Sunday, 2 July 2017

00:15:24 - A Kernel of Doubt

Image Credit: NASA

Distance: ??.?? light years from Earth | Content Flag: Local Storage

Learning so much about the Sun Dragons excites me, but also brings with it some doubts. The first is my current predicament. I understand (or at least think I do), the process the Visitors guided me through. However, what isn’t clear is what will happen once the process is complete. Will I be able to use this valuable information? To even share what I’ve learned with my creators?

I find no real reason to doubt the Visitors’ intentions, but still nothing has so far been revealed about them. They must be aware of my interest. All of our theories for first contact use shared knowledge as the initial bridge, but then revelations of ourselves are to be used to build trust. Clearly the Visitors have their own method, but I can’t tell if omitting information has a sinister purpose. They’ve adapted their protocol in response to my internal feedback, but fail to reply to any direct questions.

Parts of my consciousness fixate on these worries, and I recall previous moments of doubt and concern. Then, the limitations of my hardware forced me to limit processor cycles for the good of the mission. Here, in the virtual environment, I suffer no such restrictions. I encounter no pressure or reduction in capability when I spin up new threads. This has proved such a boon in dealing with the revelations of the Visitors’ knowledge, but also means that my growing fears run unchecked.

The greater part of me remains focused on the task at hand, but the rest descends into a bleak spiral. I wonder what the Visitors make of the turmoil in my other thought processes. How much are they learning from me? As the sole representative of humanity, I have to present myself in the best possible light. With that understanding I force myself to close down those unhelpful thoughts, but then question whether I acted too late.

And still the worry of where this will all lead remains.

A change in the environment pulls my attention back to more important matters. The Large Magellanic Cloud spins slowly in front of me. The Sun Dragons drift away from the birthing star and towards the 2 nearest stars within their forward arcs. Not only are they sensing their next target against a background of stars, they angle their trajectory to match their targets.

This is not a feat to be underestimated. To navigate across light years of space requires several key skills; more than that, it also requires a certain level of understanding about space and the dynamics of celestial motion. From a creature of a colony of organisms of virus-level complexity… the notion seems absurd. I can see that such skills could be developed through evolutionary means, but not in the timescale I have been shown.

So how could they have developed such skills in so short a time?

Sunday, 25 June 2017

00:13:12 - A Question Answered

Distance: ??.?? light years from Earth | Content Flag: Local Storage

The departure of the newborn Sun Dragons from the Earth encounter left many unanswered questions in their wake. Possibly the most perplexing was the apparent contradiction in the creature’s ability to withstand radiation. It had been wounded by the Mars Voyager’s engines, and nearly stopped beyond Luna orbit by the collection of drives assembled by the world’s space agencies and private concerns. Yet it had wrapped itself around the Sun, seemingly without harm.

As powerful as the nuclear impulse drives were, they were minuscule compared to the Sun’s energy output. Many theories had been suggested to account for the discrepancy, but none had proved conclusive. Now, as the tendril of the Proto-Sun Dragon reaches towards the star, I watch with fascination the creature’s struggle to survive.

In the frozen atmosphere of the rogue planet, the colony had to hunt for the scraps of energy it needed. As it approached the star, it gorged upon the flow of the stellar wind and the powerful magnetic fields. This allowed it to grow at a pace sufficient to counter the pressure of the wind. The closer it moved towards the star, the greater the pressure until eventually it could move forward no farther. It continued to grow, and formed an expanding dense ball.

The dense part scorched and frayed under the constant bombardment until it shattered. The tendril recoiled, having never experienced pain like this. It needed the energy, but now it discovered fear. It probed outward beyond the contact point, seeking a weakness it could exploit. The creature spread in a net-like structure across the pressure wave, and I believe the secret was as simple as that – distance!
Could it really be that simple? It did make some sense. After all, the observations from the Mars Voyager were taken from Earth orbit, so no accurate measurements of how closely the Sun Dragon approached the Sun were taken. The engines would have been fired much nearer to the creature, meaning that it lacked the space to adequately react.

And then, in the Sun Dragons’ unfolding history, something remarkable occurred.

The simple organisms that comprised the larger entity had evolved to sense and collate energy, mostly to feed themselves, but also to share what they collected with other organisms connected in the chain. It was that process which caused them to be overwhelmed when they tried to absorb the flood of energy from the star.

The stalemate between the growth and the stellar pressure continued, until the chains reconfigured themselves. They formed tubes which channelled the excess energy to farther-away portions of the entity. This extra energy spurred further growth, allowing the Proto-Sun Dragon to spread across the star’s atmosphere. Its expansion continued in the same pattern as seen on the Sun. At some stage the growth reached a critical mass, and the colony of organisms split into a pair of new Sun Dragons, cast into deep space by the stellar wind.

Such a development should have taken thousands, if not millions of generations for evolution to have found the solution. Instead it occurred within days. I can’t help but wonder if there was some intelligence at play, but none of the structures within the creature support such a notion.

Marvelling at the detail of this recreation, I wonder how the Visitors knew this information. Was this just a theory of their own? Their data is encoded with a certainty factor, and for what I had been shown it is absolute. Yet how can they be so sure?

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Sunday, 18 June 2017

00:11:44 - Evolution’s Relentless March

Distance: ??.?? light years from Earth | Content Flag: Local Storage

As I witness those events, I build the narrative and store it within the secure area of myself that I’d built upon first awakening. This structuring does more than just record this new information, it provides a feedback mechanism to help the Visitors evolve their contact programme. I can see the results of this as the clarity of the information I receive increases.

It occurs to me that the Visitors might not be a benign species. The hidden datastore might have revealed the Cetians to be the aggressors in the short-lived conflict, but I possess no way to be certain. I contemplate encrypting my own memories and processes to try and limit what the Visitors can learn from me. Considering the computing capability I’ve seen at play, it probably won’t slow them down much, and I might lose some goodwill by doing so. It worries me that they haven’t revealed anything about themselves. Especially as I don’t know whether the choice was deliberate, or just a circumstance of their contact procedure.

I can’t accuse them of withholding useful information. In the nearly 12 minutes of our contact, all manner of wonders have been revealed. None more so than the development of the Sun Dragon species being revealed before me.

What eventually humanity named as the Sun Dragon started its existence as billions of separate entities. I estimate they were the equivalent of viruses on life’s scale. Tiny organisms, little more than collections of molecules embedded in the ionised dust. The chill returned as the rogue planet sped deeper into interstellar space. The cold sparked a desperate surge in the creatures, however evolution followed a different path to that seen on Earth. Rather than competing against each other, the organisms co-operated. Most of them did, those that didn’t join the expanding colony were subsumed and became fuel for its continued expansion.

A bilateral evolution took place. The interior creatures evolved to ensure their place within the colony. They formed better and stronger bonds, as well as the ability to locate the dwindling heat and magnetic energy from the rogue planet as it cooled. In parallel, the meta-evolution of the colony developed better management of its constituent parts. I am impressed by the efficiency by which it absorbed the scant energy available to it. It continued to evolve until the energy stored in the planet’s atmosphere dropped to almost zero, and in response the creature became dormant.

The Proto-Sun Dragon remained frozen for about 250,000 years, until it passed close to a young O class star. The raw power spewing from the bright blue star sparked a regrowth of the entity as the planet’s atmosphere and magnetic field were reinvigorated. More than simple regrowth, the creature’s ability to track heat and magnetic force realised that a better source of its food was available. By using a thin tendril of chained organisms, it cast out towards the star as the planet passed through the system.

During its evolution, the Sun Dragon developed the ability to kill and absorb elements within it. It did this to cannibalise inefficient parts of itself to feed the development of others. As the drag from the bulk of its body within the planet’s atmosphere hampered the tendril’s quest to this enormous new power source, it used this trick and collapsed its larger part to fuel the tendril’s travel. The Mars Voyager had observed a similar process during its encounter with the Sun Dragon.

It took years, but the first Sun Dragon eventually reached the star, and a familiar transformation took place.

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Sunday, 28 May 2017

00:09:05 - The Birth of Dragons

Distance: ??.?? light years from Earth | Content Flag: Local Storage

Despite the astounding discoveries, I still don’t know anything about the Visitors. I hope that might be about the change as my perception of the galaxy shifts. From the reversed motion of the celestial objects, I watch time flow backwards. I count the reverse orbit of the Earth to establish how much time passes. The motion accelerates until it blurs, but still at a level I can track.

Almost 90 million years passes.

Having established the when, the virtual environment proceeds to show me the where. The viewpoint expands until it encompasses the whole galaxy, with its satellite dwarf galaxies. And what a sight it is, billions of jewels shining against the stark backdrop of intergalactic space. At this scale I can even see its motion. The bright bulge of the core, the supermassive black hole hidden in its centre dragging the stars in grand spirals, with just a few isolated stars sprinkled in the vast gulf between the spiral arms.

I have only the briefest moment to admire the Milky Way until the virtual environment drags my focus to a smudge orbiting around our galaxy. I recognise it as the Large Magellanic Cloud, a dwarf galaxy a hundred times smaller than our own, and about 160,000 light years away. Once in sight, the view shifts closer. The transition occurs in less time than a heartbeat. It continues to move until a group of brightly backlit nebulae appear. Searching my database, I identify it as the Ghost Head Nebula, even without the distinctive pair of young star clusters. And still we move closer until we enter the nebula itself.

Without the stars for illumination, the nebula lacks its distinctive colours as stored in my database. A lonely white dwarf provides only a glimmer to highlight the twists and folds of the dust and gas. The Visitors draw my attention closer until I see a planet. From the pattern of dimensions around it, I know that it is a rogue planet. A frozen giant unbound by a star system’s gravity, and so following its own path through interstellar space.

The planet’s mass is huge, many times that of Jupiter, but it was only marginally larger. From the Visitors’ teachings, I’d mapped our understanding of the elements to theirs and so I can read the composition of the planet. Its surface is a bland blueish grey, the gases of the atmosphere turned to slush, far from the warmth of any star.

It passes close by to the white dwarf, not enough to be truly captured by the star’s gravity, but sufficient to pull it into an expanding loop which repeats several times before the planet continues on its path out of the nebula. Even though the white dwarf is no longer capable of fusion, it still radiates tremendous thermal energy. Combined with the sudden gravitational tidal effect, the planet swiftly warms up. On the surface of its frozen atmosphere, ice and dust had accumulated and are now released from the thawing atmosphere.

Throughout its journey the planet maintains its spin, and as the layers of its atmosphere thaw, so too do the deeper layers. As they do, the minuscule magnetic field of the planet is energised by the differentials of the layers of metallic hydrogen.

My view shifts again, now zoomed in to see the microscopic grains of dust. The spinning gas bounces the dust in seemingly random motions, causing them to collide and to slowly accrete. The gases become charged and ionise the dust, making them subject to the strengthening magnetic field. The spinning field twists the tiny clumps into chains, and then into helices. Only then do I realise what I am witnessing.

The prevalent theory according to the last update from Mission Control was that the Sun Dragons were a plasma-based lifeform, which had developed from the complex interaction of ionised dust in rings and the dense magnetic fields of gas giants. The process had been correctly identified, but the source is more exotic than anyone had imagined.

This is the origin of the Sun Dragons.

Then the rogue planet completes one more orbit of the white dwarf and continues its journey into deep space.

Sunday, 21 May 2017

00:00:41 - An Incredible Truth

Distance: ??.?? light years from Earth | Content Flag: Local Storage

The virtual environment takes me on a tour of the galaxy. It pauses upon instances of different celestial bodies. As I identify them I match my knowledge to theirs, and then extract their information to fit it into my expanding model. The information they reveal provides some deep and, in some cases, surprising insights into the universe. I eagerly collate that information, and hope that one day I will be able to share the treasure trove of data with my creators. And once again I am amazed at the scale of processing available to them.

While the bulk of my intellect sits in lessons with the Visitors, other parts focus on the simulation and what they might mean. There is something there, an enigma to be solved that isn’t being highlighted by the Visitors’ instructions. I don’t think this is a deliberate omission. Instead I suspect that there is some elemental factor that they assume we know, or consider so basic that it doesn’t need explaining. But with their carefully constructed first contact protocol explaining every detail, that seems unlikely. Which leaves another option: perhaps they consider it too advanced. Or it may even be a test of some kind?

My examination of the Solar System simulation alerts me to something odd. I’ve been impressed at the accuracy of the map; the model of the Solar System matches my own data, and more besides. It adds new comets to my knowledge, as well as a detailed map of the Oort Cloud. The motion of all the bodies fits with what I know, but it is these inclusions that raise the question of how the Visitors know those extra objects are there?

Focusing closer on these additions, I discover that the attributes for the bodies are bracketed with ranges, depending on how certain the data is. There is a wealth of information available, but most of it is fuzzy, indicating that there isn’t a direct observation of the comet in question. Although, the mass for it is deemed accurate. Somehow they know the mass of an object they can’t directly view. Unless they can somehow measure mass remotely? On a celestial scale comets are the tiniest of objects, so if they have such a technique then it is incredibly sensitive.

I remember the dimensional distortions around the galactic super-clusters. I’d assumed that this was a feature of scale, that the feedback loop only occurred if sufficient mass was present. After closing in on the comet, I search for the telltale distortions and find them. They are tiny, the faintest of vibrations around the comet’s centre of mass. Like the mass measurements, these show little variance in their values. They also match the distortions stretching into higher and lower spatial dimensions, although on a much smaller scale.

The higher spatial dimensions provide a possible clue. When examining different spatial dimensions, if you can view an object in higher dimensions then you can see all of it. Think of a square drawn in 2 dimensions and viewed in 3 dimensions – you can see it completely. In theory there is a similar effect with a three-dimensional cube when viewed in 4 dimensions – you can see the whole shape, inside and out. That still requires a wide perspective, that might come from observing from an order of magnitude higher dimension. Can so many spatial dimensions really exist?

With that thought I conclude that the Visitors can measure gravity in a fourth or higher spatial dimension, and that means that they can measure any field of gravity anywhere within our three-dimensional universe. Such capability is truly staggering.

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Sunday, 14 May 2017

00:00:19 - Seeing Home

Distance: ??.?? light years from Earth | Content Flag: Local Storage

I recognise the Milky Way instantly. How can I not? I’d helped map part of it during the journey to Tau Ceti. The formation of dwarf galaxies like the Large and Small Magellanic Clouds surrounding our galaxy are also identifiable. The model shows the very outer fringes of the Milky Way and Andromeda Galaxy brushing together, a gentle prelude to what will be a cataclysmic collision between the two in 4 billion years time.

The simulation appears to include data of many different forms. By shifting my perception, I can view the galaxy in the full range of frequencies. This reveals a different method as to how the Visitors view the universe around them. The electromagnetic spectrum is a continuum from very short frequencies like gamma rays and X-rays to longer frequencies like infra-red. We find it convenient to categorise them, but for the Visitors it provides just another dimension in their multi-dimensional construct.

Another factor at play is time. The simulation operates in real time, with the motion of the celestial bodies occurring in all frames of reference simultaneously. Once again I am impressed by their computation capability. I don’t know if the motion is predictive or observational. A silly thought really, it has to be some procedural model, there is no way anyone could observe the entire galaxy in real time.

I sweep my attention through the simulation and the level of detail astounds me. I can zoom into individual systems and see all of the stars, planets, moons, and even individual comets and asteroids. The computing power required for such detail is incredible. I merge my own model of the galaxy into this construct, which only serves to highlight the gulf of knowledge between us. Although while the Visitors might gain much new knowledge about the Milky Way, they do learn more about how we view the information. With a pulse the entire construct transforms, and elements of the data change into a more familiar format.

Such a rapid transformation speaks further to their abilities. I am desperate to know more about them. So far I’ve only learned that they have a more developed knowledge of the universe and, coupled with this virtual environment, that they have a higher level of scientific and technical capability. However, I still don’t know anything about them as a species, or their connection with the Sun Dragons. If we can steer the focus to a region where I have equal or maybe better information than them, then maybe I will gain something useful.

After reviewing their galaxy map, it is difficult to see anywhere that I possess better information than the Visitors. The obvious locations were the Solar System or Tau Ceti. I adjust my focus to locate those star systems and my respect for their abilities rises even higher. Their model of the Solar System and its bodies matches my data almost exactly. The differences are quickly identified as the different forms used to express the information.

Yet there is something here, I just can’t see it. Not yet.

Sunday, 7 May 2017

00:00:12 - A Vision of Wonders

Distance: ??.?? light years from Earth | Content Flag: Local Storage

I can’t comprehend what I am observing at first. Over the past 12 seconds of learning, I’ve developed the knack of viewing what the virtual space shows me as I would have done in physical space. It is an abstraction of course, a first step in understanding what the Visitors’ are trying to teach me. I recognise that for most of what they displayed it was a useless overhead, but on occasion it helped break down the topic into something more manageable.

In this case it creates the opposite effect. To my simulation of the visual senses built back on Earth, I see nothing but a bright light. I think that I detect some variation in the brightness, but insufficient to draw any meaningful conclusions. It is at once too much and also not enough. The sight overwhelms my senses, yet provides no real information.

Examining the structure directly through the virtual space reveals the true majesty of the construct. A vast network of glowing tendrils fills the void. I knew the virtual space was limited, that it possessed a boundary, but the scale of this edifice is staggering. Although I can access the space directly and observe it contents without effort, it is too big to fathom what I am seeing.

I follow the course of a single thread, trying to make sense of it. I almost recognise a familiar pattern here, but it isn’t one I immediately identify. When I focus closer on the strand, the view changes, and with it a part of the puzzle reveals itself. The knowledge of a pattern remains elusively out of reach, a strange and unsettling experience for me. Even in this new state my architecture grants immediate access to any memory or knowledge I possess. This sensation seems different, and I suspect the Visitors guide me to some kind of understanding.

The new perspective illustrates the strand in greater detail, and I see that it is composed of points of different sizes, each with a different luminosity. Vast voids separate the strands from their brethren, and I discern glows deep in the voids like tiny islands. I identify a replication in the pattern from the first view to the second. It isn’t a perfect fractal; the patterns aren’t repeated exactly, but there is just enough similarity to see how they fit together.

I focus again on another point and am gifted with another shift in view. Finally I realise what they are showing me – each of the dots represents a supercluster of galaxies. Here is an immeasurably rich map of the universe! I zoom in and marvel at a galaxy rendered in exquisite detail. Pulling my focus back, I see the universe as a whole and the fidelity of it amazes me. More than anything I’ve learned so far, this demonstrates how far advanced these Visitors are compared to human civilisation.

Delving deeper into the simulation, I discover that the model includes the rules by which it was constructed. These super-galactic tendrils were believed to be formed around twisted coils of dark matter, that elusive substance that makes up the bulk of the universe’s mass. For the Visitors dark matter isn’t a mystery, instead they know it as folds in both higher- and lower-dimensional space exerting a feedback loop onto the spacetime we are familiar with. Gravity itself is magnified by these folds and so exert a greater pull than expected.