Thursday, 26 March 2015

Imagine Infinity.

Both Book of Plebs and Catalysis contain strong references to infinity. For people who are busy with ‘real’ stuff, it can be frustrating trying to ‘create’ time to get your head around abstract concepts like infinity. So I thought I should help by explaining how I use science with imagination to ‘See’ it, so I can then write about it.

No point in jumping the gun however, so let’s first start with the part of infinity that holds the universe we see and touch. This is the physical place where we are born, where we live and also where we leave what’s left over after we’re ‘done’.

Currently, Physics explains the universe in terms of a physical membrane which the nerds call a ‘brane’. Mathematics uses M-Theory to explain how the universal membrane or membranes (Multiverse) might work. This is very heavy stuff for people who are heavily anchored in a time equals money reality.
Wikipedia makes some references to M-Theory and membranes and I’ve left those links intact for anyone who might want to go there, but skip the next three lines if you want the Pleb’s version.

M-theory may provide a framework for developing a unified theory of all of the fundamental forces of nature. Attempts to connect M-theory to experiment typically focus on compactifying its extra dimensions to construct approximate etc.

OK - Here we go. Physics, as the name implies, is about the rules for physical things and they place a limit on how big anything can be. Physics as we understand it, can't exist beyond big, just as it can't apply beyond the smallest elemental or sub-atomic particles.

If something is too big - it will become bigger than a black hole and if it’s too small, it becomes part of gravity and/or energy and loses its physical attributes. It could be that being too physically big and being too physically small, is much the same thing. That’s a little simplistic, but it’s all the science you’ll need right now. If and when you do get time to think about it, it will make sense.

So. Our physical universe can’t contain anything bigger than a black hole nor anything smaller than fundamental gravity or energy. So now we just gather all those physical pieces of all sizes and then press them together, so they can be visualised like a flat membrane. Looking at the CD in the picture above should help. All the physical pieces of everything are now like atoms of plastic, crammed together inside our CD universe.

Let’s say all the biggest things physically possible, like black holes, are at the outside edge and all the smaller and even minuscule and tiny things, (We can imagine so many more of these) are all squeezed together getting smaller and smaller towards the inside. Everything inside the three dimensions of length, width and volume of the CD is physical and therefore conforms to physical rules. We’re almost there.

Time is the fourth dimension and happens all the time. Our futures become the present  before disappearing into the past. All possibilities are by definition possible, but they can’t all co-exist and become the present simultaneously. Some were not meant to be and pass us by, maybe because we didn’t work hard enough in creating them. It could be that we weren’t convinced of our own ability to actually create. Science also says they might happen in another universe, but let's not go there.

Creation  however, is not a physical possibility. It‘s a contradiction of physical law and must therefore come from outside the physical universe. Futures may be created from pieces of previous opportunities that were allowed to pass us by, just as they can also be totally new constructs. Some futures may be tailor made specifically for us and maybe even by us.

Imagine the tiniest fragments of futures yet to be assembled, being funnelled through the centre of the physical CD like mist droplets, except these are still hot and sticky from creation. They are so small that they’re pulled down in a hot whirlwind that whips them through the black hole in the middle of our universe. Those that fly close enough to the inside lip are mutually attracted, like static, and stick where they cool and become solid. As time passes, they coalesce and become part of the physical disk, which must then slowly expand outwards as time is also added and the history of the universe grows longer and larger. The disk expands and grows outwards in a process that might wax and wane, but never stops.

Of course, not all futures and not all possibilities will happen and some of these pieces of not yet solid physical stuff, might blow through the centre without touching, and become lost. Those future fragments might never come back again but who knows for sure. Everything is possible.

Now, every single thing that we can currently experience is physically on that physical disk. All the possibilities that may yet happen are not. They are still hovering outside the disk both above and below. Now, imagine throwing the disk away like a frisbee.  The problem here is that all stars and all light is inside the CD. So you'll need to see it with your mind’s eye as it gets smaller and smaller with distance. It will disappear from sight in less than a hundred meters, which is relatively trillions of light years. At that stage, we could say it is lost inside infinity.

There would be no physical reason to think that it could ever be found again because without something else to use as a reference point, there is no direction. There would seem to be nothing everywhere, except of course, for you. You could of course re-imagine it as it was before you threw it and decide not to, because out there, time doesn’t have to obey physics. You are above or below but either way, you are no longer bound by physics.

In my books, imagination and our ability to create is what makes futures happen and every future is possible. Infinity is so big that it contains endless possibilities for everyone that will ever live and even then, there will be infinitely more room for infinitely more possibilities. Only this kind of infinity could accommodate ‘Things’ that are larger than life itself.

It would be quite natural to wonder what might be achieved here by someone out there, especially when you can see yourself outside - looking in. 


It seems quite a while since my favourite people and I were able to get down and dirty at Lahinch beach in West Clare. We built sand castles while the bravest of us really swam, not like the many posers with surf boards and wet suits. Then we played Goodminton or Catch. Oh, Goodminton is like Badminton except it's played with no nets and with any kind of hand held bat with a squash ball, or whatever you happened to bring or find.

Anyway, considerable thought went into all three sand castles, not all of which ended up, or even started looking like castles. As I recall there was a recreation of a scene form Mordor of Lord of the Rings fame, together with an ‘Assembled Host’. The other was a curious creation from a Japanese Science Fiction Anime with teeth for walls, or so I was told.

The one above was all I had to offer in the time available because I spent more time that I should on supporting the far corner. Let’s just say my architectural skills were found wanting. It refused to accept the diktats of my imagination. I wanted two higher layers for defenders who could be protected by small walls similar to that in the near and lower corner, but it kept collapsing. Wet sand dries very quickly under the sun and its ability to support weight incorporates that fact in the equation. In the end, I just patted it down and played ball instead. I also forgot to put in a door, but you noticed that straight away - right? Sure you did?

From a distance, as I went to retrieve the ball, a small boy was about to pass by but stopped. He was caught for some moments between the possibility of playing an angry God and utterly destroying my castle for the affront of being on his beach, or allowing his own fertile imagination to create residents, invaders or defenders and play out a major or minor drama of his own. He looked around to re assure himself that he did indeed enjoy a Godly dominion with no lesser gods to contend with, and then returned his gaze to ‘His’ prize. 

As his father disappeared down the beach with his younger sister in tow, the boy’s mannerisms betrayed the depth of the plot he’d very quickly succumbed to. All I can share with any certainty was that there was an exchange of archery and insults. The latter was clear from his haughty expression as he mouthed them. There was also at least one horse with rider and possibly two fatalities. One died quite quickly from a projectile to the heart, while the other lingered near death for some time before proceeding into an under or over world. That much we’ll also never know.

The nameless boy then left, occasionally glancing over his shoulder possibly to ensure that the outcome he created remained final, until he was out of sight. Whatever happened after that was, very obviously, no longer his responsibility.
Thankfully, my third book is also taking shape and like my castle, I know with absolute certainty that it will take you so very far away from where you are now. That’s apparently something that good books and mediocre sand castles have in common.

Why not get ready by picking up a copy of Catalysis or Book of Plebs and get yourself into the ‘Zone’ while I get this one ready for you.

Monday, 9 March 2015

Death of a Family

All dynasties die ... maybe that’s why they're called that. The word itself infers the decay of some ancient aristocracy with no relevance in our real world. But what if it's OUR family or OUR perceived dynasty that died? Because we only experience it once, and most likely not yet, it's a prospect that we never entertain until it strikes us. We may die - but family is immortal. Right? Wrong. Every dynasty dies - remember?
Family death is not necessarily a bad thing because nothing lasts forever. Evolution uses death as a tool for change so the next generation of families are made better, as in stronger and more likely to survive, more supportive or more supported perhaps. Less fickle and more robust either way.

Family is very different for every member of it and as such, is a very personal experience. Members die but if someone is expelled, then that's evidence of a structural deficiency that has already doomed it. To the surviving members, it morphs into various transitional forms, but entropy has taken too huge a bite. There is no such thing as the last family member because no man is an island and it had to be dead long before. Death is the culmination of life. It happens all the time and is the inevitable fate of everything we will ever touch.

Take it from me, we don't always see it coming. Suddenly a brother or two become insensitive and a sister or two are cold. Whispers follow tepid welcomes. They are not the same people for whom you automatically do things simply because they ask. That was the perennial and assumed reciprocity that has been broken. To them, you have become an opportunity to extract a quick buck. We're not talking big bucks but we are talking principle. They become quite abusive when you protest and you try to make sense of what comes out of their mouths but they now talk greedish. You no longer know these people and are appalled. No longer siblings but total strangers and even enemies, but the only one surprised is you, or in my case me.

Of course the apple never falls far from the tree, or so I was told, by a wise head on young but observant shoulders. That means I possibly share some blame. So I cool down enough to recall that I spent a lot of time working abroad and just assumed the same people would be there when I got back. The annual holiday at home became bi-annual and then I missed a critical wedding or whatever. Time away from family is interpreted by some as letting that membership expire.

In my experience, previously close knit families are automatically drawn to the unelected 'Committee' style of governance to fill the vacuum left when the natural order of 'Parents' has passed on. The problem with secret committees is that they may never post the minutes of the meeting in which your membership was finally and fully revoked.

A brother knew you had no membership when he played the part of the abusive landlord and the other the same while playing his lawyer. Always within earshot, the committee prepared the next 'Private' agenda.

The solution is to apologize unconditionally for expecting to be treated like family and for being outraged when you weren't. You then walk away from the dead thing, but don't forget to take the lesson painfully learned.

Seeds can't survive in the shadow of a plant that has grown too big for it's roots. It must find its own space and use the nutrients of what grew there before. Families have a lot in common with extinct empires.

As the definition of one crumbles and falls, I think it's best not to cling to it. Let it go and look away. Nearby, vibrant new families are pushing their shoots into the sun. They will surely benefit from the space you willingly vacate and from those gems of hard lessons learned. Evolution demands that we either apply them, pass them on, or lose them forever.

Regardless of how difficult they were to ingest, we should be thankful for all lessons. So, I assured my previous family of reciprocated civilities should our paths cross. Sounds sterile but no man is an island. Destiny gave us common roots which might yet produce a great purpose.

This human tragedy is nothing to those who have yet to experience it, but it shakes the foundations of our worlds when it happens to us. It might carry no significance for those born into the Ochre Worlds because they are surely very different from us - right? But - All Dynasties Die. To use a nautical term - my new book (Ochre) has built up a real head of steam and nothing can stop it now.