You know insomnia frightens me now. Not only because it reminds me of my Orexinal days, but because it is the only time my mind is free to wander. No Alpha, no POV, no purchase orders. Just wander… without supervision really.

And it wanders to Janice. My mind knows to take it slow. Earn her trust. But I want so desperately to be close to her. Now.

And such thoughts make it even harder to sleep when sleep is what I need.

I need sleep because I need to explain the cost overruns we’re incurring on the new Tangent Alpha platform.

Tangent Alpha, I just came up with that term now. I guess insomnia has some uses.

One thing I’ll definitely make sure not to include in the report is that some of the costs have been spent on POV.

Escorts and Agriculture and Religion – oh my

This morning I was awoken by my “escort,” and she wasn’t wearing a cocktail dress, she had a gun. I have an armed escort to work now. That got some looks around campus.

Today it was like a morgue in the lab. Everyone seemed to be there. Everyone seemed to be working. But no one made a sound. The real world was on everyone’s thoughts today.

The staff meeting today was the most… efficient, I guess, that we’ve ever had. No sidebars. We never went off topic. We never got sidetracked. I didn’t like it. This wasn’t my project. My team. This group of people was scared.

We can’t imagine how to create and maintain our Alpha and its tangent if we are afraid to let our minds wander. If we are afraid to get off the path.

The path seems the only safe place.

But what is occurring on Alpha allows us to stay on task while still enjoying wonder. And it is wonderful and weird.

Some branches of the primate Alphans have already begun to develop agriculture. And because of it have become much more dependent on things out of their control. They are developing a spoken culture to explain their fear. Perhaps we are witnessing the beginnings of religion?

Also the primate Alphans seem to have many divergent branches. It will be interesting to see which, if any survive. Many of the branches are more or less sexually compatible, and we have seen that there have been cases of two dramatically different branches getting together. The heart wants what the heart wants after all.

The unfortunate offspring that happen often suffer from either gigantism or dwarfism like lygers and tigons (oh my). These children are shunned as you’d expect and don’t live long without support. And of course it seems that they are sterile. But it is interesting how closely these different species will live together, often with just a river or a hillside separating them. In Alpha’s future will we eventually have two or more completely divergent species fighting over resources?

The reptile guys don’t have agriculture or seem to have any traditions beyond their silent democracy. Were their elections of Alpha males (or females) a weird evolutionary oddity? Though Janice didn’t like to hear it that is what a lot of us thought. Until we noticed something about their seasonal migrations. They were building. Basic root cellars and shelters really. Very odd, but as a new extended family moved into an area they soon began to use and expand the facilities left by the previous area occupants. They’ve built the beginnings of a town for others, without out ever meeting. If only the “friends” you make in the grid were as a real part of your community.

Things are happening fast. We have decided to slow Alpha down… way down. We are missing some important developmental moments at the speed it’s been running at. Greystle is fine with that as they’ve almost completely lost interest in Alpha and are more interested in the coming Tangent Alpha.


I feel sorry for the geology team; they’ve got some pretty wild things to report about Alpha. The tectonic plates aren’t behaving at all like they should. They’ve been looking at the code and can’t find out why it isn’t behaving the way it should.

They keep bringing it up at the meetings but it’s hard to compete against the beginnings of civilization. I even heard Lisa muttering about all this damn anthropomorphism, as if the real signs of society occurring were all just wishful thinking.

But I do have sympathy for Lisa. Her team’s research got a pretty huge hit when Alpha was slowed down this week so that biology and anthropology could at the very least try to keep up with their data.

This basically all leads to the root of the problem, we are woefully understaffed. We are missing untold amounts of data every day. Our project was to create a world and we were perfectly sized to do that but our success has left us unprepared really on how to fully learn about what we’ve created. The parameter for success was to create a world and if we were so lucky as to have created a living world, to study it. We were a bit vague on study, and never would we have imagined how much there was to study. Greystle isn’t really going to go for hiring many more though we will need more for tangent alpha. Perhaps I can get Erick on board. This project can provide some shelter to people we know.

It’s a blur but it has become routine

Day after day it happens so quickly, generally when I have a tooth brush in my mouth, the Greystle hired guard picks me up. Usually it is someone I don’t recognize and they rarely give me their name.

We walk through campus and the students and refugees give us death stares. Outside the lab the gal from the roach coach hands me the stack of food that will be my meals for the day, and then I try to ignore all the construction folks walking down the stairs to the new floor (floors?) below the server farm. We’ve got the whole building to ourselves now with several floors being stocked with the new equipment and working space for the new staff.

Then the meetings start. First the Tangent meeting. The big topic that is being studied now is how best to get the Tangent Alpha up online so the branching can begin and once it does begin how will we track the branching. We have the systems and staff ready; we just need to make sure we get the start down right because in the end that is the thing, after that we step back and watch it go.

After that marathon of timetables and logistics comes a quick lunch as I walk down to my old office and meet with the heads of the Alpha project.

The first half hour is generally complaints and questions, neither of which I can address. Because I don’t know anything and outside of the actual project I can’t “do” anything. The rest of the meeting is the only moments of wonder left in my day. Each group shares with the team their newest discoveries, questions, and answers that they have come across in their past day’s dig into Alpha. Then the project heads makes their requests for equipment and staff that I deny. Tangent Alpha gets all of it now.

The team has become very agile though with loaning each other staff back and forth as needed. And each team has devoted a staff member to by fully dedicated to optimizing the snapshot data now that Adit’s software team has been pulled completely on to Tangent. Because of their work the team has been able to have the data necessary to be able to back track trends as their significance becomes apparent. A minor change in diet from a few days ago can be brought to light when the jaw structure change in the dominant primate leads to an increase in miscarriages in the species. That was an impressive piece of detective work. I’m so proud of them but it is apparent I’m not really necessary any more but luckily no one ever brings that up and I get to bask in the reflective glory of discovery for 90 minutes.

Next comes the Everest of my daily meetings. Status with Greystle. This isn’t a university project any more this is a Greystle project. Even my bank alert now says the daily paychecks are coming from Dulles Scientific Consulting and not the university. I asked around and it looks like DSC was formed a few weeks ago and has no official affiliation with the university even though we all live and work in the university and the company has the same name as the university. I’m now a part of Greystle I guess, and I didn’t even get a welcome package from HR. Adit wrote an agent for the team that takes everyone’s daily deposits and converts them to a variety of different denominations based on the day’s exchange rate. It has been a great hedge against the hyper inflation.

Then I use what remains of my energy keeping up with the actual business of managing this project. That consists of Grid forms and apps flying by while I eat my dinner. Before I get close to feeling I have a handle on what is going on a guard will come and take my back to my room.

I cross the campus and notice again, as I do every night, that glow in the dark frisbee and teens coming back from dates have been replaced by tent cities with bonfires to keep everyone warm. I actually saw a campus security guard today… he hurried away when he saw me and my “escort.”

And night after night I collapse onto my bed even before I brush my teeth or change. Except tonight – tonight I actually got to write an update. I want to see if I can do this more often.

It is all a blur and seeing it in words allows me to focus it and I don’t like what I see.

Alpha Update – what’ s up down there

I get to spend less and less time with the core Alpha team. Almost all the developers are working on setting up Tangent. And some of the stuff they’ve come up with is amazing. We’ll be able to see divergents in real time. Not POV “seeing” of course, or even rendered snapshots but dynamic graphs showing the branches and offshoots of the data sets that comprise Alpha and Alpha’s Tangent.

I’ve broached the subject of what change the Alpha team would like to make that would trigger the change and creation of Tangent, but the concept of them playing “God” and manipulating an event on Alpha turns the meetings instantly into shouting matches. The team has become a bunch of Deists I guess, believing the creators of the world should stop interfering with mortal affairs after the initial creation.

I am noticing that my argument that Alpha itself will be untouched and that it is Tangent that will be the manipulated one is starting to sway them. Of course the fact that we still have jobs cannot be underestimated as a motivator.

Listen to me, this project has become too much politics and drama. I was going to devote this post to Alpha itself, not shop talk.

There are a variety of different species of our intelligent apes. Some separated by mountain ranges but in a few cases sharing the same valley.

As you’d guess most of the time they don’t get along, but generally the keep out of each other’s way. If you like violence however, you have to tune in whenever the resources are scarce then you’ve got theft, sabotage, and outright wars. It’s all too familiar.

Whether forced or possibly even romantic there have been examples of cross breeding. Leading, alas, to ostracized children that often don’t make it to adulthood because they have no support. If they do make it they almost always end up childless as they are often sterile.

They aren’t always rejected by their peers. Some often display gigantism or dwarfism like ligers and tigons (oh my). Whether to be used as warriors or mascots these unfortunate children are at least given a life with the tribe.

Technology both agricultural and martial has been slow to advance. Or at least it seems that way to me, one who has never witnessed the creation of a civilization before. Arrows and plows have both made an occasional appearance though. Flashes of genius that haven’t yet taken root.

Now to see technology we literally go to the other side of the world where our stoic little lizard friends have created wood analog computers that predict lunar cycles and even the positions of the fake little planets we’ve placed up in the skies. These guys are causing us a lot of CPUs. To make it easier on our systems the stars and planet projected on to their sky are our own. Alpha has our moon and sun. Even our Jupiter. Our already existing projections data of our solar system and night sky are just being loaded right into Alpha – so no new number crunching needed.

This touches on something we’ve discussed a lot over and over. While Alpha is often wondrously alien it also is very familiar. It is very Earth like. And by projecting our solar system onto the Alphan data we bring up again the most compelling argument as to why. Earth is our template. And because of that our rules and laws of existence create Earth like creations.

We have made Alpha in our own likeness. Heh, Janice would kill me if she read that.

7 millimeters

Today was the day. The alpha team decided what they would use as the divergent event. And it pissed off the Greystle folks in how minor the change would be but we reassured them that this was a good starting point to test the full system and If they didn’t like the results in a week. We’d see about making another start.

So we’ve slowed Alpha down to the slowest it has ever run. It’s running real time. Every second for us is a second for them.

We got a full instance of Alpha set up on Tangent based on this morning’s snapshot and ran Tangent at a slightly faster pace until both Tangent and Alpha were in sync.

Weird thing one: our read out of divergences looks like a heart monitor. We have countless routines running that are basically generating random numbers that feed into Alpha that are used in daemons that control the atmosphere, magnetic strength and location, weather, waterfall – you know, everything (creation comes from chaos after all). So there is explosion of minute divergences as Tangent and Alpha have developed different sets of random numbers, but almost immediately these divergences cancel each other out. Out of the randomness, the pattern of existence on alpha and Tangent become synced.

By afternoon we have finished marveling at this (actually if we had our way we’d have marveled at just this for weeks, but Greystle was watching and they seem to be on a schedule). We set about to get ready to start the change.

On an island closely off the coast of the largest continent there are some intelligent apes that have been preparing for war. They have built fortresses. They have built ships. They’ve even gone to the mainland and abducted other apes to use as slaves.

Not fond of these folks.

Pretty much why we choose these guys to mess with.

We waited until their nighttime and in the cover of dark moved one of their fortresses 7 millimeters to the left.

And bam – our read out of divergences exploded like a firework display. We pinched down the scale as we no longer cared about the minutia and began to watch the divergences on a macro scale.

Tangent and Alpha definitely are no longer in sync.

Weird thing two: We saw divergences immediately clear on the other site of Tangent. Insignificant, and nothing (yet) on a macro level, but much more dramatic than the heartbeat randomness of earlier. These changes occurred faster than it would take the light from the fortress to reach across Tangent to where the divergences occurred. The changes happened outside the cause and effect window. It would be impossible for any effect from the change to have occurred on the other side of Tangent by then. Spooky action at a distance indeed.

Now I’m crashing from the high. I almost feel let down now. Like somehow I was instantly going to see a dramatically different reality on Tangent? Like somehow Germany would have won World War II and big dirigibles would now roam about the skies.

Post partum depression?

Awakening to a new reality

Okay, I take it back. This really is an alternate “history” we have created. And it is amazing.

By the next morning there had been battles in both tangent and alpha. And when the battle was over in Alpha the leader of the proto fascists was dead. In tangent he not only survived but was victorious. It looks like an arrow was deflected by the fortress on Tangent and it met its mark on Alpha. It was just a flesh wound but it was the trigger that sent the divergences exploding into different directions so fast that the tracking servers went down. We never thought those servers would have to do so much so fast. But there was already so much data it was crunching that real time tracking was just wishful thinking anyway.

The seven millimeters was enough to change their world.

Greystle wanted us to speed up both Alpha and Tangent right away to see how long term and dramatic these changes would be. Would they continue to diverge or would they somehow get back in sync?

Yes, somehow in Tangent and Alpha there is fate. It must be an interesting algorithm Adit threw in there. Seriously, someone in Greystle thinks these two worlds will somehow get back in sync. The only explanation for such event would be fate. And I don’t believe in fate and I know it doesn’t exist in our simulations.

Someone has watched too much classic Twilight Zone where history can’t be changed by the little people and that somehow the powerful people are more important and massive and that reality orbits around them. I guess they can’t take that seven millimeters is all that was needed to create a new reality.

They’ve got big money and only do big things.

Violent Tangent

It might just be in my head, but I’m not alone.

Tangent seems like a more violent place than Alpha. And not just for the primates who now seem to be in constant war. But everywhere.

Thunderstorms seem worse. Rodents seem nastier. Even our lizard friends seem grumpy.

Kaitlin thinks so too and she’s one of the most “grounded,” okay – analytical – people I know.

I wonder if anyone in Adit’s team can come up with a way to really quantify violence and get what is a feeling into the realm of fact.

What the Hell?

My request was met with almost zero interest. I’ve been told that their main interests in Tangent and Alpha have been met, and though we can continue the project (“for the time being” – what does that mean?) they want all software and hardware teams to begin work on making the simulations scalable.

They want to run 10,20,or even more tangents. I told them a real number would be helpful and was told “more than fifty.” Wha?

The idea of simulating the formation of a solar system is off the table for now. Maybe if we ever get from under the thumb of Greystle we can again have the scientists make decisions on what the science we are studying is. Boy I sound like such a dreamer.

I’ve had Adit’s team slow down Tangent and Alpha to the point where we don’t have to have constant upgrades. Kaitlin’s team is going to be too busy making the mother of all shopping lists to be able to spend time upgrading the simulation hardware every day.

Down on Tangent and Alpha it now takes weeks for a generation to be born and die. Suddenly that seems slow. How us long lived Gods bore of times slow progression. (Oh, I hope Janice never reads that, she really freaks when team members talk about the whole “we’re Gods to them” aspect of this project).