A Slice of Pi

A quick story belatedly written for Pi Day 2015.

Although man has long known that the world is larger than he can imagine, it is only recently that scientists have begun to hypothesize that the entirety of our universe is but a small subset of an unfathomable existence. A group known as the CC: Underground, an eclectic assortment of cosmologists, philosophers, and computer scientists, has for several decades believed that our reality is merely a simulation in some indescribable computer.

A splinter faction within the CC: Underground further believes that, through focused investigation and experimentation, we could gain control of the computer simulation that is our reality, and signal whoever is running the simulation. It is to this group that I belong.

“A careful analysis of the data shows that these measurements are inconsistent with a 3-dimensional, Euclidean spacetime. In fact, they are inconsistent with several of the more popular forms of M-theory and loop quantum gravity.” Pausing for a sip of ice water, I nearly spilled the glass all over the lectern and my notes. It was nerves, I suppose. Standing there in front of some of the greatest minds in the country, I had just refuted all of modern physics, and the boldest claim was yet to come.

“However, the data agree, to two sigma, with my triangular simulated cosmology.”

My name is Dr. Curtis Hathorp. At thirty-two, I became the youngest person ever to sit as the Theodora Chapman Professor of Physics at Devlin College. By forty-five, I had invested so much time and academic effort in fruitless pursuit of my theories, that the university “gifted” me with Professor Emeritus status. Now at fifty, with only a meager pension and limited lab access, I was putting forth a claim that would either win me the Nobel, or seal my name forever as a laughingstock of the theoretical physics community.

“As the experiment demonstrates, spacetime at the Planck scale appears to break down, not into a spin foam nor any sort of 26-dimensional Calabi-Yau form. Instead, the model that best fits the experimental data is that of regular triangular strips.”

Scattered faces in the sparse audience stared at me impassively. One coughed. Somewhere in the back, a cynic quipped, “Pi is exactly three!”

I felt my face reddening. No matter: I was about to give them the proof that would vindicate me. “This breakthrough technology can do much more than simply measure spacetime at the smallest scales. In fact, as I am about to reveal, this machine…” Here I stepped back and dramatically yanked away the blanket covering my apparatus. “…this machine, properly tuned, can alter spacetime itself!”

Throughout the auditorium, bored skepticism turned to puzzlement. I could tell from their faces that none of them believed my device worked. Reaction was split between those who had decided that I was a crackpot, and those who wondered whether this tabletop device might actually emit some dangerous radiation.

“As most people nowadays are aware, a computer stores information as ‘bits’, or a sequence of zeroes and ones. Our universe itself is a simulation, running on some sort of cosmic computer, and by selectively flipping the bits of reality, my device can alter the simulation.”

I could see that popular opinion in the audience was tipping away from ‘dangerous’ and toward ‘crackpot’. “The device has been configured to slice the triangle-strips of this room away from the rest of the universe. This will, I believe, corrupt the simulation in a manner that will attract the attention of whatever entity is running the simulation.”

Since none of them believed me anyway, I ended with a melodramatic flourish. “Gentlemen, prepare to meet God!”

If only I had planned farther ahead, I would have designed the control panel with an oversized glowing red button. As it was, I pressed the tiny green square button. It emitted a high-pitched whine as capacitors charged. A blue LED flashed readiness, and then…

“Dear God!” someone shouted. “Look!”

Outside the huge French windows (a major reason why I chose this auditorium) the quad had disappeared. The blue skies and puffy white cumulus clouds were gone. The pink buds and delicate green grasses and foliage of early spring had vanished. Instead, outside the building in all visible directions was a harsh static, every point in space frozen randomly in every hue and color imaginable.

Inside the auditorium, puzzlement turned to astonishment. Most of the audience rushed immediately to the window, staring at the rainbow static outside. Half a dozen approached me and my device, already asking whatever half-formed questions were on their minds. One of the older physicists simply folded his hands in prayer.

I smiled. After all these years, all these setbacks, at last I had succeeded in proving my theory. The name Curtis Hathorp would go down in history next to Einstein, Newton, Copernicus.

“Patience, everyone,” I announced to the crowd gathering around my device. “Soon, undoubtedly, the Creator of our Universe will make contact. All of our questions, at last, are about to be answered.”

Access violation writing to address 0x3FFFFFE7BEFB2E8E6AB2BF344971E4091646E219524F2A759699CE8444D7DA2C256D36D3163EEB3AEF173D416FE9DA468F56FECADC57AF750FDB868000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000 in module "uvers.exe".

The process will now terminate.



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