is partially halted when she is quickly fitted with a Morality Core. She then begins a permanent cycle of testing, aimed at beating Black Mesa in the race to develop a functioning portal technology. However a few days later, on May 16, the Black Mesa Incident occurs at the Black Mesa Research Facility, allowing aliens to teleport from Xen to Earth, eventually leading to the Combine invasion, stopping GLaDOS' race against Black Mesa.
As seen in the hacker message found on ApertureScience.com referring to the lockdown, the remaining employees continue working, as they are said to be working on twenty year old equipment. The construction of an Enrichment Center is also mentioned, suggesting that the Aperture Laboratories house several of them. The number of Aperture Science employees also likely diminishes, until there are only a few of them left. The Aperture Science Handheld Portal Device is likely already completed at that time, but it is unknown if it is before or after GLaDOS' activation.
During that period, Portal Storms continue to rage on Earth and spread chaos, eventually leading to the Seven Hour War, resulting in Earth being defeated and subsequently controlled by the Combine. Later, around 20 years after GLaDOS' activation, Gordon Freeman is awakened from his stasis by the G-Man, and arrives in City 17, which greatly disturbs the Combine's grasp on Earth.
Some time after GLaDOS' takeover of Aperture Laboratories and shortly after the Combine invasion of Earth, the Enrichment Center seems to be long abandoned, and GLaDOS seems to rule it alone, although other people are apparently still trapped somewhere. The scribblings left by Rattmann also seem rather old, showing that the Enrichment Center has been partially abandoned for some time. A calendar named "The girls of Aperture Science", dated 1983, is also rather worn-out. Chell is awakened in her Relaxation Vault in the Enrichment Center, and is guided as a Test Subject by GLaDOS, utilizing the completed ASHPD, while the A.I. shows signs of instability. When GLaDOS attempts to murder Chell at the end of her tests, she flees through maintenance areas of the Enrichment Center, and eventually seemingly destroys GLaDOS, before being dragged away inside by the Party Escort Bot.
Before her partial destruction, GLaDOS hints to Chell that things have changed since the last time she left the building, and that what is going on out there will make her wish she were back in here. GLaDOS also says she was the only thing standing between them [GLaDOS and Chell] and an undetermined group, most likely the Combine.
Portal 2 era
Portal 2 is set several years after Portal. During that time Aperture Science as it originally was likely does not exist anymore, as GLaDOS and the Personality Cores took over the partially destroyed facility, where tests are still performed.
- Aperture Science owned a research ship, named Borealis, housing a yet to be revealed technology. It disappeared and took a chunk of its drydock with it and soon became a legend amongst the scientific community. Debate raged between Eli Vance and Isaac Kleiner over whether the technology within should be destroyed or used. Kleiner said he felt that the power could be used to destroy the Combine, but Eli seemed to suggest that he felt that trying to utilize the power could result in a repeat of the Black Mesa Incident.
- Aperture Science and Black Mesa were bitter rivals. As seen in the Portal maps "
testchmb_a_15" and "
escape_02", Aperture Science employees were briefed on Black Mesa through slideshow presentations, such as one titled "Dollar$ and Sense: Competing with Black Mesa for DoD and Government-wide Acquisition Contracts" (apparently made in the nineties, given its style). This slideshow gives some statistics pertaining to Black Mesa, a graphic comparing the GSA schedules for both Black Mesa and Aperture Science, showing that Black Mesa did not ask much and received more or less the same, while Aperture asked a lot, and received much less than Black Mesa, and compares what Aperture and Black Mesa have to submit to the Defense Logistics Agency for developing a Fuel System Icing Inhibitor, and the role of their GLaDOS in that task. These slides show how much they were directly competing for government funding; Isaac Kleiner also theorized that the Borealis disaster may have been caused by Aperture Science's rush for such funding.
"Dollar$ and Sense" slides
- During Chell's tests, GLaDOS mentions a "self esteem fund for girls", to which one can donate one or all of their vital organs. This is likely true, as it is apparently said as one of GLaDOS' few automatic messages.
- The bring-your-daughter-to-work day mentioned on ApertureScience.com is also mentioned by GLaDOS in Portal, where she says that that day is the perfect time to have one's daughter tested.
- A memo found among the ASCII art images revealed during the Portal ARG states that Aperture Science is built on three pillars, apparently coined by Cave Johnson himself:
"Pillar one: Science without results is just witchcraft.
Pillar two: Get results or you're fired.
Pillar three: if you suspect a coworker of bein' a witch, report them immediately. I cannot stress that enough. Witchcraft will not be tolerated."
- Another memo suggests that Cave Johnson had some issues with official accountants, who were likely responsible for managing the funds given by the state, as they seem to be an authority higher than him.
- Another memo appears to be a letter from Johnson to several Test Subjects who raised their concerns about the dangers of the research conducted by Aperture Science.
- As suggested in Portal, Aperture has not much concern about its Test Subjects. A memo revealed by the Portal ARG apparently consisting of the answer to a (confidential) letter received by Cave Johnson elaborates on this, and seems to describe the four types of Test Subjects and their behavior, in a not very human way. It goes as follows:
October 17th, 1976
Re: Human Enrichment & Testing Initiative, Resource Acquisitions
1. "Low Risk" Human Resource Acquisitions
a. Hoboes and Tramps
Lives spent wandering aimlessly, cowering before authority, and drinking concussive amounts of home-distilled potato alcohol make hoboes the perfect Human Enrichment test subjects. The hobo questions nothing, will follow orders if fed, and, like all hoboes, has a restless, wandering heart. (Note: The wandering heart of the hobo should not be confused with Drifting Heart Syndrome, which several transients contracted during testing.)
b. Child Orphans and Foundlings
Deep-rooted abandonment issues leave most orphans highly susceptible to shame-based psychology (for a complete list of opportune moments to obliterate the esteem of test subjects, please consult Training Video #89-D, "You'd Perform This Test Better if You Had Parents"). Recent advances in the use of scorn, flattery used in an ironic context and naked contempt as motivational tools have yielded similarly profitable results.
c. Psychiatric Patients
Past experience shows these fellows are simply not shy at all about carrying on, disrupting tests and defecating just about anywhere that pleases them. Frankly, it is off-putting, and small wonder why Aperture-brand mental institutions are being phased out in favor of more orphanages.
Frail, brittle hands make holding science devices difficult. Most were born before the advent of science, and can become confused and disoriented when asked to participate in relatively simple tests (teleportation, invisibility, adjusting esteem levels of orphan children)."
- Cave Johnson (Founder and CEO, 1953 - late 1980s)
- Caroline (secretary, Johnson's successor; late 1980s - unknown)
- Doug Rattmann (programmer, technician)
- Henry (technician)
- GLaDOS (central core)
- Wheatley (personality core, Relaxation Center monitor)
- Jerry (nanobot)
- Test Subject #1: S.J. Nye
- Test Subject #2: Lazarus Grey
- Test Subject #3: Leve Rage
- Test Subject #4: Robert C. Knoll
- Test Subject #042
- Test Subject #234
- Test Subject #1489: Charles Cardoze
- Test Subject #1490: Phil Konig
- Test Subject #1491: Christopher M. Pham
- Test Subject #1492: Arsenio Navarro
- Test Subject #1493: William D. Kent
- Test Subject #1494: Al Anderson
- Test Subject #1495: Emily Naransky
- Test Subject #1496: David C. Self
- Test Subject #1497: Doug Hopper
- Test Subject #1498: Chell
- Test Subject #1499: Marc Meaux
- Test Subject #1500: Brenda Bogenschutz
- Test Subject #1501: James Murray
- Mel (cut)
- 1500 Megawatt Heavy Duty Super-Colliding Super Button
- Advanced Knee Replacement
- Aerial Faith Plate
- ATLAS and P-body
- The Borealis (containing yet to be revealed technology)
- Core Transfer Receptacle
- Edgeless Safety Cube
- Edgeless Safety Cube Receptacle
- Emergency Intelligence Incinerator
- Excursion Funnel
- Work on a Fuel System Icing Inhibitor
- Hard Light Bridge
- High Energy Pellet
- Long Fall Boot
- Material Emancipation Grid
- Military Android
- Mobility Gels: Conversion Gel, Propulsion Gel, Repulsion Gel
- Party Escort Bot
- Personality Core (including Wheatley)
- Pipe Network
- Pneumatic Diversity Vent
- Cube Button
- Relaxation Chamber
- Relaxation Vault
- Security Camera
- Shower curtains (originally)
- Announcement System
- Work on teleportation, with the ASHPD and its portal creation
- Thermal Discouragement Beam
- Unstationary Scaffold
- Victory Lift
- Vital Apparatus Vent
- Weighted Pivot Cube
- Weighted Storage Cube
Aside from the famous experimental equipment such as the ASHPD, sentry turrets and various gels, Aperture Science conducted a number of research experiments over the course of its operation including:
- Attempting to reduce the water content of test subjects from sixty percent to around twenty or thirty percent through the use of jet engines.
- Using nanoparticles in the Mobility Gels to introduce "experimental genes and RNA molecules" into Test Subject's tumors caused by the facility itself.
- Using invisible lasers to turn Test Subject's blood into gasoline, apparently unnoticeable to the person unless directly observed.
- Introducing Fluorescent Calcium into Test Subjects through the blood to track the neuronal activity in their brain.
- An unknown experiment whose intended short-term byproduct is the human excretion of coal.
- Exposing the Test Subjects to a fully charged superconductor during tests in attempt to see what might happen, expecting between superpowers and tumors.
- An unknown experiment that could turn the Test Subject's blood into "peanut water" for a few minutes.
- Unlike the test that would turn Test Subject's blood into gasoline, it seems this one could cause immediately noticeable problems.
- Control Group Kepler-Seven was implanted with tiny microchips about the size of a postcard into their skulls which vibrates and beeps when it gets close to reaching five hundred degrees, likely due to overheating.
- A teleportation experiment which would sometimes fail to bring the Test Subject's skin depending on the type they have.
- An unknown, inaccessible experiment along the player's Test Chamber course seeming to unintentionally invoke time travel.
- Figuring out uses for ground up moon rock, although finding it to be highly poisonous.
- Determining the result of injecting Praying Mantis DNA into Test Subjects.
- This test was later revised for previous applicants of test to kill the army of "Mantis Men" likely produced by this with rifles.
The results of these experiments varied greatly. Many were discontinued and vitrified, sealed behind heavy vault doors with biohazard warnings. Oddly, the introductory recordings at the doors were left functional.
Behind the scenes
- Aperture literally means "narrow gap or hole". This most likely refers to the ASHPD and its Portals. This makes it literally mean, "Portal Science".
- On ApertureScience.com, "1975", "1978" and "1979" were originally given as the date for Aperture Science ceasing manufacturing only shower curtains, Johnson's mercury poisoning, and Johnson's kidney failure, respectively. These dates were later retconned to 1973, 1974 and 1976, as seen in the updated Aperture Science timeline on Game Informer.
- An Orange Box Achievement named "Aperture Science" requires to earn gold medals on all Portal challenges.
- When Portal was made available for free on Steam in May 2010 to coincide with its arrival on the Mac platform, a promotional video titled "Portal is Free" was released by Valve on YouTube through their official channel, and was presented as a "motivational recruitment video" (it was renamed "Portal is Free (Well, it was - now it's just a good deal)." when the deal was over), in a similar fashion to the original Portal trailer, titled "Orientation Video no. 1 - A Safe and Healthy Environment". In the video's written introduction, the deal is said to have been made possible "in part by a generous grant from Aperture Science" itself. Then the video is mostly made of isometric subjects filled with stick figures. The first isometric subject is two levels of the Aperture Laboratories, where stick figures can be seen using the ASHPD, using toilets, speaking in a projection room, reading a book, waiving, etc. A 1500 Megawatt Aperture Science Heavy Duty Super-Colliding Super Button can also be seen, as well as several stacked Weighted Storage Cubes, and ATLAS and P-body. GLaDOS herself explains that Portal itself was a cornerstone recruitment tool for Aperture Science's 'Portal' project. GLaDOS then says that the game has shown them that, when confronted with science, Test Subjects may exhibit several personality flaws. Stick figure Test Subjects are then seen moving on a conveyor belt, with a Portal box in their hands. Each illustrates a personality flaw said by GLaDOS: cowardice (the Test Subject throws away its Portal box and jumps from the belt), impaired motor skills (a portal opens and the TS falls through it), poor judgment (the TS turns its back, to show a Black Mesa tattoo on the buttocks), fear of heights (the conveyor belt lowers itself, to leave the TS in the void, to let him fall while it utters a Wilhelm scream), weights (the TS gets crushed by a Companion Cube), depths (drowns in a tub of the Portal green liquid brought from underneath), bullets (Aperture Science Sentry Turrets make bullet holes in the TS), and fire (the TS goes up in flames). Then GLaDOS says that the Aperture marketing engineers have decided to give Portal for free to consumers, depicting it as a "home version of the 'Portal' project". She then suggests consumers to measure the value of those around them, and find a companion for the upcoming Cooperative Portal Testing Initiative (introduced in the Portal ARG), i.e. Portal 2.
- Portal series' writers Chet Faliszek and Erik Wolpaw sees the rivalry between Aperture Science and Black Mesa as "snobs versus slobs", Black Mesa being the snobs and Aperture Science "the slobs, the lovable goofballs".
Portal is filled with Aperture Science and Aperture Laboratories logos, with numerous color variants.
Aperture Science logo variants
As with Black Mesa, the Aperture Science logo is directly based on the company's name, appearing as a stylized, partially closed diaphragm, with an aperture in the center. An "aperture" is an adjustable opening in an optical instrument, such as a camera or telescope, that controls the amount of light passing through a lens or onto a mirror. An "aperture" can also simply refer to any opening. However the name "Aperture Science" is likely random, as it was merely chosen for its shower curtains to appear "more hygienic". Dog's unique eye is also an aperture in a diaphragm; the Emergency Intelligence Incinerator is also topped by a diaphragm. Furthermore, real-life logos such as the Picasa or the Jyske Bank logos bear similarities with the Aperture Science logo.
Aperture Laboratories logo variants
Posters and other
Propaganda poster, with the motto "Not Never But NOW". It is sold at the Valve Store.
Propaganda poster, with the motto "Courage is Not the Absence of Fear". It is sold at the Valve Store.
Poster promoting becoming a Test Subject, showcasing $60 as a reward.
Poster for the laboratories, with Aperture misspelled as "Aperature", revealed during the PotatoFoolsDay ARG.
List of appearances
- ApertureScience.com (First appearance)
- Portal: First Slice
- Portal: Still Alive (Non-canonical appearance)
- Portal ARG
- PotatoFoolsDay ARG
- Portal 2: Lab Rat
- The Final Hours of Portal 2
- Aperture Robot Repair (Non-canonical appearance)
- Portal Pinball (Non-canonical appearance)
- Lego Dimensions (Non-canonical appearance)
- The Up Pioneer Press cover
- The Valve Store
- Portal trailer
- Portal ARG
- PotatoFoolsDay ARG
- Borealis blueprint
- Shower Curtain Salesman award, 1943
- Aperture Science: A History on Game Informer
- Portal commentary
- Game Informer, April 2010 issue
- Portal 2 video playlist on Combine OverWiki's YouTube channel
- "How Valve Opened Up Portal 2" on Eurogamer.net
- Resource "09394469.756\07583916.313"
- Resource "07533945.935\09823219.940"
- Resource "08041249.801\00366566.522"
- Resource "05083881.801\04186850.542"
- "Aperture" definition on The Free Dictionary
- Schematics of different aperture positions in a camera lens on the University of Victoria website