Thursday, June 28, 2012

Angel Tech

The word “angel” literally means “messenger,” both in the Hebrew Scriptures and the Greek text of the Christian Bible. Angels, messengers from God, are shown in Scripture as, well…delivering messages (big surprise, right?). As in the two angels that deliver the message to Lot that NOW might be a good time to leave the soon-to-be-destroyed city of Sodom, or the angel who announced the coming births of Jesus and John the Baptist (Gabriel in Luke 1).

But angels in the Bible don’t just constitute the heavenly equivalent of email, at various times they protected people or provided food or did a variety of other things. Definitely they’re shown as having supernatural power—for example, the messengers in my examples above also struck men blind and performed what appears to be teleportation in the case of Lot’s angels or made Zachariah mute until the birth of his son John in the gospel of Luke chapter 1.

Technology we associate with the power of nature and rightly so. By studying nature and the flow of electrons across the element silicon, human beings invented computer chips, which eventually got reduced in size and increased in capacity though the study of nature to provide the computing power behind, say, a cell phone. Likewise scientific study lead to an understanding of the radio waves that allow a cell phone communicate with the world outside itself.

Supernatural beings humans routinely think of as having power beyond what nature can provide, and so not wanting or needing technology. But hold the phone (so to speak), are we entirely certain that’s the case with angels? I mean clearly an omnipotent God has no need of technology (why use a signaling device when Your inherent nature allows You to talk to anyone at any time?), but angels, while portrayed as powerful, are not portrayed as omnipotent. They very much are shown as occupying one place at a time and wearing at least one thing that if you think about it, for human beings anyway, is a product of technology—clothing.

As a story idea, not saying it is actually so at all, but what if there were a story in which angels have developed and use their own form of technology? Their tech could be as firmly based in nature ours, but would be uber-better, since they’d really get their gadgets to work right and would do it all, you can be sure, with a zero-carbon footprint…;) Or perhaps their technology could harness physical properties of dimensions beyond our own (please see my post on Angels in Other Dimensions.) What to us would appear to be supernatural would in fact be based in natural properties of a complex universe, one far more complex that what our limited experience of it would allow us to perceive. Or study.

So as a story idea, what if some random person found what was in fact an angelic cell phone? A call comes in for an assignment—what would that assignment be? How would the person respond? Would it be an accident at all that the phone had been “lost”?


Sunday, June 17, 2012

The Wheel in the Heart of the Universe

Stephen Hawking's A Brief History of Time contained a speculation about a time machine that could actually work without violating the known laws of physics, based on wormholes. For this post, I’m imagining a story featuring a time travel machine using something not unlike what he suggested.

A wormhole, as science fiction fans well know, is a gateway between different locations in the universe, a tunnel that “skips” all the space in between, a shortcut a little like the hole a worm bores trough an apple instead of travelling around its surface. The thing about space that may be a bit hard to grasp (I don't quite get it myself) is Einstein's theory of General Relativity defines time as a fourth dimension—that our universe does not just exist in width, length, and height, but also in time. Sooo, a wormhole could exist that crosses not simply between different places in space, but also between different regions in time.

One of these time wormholes could have a date of 2012 AD on one end and 2012 BC on the other. You would go in from our now and exit in a time where Abraham the patriarch hasn't been born yet—or instantaneously go the other way. Stephen Hawking, by the way, believes radiation would enter a wormhole through time and create a feedback loop like the amplifier noise from a speaker behind a microphone, a feedback that would ultimately destroy the wormhole. Not to mention the problems with creating such a wormhole in the first place and keeping it open…

But let’s imagine we have these problems solved—after all, this blog is about story ideas, not physics. For the sake of the story, let’s say we deal with the feedback loop by putting the ends of the wormhole a vast distance apart from one another, say on the scale of a galaxy vast. And we place both ends of the wormhole in a region of space with low radiation, in intergalactic space.

Then let’s imagine something else—say we were to create a wormhole in which both ends start out in the same time, but then we rotated the far end up to the speed of 99.99999999% the speed of light (the near end resting in place), tracing a massive arc around the stationary end of the wormhole at a sort of pivot point. As explained by Einstein’s Special Relativity, the near-lightspeed end of the wormhole would be in a condition in which time would pass more slowly on that end. At 100% the speed of light, a speed nothing made of matter can fully attain, time would not flow at all.

Soon, the massive spinning wormhole would become a time machine. Our end at the center would have time flowing normally for us, while at the far end time would hover near the moment our massive time-travel device was constructed.

Imagine a story where such a device is discovered by a future human civilization already in existence somewhere outside our galaxy, created at some time in the past by mysterious aliens, this massive spinning “wheel” of time. And I would give it multiple spokes, multiple long spinning wormholes, each a galaxy arm in length, each with different near-lightspeed percentages (one being 99.9 percent the speed of light, let’s say), so the end of one would be very near the creation of the device but for others, even though time had slowed, a great deal of time would still have passed on  the far end. Multiple arms could create multiple places in time the machine would allow you to go between when the device had first been created and now.

Even if you imagine the aliens created this device, say, 5000 years ago, entering the wormhole on one end could put you at 2012 BC or earlier and at several times between then and now, depending on the spokes of this “Wheel at the Heart of the Universe.” Problems would arise in that you would come out on the far end in deep space, going very very fast, and to interact with anything in the regular universe, you’d have to do quite a lot of slowing down…but imagine some high-tech futuristic heroes, who are able to figure that out—imagine where they would go and what they would do...