The deep of night is crept upon our blog, and Nature must obey necessity.

Hello and good morning.  It’s Thursday, the 27th of April, the week after my son’s birthday, and I’m already in the office as I write this blog post‒because I never left the office last night.  It got to be late enough that, if I caught the next train, I probably wouldn’t have reached the house before nine, whether I took the bus(es) from the train station or walked.  That is what happened Monday night and Tuesday night.

Of course, If I’d had the bike at the train station I might have reached the house earlier, but I didn’t, and I don’t regret that.  Given that every time I ride that bike, it triggers a flare and a new (but not improved) alteration of my back and leg and foot pain, I think I’m going to keep it for “special occasions” or something like that, even though I’ll be paying for it for three or four more months or something like that.

Pretty pathetic, isn’t it?

Even if I’d caught an earlier train, I don’t think I would have had the energy to get back to the house from the train station, and had I reached the house, I don’t think I would’ve had the energy to come back to the office this morning.  I had sort of planned all along to stay here, because if I went back to the house, I didn’t think I’d be coming in today, and I wasn’t sure if I would be coming in ever again (if you know what I mean).  I guess maybe it was a kind of semi-conscious self-preservation thing, in a way.  But, of course, that can’t work forever.

It’s not a big deal if I stay one night in the office.  It’s not like it will produce a noticeable effect, outwardly.  I always wear one of 2 kinds of black shirts, the same kind of black pants (or trousers if you prefer), the same brand of black socks and one of three brands of black shoes.  Once you find something that’s comfortable for you, I say, you might as well wear that.

I prefer black because you don’t have to worry about matching anything; black goes with everything, particularly other black things.  It’s also a nice, outward representation of my character, my heart, my outlook, what have you.  And if I ever have to pass as a Sith Lord, I can do that.  I only wear black nowadays.  Even my underwear(!).

In any case, though, I don’t mean to stay at the office tonight, though if there were a shower here I might be tempted.  I feel very grimy and sticky, and that’s a particularly unpleasant feeling for me.  But it is dreary to have the daily ritual of going back to a place that feels no more like home than does the office or the train, and not much more like home than the bus, frankly.

Nothing feels like home, anymore.  The planet Earth doesn’t feel like home‒not that it ever really has, to be honest.

I find myself strangely envying my former coworker who just died.  That may seem insensitive, but it’s simply true.  He didn’t die instantly, with the initial heart attack, which sometimes happens.  He had a few weeks or more of being ill and having all other responsibilities taken away, and his family (and friends), aware of his ill health, got to come and be near him for one last time.  That might be nice.  I sometimes think that, if I were known to be dying of cancer (for instance), maybe my children would come and see me.

I don’t know what other sort of thing might engender that outcome, and I certainly don’t want to try to force my way into their lives.  They deserve autonomy and to be free from my odious self, who already screwed up everything in his own life, and caused them pain in the process.  But I would dearly love to spend time with them.

Of course, I do have a potentially terminal condition, and I don’t just mean “life itself” which is uniformly terminal as far as we can see.  I mean depression.  Depression has a direct lifetime mortality rate of about 15%, or at least that was the statistic the last time I checked.  That’s not counting the many things depression makes one more likely to have‒people with depression are more prone to various kinds of physical illnesses and to worse outcomes if they get those illnesses, and they are also more prone than others to drug and alcohol problems.

But I’m talking here about direct self-destruction: suicide, from the Latin “sui” meaning self, and the “cide” part that always means killing, as in fungicide, herbicide, insecticide, anthropocide, etc.  “Suicide” almost feels like it ought to be the opposite of “sui generis” but that’s not correct, and in fact they probably often go together, subjectively speaking.  Maybe it would be the opposite of “sui genesis”.  Could it also be called “sui exodus”?

Anyway, my point is that depression has mortality rates comparable to many cancers, but there are no Ronald McDonald houses for it (as far as I know).  It’s not a sexy/tragic/dramatic disorder worthy of Hallmark movies and that kind of twaddle.  It just sucks all around, because its very nature is to suck and to make everything in the universe feel like it sucks.  Maybe in this it’s like the very curvature of spacetime; tending to bend inward on itself and collapse, unless it is infused with a uniform, positive energy, in which case there will be a tendency to expand.

Believe me, I don’t have a uniform positive energy.  Maybe I used to, but my cosmological constant has long since quantum tunneled into a vacuum state so close to zero that it makes that of the universe, tiny as it is, appear flipping gargantuan.  I don’t know if I have a negative cosmological constant, which would make a kind of human anti de Sitter space.  Then I would collapse rapidly, which might be nice in and of itself.  Also, you could mathematically demonstrate the holographic principle on me using certain areas of string theory.

Maybe the state of suffering from depression is rather like being a human anti de Sitter space.  And the speed of collapse depends on how large the negative lambda is, but collapse is inevitable unless it changes signs.

Incidentally, it appears that people on the autism spectrum‒which I suspect I am, though I don’t have an “official”* diagnosis‒suffer from depression, including chronic depression AKA persistent depressive disorder AKA dysthymia (which I do have), at a significantly higher rate than the general population, are harder to treat, and also, if I recall, are more likely to commit suicide, and certainly to engage in self-harm.

I could have told you that.  Wait, I just did!

Okay, well, that’s more than enough for this Thursday.  I don’t know what I’ll do tomorrow or the next day.  I’m scheduled to work on those days, and I suppose I will, since I don’t like to inconvenience the people around me.  But as I told a coworker yesterday, I’ve been staying alive for quite a long time mainly just not to inconvenience other people, and there’s only so much longer I’m going to be able to do it.  I don’t have any other drive to stay alive; there is nothing to which I look forward.  I’m tired.  Sleeping on the floor in the office is no worse than sleeping at the house, but that’s not saying much at all.

Someday, perhaps soon, my sign off on a Thursday will be “TT” rather than TTFN, because I won’t expect to return.  But for now, the expression remains:


ads space ish

*It’s an odd notion, the “official” diagnosis of anything.  I mean, it’s useful for things like insurance and statistics and science, and certainly there is some value in the judgment of experts on such matters, but it is not something handed down from Mount Sinai (the medical school or the Ten Commandments place).  No one can speak ex cathedra on medical diagnoses, or on any fact of nature, frankly.  So don’t put too much stock in them**.

**Unless it’s good chicken stock.  Good chicken stock is tasty.

How would you pronounce an infinite sentence?

Well, it’s Saturday, April 1st, 2023, AD or CE, and I am writing a blog post today because I am working today.  You can’t say I didn’t warn you.

Well, you can say it, but it wouldn’t be true.  You can say almost anything, really.  There is a functionally limitless number of sentences that you can utter, and not all of them will be true.  It’s a vaguely interesting question whether the number of truthful sentences that can be uttered is as limitless as the number of sentences one can utter.  At first glance, it seems, one being a subset of the other, that it should not be the case, but when dealing with infinities, one has to be cautious—initial intuitions can be misleading.

If one restricts oneself to existing words or compound words, and one restricts oneself to sentences that follow standard grammatical rules, one can build a functionally limitless number of sentences simply by including compound sentences or nested phrases, like, “He knew that she knew that he knew that she knew that he was a pedantic idiot.”  That feels a bit like a cheat to me, but logically speaking, it can be done.

Of course, even if, in principle, the number of such possible sentences is infinite, there is a practical limit to the number of them one could possibly construct before the heat death of the universe—or, if the universe “ends” in some other way, before that happens.  This is part of why I wonder whether the number of truthful statements potentially constructible is actually as large—in practice, even if not in principle—as the total number of possible statements.

One could, in principle, construct sentences describing, to the degree possible, the quantum state of every describable aspect of all of accessible reality.  Of course, one could also just make up descriptions of quantum states that have nothing to do with our reality, but if Everett was right, or if the String landscape is right, or what have you, they might all be true somewhere, depending on how you define “some” and “where”.

But, of course, it’s trivially easier to describe quantum states in ways that are physically nonsensical, e.g. “The quantum state of that electron is blue with purple polka dots and smells like ripe bleu cheese”.  Or one can make impossible statements using more formal terminology, such as, “The precise location and momentum of this particular ‘particle’ are, at this precise moment: x and y, with no rounding of digits anywhere.”  As far as we know, that’s physically impossible.

It’s not as exciting as the physically impossible tale, “Bob accelerated his ordinary human body instantly from a standstill to the speed of light, at which speed he stayed long enough to go to the sun and back.  It was an incredible sixteen minutes, and everyone who watched him do it was amazed and thrilled.”

We know that can’t be true because, for one thing, nothing with “rest mass” can reach the speed of light at all—that would require an infinite amount of energy.  Also, if you’re going the speed of light, you can’t experience it, because for you, time ceases to pass.  Also, it’s questionable whether anyone could “see” you moving at that speed, and not just because you would become a black hole before you could ever achieve light speed.

Or would you?  I’ve tried to ask people who should know what would happen if a spaceship (for instance) was accelerated to close enough to the speed of light that, given length contraction and “relativistic mass” it compressed to a front-back length that was shorter than its Schwarzschild radius*, but I haven’t seen or received a reply about it.

This is one of the reasons I bought no fewer than two big textbooks on General Relativity; if I couldn’t get someone to give me the answer, I wanted to try to work it out.  I suspect that the fact that the length contraction is along one axis might make it a complicated situation for any large-scale object; maybe no one has done the mathematics on such questions, but that feels unlikely.

It also feels unlikely that I’ll find the time and discipline to work my way through the appropriate textbooks before I die.  There is background mathematics involved that I would need to master if I were to be able to apply the theory properly.

I don’t doubt that I’m capable of it; it’s not like playing professional basketball, where there are fundamental, physical limits to what someone my height (and age and athletic ability) could accomplish.  But there are so many things that interfere, and my time (and my will) is burned up daily upon matters of even more trivial character than all the pointless things I’ve already done in my life.

At least I’m gaining back some time thanks to my new bicycle.  I am now troubled, though (as I always am when I have some structure outside of myself upon which I have chosen to rely) with worries about maintenance, such as:  What will happen if the tires go flat while I’m en route to the train station?  It’s not that such a thing would be an unsolvable problem; I’ve dealt with such occurrences before.  But I don’t want to deal with them.  Even having to think about them constitutes one more straw piled on the camel’s back, and I’ve been carrying too much straw for too long.  I’m tired.  I want to lie down and just stay that way.

At least I’m getting good exercise.  And now that the seat is fixed, the bicycle seems to be operating well.  I may need to edit (slightly) my scathing review of it on Amazon.  We’ll see.  I’m going to watch and wait a bit longer for any other problems that may arise before I do that.

In closing, I’ll grudgingly acknowledge the fact that it’s “April Fool’s Day” just to remind you that you are all fools…but that I am a fool as well.  So were Einstein and Newton and Socrates and Marcus Aurelius and the Buddha and Lao Tzu and Confucius and, well, everybody else.  As Einstein is credited with saying**, “There are two things that are infinite:  the universe and human stupidity.  And I’m not sure about the universe.”

Depending on what you mean by stupidity, that can be trivially true in the mathematical sense, i.e., the number of unknown things in the universe is infinite.  There are other uses of the word stupidity about which the statement might not be true.  For instance, there are those who define stupidity as doing something in ways that are less efficient than randomness, such as trying to get to the airport by repeatedly driving around the block from your house until your car wears out.  Moving randomly could at least eventually get you to the airport, whereas going in “circles” will never get you there, even with a car that lasts forever.

Enough!  I wrote “in closing” and I haven’t closed yet, so I’ll do that now.  Have a nice remainder of your weekend***.  I’ll be back writing on Monday, barring the unexpected.


*According to outside observers, that is.  For those on the spaceship, it would be the outside world that would constrict into an ever-narrower “tunnel” in the direction of travel.

**I think this attribution is a correct one, which is not reliably so with many quotes attributed to Einstein online.

***What’s the modulus of a weekend?

In nature’s infinite blog of secrecy a little I can read.

Hello and good morning.

It’s Thursday morning once again, and so it’s time for me to attempt to create a simulacrum of what used to be my typical, once-weekly blog post, back when I used to do my fiction writing every non-Thursday morning of the week.  It won’t really live up to expectations, I wouldn’t think, since the situation is now so different.

For one thing, I can’t talk about my fiction writing, since I haven’t done any fiction writing since before I last posted The Dark Fairy and the Desperado, and previously, Outlaw’s Mind, both of which are uncompleted stories and are likely to remain that way until the end of the universe—barring, of course, the possibility that the universe goes on forever and every possible quantum state thereof is eventually realized somewhere, somewhen.

Indeed, if the universe is infinite in spatial extent, as seems to be the case, and if our understanding of quantum mechanics and the maximal entropy state of enclosed regions of spacetime are correct, or even reasonably close to being correct, then somewhere out there in space “at this time” there are an infinite number of versions of me who have completed both stories, and many others besides, and who are world-famous authors.

I used scare quotes around “at this time” because, obviously, given the finite speed of light/causality, and the flexible nature of time depending on relative motion, the concept of simultaneity is fuzzy at best.  Nothing outside one’s local light cones can be considered to be in one’s past or one’s future, but they are also not exactly “now”, either.

Still, we can give an overall statement about the age of the universe for things that have little to no “peculiar motion” relative to the cosmic microwave background and say that such things have gone through about 13.8 billion years since the hot big bang, on average, and it’s not nonsensical to do that.  So, if by “at this time”, I refer to other regions of a spatially infinite universe that have passed through roughly the same amount of local time since the big bang, I’m not incorrect in saying that there are an infinite number of “me” who have completed their stories—and there are an infinite number who have not, and there are an infinite number of every possible variation.

None of that does me (or you) any good, because—being outside my past and future light cones (and yours, which are almost identical to mine)—those distant regions are completely causally disconnected from us, past and future, especially given the accelerated expansion of the universe.  I suppose an Einstein-Rosen Bridge/wormhole could conceivably connect such distant regions, in principle, assuming such wormholes can even happen, which is far from certain.

There are those who hypothesize that quantum entanglement happens through wormholes (small ones), and there are those who have even tried to connect distant multiverses with the many worlds of a branching Everettian quantum mechanics, but I don’t think either of those things is close to having been rigorously described, let alone tested, nor are they generally accepted by the physics community.

Anyway, it still doesn’t help any of us, because clearly, if there are alternate versions of ourselves living better lives than we are*, they have no back-and-forth connection with the lives we currently are living—the wave function has split, the states have decohered, they are not the same beings, even if movies about multiverses win many Oscars and/or make a great deal of money.

What was I talking about again?

I don’t know.  I’m very tired.  I ended up sleeping in the office last night.  I did this deliberately; it had nothing to do with train problems or anything.  I just didn’t feel like going back to the house.  I was tired (still am) and there’s nothing at the house for me that is any more enticing than there is at the office, other than a shower.  And I don’t really care about a shower right now.  For whom would be grooming myself?  Whom am I trying to impress?  All is vanity, as it says in Ecclesiastes.

It’s a funny line for a religious text that some people say contains the infallible word of an all-knowing, all-seeing, all-powerful and omnipresent deity that made everything, deliberately and specifically.  If that were all the case, why would it say all is vanity?  Of course, the argument could be made that these were the words of some ancient human (Solomon or David, one of those kings, is supposed to have been the author of Ecclesiastes, I think), not the direct words of the creator of the universe, but if that’s the case, then clearly the bible is not literally true in all its parts**.  But that’s hardly the only case of seemingly contradictory portions of religious texts, is it?

Anyway, it’s chilly here for south Florida—about sixty degrees, which feels cold when you’re used to 70’s to 80’s, but would no doubt feel beautifully balmy to people back in Michigan or Ohio.  It’s certainly far warmer than intergalactic space, which is only about 2.7 Kelvin (so it’s about 286 Kelvin hotter here).  Then again, it’s much cooler than the heart of the sun, and cooler yet than the heart of blue supergiant stars.  And those are all vastly cooler than just later than one Planck time after whatever initiated the big bang.

Of course, there is, in principle, a maximum heat that any local region can achieve, because if the local energy is high enough, it will form a local black hole, and also the uncertainty principle will kick in to separate things.  Although…if everything is uniformly very hot, such that there is no net curvature of spacetime in one local region relative to another…maybe that’s where inflation comes from?  If there is inflation***.

Anyway, that’s enough nonsense.  I’m just jabbering and chattering, because I don’t really communicate with anyone day-to-day in any way other than this about things that interest me.  I’m very alone and very tired, but I’m also very bad at doing the whole social interaction thing, so I’m kind of stuck.

I’m inclined to say that I deserve it—that’s how I feel—but of course, as Will (played by Clint) points out below, such concepts are really vacuous.  There are a functionally limitless number of possible variations of lives that could be lived by a being that matches my rough description and/or has an identical past that diverged at some point.  I’m just living one of those possibilities, because, well, I had to be living one of them unless I were dead, which I’m not, unfortunately.

I hope most of you are having a better morning than I am.  Heck, I’d be delighted if everyone who reads my stuff always has better days than I do.  That would at least be some good news.  And, of course, somewhere out there in infinite spacetime—if there is such a thing—that situation is instantiated.

Don’t be jealous, though.  There are also places where everyone reading my blog always has worse days than I have.

Poor bastards.



*And if there are, there are also infinite numbers of versions of us living every possible worse life as well.

**If in any of them whatsoever, which is a separate but related question.

***Well, by certain definitions, we could say with great confidence that there is inflation, since the universe is inflating now—that’s the “dark energy” you might have heard about—but it’s doing it quite slowly, doubling in size over the course of every about ten billion years, I think, at the current rate, assuming it’s a constant.  But if you change the time scale, it looks much the same as earlier, more rapid inflation…I think that’s the basis of Roger Penrose’s Conformal Cyclic Cosmology, but I haven’t read his full book on the subject yet, so I may be misunderstanding.

This is yesterday’s blog post

It’s Tuesday morning, and I’m back waiting at the bus stop, which in many ways is preferable to the way things were yesterday, and so many days before, though I won’t get into the specifics.  I had a rather significant exacerbation of my insomnia last night/this morning, by which I mean I woke up extremely early, even for me—and I’m writing this at 5 am, so “extremely” early is early indeed.

I came very close to just getting up when I couldn’t sleep and walking the five miles to the train station (rather than waiting for the bus to go the other one) and getting the first train of the day.  The only thing that really stopped me is that I didn’t want to start the day all sweaty*.  It’s not so bad to end the day that way—there’s no one to whom I’m coming home who has to deal with my sweatiness, and I can just doff my clothes and get a shower and get ready for “bed” when I get back to the house.

Other than that, there’s not much going on in my life.  As you all know, I’m not writing fiction anymore**, and I’m not writing any new music, nor learning any new songs.  I think the last thing I did that was “new” on the guitar was figuring out the tune to Baker Street, especially the sax riff.  That might have been before New Year, though, so it’s been a while.  It didn’t take very long, though it was quite satisfying for a moment.  That sax riff is amazing, and almost everybody recognizes it when they hear it.

Otherwise, everything is mainly empty, and it’s harder and harder for me to distract myself.  I wish I could just go catatonic or something.  But I don’t think my psychopathology is of that type.

Everything is also very noisy, and that’s irritating.  I don’t wish I were deaf—or deafer than I already am—but I do wish everything were quieter.  I particularly wish people did less loud talking, and especially less loud talking about nothing at all.

I started trying to read and work through problem sets—at least all the odd numbered problems, so I could check the answers after doing them—in my old, used copy of Thomas & Finney’s Calculus text, which was the one I used in my undergrad days.  I’ve completed one problem set, very early in the book.

It’s easy stuff, of course, at that point in the text, but I figure reviewing and practicing isn’t going to hurt.  I knew someone in college who literally did every odd-numbered problem in the textbook so he could master the material, and when test times came, he got terrifically high scores on exams that everyone else found difficult.

Obviously he’s inherently very smart—that made him fun, because it’s nice to be around someone smarter than yourself, so you can learn things—but as with many people who are very smart, he also worked quite hard.

I think it would be nice to try to master some more mathematics so that I could actually do some of the calculations related to General Relativity and Quantum Mechanics at more than a rudimentary level.  I’ve also tried to restart reading Sean Carroll’s Spacetime and Geometry, which was really good as far as I had gotten before, but which I stopped partly due to limitations on my mathematical skills.

I think I should probably just try to muscle through things this time, and just file away the bits I don’t understand yet—mostly mathematical formalisms, since the concepts aren’t that difficult—and maybe then get them more and more as I come back to things later.

Of course, all this is really just a fantasy, an idea of me trying to “recapture my lost youth” by attempting to complete some version of a Physics degree on my own.  It’s a pipe dream.  I don’t think I have the will to carry it through, because I really don’t have the will to do much.  The only advantage the idea has is that all the other things I do for fun are steadily losing their charm, so maybe I’ll be able to focus on it by default.  I doubt that will be enough, but who knows?

I suspect it won’t be, though.  I feel like everything is coming to an end for me.  That’s all right, I guess.  It’s not as though I’ve really brought much joy or happiness to anyone in the world, and the people I love don’t tend to find me tolerable over the long term.  I think I’m probably a net loss to the world, and the loss of me would not be a net loss.

I would like to go out in a unique and semi-dramatic fashion, though, as long as it doesn’t cause too much unnecessary inconvenience for other people.  It can be slow and drawn out, and may even, in the process, lead me to some new personal insight or adjustment or revelation.  I don’t know.

That’s all probably a fantasy, too.  I’m not sure exactly what I’m thinking or what I’m getting at.

I’ve just passed 800 words or so, and someone once told me that about 800 words is the best length for a blog post if you want people to want to read it.

I’m sorry, I don’t think this has been very coherent at all.  I’m not feeling well in general, in case it’s not obvious; I’m having some GI** trouble, the cause of which is uncertain.  I’ve taken medicine for it, and that’s obviously done at least some good—after all, I’m waiting for the bus so I can head into the office—but it’s not completely taking care of it, and I feel the temptation to just head back to the house.

The trouble with that is, it’s too easy to fall into the trap of just not going in at all, and not doing anything at all, and just withering away.  Which, I guess is not necessarily that bad.  But, as always, I don’t want to inconvenience people.  Heaven forbid that anyone should be inconvenienced by me.  I already hate myself; I’d like not to add too much fuel to that fire.

However, my belly pain is actually starting to increase somewhat, and I think I’m going to have to go back.  The last thing I want to do is have a “crisis” on the bus or the train and have to make my way back from there.

Further bulletins as events warrant, I guess.

*It turned out that I had some form of enteritis, also, including a low-grade fever, so it was probably just as well that I didn’t even try that walk.  Perhaps the developing issue contributed to my worsening insomnia, now that I look back at it.

**Which I guess is no loss, since no one seems to care about the fact.

***That’s gastrointestinal, nothing to do with the military.

Some musings on brane-worlds, “dark matter”, and even “dark energy”, with apologies

I told you yesterday  that I would be writing another post today, since I’m going into the office, and here I am, writing another post.  You were given fair warning—or at least, you were given adequate disclosure.

Yesterday (and into today) I was listening to an episode of Sean Carroll’s Mindscape in which he spoke with Adam Riess, one of the discoverers in the late 1190s of the increasing rate of cosmic expansion—the single most exciting scientific discovery I recall happening in my lifetime.  In the podcast, the two physicists spoke, of course, of “dark energy” and “dark matter” and the “Hubble tension” between two different ways of predicting and/or calculating the Hubble constant*, and that all reminded me of something that I’d thought of more than twenty years before.

If M-theory (an overall theoretical structure that subsumes “string theory”) were to be right, and we are merely living in a 3-brane embedded in a higher-dimensional “bulk”, then perhaps the explanation for “dark matter” could be simply the gravitational effects of matter in a nearby, parallel 3-brane, or perhaps even more than one (since, if more than one, why not more than two?).  I had first tried to give myself a very simplified model on which to do some calculations about the possibility just for fun, way back in a lunch break during my first year in private medical practice, but I didn’t get very far.  My schedule was rather busy, and I had many good and interesting things going on in my life that drew my attention.  That last part, at least, has changed almost completely.

Despite all the theoretical and proposed notions for what dark matter particles might be (WIMPS, Axions, lots of primordial black holes, etc.) there has not been a single detection of any of them.  There hadn’t been any twenty years ago, and there haven’t been any as of this writing, unless they’re keeping it under their hats, which is unlikely for something of such importance.  Nobel Prizes will be won by those who discover convincing evidence of any dark matter particles!

The evidence for dark matter in general. though, is tremendous and all but unassailable, coming from multiple fronts in astronomy/cosmology/astrophysics, but its specific nature is still not known.

So, yesterday morning, I decided to retry the notion I’d had twenty-odd years ago, just for fun.  I don’t expect to make any particularly interesting breakthrough here, obviously, but it was just my way of seeing if my notion has any modicum of worth at all, or if it’s totally self-contradictory.

As before, I needed to set up a highly simplified situation, just so that it would be within the wheelhouse of my very limited mathematical skills, which are rusty to say the least, and which were never nearly advanced enough for any serious work in GR or M theory (I often consider trying to work my way up to better, more useful such skills, but I don’t know whether that will ever happen).

So, I took my model down to being just a plane rather than a space, which makes the strength of gravity fall off linearly with distance, rather than as distance squared.  Then I just took a line of identical masses, x, (x0, x1, x2 etc.) all separated by an even distance, which I called y, and so the gravitational force on my x0 mass due to any other was just proportional to x over some multiple of y.  I made my gravitational “constant” just 1, so the force would literally be x/y or x/2y, and so on.

Really, in the first universe, though it was in principle two-dimensional, I only had to deal with one dimension of additive forces.  This will make my model not terribly useful with respect to the actual universe, but I wanted just to get a feel for things.  You’ve gotta crawl before you can walk or run or fly.

Then I took my “parallel” brane to be also y distance away—to keep applications of the Pythagorean Theorem and such simple—but obviously in a direction that’s orthogonal to every direction within the original brane.

According to the ideas in M-theory/string theory, most particles—photons, electrons, quarks, gluons, neutrinos, etc.—are described as “open” strings, with free ends, and as such, they cannot leave the brane in which they exist (apparently their ends are “sticky”)***.  But gravitons, as proposed in string theory (they were one of the main things that first led people to take string theory seriously as a potential theory of quantum gravity) are closed strings, and they can go between branes and into the “bulk”, the larger, overarching spacetime in which lower-dimensional branes could be embedded.  Thus, one brane can gravitate with respect to another, and this tendency of gravity not to be confined within a brane could explain the relative weakness of gravity compared to the other forces of nature.

Okay, so I did my best to try to work out the situation relating the additional strength of gravity felt by my initial, single particle due to the added gravity from masses in the parallel brane—and then two parallel branes or so, just to see.  I made some mathematical errors that I caught, and I’m sure I made others than I didn’t catch, so I’ll include my—utterly chaotic and not really annotated—worksheets here below, in case anyone is masochistic enough to want to look through them.

I don’t think I produced any startling insights, of course, but one thing that became more obvious on working it through is that, as parallel masses get farther away as measured in the plane of the original universe, their gravitational effects become more like that of the masses within the original brane.  This makes sense, because the farther away they are, the less the effect of the separation of their branes has relative to that distance; so the angle of that force relative to the plane of the first universe is smaller, and its within-brane component is larger****.  The “nearer” masses would have gravity that was barely felt, or not felt at all, within the original brane (or universe), but the farther out the masses go, the more they would be felt as if they were mere additional mass within the original brane/universe.

Could a situation analogous to this but in higher dimensions explain why dark matter acts as though it is a halo going through and around galaxies, and doesn’t seem to clump together?  And could such a description, in the absence of any detectable particles of dark matter, constitute a test of the notoriously difficult-to-test M-theory in the real world?  At least, the longer we go on being unable to find a direct dark matter candidate particle interaction, the more the Bayesian prior for a string/M-theory explanation might go up.

I don’t know.  I’m way too out of my depth.  But it is an interesting thought, and I invite any readers who have actual expertise in such matters please to give me their reactions.  I don’t think my thoughts are anything that’s useful for anyone, but it is kind of cool.  I think.

For those of you who aren’t interested in such things, I apologize.  It is a Saturday post, so you can consider it a weekend indulgence (though I did the figuring on Friday morning, really).  It’s the sort of thing I think I previously would have confined to Iterations of Zero, and I’ve skirted the topic in the past there and here.

I have to have things like this to do from time to time.  If I weren’t able to think about such things to distract myself from my own awfulness, I would already have killed myself a long time ago.

Maybe that would have been better for everyone.  But the past cannot be changed without making a completely new universe that wouldn’t benefit anyone in this one.  So, it is what it is.

Have a good weekend.

my dark matter m theory scribbles_0001

my dark matter m theory scribbles_0002

my dark matter m theory scribbles_0003

*It’s either roughly 67 or roughly 73 kilometers per second per megaparsec**, which is the overall rate of expansion of the universe.  These values do not have overlapping error-bars, and they both have become tighter over time, so something is being missed.  It’s not a huge difference, but there should be no difference at all if the models are correct in all aspects.

**The parsec is not a measure of time, of course, but of distance, and a mighty big distance at that.  A parsec is a little over three light-years (which is about 30 trillion kilometers), so a megaparsec is roughly 3 million light-years.  Big!  With this measure of the Hubbles constant,  you can see why, at close distances, attractive gravity vastly supersedes expansion; the expansion tendency doesn’t become very large—indeed, expansion doesn’t even happen—until distances become truly cosmic in scale.  The Andromeda galaxy is less than one megaparsec away (not by much), and its net movement toward “us” is about 110 kilometers per second.  I suppose that implies that if it were not for the Hubble expansion, it might be coming toward us at about 180 kilometers per second, and might “collide” with the Milky Way in only two or three billion years instead of four or five.  Oh, well, we’ll just have to wait.

***The thought just occurred to me that branes, like strings, are thought to be composed of some form of “energy”, admittedly a nebulous term and a place-holder—there’s always more to learn.  But uniform energy creates a negative pressure, which in General Relativity produces repulsive gravity…the very cosmological term/constant Einstein proposed and discarded, but which has come back into its own as a descriptor of “dark energy” and even cosmic inflation.  On the scale of individual strings, say, even though the energy density would be high, the Lambda term would be too small to lead something the size of a typical string to expand at all, but in a brane—2 dimensional, 3-dimension, or more—if it’s large enough, the very energy that constitutes the brane might be enough to explain the existence of repulsive gravity, from inflation to the current “dark energy”.  Or am I totally off-base here?

****The vector component of their gravitational force that can be felt within the first brane should be the cosine of the angle between the second-brane mass and its analog in the original times the total gravitational force it would exert on the first.  Any other component would be felt between the branes.  Such possible inter-universe gravitation is in the source of the threatening catastrophe in my book The Chasm and the Collision.  Don’t worry, the book doesn’t dwell much on any technical aspects of this.

I blog not you, you elements, with unkindness

Hello and good morning.  It’s Thursday, February 2nd, and the day of the week on which I’ve long done my semi-traditional blog posting.

I don’t know whether I have the energy to hunt for a Shakespeare quote to alter and/or a picture to put at the bottom, both vaguely related to whatever “subject” I address in the blog.  But, of course, by now, you readers will know what decision I, the writer, will have made, even as you read the words I’m writing while I do not know.

It’s a bit wibbly-wobbly, timey-wimey, isn’t it?

Of course, the biological experience of time is much more malleable and irregular than the actual nature of time, but time is not a simple, straight, linear dimension.  It’s warped by the planet beneath your feet, among many other things.  Your physical body’s tendency to want to follow the most “direct” path through it‒and the fact that the planet is in the way, preventing you from following that path‒creates what we call gravity, locally.

When you’re free-falling, you’re coasting through time (and space, of course), and it’s the ground that actually accelerates you once you reach it.  It’s a hell of an acceleration if you’ve been pursuing your geodesic unimpeded for long by the time the ground throws itself into your path.  Human’s aren’t built to withstand that kind of acceleration.

I’m writing with my smartphone again, today, by the way.  It’s just too annoying to deal with the laptop at the bus stop.  I also wrote more words than I really had meant to write yesterday, probably because I type faster on the laptop, but I don’t think the increased number of words was associated with an increase in actual content.  I think the signal-to-noise ratio, if you will, of my blog post yesterday was lower than it has tended to be with the phone.  That’s not an objective measure, however, and others may disagree.

As for my thumbs, they already feel a bit better than they did, and they’re not giving me too much trouble now.  I have some Voltaren cream (or is it an ointment?) that I can apply to the joints if necessary, though I already take round-the-clock NSAIDs every day for my chronic pain, so it’s not really recommended that I add the Voltaren, a strong NSAID in it’s own right.  It increases the risk for kidney damage and liver damage and stomach issues and so on.  But I’m already at risk for those things (though I take Omeprazole for my stomach protection) and I don’t see easy short-term solutions to the problem.

This is one of the conundrums (conundra?  Probably not) that make opiates and opioids both necessary and yet culturally difficult‒our non-psychoactive pain medications are literally toxic to our bodies above a quite low threshold relative to their analgesic powers.  Yet pain does not easily just go away on its own in many cases‒biology is subject to much stronger pressures for pain to persist than to allow it easily to be relieved, and those incentives will remain so in any evolutionarily stable form of life.

Opiates and the like can work against nearly any degree of pain with limited direct toxicity, but with diminishing success and tolerance, requiring increasing doses over time*.  But they do affect neural circuitry, reward, and motivation, among other things, and so their use is complicated‒and it’s additionally complicated by the fact that the treatment of pain, physical and psychological, is somewhat taboo in our society.

The use of various substances in one’s own body is even criminalized, and so black markets arise to take advantage of the inevitable demand.  And without matters being out in the open and subject to expert scrutiny and monitoring and education, various abuses and issues relating to lack of access to appropriate guidance and treatment and support arise and worsen.

And they will persist.

Do you think continuing to criminalize the use of drugs of various kinds will decrease abuse and death and even violence related to the drugs?  You hypocrites!  I say to you that it is the criminalization of that use that created the black markets and abuse and danger and sordidness‒and, indeed, the majority of the deaths‒in the first place!

You punish people for trying, however imperfectly, to treat chronic pain and those who suffer from it from addressing it, and are surprised that sufferers turn to the market you have created for illicit meds.  You have the temerity to be “shocked” that people die from the unmonitored, unregulated, inexpert use and manufacture of these things which you have removed from the bailiwick of expert awareness and oversight and monitoring.  You took an area that should have been medical and made it criminal and are stupid enough to be surprised that opportunistic criminals (whether they be gangs or governments or otherwise) are not as careful and caring as actual medical professionals.

And sometimes you are so hopelessly moronic as to imagine that further punishments of both producers and suppliers‒and even users‒of drugs will change the problem or decrease it or make it go away.  As if making an already suffering person’s life even more difficult and miserable is going to diminish their urge for relief and escape from at least some forms of pain, and their willingness to risk the permanent end to their pain that is death by overdose.  I’d need to exist macroscopically in all the ten spatial dimensions of M Theory to be able to give that the eye roll that nonsense deserves.

Phew.  That was a heckuva tangent.

I don’t actually use opioids or related medications, though I have been prescribed them in the past.  They interact with my rather peculiar nervous system in ways I find truly unpleasant, though they can help with pain.  So, instead, I suffer constant daily assaults on my kidneys and GI tract and my liver, and I accept that.

It’s not as though I will seek treatment if my organs fail.  I have no insurance, for one thing, but also, I just don’t see any point in trying to preserve my existence.  Heck, I’ve been told I have a possible recurrence or deterioration of my congenital heart problem‒I’m not fully convinced that it’s really any kind of recurrence‒for which I had heart surgery when I was 18, but I have no interest in pursuing possible further exploration or treatment of it, anyway.

Let my kidneys fail, let my liver fail, let my heart fail!  Blow, wind, and crack your cheeks!  Why would I try to preserve or prolong my existence when I don’t even like myself, let alone have anyone else nearby who likes me and spends time with me***?

Anyway, that went off the rails pretty quickly, didn’t it?  It also got longer than I expected.  Sorry.

I still don’t know the answer to my initial wondering about titles and pictures‒but you all do.  And I love you for it.



*Though at least they don’t directly poison livers and kidneys, and the needed doses don’t keep going up without limit, though they are nevertheless often higher than most doctors are willing to prescribe.  This is largely because doctors fear having what happened to me happen to them, and who can blame them?  The only exception to this general hesitancy is with cancer.  People with cancer are allowed to be treated with whatever level of pain medicine it takes to reduce their pain, because in the typical human “mind” having cancer pain is different, and people with cancer are special.  They’re allowed to be dependent on pain medications, because surely they have the only type of pain that can go on and on without resolving and can steal all the joy from their lives, eventually killing them.  Anyone else is just a disgusting drug addict, a scum of the Earth, and deserves merely contempt**.

**The latter portion of the above paragraph is sarcastic.

***I cannot blame them, so don’t be defensive on my behalf.  I find myself infuriating and disgusting.

Wandering through fields of deer

I work in a city in Florida called Deerfield Beach.  People often refer to it simply as “Deerfield”.  Being who I am, I can almost never hear or see that word without thinking something along the lines of “What kind of field is a deer field?”. Then I usually begin some lighthearted speculations on the matter.

I will now share some of these with you, because why should I be the only one to suffer from such stupidity?

I often speculate to myself that perhaps the deer field is a recently discovered quantum field, along the lines of the electron field and the gluon field and all the rest.  If that is the case, what we see as “deer” would be, fundamentally, just local disturbances or vibrations in the “deer field”.

Obviously the deer field interacts with the Higgs field, because although deer can be quite speedy, they never move anything close to the speed of light, and they can even be at rest; they clearly have a rest mass.  As everyone knows, “massless” particles, the ones that don’t interact with the Higgs, always travel at the speed of light*, which is just another term for the speed of causality.

Speaking of which, of course, an individual deer is very massive for a fundamental particle.  The median mass of a deer is around 50 kg.  Putting that in terms more typical of particle physics, it’s roughly 3 x 10^30 eV**.

To give you some perspective, the most massive of the quarks, the top quark, which is (I think) the most massive previously recognized fundamental particle is about 170 GeV (giga-electron-volts).  That’s 170 billion eV, or 170 x 10^9 eV, or 1.7 x 10^11 eV.  That would make a typical deer particle nearly 2 x 10^19 times as massive as a top quark.  Writing that out in terms that might hit home more powerfully, that’s 20,000,000,000,000,000,000 times as massive.

No wonder it’s never been produced in any of our particle accelerators!

Yet the deer field must have very weak coupling with other fields, because individual deer particles are extremely stable.  We can feel reasonably confident that not one single deer particle has decayed spontaneously into other, less massive particles in all of human history, because if it did, the energy released would dwarf the largest nuclear explosion ever set off by humans.

Recall that the explosive force of the original atom bombs at Trinity, Hiroshima, and Nagasaki was produced by the conversion of less than a gram of matter into radiant energy, yielding a blast equivalent to the explosion of about 20 thousand tons (aka 20 kilotons) of TNT.  The energy released by the “decay” of a single deer particle would be about 100,000 times as great, if my figuring is right, or 2 gigatons.  I’m sure you’re all aware that the Tsar Bomba, the largest ever nuclear explosion set off by humans, was “only” about fifty megatons, or about one fortieth as large.

So, don’t stand too close to a decaying deer…and “too close” would probably be “within a few hundred kilometers”.

All this leads me to speculate, given their mass and stability, that perhaps the deer is one of the theorized “supersymmetric” particles, thought to be paired with each of the more “typical” particles of the Standard Model, but which have not yet been detected in any particle accelerators‒again, given the rest mass of a deer, we should not be surprised.

I don’t know whether deer are fermions or bosons; my initial thought is that they would be spin-zero, since I’m not aware of deer showing, for instance, any tendency to align with magnetic fields.  Then again, maybe they’re too massive for spin-related magnetic alignment to be detectable.  They certainly appear to be electrically neutral, though again, if they had a charge comparable to an electron or proton, its effects might hardly be noticeable given their mass.

I would hope that particle physicists would flock‒or perhaps “herd” would be a better term‒to the places where these amazingly stable particles are plentiful, the better to study their characteristics.  Ironically, although I work in Deerfield, I have never seen a single deer particle there, but up north‒particularly in New Jersey‒I’ve seen many.

What is it about New Jersey and similar locales that leads to the local aggregation of so many of these ultra-massive “particles”, which seem likely to be primordial remnants of the big bang***?  Is it perhaps that they interact somewhat strongly with the prominent local corn fields?

Wait a minute!  Corn field?  What’s the nature of that quantum field and particle?!?!?

Anyway, this is the sort of shit that goes through my mind almost every time I see or hear the word “Deerfield”, and it’s only one example of that sort of thing.  There are countless others.

Just in case you ever wonder why I’m always so depressed.


*The two most well-known such “massless” particles are the photon and the graviton.  Of course, the graviton has not ever been measured as an individual particle, but it has been confirmed‒as expected‒by LIGO, VIRGO, et al, that gravitational waves travel at the speed of light, and so are massless.  I can’t help think that’s a good thing, because if gravitons had/have mass, there would be what I would assume to be some quite complicated self-interactions‒gravitons would themselves interact strongly with the gravitational field‒that would make their theoretical characteristics and so on quite complicated.  The very fact that they carry energy means they must self-interact at some level, since energy interacts with gravity, but they are expected individually to have very low energy, gravity being far weaker than the other “forces” of nature.  Of course, gravity is in some ways not quite like the other forces in character, but don’t get me started on that.

**Short for electron volts, defined as the amount of energy gained by an electron from being accelerated through a potential difference of one volt.  It’s a measure of energy, and it’s used as a measure of mass as well, because in the realm of fundamental particles, E=mc2 really comes into its own.

***It’s hard to imagine any subsequent processes generating such particles, though perhaps supernovae could occasionally create a few.

Cycles both vicious and viscous

It’s Monday again, the start of a new work week.  I guess this must be the 4th week of the year, since Saturday was January 21st, and 21 is 3 times 7, and this year and month started on a Sunday.  I’m at the bus stop again, writing this on my phone again while waiting for the first bus.  It’s generally better, for me at least, to wait somewhere to which I’ve already traveled, rather than waiting before I travel.  That way I can just sit still until the next stage of my journey.

Unfortunately, this bus stop has a strong smell of human urine this morning.  I don’t know if that’s because the weekend just passed, and people get drunk and pee in inappropriate places on the weekend sometimes, or if that homeless person spent more time here than expected and had to pee during that time.  I’ve not noticed the smell before, so it doesn’t seem to be a frequent thing.  I suppose if it had rained there would probably not be any residual odor, but it’s not the rainy part of the year down here in south Florida.

I had thought to myself, if the homeless person were to have been lying out at the bus stop again, I would go to the other nearby stop that I had (internally) recommended to her a few days ago.  That’s where I usually get off the bus at the end of the day, so it wouldn’t be a strange one for me to use.

It is curious‒I don’t know if other people do this or notice it or what have you, but I often take slightly different routes when going to and from a place.  Some of that is probably just a byproduct of perception, in that certain paths look or seem easier from one angle compared to another.  They can even be easier to see from one direction compared to another.

Sometimes it’s a matter of lighting and timing, such as the fact that, on my way back to the train after work, I take a slightly parallel portion of the route (which in the morning just goes on down the main road) because there’s a nice, quieter, tree-lined block behind the regional courthouse, and in the evening, when there’s light and I’m done with the work day, it’s more pleasant to walk there.  It also goes directly to the side of the tracks where I catch the train in the evening, whereas when I’m getting off the train, it would require a significant detour.

All this is trivia, but my point is that having these different routes when going one direction compared to another seems to be ubiquitous, at least for me, and I suspect I’m not alone in this.  This means, of course, that the routes become a kind of circle, rather than simply a reversible, oscillating process.

Of course no macroscopic processes of that sort are actually reversible, anyway, because of friction and the creation of increasing entropy, but even if one could eliminate such things, a to-and-from trip that takes different routes could have a net gain or loss*‒I think loss would be most likely‒and this loss could be perpetual and steady.

It’s a bit like that economics or game theory or decision theory idea whereby if someone prefers place A to place B, and prefers place B to place C, but prefers place C to place A, one could effectively be induced to pay to go in an endless cycle, from A to C to B to A to C to B, etc.  Of course, it would be profoundly irrational for someone to do such a thing, but people get caught in even stupider cycles all the time, which are even more costly, but because they rarely pay attention to the nature of their actions as if from the outside, they often don’t even realize they’re doing something thoroughly irrational.

I return again to my musings on the myth of Sisyphus‒the actual myth, not the book by Camus, though I still haven’t answered his main question to my own satisfaction‒and how horrifying it is that Sisyphus is the one doing his own punishing.

Say what you will about the horrors of Prometheus’s fate, at least he was the passive, chained victim of it**.  That may not make it better, and it may indeed be worse, but it is different.  Sisyphus’s very mind has been changed, so that he feels an irresistible urge, or drive, to push his boulder, despite the fact that he never gets it to the top of the hill (or mountain or whatever) without it rolling back down again.

But, of course, we all do very similar things all the time.  We eat to stay alive, and that eating gives us some pleasure, but the pleasure is transitory (as it must be) so soon we feel the urge to seek food again, and continue the cycle, which just spirals its way from bassinet to coffin, with the only certain outcome being that entropy in the universe will have been increased as part of the process.

Of course, the very universe itself may well be Sisyphean in nature‒see for instance my musing on Conformal Cyclic Cosmology, though even Inflationary cosmology can produce endless recurrences and infinite repetition.  Heck, even the old-school Boltzmann type of heat death of a universe implicitly produced endless cycles as, eventually, entropy would occasionally dip low enough to regenerate all the “stuff” in a universe, before making its way back up again.

And, of course, if the universe were “closed”, which it doesn’t seem to be, it could expand, collapse, “bounce”, reexpand, etc.  And if some of the “braneworld” scenarios in M Theory are right, there’s a cycle of brane-universes smacking into one another, restarting the hot Big Bang conditions over and over as they do***.

I don’t know where I’m going with this discussion, but in a way, that demonstrates my point.  I write my blog post every workday, for no particular reason, but because various confluent and complex drives in my nervous system lead me to do it.  Lather, rinse, repeat as needed.

Except, it’s not really “needed” in any deep sense.  It’s just an urge.  Even life itself is just a habit.  And it’s not always a good one, is it?

*Of course, one’s potential energy returning to it’s original point in a reversible system means that no net “work” has been done, no matter what path has been followed, but I’m leaving aside such idealized systems…though at the tiniest level they may be more accurate representations of reality than any more “realistic” macroscopic analogy.

**Who else thought of The Big Lewbowski when reading that line?

***This is the sort of “collision” to which the title of The Chasm and the Collision refers.

Another restless wind inside a letter box

Okay, well, it’s Saturday, and I’m now, more or less, at the bus stop, waiting for the bus.

It’s mildly interesting that the Saturday schedule for my first bus of the day is the same as its weekday schedule.  That will get me to the Tri Rail station in time for the second train of the day‒they run on a reduced schedule on Saturdays‒which will board only about 20 minutes later than the one I’ve been catching during the week.  So that’s rather nice.  I don’t even really have to change my commuting schedule, even though it’s Saturday.

I appreciate not having to change my routine.

Speaking of not having to change my routine‒and of being “more or less” at the bus stop‒I’m not sitting down to write this because someone is using the bus stop bench as a place to lie down, or at least to recline.  I think it might be that shouty lady from earlier this week.

I’m quite frustrated that anyone is using a public spot, paid for to at least some degree by the people who ride the bus, as a place to lay out, but when I calm myself down, I can sympathize with the fact that she doesn’t have anyplace to go.  Still, why lie out at the bus stop at an intersection that’s busy even on Saturday mornings?

The main road is six lanes wide here, and though the crossroad is not as big, it’s still a pretty busy road.  I would think it would be preferable to go someplace where there was greater peace and quiet.

I suppose one might be more vulnerable in more secluded places, but one could pick a spot with relative care, and I would think it would be more pleasant.  Heck, just on the other side of the crossroad, there’s another stop with a bigger bench and a better shelter, where one would still be close to the intersection and protected by the relatively high traffic from at least any unobserved crime.

Sigh.  It’s so wonderful to have worked hard all one’s life and tried to do the right thing and be very highly educated and to have striven to be a benefit to the world and then be stuck at age 53 not being able to sit at the bus stop early Saturday morning because a homeless person is using it to recline…and to muse about the ins and outs and safety concerns for such a homeless person, because it’s not completely impossible one might be such oneself (I have been in close to that situation, sleeping in the back of a rental vehicle for which I was not paying on a few nights while out on bail).

I know that the universe promises us one thing and one thing only, and it certainly doesn’t make bargains or special deals with anyone.  But it’s still frustrating.  I feel like I’ve wasted so much time and effort.  I feel like I’m still wasting time and effort.

Of course, all time is wasted in some sense; in any case, it passes‒or we pass through it, or whatever‒no matter what we do in it.  And, of course, even the nature of time itself is unclear.  It certainly isn’t one vast, monolithic, singular thing that is the same for everyone in the universe.  As I’ve speculated before, it may even have more than one past-future orientation, just as up-down changes depending where you are on the surface of the Earth.

It’s partly because of that fact of time’s locality that one can actually model a universe that begins at a finite place‒say, the isolated collapse of a hypothetical inflaton field‒and yet becomes an infinite space to those within that bubble.  Because time is local and causality only proceeds at the speed of light, at least in our part of the universe, it can all depend on one’s point of view.

Of course, it’s by no means certain that inflationary cosmology describes the way our universe came to be, though it is internally consistent.  Other possible models include Roger Penrose’s Conformal Cyclic Cosmology‒which I like a lot, aesthetically*‒in which the accelerating expansion in a universe, leading to eventual increase of entropy to where nothing can really exist any longer, leads to or simply becomes the highly uniform, comparatively low entropy state of the next universe, just on locally small scales.  Entropy, after all, is not necessarily on a fixed, absolute measure, nor is space itself.  Entropy can be small in a tiny region that then expands to become a much larger one, still with low local entropy.

It’s a bit analogous, I think, to taking a number line and multiplying everything in it by two, so that the space between any two previously chosen points on the line is doubled, but the number line itself is just as infinite as it was before.

The nature of the real numbers being what it is, there’s an uncountable infinity of numbers between any two points on the real number line, and so there’s room to grow a universe of any size you might like from the space between any two locations on a number line‒or in a 4-D spacetime.

Penrose has posited that it would be conceivable for the residents of such a universe, if they knew and understood the kind of universe they were in, to leave behind messages in the very fabric of mass and energy arrangement in their universe for the people in the next universe‒nothing very complex, I would guess, but maybe just enough to make it clear that they had existed.

I’m not sure why people who were approaching the heat death of their particular universal iteration would bother with doing that, but maybe they would.  A bigger question to me would be, how would they target it?  If spacetime were expanding exponentially, as it seems to be doing even now, then every future “observable” universe would lie only within a tiny tiny tiny chunk of what was left of the previous universe.  So how would a previous universe’s intelligent life choose where to leave the message?  Would they try to encode it in every possible tiny region of their spacetime?  That would require engineering on a cosmic (but highly detailed) scale, and if you can do that, why not alter the expansion of the universe in the first place?

Of course, that’s not relevant to whether the notion of CCC is correct, just to the question of if such messages would be possible and how they might be carried out.  My more itchy question is, whence would the energy and particles of each new iteration of the ever-expanding universe arise?

In the Inflationary model of cosmology, all the immense energy that suffused our early universe was “created” when the hypothetical inflaton field underwent a phase transition and dropped to a lower energy state, so the local inflaton particles quickly decayed into all the particles of our more familiar quantum fields.

Inflation is not universally (ha ha) accepted, but certain aspects of it are certainly plausible and are supported by at least some data.  For instance, our universe is currently inflating, based on our best data and understanding.  That’s the Dark Energy stuff about which you’ve probably heard.

Exponential expansion is exponential expansion.  The doubling rate can change, but it still blows up at ever-increasing speeds.  If you compress or stretch your time axis, all exponential growth curves look the same.  It’s a little like that Conformal Cyclic Cosmology notion.

Anyway, as far as the source of the “reheating” of the universe in CCC as opposed to inflation, I doubt that Sir Roger Penrose has overlooked or missed that question.  He frikking brilliant‒even when he’s wrong he’s smarter than most of us are when we’re as right as we ever get**.  I just need to read a little more deeply into his model to figure out where that comes from.

Perhaps that will also allay my puzzlement about the “leaving a message” notion.  I simply haven’t finished his book on the subject.  It didn’t help that, as of last check, it wasn’t available in e-book format, and so I only have the paperback.  Not that there’s anything wrong with paperbacks, but it’s less convenient to carry 400+ of them around with you at any given time than Kindle format books, and so you’re less likely to have any one of them with you on any given day.

Oh, well.  I’ll see what I can do about learning more.  That’s rarely a waste of time, at least.

Wow, this post has really meandered from one thought to another, going truly across the universe‒and beyond, depending on how you define the word “universe”.  Perhaps it would be best to use “Omniverse” when describing the totality of all possible realities, as the wizard does in DFandD.

Speaking thereof, if any of you have read it and would like to make any comments about it, I’d be delighted to receive them, either here or on the blog post proper that entails my sharing of that story (so far).

In the meantime, my train should be here in 5 minutes (I rode the bus in between these two times).  My estimate of the schedule was correct, as is usually the case when I bother to check and when people and organizations keep to their own, voluntarily chosen schedules, on which numerous people act in reliance.  Don’t get me started on that topic.  I’ve already written way more than I would have expected from such inauspicious beginnings.

Have a nice weekend, all.  I won’t be posting tomorrow, barring the unforeseen, but I will be back on Monday‒again, barring the unforeseen.  Those unknown unknowns can strike at any time.  Take care, and be as prepared as you can reasonably be.

penrose by any other name

*This is no reason to think it’s more likely to be correct than any less aesthetically pleasing model, but it keeps it fun.

**He also looks rather a lot like my former Uncle Barney.  That’s neither here nor there, but I wanted to make sure I said it at some point.  So, there, now I have.

Introspection, Extrospection, Emergence, Reductionism…let’s call the whole thing off.

I’m sorry about how long yesterday’s post was.  It’s amazing, as I think I’ve mentioned before, just how much I can write‒on my phone, no less‒when I literally have nothing planned about which to write.  Small wonder that, when I do have a subject, or a story to tell, I tend to write perhaps too much.  Though I guess that assessment is really the individual reader’s to make.  Some may think I’ve written too much, and some may think too little.  Most will never know because very few people know about my books at all, and I have no knack, nor money, for self-promotion.

Speaking of stories, some woman was standing in the street median across from the bus stop, screaming as if in heated conversation at 5:20 this morning (just now, in other words) about someone having cheated on her after having gotten her pregnant.  If this were twenty years ago, I would have thought she was psychotic.  Nowadays it seems safe to draw the tentative conclusion that she is actually talking to someone on her smartphone‒though perhaps that’s a misnomer for such devices when they are used for such purposes.  Honestly, why do people even want to be with other people?  Everyone is so pathetic, and I’m certainly no exception.

There are those who say that an appetite for delusion is necessary for people to find any will to live at all‒from delusions about their driving abilities and personal attractiveness to delusions about meaning in the universe.  And there are those who speculate that one of the hallmarks of clinical depression is a diminution of that ability to delude oneself, particularly about oneself.  Perhaps.  It’s probably not quite so simple as that, but that does capture at least part of the character of the experience.

Oh, well.  It is whatever it is at root.  The underlying causal structure may have little resemblance to the overarching phenomenon.  Nerve cells don’t resemble little brains, individual starlings don’t have the appearance of tiny murmurations, and water molecules do not in any way resemble ultra miniaturized oceans.

The materials to which the laws of quantum mechanics directly apply do not behave in ways that are analogous to any “large” phenomenon which they engender when gathered together and interacting in their trillions of trillions of trillions of trillions, etc.  Anyone who finds this surprising at all has really not thought about things very hard or very clearly.

It may be fallacious to imagine that a wave function collapses when measured, or when it interacts with other “particles” and decoheres; it may be that our experiments of such things are simply too artificial to capture the nuances of the immensely common submicroscopic interactions of such fundamental things (though I don’t doubt that they actually have bearing on how quantum mechanics behaves).

The problem with concepts like imagining that, for instance, the Copenhagen Interpretation is “correct”, and that measurement and observation is what causes the wave function to “collapse” is its implicit assumption that if we cannot “see” something in any strong sense, it can’t be considered “real”.  To me that seems an astonishing level of hubris and narcissism, especially from a species as pathetic and benighted as humans.

By this I do not, by the way‒and this is very important‒mean to open the door to subjectivism and any relativism of objective facts, or any version of the “perception is reality” bullshit.  There is all the evidence anyone might need that there is an external reality, utterly independent of any consciousness that might or might not perceive it.  But its nature is not necessarily directly perceivable all at once, or understood at first glance.  It requires rigorous detective work.

How did I get on that subject?  By stream of consciousness, I suppose…or perhaps it would be more accurate to say that it was by the stream of the unconscious, bubbling away and spilling over onto the surface of thought.

That stream is not like a stream of clear water, though.  Perhaps it might be said to resemble turbid water, but often it seems more like thick paint.  We can only see the surface of the stuff, but that doesn’t in any way imply that the interior doesn’t exist.  It’s merely not directly accessible to our eyes.

Then again‒and this applies also to what I was writing earlier‒the process of seeing and experiencing that sight is a neurologic process that is constrained by inputs from sense organs, not a direct, unmediated apprehension of the world outside.  Mere photons, unprocessed, can only deliver chaos to any random bits of photosensitive material they might encounter.

Thought‒of some form or other‒is required for sight to be in any way useful, or even actual, to any organism.  A closed-circuit TV camera and monitor do nothing but send signals, and cannot interpret or act upon the information.  If no one, or no program, or no other mechanism is being influenced by the information in any sensible way that affects its outcome, it might as well be a camera pointed at the surface of an uninhabited planet and sending those signals to a screen on some other uninhabited planet.

Again‒or still‒I don’t know what, if any, point I’m trying to make.  Probably nothing worth delving into too deeply, so I won’t bother with it much more, I think.  Instead, I’ll switch topics.

In the past, I’ve asked about whether people would want to have me write more of Outlaw’s Mind or The Dark Fairy and the Desperado.  One particularly astute reader pointed out that it was impossible to make any reasonable judgment without having the opportunity to read any of the latter story.  So, I think I’ll post that story here, all in one go, if I can fit it.

Don’t worry, I’ll insert one of those “continue reading” clickable thingies after the first few paragraphs.  Otherwise, it would be a ridiculously long blog post to get past if one wanted to scroll down to the previous one.

This doesn’t mean I promise to write more of it or of Outlaw’s Mind, or to write Changeling in a Shadow World, for that matter.  I haven’t yet figured out even how to check the results of my poll, and I’m pretty sure that it can’t be all that difficult, so don’t expect much.

Hell, I don’t even promise to keep writing this blog.  I’m getting tired of it, as I’m getting tired of pretty much everything, and particularly of myself.  There’s very little to be gained by pursuing anything at all.  But, perhaps, by posting DFandD, I’ll at least create the pseudo-closure of having all of my fiction to date be out there somewhere to read.  In case anyone wants to read it.

So, either I’ll post that later today, or I’ll just use it as my post for tomorrow.  I guess you’ll find out, if you care to look.