[TOE: Theory of everything. Unifies the four forces: electromagnetic, strong nuclear, weak same, gravity. Differs from a GUT: Grand Unified Theory, which unifies only the three that, as seems apparent at this moment to this lazy layperson, can actually be unified.]
[And this post is a re-post because the last one went out as a hacked-and-stitched version of just one idea I’d worked up a few ways… Eep. Screwed that one up. And so I felt this is new enough to post as such. …Regardless, it’s always nice to show the kids clean up well. Thanks for bearing with the oddities. –dbm]
I begin this post a bit after 4:30 am, kept from sleep by a conception of reality so close to what the universe may well be like that Einstein’s cosmology would be a Theory of Everything, except where it and reality don’t jive. Which is why we have quantum theory, though the beauty of Einstein is that his model kicks gravity out of the Fellowship of the Four Forces (which, to a layman, is incredibly appealing, esp. given that gravity can’t be unified with the other three without bending the universe into supersymetric strings). Quantum theory put gravity back on the Force Field of play, and its been causing the usual headaches.
That is, I was kept awake by an idea. An idea, the specifics of which, kept me from sleeping.
It was likewise when I was a child. Rather than cosmological theories that couldn’t quite be reality, though, I had to deal with the monsters that live under every kid’s bed for a certain period.
I sometimes woke to find an arm dangling down the side of my bed, my hand hanging beneath the box-spring, daring all below-bed creatures to finally do what they do but never have done, ever: Eat children.
I always woke, in these instances, with my head turned toward the errant arm and tilted as necessary to make it the one thing I would see when waking. I don’t know if my unconscious did this because it liked pranking me, or if it was doing its best to help me get out of danger as soon as possible.
My eyes would open lazily… If opening one’s eyes halfway in a fraction of a second can be conveyed as such with the character of the action well-enough represented to excuse what may be an inaccurate portrayal of how the action would have appeared if observed.
Right. Here’s how what transpired must have looked like:Kid sleeping on his stomach, arm off one side. He makes a noise indicating he’s about to stir. In five to ten seconds, a gasp of surprised terror reverbs about the room — a gasp so violent one wonders why the boy’s lungs didn’t BANG! like overstretched balloons.
And I would immediately have gone from asleep, laying on my stomach, to sitting at the head of my bed, pressing my back against the wall, the blanket I was wrapped in when born in hand, hand against face as though guarding against a noxious odor.
Or as if it were soaked in ether, and I had the key to calming down.
The monsters were strange things. I didn’t give them a thought during the day, and the space beneath my bed, until I had to sleep on it, was completely unremarkable. But after I was read to, then read a few hours more myself, the things were there and wouldn’t let me get to bed. Despite the fact I always read for much too long and finished overly tired.
But I knew they were there. And hungry. And a twin bed is not an island.
Still, I never pictured anything about these beasts. I never thought to imagine what they looked like at all, let alone what gave rise to the psychological need to eat me. And of course my thoughts kept away from questions regarding their living arrangements, ridiculous as they were.
And so, while I believed in monsters and feared them… I also knew they weren’t there.
Until this phase ended, I gradually seemed to convince myself, by nightfall, that the things could not be.
But I began a habit of reading all the way into sleeping anyway — no lights out, no errant thoughts, just reading until my eyes closed.
Which was a good scam and a strange habit. Of course, The Hanging Hand scenario was inescapable. But I went to sleep untroubled, no matter how I woke.
Tonight I was similarly troubled, but by my own arrogance. Days previous, I was walking through the park pondering the implications of the lack of a way to detect gravitons. Which made me think how Einstein-verse does without them. Which made me, finally, truly picture how.
The surprise being that I was able to picture it. …To imagine four-dimensional space at all.
I knew inertial bodies travel in straight lines. Meaning the fact that orbits appear as ellipses to us is a function of humans seeing in three-dimensions. (Some popular cosmological models stick us in a universe that is two dimensional — holographic principle — and the current Theory of Everything is a superstring theory of eleven dimensions with or without branes I don’t know because there’s really no there there as far as I understand string theories. And that isn’t far enough to get you to your fridge.
Still. String theory seems to be nothing more than an intellectual exercise amounting to: Knowledge, once obtained, should fit nicely Here. And so on.
…And this is where I beg someone who understands string theory to slap some sense into me, or at least some stupid out.
AS WE WERE! So for days I had talked about nothing but gravity in Einstein’s cosmology, asking others if it seemed to them, too, to express gravity as it really is: That is, it is not.
The responses I gathered would have been the same had I asked “Do you think an optimal, general AI will necessarily have the characteristics of the singularity futurists worry about? Because I imagine a thing of such intelligence, learning exponentially, would have as much to do with people as we do ants. Or do you think we’d likely be stepped on simply by accident, then, meaning an AI never could be safe to keep as a pet?”
…And yeah, we’ll get to that mess at some point.
WHAT? Oh yeah: Finally, tonight I had to figure out why I was right. I had to know the reasoning behind what I find so appealing — and for the moment am blissfully unaware of why it is not, or cannot be. How so? Don’t search, don’t find.
AND SO! I’ve finished twelve hours brushing up on what is probably outdated physics. However, I understand each concept clearly, can imagine the solar system moving within the galaxy according to the shape of spacetime, and so on.
And now there are no more monsters under my bed. And so I can sleep.
Although I wish I had Bob. Bob is what I called my blanket because, even though I loved and needed Bob, I also knew it was really weird to anthropomorphize a blanket.
And this, friends, is what my brain meant to write last week, but could not manage. Now Stay Tuned! Because InterType is all new all week long!