So this is how a blog starts… with a post and not a whimper
Welcome to my Dulles Tech Simulations Department Blog: Static Sky.
I originally wanted to call it “Simulate This,” but thought better of it.
I am the project lead for the Alpha team, meaning I know enough of what is going on to nod my head at requests that make a little bit of sense, and shake it when I don’t grasp at all what they want to do.
Presently Alpha is the only project the Simulations Department is moving forward on given the cost of our energy needs.
Other smaller scale projects are being shut down.
Here’s what we are attempting to do:
Create a world.
Unlike the previous projects here we are not simply simulating an environment or a pre-fabed society. We’re starting at the beginning, cranking up the speed, and watching an entire world take shape – from cooling molten mass to hopefully a planet teaming with life. Sentient life. The bits of code will live. The bits of code that represent rocks will be solid when the life hits it. The bits of code that represent vegetation will be a source of sugars and nutrients to the life that eats it.
What happens we don’t know. We’ve got the algorithms written (almost). Biology, physics, chemistry, all the laws are set. When we flip it on, the chaos begins and we will see it all come together as the rules we’ve set unwind before us.
Our budget is huge, but I always try to note that it is a hell of a lot cheaper and faster than flying out in space and finding a new planet being formed and watching that grow.
Dr. Stevens – Ned – introduced the team to the Greystle Group today. These guys are the ones who gave us the grant to make this possible; they put the money behind this, instead of just all the talk. A dinner party… yes, I was as excited as you are.
I’ve seen articles, books, and films about simulated worlds from decades back (Ned has quite a collection), but it’s been possible to do this for at least 5 years. The cost was the wall. And I guess that wall finally got cheap enough for Greystle to bite the bullet for us.
Of course they get a healthy chunk of the patents that we are already grinding out just in setting this up. How they make money off of this esoteric code is their issue.
At least there was free food at the party. A bunch of basement dwellers meeting incredibly boring powerful wealthy folks was not as an amusing sitcom set up as you would think.
Yes, I know we just sit all day staring at our screens, hands deep in sensors, but god these guys were dull. Vacuous really. How the hell do you get to be so connected and so rich and just have a frat house level of interest in reality is beyond me.
Janice brought her daughter Sally to the party. Poor girl. She’s big now – I think she’s six. I remember when Sally was born in our sophomore year. It felt like we all had suddenly taken a step into adulthood (though not quite a big a step as for Janice). Sally got quite a big family – basically the whole Alpha team.
Did I mention that it is weird that we are called the Alpha team when there is no other “team” in the Dulles Tech Simulations Department?
Janice is our biologist. She’s overseeing all the life Alpha contains. Or will. Maybe. She is busy though, summing up “life” into a series of rules and requirements. And sum is the correct word. The idea is to let Alpha develop. Gravity is a simple rule when you get down to it, and so are other core things that make up “reality,” and in the end so is Life. What becomes life (How it becomes) based on our basic rules is what the Alpha project is about. She really is the big wig of the project for that reason.
Janice is also the team mom because she really is a mom and we’re all just Sally’s bigger brothers and sisters.
The only person who seemed to have fun at the party was Jack. Jack is our lead technologist – the hardware man if you want – but it is software that makes this possible. He makes sure we are “up and running.” It’s his wild scattered imagination that is his real gift to the team. Quantum Compression, the theory that makes a large-scale simulation like ours possible, almost reasonable, was his concept. Adit is our algorithm God; he made Quantum Compression work, but just the idea (as amazingly obvious as it is now) came from Jack.
Many of Jack’s ideas are worthless though. And he seems to have a new one almost every day. At the party he kept pushing one of the Greystle ladies to invest in his idea of a children’s book series. The books would have names like “Nietzsche for nippers, Kant for kids, Buddhism for babies, and Jung for youngsters. It was hilarious hearing him explain to her how it would read: “Zarathustra says God is Dead. Dead Dead Dead..” She didn’t seem interested.
In the end the party really was a bust. But Ned just seemed relieved that none of us screwed anything up. No wine stains on our investors thank you.
Baby-sat for Janice last night. Janice has been reading the Little House books to Sally, so I read some of The Long Winter to her last night.
The best description of starvation I’ve ever read in a children’s book, I tell you.
The main issue earlier large-scale simulations encountered is the sheer horsepower needed to just get it all right. From the atom to the look of the night sky.
It was Jack who came up with the quantum compression concepts – initially as a joke to answer the age old “are we a simulation ourselves” question. His answer was that just as with the concept of God we can’t disprove it, and as with God unless some deep voice booms out from the clouds in the skies and says “‘ello just us testin’ out some ideas – carry on” we will never know. Jack believes that as long and as hard as we look God or the simulation will just give us more questions. Or reality. Whatever. When you see it then it exists, until then God, the simulation, or reality doesn’t even bother working out the details.
And that was Jack’s idea. An observed phenomenon is a changed phenomenon. That is how it works in reality, and that is what Adit took and coded into our simulation.
All reality (if there is one) and all of the simulation that is not “sentient” (sentience really just being self modifying algorithms) is just an algorithm, a rule “unexploded” when unobserved, and when observed it is a seemingly endless series of Russian dolls that will go on forever for as long as the observation continues. “Look we found atoms, the smallest of the small… no wait, now we’ve found electrons, protons, and neutrons truly the smallest of the small… no wait….” etc. etc.
Now there is no need to run out of server power working out the whole simulation – only what is observed is rendered. The observer could be a sentient entity within the simulation, or the observer could be us watching our simulation unfold. All the potential is stored up in the algorithm. All the cause and effect, from time to wind to water salination is accounted for, and if we want to check on that portion of the simulation the code explodes and unwinds. The servers crunch the data and we see the results as if they were being rendered the entire time. And when I say “render” I just mean feedback on what we are probing. Not pretty pictures. Though we can do that – its cool when we do.
Just met Jack in the hall, he was singing some really old song that goes “Young girl get out of my mind….” He says it would be perfect for his planned musical: “Nausicaa – literature’s first Lolita.”
I didn’t even know who he was talking about. Having to explain the scene in The Odyssey for me really seemed to deflate his balloon.
Hell of a time getting across campus just now. There’s cops and security everywhere.
There is a big protest happening because President Prescott’s 2nd inauguration is today or something.
All I know is we need to make sure they keep our coke machine stocked if this is gonna keep up.
Tomorrow is the big day.
Tomorrow we push the big red “On” button.
Later tonight I’m going back to the lab to actually paint the button red.
My god what a week. As you probably realized, with my lack of posts, that we didn’t make our launch date. I’m told by Sgt. Tyler of Homeland Security that all the security checks will be done by mid next week and then we can get back to normal.
Homeland Security you say? Yep – the morning of the scheduled Alpha Launch they showed up and shut us down. It seems Jack got someone at Greystle a little annoyed.
Jack, I guess, mistook politeness as interest at the Greystle party. He’d been sending emails and calling some woman about one of his ideas. He was sure she would be interested in his newest idea – easy millions; he’d even done some research and it seems this woman not only owned thousands of acres of unharmed northern Canadian forests, but was a major investor in almost every supermarket chain you could think of (not even counting the ones Greystle itself owns). And these things were important in getting his idea off the ground. See Jack decided that his idea “Thirst Sapper” would be the biggest thing since bottled water. Thirst Sapper was to be bottled Maple sap. Not Maple Syrup, but the actual sap that sane people boil down into Maple Syrup.
Jack had taken a trip to his uncle’s farm out up in Vermont over winter break and there were still some Sugar Maples on his uncle’s farm that survived the blight. His Uncle had a side business making maple syrup and let Jack take back some sap before he boiled it down.
I had some – I have to admit it was good. It was like water but just a little sweet what was weird that when it was cold it felt cooler than water that was the same temperature, but seriously Thirst Sapper wasn’t even up there with some of his ideas.
Anyway, this investor got more than annoyed and I guess she’s really connected because Homeland Security came and told Jack to cut it out.
Not only that, Jack had to get out. He had to move off campus. He was off the project.
I hope he can get a job. I know its tough these days. Maybe when things cool down I’ll be able to get in contact with him.
Meanwhile Sgt. Tyler and his boys and girls have been basically living with us. Every drive, card, and chip was handed over and copied. My room was searched, Janice’s room was searched, Ned’s house was search, Adit’s room, heck even Sally’s room. Everyone on the team. Kim from the geology team was hospitalized because she got so stressed out by this. Seriously this is a bit much for us basement dwellers to put up with.
So Jack is off the team. Tom from anthropology and Chen our lone sociology guy are also off the team. They got up in left in the middle of the night. After that happened the searches began again.
I haven’t slept much this week. I don’t know when the new launch date will be. At the end of next week I’ll get together with the Tech folks and work out with them who’ll be our new lead. It’ll probably be Kaitlin – if we can take all her Irish music.
This doesn’t seem real. Homeland Security. Damn.
Shaved off my beard today.
Really. I had to do something to change my state of mind if we were going to get back on track.
Today Homeland Security will be gone. We’ve got a new tech lead, Kaitlin, starting today and she’s great, and has been vetted by DHS (previously something I wouldn’t have thought was part of the interview process).
So no beard means fresh start. Yes I am that primitive.