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Speculative Fiction 'JACK AND JILL: An Existential Problem'

Arun Somasekharan, Warping of a Strange Attractor


Jack laughed. "No, not someone's brain. A Boltzmann Brain. And I assure you I did not crack open Boltzmann's brain and steal it. Ludwig Boltzmann, the eponym of the Boltzmann Brain, was a prominent Austrian physicist, who did seminal work on thermodynamics and entropy, in the mid nineteenth century. The Boltzmann Brain began as a thought experiment to explain the low entropy state of the universe that we happen to live in. What the thought experiment essentially said was this: A Universe having a low entropy would experience some statistically random quantum fluctuations that would coalesce atoms to form a fully functioning human brain with a full gamut of memories of human life experiences. The fluctuations would occur over a finite but extremely large time span. Just to put that in perspective, the last 'random' fluctuation that is known to us is the Big Bang."

"Again, thought experiments! So, I'm assuming this too has an implication on our reality as well?" Jill asked sardonically.

"You're learning," Jack said smiling. "Yes, indeed. Connecting thought experiments to quantifiable observable reality is an excruciatingly painstaking process, as I have come to understand. I pondered long and deep about entropy and quantum information theory and its implications on Boltzmann Brains. Can you imagine the number of physical conditions that would need to come together in order to realise a fully functioning brain in the vacuum of space? You cannot. And yet there is a statistical time frame to it."

"What is the time frame?"

"Depending on the choice of space-time manifolds and types of formations possible, it varies. But a good time frame would be 10 to the power of 10 to the power of 50. On a good day," Jack grinned.

Jill was speechless.

"Couldn't wait that long, obviously," Jack said seriously.

"I had to break the conventions of the thought experiment. Normally, if you can call a spontaneously forming disembodied human brain to be normal, Boltzmann Brains are highly volatile. I mean, if you place a human brain in the cold vacuum of space, it is bound to disseminate or become brain dead. But Boltzmann Brains don't have to be human, right? I mean it's just an anthropomorphic thought experiment that could in theory be further from reality. Statistically speaking, there is equal probability for the brain to be human or otherwise. The time frames were also attributed to the size of our current Universe and the entropy. Both of those factors affect the probability enormously. How could I increase the probability? I needed a closed system, say the size of this box here, of a controlled space-time manifold, preferably in a space favourable to quantum mechanical force correspondences, namely an anti-de Sitter space with super cooled boson gas, pumped in as primordial matter. The box-like dimensions produced an extremely low entropy environment, near thermal equilibrium to fire off quantum fluctuations."

"Hold on a second," Jill interrupted. "You created a brain that formed itself as a micro universe?" Jack let Jill absorb the enormity of that statement, before continuing.

"In essence, yes, but the manifold is sufficiently small so that you wouldn't have planets and galaxies forming. Don't worry, there are no little humans or aliens running around in there," he smiled.

"I'm not entirely sure if it was because of the boson gas or some other as yet unknown factor, but approximately 120.387 seconds into activation, boson matter coalesced into a Bose-Einstein Condensate sphere having a radius of 17.28cm. Of course, the measurement units are applicable only in our Universe and space. I believe, within that sphere there are folded spaces, which if unfolded, would make the overall dimension of the sphere much larger than 17.28cm."

"You lost me there. So, you were able to create this Boltzmann Brain, or something that you think is the Boltzmann Brain? I mean how did you know that it was indeed a Boltzmann Brain?" she did not look entirely convinced. Jack nodded.

"A very valid question, Jill. We have no reference point here. So, I had to make some assumptions. The human brain produces alpha and beta waves, with alpha in the 8-12 Hz and beta in 14-40 Hz ranges, in the idle state and while processing information. I had to assume that a Boltzmann Brain would produce such electrical waves but with an open frequency range. There was an intense burst of a type of waves called solitons that emanated from it, which signified the end of coalescence. A birth of awareness, maybe? You know, like when a baby is born into the world and experiences a sensory overload, it cries out.”

“But what about the stasis field then? Was it not active at that point?” Jill interrupted.

“Not at that point,” Jack said, “And inactive precisely to detect any such transformative changes.”

“There is still steady soliton wave activity on the sphere, but Bose Einstein Condensates are known to produce topological solitons. So, in a way that was to be expected, I guess. The sensors placed around the container detected a wake-up frequency range somewhere between 7-9 KHz, with wave patterns similar to human alpha waves, but operating at a significantly higher speed."

"So what about beta waves then? Did you detect beta waves, too?"

Jack looked at her and took a moment before answering. "No, not yet. The sensory feedback is not turned on at the moment. So, it is not getting any signals from our Universe. I don't know what is going to happen when the brain is bombarded with sensory information." Jill thought she sensed some fear in his voice.

"Are you scared?"

"Of course, I am. Wouldn't you be, if you were faced with something truly unknown and did not know what the repercussions of your actions would bring forth?" Jack said looking nervous.

His fear was contagious. "This is crazy! This is real, right? I mean this is really happening?" Jill was finding it hard to believe what she was hearing. Jack did not answer. She sighed.

"There's something else. How did you know that the atoms and molecules would coalesce into a Boltzmann Brain in the first place? It could become anything, correct? Why would matter come together as a brain? Is it conscious?"

"I do not know if it is conscious, not yet. As to the former, truth is, I did not know if a Boltzmann Brain or anything of significance would coalesce. Nature or the Universe, if you will, prefers high entropy. It is very easy to scramble an egg but extremely difficult to make an egg out of the scramble. It relates to the second law of thermodynamics: entropy increases with time. But that also means there was a point in the Universe's history, close to the Big Bang, when entropy was extremely low. Maybe at that point of time, there was a high probability of strange artefacts to form from disparate primordial particles, I don't know. Although the anti-de Sitter containment had far lower entropy than our Universe, the odds of forming a computing mechanism out of the void were still quite low. But forget the how or the science, Jill. Doesn't the fact that it happened, that there is a form of Boltzmann Brain in here, tell you something?"

"Like what?" Jill asked.

"Like maybe there is something out there. Something that we don't know of, that we can't understand or perceive, the unknowable thing. In Kant's words, the thing-in-itself, the Ding an sich. Maybe it's a machine, too, a Boltzmann Brain observing from the darkness and decohering reality wave functions. Maybe it is bleeding quantum information into Universes for reproduction, superimposing instructions on already existing quantum waves, templating itself, like an endless fractal set. As I said, I don't know, Jill."

"Alright then, what are you expecting? What will happen when it is awake?"

Jack appeared thoughtful for a moment. "Your guess is as good as mine. This is an out of context object. In the natural course of things, this object should not exist. If there is indeed something affecting superpositions of the reality wave pool, then I believe the brain will make contact. Or if there is entanglement involved with unused superposition states of the Universe, then it might change the probabilities of wave functions of those unknowable things. Maybe that would allow us to perceive the hidden cosmic secrets. I don't know." Jill silently watched him.

“Seems like there are too many ‘I don’t knows,” Jill could not help remarking.

He took a deep breath. "Well, I suppose the only way to find out is to let it free."

Jill watched as he slowly opened the box.

To be continued...

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