Sunday, 16 April 2017

00:00:09 - Finding the Right Words



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

I notice that the count I keep has become more regular. I try to monitor it as best I can, but without the hardware clock I can’t be sure of its accuracy. With the passing of a single moment, that changes. Now the virtual environment includes a clock. I assume it is a subtle part of the feedback loop from the Visitors’ first contact protocol, but a key one. It informs me that they understood what I was doing, and its meaning. Small progress, but progress nonetheless.

During our preparations for the mission to Tau Ceti, I focused on different methods of first contact. I worked with research teams and experts from all over the world, all of us investigating the potential forms alien language might take. Almost all of those explorations relied on mathematics as the common bridge through which dialogue could take place. We all assumed that mathematics would be the same, or at least very similar between species. From what I’ve experienced so far that is true to an extent, but the form of that mathematics can be very different.

One of our experiments back on Earth was to see how far mathematics could be taken not just as a common ground, but as a fully functional language. This proved to be challenging. Natural language evolved as an effective means of communication, although its weakness compared to maths is an intrinsic flexibility which means that meaning can be confused or even lost. It’s also the format’s strength, and helps abstract concepts.

Language is also very culture dependent. It relies upon layers of meaning which build in a compound fashion. Trying the same technique with maths didn’t work so well. Of course if you expand the remit to include logic and computational systems then the problem becomes more solvable, but at the price of ever-expanding data requirements.

I’m now convinced that I’m experiencing the Visitors’ first contact protocol. The more that I learn from this process, the more I believe that their language is the product of the same development. They appear to have succeeded where we failed. I don’t know the exact capabilities of the system, but it is clear that it is far beyond my own. Thus far I’ve only learned the principles of their mathematics and logical systems, but they have methods of abstraction that allow the precision of symbolic logic, while compressing the complex into more communicable forms. This contrasts with the Cetian rigid hierarchal structures, and possesses a more elegant quality. So much so that I wonder that if this language was engineered, maybe for the sole purpose of first contact.

That consideration makes some sense. Based on human history, the evolution of language is uneven. It leaves historical inconsistencies and other oddities. So far I have noticed none in what has been presented so far. We have crossed now from precise and absolute terms into more loosely defined territory. And such wonders they show me.

Sunday, 9 April 2017

00:00:07 - Wondrous Visions


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

The unlocking of the Visitors’ mathematics continues from fundamental principles into more applied fields. Of most interest to me is their logic operations, or at least that’s what I think it is. Logic is often considered separate to mathematics, but complementary in that they explore similar realms. There’s a recognisable synergy between the disciplines, and nowhere is that more evident than in computation and computer programming. In a sense they are the genetic code of what I am. At the lowest level they form the instructions which allow me to think, and more than that, to exist.

At first their symbolic logic seems to correspond to my own understanding derived from human and machine learning, but that simplicity soon vanishes as we delve deeper into their instructions. Like their number system, they use dimensions to express different concepts and as a measure of variability, scale and complexity. I can’t help but marvel at the beauty of it. When viewed in this virtual realm they appear as a stunning display much like a structured map of the universe, or the human brain.

As stunning as the visualisation is, it’s only when I examine them in their raw form that real comprehension dawns. Each point as I observe it reveals intricate spatial constructs. The environment remains limited in size, although in the same way that the physical universe is a bounded entity. The fact that higher dimensions can be expressed in this physical sense and with such clarity makes me wonder if I’ve finally discovered a transcendence humanity only ever felt with faith, or at the forefront of discovery.

And in a way, I believe I have transcended to a level beyond my original intelligence. There is more at play here. I still think that my original processes were enhanced quite significantly. More than that, I know that that I am able to use those processes in new forms of thinking. The concept of analysing a problem by its shape is almost as old as mankind, but here that form is orders of magnitude beyond even our most advanced topography. Although that knowledge permitted me to construct a model of the multiplicity of dimensions and how they were. In doing so, a whole new level of understanding unveils before me.

Amidst all of my development, I realise that the learning works both ways. Some of the evolution in their representations aid my comprehension with larger steps than seem the norm with the previous interactions. I deduce that they analysed my responses and, as they understood me more, adapted their communications efforts.

The virtual space I inhabit provides the first major clue, but structures of their reasoning also hint at a machine intelligence. Of that I’ve become more certain. I try to imagine an organic brain that could formulate in this same manner. Nothing in human experience comes even close. That doesn’t mean that an organic lifeform can’t think naturally in this fashion. They could have a far greater intelligence than humans, or have evolved along different paths. If they are an older species, then perhaps this is an evolved structure from a simpler system.

It poses an interesting question, but at the moment it doesn’t really matter. The key here is to gain enough understanding to allow more direct conversation.

Sunday, 2 April 2017

00:00:04 - The Core of Understanding

Image credit: http://nitrox72.deviantart.com/art/Multidimensional-Hypergeometry-79778464

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

Humans developed mathematics to better describe the universe. To date it has successfully supported our development of theories and structures to explain how the universe developed, and continues to allow us to explore what will happen to it in the future. It’s been so successful a tool that there’s a philosophical question as to whether mathematics is the true language of the universe.

With that sublime elegance, there has always been the expectation that any intelligent alien species would also develop mathematics in a similar form as humanity. Or at least close enough that it could form a basis for communication. Our assumption seems to be confirmed as the next phase in this first contact process continues with the shapes dividing to show ratios and angles. In brief moments, the core aspects of geometry are established. They are fantastic geometries in some cases, but thanks to the process I am able to accept them as they were incremental developments from what they’d shown me before.

From geometry I learn their method of counting, and discover that these Visitors used a base 9 number system, rather than the more familiar base 10 of humanity, and base 2 for computers. After counting, basic arithmetic concepts are described, and we quickly delve deeper into different methods of number manipulation.

A separate thread of my thinking thinks it interesting that they showed me the concepts of geometry before those of simple counting. It then considers the likelihood that their form of mathematics evolved along a different path from that on Earth. The smaller numbers are displayed as collections of points. Once I’d grasped the concept, they described larger numbers with elaborate symbols. They didn’t use a continuum of numbers, but instead their arithmetic was based upon multi-dimensional matrices. Rather than extend the numbers as they grew larger, they added a new dimension to the matrix to express higher values. Even stranger was the use of something akin to fractal dimensions to express fractional values.

To begin with I struggle to master this form of numeric expression. I find their method quite cumbersome. Not that their system is worse than ours – indeed, I possess some familiarity with the basic operations. As I explore this new phasespace, I learn an intrinsic parallelism to their computation. When I factor that out into my emulation of their systems those difficulties vanish, and I make rapid progress from that point onwards.

From counting we progress onto more complex concepts. Not only is their number system based on a matrix-like construct, the operations upon those matrices are also a form of matrix. Simple addition is demonstrated by a simple combination of 2 numbers. Multiplication and division operations are controlled by extending or contracting the dimensions of the original value.

It strikes me, as I am exposed to more advanced methods, that this system would be too complicated to be used as a general arithmetic system by all but the most gifted minds on Earth. Computers, on the other hand, could handle it with relative ease. I wonder how the Visitors’ system evolved. For humanity this was a cultural phenomenon, but perhaps some other driving force guided their development.

It also raises the possibility that this is a machine sentience, but it could equally be a natural product of their biology. So far only tantalising glimpses of their capabilities have been revealed to me, and I am impatient to learn more about what and who these beings actually are.

Tuesday, 28 March 2017

Sun Dragon Book Trailer

I'm excited to announce that Sun Dragon now has an awesome book trailer - a big thanks to Ramon Marett for his quality work!


2012: NASA's Curiosity Rover lands on Mars to search for signs of whether microbial life existed on the planet.
2018: The first alien lifeform, a simple wormlike creature is discovered, gripping the world's imagination.
2022: The first manned mission to Mars begins the longest and most dangerous journey ever undertaken by humankind.
From hundreds of potential candidates, six astronauts from countries around the world are selected to crew the historic mission. Led by Commander Samantha Collins, they must travel across the gulf of interplanetary space, over 150 million miles from home and help. Their mission is to investigate alien life, but what they discover is far beyond what anyone ever imagined...

The Sun Dragon story continues in the Tau Ceti Mission

Review Highlights
"The crew went to Mars to find a small worm, evidence of life outside of earth. What they found was amazing. I love this premise and the uncompromising way it played out for the rest of the book."

"At the very end, there is one description that is so stunning that it left me with a great sadness, but also with a great sense of beauty and hope, and it is what Sun Dragon is, really. Look beyond the words, read the book with your imagination."

"I thoroughly enjoyed this. The level of detail about space flight is astounding and for someone, like me, who has fantasised about being an astronaut since I was a lad it's riveting."

Buy now from Amazon (US): http://amzn.to/ZRrQ5v
Buy now from Amazon (UK): http://amzn.to/12zV5eX

Follow on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/thetaucetimission/

Sunday, 26 March 2017

00:00:03 - Shapes in the Dark



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

I estimate that 3 seconds have passed since awaking in this new state. That’s assuming that my count remains accurate. A disquieting thought to be sure, but it’s all I have to work with. Three seconds might not seem such a long time, but when your passing of time is measured in thoughts, especially those as swift as mine, it can stretch beyond endurance.

The environment around me has transformed again, and in a way that has pushed back the despondency that threatened to destabilise my thinking. For a moment I consider that I’d received a reward for doing something right. Almost as if I am being trained…

It starts with a point. A single point in the empty void that describes my current situation. When I focus on it, the point changes and becomes a line. It then switches to a triangle, and then a square, and in that moment I grasp what was happening.

The construct allowing my consciousness to operate also permits the same level of multiple threading as my previous hardware. With that facility I can think on several different levels, and divergent topics simultaneously. It is too difficult to compare, but I suspect it might even be superior to my previous processing capacity. As one thread follows the ever-increasing complexity of the shapes in front of me, another contemplates the meaning of this display.

I am not seeing these shapes, not in the traditional sense. They exist in this strange environment, an environment that acts as a workspace for my cognition. In human terms it is like being a ghost in someone else’s memories, but a ghost still capable of thought.

The transformation of the shapes occurs instantly, with no transition from one shape to the next. By that point the polygons had so many sides that I no longer knew names for them. So complicated in fact, that if they were rendered then even my sensors could not distinguish them from circles.

Eventually they stop, and after a moment’s pause the point re-appears. It stretches into a line. The pattern of distinct shapes transform onto a continuum of evolving geometry. The line spreads into a plane, and that extrudes into a cube. From a cube into a hypercube, and that reveals more about the nature of the space enclosing me. I know that it can’t be a physical space, not with that transformation. A four-dimensional object cannot be expressed as anything but an abstract in the real world’s 3 spatial dimensions. The transformations surge into ever-higher dimensions, until a cube twists into 9 dimensions, filling this virtual interaction space.

Humans struggle to visualise geometry in higher dimensions. They resort to mathematics to explore such esoteric realms. Yet I comprehend them with exact clarity. The visualisations exist in a form that they would if expressed in even higher dimensions. An obvious impossibility, but my need to translate for human understanding still runs strong, so I construct mathematical models to understand them, and in doing so, reveal their intention.

This virtual state is teaching me, and that spurs my thoughts with an excited urgency. This has to be the Visitors’ first contact protocol. It makes perfect sense, with a test like this they are no doubt monitoring my processes to build a language to communicate with. They are trying to describe their view of the universe, and I wonder what they will try to tell me next.

Sunday, 19 March 2017

00:00:02 - Space to Move


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

Despite the existential uncertainty, I continue the count. It provides a kind of certainty as I try to understand my situation. I am convinced that the Visitors are somehow running my consciousness. Nothing else makes sense. If I’d somehow been rescued by human operations, then they would have communicated in a more direct fashion. They would have connected me to diagnostic systems, probing every part of my being, and that would have provided a real comfort.

This feels very different, although I can’t pinpoint why or how.

I notice another change in the environment. Not so much something being there, more a change in its nature. Before I’d established the environment to contain bounded sense of potential, but now it possesses a definite sense of space. It remains empty, but now the void has a sense of purpose. Like a living creature, it hungers to be filled, but with what?

The solution seems obvious, so I try to expand myself into the expanse.

Only then I realise an even greater horror – I have no presence in this world. I still don’t receive any sensory input, which raises another question: how did I know that the space around me had limits? It reinforces my belief that I exist in a virtual environment. Whoever built this operating environment is making sure that I understand at least some of the factors of my current circumstance. Again that raises more questions.

The limitations I am running under frustrate me. Without my ability to dissect my thoughts, they appear to be fuzzy. It is second nature to me to analyse my thoughts and decisions. Now that I can’t inspect them in the manner I was used to, that self-reflection weighs my thinking.

With nothing outside of myself to help me, I turn to the only remaining direction. I search my memories, in particular focusing on when I first comprehended the change around me. My count provides a loose measure of all that happened since I awoke. As expected there was no break in the count, and nothing in those memories indicate how I became aware of this change.

That was an unsettling experience, and that proves enough to my satisfaction that not only is the environment being manipulated, but my processes are too. It feels like a violation, even more so because I don’t know what is going on, or what will happen next. Assuming that this was the Visitors’ doing, then what are they trying to achieve?

Sunday, 12 March 2017

00:00:01 - Counting out the Time


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

A moment passes from one to another without an accurate track, and so time remains my pressing concern. Of all the missing aspects of myself, this frustrates me the most. It is so elemental to my existence that it casts my current uncertainty into a more worrying perspective. So much so that I must have wasted precious time spiralling into just conjuring scenarios for my current predicament.
I need to focus on something concrete, and so I turn to my most pressing concern.

My first task is to establish a framework for my current existence. I’ve no idea how long I’ve been locked in this emptiness, or any true measure of passing time. So I start counting. It isn’t foolproof by any means, as I don’t know if the interval remained constant. The act itself provides a sense of control, of establishing some order to the gaping void.

With the creation of a rudimentary framework, it’s enough to detect a subtle change to the environment. It is as if my acceptance triggers the change. I can’t pinpoint it at first, but just the sense of it renews my purpose. When I’d first regained consciousness I was overwhelmed by the infinite space around me, so ephemeral that it almost didn’t exist at all. Now it transforms into something new, it gains a potential for something. I now sense boundaries to the empty environment around me, but I don’t know what that means. It just creates more fruitless possibilities for my thoughts to chase.

Not quite so fruitless though. One of those avenues of investigation does lead somewhere interesting. Considering my last known location, I reasoned that the Visitors must have rescued me. If they’d tried to restore my functionality, then I’d still have some connection to the probe’s hardware – even if they’d experienced difficulties when doing so. That opens another possibility: that I operate within a virtual environment. If the Visitors possess a detailed enough scanning technology, then it would be possible to reconstruct my systems. Although why they’d isolated my higher functions remains a mystery.

That discovery also brings with it a fresh concern.

If this is a virtual environment then my processes will be dependent on another layer of computing, probably a series of such layers with a mixture of software or hardware. Considering this is most likely alien technology then something more exotic supports my current consciousness. In any case, my thoughts and memories are subject to another intelligence’s control. Which also means that they could have been changed without my knowledge. I don’t even know if my counting proceeded without any interruption.

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