Knowledge Lost

“Once the door is unprotected, the connection will be severed. But another connection must first be made… Exactly 314 seconds, that’s the length and breadth of the window. Only the One can open the door and only during that window can the door be opened.”

The Keymaker, The Matrix Reloaded

syringeDr. Roslan rolls the syringe back and forth between his forefinger and thumb contemplating his next move. 18 months prior, Dr. Roslan met Luc Kenny. Actually, Dr. Roslan hadn’t technically met him because at the time, Luc Kenny was in a coma. Technically speaking, it was 18 months ago that Dr. Roslan learned of Luc Kenny’s rare condition. And now, if Dr. Roslan injects himself with the solution in the syringe, he too will acquire Luc Kenny’s rare condition. In doing so, Dr. Roslan believes he might be able to reach a heightened level of consciousness. However, Dr. Roslan is also well aware of the fact that this decision may prove fatal which is why Dr. Roslan continues to roll the syringe back and forth between his forefinger and thumb, contemplating his next move…

(18 Months Earlier, Stanford University Medical Research Center, Palo Alto, CA)

Staring at a list of printer names on her computer screen, Mimi Lee yells out to everyone in the lab, “What’s the name of the printer on our floor again?”

The lab activity continues, oblivious to Mimi’s question.

Mimi repeats in a louder voice, “Fellow lab rats, would one of you please tell me which of these completely meaningless printer names is the one located on our floor.”

An anonymous voice responds, “Virus99.”

Mimi replies to the mystery voice, “Thank you very much. I appreciate it. Now carry on.”

Mimi selects Virus99 and clicks Print. Led by the sound of the printing, Mimi locates Virus99 and pulls the freshly printed report from its bin. Mimi, reading the report, shuffles to Dr. Nathan Roslan’s desk. Standing, undetected in front of Dr. Roslan who is busy typing something on his laptop, Mimi states, “We should probably meet this guy…” Mimi pauses mid-sentence and looks at the paper. Mimi continues, “…Luc Kenny. We should probably meet this guy, Luc Kenny.”

Taking the paper from Mimi, Dr. Roslan reads the report, raises his eyebrows in interest, looks up at Mimi and says, “OK, let’s meet Luc Kenny.”

The mailbox labeled KENNYS stands guard in front of Luc’s parents house as Mimi and Dr. Roslan reach the front door and knock. After what sounds like a muffled argument, the door cracks open just enough for one eye and a nose to poke through. “Yeah? What do you want?”

Outfitted with a disarming smile, Dr. Roslan responds, “Hello, I am Nathan, this is my assistant Mimi, we are here to talk with Luc. Is he here?”

The eye and nose retorts, “He’s not here.” The door slams shut followed by what sounds like more muffled arguing.

Dr. Roslan turns to Mimi and shrugs, “Well that went well.”

Mimi gives Dr. Roslan a return shrug then yells out, “We are scientists from the Stanford University Medical Research Center. We are here to talk to Luc about his recent illness.”

Dr. Roslan, startled by the outburst, widens his eyes then shakes his head. Mimi’s plea instigates more muffled arguing. Then after a little while the door opens up and a voice drones, “Come inside.”

Seated on the Kenny’s sofa, Dr. Roslan explains. “Mimi and I have been studying the illness Luc seems to have contracted. We are interested in Luc’s case because unlike Luc, all of the other patients…” Dr. Roslan pauses, considering the impact it would have on Luc’s parents if they knew that all of the other patients died a few days after contracting the illness.

The Kennys furl their eyebrows, confused. Dr. Roslan looks to Mimi for help.

Mimi jumps in, “Luc’s ability to fight off the illness may hold the key to understanding the condition and finding a potential cure.”

Mimi, proud of her tactful response, looks at Dr. Roslan and smiles. The Kennys look at each other. Mrs. Kenny immediately begins sobbing and abruptly leaves the room. Mimi’s smile abandons her. Mr. Kenny turns to Dr. Roslan and Mimi, “Luc did briefly recover from the illness. But then he relapsed and is now in a coma.”

Shocked at the news, Dr. Roslan is speechless. Mimi asks, “Where is he now?”

Mr. Kenny responds, “He’s at Seton Medical Center.” Mr. Kenny stands up. Dr. Roslan and Mimi stand up in response. Mr. Kenny, heads to where Mrs. Kenny exited, mumbling, “Now if you’ll excuse me.”

Dr. Roslan nods, still shocked, “Of course.”

Mimi taps on her computer screen, “There it is. Luc was indeed admitted to Seton Medical Center.” Dr. Roslan sits, mute in Mimi’s office. Mimi manipulates her computer mouse. “OK, he was checked in exhibiting signs of malnutrition. When standard treatments proved ineffective and test results failed to reveal a cause, he eventually lost consciousness and slipped into a coma.” Looking up from her computer screen, Mimi speaks directly to Dr. Roslan, “He has been in that condition ever since.”

Dr. Roslan, still silent, removes his glasses and cleans the lenses with the end of his untucked dress shirt. Mimi breaks the silence using a deep tone imitating Dr. Roslan, “Well it would have been nice Mimi, had we known this prior to paying the Kenny’s a horribly awkward, completely inappropriate visit.” Dr. Roslan replaces his glasses, still in deep thought, oblivious to Mimi’s skit. Mimi continues in a higher version of her own voice, “Yes it would have, Dr. Roslan, but there was no way to have known this given the fact that he was admitted to a completely different hospital.” Dr. Roslan, smiles, finally acknowledging her. Mimi finishes the mock conversation in the deep voice, “Good point Mimi, don’t feel bad. There would have been no way for you to have known about the relapse.”

Dr. Roslan, now laughing, responds, “OK, OK, Mimi. Very funny. I don’t blame you. I’m trying to figure out how we can determine what happened between Luc’s recovery and relapse.”

Mimi offers, “How about if I pay the Kennys a second, more empathetic visit, and you see what you can get from the hospital.”

“You sure you’re OK with going back to the Kennys’?”

“Yeah, what the heck, it couldn’t be worse than the first visit. Could it?”

Dr. Roslan laughs, “Guess not.”

Mimi repeats in a concerned tone, “No I mean it – could it?”

Following his successful visit with Luc’s doctor at Seton Medical Center, Dr. Roslan approaches Mimi’s desk, proudly holding a slip of paper high above his head. Spiking it on her desk he boasts, “You’re welcome!”

Snatching up the paper, Mimi sums up, “Lets see. Blood samples. L Kenny. Stored in Stanford Lab bin MLEE1.” Looking up at Dr. Roslan, who is now smugly seated in front of her, Mimi waves the receipt, “You got Luc’s blood samples for me to test? How did you pull that off? Bribery?”

“Three letters, CFR.”

Mimi guesses, “Cash For Reports?”

“No! Case Fatality Rate. Once I showed Luc’s doctor the paperwork on our research, which by the way shows that this condition has a case fatality rate higher than that of bubonic plague, they complied with my every request. Luc was quarantined, transported back to our facility and I had blood samples sent to your lab bin. Now what do you have for me?”

Mimi, smiles broadly, stands up, then bends down, disappearing behind her desk. She rises up slowly embracing a very large box, which she promptly plops on top of her desk, “That’s for you!”

Opening up the box and pulling out one of what seems to be a hundred or so bound journals, Dr. Roslan’s eyes narrow, “What’s all this?”

“One hundred and twenty three, personal diaries, authored by one Luc Kenny. Happy reading!”

“One hundred journals?”

“One hundred and twenty three. I counted them last night. If we want to know what caused Luc’s relapse, it’s probably logged on one of those bound pages. Oh and…” Mimi reaches into her desk drawer and pulls out a digital recorder, “…his audio recordings are on this thing.” Handing it to Dr. Roslan, Mimi confides, “I’m not really sure how it works so I have no clue what’s on there.”

Dr. Roslan examines the object, not sure what to make of it. He then pockets it and picks up the journal again and flips through the densely annotated pages. He shakes his head, “I don’t want to read all of this. Let’s switch. I’ll conduct the blood tests. You read these.”

Mimi laughs, “No no no! Too late – you lose”

Slumping down in his chair, Dr. Roslan agrees, “Yes I do.”

Face down in one of Luc’s journals, Dr. Roslan snores while Mimi lets her Stanford Cafeteria tea steep.

Feeling bored and mischievous, Mimi barks, “So, come across anything interesting yet?”

Dr. Roslan knocks the journal to the floor as he lifts his head with a start. Attempting to focus on Mimi’s face Dr. Roslan grunts, “Pass the what?”

Mimi, suppressing laughter bends down to retrieve the journal, “I asked… Come across anything interesting yet in Luc’s journals?” Mimi sets the journal down in front of Dr. Roslan, who is now reshuffling his dented hair. “Oh. No, nothing yet. But…” Dr. Roslan takes a moment to gain more consciousness and then reaches into his pocket. “I did run across this on the digital recorder.” Dr. Roslan sets the recorder down on the cafeteria table and clicks the play button. Piano music fills the cafeteria prompting the other diners to look over. “Oh, too loud.”

Dr. Roslan fumbles for the volume when a woman, two tables over says, “Duschek.”

Locating the volume down button, Dr. Roslan turns down the music and looks in the direction of the voice. “Docheck?”

The woman corrects Dr. Roslan as she approaches their table, “Duschek, Jan Ladislav Duschek”. Wearing a colorful blouse and skirt, the woman takes a seat at their table and leans in towards the recorder, “I believe this is one of his piano sonatas.”

In an attempt to bring some social skills into the situation, Mimi extents her hand, “Mimi Lee. Research assistant to Dr. Nathan Roslan here. The one with the bed head.”

Shaking Mimi’s hand the woman responds, “Camile Durham. Professor of music here at the University.” Looking over at Dr. Roslan, Professor Durham points to the recorder and asks, “Who is this?”

Reshuffling his hair again, Dr. Roslan responds, “Luc. Luc Kenny. We are studying his medical condition.”

Professor Durham smiles, “Well if that condition results in one becoming a piano virtuoso, sign me up.”

Dr. Roslan returns the smile, “Piano virtuoso? You think Luc is a virtuoso Professor Durham?”

Professor Durham extends her hand in a gesture asking to hold the recorder, “Oh Dr. Roslan, please. It’s Camile.”

Dr. Roslan takes Camile’s hand and places the recorder in it, “OK Camile. And please, it’s Nathan.”

Having observed this ritual thousands of times at the university between doctors and professors, Mimi mimics Dr. Roslan under her breath, “Please, it’s Nathan.”

Oblivious to Mimi’s mockery, Nathan and Camile share a giggle. Dr. Roslan continues, “So Camile, you think Luc is a virtuoso?”

Professor Durham holds the recorder close to her ear, “Duschek was himself an extremely gifted eighteenth century pianist. And he specifically composed works to show off his skills. So you wouldn’t even attempt to learn a Duschek sonata if you weren’t very talented. And…” Professor Durham pauses to listen closely to the recording, “… and well, this is exquisite.”

Mimi jumps in, “How can you be sure Luc isn’t just recording a recording?”

Professor Durham points at the recorder, “It’s out of tune. You see there. The piano he is playing is slightly out of tune. A studio would not record music from an untuned instrument. No this is an amateur recording of a very very talented pianist.”

Acting like he too can discern Luc’s talent, Dr. Roslan nods. Mimi shakes her head at Dr. Roslan’s acting job and asks, “So Professor, what is so difficult about this composer’s music?”

Professor Durham, listening again, “There! It’s the speed. It’s not just a physically difficult piece to play. It’s the speed at which it’s played. And I must say, this person…” Professor Duhram pauses again to listen. “Wow, this person has mastered this sonata at what might be a tempo unmatched by even Duschek.”

Dr. Roslan, smitten by Professor Duhram and emboldened by her ringless ring finger proposes, “How about we discuss this further Professor Duhram, over a proper meal? My treat.”

Smiling broadly Professor Durham blushes, “It would be my distinct pleasure Dr. Roslan.”

The two giggle their way through the arrangements while Mimi looks on, now completely nonexistent to them, “Oh, young love. Young love.”

Draped from head to heel in white decontamination clothes, Mimi manipulates the blood test equipment. Similarly clothed, Dr. Roslan approaches, “So what do we know?”

Pulling a blood filled test tube from a centrifuge Mimi offers, “Well, he has the bug.”

Looking over Mimi’s shoulder at her activities Dr. Roslan nods, “OK, same condition shared by the others, eh?”

“Yep, but…”, Mimi places the test tube into a holder inside a transparent cabinet, “… there’s something else.”

Dr. Roslan continues to watch her work. Mimi lifts up a computer read out, “Traces of trihydroxy methylphenethylamine.”

Dr. Roslan mouths to himself, nodding, “Yes, adrenaline.”

Mimi continues, “Correct epinephrine. And strangely enough, the elevated levels seem to be somehow responsible for calming his hyper metabolic state enough to keep him from suffering the same fate as the others.”

Dr. Roslan reads the print out, “Yes, just as I suspected.”

Mimi responds confused, “As you suspected? Epinephrine is a hormone that, last I checked, tends to speed things up, not slow them down.”

Dr. Roslan elaborates, “Yes but just as Methylphenidate or Ritalin, a known stimulant, has a calming effect in those afflicted with ADHD, adrenaline in this case is having a counter effect in Luc, acting to slow down his metabolism enough to keep him alive.”

Impressed by the analysis, Mimi nods and listens.

“His body must have secreted it in reaction to the condition. Then when his adrenaline levels dropped, he relapsed. See if we can obtain blood samples from when he first contracted the condition and from when he recovered. I will work up a plan to see if we can use this as a therapy for pulling him out of this coma.”

Mimi nods enthusiastically, “On it.”

Dr. Roslan turns to exit the lab, takes a few steps, stops and adds, “Oh, and order Luc a brain MRI.”

Mimi responds, “OK. May I ask why?”

“Just want to follow up on a hunch.” The door clicks shut with Dr. Roslan’s egress.

Dr. Roslan confirms his destination reading the label next to the door, Office #314. Dr. Michael Brennan. Professor of Physics. Stanford University. Knocking twice, Dr. Roslan looks down at Luc’s journal, clasped in his non-knocking hand. After a moment the door opens. Before Dr. Roslan can speak, a tall, slender man, sporting a salt and pepper goatee, signals for quiet with one hand and holds a cell phone to his ear with the other. Talking on the phone, the man returns to his desk and motions for Dr. Roslan to follow him. They take seats on either side of the man’s desk. Dr. Roslan, looking down at Luc’s journal listens to half of a conversation. The conversation concludes with the usual, “OK, thank you, good bye.”

On cue Dr. Roslan inquires, “Professor Brennan?”

The professor counters with, “Yes, and you are?”

“Dr. Nathan Roslan, from Medical Research.”

“Ah, yes. And how may I help you?”

Dr. Roslan holds up Luc’s journal, “I have something I would like you to look at.”

As Dr. Roslan parts the journal at the bookmarked spot, Professor Brennan extends his hand, “And what’s this?”

Passing the journal to Professor Brennan, Dr. Roslan points to a spot on the page, “These are entries by a research subject we are studying. It looks like physics equations.”

Professor Brennan fetches his reading glasses, sits back and reads the journal. While they sit silently across from each other, Dr. Roslan scans the office. Dr. Roslan nods as he surveys physics books, framed diplomas, wrappers from a finished lunch, and a ‘Shut up I’m about to teach physics’ coffee mug. Professor Brennan breaks the silence with a, “Hmmm. Interesting.” Professor Brennan tilts the page towards Dr. Roslan and points to a spot on the page, “You say your research subject wrote this?”

Dr. Roslan leans in and looks at the spot on the page, “Yes. I believe he wrote everything in there. What is it?”

Professor Brennan looks closer at the spot, “It’s an equation converting space to time. It’s quite intriguing. And all of this here…” Professor Brennan moves his finger up, “…seems to be a proof. And to be frank, it looks…” Professor Brennan studies the page and nods, “…it looks. It looks like I would like to take a closer look at this. May I borrow it?”

Dr. Roslan nods his approval, “Now I have no idea if this is his work or if he just copied it from somewhere”

Looking sideways at the journal Professor Brennan offers, “OK, but I can’t say that I’ve seen anything like this before. Let me check into it.”

Dr. Roslan nods, “That would be very helpful, thanks.” Dr. Roslan leans forward, “Just curious, what does that equation mean?”

Professor Brennan looks up at Dr. Roslan, “Well. You know that Einstein worked out an equation that converts mass to energy.”

Dr. Roslan guesses, “E = mc2?”

Professor Brennan nods, “Exactly. That equation implies a mass-energy equivalency. In a manner of speaking, the mass of an object is a measure of its energy content.” Looking back down at the journal Professor Brennan continues, “This proof suggests that there is a volume-time equivalency. In other words, a specific volume of space is a measure of its time content.”

Dr. Roslan narrows his eyes, “I don’t get it, how can volume be equivalent to time?”

Professor Brennan raises his eyebrows, “Well, on the one hand it isn’t an intuitive concept, however, Minkowski space is a mathematical model that treats space and time as a continuous fabric. And the equation in this journal seems to take it to the next step, implying space and time are just different states of a common substance. Much like steam and ice are different states of water.”

Dr. Roslan concedes, standing up, “Well, you’ve gone way over my head. Why don’t you keep the journal and let me know what you conclude.”

Professor Brennan nods and looks back at the journal page, “Yes of course.”

Dr. Roslan drops his card on Professor Brennan’s desk, “Thanks professor, you can reach me there.” Dr. Roslan exits.

Dr. Roslan pulls at his chin as he stares at the transparencies of Luc’s brain MRI clipped to the light board. Dr. Roslan looks over at Joshua, resident radiologist at the University. Joshua leans in to one of the transparencies. Dr. Roslan extrapolates from Joshua’s eyes to the point on the image that seems to be drawing the radiologist’s interest and looks at that spot, “Something of interest Josh?”

Joshua scratches his cheek, “Is that right?”

Dr. Roslan looks harder at the spot, “Is what right?”

Joshua points to a spot on the image transparency, “See this white band stretching from the rostrum to the splenium?” Dr. Roslan nods. Joshua continues, “That’s the corpus callosum. And for this guy, the structure is abnormally large.”

Dr. Roslan stares at the image, “Oh, and that means?”

“Well, ACC or agenesis of the corpus callosum is a congenital disorder wherein this part of the brain fails to develop normally which typically impairs cognitive and motor functions. It’s assumed that this structure connects the left and right cerebral hemispheres of the brain. It stands to reason that if this part of the brain is abnormally large, cognitive and motor skills would be enhanced.”

Dr. Roslan nods, “Ah, interesting.”

“Actually the more interesting thing is this dark area here surrounding the callosum.” Joshua points to the transparency and makes a circle with his finger. “You would need to verify this with a neurologist but it looks to me like the callosum has recently shrunk leaving behind this dark area here as it receded.” Joshua studying the image shakes his head, “Boy, it’s large now but I’m guessing it used to be even larger.” Looking over at Dr. Roslan, Joshua inquires, “What did you say was wrong with this guy?”

“Well at the moment he is in a coma, but this may explain some things.” Dr. Roslan extends his hand, “Thanks Josh.”

Joshua shakes, “You’re welcome doctor, let me know if there’s anything else.”

Joshua leaves Dr. Roslan alone staring at the transparencies and pulling at his chin.

Dr. Roslan standing next to a colorfully dressed Professor Durham asks, “So Camile. Anything strike your fancy?” Professor Durham stares incredulously at the ice cream flavors listed on the wall behind the clerk at Humphry Slocombe.

Dr. Roslan decides, “I’ll have a scoop of Strawberry Candied Jalapeno and a scoop of Chiba Oolong please.”

The clerk nods. Professor Durham shivers, “Really, those are ice cream flavors?”

Dr. Roslan bounces with excitement as the clerk dollops his selections into the cup, “Crazy, I know. But so good!”

Professor Durham rechecks the wall menu, “How about a scoop of Harvey Milk and Honey.” The clerk awaits the rest of her order. Unable to find anything else on the menu remotely palatable, Professor Durham raises one hand, “No, that will be all.”

Dr. Roslan shakes his head, “You’re missing out on a taste adventure, but the Harvey Milk is really good. You’ll love it.”

Seated outside, the two pick at their ice creams with miniature spoons, “Thanks for the dessert Dr. Roslan.”

“My pleasure Professor Durham.”

“So, what the latest on your piano virtuoso?”

“Well, Luc is still in a coma but we have a plan for bringing him back.” As Dr. Roslan talks, Professor Durham sneaks a taste of his Strawberry Candied Jalapeno. “Unlike the others with this condition, his body flooded with adrenaline, possibly keeping him from suffering the same fate as the others.”

Professor Durham, now sneaking a taste Chiba Oolong, inquires, “Which is?”

“Well…death. Luc is the only known survivor of the condition.”

“So all of that adrenaline must be the reason for Luc’s piano playing?”

“Actually, I don’t believe it is. The others died essentially of malnutrition.”


“Yes, up to a quarter of the calories we consume are used up by our brain.”

“Great, so can I think myself skinny?”

“Kind of. Essential the brain goes rogue, increasing in strength irrespective of the consequences. That’s why this condition essentially starves people to death. Interestingly enough, Luc’s body accidentally stumbled upon a way of dealing with it. His adrenaline reaction had the counter effect of slowing Luc’s system down just enough to keep him alive.”

Now, favoring Dr. Roslan’s exotic ice cream over her own, Professor Durham samples exclusively from his cup. “So Luc’s reved up brain instantly turn him into a piano virtuoso?”

Unaware of Professor Durham’s pilfering, Dr. Roslan continues, “Actually that’s what’s interesting. I learned from reading his journals that Luc was already a classically trained pianist and majored in mathematics. So the condition merely enhanced these skills. As you said, he sought out difficult musical compositions to test his own limits and give himself interesting challenges. He did the same thing in the field of mathematics. Professor Brennan in the physics department was impressed by Luc’s work.”

Finishing up Dr. Roslan’s ice cream, Professor Durham asks, “But how is this condition making Luc smarter?”

“Luc’s brain MRI showed an enlargement in the part of the brain that connects the right and left hemispheres together. I did some research on this phenomenon and it turns out that Einstein’s brain had a similar abnormality.”

“Wow, so if you can bring Luc out of his coma, you could have a genius on your hands.”

“Well actually I don’t think so. It looks like Luc’s reaction to the condition has not only kept him alive, it cured him of it. The MRI shows the enlarged portion of his brain shrinking back to its normal size. I predict Luc may come out of the coma on his own if we wait long enough.”

“I’m glad he will be alright. A life saved but knowledge lost – Eh?”

Dr. Roslan nods. Professor Durham points at Dr. Roslan’s empty ice cream cup, “Oh and by the way, Strawberry Candied Jalapeno is awesome.”

Dr. Roslan now aware of the theft, smiles and responds, “So I see.”

Dr. Roslan, sits at his desk, coffee in hand, basking in the afterglow of dinner and ice cream with Professor Durham when Mimi barges into his office. “Good news and bad news, which do you want to hear first?”

Startled, Dr. Roslan instinctively responds, “Good news.”

“Luc has come out of his coma.”

Dr. Roslan pumps his fist, “I knew it. Let me guess, the bad news is that he doesn’t remember anything that happened between the recovery and relapse.”

Mimi, surprised at Dr. Roslan’s accurate guess replies, “Correct, but that’s not the bad news.”

Dr. Roslan adds, “And his cognitive and motor skills will have returned to normal as well, given the agenisis of his corpus callosum.”

Confused by the statement Mimi continues, “The bad news is that our project has been shut down. Something about reports from Seton Medical Center comparing this condition to bubonic plague. I think that’s how you got them to transfer Luc to our facility, right?”

Dr. Roslan frowns, shaking his head, “Right.”

(1 Month Later)

Dr. Roslan, lunch tray in hand scans the cafeteria for a quiet place to eat. He decides to sits next to a lone diner. The man, older with long hair and sporting a tie die t-shirt looks up at Dr. Roslan, “You’re welcome to join me but be warned, I teach philosophy.”

Dr. Roslan smiles and sits next to the man anyway.

The man looks again at him, “Aren’t you Dr. Roslan from medical research?”

Dr. Roslan nods and extends his hand, “Yes, Nathan.”

The man shakes Dr. Roslan’s hand, “Willie.”

“I read your paper on, what is the acronym? CCG?”

“Yes corpus callosum genesis.”

“From what I read, if it could be controlled – boy, we could create some really smart people.”

“Which is why I suspect my project was shut down. The current crop of smart people at the university doesn’t want to build a replacement crop of smart people.”

“Yep. Just ask Galileo what the Vatican thought about his idea of a heliocentric universe. It’s what makes us human.”


“No denial.”

Dr. Roslan takes a bite of his food and nods, “Amen.”

Willie pushes his salad around with his fork, “Exactly. We don’t voluntarily leave paradise. We have to be kicked out.”

Dr. Roslan squints a bit confused at the statement, “Well, the bottom line is that while my patient survived, his ideas and my project were both put to death.”

Willie nods, “Like I said, no one invites Truth over for dinner. It usually shows up unexpectedly, gets drunk and ruins everyone’s night.”

Dr. Roslan smiles, still confused, “You’re a strange man Willie, but I like you.” The two stare at their unattractive lunches. Dr. Roslan blurts, “You’re a philosopher Willie, what’s the answer?”

Willie tilts his head, “My best guess? Well, I think maybe Darwin got it right.”

“What’s that?”

“Life’s greatest invention was its first invention.”

Intrigued, Dr. Roslan prods Willie to finish his thought, “Which is?”

“Death. Life’s greatest invention was death. Life is hard coded to commit suicide. Even though death, by definition, is the antithesis of life, it’s the only way to ensure that superior DNA would be allowed to replace inferior DNA. Evolution isn’t swayed by dogma. Biology is incapable of denial. And even though the solution to life was its own destruction, the solution was immediately assimilated. In order to make room for new ideas – old ideas must die. The Vatican didn’t like it, Adam and Eve didn’t like it, no one likes it – but it’s the ugly truth. There’s no up without down. No good without evil. No light without dark.”

Dr. Roslan frowns and finishes Willie’s thought, “No life without death.”

Willie, sensing the mood change adds, “I warned you about having lunch with me, remember? I teach philosophy.”

Dr. Roslan smiles, “You’re right Willie. I was duly warned.”

Dr. Roslan rolls the syringe back and forth between his forefinger and thumb contemplating his next move. 18 months prior, Dr. Roslan met Luc Kenny. Actually, Dr. Roslan hadn’t technically met him because at the time, Luc Kenny was in a coma. Technically speaking, it was 18 months ago that Dr. Roslan learned of Luc Kenny’s rare condition. Unknown to anyone, when the research project was shut down Dr. Roslan stashed away one vial of the bug. And now Dr. Roslan holds in his hand a syringe full of it. If Dr. Roslan injects himself with the solution in the syringe, he too will acquire Luc Kenny’s rare condition. In doing so, Dr. Roslan believes he might be able to reach a heightened level of consciousness. Given he is a trained medical doctor, Dr. Roslan figures he might even be able to gain the knowledge required to keep himself alive while maintaining the increased cognitive powers. This decision would definitely be life changing and possibly even alter the course of human events. However, Dr. Roslan is also well aware of the fact that this decision may prove fatal which is why Dr. Roslan continues to roll the syringe back and forth between his forefinger and thumb, contemplating his next move…


Post Script

  • Apologies for not following proper dialog formatting. That would take me too much time and I barely had enough time to get this short story out of my head and into my blog.
  • Humphry Slocombe, Strawberry Candied Jalapeno, Harvey Milk and Honey are trademarks of Humphry Slocombe. By the way, if you are in the neighborhood you should go there.
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Cigarette Stories

I’m not one but I’ve observed that gathered cigarette smokers seem to have the best conversations. Lots of animation, laughing, gesturing. Cigarette stories must be amazing. Like I said, I don’t smoke but I’d sure love to know what the heck it is they are talking about!

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Infinite Infinities

String-Theory-Can-be-Tested-After-All-2Vandana Singh’s wonderful science fiction short story Infinities introduced me to the German mathematician Georg Cantor. In her award-winning story, Singh describes a mathematical epiphany that involves a higher order landscape as an explanation for the seemingly random distribution of prime numbers. Her description of this epiphany and Cantor’s theory of transfinite numbers both seem to jibe with my Truth Function theory. This led me to dig deeper into Cantor’s work. What I found regarding how Cantor’s theories relate to my ideas compelled me to write this post. Thanks to Vandana Singh’s science fiction story – I believe I now have a deeper understanding of where my ideas might fit into the world of mathematics.

Let’s start at the beginning. The aforementioned German mathematician Georg Cantor proved that real numbers are “more numerous” than the natural numbers. This proof implies the existence of an “infinity of infinities”. In other words, some infinities are different from other infinities. According to Cantor, transfinite numbers are larger than finite numbers, yet not necessarily absolutely infinite. This ‘now’ accepted idea was originally regarded as shocking and we can see why – how can there be a number between finite and infinity? This doesn’t seem logical. Like many currently accepted scientific conclusions such as quantum mechanics, it doesn’t square with our intuition.

Infinity means without limit. Finite means limited. So according to Cantor, transfinite numbers are unlimited in quantity but somehow less than infinite numbers. How can a thing be unlimited yet less than infinite? Well it turns out that I may have come up with an intuitively logical solution to this illogical result. By the way – my idea also provides a logical solution to the illogical results yielded by another puzzling idea known as – quantum theory.

In the Truth posts a solution to infinite infinities can be visualized using what I call, The Riddle of the Ray. The Riddle of the Ray is a thought exercise that answers the question, “how can a ray and a line both be the same length even though a ray is a half line?” My solution involves the introduction of a hidden dimension. In the Truth posts I show how this result provides an intuitively logical solution to quantum mechanics. I believe that this result may also provide an intuitively logical solution to Cantor’s transfinite numbers. Let me explain how…

The ‘Riddle of the Ray’ provides a solution to the paradox of transfinite and finite numbers because it shows how a ray (transfinite in length) can be compared to a line (finite in length). A ray is sometimes called a half line because two collinear rays comprise one line. Therefore a ray should be half the length of a line. The paradox is that a ray is infinite in length – as is a line – which means they are both the same length. Cantor proved that these types of different size infinities do indeed exist. My solution to the Riddle of the Ray provides a possible solution to this paradox. It explains why we perceive rays or transfinite sets as less than infinite and greater than finite. The solution involves a hidden dimension. I propose in the Riddle of the Ray that a ray is actually a bent line. The trick is that the bend is not in one of the known three dimensions of space. The ray is bent in a hidden or unperceived direction.

Side Note: hidden dimensions may sound nonsensical on the face of it – however remember that string theory proposes 11 dimensions of space. Yes, hidden physical dimensions are not new to theoretical physics.

When we tilt the ray along this hidden dimension it is revealed that a ray is in fact a line. This then resolves the paradox. Rays or transfinite numbers are extra-dimensional. So when viewed from our perspective of 3 dimensional space – they appear to be both infinite and less than infinite – or transfinite. However when viewed from a different perspective – they are revealed to be infinite. And circling back to Vandana Singh – this notion coincides with the mathematical epiphany describe in her science fiction story Infinities. In this story the main character is shown a higher order landscape which reveals an explanation for the seemingly random distribution of prime numbers.

It is great when ideas with different origins fit together. My theory of the Truth Function, Cantor’s transfinite numbers and Singh’s science fiction story Infinities all seem to lead us to the same conclusion:

Physical and mathematical paradoxes can be explained by extra, hidden dimensions of space.

Is it coincidence or are we on to something? I don’t know what you think – but personally – I think we are on to something. I believe these ideas buttress my proposal that extra dimensions explain why we observe quantum behavior at Planck scales and how this leads us to the conclusion that everything we experience here in three dimensions of space and one dimension of time – actually exist in pure form as dimensionless information beyond the event horizon of our universe.

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A Tuned Universe

"Pillars of Creation" so named because the gas and dust are in the process of creating new stars

“Pillars of Creation” so named because the gas and dust are in the process of creating new stars

QUESTION: If physics is tuned or adjusted to guarantee some physical event takes place – what would that event be?

CONJECTURE: If the physics of our universe is indeed ‘tuned’ then it is optimized to ensure star formation.

We know that the physical universe we observe and measure is finely tuned. We also know that if any of the ‘settings’ such as the Planck Constant or the speed of light are off by just a little bit, our universe would not exist. Therefore my hypothesis is that our physics is ‘tuned’ to ensure some specific physical event. And if so, my conjecture is that it is optimized to guarantee that a star is born.

Why, star formation? Well before I get into this let me comment on the idea of a tuned universe because this begs another very important question: ‘Who is doing the tuning?’ I don’t need to rehash the entire creationism versus evolution argument but suffice it to say there are probably trillions of words written on this topic. The great thing is that my tuned universe can exist within either paradigm, intelligent creator or natural selection. If we exist within a ‘simulation’ coded by an intelligent creator, then I propose this designer optimized our simulation for star formation. If our universe is a result of natural selection, then the definition of a ‘fittest’ universe is the universe that can birth stars.

Now on to ‘why, star formation and not atom formation or galaxy formation?’ The answer is because each of these other processes (as well as many others) are either required for star formation or a direct result of the physics related to star formation. In order for a star to form you need stable atoms. And if you fine tune physics to ensure stars are born, the rest of the stuff we see happening such as galaxy formation, falls out in the wash. In fact I propose that some of the strange stuff we see falling out of the proverbial wash such as dark energy and matter – also are a product of this tuning.

Furthermore, stars are the ‘engines’ of our universe. Stars drive all subsequent processes from plate tectonics to photosynthesis. So if you tune the universe settings to ensure stars form, energy is created to drive everything that takes place downstream.

And finally, the conditions required to create stars include all of the forces found in modern physics such as: matter attraction (gravity), thermodynamics, mass-energy exchange (e=mc²), stability of elements essential for fusion, and so on.

Another nice feature of a star is that its life cycle, from nebula to supernova, fertilizes the universe with all of the known elements. Stars are element factories. The life cycle of a star also creates and anchors solar systems. If you get stars right, you get planets right and you get a lot of other stuff right.

So can we prove or disprove this conjecture? Maybe. I propose that a computer simulation of the universe be coded up that runs iterative simulations. With each simulation run, randomly adjust the physics settings, keeping the settings that improve fitness for star formation. If the simulation evolves towards a universe that looks like ours, then a proof for this tuned universe where star formation is ensured, would be strengthened. Furthermore, if the anomalies we observe such as dark matter and dark energy are required to create a ‘fitter’ universe for star formation – this may explain the ‘need’ for these observed constructs.

So there you have it – my conjecture for a star optimized tuned universe.

P.S. If you are curious about where quantum physics fits into this conjecture – read my other blog entries on that topic.

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Synopsis of Gilgamesh

Synopsis of Gilgamesh.

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Truth’s Trek (part 10)

heic0211hThis examination is neither mystical nor mathematical – even though it feels that way at times.  It is an empirical exploration that began with a simple question, What is Truth? The observation that being near to an event increases our certainty of its veracity begs the question, How close can we get to events in space and time? It turns out there is a physical and mathematical limit physicists call the classical limit beyond which classical mechanics gives way to quantum mechanics. Our best microscopes have now allowed us to take a picture of this fuzzy reality. Quantum theory suggests that many or all possible events (or truths) exist and that act of observation resolves it into a single truth. In this series we took the heretical, outrageous road less traveled and postulated that a single truth does exist beyond the classical limit. Just because the animal’s tracks cease to exist when they cross a stream – doesn’t mean the animal ceased to exist there. So if it does, how does it exist there and how does it get here? In other words – What is Truth’s Trek? We answered both questions as follows:

Truth transitions from dimensionless, timeless information to the physical, temporal arrangement we call space-time. This transition takes place along a dimension not described in classical physics. When we observe matter at Planck constant scales, the properties of location and momentum become uncertain because we are viewing the edge of this transition – where Truth bends into our space-time reality.

I arrived at this idea using raw logic –  sans math and religion. But it turns out that there is a theory that aligns with these ideas. I found out about this theory while I was researching what I felt would be a perfect home for form-x truth – the boundary of a black hole. I felt the boundary between the outside and the inside of a black hole (beyond the event horizon) would make a perfect home for dimensionless, timeless truth. Well it turns out that the Holographic Principle describes a similar concept. It postulates that our three-dimensional universe exists on a two-dimensional information structure ‘painted’ on the cosmological horizon. Combine this with my hypothesis that our entire universe exists inside of a black hole and we arrive this final thought:

There is one truth. It exists in pure form as dimensionless, timeless information at the boundary of the black hole within which our universe resides. This pure version of events is projected onto our space-time fabric via a dimensionless, timeless path not described by classical mechanics. And when we look close enough at our space-time fabric things get blurry because we are viewing the knee of this transition – where Truth bends into Reality.

The theory proposed by this thought experiment interestingly enough – provides answers to these questions. If I have more free time – I will go into the details:

  • Why the arrow of time only points in the forward direction (nothing in our current understanding of physics says that it must point in a specific direction).
  • Why the speed of light is the classical speed limit (hint – it is the derivative of the truth function).
  • How the universe expanded faster than the speed of light just after the big bang – resulting in cosmological inflation.
  • What the ‘complete’ picture of energy looks like (yes – this may explain dark energy).
  • Why irrational numbers exist (hint: they are mathematical interpretations of forms that exist at the cosmological horizon).
  • Why we will never able to time travel back in time (note: we can already time travel forward in time by changing our relative velocity).

If everything we experience exists in a dimensionless, timeless state at the cosmological horizon of our black hole – then some of these philosophical questions can also be addressed:

  • Is there one ultimate truth?
  • Is our fate predetermined?
  • Where are we and how did we get here?

I operate under the belief that our brain provides us with the machinery needed to figure these things out. As it stands right now – quantum physics describes a non-intuitive, nonsensical reality. This theory says that quantum confusion is an illusion of vantage point and by viewing our universe from a different perspective – the confusion is removed and things make sense again.

To be continued (if I get more free time)…

p.s. If you are physicist – give me call – I think this theory can be examined mathematically to determine its veracity (or lack thereof).

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Truth’s Trek (part 9)

presidential-dollar-coins-with-printing-on-edges-public-domainAs pointed out in the previous post, the true shape of things can be revealed when we tilt and view them from a different perspective. Our challenge is tilting Truth in a dimension not expressed in Einstein’s space-time fabric. The payoff however is that we would be able to view truth’s path (the Truth Function).

Of course – I don’t know the equation for the actual Truth Function. However, I do like the properties of the curved line we used in the Riddle of the Ray because it seems to mimic the two forms of truth. So lets assume the truth function is a curved line, asymptotically approaching the two forms: form-x and form-y.

As with the stacked coins in the image shown above, the section of the coin parallel to us has dimension. We can even read the inscribed words – I see the words In God We Trust in various places. The section of the coin perpendicular to us is dimensionless, however we know this is just a trick of perspective. We know the words In God We Trust are there too – but we cannot discern them. The coin leaning up against the stack reveals its true shape – a circle – another kind of curve.

It is this perpendicular section of the curve – where dimension transitions to uncertainty  – that is interesting. It is reminiscent of what happens at the classical limit. Whereas we can discern the order of the inscribed letters on the coin’s edge in the parallel section – those same letters on the perpendicular section appear to occupy the same space. Just as with the electron cloud, the position of the letters as measured on the edge of the coin are indeterminate. If we make very precise measurements, we may be able to calculate probabilities for the positions of the inscribed letters based on minute clues – however at the very edge – the letters all occupy the same space. They appear to be in multiple places at the same time – reminiscent of quantum theory – isn’t it.

So one possible solution to Truth’s Trek is:

Truth transitions from dimensionless information to a physical/temporal arrangement. This transition takes place along a dimension not described in classical physics. When we observe matter at Planck constant scales, the properties of location and momentum become uncertain because we are viewing the edge of this transition – where Truth bends into our space-time reality.

So if this hypothesis is correct we have to find a home for dimensionless, timeless truth. Where does form-x truth live? We know where form-y truth lives – we are surrounded by it. Well it turns out I know of a perfect home for dimensionless, timeless form-x truth… To be continued…

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