fear of infinity

amoeba02This discussion of infinite time and its consequences came about because a character in the story Lighter than Claire suggested (not literally) that it might be worth writing something on the topic.

In the 16th and 17th centuries, the vanitas, or vanity, art style carried the religious reminder that life is temporary—mostly everyone dies. Nevertheless, concepts of living forever, life after life, and life after death have been around for a long time, in many religions as well as in fiction. While some people are quite keen on one afterlife possibility or another, others, like Richard Dawkins,¹ would prefer to simply stay dead after they die. Continue reading

how to photograph the future

flower in timeAs well as entertaining us (sometimes), speculative fiction asks and answers ‘what if’ questions that can open up new possibilities and fire the imagination.

In this blog I’ve written up some of the non-fiction speculations behind my stories, and I was interested to see that a new publisher, Sci Phi Journal (Science Fiction and Philosophy) makes the connection explicit by adding “Food for Thought” sections after the stories and including essays that discuss philosophical aspects of spec fic.

Time travel is a spec fic standard that has never gone away, and in the sometimes real world, a lot of questions about the nature of time—physical, philosophical and neurological—still have no clear answer. Continue reading

the cat in the box paradox

Schrodingers_catOne source for the Ambisia story was the quantum mechanical (QM) cat in the box paradox devised by Schrödinger.

In Schrödinger’s thought experiment, a microscopic QM event is used to kill a cat in a sealed box. The event might be the emission of a subatomic particle and then using it to fire a gun, release poison etc.

The paradox is that there is a certain probability that the cat-killing particle will be released in a certain time, and evidently the QM state of the cat in the box is mixed, ie, it contains superimposed QM wave functions representing both a living cat and a dead cat.

When the cat owner opens the box, they see one or the other state, and depending on what they were hoping for, they might be disappointed. Continue reading