Chapter 8: The College Dean has a fantastical theory
“It is really quite special isn’t it?”
“I’m afraid I don’t follow you Dean, is it something that I’ve missed?”
“No, no not at all dear lady, I was musing aloud. But all this is quite special – the garden, the sky, the greens, the blues, us and all that make up this planet of ours. It is
so very, very special.”
I was none the wiser, and I thought it best to let him free wheel and see where his thoughts rested.
“You know, John’s more recent discovery – about the two way traffic of information – fascinating isn’t it. They think it was initiated by the initial blast of energy from the “Boltzqubit” – that’s what started this “conversation” as John likes to call it.”
The Dean paused for a moment, picked up a dry leaf and powdered it between his hands. He then opened them and blew the leaf particles into the air.
“But they’re wrong. Oh yes, they’re quite wrong. Information was seeping into our universe long before John began his work or your Research Council offered a very bright young fellow of this college the funds to explore quantum computation.”
This, if anything, was more incomprehensible than what had preceded.
“I’m sorry Dean; I’m really not with you.” I said, becoming rather uncomfortable about this one sided conversation. He just smiled at me and continued to speak his thoughts aloud.
“Ever since the first man walked on this Earth, information has been drip, drip, dripping into our Universe. But why? That is the question. Was it just an accident, the way things work, or was it something more than that?”
He stopped talking and looked at me in a beseeching manner, as if I was expected to provide an answer.
“Dean, so many questions go begging. How do you know that the information flow was there before John’s experimental work? How do you know when it started – if it’s happening? Couldn’t it have been around since the Big Bang or the very beginning of the universe?”
The Dean let the dog end of his cigarette fall onto the path and he rubbed the butt in with his heel. He smiled as if he held a secret and then began walking slowly down the path towards the gate in the wall. The sun was quite low in the sky by now and as he walked he moved into the shadow cast by the wall. He shivered, stopped, turned round and as he walked back towards me coming out of the shadow his expression changed, the smile had gone. He was expressionless.
“The flow of information began when the universe had an intelligence; and that intelligence was sensed.”
This was too much. I was getting cold and this one way conversation was turning into “feeble speak”.
“I’m going in now Dean, I’m getting cold.” I said as headed back to the cottage.
“Certainly my dear, a pleasure to have had your company.”
The Dean replied in the most matter a fact manner as if nothing strange had recently passed his lips.
The others were deep in conversation as we entered the front room.
“Good, you’re back; I was just about to send out a search party. Did the Dean appraise you of his theory about the information flow? Fascinating isn’t it?”
With that the Professor handed me a cup of tea.
“Thanks, and yes he did.”
“Peter, the Dean has this idea, sorry, theory that the information seeping into our universe started before we began our work. It was initiated, so the Dean believes, when intelligence first appeared, when we became conscious. It is a fascinating theory, but one which, I think, will be impossible to prove.”
Peter exchanged glances with Fritz and me. I raised my eyes heaven wards but said nothing.
“Dean, would you like to expand on your theory – it may benefit from further discussion”.
The Dean was occupied with tending to the open coal fire that had been lit as the shadows lengthened. The room was lit by a couple of table lamps and the last shafts of sunlight.
“Oh, I don’t know, I think my ramblings rather non plussed Sarah here. But it’s not a fantasy or science fiction clap trap.”
“Come on Dean, it’s not fair tantalising us in this way – give us the whole picture. It can’t be any more fantastical than what we’ve learnt so far today.” said Peter.
I wasn’t so enthusiastic to hear the Dean expand on his theory after our conversation in the garden.
“Oh well, let me see. Now I know very few of you do, or will, agree with my theory but I don’t think that should interfere with a good healthy discussion do you?”
It was clear that the Dean welcomed this opportunity to expand on his ideas.
“Do help yourself to more tea; or something stronger – maybe you’d prefer to leave that until after our talk?”
With that the Dean seated himself and began.
“First, where does this idea come from? Let’s take the proposition that information was seeping into our universe before John’s work. How do I arrive at this?”
“My speciality is the history of science, and in particular observational science. Any records we have are limited to the Sumerian and later literate and numeric civilisations. However, ancient astronomical records consistently record unusual celestial occurrences. I don’t just mean comets, novae or similar out bursts.
There are countless references in Jewish, Egyptian and South Asian texts to mention but a few, to what I call “quasi – mystical occurrences (QMO’s)”. For example, sightings of glowing clouds, rupturing of the skies and mysterious disappearances.”
“I have “plotted” these and the result has been a steady increase in these QMO’s over time. This rise in activity continues uninterrupted until about 1600 years ago, when a dramatic change takes place.”
“Before then the way these QMO’s were described was in terms of reverence, awe and in many cases joyous language. These changes were welcomed, they were positive.
After around 400 AD the tone changes. Along with descriptions of the darkening of the skies, rending of time, a disjointed world there was a palpable sense of despair and desperation which seemed to seep from the very skies.
One Medieval scribe in 634 AD vividly describes how during that March the skies darkened and the air itself became opaque. “It clawed at our lungs, our eyes and minds. It was as if devils walked amongst us.””
“What about before recorded history? Is there any evidence? Recently deep bore samples from mid ocean trenches have revealed some fascinating data. The samples stretch from around two million years ago until the last Ice Age."
"For most of period there is nothing untoward in the records. Then about 450,000 years ago – at a time when we believe our species started its accelerated brain development there is a spike in the data. It is the residual of decaying cosmic rays originating in deep space. The spike rapidly subsides, but there is a low level background noise, which increases over time."
"Independent evidence from fossilised tree trucks, from changes in climatic conditions point to similar world wide changes with extended periods of lightening of the skies, greater lunar intensity, increased diversity and fecundity. More recent data from similar sources show a reversal of this, corresponding with the written records of that period.”
“I explain the data as follows.”
“ There is another universe which is conscious, what shape or form that consciousness takes is not known. However, the consciousness was aware of its uniqueness – and solitude. It became aware of other universes and the possibility of similar consciousness existing besides itself. It was constantly putting out feelers seeking to make contact.”
“About 450,000 years ago consciousness sparks here on Earth. It is the first and as far as we know the only consciousness in our universe. The other universe becomes aware of us – and communicates – through flows of information which permeates our universe making changes to its structure, which have a real and measurable effect on us.”
“To begin with the flows bring about benign changes and this is shown in the data from the mid ocean trenches and the written historical records. You might call the flow as “gifts”, indicating the other intelligence’s good intentions. But then about 1600 years ago this flow changes with malignant effects “devils walked amongst us” as recorded in the seventh century. The malignancy grew, its effect accumulating, bringing a darkening of our lives.”
“This is because we did not respond to its calls, its generosity, and its gifts. We ignored it. There was a damping of the universe’s very being, a deadening of its creativity leading to a cold, and silent, empty darkness.”
We were silent and I for one was very embarrassed. I couldn’t believe that Professor Chambers had deliberately set out to expose the Dean’s lunacy – but that’s what had happened.
“Well, thank you Dean. I’m sure we’d all agree that your theory is both imaginative and challenging. If not a little difficult to swallow at one sitting.”
Peter, bless him, had broken the spell and we all let out a collective sigh of relief.
“Oh, one final thing”, said the Dean, “the “Boltzqubit” computer, it was never intended to deliver the “quantum leap” in computing. No, its intention was to generate huge informational flows which would disrupt and reverse the malignancy coursing into our universe.”
“How will you know if it’s been successful?”
I recognised the voice that had raised that question. It was mine.
Chapter 9: Adrian’s visit to the Building Society, a local difficulty with the typing and a trip to Cambridge
I had stopped off at the Tesco Local to get something for supper. Sarah would be back late in the evening and she’d be famished. I had taken the afternoon off. There wasn’t much happening at the office and I had a few household tasks to catch up with.
Re-financing the mortgage and tying down our friendly builder to produce an estimate that was rational. I left the office at mid-day; cursing myself that I hadn’t been brave and taken the whole day……