Tag Archives: space

Out of Time

Well, it’s about time. Literally. I’ve been cooking up a sequel to Whirlpool, the third novel of the Rational Series. On a back burner so far back that I was hardly aware of it.

The title I’m considering for it is “Out of Time”. Of course it doesn’t mean what you’d think it means. Think literally.

This is all I’ve managed to flesh out so far.

Assumptions “Out of Time” is based on:

  1. A creature (a Rat or Rational, a more advanced human-like species appearing in the second (The Rats and the Saps) and third (Whirlpool) novels of the series from the intermediate future of our universe, warns a human (a Sap or Homo Sapien) from the present (sometime in our future relatively speaking) of an imminent attack on them by creatures from the distant future.
  2. Rats can see in any dimension as far as the event horizon.
  3. Frats (Future Rats) can see all the way to the end of every dimension.
  4. Think of it like chess. Most people who barely know the rules of the game can’t think more than one or two moves ahead. People who have played in chess tournaments can often think ten or so moves ahead. A chess master sees the entire game sequence from beginning to end before he makes his first move.

The Story Line:

  1. There are still a few human planets spread ever so thinly across the local cluster of galaxies, but none are aware of the others.
  2. Rat planets far outnumber Sap (human) planets. Rats are not only aware of each other’s presence on other worlds; they are well organized with a Dyson sphere in every solar system. They had to in order to keep warm.
  3. What the Rats weren’t aware of, at least they couldn’t be sure of, was the existence of the Frats. Rats surmised them but they never found any hard evidence or came up with any solid proofs that Frats existed.
  4. Frats understood the nature of time and space; for instance, they knew that time was the consciousness of time and space was the consciousness of space. Underpinning the fabric of space-time was consciousness. A field of consciousness pervaded the multiverse. Somewhere or other there was always a Big Bang going on as universes became self-aware. Space and time spew forth and collapse, each in their own isolated event-islands, bubbles of insignificant cause and effect. The multiverse always was and always will be. But what of consciousness? In the beginning was the word and that word contained all meaning.

That’s all that has come to me so far, but I’ve been through this process thrice before. Once I get it down on paper or digital ether, I empty my head and it starts to fill up with more ideas, as the story organism gives birth to its own logic. The storyline is incomplete. It will develop in its own way, in its own time.

If you’re interested, you can look over my shoulder while I write.

Mike Stone

Raanana Israel


Filed under Prose, Science Fiction & Fantasy, Stories and Novels, Uncategorized

Who Are You?

Who are you? I mean, really, who are you? More about that later …

In a previous post, Common Sense about Space, Time, and Infinity, I wrote about the finitude of matter and energy (albeit an exceedingly large finitude) and the infinity of space and time. Now I’d like to draw some common sense conclusions about the personal space inside our minds.

Let’s start out with some permutations and combinations from some board games many of us know and play.

Tic-Tac-Toe allows two players to occupy squares on a 3×3 board with their x’s or o’s. There are 26,830 possible legitimate games that may be played.

Chess starts out with two sets of 32 pieces each on an 8×8 square board. The moves of the various pieces are complex and many can move forward, sideways, diagonally, and backwards. The number of possible chess games is estimated to be 2 to the 155th power (almost 10 to the 46.7th power).

The maximum number of Go games played with black and white stones on a 19×19 square board is 2.08 x 10 to the 170th power). That is more than the number of atoms in the observable universe, which is somewhere between 4 x 10 to the 79th power and 10 to the 81st power. In case you don’t know nothin’ ’bout ‘rithmetic, that’s the number 1 with 81 zeroes to the right of it.

Now these are very large numbers and it is highly unlikely that any game master has played all the possible games, but the numbers are not infinite, like space or time.

Let’s think about our minds for a moment. The average number of neurons (grey matter brain cells) in a functioning human brain is about 100 billion. The number synapses (connections between brain cells) is about 100 trillion. That means each brain cell is connected to about 1000 other brain cells. The average brain cell is capable of firing off 200 signals per second. That’s a capacity of 20 quadrillion signals per second produced by the average brain.

Thoughts are internal behaviors, ways in which our brains respond to the outer world, our inner world, and to other thoughts. Like externally observable behaviors, such as our overt actions, thought behavior can be very simple or exceedingly complex. A thought can be a perception of the outer or inner world, it can be concept, it can be a memory, it can be an emotion, and it can be a command that initiates a motor response or a complex string of motor responses.

Going back to games for a moment, the brain may be thought of as a game board and thoughts could be construed as the moves in a game. Given that is so, the number of thoughts in a human brain might be estimated around 3 to the 100 trillionth power. That’s still not infinite, far from it, but it still is much larger than the number of atoms in the universe and even beats hands down the most complex game man could think of.

You’d think that, with the number of thoughts we can think, we could perceive, conceive, and remember everything in the universe. Unfortunately that is not so because the things in the universe are hidden from us by distance, size, and other things, and our brains are architected and built in a limited fashion. The 6 or 7 million cones in our retinas are only capable of perceiving red, green, and blue, which represent a small part of the continuous frequencies of the electromagnetic spectrum. Colors don’t exist objectively. Red is just a range of frequencies around 4×1014 Hertz, while violet is 8×1014 Hertz, and all the colors we can see in a rainbow fall between these two frequencies. So the red cones fire signals up the optic nerve when they get excited by 4×1014 Hz worth of electromagnetism, the blue cones get excited about another frequency and the green cones get off on still another frequency. The optic nerve carries the “color” signals as well as the signals from the 120 million rods in the retina that are excited by individual photons, mostly in the shorter wavelengths. All those signals are interpreted by our brain into an alphabet of shapes, directions, and colors. We can’t perceive something if it’s not a shape, direction, color, or something we’ve been preprogrammed to perceive. Our programming is limited by our evolution. If we had evolved differently, we’d perceive differently.

When we conceptualize what we’ve perceived, say it was a crowd of slightly different individuals, we tend to group them together, smooth out the differences in our own minds, plug them into a hierarchical category, and store an averaged version of those individuals, remembering that there were a lot of them. That’s why we usually make such terrible eye witnesses, especially if we were distracted by having to survive. So unless we are highly trained to disregard our evolutionary programming, we can’t remember more than nine individual things, as they are, for more than a few seconds.

If we had solved the survival problem, maybe things would be different.

Now back to the original question: who are you? Hopefully you will translate that question in your own minds to who am I? I would think that I would know who I am, better than anyone else would know. I’m me. Myself. My personality.

But what is my personality? It’s my inner face (or interface) that I present to the outer world. But I adapt my personality differently to different aspects of the outer world. I present a different personality to my family, to my friends, to the people at work, to strangers, and to my enemies, to name a few. Ah yes, but it is I who present all those different adaptations of my personality.

So who am I? An “I” is a thought, a behavior, a complex game. Many thoughts compete for the title of “I”, but only one gets to win. Only one gets to control the mind, but does it keep control? What would it mean to me if one “I” would win instead of another? Is there another “I” behind it all who decides which “I” gets to be “I”? Are there as many different I’s as there are people or is there only one I?

Can you hear the tug of war inside you?

Mike Stone

Raanana Israel

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Filed under & Philosophy, Dilemmas, Essays

Common Sense about Space, Time, and Infinity

How fast does time travel?

How far does time travel?

There are no answers. The questions are meaningless.

How far does space travel?

That question is meaningless too. These things don’t behave like matter or energy, which are finite. These things are infinite. Travel, speed, and distance are just two quanta of matter or energy relative to each other.

Take away all the matter and energy from the universe, except for one spaceship, and it wouldn’t matter whether it travelled at the speed of light or velleity, it would still seem not to move at all.

Seconds and eons don’t attach to time any more than inches and Astronomical Units attach to space. They just represent humans ticking away meaningless events in infinity or eternity. Space contains an infinite number of AUs and the amount of time between any two seconds is infinite. No matter how many steps you take toward infinity, you will always have an infinite distance ahead of you.

Mike Stone

Raanana Israel


Filed under Essays, Dilemmas, & Philosophy, Prose

The Big Boing Theory

There are probably not many people alive on this planet who can imagine what it might be like just before the Big Bang. I mean we have a rough, if not entirely accurate, idea of what the universe (or multiverse) is, and what it was like within a second or two after it went “bang”. We’re talking about all the baryonic matter and baryonic energy, dark matter and dark energy, and anti-matter and anti-energy, space and time, as well as anything else that might be hanging like mistletoe from the continuum of what is. Incidentally, there probably wasn’t any “bang” during the Big Bang since, as my father asked me when I was seven years old, if a tree falls in a forest and nobody was around to hear it, did it make a sound? There certainly wasn’t anyone around to hear the Big Bang.

Could another Big Bang happen in our universe? Hopefully not. That’s probably why they call the Big Bang a singularity, but then they call black holes singularities too and black holes are found in many different galaxies around the universe. One of the advantages of the multiverse theory is that you can have Big Bangs going off like firecrackers all over the place all of the time, but only one per universe.

So what caused the Big Bang? Before the Big Bang you had one big nothing. No matter, no energy, no space, and no time. Just potential, one humongous potential. How long did this nothing last? How big was this nothing? These last two questions have no meaning whatsoever. Like dividing by zero. I once heard a story about what happens to one of those old Friden mechanical calculating clunkers when you try to divide by zero. The arm just flies off, killing the student sitting next to you, and the machine falls apart. Needless-to-say we were forbidden from dividing by zero on our Fridens.

I just finished reading up on the Big Crunch (Contracting Universe) and Big Bounce (cyclical Bang then Crunch ad infinitum) theories of the universe. These theories have fallen into disfavor somewhat because they seem to defy the second law of thermodynamics, something about how they allow too much heat to build up between Bang-Crunch cycles. Now that humongous potential between the last Crunch and the next Bang might be made up of potential matter, potential energy, potential space, and potential time but, the way I see it, the heat from the second law of thermodynamics should be conserved from the Crunch heat to the Potential heat to the Bang heat, neither more nor less, but exactly the same.

Because it would make no sense to ask how long the time between Crunch and Bang was, I would conjecture that it took no time at all; that is, the Big Bang occurred immediately after the Big Crunch. It would also be rational to conclude that the Big Bang was caused by the Big Crunch. It was not only the sufficient cause, it was the only cause. As Sherlock Holmes said in The Sign of the Four, “when you have eliminated the impossible, whatever remains, however improbable, must be the truth”. At the time of the Big Bang there was nothing else besides the disappearing Cheshire Cat smile of the Big Crunch.

Maybe I should call my theory the Big Boing Theory. It has all the attributes of the Big Bounce Theory without the silliness of the official name. Besides, it reminds me of the similar sounding name of that stupid American television series about those three idiot-savants. Who knows? Maybe I’ll be able to sell the rights to a TV series about my theory. It might go viral like the sales of my latest sci-fi novel.

Mike Stone

Raanana Israel


Filed under about writing, Essays, Dilemmas, & Philosophy, Prose

Poetic Sense

Just how does one approach a poem? How is it different from other forms of communication?

There are many senses in which a poem may be appreciated, some widely taught and some idiosyncratic. Sure, you could argue that I read too much into a poem, more than what is there, but I contend that the opposite is usually true – that more is written by a poet in his or her poem than what a reader can read. These are the senses through which I understand a poem:

  • The two senses of meaning – what is said and what is not;
  • The six human senses – sights, sounds, touch, smells, tastes, and the extrasensory;
  • The four senses of space and time and the feeling of more;
  • The senses of memory and premonition;
  • The rhythms and meter – the iambic (da-DA), trochaic (DA-da), dactylic (DA-da-da), and anapestic (da-da-DA); tetrameter (four of the syllabic meters), pentameter (five of them), and hexameter (six of them);
  • The rhymes not only serve to make the lines of a verse memorable but they also serve as an anchor to emphasize the key word or concept of  the verse and the unrhymed to release one from the weight of the anchored words. The combination of rhymed and unrhymed (a-a-b-a) is more pleasant to our inner ear than a wholly rhymed verse (a-a-a-a);
  • and the structure or chaos of a poem – formal, organic, connected, or unconnected.

Mike Stone

Raanana Israel

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Filed under about writing, Poetry