Crisis on Earth


John Zhang returns to consciousness.

"I think I have been asleep for a long time," he murmurs.

"You have been asleep for a very long time," says Mitchell Calrus, who is the only other person in the room. Zhang is comfortable under the covers of his bed, propped up by mountains of pillows, but the air on his face is cold. The room is painted cabbage green, except for small white ceramic tiles covering the lower walls, a white window frame (with frosted glass), and some old, dull, vomit-brown plastic chairs, in one of which Calrus is sitting. There's a drip running into Zhang's left arm. The fluid is colourless.

"Zykov is dead," says Calrus.

Memories churn in Zhang's head. They feel like they're further away than they should be. "I think... I think I already knew that."

"He killed himself. It was just a few hours after you were captured. You might have felt his influence go out of your head while you were sleeping. Zykov was a creature of chaos and destruction. Sending you to one of the most densely populated areas on Earth was a logical way to continue that theme. That's why he sent Kosogorin to New York City..."

"This is too cold to still be Brasilia," observes Zhang.

"Yes." Calrus flips over a few pieces of paper in the ring binder that he has open on his knees. "Yes... humm. When you were captured in Brazil you were placed under sedation. The following morning, you were revived in the Brasilian police's custody, for questioning. Before any questions could be asked, you had a mild seizure and tried to activate your Klick device, which was being held for forensic examination in a locker in a neighbouring building. The locker had... well, I don't speak Portuguese, but judging by this photograph, it imploded on itself by the time you were sedated again. You were awake for less than ten minutes.

"You were taken to a Brazilian military hospital, where you were put into a controlled comatose state and connected to life support. You were moved to Cuba, then Russia, then to the United Kingdom and then back to Russia while international law tried to figure out what to do with you. It was eventually determined that you had been compelled to act under the telepathic control of Mikhail Zykov and were not responsible for your actions. Six months after your capture you were revived for the second time in a specialised clinic in Switzerland, sixteen hundred miles from your Klick device, where..."

"I made it. It's a Zhang device."

"...where you caused a mild earthquake and almost brought the clinic's roof down on yourself. Evidently, Zykov's post-hypnotic suggestions were... convincing. And persistent. You were put back under.

"You've been under for a total of almost eight years."

Zhang rolls his head and squints at Calrus. "Who are you?"

"I'm Mitch Calrus. Mr. Zhang--"

Zhang winces at Calrus' mispronunciation, "Just call me 'Zed'. Am I dying?"


"Am I ill? No?" Calrus shakes his head. "So why risk waking me?"

Calrus opens the rings in his binder and hands over a stapled pair of double-sided printed A4 sheets, covered in dense scientific notes and graphs. Most prominent are two graphs which, Zhang eventually determines, display data recorded by a major neutrino detector in the Netherlands. "This was our first hint that something was wrong," explains Calrus. "Those two spikes represent a single anomaly in the background neutrino field. This report is from August 2015." He hands over another report. "This report is from October of the same year. Note the increasing size of the spikes.

"This is a false-colour photograph of an extremely tiny region of sky in the constellation of Virgo. This was taken from a space telescope called LSEAT LocalSC on 1st January 2016. The point source in the upper right of the photograph was discovered by backtracking the trajectories of the anomalous neutrinos. It was determined to be somewhere between three and five distinct supernovae, coincidentally occurring in the same approximate region of the sky. It was hypothesised that some huge interstellar event had triggered several stars in the same region of a distant galaxy to collapse at about the same time. Both natural and artificial explanations were proposed - a cosmic string, a quantum singularity, a Q-ball, an immense experiment." Calrus turns over more false-colour photographs. In these, the point source is brighter. "This picture is from two days later. This one is from four days later..."

"Where are my glasses?"

"I..." Calrus inspects the room, including the bedside table and its drawers. "I don't know. I think they might have been lost. I don't think anybody knew you were supposed to have glasses. I'm sorry. The... the next two pictures show more supernovae exploding in front of the previous ones. An interstellar engine, almost, firing every few days. This picture is the last one that LSEAT LocalSC took before the object became impossible to focus on.

"This is an image taken in April 2016 by the TALOS A-B binocular space telescope system. TALOS was designed mainly to directly image physical features on other planets inside our solar system but also has some deep space IR observation capability. By now the phenomenon has a nonzero angular diameter and we know that there are at least ninety distinct supernovae in the stack - possibly thousands more, with the most recent half-dozen drowning out the rest. These eight images were taken from a ground-based observatory in Hawaii three months later still. We watched a supernova happening live from an unprecedented close range. These are the pictures which went public, along with the finalised blue shift and angular motion calculations.

"I'm concerned about how calmly you're taking this, Zed. You've spent almost a fifth of your natural life asleep--"

"Why are you here?" demands Zhang.

Calrus pulls out a laptop computer and puts it in front of Zhang. "This is a photograph of the sky which I took when I arrived in Moscow at three o'clock this morning. I took it with the camera in my phone." He starts clicking buttons. "This is footage from a riot in Rome, two weeks ago. And Hanoi, last week. Baghdad, also last week. Washington DC; this one is a live webcam. This is a transcript of the U.S. President's address, given two days ago. This is a speech given by the Pope; another by the Dalai Lama; another by Ahmad Qureshi, the nineteenth Power. This is an official joint statement from NASA, ESA and four other major space agencies stating that, with all the resources in the world behind them, faster-than-light space travel will not be possible before 2025, and a full-scale evacuation of Earth will not be possible before 2125." Calrus catches Zhang's eye and decides he has pushed this as far as he can. "Zykov is dead," says Calrus. "Oul is not dead.

"Zykov didn't have enough power. He used arcane Script technology to put together what modern science would have no recourse but to describe as a magic spell and tried to summon the rest of Oul into his own body. He got it wrong, and instead Oul's fragmented power or soul or 'essential attributes', or whatever you want to call it, starting striking people at random. First in Russia, and then all over the world. The word 'summon' means 'call forth'. Specifically, it means 'call something or someone which is over there to come and appear over here'. Why did he get it wrong? Oul's power isn't locked up in some extradimensional cloud, like mine. It's here. In reality. Oul - all of him - is in this universe already. He's just not here.

"He's not even in this galaxy yet.

"We've known he was coming for fifteen months. We've got no plan. Nothing. Nobody who knows the Script like you do is still alive. Zykov and the Imprisoner saw them all off, in one way or another. Teleportation is locked out, so we don't have lightspeed transposition. We don't have time travel. If we knew what we needed we could replicate what we need, but subnucleonic replication is gone. FTL comms are gone. Klick's Exit - heaven - is closed. Chorus Injection is closed. We don't have space arks. We don't have Orion. We don't even have the Space Shuttle anymore. We're down to spam in cans.

"Zykov did all of this deliberately. He was trying to make sure that humanity never left its planetary cradle. He didn't know me personally until the last moment; he was trying to keep us all in one place so that this oncoming disaster would befall all of us simultaneously and wipe out both my mind and all possibility of my being resurrected. He doesn't need to come closer than a hundred light years; a supernova at that range would strip most of the Earth's ozone layer instantaneously and it'd be the Ordovician-Silurian extinction all over again. Human life would be over in two years and so would 95% of all other species on the planet. That's the best-case scenario. But the calculations say he's coming straight here, and if he's coming straight here, there'll be no Earth left afterwards, just a fragment of metallic smoke.

"Nobody knows the Script like you do. Hood, Kosogorin, Davies, Murphy, Baird, Kuang, Akker, Nkube, Ashmore, Klick - all dead or missing, presumed. Your box manipulates exotic matter. It's the only hammer we have. Make this problem look like a nail, and then hit it."

"Kill him?"

"I can tell you now that there's no way you can kill Oul with what you know and what you've got. We know what that would take, and it would take hundreds of years of calculation. Maybe even millennia. No. Just do something to buy us the time. Take us to another galaxy. Take me to the other side of this galaxy, that would be enough. Make a region of spacetime where time passes a million times faster than normal. I don't care."

"Exotic matter can't do what you want," says Zhang. "And besides all of that I need my focal point. I need--"

Mitch Calrus holds out a small cubic box made of gold. "The Zhang device could have punched a hole in the world. You are not speaking to me, because I am not here. You have four days."


John Zhang is the only person left in the room. He tugs the wheeled stand from which his drip is suspended, and goes to the frosted window (he's wearing loose white hospital pyjamas, he discovers) and manages to prise it open far enough to look out. A lot of cold air breezes in, raising the hairs on his arms. It's a brilliant white day. There're more hospital buildings below, a loading yard with a couple of trucks parked. In the distance there's a city, and he sees pale grey smoke rising, like someone decided this was the perfect day for mist and decided to manufacture some. He listens, and just about catches the sound of an emergency siren or two. It's Year Twenty, he realises. There's soon to be someone out there with the strength of a million men. What nationality? Zhang wonders. What nation will they surely choose to conquer?

He laughs, and puts the golden box on his bedside table and picks up the sheaf of paper that's left there, and the cheap clipboard and the cheap ballpoint pen. He smiles to himself, a smile with a vague doubt behind it. Like he missed a paragraph in the book he was reading and now everything is making slightly less sense than it should.

John "Zed" Zhang begins to sketch his plan: the New Cosmology.

Next: The Last Copy Of You

Discussion (44)

2009-08-20 23:15:10 by Michael:

hmmm...why would the Space Shuttle be gone? I don't see how the Imprisoner would see it as a threat.

2009-08-20 23:36:15 by qntm:

Because, in reality, the Space Shuttle program is about to be cancelled.

2009-08-20 23:40:48 by Dentin:

If the novae are going off that close behind each other, then Oul is travelling near light speed; Oul would arrive shortly after the blast wave. The story indicates that the novae are much greater than a hundred light years out, but this whole adventure started in the 1970 time frame. The novae light had to have been in transit prior to the hatching of Zykov. I'm not sure how to resolve this in my head.

2009-08-20 23:50:36 by KWD:

The observable supernova thing is worrying me too. Did he get resurrected in the distant past? Else how could they see him coming?

2009-08-21 00:22:32 by Vitronus:

It seems that the 'main' portion of Oul was already destroying stars long before part of it became grounded in Zykov. I wonder, though, what Oul's Egg was for, if Oul was already 'free' somewhere in the universe. As ever, this chapter opens up new perspectives on existing parts of the story. Is the ruined world of Crushed Underground a direct result of Oul's supernovae? Perhaps Oul is stopped before reaching Sol, but still gets close enough to do some damage. The talk of evacuating Earth made me think of Forgotten Things in Space, although it is no longer, apparently, part of Fine Structure...

2009-08-21 02:01:43 by Knut:

Nice one! I like the way this is going. Ever since The Astronomer's Loss was included in Fine Structure i have been wondering how it could possibly be made to fit into the rest of the stories, actualy ever since i first read it i have been wondering how it could me made to fit into anything. This is a nice way to do it. Like the people above me, i have a bit of a problem with the supernovas beeing observable, but i can accept that since the original battle between Oul and Mitch seems to have happened a really long time ago. Still i hope there will be some more explanation. Another problem with this bit is the fact that Zhang just gets up and walks after eight years in a bed. That usualy saps a bit of your strength. Overall though, great.

2009-08-21 04:45:27 by Scott:

The blast wave seems to be traveling at ftl speeds too

2009-08-21 10:26:58 by Naleh:

"I can tell you now that there's no way you can kill Oul with what you know and what you've got. We know what that would take, and it would take hundreds of years of calculation. Maybe even millennia." Hmmm. What calculations do we know about that take centuries or millennia? *raises eyebrows suggestively*

2009-08-21 18:14:36 by Mick:

What calculations could take millenia? The calculations of script-based quasi-magic superscience that can shatter or contain a multi-dimensional superbeing. That could get fairly complicated.

2009-08-21 22:31:46 by Val:

Yes, the Space Shuttle program will be abandoned by that time, but I'm sure they could reactivate it in the case of an emergency. Not that it could be of any help in this case. Great story! As always, answering some questions and raising a lot more.

2009-08-22 03:38:52 by GSC:

Stuff from the future and the past are starting to connect, now. It's all coming together, in an awesome way. Did Zhang design the system by which Calrus and Poole are doing what they're doing, giving them time to deal with Oul? Or what? In any case, we know what the calculation they've been doing is, probably. Some minor quibbles, though, from what Scott said. The blast wave can't possibly be traveling at FTL speeds, as otherwise you couldn't be able to see it; you'd be dead before you saw it coming. But also, Oul isn't even in our galaxy yet, but he's 4 days away. I'm probably missing something, but something about that doesn't quite fit. So please explain what I'm missing. Other than that, this is simply amazing stuff. Keep on writing!

2009-08-22 05:18:57 by Thrack:

Mitch does not say that Oul will arrive in four days, only that Zhang has four days. Perhaps the reason Zhang has four days is because the 20th power is Born in four days? (I have no evidence for this, it is only a suggestion.) Jason punched a hole through a mountain during his fight with 10 and destroyed a mountain during his own birth a year before. I don't know what sort of devastation would be wrecked by 20. Maybe Ahmad Qureshi (19) will take the 20th Power away from Earth? Take 20 to space, accelerate to some spectacular speed, and then fling her/him away to return after the Birth? In any case, that is the only reason that I have thought of for why Zhang only has four days.

2009-08-22 10:51:20 by qntm:

Oul is not travelling faster than light, but he is travelling very close to the speed of light. This means that the light from the supernovae is only barely outpacing him. If you set off a supernova a million light years away, and then set off for Earth at about 99.9999% of c, then you reach Earth about four days after the light from the supernova reaches Earth. In other words, it appears that you have travelled a million light years in four days.

2009-08-22 11:46:23 by GSC:

Ah. So when you say "he's not even in this galaxy yet" you mean "the light from his shockwave isn't even in this galaxy yet." What you wrote in the story makes it sound like Oul himself isn't in the galaxy yet (which is confusing). But really, he's just about 4 light-days away (ish) which is pretty damn close, astronomically. Am I right in my assessment?

2009-08-22 19:47:14 by Daniel:

The light from his shockwave is in this galaxy. That's why we can see it. Do you mean that the light we see now is from when the shockwave wasn't in this galaxy? In other words, he wasn't in this galaxy when he emitted the light we are seeing now. Thanks to the relativity of simultaneity, that would mean that from some point of reference, he isn't in the galaxy from some point of reference.

2009-08-22 23:18:49 by Thrack:

So... since it has been known that Oul is coming for 15 months (because of the neutrinos in 2015 and photographs during 2016, unless I misinterpreted something) Oul must be arriving 15 months and four days after either the neutrinos or the light from the events first arrived at Earth. Unless you mean Oul is arriving four days after the light first reaches Earth, in which case I must ask why he didn't arrive on January 4th 2016. But for now I am going to assume that your explanation was only an example and that Oul must be moving more slowly than 99.9999% of c.

2009-08-23 09:17:53 by Isaac:

So is the "Astronomer" watching the universe being destroyed by Oul, and is complaining to "some entity" about "the New Cosmology" not having any other stars or planets? (I'm probably diving down too deep into that story, but it's one of my favorites, so I can't help it...)

2009-08-23 09:47:47 by Novash:

Sam, it is about 5 AM here and I have kind of a brain freeze. Also, I am aware you know a lot more about science, math and physics than me. But I am pretty kind of sure that even if you travel at 99.9999% of the speed of light, light still travels at lightspeed ahead of you. Quite what it says here: (Newsflash: NOT Wikipedia ;-) ) Of course, as I said, you are far better at physics than I am, so I probably misunderstood something there in the middle so, care to explain?

2009-08-23 14:16:08 by Aegeus:

@novash: Correct. Light travels at lightspeed ahead of Oul, and gets here. We see a supernova. Oul arrives 15 months or 4 days later, depending on if you mean the first or the last supernova. Oul is going slower than light, but not much slower. Also, thanks to time dilation, Oul won't think he's traveled for very long, but in our frame of reference he's taken a million years and we have 15 months of warning.

2009-08-23 16:42:21 by qntm:

This may help:

2009-08-23 18:22:14 by Thrack:

I made a couple of calculations using Google to find how far away Oul is from Earth. I did this partly to help my own understanding and partly to help the rest of us to understand. The first calculation shows how many days away Oul is (this is mainly to check my accuracy) and the second calculation shows how far Oul is in AU. (You can, of course, change from AU to any unit you prefer.) If any part of my calculation is wrong I would appreciate it if it is pointed out to me. The fraction of c that Oul is traveling at (by my understanding) is approximately: 0.999999988 c ((c - 0.999999988 c) * 1000000 years) / (0.999999988 c) ≈ 4 days*+1000000+years%29+%2F+%280.999999988+c%29&aq=f&aqi=&aq=&aqi=&aq=f&aqi=&fp=c9fe100d9e542c1e ((c - 0.999999988 c) * 1000000 years) ≈ 759 Astronomical Units*+1000000+years%29+to+Astronomical+Units&aq=&aqi=&aq=f&aqi=&fp=c9fe100d9e542c1e By my understanding, from Oul's perspective Oul is already good way into the Milky Way Galaxy and is 759 AU away from us. From our perspective Oul is... I didn't do the calculations for it so I don't know exactly but... some ways outside of the Milky Way Galaxy sounds about right.

2009-08-23 18:37:07 by qntm:

Everything's relative. That's where the term "relativity" comes from. In Earth's frame of reference, Oul is way outside the Milky Way galaxy but apparently approaching at millions of times the speed of light. In Oul's frame of reference, he is (probably) well inside the Milky Way galaxy and just over four light-days from Earth.

2009-08-24 09:21:23 by OvermindDL:

My University had a special instructor two years back for one semester, it was a quantum mechanics class, and the first week or two was spent on just this subject, it became very clear actually (he was quite an awesome teacher). If you ever get the change to actually take a quantum mechanics class that is based on a lot of the theory and not just math (although we still had plenty of math), you should definitely take it, it is a wonderful subject.

2009-08-24 09:38:14 by Val:

The events described in The Astronomer's Loss were not supernovae. It was like a shroud being pulled over the sky. "the New Cosmology" Hmmm.. does it mean that Zed created a bubble of some kind of exotic matter to protect Earth and the Sun?

2009-08-24 18:08:21 by DasSmiter:

If he created a section of exotic material that lowered the speed of light (and thus Oul's speed) would that work to buy extra time? It would also account for the "shroud" in Astronomer's Loss

2009-08-26 21:00:37 by Paradoxia:

Ah, the diagram makes everything clear. Thank you Sam.

2009-08-27 20:15:29 by atomicthumbs:

I think I missed something - what's Chorus Injection?

2009-08-27 21:34:29 by Raphfrk:

Maybe the "new cosmology" is one where the universe is a sphere that is 3 light days in diameter (assuming Oul is 4 light days away)? Alternatively maybe he just adds a rule that the half life for proton decay increases exponentially the further away from the Sun you go. The exponent could be something like 1/1000 for every meter you travel, and then he just needs to set the initial value at the Sun (very) small. This might be equivalent to making every star in the galaxy go nova, so maybe not such a good idea. Ofc, there is the issue of how to define simultaneous for the change in the laws of physics. Presumably, it is relative to the person updating the script. Btw, was Oul kicked back in time when he mis-downloaded, or is that just his centre of ...erm conciousness? Does he exist at all times and locations in the universe to varying degrees?

2009-08-28 16:54:38 by Aegeus:

@atomicthumbs Chorus Injection is the kata-ring thing that was supposed to send Mitch home in 'Verse Chorus.

2009-08-28 18:59:15 by Thrack:

I was rereading On Digital Expremities last night and wondered if perhaps Zhang (Zed) transports the Earth and Sun to the Ambient Layer? That would explain the lack of constellations, other planets, and the moon because Zhang would only move what was necessary. Additionally light in the Ambient Layer moves "unimaginably faster" which may allow 20,000 years or more to pass in the Ambient Layer while only 4 days pass in, ah, 'our' layer. This would require that the Ambient Layer be empty of matter (at the very least empty of visible matter) to explain why nothing is visible in the sky besides the Sun. This requires that the events in Astronomer's Loss be non-literal. The NZAPL and UKAPL teams never did manage to verify that the Ambient Layer is empty, however, because their efforts were blocked and they instead found the very loud repeating message that we now know as the Eka Script and the list of blocked off physics and the other channel that they tried. This suggestion assumes that the Zhang Device is capable of such a thing, of course. And then there's his plan, the New Cosmology, which might not fit in with my suggestion. I'll have to think about what plan he might be making.

2009-08-29 14:24:55 by Thrack:

If you travel to the Ambient Layer, travel in some direction at 90% of it's speed of light (and therefore faster than the speed of light in our layer of the universe), and then return to our layer of the universe, does that count as traveling back in time? After all, if you travel faster than light you travel back in time.

2009-09-07 00:38:29 by Aegeus:

Sam, I'm not sure that relativity works the way you think it does. We can't observe Oul to be traveling light-years in 4 days, because that would be faster than light. Aside from the fact that this would violate relativity, we'd never detect him because he'd be going faster than the light from the supernovae and he'd arrive before the warning from the supernovae did. I think what you mean is that from *Oul's* point of view, he crosses millions of light years in 4 days. From Oul's frame of reference, he is stationary and the rest of the galaxy is moving at some ridiculous speed. Therefore, he sees the galaxy contract in the direction he's moving, so he has much less distance to cover and gets here quickly. From *our* perspective, however, Oul is moving at 99.999% of the speed of light. We detect the light from the supernova now, and because Oul is moving so quickly, he is only 4 days behind the light from the supernovae. If we look at Oul, we'll see him contracted to a tiny sliver in the direction he's moving, and if he's wearing a watch (yes, omnipotent 80+6 dimensional beings can have wristwatches), we'd see that it only ticked off 4 days, while in our frame of reference it's been millions of years. However, since the light from the supernovae has *also* traveled for millions of years, we don't see it until now, when we have only 4 days to prepare! Remember, astronomers, if you look deep into space, you're looking far back in time as well!

2009-09-07 09:23:20 by qntm:

Actually, yes, we can observe somebody to travel a million light years in four days, and no, this does not violate relativity. There is a difference between Oul's "absolute" speed relative to the universe, which is less than the speed of light, and Oul's observed speed from Earth, which is not his absolute speed. There is also a difference between the observed blue shift that Oul has, which would give a speed of 0.99999c, and the "rate at which Oul is passing other local objects" - e.g. he passes a star a million light years away; four days pass; he arrives on Earth. The latter is faster than light, but not the former. Please also note that Oul is not actually emitting light. All we see is the light from stationary supernovae that he triggers as he passes. Nobody has actually seen Oul yet.

2009-09-09 02:46:17 by Fjord:

Sam, you said, "Please also note that Oul is not actually emitting light. All we see is the light from stationary supernovae that he triggers as he passes. Nobody has actually seen Oul yet," and the immediate, wildly inaccurate thought that popped into my head was that all of Fine Structure up to now was this enormously long build-up to the punch line of Oul's arrival: He arrives in a halo of supernovae, collides with the Earth at a speed that just barely qualifies as not-fast-enough-to-destroy-the-planet, climbs out of the crater he just created, stands up to face Xia... And he has taken the form of Richard Simmons. Please tell me that your brain does not work the same way that mine does. Please. /Why can't I stop snickering?

2009-09-09 10:37:18 by qntm:

Possibly you have no sense of humour?

2009-09-09 17:40:01 by Marlene:

Ahh, I see. You mean, we 'saw' (recieved photons) that were emitted by 'Oul' (or something representing it) four days ago in our reference frame, 1000000 light years away. Diagram helped a lot. Yes; I'd forgotten how far back in time we'd be looking. I took the 'new cosmology' to mean something was going to be done to the Hubble constant - perhaps another period of inflation. Then Oul would effectively have a much larger distance to cover.

2009-09-15 00:25:29 by joe:

Unless I'm misreading something, Which I might be, they saw the first supernovae about 15 months ago. But it seems Oul is causing the supernovae, so wouldn't that mean he is traveling significantly slower than the speed of light. By significantly slower, I still mean .99999....c, but so that he is 15 months behind the light, not just 4 days? Or am I wrong?

2009-09-25 23:45:41 by Graham:

@ Fjord: Yes. Yes, it does. Unfortunately.

2009-10-01 22:38:18 by Aegeus:

"There is a difference between Oul's "absolute" speed relative to the universe, which is less than the speed of light, and Oul's observed speed from Earth, which is not his absolute speed." Wait, what? I thought part of relativity was that there *is* no absolute frame of reference (hence *relativity*). Either person's frame of reference is equally valid (as long as they remain in an inertial reference frame), and two observers moving in different directions will observe time and length contractions in each other (this is the Twin Paradox). Once Oul interacts with us, someone will have to change their frame of reference (which resolves the paradox), but until then we observe a shortened Oul to be traveling close to lightspeed, while Oul observes himself to be traveling at close to lightspeed through a shortened galaxy. I know that no one's observed Oul directly, but we can easily calculate his speed by measuring the time between two successive supernovae and the distance between the two stars he detonated. Source:

2009-10-26 22:17:57 by kabu:

I just realized something. From "This is not over and I am not dead" "Who discovered the ambient neutrality, abused it, and caused it to be locked out? Were they punished for this? What messages could have been sent in the small time during which they could be sent? To whom, to where in the universe, were they sent? Was there a response?" I think this is the response.

2009-10-26 22:30:19 by qntm:

Correct. For those who didn't actually get it, here is the order of events: * 1988: Oul's Egg inadvertently summoned by Soviet memetic scientists * Oul's Egg manipulates scientists into providing a fresh body, Mikhail Zykov * Oul's Egg possesses Zykov, murders entire installation, escapes undetected * Zykov acquires political power, scientific talent * 1998: Zykov attempts to 'earth' the rest of Oul's power in himself * This fails because Oul's power is already physically incarnate elsewhere in the universe * (Cascade of Powers begins) * 2000: Zykov's zombies create faster-than-light transmitter * (Zykov discovers the Script) * Zykov beams signal across the entire rest of the universe to summon Oul to Earth * FTL transmissions are locked out * Oul receives signal, sets off for Earth

2009-10-27 04:47:01 by kabu:

Ooh... this is close to what I had going on in my head, though I was off on the dates. I thought that Zykov summoning Oul and his attempting to earth its power occurred the other way around, that his attempts to earth the Power were a second attempt, as it were, at summoning Oul. One thing I didn't expect was that Oul's egg was summoned by accident, rather than Oul taking advantage of an ongoing experiment and manifesting itself and its infobomb. It does seem suspicious that out of the entire lifespan of the universe, Xio happened to land within a few decades of Oul... Oh wait, I think I got it. My attempt to put it together: Oul lands on Earth in 1988 due to Russian advances in memetic technology, and Xio follows it, hitting Aleph just after Oul -- about two decades. This explains why both of them arrive near each other in time, just as humans begin to develop the relevant technology. That explains why all the events begin around the turn of the 21st century. Now to figure out that vortex hanging around our Sun...

2010-07-18 05:00:17 by cjameshuff:

Aegeus is right. There is no absolute velocity. That's what the name Relativity refers to. Distance, location, velocity, acceleration, time, all relative. If Oul's been racing toward us for billions of years at just under c, smashing stars as he goes, we would see a string of exploding stars race toward us before his arrival, a sequence of observations that could take mere months or days. Oul's subjective time might also be merely days. However, in our frame, he would have been traveling for billions of years, and for him to get here in four days, could be no further than four light-days away. There are similar astronomical phenomena that cause apparent FTL effects in galactic jets. These jets may be traveling at a significant fraction of c, and lag effects can cause changes to be observed in less time than they could have happened. This isn't a real relativistic effect, though, it's just a type of Doppler effect. FTL recessional velocities are observed, and this does not violate is due to the expansion of the universe, and can not transmit information across the universe faster than light. Of course, relativity is generally considered to forbid FTL communications or travel, essentially because it would allow time travel and violations of causality. Maybe Oul is present for much of the history of our universe (being the multidimensional critter he is and relativity being what it is, it may not make sense to say he entered it at any particular time), and the FTL signal went back in time as well as outward in distance.

2019-12-20 03:31:44 by AGM:

Wrong on both counts. Lightspeed is absolute. As for not violating causality, extend the Heisenberg Uncertainty Principle to include temporal coordinates.

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