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Yet another writer in search of a catastrophe

  1. Mar 31, 2016 #1
    Below is just one idea among many bourbon-fueled brainstorms, in which I have searched for a suitable disaster to inflict on my characters. It may be that it's too grandiose to wrangle into a plot - the scenario I am trying to service is this: An alien is faced with this catastrophe (one it cannot escape from without help), and heck, we don't even know about it yet. It can't communicate well with us, but it has a macguffin, an artifact, from somewhere else, that if used properly, could effect an escape. It tries to enable us to use the thing (which it inherently can't do for itself, hence its interest in us), and thus save us all along the way. Hinjinks ensue. The question is, from what is this thing trying to escape? If it can't tell us directly, but we manage, with it's help, to discover the nature of this threat...what is it and how do we see it and describe it?

    The best catastrophe - at this stage of the plot's development - would be detectable a couple hundred years in advance of the fact, at the collider / quantum level - like, "Great Scott, the Higgs field is about to collapse!", or some such. A universal catastrophe works better for my plot, something you cannot merely run away from, even at light speed or faster.

    At present, the character discovering the nature of the impending woe has at her disposal advanced tools like a collider, laser tweezers, whatever - stuff that lets you look at particles and waves and their behaviors. These tools can be more advanced than our current ones, as long as I can describe them. If the character said "The universe is going to fade away", and didn't explain exactly why, because she can't tell exactly, that's OK - I have a working idea for that (see below) - I'm more stuck on when she says "And here's how I can tell". How does she discern it?

    So, here is the bourbon-fueled grandiose idea (that might be sorted out with your help, or might be blissfully abandoned for a better idea altogether)
    One theme of the story is infinity and how mind-stretchingly big that could be. Say reality as we know it, in this local section of infinity, is a wave, like a specific wave (among many) rolling along out at sea (a sea among many... you get the idea) - but the wave's quanta are universes. The leading edge of the wave are universes bursting into existence, into some medium or field, and the trailing edge of the wave are universes fading away as the wave passes. If our universe is one of those in the trailing edge of the wave, and the medium though which it moves just isn't anything of interest once the wave rolls past, then from our perspective we'd just fade away. I know this is all ridiculous as physics go, but I do see writers posing fanciful questions here... Any thoughts? What might our intrepid scientist say when she comes out of her lab with the bad news, that doesn't sound like a bad 80's movie script? Like, this doesn't seem to work: "I see particles just... fading away!" Wouldn't we all be getting non-functional and unstable if that were happening? I want her to learn that this is coming up, in a couple hundred years, but not happening yet (or at least not in a manner that renders the characters and their world currently non-functional).

    Thanks for any input!

    Dan
     
  2. jcsd
  3. Mar 31, 2016 #2
    Hmm, just noticed this category has it's own sticky, and discussion of literary works in progress are forbidden... dang. I'll delete this post as soon as I see how to do it. Sorry for the disruption.
     
  4. Mar 31, 2016 #3
    Below is just one idea among many bourbon-fueled brainstorms, in which I have searched for a suitable disaster to inflict on my characters. It may be that it's too grandiose to wrangle into a plot - the scenario I am trying to service is this: An alien is faced with this catastrophe (one it cannot escape from without help), and heck, we don't even know about it yet. It can't communicate well with us, but it has a macguffin, an artifact, from somewhere else, that if used properly, could effect an escape. It tries to enable us to use the thing (which it inherently can't do for itself, hence its interest in us), and thus save us all along the way. Hinjinks ensue. The question is, from what is this thing trying to escape? If it can't tell us directly, but we manage, with it's help, to discover the nature of this threat...what is it and how do we see it and describe it?

    The best catastrophe - at this stage of the plot's development - would be detectable a couple hundred years in advance of the fact, at the collider / quantum level - like, "Great Scott, the Higgs field is about to collapse!", or some such. A universal catastrophe works better for my plot, something you cannot merely run away from, even at light speed or faster.

    At present, the character discovering the nature of the impending woe has at her disposal advanced tools like a collider, laser tweezers, whatever - stuff that lets you look at particles and waves and their behaviors. These tools can be more advanced than our current ones, as long as I can describe them. If the character said "The universe is going to fade away", and didn't explain exactly why, because she can't tell exactly, that's OK - I have a working idea for that (see below) - I'm more stuck on when she says "And here's how I can tell". How does she discern it?

    So, here is the bourbon-fueled grandiose idea (that might be sorted out with your help, or might be blissfully abandoned for a better idea altogether)
    One theme of the story is infinity and how mind-stretchingly big that could be. Say reality as we know it, in this local section of infinity, is a wave, like a specific wave (among many) rolling along out at sea (a sea among many... you get the idea) - but the wave's quanta are universes. The leading edge of the wave are universes bursting into existence, into some medium or field, and the trailing edge of the wave are universes fading away as the wave passes. If our universe is one of those in the trailing edge of the wave, and the medium though which it moves just isn't anything of interest once the wave rolls past, then from our perspective we'd just fade away. I know this is all ridiculous as physics go, but I do see writers posing fanciful questions here... Any thoughts? What might our intrepid scientist say when she comes out of her lab with the bad news, that doesn't sound like a bad 80's movie script? Like, this doesn't seem to work: "I see particles just... fading away!" Wouldn't we all be getting non-functional and unstable if that were happening? I want her to learn that this is coming up, in a couple hundred years, but not happening yet (or at least not in a manner that renders the characters and their world currently non-functional).

    Thanks for any input!

    Dan
     
  5. Mar 31, 2016 #4
    It occurs to me the alien could be from one of the universes that has already faded. . Knowing it's inevitable the same will happen in this universe unless the artifact can be used to somehow keep this universe attached to the wave? Coffee fueled btw
     
  6. Mar 31, 2016 #5
    Coffee is even better! I think the alien is from this universe; its gotten ahold of this device, which if used correctly allows one to tunnel through to a universe further ahead, deeper within the wave. There is no "multiversal" time, but there IS a relationship to the way time runs in one universe compared to the way it runs in another. If they manage to get to the next one in line, they'll buy a billion years or so until the problem comes up again in that universe. Btw, the alien is a physicist - it wants to escape, but even more, it's interested in this device. It's something that it believes allows traversal between the universes, and was made by some sort of beings that have not only solved this problem of escape, but having done that, can move between universes at will - and they left these things lying around from time to time as they travel. I'm not too worried about defining the exact nature of the object - feels ok for it to be pretty mysterious, ultra high tech, alien, quantum spooky. The problem is figuring out how to have the humans figure out what's happening - for a number of reasons, it's best for this alien to have hardly any way to communicate anything directly (it's not "life as we know it").
     
  7. Apr 1, 2016 #6

    Drakkith

    User Avatar

    Staff: Mentor

    How about a false vacuum?
    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/False_vacuum
     
  8. Apr 3, 2016 #7
    Really...this is news to me. GTOM might be surprised to hear about this too.
     
  9. Apr 3, 2016 #8
    Yeah I'd read some material related to the Higgs field collapsing - this is more thorough and very useful, thanks. It still happens "with no forewarning", expanding at light speed. Unless I'm mistaken, by the time you noticed the stars going out you'd be dead...

    It's tricky, a catastrophe your charactors can escape must be one they can somehow detect coming... I'd use a more local catastrophe, but I like the way the alien is in the same pickle as the heroes - so a cosmic scale disaster makes everyone share the motivation.
     
  10. Apr 3, 2016 #9
    Dunno who GOTM is. There is a sub-forum, for writers, where this kind of question is allowed - I reposted it there.
     
  11. Apr 3, 2016 #10
    If I remember correctly the forum alerts you every time you moniker is mentioned. He should be along presently. Perhaps it's the fact that I tend to want to discuss things before they're actually written about. I haven't shown them a work in progress.
     
  12. Apr 3, 2016 #11
    Ah, I see. Well, it looks like, per the sticky at the top of the page, this forum is for discussing science fiction that's already been written or commercially produced, like a Heinlein novel or Star Wars. The Science Fiction WRITERS forum is for posting questions about books you are writing or plan to write - https://www.physicsforums.com/forums/science-fiction-writing.220/

    Maybe I'm dumb, I never did figure out how to delete my post here. I got a couple of nice responses from the writer's forum, though.
     
  13. Apr 3, 2016 #12

    Evo

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    Staff: Mentor

    I moved your thread to the correct forum.
     
  14. Apr 3, 2016 #13
    Thanks. It's going to be a duplicate, though, I think - I'd already re-posted it in the writer's forum.
     
  15. Apr 3, 2016 #14

    Evo

    User Avatar

    Staff: Mentor

    I merged the threads so they are all in one. I really wish that people would pay more attention to where a thread is and report it so it can be moved to the correct forum. It will never happen.

    If you ever need help, message me, or hit the report button on any post and tell us what you need. :smile:
     
  16. Apr 3, 2016 #15
    Will do, thx!
     
  17. Apr 22, 2016 #16
    So your issue is the response to a pending catastrophe?

    In my opinion, possible death has a very real response. Not to be insensitive but have you considered the natural response to learning you have end stage cancer as a prompt in this scenario? The stages to death? Denial, anger, bargaining, depression, acceptance. Admittedly in a fictional scenario, different characters would be exhibiting the different stages.

    The exact words and tone your characters use determines their perceived personalities so if your character is dramatic then 'Great Scott' works. A more contemplative character might take the acceptance track, "These findings have been the same in each simulation, I better call the boss." :wink: Your guy tho, your guy has a widget and he is going to get his neighboring foreign alien to work it though. So he is muttering to himself on how he is gonna manipulate that ignorant bastard into thinking it is for his own good to save you. He is asking for help from everyone he knows to get the authorities to listen up before it is to late. He's a bargainer, right?

    I hope this helps at least as much as the bourbon. Good luck!
     
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