- THOMAS (M: mid-to-late 60s) An accomplished scientist used to being the smartest person in the room.
- CLAIRE (F: mid 40s) A research scientist (and Thomas' wife) who collaborates with Thomas and manages his labs.
- DAN (M: mid 60s) The Department Chair and Thomas's best friend.
- ERIK (M: mid-to-late 40s) Thomas's protégée – a rising hotshot impatient to become the alpha scientist.
- SAVANNAH (F: early30s) A promising young scientist still figuring out her place in the profession.
- PRESIDENT (M or F: 50s –70s) The University President whose interest in science is only insofar as it enhances his or her own legacy.
Thomas's office and laboratory at a major research university.
Hysteresis is a physical phenomenon where the behavior of a material depends not only on its current conditions, but also on where it's been – its history. Thomas Poole made his name exploiting hysteresis to develop faster and ever-smaller computer memory. His brilliance earned him the right to laser-focused pursuit of his passions in and out of the lab without recrimination or consequences.
Until now. A medical crisis causes the world expert on computer memories to lose some of his own memories. He must rebuild who he is from what he learns through his interactions with other people and with his own detailed personal notebooks. Thomas is horrified to realize that his personal and professional lives are built on an unstable foundation of ego, self-centered deception, and political manipulation. He resolves to change and thereby prove he's not the person they think he is.
Even someone as brilliant and determined as Thomas cannot escape the past. His attempts to repair his fractured relationship with his wife are threatened by the suggestions of an affair he can't even remember. An opportunity to endow a sixty-million-dollar research center – the legacy he's dreamt about his entire career – is jeopardized when Thomas's protégé uses the machinations he learned from Thomas against him. Even Thomas's attempts to prove his theory of hysteresis (his crowning scientific achievement) are quashed by the hard reality of data.
Finally, it all comes tumbling down. The only way to save Thomas's career, legacy and relationships seems to be for him to admit he really is the person everyone believes him to be – and not the person he wishes to become.