Monday, April 23, 2012

Spooky Action Into The Past

Imagine yourself as the Ruler of the Known World.

Strike that. Imagine yourself as a Chinese Emperor, which, for the longest time, was the same as being ruler of the known world. Let's say you are the Yongle Emperor, who sponsored the massive and long term Zheng He commercial sailing fleet expeditions throughout the Indian Ocean and South Pacific. You are surrounded by crimson silk, and gold brocade, and burnished wood, and polished bronze, and the dearest, deepest jade. The air is scented with the aroma of sweet sandalwood and sage. Courtesans fill your wine bowl, tasty sweetmeats are to hand... and then you are suddenly visited by rude barbarians who appear out of a roaring ball of smoke and fire.

Aside from the magical entrance, these are not your ordinary barbarians. For one thing, they are exceptionally scrawny and small. They are hairy, extremely hairy, with thick heavy brows and big yellow teeth in pock-marked prognathous faces. They've bad skin, and piercing, bloodshot, jaundiced eyes, set deeply in pale visages. They are bandy-legged, knocked-kneed, hunched over, and dressed in rags. Rags actually is hardly the word for it - more like mangy animal hides resembling chewed up spinach than proper leather.

And they stink. Oh, how they stink. Their breath, reeking from the stench of bad nutrition and worse hygiene, is nearly as bad as their body odor. Which, apparently, they're aware of, for they have doused themselves with cloying and overpowering perfumes in an attempt to disguise the taint. All this, and they can only make gibberish sounds in a sibilant and abrasive tone, which eventually starts to sound like the proper civilized tongue of the Han.

Spaniards? Portuguese? If only, but no. These barbarians are subhuman, almost as if they had spontaneously generated out of the forest undergrowth, come creeping out wholly formed from moss, mold, mildew, and other corruptions of the soil.

Well, you now have a taste of what the Emperor of Texas must have experienced when I and my party came visiting, a diplomatic overture from the mother civilization of Earth, some thirteen thousand years after the Texan colonists thought themselves abandoned.

(And the Texans lucked out. Other colonies, other ventures, were forever lost to us, transported far beyond the particle horizon of the observable universe, billions, possibly trillions, of light years away, never to be seen or heard from again).

We must have been such a loathsome sight, for, for at least the past thousand years, no one citizen of Texas remained in organic form.

True, protoplasm is still considered the durable good, but, with their large range of meta- and trans- material options - self-healing ceramics, supermetals, room-temperature superconductors, diamondoid nanomolecular processors and energy field generators, solid positronium switches and actuators, gaseous phased quantum smart engines, etc., the Texans have opted for broader choice in body plans and lifestyles. (For example, it's hard to be a sloshy meat water bag at 100g accelerations, or working within the coronal atmosphere of a star, or just your average frozen depths of empty space).

And so, there we were, standing before the truly impressive brush gray metal surface of a very large beehive shaped structure, the Emperor of Texas himself, glowing all electric blue and reeking of ozone, centered in the vast white pearlescent metal hall of the Capitol.

Our visitation was, shall we say, preemptive. For you see, that visit of the Kraken ship the month before had struck terror into the metaphorical heart of every Texan. It had set the whole Empire of Texas on red alert.

Not surprising. The Kraken ship, for all the world looking like a neon-lit county fair in full festival, popping into existence not five hundred miles above Capitol City, and without tripping any the extensively sensitive and paranoid early warning detection systems knitted in tight orbits about the planet, had sent The Fleet into a full-blown panic (or at least, as much of a panic as well-trained and drilled military organization will allow itself). The nearest dreadnought in orbit, the Calico Jack, ponderously warped up from lower orbit to intercept it, signaling on every wavelength for it to hold station and prepare to boarded. And then the Kraken ship just vanished, and no one knew how it could do that.

Well, you can predict the reaction. An alien ship appears above the Texan homeworld - in alarmingly intimate distance of the homeworld - with an obvious superiority in technology, and probably weapons, with unknown intent, and no further information. Once the Kraken told us about the existence of the Texans, once we saw the visual of a 3-million-ton Texan dreadnought, bristling with weapons, armed and armored to the teeth, we knew they would shoot at anything that moved from thenceforth onward. We had to calm them.

"We" being a group of humans who had titanium nails in our heads, and who thus had their shit together. And you may wonder why I am included in the group? Well, I have a titanium nail in my head too. Finally got my shit together.

Long story short, there we are in the Hall of the Department of Public Safety, appearing before the Emperor himself, and the first thing he (is a giant lump of machinery still a he?) says, is:

"What are your terms of surrender?"

To which my colleague, the poet Ezra Furman replied, "Why, none at all, chief! We come in peace!"

Well, and now I need to explain something here, and it has to do with delayed choice. When you deal with wormholes, you deal with both relativity and quantum mechanics. And thanks to the Basement Equations, most of the heavy math and physics lifting has been done for people who wish to scoot about the universe in this fashion. But the one thing we know now, which we didn't know then (then being when 30 million people from Texas and it surrounds were dumped 13,000 years in the past) is that this was the classic delayed choice experiment done by good ol' Prof. Zeilinger at the Institute for Quantum Optics and Quantum Information at the University of Vienna.

I won't bore you with all the details, but suffice to say, you can set up spooky action through time as well as space, and one consequence is, you can make a future decision about the outcome of an experiment long after it has been completed, measured and done, and even, no longer set up. I should point out that this is not causality violation. This is not an effect preceding a cause. It just mimics a future action influencing the past. Okay. So.

When we contacted the Empire of Texas, we had a choice as to whether contact the Texas of "now" or the one that was sent via wormhole back into the past from just the previous year. We had a choice as to which measurement outcome to choose - entangled or separable. Because the only way all those folks could end up back in the past also determined whether they would exist or not.  If entangled, then they go back in the past and we contact them. If separable, then they all go into nonexistence, and we don't visit them. Being, all of us, decent people, we couldn't see just kill off thirty million people.

It was a hard choice too, because, the existence of Empire of Texas could mean the end of humanity, the end of the Convergence.

The Kraken tried to tell us that.

Sometimes, you know, things look all dark and scary out there, but also real pretty. And sometimes all the dark and painful and scary stuff need all the happy and joyful stuff, and the other way around. And that's why being human can be a real hard job sometimes, even when a nail in your head. But we all figured, with all of spread out as thin as cigarette smoke through the whole cosmos, you need to stick together.

It's hard to say if a mountain of metal can look visibly relieved, but it sure seemed that way.

"Well, in that case, howdy partners!",  the Emperor rejoined. "Welcome to Texas!"

No comments:

Post a Comment