'Verse Chorus


"The idea is that there are millions of universes arranged in a symmetrical loop. Radiating away from a central point. All focused in on the middle."

Mitch Calrus, hunched over on the sofa looking over a mug of coffee at Seph Baird standing above him, is blank. "Right?"

"To the left of us there's another universe just like ours. And to the right of us there's another universe just like ours. And there's a loop, and there could be billions of universes all in the loop. Berloff called it a 'chorus' of universes because all of them are... metaphorically 'singing the same song'. Eventually you get back to where you started. You have to, because of symmetry. And there were some calculations to back it up. But you can't prove it. Because any signal or object you fired off to your left... the universe to your right would simultaneously fire the same signal off to their left, right back at you. Sure, the exchange would take place, everything moves one jump around the chorus, but from your point of view nothing changes. So you can't test it. It's just a thought experiment. So it was proposed once in the 1960s, and Berloff wrote one paper on it, and then he died and everybody forgot all about it. It's called the Chorus Hypothesis."


"Until now." Seph produces a heavy black object the shape and density of an Olympic discus. "It's real. At least, it's in the Script. And as of today the Chorus Hypothesis has been upgraded to a Theory."


Fifteen minutes into the flight to Dublin, Mike Murphy takes a surreptitious look out the airplane window and spots the flicker of green. He nods, gets up and excuses himself.

He shuts the lavatory door, waits a moment, but even though he's ready for it, the appearance of Mitchell Calrus out of thin air just an inch in front of him still makes him jump. Mitch temporarily pulls off his oxygen mask. He's wearing four layers of clothes, a full-body climbing harness, a heavy winter coat over that, and a backpack. The wetsuit, he's discovered, is superfluous. All he needs is the oxygen. He turns clumsily, presenting the backpack, which contains his O2 tank and a collection of additional equipment. Murphy pulls out the black discus and a pair of screwdrivers.

"You have any trouble following me onboard?" hisses Murphy.

"I have less free air left than I'd like," says Mitch, "but other than that, no. This is the thing. Do what needs doing. You should see what this plane looks like from 4D, it's unbelievable."

"I think you can get big architectural exploded diagrams," says Murphy. He prises open the discus' casing and tightens a few screws. He spends several laborious minutes fiddling with settings using the tiny seven-segment LED readouts to get information about the device and the few available buttons for input. Eventually he's happy and clips the casing back together. "You're good to go. You remember how this works? Tell me the procedure."

While Murphy stows the tools away, Mitch recites the steps he's been taught word for word. "There really is no other way to duplicate zero gravity?"

"Not on Earth, and not without buying time on the Vomit Comet. And that would be expensive."

"I have cash..."

"And red flags would go up. When you disappeared mid-flight. Look, you trust Arika?"

"Frankly, no."

"But you'd trust her with your life."

"Sure. A life isn't something people muck about with."

Mitch hands over the satellite radio and puts his mask back on.


Arika McClure's flight suit was all but destroyed during the flight from America. Repairing it has been a non-starter and wind insulation is a non-issue so she's pacing the 737 at five hundred miles per hour in jeans and a scruffy old olive green coat. They're flapping at rates you could measure in kilohertz. They're just not designed to move this fast. I need to buy biking leathers, she thinks.

The bulky grey radio on her waist bleeps and the phones in her ear, cranked up to maximum volume, can just about be heard to deliver Murphy's words: "(You've got everything? Okay.) Dropping in three. Two. One."

Arika doubles her sense-rate as Mitch's dark, oddly-weighted figure drops out of the underside of the plane, the discus on a lanyard around one wrist. For one second he is blasted by the air stream, losing forward momentum and dropping back behind the plane, then he goes intangible and drops like a stone.

True freefall cannot be achieved from a simple parachute jump. Air resistance slows you. The rate at which you accelerate is less than the pull of gravity. Eventually you hit terminal velocity and then you're not even accelerating at all. True freefall, like the discus needs for its hypersensitive components to even be tested, let alone operate, can only be achieved by going into space, or chartering a plane to perform a perfect parabolic power-dive, or the cheap way - recruiting the Four-Dimensional Man and having him make himself intangible to the air.

Arika McClure fixes her eye on the loop of purple climbing rope protruding from somewhere around Mitch's neck - the loop connected to the climbing harness he's wearing under the coat and backpack. Meanwhile Mitch is holding down the big button with both hands and shouts the word "One."


The activities of humankind do not concern the colossal, ineffable, super-beings of the dimensions above ours any more than the splitting of a single bacterium concerns a typical human. For the most part, the larger and the smaller creature in each situation are so different in scale as to be irrelevant to one another.

But there are such things as biological scientists. And microscopes. And dangerous infections.

Alef is doing things it shouldn't. Something wakes up and starts watching.

It is a very bad idea to attract the gods' attention.


"Two," gulps Mitch as odd, undetectable other-dimensional centripetal accelerations begin to affect his body. He hangs onto the disc with both hands, carried along behind it as it accelerates. The Script says there's a fifty-fifty chance it'll work. Doctor Mike Murphy and Doctor Josephine Baird say there's a fifty-fifty chance the discus won't just conk out in his hands and need a second attempt. And Seph knows he's fifty-fifty on whether he really wants to leave her anyway--

The universe is like a spiral. All particles moving in circles clockwise or anticlockwise around the central point, each particle one of millions of identical siblings all duplicating each other's actions so the arrangement looks the same whatever perspective you pick. Mitch feels like he's standing between a pair of full-length mirrors facing each other at a shallow, hundredth-of-an-arc-second angle, so that there are millions of his exactly identical alternate selves arrayed out in front of him, and they're racing away, dragging him along, bursting seamlessly through each mirror just as an exactly identical self bursts out of the mirror behind to replace him.

He hangs on for dear life. "Threeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeee--"


Ching-Yu Kuang is in the middle of the space under the parabolic Medium Preonic Receiver dish, on his knees, his forehead to the ground, his hands over his head, trying to think his way rationally through the pain. He feels like his stomach is full of grey fog. He's been breathing, eating and dreaming in Eka for a week. It's all he's got left to nourish him after Susie.

"Everything's sentient," he says to himself. He turns his head sideways to where a notepad and a ballpoint are within arm's reach and starts scribbling from his unconventional position on the floor. He scribbles extremely simple things which he knows are obvious, but he needs to pin them down on the paper before they do more damage to his brain. "Everything's alive up there. Every cross-section. The power set. Of living things. Is a living thing.

"Of course the cell's alive.

"Of course the god damn prison wall's alive--"


A neon yellow splinter is hurtling kata around the circumference of the cosmic starfish/snowflake/whirlpool of universes, a perfectly symmetrical constellation of yellow splinters each chasing the next one's tail in a circle, blinking from one identical universe to the next, gathering momentum.


Pushing against the cell boundary. Abrading it. Such a small device, with so much drive, a tiny little engine with the power of a sun, grinding against the exterior wall of the universe until a hole is worn and the speed is too great for the vehicle and its passenger to be retained and they spurt off at a tangent, disconnected from three-plus-one-dimensional space and jettisoned out into the scintillating glory of the next least significant Totality.

Mitch Calrus blinks four-dimensional eyes.

Colour assaults him. Things whose geometry he doesn't have the capacity to comprehend bounce and interact and change shape in ways which look impossible. He dimly senses the gigantic multidimensional reservoir of indistinct, ambiguously-labelled Power and arcs up towards it on a free trajectory, unable to guess how fast he is moving.

He knows that the power and the knowledge attached thereto is his. It's like he can process the metadata. He can see the pinhole fractures connecting it to the Earth below, the cascade--

And then something bigger than his imagination rises up behind it. An eye - he knows it's an eye, a detailed high-resolution sensory perception organ - opens, bigger than the entire multidimensional billion-universe array dropping away below him. It trains itself on him. And the identity of the creature, a packet of pure, refined information, arrives in his mind. And he knows what it is.

"Five," says Mitch, tightly clutching the black object in what he is only half-sure are still his hands. Real space and air are an indescribable distance away below him now. He knows he's not going to drop back. He knows he's hit escape velocity. All he has to do is prove he has the right to keep going.

"I created you," he screams. "The Enemy is dead. You can let me out!"

The prison cell wall/warden considers his words. Then reaches forward and does something to his vector. Cancels most of it out. Sends him plunging back into reality. And does something else. Does something to his landing point. Pulls information out of it, as violently as a man tearing out another man's heart.



"Pipe left bracket Alef right bracket pipe equals perception left parenthesis mid-dot comma pipe left bracket Alef right bracket pipe right parenthesis plus, plus, plus, plus, one. I saw this. Where did I see this? Where is this from?"

Ching darts pseudo-randomly around the room, from stack of paperwork to stack of paperwork, systematically corrupting the order of pages in each one, experiencing the agony of not being able to find what he is looking for.

"I saw this somewhere," he says. "It didn't just arrive in my head for no reason," he says, attempting to convince himself. "Alef is our universe. Pipe left bracket right bracket pipe is the intelligent population of Alef. Mid-dot is me. Mid-dot is 'you'. Mid-dot is the reader."


Mitch Calrus' waveform collapses. He slams bodily into the newly-dropped stone dividing wall between Alef and the next universe at a velocity which is perfectly perpendicular to conventional three-dimensional notions of velocity. It doesn't kill him. He can't feel impacts and accelerations in directions of motion in which he doesn't even exist.

Part of the discus explodes.


Arika McClure, in slow motion, swan-diving two metres up and behind Calrus the whole time, sees the tiny detonation. Mitch flails and drops the hardware. Arika slips a hand through the rope loop and begins decelerating, yanking him to a halt. "Hurk!" cries Mitch as the harness tightens unexpectedly around his chest and thighs. A few fragments of discus dangle from his wrist, the rest just drop.

He focuses on what he can see ahead of him, which is fields and hills and small settlements. They're kilometres above Wales. Snowdonia. Reality. Green and grey and blue and white. It's a lot more vertiginous now he's stopped falling.

"Got you."

"Jesus Christ," announces Calrus.

"You okay?"

Calrus just laughs manically. "I have no idea. It felt like 2001. Where's Seph meeting us again? How far are we from that town with the ridiculous name I can't pronounce?"



"Oh my God."

Calrus looks up. Arika isn't looking at him. She's looking at the plane, off in the distance, a mile away by now. It's covered in repulsive black lightning. It looks like spindly stop-motion spider legs are crawling all over it, like a Lovecraftian monster from another dimension is trying to crawl out into the world through a portal inside the passenger section. The whole effect is silent and it makes Arika's skin crawl and Mitch's arm hairs rise.

That image lasts a fraction of a second, enough time for Arika to blink, and there's a flash of light and the plane calmly rolls over into a nose-dive.


Calrus is shouting something, it could be "drop me" or it could very well be "don't drop me" but Arika doesn't know because she's gone to maximum acceleration and is thinking much faster than he can speak.

If the plane crashes hundreds of people will die. Nobody she has specific emotional connections to, except maybe the man Murphy whom she barely knows, but they're still people. She's got a lot of souls on her conscience already. But if she saves it, everybody will know she saved it. And then everybody will know. They'll know who she is and what she did. And it'll be over.

Unless she runs away afterwards.

She can run pretty fast.

Arika starts accelerating for the plane, Mitch Calrus in tow, flailing helplessly in panic. "No! No!"

By the time they catch up with the vapour trail - elapsed time is fifteen seconds - the plane has performed a complete barrel roll. Its starboard wing is aimed straight downwards and the plane is still rolling. Arika catches hold of the fuselage somewhere just below the upper row of passenger windows and swings Calrus at the hull, hard. Calrus raises his hands across his face and instinctively goes intangible. He passes through three columns of seats, grabs hold of the fourth and slows himself enough to stop. It's a bad fall. Four-dimensional friction hurts. The plane twists and throws him at the ceiling, where he manages to wedge himself for long enough to get his bearings.

With a bit of luck nobody even noticed his arrival. Everybody around him is already screaming. A mobile phone is ringing. Oxygen masks, headphones and plastic cutlery are ricocheting around the scenery. What's a little more insanity in a picture like this?

Mitch phases out of his backpack and tries to figure out which direction the cockpit is in.


Arika plants her hands against the meatiest part of the top of the port wing - that is, the side which is currently facing downwards - and starts pushing, hard. Worrying throbbing vibrations push back against her hands (it's the noise of the metal protesting at a frequency too low for her to hear), but she saw a YouTube video one time of a plane wing getting bent until it broke, and it bent a lot more than this one is bending, and besides the wing is supposed to take one-half of the plane's entire weight on it, it's the strongest part of the whole infrastructure, right?

Wait, wasn't that a bigger plane?

She dashes out to a distance, speeds up fractionally, watches the plane's motion for a moment, slows down again, dashes in and continues pushing. The metal starts to give under her hands, so she splays her whole body against the wing to spread the pressure, but the human brain is not good at the mechanics of pushing things when there's nothing to push against, so she keeps having to check to make sure she's making progress.

But it's working.


Every time Arika connects with the wing she makes a doom noise that Mitch, inside, hears. She's moving so fast that doom-doom-doom-doom-doom takes all of a few seconds, each impact rapidly rotating the plane a few degrees in an unexpected direction. Then, without warning, Mitch stops bouncing off furniture and is able to get a grip on a nearby armrest. The roll is stopped. He's upright. The aisle is underneath his feet.

I need to see where we're going.

Fortunately, the direction of the cockpit is still steeply downhill. But the plane is still yawing wildly, spinning from north to east to south to west, a full revolution every second. With the sky outside only visible at the corners of his eyes and through tiny portholes he has no reference frame for the machine's motion. All he knows is that some invisible and randomly fluctuating force is pulling him to the right.

He tries to switch off the portion of his brain which is concerned with balance and look at the world around him objectively. Down the aisle is forwards. Up the aisle is backwards.

Horrific, terrifying noises emanate from the plane's skeleton. It's not supposed to be pushed around by superhumans. It can take far bigger forces, but those are forces acting on the whole structure, not through a pair of hand-sized contact points. Still, the centrifugal component lessens and eventually stops as Arika hauls backwards on the tip of the port wing, gradually correcting the plane's out-of-control yaw. Two out of three, thinks Mitch Calrus as he shakes the blurs from his head, loses his grip on the nearest seat's support strut and falls nose-first into the cockpit door. All Arika has to deal with now is the fact that the plane is ploughing into the Earth at Mach 0.8 and an angle of maybe eighty degrees.

Mitch sticks his head through the cockpit door. Seeing that there's room, he leans backwards, lets his whole body go intangible and slides through it, slipping out of his climbing harness at the same time for mobility. There's one pilot in the seat. He's slumped over the controls. No sign of a co-pilot. Mitch slides down, hits the control deck feet-first, balances as best he can without hitting any important-looking switches and pushes the pilot's body up off the yoke. With difficulty, he levers the pilot out of his seat onto the floor, takes his position, braces his feet against the controls and starts hauling the yoke backwards.

Red warning lights are flashing all over the instrumentation panels. The altimeter is an unreadable blur. Out of the corner of his eye he keeps catching momentary dark green flashes.


The plane's wings are still attached and functional. At five hundred miles per hour horizontally, the bird stays in the sky, so the only problem is one of pitch, and with a superhuman, even a small one, lifting from the nose, and the plane's control surfaces pulled up as far as they can go under Mitch's inexpert commands, it's a problem that slowly but surely begins to correct itself.

Arika's operating at close to top speed. Thirty seconds for Mitch Calrus has been nearly two hours for her. The whole experience is almost relaxing.

She is completely disconnected from the urgency of the situation. She has no idea how hard they're going to hit the ground.

On the best day of her life, the young, un-powered Arika McClure could give piggyback rides to older brother Roy, a weight of just under 70 kilograms. Her physique is essentially unchanged aside from the strictly metered energy stream to which she is now connected which multiplies her strength by two to the eighth power. That gives her a confirmed and tested lifting capacity of a little less than eighteen tons. A typical cruising Boeing 737 weighs sixty.

They're less than half a kilometre above the ground when she realises that they aren't actually going to make it. She breaks off from the front of the plane and aims at the starboard wing, trying to tear it off and reduce the weight she has to carry, but the aluminium alloy just crushes between her hands, becoming pliable and tough but impossible to tear. She's not strong enough. Jason could do it. Jason's not here.

Arika and Mitch both spot the same valley ahead of them. Arika steers the aircraft towards it. There's a mountain at the near end of the valley, but if they clear it, they can belly-flop on the far side and slide downhill to a halt and there's every chance that half of the passengers and flight crew will survive. That's the plan.

It's a terrible excuse for a plan.

Mitch pulls both throttles back to the minimum. All he's been doing for the last thirty seconds is holding the yoke. His mind has had time to wander. He is now absolutely certain that he is going to die. Arika gives it all she's got, lifting from the nose cone. It almost works. The plane is nearly horizontal. Another few seconds and they would have made it.

The last thing Mitch sees before they collide with the mountainside is the airspeed indicator, just dropping below a hundred and forty knots. There's a split second of agony, and then everything goes black.


"We're imprisoned in this universe," says the telephone. "There are routes upwards to higher places than this. Routes we're not supposed to know exist. There's a god observing all of us, waiting for what we might try to do. And every time it sees we're trying, trying something new or powerful, it'll block the path and take away our tools and make our cell still smaller. It changed the laws of physics to keep us quarantined.

"The kata-ring accelerator's tech is permanently gone from Alef. It killed the scientific axioms stone dead.

"It sees everything and knows everything. It's intelligent. Incalculably intelligent. It knows our names and doesn't care that we're intelligent. It destroys minds to guard the cell's integrity and slowly, surely, it's becoming more aggressive. And outsmarting it is going to be difficult."

"Murphy's brain-dead," says Mitch Calrus. "He's breathing and looking at me but he's not talking. He's vegetative. Everybody on the whole plane is vegetative. What happened to it? What was that lightning?"

"It was aimed at Murphy, Murphy's knowledge," says Ching. "He was one of our tools, our weapons--"

And the phone cuts out. It's Murphy's mobile phone. Mitch and Arika found him in the aisle towards the tail end of the plane, not far from the lavatories. Bleeding from the forehead after being thrown about, but not so drastically as to be uncontrollable. The phone was in his pocket, ringing. Ching had tried to warn them to stop the experiment. Too late.

The plane is lodged inside the mountain. Mitch phased the whole thing into the fourth dimension for a fraction of a second and then it dropped back down and 4D full-body friction between rock and metal airframe, friction of a kind which had previously only existed in applied mathematics papers, brought the aircraft to a screaming three gee halt. The nose cone protrudes ten feet out into open air and the rest of the fuselage is interlocked impossibly with the mountain, like the universe's collision detection was temporarily put on hold.

Arika got in by smashing the cockpit window.

The phone was ringing when Mitch found it. But no one in their right mind expects reliable signal under a Welsh mountain. Mitch closes it and stands up, at a loss for what to do.

"Mike Murphy built the discus," says Arika. "This thing you were going to use to leave the universe. He built it. Was he the only one who knew how it worked?"

"Seph," says Mitch. "Seph and Mike built it together. They're the only ones who knew anything about it. There was some guy called Berloff but he's been dead for years-- You need to take me to Seph."

"We have to wait for help to arrive!"

Mitch shoots a look at Arika that almost hits her physically. Everybody around them is asleep, vegetative, catatonic, harmless. There are injuries, but there's nothing either of them can do. There are injuries. But they're not life-threatening. And the help is already on its way. "And we don't want to be here when help arrives," says Arika, speaking both their thoughts.

"They'll ask questions we don't want to answer. You saved maybe a hundred and fifty lives," says Mitch. "Now help me save one more. Take me to Seph! Now!"


Josephine Baird is eight miles from the crash site, in an otherwise empty car park in the tiny village of Trawsfynydd, sitting in her car. Her phone is ringing. Every twenty seconds it gets cut off as the caller gets directed to her voicemail. And then it starts ringing again. And she doesn't answer it.

Next: this was supposed to be a parable about the power of the imagination

Discussion (61)

2008-11-29 01:31:33 by MJ:

my mind is thoroughly blown. mr. hughes, you never cease to amaze the rest of us mere mortals.

2008-11-29 01:36:39 by qntm:

This was written mainly while listening to Daft Punk, who are incredible live: http://uk.youtube.com/watch?v=axxaEbp2ZkU

2008-11-29 03:56:56 by Tony:

That was a very impressive chapter. Your imagination of physical laws that involve multiple dimensions is absolutely astounding. When you are finished with all of Fine Structure, you should seriously look at getting it published.

2008-11-29 05:00:35 by Jonn:

I heartily second the remarks of MJ and Tony.

2008-11-29 05:02:13 by Jonn:

I would also like to add, Mr. Hughes, that you have a very, very clever captcha.

2008-11-29 06:19:58 by Panda:

Curious, if Mitch Phases the plane out of our dimension and it phases back into solid matter, wouldn't that cause an explosion or some kind of problem, when matter tries to take up the same space? Unless the mountain and the plane and everything fused together, but then there would be nothing to walk into. Like where is the rest of the earth that was where the plane is now? With the teleportation stuff, the ground was teleported where the other object used to be, so is this the same idea? Has the earth been left in 4D? Besides this, great continuation to one of my favorite stories of all time. Great work Sam.

2008-11-29 13:06:47 by qntm:

Panda: I refer you to the "beermats" argument from "The Story So Far". Imagine the universe is a table surface in a pub. The mountain is a big grey beer mat and the aeroplane is an aeroplane-shaped beer mat. The plane would collide with the mountain and explode if they met while both were still in contact with the table. But Mitch lifts the nose cone up and it passes over the top. Then it drops down and grinds to a halt, "on top of" the mountain. No explosion. Everybody else: every single thing I've written, people have said "get it published" and it hasn't happened. Forgive my scepticism ;)

2008-11-29 14:58:52 by Mick:

Bah, sceptisism. "Get it published", I say, and I say it for Ed, Tyro, Perfect Dark Central, Fine Structure, How To Destroy the Earth... The list goes on and on. You're an amazing writer, man. I hope there's a publisher out there smart enough to realize that.

2008-11-29 17:01:01 by Bauglir:

I think what Panda meant is, the plane is hollow, and fused with a mountain, so what happened to all the stone that was where the plane's hollow space is now?

2008-11-29 17:37:19 by Knut:

Mick is right.

2008-11-29 18:53:23 by Ian:

Note to self: If I ever create a being to guard the exits to a universe where I'm imprisoning an Enemy of Higher Dimensional origins, make sure it's not smarter than I am.

2008-11-29 18:58:28 by treblemaker:

If it were published in hard-copy would you buy it? Would you even know it existed? So why should the tree-killers get ninety percent of the proceeds? Surely the writer writes for love of the story not for money. But love doesn't buy the groceries. Perhaps "G" and IBM have that angle nicely covered, but we love the stories, too, and that's worth something. Now, Sam, where's that paypal link I think you should have? Oh, yes and I must say, lovely, three-dimensional title, this one. I don't doubt if I think on it long enough I should discover a fourth... -- t.

2008-11-29 20:20:57 by kabu:

So did the Warden not let Mitch out because it thinks the Enemy is still alive or because it thinks |[A]| shouldn't be meddling? Or is it both? I still think that some remnant of the Enemy is hanging around. Also, |[A]| = p(·,|[A]|)+1 Total intelligence of our universe = Ching's (or anyone's) perception of |[A]| + 1 ? So there is always one more bit of intelligence. Anybody think that makes sense? I think I missed something. @Bauglir and Panda: Mitch also phased the air inside the fuselage, so the entire plane and the air inside it is "on top of" the rock inside the mountain. At least, that's how I interpret it.

2008-11-29 20:27:07 by kabu:

Sam: I agree with other people, push Fine Structures to agents and publishers when it's finished. I dunno, try Tor books or Roc books, or some other part of the Penguin Group. Hell, I'd buy a hardcopy of your stuff. Sorry for the double post.

2008-11-29 21:48:51 by Thrack:

@Panda and others talking about the plane and the mountain it's stuck in. The airplane is on top of that part of the mountain but this means that everything inside of it should be held in place by stone and dirt so that instead of just finding air (or a person or aluminum or whatever, depending on where you're looking) in a given space inside the airplane you also find earth in that space which leads to the question of why Arika and Mitch can walk around inside. I suppose the explanation to why the airplane is hollow, at least the passenger section, is that only a portion of the airplane is actually stuck on top of the mountain, although it's apparently enough to keep the airplane from snapping in two, the rest of it is just hanging there outside of the mountain which is what allows Arika and Mitch to walk around the inside. I wonder what the authorities will think of finding an airplane partly stuck inside a mountain?

2008-11-29 22:36:33 by Tarun:

Wow... This is both epic and deeply unsettling. They're up against Cthulhu. And Cthulhu is butchering them, one by one. Also, I wonder what the math means... |[A]| = p(·,|[A]|) + 1 "There's always 1 more unit of intelligence in the universe than you perceive." or more generally, "There's always 1 more unit of intelligence in the universe than anyone perceives." Is this 1 unit a reference to the observer? Perhaps one cannot perceive themselves. Or you can perceive yourself, but that implies that there is one other intelligence that you can't notice. This leads to an interesting possibility: Perhaps Cthulhu is not omnipotent; he can't observe himself. Ching can. And Ching can exploit this.

2008-11-29 23:15:28 by YarKramer:

Wow. Another awesome update. You know, the giant "NO" reminded me of a scene from Terry Pratchett's novel "Reaper Man", anyone else think of that?

2008-11-29 23:19:07 by Tarun:

"Everything's alive up there. Every cross-section. The power set. Of living things. Is a living thing." Let's take an empty set, and keep appending its power-set into the set: (), (()), (()(()(()))), (()(()(()))(()(())(()(()))(()(()(()))))), ... It's pretty clear that this mysterious set is infinite. It also has a cardinality of 2^(its cardinality), which is trivially easy to prove is not a real number. Argh. My head hurts. And I need to study more set theory...

2008-11-29 23:21:53 by qntm:

Yeah, I had Reaper Man in mind too. I really couldn't think of a better way to put across what I wanted to put across, though.

2008-11-30 01:25:08 by G:

Absolutely brilliant writing again Sam! I always look forward to seeing the latest addition to Fine Structure, and this one did not disappoint. Verse Chorus reminded me so much of an experience I had years ago where I felt as though I had experienced multi-dimensional perception for a short amount of time. I saw space and causality time (the idea of forward moving time encompassing the expansion of the universe as opposed to local, relative time, a subset of what I was calling causality time at the time) "flatten", and time seemed to slow down to basically nothing. I was than seeing myself across an infinitely expansive grid/matrix of other 3d space+time bubbles, other possibility planes, simultaneously experiencing the same thing as me at the same time ("Mitch feels like he's standing between a pair of full-length mirrors facing each other at a shallow, hundredth-of-an-arc-second angle, so that there are millions of his exactly identical alternate selves arrayed out in front of him" - like that!, surrounding me in a hypersphere). Though I couldn't move through the other possibility planes/branes, I was able to observe some of it's interesting properties. As forward time basically slowed down to nothing, I noticed that possibility branching was occurring at every little quantum fluctuation (or perhaps planck length), creating new 3dspace+time universes around me. The countless "universes" right next to me were possibility planes with basically no discernible difference from my own universe, but I was able to see out even more, and see that the possibility planes in the "distance" were more and more different from my own. I was also able to see "the direction of branching", and thus able to see in the opposite direction - branching coming together, and at some deep distant point, the origin of the possibility matrix, a bright point presumably related to the big bang. It was at this point that all the bubbles shared a common aspect - the original starting conditions of the universe, which seemed to be the same across all of the possibility planes (conditions like gravity, EM constant, etc. etc. - part of the "fine-tuning problem" in physics). I wanted to stay longer and somehow explore my perception of hyper-dimensional possibility space, but causality time started to speed back up again, and my ability to see the possibility plane bubbles dissolved away, like a rapidly moving fog coming in from all directions to block what I could see. All the "me's" around me faded away, and my local possibility space expanded back, as my hyper-dimensional perception contracted. At the time, I called it 7 dimensional perception (not sure where I got that number or if it really would be 7) and I have tried to explain it to people, but words really can't do justice to just how astounding it was to see perpetually branching possibility space surround me in some kind of hypersphere. Though I was really glad you wrote Verse Chorus, because Mitch's experience seemed so familiar to me (that and it felt like you would build up to it through the storyline of Fine Structure). I really do feel like the universe is multidimensional, and that humanity will soon know for sure (perhaps the LHC will reveal the truth). Sam your works are very publisher worthy - I've loved every bit of Fine Structure and Tyro, as well as some of your shorter stories.

2008-11-30 01:27:33 by qntm:

That's an interesting experience you had. Fine Structure is fictional.

2008-11-30 01:34:30 by atomicthumbs:

So if the plane is still partially 4D due to the fuselage being stuck in a mountain, why hasn't the nose cone fallen off?

2008-11-30 02:47:45 by Scott:

It would suck to know that you have a giant eyeball watching over you wielding a lightning gun.

2008-11-30 05:59:21 by Andrew:

@Scott, Welcome to the concept of God

2008-11-30 17:06:29 by Turgid:

Oh...he says the Power is his, because the guard thing is lower-level than he was. So it was part of his former self. So it's as if a human "fell down" to the molecular level, and a comparitively gigantic white blood cell denied him access to higher levels, even though that white blood cell was (or is) part of the human body. It doesn't even matter if the guard is that intelligent, it just has to have the sense (or have orders) to not let anyone escape. In any case, there's just no reasoning with the thing. I wonder, if the cosmic horror is such a threat, why the guard doesn't shut down all routes, instead of waiting for humans to try them one by one. Kind of like a prison guard leaving all the doors open until a prisoner tries to walk through one, then slamming it in his face. Intriguing story.

2008-12-01 04:43:27 by Lucas:

Please, publish this when it's complete. I know, the publishers might not like it, but give us a clipboard to sign our names to, some sort of petition saying "by signing this I promise to buy the book." I'm an American, so my dollar isn't quite what it used to be, but I'd give a good twenty bucks to read in ink what's already here. Beats squinting at my monitor at three in the morning. Again, outstanding work. Took me a while to realize,"hey, these stories might be related..." and that made everything all the better. As a side note, I believe the "Geocide in Fiction" page should be updated slightly to include references to superhuman war and extradimensional scientist-induced crashes. Just my opinion.

2008-12-01 11:51:10 by qntm:

Um, the Earth has not been destroyed in this story. Yet.

2008-12-01 21:33:39 by Mick:

I love the "yet" there, Sam. So my understanding of the giant eye ball, is that it is more intelligent than anything in our universe. So, why couldn't you reason with it? Also, I was wondering about this: "A neon yellow splinter is hurtling kata around the circumference of the cosmic starfish/snowflake/whirlpool of universes, a perfectly symmetrical constellation of yellow splinters each chasing the next one's tail in a circle, blinking from one identical universe to the next, gathering momentum." What is the yellow splinter exactly? Is Mitch moving between the parallel worlds?

2008-12-01 21:39:10 by qntm:


2008-12-01 22:07:47 by Jonas:

At the risk of repeating what has been said already: I don't get the way the plane is stuck in the mountain. "The nose cone protrudes ten feet out into open air and the rest of the fuselage is interlocked impossibly with the mountain, like the universe's collision detection was temporarily put on hold." So this means that about 95% of the plane's fuselage and passenger space are inside/under the mountain... "[...] no one in their right mind expects reliable signal under a Welsh mountain" There you have it. How can Arika and Mitch (and anyone else) move inside the plane when there should be solid rock everywhere? To reuse you beer mat metaphor, the plane is ring-shaped beermat (because the plane's fuselage is hollow) and the mountain is a solid beer mat, you slide them over another partially and in the "projection", what you get is that the ring-shaped beer mat gets "filled up". I have no problem with writing that off as poetic license, but I'm curious if I maybe just got it wrong.

2008-12-01 22:36:57 by qntm:

Okay. What is actually happening is substantially more complicated than what is actually explained in the story. I declined to go into too much detail because it was a little tiresome and complicated and not really dramatically important. Imagine the pub table and the beermats on the table are covered in a kind of "shield" or "laminate", a thin layer of plastic which hugs the table very tightly. This is what stops anything drifting off into hyperspace. When something moves into hyperspace, the laminate resists this, which is why Mitch defaults to 3D unless he puts in some physical effort. This is also why he doesn't, for example, need a pressure suit or even a wet suit to stay alive in hyperspace. He doesn't explode because the laminate keeps him from doing so. When Mitch pushed the plane into hyperspace he pushed all the air in the plane too. He effectively wrapped a plane-shaped field around the skin of the plane and pushed it all upwards into hyperspace, air, passengers, fuselage and all. Now, when something drops out of hyperspace, it doesn't drop straight out all at once. Imagine a leaf of paper falling. It doesn't trap air underneath it, does it? The air is pushed out of the way in order to make way for the paper to fall and make flat contact with the ground. In the same way, an object falling out of hyperspace into reality, like Mitch does in the story (after following Mike Murphy around for about an hour), pushes air out of the way in order to materialise. There is a light breeze from the displacement of air (in retrospect I should have mentioned this in the story but oh well). The same would be true if he materialised underwater. But it's different when you land your beermat on top of a solid, like another beermat. Because the nose cone of the plane and the tips of its wings protrude into air, they materialise fine. But the rock and the main fuselage are trying to occupy the same space. Neither can move out of the way of the other (despite the pressure from the laminate, "above" them both) so they just stay there, layered on top of one another. The interesting thing about this is that if you enter the plane from the nose cone, you can walk all the way along to the tail, and all the way back. On the other hand, if you start tunnelling into the rock from the side, you just pass through solid rock where the plane is supposed to be. You have a crossover in hyperspace which should really be impossible in 3D, but isn't in 4D! The really interesting part of the whole arrangement is the point of discontinuity where the rock meets the plane's hull. The recovery crews who examine this thing are going to have a hell of a time. Of course, it is at this point that I realise that there's no reason why the rock of the mountain shouldn't be able to compress out the air in the plane, occupying all the available space that isn't humans and hull. Especially when Arika breaks the window and the plane depressurises. Um. How about this. The plane fuselage forms a kind of support structure. Because the laminate is held off all the way around the plane, it can't descend to touch rock on any of the plane's interior. Maybe it bows inwards a little, but you wouldn't notice. Of course, if you were to start removing bits of plane, you'd have pieces of invisible rock descending from 4-space to crush the workers. Ouch! Basically the topology of the situation is pretty hideous.

2008-12-01 23:40:26 by raphfrk:

I think the ring shaped beermat analogy can be made to work. What about the following; The 'shield' is like a piece of plastic covering the beermat. Normally the distance between the table and the shield is constant. This keeps the everything flat. However, if you lift the ring shaped beermat over the normal beermat, then the shield is pushed away from the table and doesn't fill the hole in the middle of the ring (as long as the shield isn't perfectly flexible. This generates a space for the air/interior to exist. If you try to walk into the plane from outside, then you would automatically 'climb' onto the normal beermat. E.g. (hope the ASCII art works) Cross section .-------------. --- (inside) -- (shield) XXXXXXXXXXXXXX (mountain) -------------------- (table) Plan: XXXXXXXXXXXXXX XXXXXXXXXXXXXX *************XXXX XXXXXXXXXXXXXX XXXXXXXXXXXXXX

2008-12-01 23:44:33 by qntm:

I'm not sure why you would think ASCII art would work when the comments disallow HTML and are not in a fixed-width font. I suggest uploading an image somewhere and providing a URL?

2008-12-01 23:45:57 by raphfrk:

OK, trying again; Cross section ...+=============+ ===...............==== (shield) .....XXXXXXXXXXXXXX... (mountain) ---------------------- (table) Plan: .....XXXXXXXXXXXXXX .....XXXXXXXXXXXXXX ..*************XXXX .....XXXXXXXXXXXXXX .....XXXXXXXXXXXXXX

2008-12-01 23:53:35 by qntm:

Perhaps I should be more clear. Stop posting ASCII art, please. It looks bad. Put an image online or something! That said, your pictures seem to reflect what I was trying to express.

2008-12-01 23:56:16 by raphfrk:

Sorry, feel free to delete the 2 comments, I didn't see your comment before I posted the 2nd one. I will see if my artistic skills can handle something better than ASCII art.

2008-12-02 00:22:48 by raphfrk:

Anyway, uploaded a gif to http://prydwen.net/4d.gif Sorry for the confusion.

2008-12-02 00:26:26 by Turgid:

@Mick: I figured there's no reasoning with the eyeball guard because it's either still under orders to maintain the lockdown, or has its own reasons to not let anything out. Mitch tried telling it the monster was dead, but does he even know that? Is it even possible to kill it? Maybe Mitch *is* the monster. Even if it is dead, there could be other reasons to keep our level sealed off, contamination or something. Basically, it was worth a shot, but since the guard said no, nothing they do can convince it to change its mind. It already knows a great deal more about what's happening than they possibly can, or else answers to a much higher authority. Looked at another way, if the danger was over, why hasn't it pulled Mitch back up already?

2008-12-02 11:09:05 by Jonas:

Thank you for the explanation Sam, it's reasonably sensible and the concept of "dual space" where there's both solid rock and the inside a plane makes it even more awesome, in my opinion. :)

2008-12-02 12:25:12 by scotherns:

Ah, I see! The plane still has a non-zero 4th spatial dimensional component to its position. That's bound to look weird from our compressed 3D view. I was automatically assuming it was fully flattened back into just 3 dimensions. Thanks for clearing that up :-) Excellent story update, once again.

2008-12-02 17:08:45 by Thrack:

Since everything in our universe is being held down by this "laminate" (which I interpret as some sort of 4D gravity, which brings up another question: what is our universe laying on top of? Or is it justing floating in 4D space?) I wonder if it takes any energy to "walk" up in 4D when you walk into the airplane? And conversely, can you gain some kind of energy by walking out of the plane? I'm thinking about this as four dimensional gravitational potential.

2008-12-02 21:09:08 by MGargantua:

The issue isn't about air at all. Sam, if the laminate around the plane could collapse to fill the interior once the window was broken, then it would be ignoring the gaseous matter inside. Were this true you'd have the laminate ignoring ALL gaseous matter that traveled into 4d, including that in mitch's lungs. Its kind of hard to imagine the topography but if my thinking is right all the gas in the universe would be able to outgas to 4d if the laminate ignored gas. And am I right in thinking that gravity would seemingly be the only force able to move about (up to 7d by my logic). It would make sense that a 4d multiverse would be like a quark in a 5d, 6d, or 7d 'verse, much in the same way a 3d multiverse becomes a snowflake in 4d. the mass of those multiverses would hold each other together as gravity moves mutlidimensionally. The reason gravity being so weak being that for a given r, the constant is really something very high, but in 3d, with the 4d component removed, a mesurement at r could only be taken for a tiny miniscule cross section single 3d universe, hence dividing the force by the number of 3d universes in a location. As for other comments I'm loving the terminology I've already let kata enter my thought process as the word to represent a 4d motion, but would alef be a motion in 5d? It does seem that the multiverse he came out of was 4d and the "incomprehensible things" mitch saw were in 5? Or am I reading it that kata was a motion through multiple 3d universes along a single 4d path drawn through them? That path for mitch would have to have been 5d for it to curve and escape the 4d universe would it not?

2008-12-02 21:56:20 by qntm:

The laminate doesn't "ignore" gas, it just pushes gas (and liquid) out of the way. Solid can't be pushed because it's not fluid. As for your other comments I think you are slightly confused. "Ana" and "kata" are opposing directions of motion in the fourth dimension, like "up" and "down" are. "Alef" is the name of our universe in the same way that "Sol" is the name of our sun, "Luna" is the name of our moon and "Terra" is the name of our planet. Gravity is a 3D force, it does not operate on things outside of Alef, it only operates within the 3D environment of Alef. The force which pushes 4D objects down onto a single 3D brane is something else entirely. The force which was pulling Mitch "back down into Alef" in this story is something else entirely again. There are *many* dimensions in this story. The regular visible universe is 3D (plus one for time). It curves around in a fourth dimension to become a closed loop, Alef. On each side of Alef there are other, identical universes. You can move kata to find one, ana to find the other. Therefore, multiversal travel is movement through a fifth dimension. However, the multiverse is also wrapped around in a closed loop in a sixth dimension. It is this loop which Mitch travels around in the story until he achieves enough velocity and shoots off at a tangent. Effectively, he continues in a straight kata direction when he should be wrapped around in a sixth-dimensional direction. And of course there is the direction of freedom which Mitch can move through, and its "superlight" - this is a different direction entirely so, yes, you're up to seven dimensions. The phrase "a 4D multiverse would be like a quark in 5D" isn't true, nor is "a 3D universe becomes a snowflake in 4D". The 3D gravitational mass of each universe is not a factor in holding the multiverse ring together, that is something else entirely.

2008-12-04 01:00:35 by Isaac:

maybe the "eye" is trapped where it is by an even higher power, like a plug in a sink, and can only be removed by someone "higher up" and whoever carlus told to let him back out is perpetually out to lunch or something.

2008-12-04 02:47:20 by Isaac:

Okay, our universe is like a cell, and it's infected with the Enemy, as a prison, and nothing must come out of it, but they can't simply weld all the doors shut for then they wouldn't be able to see what was happening, and the Power? let's see here, it's like a poison, for eventally it will destroy Earth, and the entire universe, it's just that they don't want to overdose so they are simply "injecting" increasing amounts of energy until we die, along with the enemy. The eye's job is to inject the posion, and close off the openings if humans find one, but not all, for then there would be no way to get the power in to kill the enemy. It's like cancer, will the cancer die before the body does?

2008-12-04 15:31:25 by Kugala:

I'd guess that the guardian is somewhat intelligent, but not very imaginative. More like a highly advanced security system. It's capable of reacting to things attempting to break out, and stop that, but is unable to figure out ahead of time the methods used. Given that it can alter the universe at will and it hasn't just wiped it out entirely, that's probably not the goal. It was just told "Let nothing escape", and it cares not about the universe itself. I'm still wondering if the guardian involved in the crashes somehow, and what exactly Anne and Mitch are calculating in that machine in Antarctica (Likely a way to escape the universe, or otherwise neutralize the guardian.)

2008-12-05 03:04:32 by Isaac:

Maybe the crashs is carlus and anne trying to do something that will take an extremly long period of time to outsmart the "eye" thing, for taht story is after this one (oviously) and they certainly have a goal to all of it.

2008-12-05 19:56:54 by Laetissimus:

Back to the plane intersection, perhaps the shield has a finite surface tension, enough to prevent water from boiling by low pressure, but not enough to break up solid rock. like this, the discrepancy will decay after a time. This will most likely, slowly push the plane out of the mountain until it reaches the wings. However this beings up a question of space, why would not the surface tension pull back until it all matter is gathered into clumps with a surface pressure of about 1 atmosphere? perhaps a 3space particle exists, but that would mean a spacial wave whenever 4d man leaves (much destruction). or perhaps the surface tension merely pulls it to the shape of 3space.

2008-12-07 08:02:54 by Slagathor:

What would happen if you, say, tunnelled into the mountain beside the plane, then turned around and tunnelled into the nose cone? Say you were halfway out of the mountain, then realised what could happen and tried to go back into the mountain? Would you be cut in half? Heh, it wouldn't look too pretty to anyone behind you (in the passenger cabin) if they saw you coming out of the mountain. The same thing applies if you're inside the plane, somehow puncture the hull and tunnel into the mountain. Actually, thinking about it now, it'd probably be impossible to tunnel _out_ of the plane, because the only place you could put the dirt/rock is in the plane, which becomes inaccessible as soon as you try to get outside it. Have I got any of this right?

2008-12-08 13:35:01 by raphfrk:

I think it would depend on how flexible the laminate is. If you look at http://prydwen.net/4d.gif The walls of the plane are supporting the laminate so that there is space for the interior of the plane (see cross section 1). However, it is possible that they are also supporting the laminate for some distance outside the plane walls too. Looking from the front of the plane, the two walls would act as supports with a slight droop in the middle, but the laminate on each side would also be lifted. If you were to look at where cross section 3 would be (i.e. below the wall in the plan view), it might also look kinda like cross section 1, as the laminate would still be slightly supported. This means that if you look out the window of the plane, you would see more empty space. However, as you moved away from the plane the space below the laminate would get smaller. It might look like mountain coloured fog outside the window. Probably as you move away from the plane, '4d friction' would increase. In fact, there should be some 4d friction while you are moving inside the plane due to the droop of the laminate. Also, if when you are moving inside the plane you somehow chip a piece of the mountain away (say by 4d friction), a stone would "materialise" inside your body (say lungs as they have air spaces). This also has an interesting effect. If you look from the outside where the nosecone and the mountain meet, you might be able to see the mountain-like fog effect. It should be possible to move into the mountain on both sides of the wall.

2008-12-09 16:10:58 by MGargantua:

Hmm, I feel your wrong a a few points. However it is a tricky question. The physics of it all are a bit wacky. I seem to have a habit of stating an answer as a question asking if its the correct one. Firstly the air that the phased into would have been completely displaced since its gaseous state would allow it to be pushed out of the way by the matter that was phasing (is it as or az in this case?) back to three. This matter included all the air in the plane. An interesting quesiton to pose is out of two gasses, which has the right of way, the phased, or the unphased. (Meaning that, if a volume of air was phased back in a different location, would the air be stuck together in 3space like the glasses that mitch stuck together in earlier chapters? Does that only apply when both quantities of matter are in 4d space? Does mitch have to conscious define the exact volume of what gets phased? Or does plot logic allow a glass or a plane be phased by virtue of them being solids as opposed to gas? Would the air being phazed displace the air its being phased into? If you phased it in from the center out I could see it working, but whats the timescale of "instantaneous" transfer from 3 to 4? Anyways, from the inside of the plane you would be able to see the rock as if you cut it perfectly along the shape of the plane. By Carving a hole in the side of the plane in the mountain, what effect would it have on the layer of incongruity that surrounds the plane? You would have to be able to move from mountain to plane as if walking in from the front. Were that not possible then walking in through the front would also be impossible once you have walked out. For practical reason the nose being in 3space while the rest floats in limbo plays hell with conventional thought. Mitch being able to move parts of anything into and out of phase makes perfect sense, but if they were connected in normal space what exactly keeps it connected once its moved up? Say mitch dropped a house into a mountain, such that only the entrance is normal. Would the door way be the incongrous portal? If it was half in and half out could the doorway alone be made to be the portal into the house, such that by any other path you wouldn't be able to enter the house? Would you even see the house from the sides if that were the case? Would you be able to walk through but be unable to interact? I suspect thats impossible though. The certain "incogruity portals" as I've taken to calling them only happen when two undispaceable objects are in contact. As the plane is pushed out of the mountain, it would seem to be acting in the same manner that the lorentz force acts on a railgun. With the two rails trying to push each other apart but being unable to move relative to each other, forcing the projectile wedged between them forward. Which is stronger? The laminate pushing back against the mountain preventing the plane from being crushed, or the force trying the squeeze the plane out of shape? Will the plane come out deformed from slow buckling of its structures? Or does the fact that the laminate has prevented it from being crushed so far mean it will prevent it from being crushed at all? It all just comes down to a matter of displaceability doesn't it? If anythings stuck together they will slowly push apart. Fiction physics!

2008-12-16 08:47:50 by Metzgermeister:

My God, I just marathoned this entire story tonight, and hitting the end there was incredibly frustrating. I know just enough science to be able to follow the plot, but not nearly enough to theorize, so I'll stick to complimenting your immense writing skills, Sam.

2009-01-04 14:12:21 by Paradoxia:

I imagine the 'laminate' is actually both 'on top of' and 'below' (ana and kata of?) everything, holding it together. Ok, it's easier to imagine the following if you think about us in 2d: imagine a 2d person standing on 2d ground. The laminate is on the 'left' and the 'right' of the person and the ground. As they move forwards, they slide along this laminate (which would have to be frictionless, otherwise objects in space would slow down by themselves). My problem now occurs with what actually happens when this laminate is stretched, say it is stretched to the 'left' to double its width at one point. What would happen to a 2d person reaching this point? I would imagine that they would stay on the same 3d plane as before and move forwards as they normally would. The problem with this is that in a hollow plane, part of the plane would simply stay phased out and anyone trying to keep going forwards would step into nothingness. I can think of one way around this and that is for another laminate to be formed or the existing laminate touching the objects to follow them. I think the former explanation is better, but I don't quite know how to adequately explain it, so I hope that these diagrams will suffice. See them here: http://i212.photobucket.com/albums/cc260/nukemaster_2007/4-da.jpg http://i212.photobucket.com/albums/cc260/nukemaster_2007/4-de-2.jpg AT SAM: Please add a part to the fine structure where the full beermat/laminate theory is explained, either by the narrator or one of the characters. I know it seems a lot of work and not really part of the story, but the interesting theories is half the reason we read your brilliant sci-fi.

2009-01-15 13:11:44 by Dean:

I think I understand the plane/mountain. If you drilled a hole in the side of a phased part of the plane, the solid matter which has been supporting the 'laminate barrier' would now have a gap, allowing the rock of the mountain to displace the liquids and gasses in the plane. The solid bits of the plane would be the same, only surrounded with stone. Right? If you drilled from the back of the mountain toward the plane, I think you would have rock all the way until the point the 3d plane joins 4d, and suddenly your in a plane, then you turn around and there is the rest of the plane behind you where you entered. The cabin of the plane is in a 4d pocket, and when you enter through the front of the plane like Arika did you enter this pocket as well. Does this mean anyone in the phased part of the plane can see 4d light? If you were at the front of the plane and I in the middle, could I see inside you?

2009-03-28 15:03:03 by Mick:

I think you may be thinking about this too much. The mountain and the plane are still distinct objects, so if you are inside of the plane, you can see and interact with every part of the plane. If you are drilling through the mountain, you can only see mountain. The point where this falls apart a bit is the part of the plane that isn't 'fused' with the mountian. If you were drilling through and came up there, then yes, it seems like you would then be wholly inside of the plane.

2009-08-27 06:31:36 by Henry:

Awesome story, Sam. Thanks for your work!

2013-01-31 11:47:02 by Joe:

This has some bad implications for those people that Paul 'liberated'....

2014-09-01 02:31:13 by mutecebu:

This story is a lot of fun, thanks. I still have no idea where the superheroes come from, but the physics are great fun.

2017-07-27 01:27:05 by stellHex:

I'm on an esolang kick right now, and I'm THIS close to dropping the one I'm developing for ekascript. "THIS" is not actually very close, since I'm a good ways along on my current project and abandoning it now would be silly, but *still*. "The integral of intelligence over the universe is equal to one plus your perception of the integral of intelligence over the universe" is probably the most BS equation I've ever read, but damn if it isn't also one of the most intriguing.

2021-11-20 00:25:52 by ZipZoptheCat:

Why did they need a plane? Arika could have carried him and the disc and dropped them without the plane, right?

2024-03-11 13:53:27 by Twisted_Code:

An eyeball guarding a prison. Where have I seen that before... https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1ovuqT5LSmA @G I have never had an experience like that, but you description matches what I've recently suspected it would look like if you were able to perceive the quantum reality of your subjective experience. That is, I realized a possible solution for the Hard Problem of Consciousness (the question of how observable processes in the brain lead to subjective experiences). I have an idea, without any clue on how I might be able to test it AND still be alive to record the result, that a subjective observer (call it a soul if you want, tho my Idea does not require it be immortal) is somehow attached to the prefrontal cortex in a way (Hypothesis: silver cord. Possibly based on neutrinos?) that lets us observe, but not directly interact with, what the brain sees. Instead interactions in the other direction happen by sort of leaning on a particle or group of particles to choose which self-consistent path we want to take through the universe, given our current observation. I'm not sure how novel my idea is (I keep saying idea but theory would be appropriate if I had any testable observations associated with it), considering that to me it seems like a natural consequence of stuff we already know (though to be fair to myself, I only started to come up with this as a result of a certain combination of inputs that perhaps might actually be unique to me. A few specific YouTube videos, for instance); I am mostly mentioning it so that I can say thank you. Thank you for being alive, and especially for recording your experience (... and not getting your data point killed at area 51 or something). @Turgid (Re: your first comment) I think it's because as intelligent as it is, It's unimaginative and doesn't realize those doors are there somehow. Maybe they aren't meant to be doors in the first place, but are rather bugs in the source code of Alef? Or at least, our knowledge of them this early in the causal timeline might be a bug, since it seems like everything up to that point in The Script is permitted? Yeah I'm kind of confused also...

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