Beyond This Horizon

The cacoastrum of the embedding empyrean, in information physics, can best be defined as the all-set. As the all-set it contains in potentia all entities, including all rules by which all entities behave, all forces which affect all entities, and all frameworks against which any of these all can be measured, in a continuously churning framework of all possible interactions.

(These interactions could be thought of as occurring over all time. This is inaccurate. The concept of time itself – indeed, many differing concepts of time – is a member of the all-set, which does not at any given not-time include time, or time in any particular relationship with any other all-set members.)

Some of these agglomerations of entities occasionally attain self-consistency and long-term stability.

These agglomerations are the ones we term “universes”.

 – Extrauniversal Metaphysics: A Hypothetical Exploration,
Academician Éöl Liuvis

The Importance of Physics Class

“Station Ops, this is Clovis One-Four, reporting on-site from incident gamma.”

“Clovis One-Four, Station Ops, go.”

“Station Ops, some damn tourist tried to board the garden ‘fuge by dropping from above again. No secondary casualties, thank Athnéël, but the groundscape’s a mess.”

“Clovis One-Four, do you need a medical team?”

“Negative, Station Ops, just the coroner and a pressure washer.”

“Despatched, Clovis One-Four, and eugh.”

“Ain’t no good way to describe a hundred-yard streak of stupid, Station Ops. Clear.”

The Incidental Problems of Handwavial Correctness

Today’s vexing aesthetic physics of handwavium problem:

INASMUCH as the energy levels and resulting orbitals of muon-proton atoms are completely different from those of electron-proton atoms –

WELL, obviously, or what would be the point in making muon metals in the first place –

AND INASMUCH as this makes muon-photon interactions differ remarkably from electron-photon interactions, thus changing radically the emission spectrum and other optical properties from their electronic equivalent –

WHAT do the blasted things look like?

(It is on those mornings when I find myself contemplating this before my first cup of coffee, inasmuch as said metals are a vitally important and visible component of a hypothetical fusion torch drive, that I have some sympathy for the technobabble approach to doing things. Somehow, I doubt the Star Trek writers ever had to deal with this sort of thing…)

Other Sizes, Maybe

Resplendent Exponential Vector Grant Council to Valeran Simíche, greeting.

We have received your experimental proposal of the 19th inst.

However, in the absence of significant theoretical and preferably experimental support for the hypothesis that penetrating the brane will not result in the universe entire popping like a soap bubble with the consequent instantaneous dissolution of its contents into the sempiternal cacoastrum tides of the infinite, all-containing empyrean, this institution must reject your grant application.

(Besides, we don’t have a galactic-core-class black hole to offer you in the first place.)

Nonetheless, we recognize the importance of this line of inquiry and welcome future applications.

Calis Steamweaver

for and on behalf of

Resplendent Exponential Vector Grant Council

What is Ontotechnology?

…a reader asks.

Well, let me say right up front that ontotechnology as I describe it is pure-quill handwavium. Its connection to contemporary, real-world physics is that I endeavor to avoid coming right out and stabbing said contemporary, real-world physics in the face; after all, anything discovered in the future has to be consistent with the present. Rather, it is my speculation as to what the physics of the future as expanded by posthuman intellects running on hardware the size of small moons would look like – and as pure speculation, that means I don’t want to see any “but I read in this book that it was possible” arguments made anywhere, ‘kay?

Disclaimer over with, I stole the term from Eliezer S. Yudkowsky, who coined it as a neologism for “technology that permits manipulation of the fundamental rules of reality”. Which is exactly what ontotechnology does.

(How does it do it? Well, I postulate that the fundamental realization behind ontotechnology – by any of the three theories you care to use – is that at a very basic level, the map is the territory. Information and mass-energy are essentially equivalent. Mathematics doesn’t just represent the fundamental structure of reality; it is the fundamental structure of reality. Think of the universe, if you will, as a computer program, database, and processor all of which are also each other; ontotechnology, in those terms, is the skillful application of the root password and a debugger to it to make it work differently.)

You want to change the laws of physics? It does that. Treat space and time as building material? It does that, too. Set the speed of light to 60 mph, abolish the weak nuclear force, make gravity attract in proportion to the cube of the distance instead of the square, invent an entire new universal force that affects particles based on their heretofore-unknown qualities of shiny, fluffy, and matte? Sure, no problem. Can do. A fully mature ontotechnology would let you invent your very own personal version of physics that works exactly the way you want it to and impose it on whatever bit of the universe you want to work that way – or, hell, just reach outside, take hold of the brane, and make a new universe that runs according to your principles.

The problem, of course, is that even for weakly godlike moon-brains, programming universes is very, very complicated. The set of self-consistent/self-sustaining physical laws is a very, very tiny subset of the set of expressible physical laws, and the set of physical laws that are compatible with the existence of mass-energy as we know it is an even tinier subset of that subset, and the set of physical laws that are compatible with the existence of complex informational structures like, well, us is… you get the picture – and that’s without taking into account whatever laws control ontotechnology itself. (And, to further extend that debugging analogy, when you crash the universe tryin’, you don’t get a nice friendly exception message, or even a blue screen of death.)

All of which is why no-one, in the present time of the Eldraeverse, has a fully mature ontotechnology, and probably won’t for millions if not billions of years to come.

But they have been able to figure out a few applications that can be made to work safely and reliably, and that’s where technologies like the controllable wormhole, and the tangle channel, and vector control (which lets you do interesting things to gravity and the linkage between inertial and gravitational mass, starting with breaking mass into those two distinct concepts) come from – and where any future breakthroughs along those lines (say, if I decide at some point to let dimensional transcendence be invented) and/or mysterious rule-breaking alien artifacts dug up will draw from.

Clearly, This Is The 1.0 Release

Responses to the advent of Information Physics, and the proposal that the universe, in essence, is a self-simulating simulation, a program using itself as a processor, usually fall into one of four classes.  The ambitious immediately wonder how we can apply this in the short-term to build better, faster, more fundamental using-the-same-techniques-as-the-universe – or possibly built out of small universes – processors, ushering in a whole new revolution in computer technology free from all the inconvenience of leptons and photons and other messy materiel.

The exceptionally ambitious, contrariwise, begin formulating a long-term plan to recompile the whole damn thing without various of its more irritating limitations, usually involving removing the Luminal Limit and making some serious revisions to the Laws of Thermodynamics.

The curious, pointing out correctly both that a logos will run in just about any medium possessed of the ability to execute certain non-deterministic mathematical operations and sufficient free energy, and, indeed, that the evolution of so many disparate forms of sophont life demonstrates that they also arise spontaneously in many different places, wonder who might be living in the interstices of our natural laws, and how we might go about contacting them.

And the incurably paranoid, agreeing with the curious, go on to wonder if these fast-running fundamental-stratum information lifeforms are coming to eat all our brains, or worse, if they already have?

– It Thinks Therefore We Are, Lylvíëve Lochran-ith-Lochran

Fundamentally, It’s Stuff

“‘What is reality?’, you ask.  Beneath all the photons and leptons and baryons and gluons, underlying space-time and quantum fields, out there in the realm of fundamentals where the natural ontologists and the ontotech engineers play, what actually is the world made from?  What is underneath it all, what can we do with it, and is there any way to make another one, possibly a better one?”

“In this department, we have three answers, and this course will cover all of them.”

“First and most conventionally, Matrix Theory postulates a six-dimensional continuum of interacting fields and strings, whose interactions and resonances along all modes are reflected as — in the four-dimensional slice of this continuum which we occupy and directly perceive — the shadow-on-the-wall phenomena which we interpret as space and time, energy and matter, even — possibly — the basis for the nondeterministic mathematics of the logos.”

“Second, Information Physics holds, instead, that “it is bit”; that the basis for all of plenary reality is software.  The universe is no more than the interaction of patterns of information, a self-modifying hardware-less algorithm (or rather, idestelté – the existence of the algorithm is equivalent to the existence of the processor) continually computing itself.  (Albeit, in this theory, one with an unfortunate resource leak; but then, software can be debugged.  Even if that software is also the universe.)”

“Third, Ontological Precedence holds that the plenum is defined-created by the binding of extrauniversal principles, mirithestel — Identity, Existence, Location, Time, Entropy, and so forth — in accordance with an external topology of infinite metaphysical possibility.  This binding creates the rules by which the universe operates, and hence defines its constituents.  By modifying this underlying binding, whether globally in the construction of so-called pocket universes, or by local modification, deletion, or insertion of such mirithestel, all the less fundamental aspects of reality, mere particles and physical laws, may be defined or altered as one wishes.”

“These are the three most popular and accepted theories in the field.  The difficulty, of course, is that ontotechnological devices have been built using, and to verify, the predictions of all three of these theories — and they all function.  Which in turn suggests that we have at least one more layer of the delightful complexity of the universe to unwrap, even after refining these, before we can approach the true answer to that question.”

“After all, it would be a shame to find the single answer in only a few thousand years, wouldn’t it?”

– Academician Kathery Melithos-ith-Meliastinos, Professor of Natural Ontology, University of Almeä