Cadmus’ cabin was the only one on the island. When the door opened, Lonesome leaped through and ran ahead of them over the familiar paths he loved so much. The two men ambled down one of the paths along the edge of the lake. There was a light breeze caressing them. At least that was how Cadmus felt.
The late afternoon was turning into evening over the mountains to the south. There was no hurry so they walked in silence awhile. The dagu was nowhere in sight but he knew the way home.
“I dabble in astronomy,” Galen began. “I suppose you’d call it a hobby. I do other things too, when they need to be done, but this is what most interests me.”
“I like to look at the stars too,” Cadmus said.
“We built ‘observers’ or robotic perceivers connected with trailing Q-bit Entanglement Boxes throughout the universe. The observers allow us to observe the universe in each of the eleven dimensions all the way to each event horizon.”
“To obtain a composite view of our universe.”
“What’s interesting are the cross-section snapshots we get every yocto-second at a resolution of 1.6 x 10−35th of a meter. The snapshot shows us what is happening and what has changed in the universe in any given time slice.”
“A yocto-second? What the hell is that?”
“It’s 10-24th of a second.”
“That’s an awful lot of data.”
“Yes, we need another universe just to store it.”
“So what do you do with all this data?”
“We usually discard it after examining it, if it’s not very interesting.”
“So did you find anything interesting?” Cadmus asked.
Galen paused and then continued, “I had fallen a bit behind, two or three time slices. I wanted to look at them before discarding them. That’s when I noticed something unusual.”
“What could be unusual in our universe?” Cadmus quipped sarcastically.
“We saw major multi-hyper-cubes near the horizon disappearing. They were there and suddenly they were not anymore. The size of each multi-hyper-cubic section was roughly the size of a galaxy containing a hundred billion stars. These cubes have been disappearing at an alarming rate.”
“So what? Even I know that matter can come into contact with anti-matter or be sucked into a black hole and disappear, and exotic matter and energy can cancel out baryonic matter and energy.”
“Yes, but although these disappearances were occurring in the far future, major sections of our future were also disappearing at an alarming rate. We may run out of future before we run out of space.
“Some of us think that the hyper-cubic disappearances might be naturally occurring phenomena, that there is something fundamentally wrong with our universe, while others think that the disappearances might be caused by an alien civilization possessing an advanced technology that it has weaponized. If the second conjecture proves to be correct, we may be up against a force far greater even than us.
“Let’s call them Future Rationals or Frats for the sake of discussion. These Frats might very well come from the oldest parts of our universe.”
“Would that be where the Big Bang occurred?”
“That depends. If there was a big bang, then reason dictates that the oldest parts would be in the outermost shell of the universe. If there wasn’t a big bang then, like most galaxies, the oldest parts would be in the center of the universe. Besides, there should have been a trace left in the substrata.”
“Reality is hierarchical. All matter and energy, exotic or baryonic, map onto a substratum, which is the fabric of space-time.”
“Every school-age child knows that.”
“You also know that the fabric of space-time can be distorted by massive matter and energy. That means that the fabric of space-time is also made of something. Do you know what?”
“We never learned that in school.”
“It’s made of fibers of vibrating virtual particles. The names are unimportant. These virtual particles map onto a more fundamental substratum, the field of consciousness. Time is the consciousness of time and space is the consciousness of space. All else is information. The field of consciousness underpins our universe.”
“This is getting a little too abstract for me.”
“I was afraid of that. I’ll try to make it more concrete for you. Parts of the universe are becoming unconscious.”
It was night now. The stars were twinkling, most of them anyway. Cadmus wondered whether any of them had stopped twinkling since the last time he looked. He wondered whether he would have noticed.
“So what? I mean the universe is infinite. You can subtract big clumps from it and it’ll still be infinite.”
“It’s not infinite,” Galen said quietly.
“Well, you can still subtract big clumps from it and there will still be a lot of it.”
“The problem is that someone or something may be causing this and it’s not one of us. We don’t have the technology or the means.”
“So you’re not guilty.”
“You still don’t get it. Whoever is doing it may be orders of magnitude more powerful than we are. It appears they are attempting to annihilate everything through an attack on the substrata.”
They could hear the water lapping against the pier.
from Out of Time