Sunday, April 25, 2010

[Mythos XII]

With apologies to HP Lovecraft, Stephen King, and Charles Stross. Copyright 2010 Thomas James Hardman, Jr, all rights reserved. This is a work of fiction. References to real places and things may be included but their usage is fictional in nature and intent. Any similarity to real persons or parties is coincidental and should be seen as fictional in nature and intent.

Perhaps you'd like to jump back to the previous chapter?

It may seem implausible to many people that we have access to alien dimensions, and that we have frequently had cause to regret this.

Well, because something might be plausibly deniable will in no way reliably determine whether something either did or didn't happen, or whether what may or may not have actually happened is plausible. Implausible things happen all of the time, with the commonly used example being the flight of the bumblebee; their wings are engineered terribly inefficiently and they appear to have an impossible weight-to-wing-surface ratio. As it turns out, it's not the wings that keep the bumblebee aloft quite as much as it is the way that it buzzes those wings which keeps it aloft. More or less, it's lfying along on a song and a prayer, with the prayer probably having far less to do with it than the song. It seems quite implausible and you can stand there all day long denying that bumblebees can fly, "the math proves it's impossible!" and if you stand there long enough declaring your absolute certainty, a bumblebee may fly right over and sting you on your ass.

It may seem entirely implausible that if you generate a spark between two pieces of wire, that a comparable spark will be generated at a comparable gap between comparable wires which are seemingly totally unconnected to the first pair of wires. Yet however implausible it may sound, the spark gap transmitter is the basis of all radio technology, and that means that one of the largest and most profitable industries on the planet is based on implausibility.

It may seem implausible that slightly impure pieces of ceramic can harbor intelligent life, and so far as we have been able to arrange it here on earth, none do. Yet such slightly impure pieces of ceramic are -- at blinding speeds far beyond human capabilities -- converting electronic signals into human readable formats. If you're reading this on a laptop, connected to the global internet by wireless, you're doubly implausible, aren't you.

When you put enough implausibilities together, quite frequently you've created a technology from natural phenomena. That's how we eventually got radio, and television, and Lawrence Welk and even Disco. Thus, a concatenation of implausible harnessings of natural principles led inevitably, or almost inevitably, to this:

Some would argue, thus, that acceptance of implausibility inevitably (or almost inevitably) leads to the pinnacle of art. Others would hear such a statement in such a context and die of a stroke while rolling around on the floor laughing. Yet all would probably accept that the more implausibilities you harness at once, the more astonishing, the more potentially useful and valuable, the result.

But really, it all depends on which implausibilities you are stringing together.

An unwillingness to accept implausibilities had for many years hampered the advance of modern physics. Experiments with the interference patterns of light passing through the classic dual-slit interferometry apparatus generated exceptionally repeatable data that rather defied any easy interpretation (italics mine):
For example, when electrons are fired at the target screen in bursts, it is easy to account for the interference pattern that results by assuming that electrons that travel in pairs are interfering with each other because they arrive at the screen at the same time, but when a laboratory apparatus was developed that could reliably fire single electrons at the screen[25], the emergence of an interference pattern suggested that each electron was interfering with itself; and, therefore, in some sense the electron had to be going through both slits.[26] For something that most people continue to imagine to be an unimaginably small particle to be able to interfere with itself would suggest that this "sub-atomic particle" was in two places at once, but that idea is strongly at odds with the truism, "You cannot be in two places at the same time," (see principle of contradiction). It was easier to conceptualize the electron as a wave than to accept another, more disturbing implication (from the point-of-view of our everyday notions of reality): that quantum objects are able to exist and behave in ways that defy classical interpretation.

Many people might consider this "implausible". Yet even more implausible things are done:
We present a detailed experimental analysis of a free-propagating light pulse prepared in a "Schrödinger kitten" state, defined as a quantum superposition of "classical" coherent states with small amplitudes. This state is generated by subtracting one photon from a squeezed vacuum beam, and it clearly presents a negative Wigner function. The predicted influence of the experimental parameters is in excellent agreement with the experimental results. The amplitude of the coherent states can be amplified to transform our "Schrödinger kittens" into bigger Schrödinger cats, providing an essential tool for quantum information processing. (Generating Optical Schrödinger Kittens for Quantum Information Processing , Ourjoumtsev et al., Science DOI: 10.1126, 2007)

And in case anyone has forgotten, Schrödinger's Cat is both alive and dead, and lives in not one, not two, but a veritable cloud of alternate universes.

Sort of like my boss...

He's not really my boss, more like a research subject that can't be allowed to be heard to speak, much less to escape from where we have walled him up like a monster in a tomb, where he taps out morse code that is recorded by nearly-illiterate psychotic convicts on an impromptu death row.

Yet in some ways, he is my boss, in the same way you are a robot to a text message on your phone that reminds you to go pick up the kids from school for their dental appointments. Not exactly the person who signs off on my paycheck, as if I needed one. His exposure to Something From Beyond has turned him into a sort of vessel for a very small (yet potentially extremely destructive) sub-set of a quantum computing life form that as best we can tell nourishes itself by devouring entire universes. We've been spared from its ravages mostly because it finished off its last meal so long ago that it's been reduced to digesting itself, so to speak. It's digesting my boss, or at least the sub-set is digesting as much of him as it can without destroying its own host processing environment.

It feeds by devouring information in some way we can't quite understand, and more or less excretes entropy, again in some way we can't quite understand. Our own universe is vast, and largely empty, with the only interesting parts being those which are characterized by accumulations of orderliness. Organized energy and matter and the intertwined relationships between the two are what make suns burn, create complex elements, and power the processes of life. It's this division between organization and emptiness, this concentration of energy and matter contrasting with the bitter cold and utter emptiness of the majority of the universe, that gives our universe life. All of our living processes effectively harvest the organization of matter and energy created by other organisms, all of which are ultimately dependent on the fusion of hydrogen towards a heavier, more grounded, nuclear state.

The most stable of all elements is lead, and eventually that's about all that will be left of our universe: accretions of lead and near-lead elements, with no more possibility of more fusion or fission and nothing to fight gravity. Depending on to which set of theories you subscribe, either we become an ever shrinking ball of neutronium, a black hole of such size and power as to suck the rest of the universe in with it when if falls out of spacetime. Other theories might postulate that the giant ball of neutronium tunnels through Hilbert-Hawking space into adjacent universes, a hadron at a time (actually a lot of hadrons into a lot of timespaces), providing new energy and matter. It doesn't matter much to me; we will all be long since perished as our form of life utterly requires a near absence of entropy. Yet something will probably live on. As near as we can tell, that is what are the Great Old Ones: beings that conserve information to themselves and gather it in any form they can ingest, quantum computers eating each other on the surface of a great ball of neutronium that's all that's left of their incomprehensibly old universe(s), adrift through all of spacetime on the immeasurable flood tide of transuniversal gravitomagnetelectric uber-force.

If any of these things ever managed to get all of their self into our universe, humanity would perish like a bacterium on the surface of a steak that's been dropped on the dining room floor near a hungry Rottweiler. Gobbled right up, not that the Rottweiler is worried about bacteria; the steak is what it's after.

The Great Old Ones would devour our universe in a few swift gulps, so to speak, just like a Rottweiler will gobble up a steak you might drop on the floor. The difference between the Great Old Ones and a hungry Rottweiler being, more or less, that unlike the Rottweiler, the Great Old Ones will actually try to talk with the bacteria. After all, they might be convinced to help walk the steak over to the edge of the table... closer to the floor... and to the waiting jaws.

Hence my boss, as it were.

He doesn't have any information coming in to him by any means we can detect, yet he told me that Goldman Sachs would be selling crap mortgage-backed deriviatives and then shorting them when they folded, and that's exactly what happened. When asked -- slightly before the crisis began -- how he knew this, the morse code came back through the roundabout relay and the response said, "It's fucking Goldman, how the fuck else could it be?" I went long on oil, figuring that would be where pension-fund capital would go when the housing market slid off of a cliff, and when the pension-fund capital stampeded into oil, I was there to sell it to them. When oil futures started collapsing I had funding aplenty to short the market until there was nothing left to short and no liquidity to short. That's because I held almost all capital, bonds, and notes, along with a lot of begging and promises.

Once I had piled up the tonnage and got less caught up in the moment and started to take more sober stock of things, I realize that even walled up in his tomb, even limited to talking via morse code, the "infovore" had managed to feed, and to feed by proxy: without doing anything more than lifting a finger to go tap tap tap, it had vastly reduced the level of discrete organization and the number of organized entities, concentrated information and energy, and attached it to its own metabolic support system. I'm the guy who drops food and water into the chute, and runs the pumps that keep the groundwaters of the Watery Branch from seeping in to flood his tomb.

Just to make up for the damage, I think I'll waste some of these huge piles of loot by going long on Goldman Sachs when every bit of commonsense says I ought to short them, and short them hard, and sell tranches of that shorting, and sell 'em to Goldman Sachs via proxy, and then buy t-bills with it. The only problems with that are that, first, this would take us back to the Bad Old Days when the appearance of Erin Burnett's hair was the most reliable predictor of Wall Street's behavior for the upcoming day; secondly, causing massive disruption is what the entity wants, at least for now.

But all of this is beside the point.

In the same way that he predicted the Great Recession -- or at least pointed out where it would start, and how -- now he's predicting that as his old lab is decommissioned, multiple groups will be swarming the area trying to get the Big Deal: about half a ton of supercomputer, a supercomputer that is seriously infested to the gills with downloads from the implacable ancient entities from beyond.

If anyone manages to steal any part of that, and g_d-forbid plugs it in -- much less plugs it into the unfiltered global internet -- the things that will get loose into our infosystems, economy, defense systems, and planetary ecology (in roughly that order) will make the threat posed by my "boss" small potatoes indeed, by comparison. As scary as he is, I think he's actually scared. Perhaps even terrified.

His messages are increasingly cryptic, even for a malevolent entity from outside of known reality. I can understand it when he goes on and on about tunnels and caves; but what's all this about health insurance, dental offices, and "bus routes of the damned"?