Physics of Thanos and company

  • Thread starter cube137
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In a few days one of the greatest movies on earth will appear in the theaters.

I'm writing a sci fi novel along the lines of superheroes with powers. I want the book to explore a lot of physics ideas.

May I know what quantum interpretation do you believe can be in line or compatible with the superheroes universe?

For example. Would pilot wave interpretations or consistent histories be best in "explaining" them. Let's say the superheroes can control the pilot wave, hence control matter. Or influence the consistent "histories" or how the quantum events can be linked, so as to control matter? Can you suggest other ideas along this line?

And does it need to involve spacetime? That is, the superheroes wielding powers involving matter and spacetime, or would controlling matter be enough? I'd briefly mention quantum gravity.

Kindly share any ideas you have. No matter how outrageous. Remember it's science fiction with lots of physics creativity.
 
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russ_watters

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In two days one of the greatest movies on earth will appear in the theaters.
Given that you haven't seen it yet, that's a very unscientific thing to say (I'm looking forward to it too though :wink: ).
May I know what quantum interpretation do you believe can be in line or compatible with the superheroes universe?
None. The best you can do when writing fiction is to write things that sound reasonable. Generally, the more technobabble the better -- dazzle them with scientific-sounding dichrystalline bedazzlechron.
 
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For example.
Perfect example for what happens when superheroes meets science is the debate over Ant Man and Thanos...

I would just not push it too far :eek:
@russ_watters is right, the more technobabble the better. This is not hard-scifi anyway.
 
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(this is not a spoiler for Avengers: EndGame)

Remember the scene in Avengers: Infinity when Doctor Strange looked at all approximately 14 million possibilities and only saw one way they could win?

Doctor Strange could be peeking at all the possible Many Worlds.

This got me pondering. In a human body. How many quantum choices are there in a an organ let's say the stomach that can produce potential branches? Overall. How many separate branches can the human body produces (by combining all the possibilities)? I used branches rather than worlds because mixed states are branches and each mixed state is not really a whole universe but only that branches. I'd like to introduce readers to concepts about many worlds and branches via that particular Doctor Strange scene and would like to focus on the human body forming branches.
 
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Hi @cube137, I agree with @russ_watters and @Rive, and we've seen in this forum other content creators disappear down rabbit holes trying to create a 'physics' view of what is essentially magic. Basically, once you start to tie what we know - and even some of the speculation such as the multiverse - to a superhero drama. your narrative unravels.

And honesty, the punters don't care!

Consider Superman. His powers make zero sense in the universe we inhabit. But he's beloved because through him, humanity's good and bad is reflected. So the story is not about his super powers, it's because of his super powers that some moral aspect plays out. Historically, the morals were simple: good trumps evil; love conquers all; mighty powers bestow mighty responsibility. And when kryptonite is called into play, it allows the moral to include frailty and perseverance against overwhelming odds, or grit as the oldies would call it.

More recently, the moral aspect has included considerable nuance - the movie Logan is as powerful an emotional play as you're likely to see in the cinema - but physics and science? Meh, who cares, just tell a story.

Now, having said that, it does behoove you to plan the extent of your characters powers - and their limitations - so you don't fall into deus ex machina territory. I've read too many sci fi novels where the abilities of the protagonist just keep increasing, for no other reason than if they didn't the character would fail in their quest and typically die.

Such cheats are entirely boring, and reviewers often call them out and rate the work down.

If the powers increase for some rational reason (where 'rational' is consistent within the framework of the world you build) then that's OK. But stuff along the lines of "Then Fred found his body stiffen an the antitank round hit the car, and he repelled the kinetic energy of the impact and was totally fine!" type nonsense, when Fred has no hint of this power before, the response is often, "WTF, why should I read this rubbish anymore?"

So, I'd say you've referenced "one of the greatest movies on earth" in your opening post, and that pretty much answers your question. Marvel Comics don't spend a ton of time elaborating on why Thor, supposedly a GOD, can't just beat the s**t out of Iron Man, a human in a suit, they just turn the heroes loose and let the action happen!
 
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Some sci-fi novels include a lot of physics discussions. This is to attract those who want more than actions.

So can someone tell me what are the ways our body's quantum branches can occur and what it would be like?

Could you be in a branch where you had headache and another where you had stomach ache?

Or don't the quantum branches affect such qualities at all? How would it affect the person then (what features or qualities would that produce in different branches?


It doesn't mean I'll write them. I just want to understand the above aspect for now (and for my own knowledge).
 

russ_watters

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Some sci-fi novels include a lot of physics discussions. This is to attract those who want more than actions.
There are different categories of sci-fi, and different depths/richness of sci-fi universes. As @Rive said and it is often termed "hard" sci-fi would be something that is realistic or even totally possible, but just hasn't happened yet. A movie like "Deep Impact", for example, or even the original "Jurrasic Park".

Larger stories and franchises need to be deeper simply because there's more content and that content should typically be organized and consistent canon otherwise the fans might get annoyed at how arbitrary it is. That's how you get things like the "Star Trek TNG Technical Manual", of which I own a copy.

But don't let this trick you into believing because people put thought and effort into it that it is real. Star Trek is fantasy sci-fi -- most of the science in it is gibberish and more to the point, the writers don't even have to bother caring whether what they say is leveraged from something close to true or is gibberish they just made up because it was easy. Please don't make the common joking insult about sci fi fans true!
So can someone tell me what are the ways our body's quantum branches can occur and what it would be like?

Could you be in a branch where you had headache and another where you had stomach ache?
I'm sorry, but the way you wrote that sounds like gibberish and again: this is the science fiction section of the forum, not the QM section. If you have a real science question to ask, it needs to be asked in a science section of the forum and needs to be based on something you read/heard in a real science source, not something you heard in science fiction and can't tell if it's real or not, but believe it could be real because it sounds cool. Yes, you are coming off as one of "those guys."

If, however, you are asking for some gibberish to support a certain storyline, this is the appropriate forum for it. It sounds like you have a specific idea of what you want a character to be able to do; create an alternate reality/timeline for himself. I recommend Star Trek or Quantum Leap for example treatment of such ideas. You may note that they have very different styles: Star Trek hoses you down with technobabble while Quantum Leap is set up as a series with basically one line in the opening and then pretty much ignores the "how" - ignores the sci-fi itself" after that. You might say "Quantum Leap" isn't really sci-fi at all because all the sciency stuff does is open up the narrative for what the show is really about: non-science based human drama. The key in either case is to not paint yourself into a narrative corner with too much detail that you lose narrative flexibility. The Star Trek TNG technical manual actually cautions writers against this and points out that since none of it is real it doesn't necessarily have to be followed (except at the risk of annoying hardcore fans).
 
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So can someone tell me what are the ways our body's quantum branches can occur and what it would be like?

Could you be in a branch where you had headache and another where you had stomach ache?
Since many-worlds - MWI - is merely speculation, the answer surely is, nobody knows. But generally, it is taken that 'you' are only ever in one branch at a time. So while many-worlds implies that all possible alternate histories and futures are real, 'you' are only ever aware of one at a time, even if there is a branch where you had headache and another where you had stomach ache. Indeed, the 'all possible' aspect can lead to the assertion that there must be those branches...and a seemingly infinite number of others, including an infinite number where you don't exist at all!

Or don't the quantum branches affect such qualities at all? How would it affect the person then (what features or qualities would that produce in different branches?
Technically, the MWI interpretation suggests that everything has/will happen in a branch somewhere, so QM kinda doesn't occur as we currently see it, because it denies the actuality of wavefunction collapse.

Some sci-fi novels include a lot of physics discussions. This is to attract those who want more than actions.
Yes, but typically not superhero novels. I write mine own novels 'hard' as possible, but not so that it throttles the plot. So, Tyranny, my sequel to Guardian, has a wormhole. That means time travel of a kind that appears to be unachievable in our universe. Good advice from this forum was either ignore the time travel aspect entirely, or invoke handwavium that extends relativity to allow it. I'm going to use handwavium because it's set in the future so I have leeway for physics that's not invented yet.

You get to write however you like of course, but your original question was to explore superheroes and physics, and basically what we know of physics doesn't play well with superheros. So the advice remains, make stuff up, wrap it in a lot of mumbo-jumbo words, and let the reader's imagination fill in the gaps. If you want to use WMI as the baseline, go for it, that's entirely fine, but honestly, Wikipedia has more than enough big words and speculative ideas to draw from to help with your world building.
 
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Since many-worlds - MWI - is merely speculation, the answer surely is, nobody knows. But generally, it is taken that 'you' are only ever in one branch at a time. So while many-worlds implies that all possible alternate histories and futures are real, 'you' are only ever aware of one at a time, even if there is a branch where you had headache and another where you had stomach ache. Indeed, the 'all possible' aspect can lead to the assertion that there must be those branches...and a seemingly infinite number of others, including an infinite number where you don't exist at all!



Technically, the MWI interpretation suggests that everything has/will happen in a branch somewhere, so QM kinda doesn't occur as we currently see it, because it denies the actuality of wavefunction collapse.

My book would focus on hard sci-fi. So I may not take up the ideas of superheroes anymore.

It will have to do with Many worlds. Can you give an example where quantum uncertainties can produce two outcomes in the human body? Can it produce neuron firing, not firing. Or enzymes locking into protein, not locking? Or would quantum uncertainties only affect the the position of one atom of your cells? I'm not referring to using external devices, for example, if you are using a double slit. You can be in two branches. I'm only asking the natural quantum uncertainties in the molecules of your cells and body. How can it leads to two branches that would have large effect on the person?

Yes, but typically not superhero novels. I write mine own novels 'hard' as possible, but not so that it throttles the plot. So, Tyranny, my sequel to Guardian, has a wormhole. That means time travel of a kind that appears to be unachievable in our universe. Good advice from this forum was either ignore the time travel aspect entirely, or invoke handwavium that extends relativity to allow it. I'm going to use handwavium because it's set in the future so I have leeway for physics that's not invented yet.

You get to write however you like of course, but your original question was to explore superheroes and physics, and basically what we know of physics doesn't play well with superheros. So the advice remains, make stuff up, wrap it in a lot of mumbo-jumbo words, and let the reader's imagination fill in the gaps. If you want to use WMI as the baseline, go for it, that's entirely fine, but honestly, Wikipedia has more than enough big words and speculative ideas to draw from to help with your world building.
 
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Can you give an example where quantum uncertainties can produce two outcomes in the human body?
Probably easiest to think about WMI as, if a neuron fired, then another entire universe is cleaved off where the neuron did not fire. So you have this insanely large (perhaps infinite) set of branching universes where things that occur trigger a universe where the thing did not occur. It's likely a single neuron firing is too granular to be meaningful in a story sense, but perhaps it could be a photon hitting the retina.

The glint of light from the sniper scope was the only hint she had that the assassin had caught up with her. A stream of photons that barely registered before the bullet, so slower than them, yet so much more impactful, entered that same eye and blew the back of her head off. [snick] The glint of light from the sniper scope was the only hint she had that the assassin had caught up with her. A stream of photons that barely registered but were enough that she whipped her head aside, the passing bullet striking the wall behind her and showering her with stone chips.

"I prefer the one where I don't die," Sarah noted sourly, as the Professor dialed back the Many Worlds Interpreter before it cascaded into another infinite views of her potential futures.
"Yes, I can imagine you would. Which is why that's the one I'm sending you to. You should have enough of an advantage to catch the assassin and finely we can get to the bottom of whoever is corrupting the multiverse and shutting off timelines. And I know I don't have to remind you, the clock is ticking. Emory has been watching the threads being cut and it's now only thirty two trillion from our prime line. It sounds like a lot, but the assassin is working their way upstream from the tributaries and if they reach the head of the timeline before you do, we won't even know, we'll just have never existed."


I like Philip Ball's rebuttal of WMI, not necessarily because I agree with it, but because he provides an accessible overview of the interpretation and some problems with it.

However, it's a nice sci fi story framework because it allows you to write characters who have control over it...and those who don't. In that way, it's like time travel: your protagonist can be purposeful and in charge. Or they can be confused and off balance. (Try not to make them a bit of either. Readers prefer black hat/white hat characters if reviews on Amazon are anything to go by, and if there are shades of gray, you'd best a spectacular wordsmith or it's likely to be clunky). Either way, it let's you establish an emotional narrative to connect with the audience.
 
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My book would focus on hard sci-fi.
Well. Hard sci-fi is when you write something, and then you get a bunch of MIT students greeting you at some sci-fi convention that what you wrote is not exactly working. So you are forced to make a sequel.

To be honest, I don't think you are ready to put that many science into it.

The term 'technobabble' is often interpreted as derogatory. It is not. To write good technobabble is a really hard task, requiring real talent. To have it the feel of consistency, with almost making sense and with a touch to the real science: giving just the right amount/kind of pressure to move the plot in the right direction yet have the characters feel the shackles - while technobabble indeed had some almighty starfleet engineers around its birth, but actually it is far more than that.
 

russ_watters

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My book would focus on hard sci-fi. So I may not take up the ideas of superheroes anymore.

It will have to do with Many worlds. Can you give an example where quantum uncertainties can produce two outcomes in the human body?
It seems like you are looking to have two potential outcomes in one universe or a way to access one from the other - to change an outcome. That's not how it is theorized to work: all outcomes exist simultaneously and separately. The special sauce - the technobabble - would be in how you access one from the other. See Michael Cricton's "Timeline" for some of that (time travel, but same diff).

This does not qualify as hard science fi. It doesn't contain as much fictional science as Star Trek or superheros, but it is still based on it nonetheless.
 
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That's pathetic.
Maybe: but that case made it being a reference anyway. If you can't make others checking your calculations/ideas (on scientific basis) then you are just not 'hard' enough...
 
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I don't want to discuss Avengers:Endgame yet to avoid spoilers (for those who still haven't watched it).

So I'll just talk or ask something in Infinity War.

When Doctor Strange looked at the 14 million possibilities and only saw one way they can win.

Was he peeking at all the many worlds or only the present world?

I really think it's many worlds.

Now the science. If a person can perceive quantum superpositions (such as Doctor Strange). Should he in principle able to peek at all the branches? I know this is no longer unitary. But even Copenhagen is not unitary. So what is wrong with the concept of being able to perceive superpositions (what quantum laws would be broken if someone like Doctor Strange can perceive superpositions)?
 

russ_watters

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When Doctor Strange looked at the 14 million possibilities and only saw one way they can win.

Was he peeking at all the many worlds or only the present world?

I really think it's many worlds.

Now the science. If a person can perceive quantum superpositions (such as Doctor Strange). Should he in principle able to peek at all the branches? I know this is no longer unitary. But even Copenhagen is not unitary. So what is wrong with the concept of being able to perceive superpositions (what quantum laws would be broken if someone like Doctor Strange can perceive superpositions)?
My recollection is that Dr. Strange was able to see into the [possible] futures with the aid of a magic stone and made no reference to QM that I can recall.
 
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BWV

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So when Thanos's snapped his finger in the last movie, was everyone in the MU in a Schrodinger's cat superposition of live / dead until a theater goer saw whether they survived or not?
 

chasrob

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[...] When Doctor Strange looked at the 14 million possibilities and only saw one way they can win.

Was he peeking at all the many worlds or only the present world?

I really think it's many worlds.[...]
I read that the number of "vacua" in the string theory landscape is at least 10500, and possibly 1015,000, so the good doctor came up short, methinks. :)
 
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Now the science. If a person can perceive quantum superpositions (such as Doctor Strange). Should he in principle able to peek at all the branches?
I still feel that you are approaching this all wrong. If it's for a sci fi story, then any physics based on WMI (or string theory) is already highly speculative. Which means, You get to write it how you want it!

If you want your character to perceive all the branches, then do it.

If you want your character to only be able to perceive some, because he's like Human and can't see the infinite, then do it.


Do whatever your story needs doing, because most of the audience are there for the story, not for the physics. Sure, we like it make some sense, but whatever you write, nobody can prove you wrong, because it's all just theory.

Unlike relativity, which has been validated numerous times, you have immense latitude to use QM/WMI/Handwavium physics to tell your story. Certainly, Greg Egan writes highly technical sci fi novels, with a number of them including QM as the basis for the story. But here's the kicker, an Amazon.com review for one of his novels, Quarantine:

"My problem with Egan is always that I'm apparently just not smart enough. I absolutely love the physics issues that he tackles, but ultimately, I end up being as frustrated with the plot as if I had just read Stephen Hawking's book."

I'll admit to be baffled by his use of physics at times, and it's frustrating as a reader because you wonder if you're missing important aspects of the story.

So, Wikipedia has enough detail on WMI that whatever story idea you have, the physics can inform it. But if you want to write a highly intricate physics-based sci fi novel where QM/WMI/ST are described in detail and become the primary levers for the plot, then you'd best really understand what you're writing, because it's going to be a hot mess otherwise.
 
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There are discussions whether Endgame can overtake Avatar with box office of 2.7 billion dollars.

Here's a puzzle. It took 22 interrelated movies to make EndGame no. 2 in the box office since 1945 (Avatar being the no. 1 in box office record in all of history).

But Avatar has no previous stories or movie lines. It was only the first. How come so many people got to watch it?

I'll watch Avatar tonight again. I forgot all about it. I only know they were blue giants.

Also how can you make your sci-fi novel reach the big screen? Is it the story that counts or connections in the movie industry? How many of your had your books that has become part of TV or movie shows?
 
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Also how can you make your sci-fi novel reach the big screen?
Serendipity is the only answer I can give :oldlaugh:

I have friends who work in the movie industry but that might make it harder for Guardian or Dust to make it to the big screen, who knows!

But I do know that if you write your novel expecting movie options...don't write your novel. Writing is lonely, isolating, and as with any content creator space, 99% of us don't make any money from it. Besides, books that are written with the big screen in mind are flavored with that, and they don't tend to be very good because of it. A novel draws on the reader to paint the scene, a script paints the scene for the Director to film.

As for Avatar, well it had James Cameron behind it, and he was already well known, and perhaps more importantly, well regarded. The 3D that he created for it was amazing, truly cutting edge, and that alone was worth the price of admission. And the story was engaging, so if you saw it for the hype, you were not hit by the all-too-often "great special effects, but boy was the story terrible" disappointment.
 
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Also how can you make your sci-fi novel reach the big screen?
To pick/create a different world would help a lot at this point. Thanos and the like are running under the license of the copyright owner: independent books which does not fit into the official timeline/world won't get published.
To get permission to contribute for that world requires already established fame and background and comes with a ton of strict requirements regarding the story, content and style.
 
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My sci-fi novel will NOT include Thanos and sorta become they were already copyrighted, of course.

It will involve the following kind of plot.

One day in live TV. A person demontrated the ability to make an object vanish and make it reappear elsewhere, or the ability to teleport object. He can make the microphone vanish and make it appear a few meters away or the chair etc.. No magic trick.

The book will involve CERN and all scientists where they would debate how it could happen. The scientific discussion would be like this. Does it involve quantum only or ability to control quantum "stuff".. or does it involve the ability to control spacetime (create wormhole or sorta), or is it combination of quantum and spacetime.. or quantum gravity.

You may tell me not to write the book or change the ideas. But the point is I want to write that way. You want me to dumb it down so much that it won't involve any science discussions. But my topic will be about CERN and scientists trying to confront the phenomenon.

So instead of telling me to write other topics or to just include only the details like the police chases the teleporter to fill up the entire book and not include CERN. Just share your ideas if you have some. If you don't know. Just just let those who can give a tips or two reply.

Is there any signature you can think of that I can include in the discussions among the world scientists whether it involves just manipulating the quantum (ability to uncollapse wave function for example), or manipulating spacetime (ability to open up portal or rearrange the spacetime manifold), or manipulating quantum spacetime (where quantum and spacetime is just emergence (I need to include a theory or two how the emergence work).

This is the only thing I'll ever ask you guys here so don't hesitate to share an idea or two about it. Dont reply telling its stupid idea. I wont criticize any of your stories too.
 
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Nobody is criticizing your ideas @cube137 or telling you what to write - indeed exactly the opposite - but you're the one asking for advice and then seem annoyed by the responses. Anyway...

Is there any signature you can think of that I can include in the discussions among the world scientists whether it involves just manipulating the quantum
Do you mean radiation or physical effect by "signature"? If you do, have you looked at the QM forums here? There are a ton of experts debating many theories and concepts, and it's likely they've already discussed, in detail, what you would like to know. If not, you can ask directly, they're pretty friendly.

Other than that, your premise seems fine, good luck with it.
 
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Nobody is criticizing your ideas @cube137 or telling you what to write - indeed exactly the opposite - but you're the one asking for advice and then seem annoyed by the responses. Anyway...



Do you mean radiation or physical effect by "signature"? If you do, have you looked at the QM forums here? There are a ton of experts debating many theories and concepts, and it's likely they've already discussed, in detail, what you would like to know. If not, you can ask directly, they're pretty friendly.

Other than that, your premise seems fine, good luck with it.
By signature I mean whether telekinsis, teleportation only requires modification of quantum mechanics (QFT) or also spacetime or both of them at same time.

I have read most messages in the QM forum including all the debates.

But my question require more creativity. So need the imagination of the physicists here. In my book there is this mind field that can manipulate matter that can produce telekinesis, teleportation of macroscopic object, etc.

But the mind field can't be described by the Hamiltonian in quantum mechanics which deals only with classical fields. Mind field needs Quantum Field Theory. But that's not all. It seems spacetime needs to be involved too.

That is. Our present QFT is done on fixed spacetime. Not dynamical.

Remember that when we are doing semi-classical QFT in curved spacetime on a fixed background, we take some classical solution of the Einstein Field Equation and using Backreaction method and use it as a fixed background on which to do QFT.

Curently we do not have a version of QFT in which we can dynamically solve for the QFT and the background spacetime at once. Mostly the physicists only tried to quantum spacetime or build a quantum theory of something whose classical limit looks like spacetime.

Now in my sci-fi book where the physicists were discussing possible theories to accomodate the fact of the reality of telekinesis, teleportation demonstrated in live tv and to the world. I need to know if modifying the quantum is enough or extra spacetime dynamics required.

In short. Can the scientists who witnessed telekinsis, teleporation argue that modying the quantum is enough (like ability to influence quantum probability) or is there any signature or critical reasoning that quantum is not enough and you need the full load of quantum spacetime or quantum gravity? This is the thing I want to know. So I need a critical reasoning for the latter so I have something to focus on.

If quantum is not enough and we have to modify spacetime. Then I need creative ideas how to combine quantum and spacetime, whether we need to create a new QFT in which we can dynamically solve for the QFT and the background spacetime at once. And how to start to do this. My book will only reach up to this point (the scientists dicussing part of it in general worldwide conference). Of course I won't introduce any math as no sci-fi books contain math.
 

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