In the late 1890s, scientists at the University Beneath Chicago developed the first atomic bomb, a weapon which they referred to as the "Antithalesian device." Despite it being a milestone of human engineering, this research was never approved for surface publication. After proof of concept testing, the results joined scores of other papers in the vaults of Shaver Hall, only to be read again on a need-to-know basis.
While the surface world eventually produced a more reliable and efficient form of this technology, there are a number of suppressed studies whose results remain a mystery above. While some of these academic artifacts make for more theatric storytelling, like the fabled “star scissors” or "hell projector," none are so subtle, and so controversial, as Dr. Thekla Szczeswicz's research regarding the life cycles of caterpillars.
If the rumors are correct, Dr. Szczeswicz discovered a “gap” in a small section of genetic code shared by all butterflies. Analysis of the resultant schism revealed that these insects and their correponding caterpillars are, in fact, entirely separate species chained together by the same strand of DNA, processed into two entirely separate forms by variations in the generative process. The first of these lifeforms, the caterpillar, reduces itself to ooze in the chrysalis; then, the second species forms from the proteinous mess that remains of the first, constructing itself from the code’s unused remainder.
In other words, Dr. Szczeswicz's discovery implies that butterfly metamorphosis is nothing more than a Romantic myth. The caterpillar never experiences the miracle of having wings, and instead, destroys itself entirely for the sake of a creature that does not yet exist. It spends its entire existence gathering just enough matter and energy to build its own sarcophagus, as its kind cannot reproduce without allowing the butterflies to take their place.
Shortly after disclosing her findings to her peers, the professor appealed to have her own work censored in the Shaver vault. "This knowledge is not a weapon," she wrote, "Yet I have seen the way that it wounds the soul of the world. I cannot even bear to tell my own children what I have learned, for I know the heartbreak it would bring them, as I recognize it in myself. I’ve imagined this heartbreak multiplied by the hundreds of millions, and from such thoughts, I’ve come to understand that this is the correct course of action for our institution to take. So long as my work is sealed in that vault, it is not experimentally reproducible, and so long as that is the case, it is not scientific truth. I hope that it will remain that way for as long as possible."
If there is anything for the optimist to gain from her story, it is this: though Dr. Szczeswicz was confident in her results, they were (if the rumors are to be believed) never expanded to the entire order of Lepidoptera. The vast majority of moths have never been examined for this anomaly, and so long as the professor has things her way, they never will be.