Sunday, March 3, 2024

Return from Randomland

Credit: Jack Kirby

It had long been considered a verifiable fact, that randomness was merely a god of the gaps, in a strictly determinist universe. This had been evidenced by how often randomness as an explanatory power had been defeated simply by gaining knowledge of previously unknown factors. Enough defeats and randomness was dead.

But then it was discovered that black holes produced random energy and fed it into this universe. Black Holes were not merely one way portals. They were like sinkholes where organised rule-obeying matter and energy are sucked away while chaotic random energy bubbles up.

It was concluded, after much debate and over so many, fallen, alternative theories, that it is not only knowledge that tames randomness in our universe, not merely the improvement of data that pushes randomness back, but in fact this universe itself. Our universe was self-ordering with a very low tolerance for casually disconnected events. Hence almost instantaneously what randomly comes in through Black holes loses that randomness and perhaps the inverse happen to what goes where black holes lead.  The new settled fact became that our universe exists in symbiotic or parasitic or who can say what sort of relationship, with other universes that are more random. Perhaps even one which was completely random.

Most left it there, as an interesting research paper topic. Myles did not. They could not stop imagining a completely random universe. It was the only interesting scientific question in the world, in their mind. They dreamt about it. Their best friend encouraged their passion. They had not seen Myles this excited in a while.

So Myles built a machine, and they built a suit, and they stepped into it and they disappeared. And nobody could say whether they had simply stopped being altogether or whether the suit had worked and they were alive in a random universe or whether the suit had not worked but they were still somehow alive in a completely random universe. No one could say what would actually happen to a person who stepped into the machine. But several agreed that the maths checked out.

Myle's colleagues hid the machine away so that nobody would do anything terrible with it. Until one day, Myles returned. They were randomly changed, with random energy flowing through their body. And their decisions were able to navigate our world in ways people struggled to understand. A whole field hospital was built for Myles treatment and study. 

Scientists gathered outside in their thousands  waiting for Myles first interview. Drones flew over the hospital, broadcasting images to a world newly catholicised, waiting for their Pope. Those first words are yet to be understood if there even is any sense to recover from them. Over weeks Myles was able to order their actions enough to speak in response to a question, but “word diamonds window butterflies swarming” is to date their most coherent sentence.

The world found new ways to divide into those who think we should decipher Myles speech now as if it possesses some internal logic or whether we must simply wait for a logical sentence to come and those who don’t care either way and those who think caring about this question is the most important thing you can do. Myles recovery remained newsworthy for almost two months but there was never a satisfactorily robust discussion of the physics for some. Our general societal disregard for the theoretical sciences and the impact this has on funding came up, which predictably led to more people switching off.

Voices were raised that "Anything Myles has to say can't lower the cost of living or repair the environment anyway." Those two existential threats continued to rise in perfect tandem, in the last pattern that we are allowed to consider random.

All of which is why it was sweet and probably for the best, that Myles loving partner, their best friend, eventually liberated Myles from hospital. The two are said to be exercising a greater tolerance for randomness on their holidays.

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