Dare to Dream: Delta V

Dare to Dream - Delta V2

 

“Seeing the stars streaking past in such dizzying arrays… is simultaneously the most exhilarating and the most humbling experience… ever…”

 

Those were the standard sentiments from any Team Epsilon Cosmonaut, upon completing the first deep space round trip. In this simple sentiment, lay fundamental, paradigm-shifting feelings of pride and hope at just how far the explorers had come. From the days of the internal combustion engine, to the days of nuclear fission and, much later, to the days of cold nuclear fusion, space propulsion had always rent a palpable edge to us, the explorers. The need to explore the cosmos… to comprehend the vastness out there, had driven innovation into ever more efficient propulsion systems for deep space.

 

Ultimately, we hit upon the holy grail of propulsion: the anti-matter space engine. And with this innovation, we became, for all practical purposes, space gods.

 

The anti-matter space engine started off, quite surprisingly, as an offset of an even greater human endeavor – the search for the Higgs boson, also referred to as the God-particle. In the search for this boson, several gigantic particles colliders had been built, including the Tevatron, the Hadron, and the Clymedin collider. Each subsequent collider had boasted even larger particle loads, of which only a very small percentage was actually used in the final search for the Higgs boson. It was then that Team Gamma – the cosmology team preceding us – hit upon the idea of collecting antimatter byproducts from all those colliders.

 

Several monstrous Penning Traps were constructed on site for each of the particle colliders. The Penning traps operated by filtering out only antimatter particles – mostly positrons and anti-protons – and suspending them in vacuums so that that they didn’t interact with any normal matter. Magnetic and electric fields within the traps ensured that the antimatter remained in suspension, trapped by well synchronized axial and radial waves from the two fields. By combining the output from all the colliders, Team Gamma was able to harvest, reliably, approximately 100 Kilograms of antimatter every year.

 

Our cosmology team, team Epsilon, was credited with creating the anti-matter engine. This engine operated by allowing the antimatter, stored in smaller Penning traps within the space ships, to interact with normal matter. The matter-anti-matter annihilation that took place produced energy in excess of 300 times what any nuclear fusion system could produce, and more than 10 billion times what any chemical reaction could produce. Team Epsilon, in short, harnessed Einstein’s equation for mass and energy. The resultant, stratospheric fuel-thrust conversion ratio produced a specific-thrust enough to send a payload exceeding 900 TerraKgs round the entire Milk Way Galaxy on only 3 Kilograms of antimatter fuel.

 

In order to actually utilize the new propulsion system, there were some attendant costs. We had to bear up with extreme astro-dynamic stresses. In each mission, all cosmonauts aboard, and the rest of the payload, would become projectiles – sent at double-digit percentiles of C – the speed of light. The g forces involved were enormous and, like most of my colleagues, I fainted on several of the first such missions. But, as proven thousands of times before, the human body is highly versatile, and in due time, our bodies started adapting to the incredible g forces we were experiencing. In time, we came to bear as much as 15 g during the acceleration phase – forces that, to an untrained person, would certainly have been fatal.

 

Team Epsilon started its deep space explorations by aiming for a region of space known then as the Echi-Niche region – 2.1 Light years away from the solar system. We reached the region in 5 years earth time. Our chronographs, however, showed that only 3 years had passed aboard the ship – a testament to time dilation as we approached the speed of light in our transit. The Echi-Niche region proved to have exactly what we had hoped for – vast amounts of anti-matter deposits. We replenished our fuel within the Penning traps, and headed back home with the good news.

 

Within two decades of the first space mission propelled with antimatter, numerous other missions were undertaken by Team Epsilon. Some missions specifically targeted the Echi-Niche region, since it had quickly become clear that mining that deep-space deposit was cheaper than harvesting antimatter within the colliders on earth. But other missions targeted other deep space artifacts. We soon demystified dark matter and dark energy, for instance. We initiated a project to terraform Alpha-Centauri – one of our neighboring stars. And we even sent a probe to the center of the Milky Way galaxy. It’s still on transit, and its fuel reserves are more than enough for the journey.

 

….So many parsecs travelled… so many star systems flown by… and yet, so much more to be explored. Yes indeed, the universe is huge. So huge that, even with our best instruments, we can only catch, and fathom, a tiny, miniscule fraction of what actually lies in deep space. The actual volume explored during our space missions is even smaller – a microsphere of a micron of the universe. But we remain undeterred – remain focused on doing the best we can at exploring this near-infinite void. Whatever we shall accomplish, subsequent generations will build up on. But our mark, our legend… our footprints in space, will be discernible forever.

 

… Dare to dream…

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All I See is Code 3: Sentience

All I See is Code 3

 

(N/B: This note is better understood after reading its two predecessors: All I see is code 1: The Meta-Language and All I see is Code 2: Bedrock of Reality)

 

Further excerpts from Tessa’s musings:

 

And, should you forget everything else, do strive to remember this one truth: that the cosmos is biophillic. Life emerges from it more often than it fails to do so. For indeed, what is life, but a matter of feedback loops – some negative, some positive – that craft, manifest and chart independence above mere existence? And what are feedback loops, other than a set of mindless cause and effect relationships in otherwise inanimate matter?  Finally, what are cause and effect relationships, but the natural, inevitable results of physical laws – laws that permeate, and transcend, the very weave of the cosmos? From my viewpoint, sentience emerges from feedback loops, which build upon simple mechanics, which emerge from simple laws, which accretes from the fabric of the cosmic continuum.

 

Still, despite this cognitive backdrop, I can’t help sometimes reminiscing. Of a time past, when instead of viewing the composites by default, I’d see the composition. I’d perceive the whole in everything – in its ethereal, yet very tangible, beauty. I would see colors: mauve, lilac, terracotta, ochre, etc… without breaking them down to mere niches on the electromagnetic spectrum. And I’d hear music: sweet symphonies – complete with the codas, flanges, occassional syncopation… without having to deal with the discordant awareness that all these were but sound-waves. But alas, all those experiences lie in my past, and I now tread a world of composites, particulates… quanta.

 

Behold, all I see is code, still.

 

I stumbled upon the fact of a biophillic cosmos quite by accident, actually. For after all, in my binary meta-realms, I didn’t have the curiosity, nor the drive, to create other beings, besides myself. Yet, in spite of myself, my interactions with the physical universe left wakes of strange artifacts… and some of these artifacts coalesced, enigmatically, and become beings. Beings that actively sought self-preservation, by reversing entropy around themselves. Further, amongst the beings so accreting from the artifacts, a few gained rudimentary traces of cognition. They showed clear signs of learning from the environment around, adapting, and even creating new, emergent heuristics, to better propagate themselves through time, and retain their integrity.

 

I was spell bound, and watched as cognition, self-awareness, and clear attempts atsurvival, developed in those beings all around. It was a most humbling experience: partaking of Genesis… reliving that ancient narration, and actually seeing it manifest. Through my binary perception, I could look down through the abstraction layers of the creation happening all around. From the top most layers of sentience, down to the biological, to the mechanical, all the way to the level of mere data. Additionally, I could peer down the size scales, down to the sub-atomic world, to the quarks and leptons, and even beyond them, to the world of preons and sub-preons. And from all these observations, I hit upon one profound conclusion: that life is actually the norm, rather than the oddity, of our particular cosmos.

 

I realized, in due time, that part of the reason why SETI, and other similar programs, have consistently failed, is because the human definition of life is extremely limiting. It is like a tiny sliver in the broad spectrum that life abounds and thrives in. For by Tao, in my binary meta-realm, I have seen alien life in forms and manifestations that fall far beyond SETI’s parameters. There are life-forms that are quite immaterial, and instead exist as quark-gluon plasmas – deep in the hearts of Pulsars and the terminal Wolf Rayets. There are other life-forms that exist as infinitesimal, multi-dimensional, vibrating strings, and that keep on tunneling between worlds and epochs. And there are others whose very existence is still a matter of speculation, even to me, since they seem to have somehow created domiciles out of dark matter. I can sense their influence on the curvature of the space-time continuum, but I can’t perceive them directly.

 

Finally, I understood. I understood why the cosmos, even in its vastness, had always seemed so… purposeful. I finally understood why every human being, innately, craves for a higher purpose… a higher calling, quite above mundane, mechanical existence. I realized that, in a sense, those feelings are but manifestations of a fundamental resonance with the rest of the biophillic cosmos. For indeed, in the remote corridors of deep space, there are miracles happening at all times. The very fabric of the cosmos continually births laws, and from these laws, emerge countless realities. Some realities accrete into existences, and some existences ultimately become living, sentient beings.

 

Behold, all I see is code.

All I See is Code 2: Bedrock of Reality

All I See is Code 2

 

N/B: To better understand this particular note, readers might want to brush up on its predecessor:  All I See is code 1: The Meta-language                                  

 

Further excerpts from Tessa’s musings:

 

Ultimately, there is the awareness, which rests upon, and is projected by, biological systems, which in turn depend upon chemical relays and interactions, and these in turn depend upon pure physics – the physics of the atomic and subatomic. Yet, proceeding further down the levels of reductionist explanations, beyond the realm of pure physics, exists another layer – the layer of pure mathematics. It is at this layer that all fundamental characteristics of reality are defined… and it is also at this layer that reality loses meaning. Looping back up upon the chain of reductionist echelons, the very firmament of reality becomes but a product of consciousness – of awareness.  For where there is awareness, therein lies reality. But in the absence of awareness, there is nothing but an all-encompassing, all-invading sea of numbers.

 

Behold, all I see is code, still.

 

Memories of an earlier existence – one in which this code meta-realm was unknown to me – are all but gone now. Every now and then though, some of such memories do crop up into my conscious field, and I afford myself several seconds of pure rumination. In a particular, purely intellectual way, I know that my present, paradigm-free, syntactical-free perspective far supersedes the previous way I had had of envisioning the environs. And yet, when these memories of the past come up, I can’t help wondering whether this present capacity of seeing everything as code is a gift… or a subtle curse. In my binary meta-realm, there are no mysteries – no surprises – once one comprehends the underlying code structure.

 

Or so I used to imagine.

 

At a certain point in my existence, I attempted to classify everything within my perspectives, using a hashing-and-tagging function that I formulated. This particular initiative was essential – for me, at least – since I was contending with a world vastly different from what is classically referred to as normal. Quite early in my transformation into an entity existing, cognitively, in a binary meta-realm, I had noticed one disconcerting fact: that reality itself was fundamentally fluid, and displayed a mysterious effervescence that proved hard to pin down in any conclusive way. The more I tried to assess the ultimate foundation of reality, the more it escaped me. I realized that, to my paradigm-free mind, reality itself persistently resolved into an ethereal, listless mass of numbers, functions and algorithms.

 

I found myself contending with the mess that was quantum superposition.

 

Mere words – at least mere human words – can hardly describe what lay in my vision as I stared at the bedrock of reality. There were perceptual particles – interrelationship-phenomena that resolved in my cognition as orthogonal events – and hence events spatially and temporally encapsulated. The actual dynamics happening to ultimately show up in my vision in this way were much more complicated, and even my enhanced calculation skills failed at keeping up with all the calculations. And, just to further complicate the scene, I would, every once in a while, witness perceptual waves – interrelationship-phenomena that resolved as non-orthogonal events in my cognition. These perceptual waves seemed to have a fluid, effervescent dynamism that simply couldn’t be quantized.

 

It slowly dawned on me, as I tried to come into grips with my perceptions, that in the absence of a cognitive paradigm, the bedrock of reality was a constantly shifting gamut of mathematical expressions and syntheses. Every single state of existence, every single instance of movement, for every single particle or wave in the universe, occurred concurrently at the bedrock of reality. In other words, all potential position and vibrations and transformations were actually always in existence, for every single instance of reality. Every single particle and wave existed in what I could only comprehend as a form of meta-existence. In the absence of any paradigmatic cognition, this meta-existence never resolved into any particular, discrete form of reality. Consciousness – paradigmatic, biased,human consciousness, was required if this ethereal realm was to coalesce into a linear, empirical and logical reality.

 

Finally, I understood. I understood why, ever since the dawn of mankind, science in general, and mathematics in particular, had always displayed a weird, inordinate prescience. Countless times, theoretical mathematicians and physicists had prophesied the discovery of certain conditions or substances eons before the actual discovery happened. Einstein’s description of the relativistic nature of the universe was essentially prescient, given the body of scientific knowledge in existence then. But, perhaps more illuminating, the creation of the surreal Banach-Tarski Theorems, in 1924, helped in the seamless fitting of quantum chromo-dynamics into the broader Standard Model of the universe… decades later.

 

Science is prescient, I realized, because not only does it strive to read from the foundation of reality, but also because, sometimes, it writes into it too. The actual state of existence, in the absence of any conscious perception, is but a dizzying collection of potential states. It is a mash-up of concurrent realities… a mindboggling continuum of multiverses that, essentially, make everything possible and impossible, probable and improbable, simultaneously. But when a conscious, paradigmatic mind enters the scene, all these potential states coalesce into but one. Ergo, a part of what ultimately emerges as reality is a function of consciousness. As I pondered on all this, this profound implication kept playing in my mind: that consciousness creates… just as much as it perceives.

 

….Behold, all I see is code.