Friday, February 12, 2016

What Does LIGO Mean to Me?

Every once in awhile there is a person who will afford me the courtesy to critique my writing. There is no mistaking the issue; I need to get the "I" out. But really that's all it's ever about for any of us, so fuck you too since I'm not exactly trying to get published here.

I had the great honor to meet Dr. Joshua Smith when I was at Cal State Fullerton. Shamelessly, I used the calling card of a visiting delegation from China to make my introduction, and he did grace me with a highly literate tour of his work and I knew the inevitability of this day coming, when gravity waves would be proven beyond any reasonable doubt.

My nephew is on the team for CERN now, over at Fermi lab, and I know the same inevitability. My uncle was finally recognized by a Franklin medal for his groundbreaking work in radar. Over at Syracuse University they are proud to boost his legitimate claim to have written the most cited paper in physics. They all work signal against noise. I'm on the noise side of family and friends.

Beyond a shadow of a doubt I am zero here, though I might have entered that arena. I might have entered lots of arenas but I didn't. I'm annoyed now by this announcement, ushering in the Year of the Monkey in preparation for which I was at the top of a nearby ski mountain watching sun setting over the Adirondacks, while the first full moon after the one which graced us on Christmas was rising from the backside of the mountain. I was really really happy, because lots of times I nearly die at Christmas time, and this time I was a month out already and still here.

I was placed perfectly and so naturally I thought that this event was placed for me alone, although I would have missed it entirely if it weren't for the fellow I rode up with on the lift. He seemed about twenty-something with his sprung seat bolted onto a single battered old ski, but he was rather more toward my age and therefore full of lore and wisdom. He apologized for slowing the lift down since those were the rules for people without sliders on their feet.

I watched him go to climb the tower he'd told me about so that he could witness the moon rise behind the sunset and I left that for him alone to enjoy, not needing more than I was already granted, right? Fact is, I was done and it would hurt too much to walk uphill in ski-boots. I had a nice ride!

I'm annoyed because I'm right at another good part in the novel I'm reading, struggling hard against my fading mnemonic powers against the convoluted colloquial information-age Chinese in The Three Body Problem.

I will get no further into Chinese than I did in physics and I'm down the slide on the way out, fuck all it was a nice sunset. And I sure do wish they'd had the sense not to "simplify" Chinese writing since I'm having to start all over again, having been trained in the classical forms. Assholes.The guy who perpetrated that crime is rightly celebrated and still alive according to my electronic Chinese sources. Hat's off, but not today in Vermont where it's too damned cold and welcome!

Up early because I don't sleep as per usual, less secure than I've ever felt in my income stream, annoyed that I will have to go to work and annoyed by the prick to my conscience that I must write about this before I forget it and mostly annoyed because I will have to leave that lovely book behind for yet another day.

See, in that SciFi fantasy novel, the earth is doomed in approximately 450 years because some apparently far superior civilization has lost their living space to nature's whim. In our desperation to announce ourselves, we sent out signals, and they got them and now they're headed our way because we live in relative paradise and don't even know it, and they're not about to go quietly into that dark night, those competing sentient beings. The last of their several suns is about to blink out, not sunset, but for the very last time, as in forever, and it seems that like those little microbears in Antarctica, they've been somatically evolved to survive cosmically long winters in suspended animation, but they can't survive this last one since it will last approximately forever.

So you know, like all good science fiction, this book is about the here and now and the politics of how we can organize ourselves against the inevitable but now in this book it has a name this inevitable and is giving us a signal back and it is ominous. The End.

Among other things, the Earth in her wisdom as mediated by the United Nations has, among other things, designated four people to stand in for the rest of us, up against the wall, with unquestioned authority to imagine a resolution which isn't terminal for mankind.

This is because the Trisolarians (what an awkward term, which I would never have known except that I ran into a fellow who's reading the translated novel and I didn't know what he was talking about, which is worse than simplified Chinese characters if you ask me) think transparently and don't need anything so awkward as language. They are a kind of hive-civilization whose semblance of one-time China is purely accidental and unintentional according to the author here.

So we clever earthlings have decided that we will leave the ultimate solution to the opaque and sneaky minds of these four wall-facer humans who know how to hide their thoughts. Three of them are your usual suspects; Some combination of politician and scientist and warrior to come up with the cleverest plan. But the fourth - a clear stand in for the author, duh - is a romantic fabulist.

He occupies the world's Bill Gatesiest retreat now, stocked with finest books and wines by a mountain lake surrounded by snow capped mountains at room temperature. This is literal Eden, or at least quasi-literary wannabe Eden for sure.

So having unquestioned power to do so, and claiming his sybaritic existence as "part of the plan" which has become shorthand for crazy notions just like in English, this fellow whose name is "Logic" duh, invites his buddy "Old Strongman" super-sleuth to take over his security detail, because plenty of terroristic earthlings want him dead, assuming that these extra-terrestrial invaders represent a better life-force than the one that we embody, and welcome home, better people!

His task for the sleuth, Logic's is, is to find his fantasy girl, whom he imagines must exist somewhere on this earth, and at this particular moment in my reading the sleuth is game for crazy Logic. They were about to render her likeness from police software, but he just wanted to know what she is like, the sleuth did. And so Logic starts to describe her, a pure white flower sprouted from the pile of rubbish and with that fine metaphor for life the universe and everything I had to come over here to keyboard and start writing which just pisses me off terminally. I want to know what happens next!

Well, OK, so I'm right smack dab in the middle of this incredibly verbose trilogy and at the rate I'm reading it will be many more moons before I finish, so I suppose I can afford to take a little time off to celebrate the virtual certainty of gravitational waves (I still want the graviton-boson, though, and so, apparently do lots of others, unless I missed that between the lines, so to speak).

I've been looking for experimental proof to my point and I realized this morning that Joshua Smith had already given it to me though I didn't know what to do with it until just now. Yes, I have a point!

His part of the massive project was to design the detectors for the far more clever folks brand-named CalTech. I think I've got this right, but it could easily be vice versa and make no nevermind, but to get ever more precise readings for position he fuzzed up the readings for momentum which accords with quantum theory from which Einstein's gravity remains oddly disconnected.

So the reason that this is so interesting is that it pretty much answers that old philosophical saw about if the tree falls in the forest and nobody's there to hear it did it make a noise. Which is a version of the Schroedinger cat story, which is generally answered somewhat sophomorically and certainly dogmatically according to laws of post-mortem and sound-wave impacts that a fact is still a fact ma'am. That cat was already dead before you opened the box, and we have the tools now to determine to some arbitrary degree of certainty just when it happened. Or not.

There's chaos all around us, you know, and it doesn't take a tree falling to change the world, only butterly wings, which takes me back to finding the most fantastical girl in the world.

We're a funny people, we Americans. Let's say you buy a lottery ticket and you win. You would be really really outraged if someone else took your money and you'd maybe even have them thrown in jail, bad enough that the government wants its taste on behalf of the rest of us.

But scientifically we assign precisely no meaning to random. This is a fact provable six ways to Sunday and you can't make it happen no matter how much you pray or contrive or consult the Book of Changes, there is no meaning to a toss of honest dice.

But then we let it change our entire universe, putting us, the "I" at its very center as the perfect lover of lady luck and proceed to live it up. You don't find that weird? I sure do. I mean that wealth no more belongs to me than does the pile of gold behind the walls of James Bond's Fort Knox.

But and so we must suppose that our very existence on this little planet Earth which we so eagerly despoil and no more so now than in China (I come by my verbosity naturally), is but an accident without intention. Which of course it is and nothing wrong with that, since you might not like girls anyhow, and no offense. I just want a taste before I die, right? My personal Eden and fuck you too.

But in his experiment, Joshua made a choice about detection, thus implicating mind - let's call it his mind for the sake of his honor - in reality. This is not something that would have happened in the forest without him. (Look, I don't know if this was his idea, I just happen to have met him and so I'm buffing up myself, OK?)

So what's been discovered here, along with the near-virtual-certainty of the existence of gravitational waves and the probable eventual following of those diminutive to the point nearly and virtually of nullity little bosons, gravitons, points of literary nothingness, is the implication of mind already in the world about us that science means so very desperately to discover without our implication.

Almost as though the very Earth were meant to be, and the beauty of those sunsets or sunrises as my friendly Chinese engineer-author (he runs power plants of all things!) would have them, is pretty much built into the DNA of life itself, no accident but wanted, really, as the object of universal love and affection.

It's a cliff hanger and no mistake. Do we even give a shit?

So anyhow, intention starts with desire, and desire, as I've been saying ad-nauseum since about forever, defines time's arrow, as has been a part of universal being since precisely forever as defined however you wish. This is not an emergent quality of humans and humans alone. This is what brought us into being. And there is no Name to that which had the desire. I can read at least that much Chinese.

Thanks Josh, and also for that lovely talk about Hopi reality to which you, at least, are hardly opposed. I am really really happy for you and wish you perpetual happiness in the Eden of significant discovery, you stud you!! No, I mean really, if I were a woman . . . .