JOHN MEANEY

25.11.03

TIME PASSAGES (1)

Years ending and beginning... December's Thought for the Month is gonna have to be about time and entropy, so I thought I'd preface it with a bonus blog on the science behind the Nulapeiron trilogy. (It's pronounced Null-ap-ee-ron, by the way. If you read Resolution and pay attention – and care, I suppose – you'll find out what the word means.)

The following is the first draft of the "Author's Slightly Technical Note" which I've just written for Resolution. In it, I don't give anyone else credit for the physics ideas. Well, hardly anyone. That's because I've written a second note ("Author's Acknowledgments and Shameless Self-Promotion", not shown here) to follow it.

There are no spoilers here. It won't affect your enjoyment of Resolution. As usual in the Blogverse, phrases that will be italicised on the printed page are enclosed in *asterisks* here. Off we go...

The weird science underlying the Nulapeiron tales is speculative but real. I began with the one-destiny model of quantum physics (which is different from the superimposed-possibilities interpretation and the parallel worlds stuff – I mean, come *on*, guys, that is *so* 1920s). Then I linked it to cosmological expansion, all by myself. But physicists in the field are forming similar speculations: the more I scour original papers, the more I smile.

Humility is all.

Stephen Hawking once thought the future lies in the direction of a bigger cosmos; then he changed his mind. Not everyone agrees: maybe time and expansion *are* bonded together. In Paradox I referred to this as the Gold-Sakharov model: the philosopher Horace Gold argues for it on the basis of symmetry; so did Sakharov, known in the West more for his dissident politics than his physics.

The ability of the Seers relies (like the Zajinets and the Anomaly) on something different: the Calabi-Yau dimensions. This is a possible geometry for the additional dimensions – inaccessible to humankind – required by superstring theory.

Similarly invisible to us – *perhaps* forever – is ninety percent or more of all the mass in the universe. Currently this is called dark energy or quintessence, and it has a (counterintuitive) repelling effect which makes the universe expand faster.

Does this mean the universe can never slow down and contract?

Quintessence can be modelled as a scalar field – meaning that like temperature (but unlike gravity) it has strength but no intrinsic notion of direction – and that field can change. It can decrease; it can flip from positive to negative.

What was repulsive becomes attractive. (I mean, Buffy used to *hate* Spike, before she got down and dirty with him.)

Besides, the Collegium needs only create volumes of spacetime that act *as if* the universe were contracting.

Incidentally, cosmic expansion doesn't mean the stars are moving away from each other in an empty vastness. It means more empty vacuum is coming into existence every second. And did I mention that every single photon has a birth and a death, but no time passes for it in between?

End of lecture. There was no extra charge, so if you skipped it, there's no loss either way. It's the *story* that matters.

Always the story.

...And that ends the Author's Slightly Technical Note. The previous two paragraphs veer away from the science, and make more sense when you're reading the note having finished the book. (I'm intending the Notes to appear at the end.)

Resolution concludes the story which began in Paradox and became deeper in Context. If you've been kind enough to follow Tom's story through the first two books, then Resolution's ending – I hope – is gonna blow yer socks off.

Also, the back story about the Pilots is more involved (and involving) than in the previous volumes. Those McNamaras – not just Ro: you'll recall she gave birth to two sons, Dirk and Kian – gave me a few surprises. (As Stephen King says, when I'm writing a book, I'm its first reader!) And you'll find out why they're so important to Tom Corcorigan and 35th Century Nulapeiron.

Do I know what I'm going to write next? Yes... But I can't talk about it yet, so I'll give you the tantalising hint of just 2 initials: NJ. You read it here first, my good friends.

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