The well-spoken, mild-mannered Ron Charron can write some good space opera in which things can go bang in a big way. After the 1970s paradigm shift to “the violent universe” the pendulum swung back to a serene, beautiful cosmic “heaven substitute” lit with fragile rainbows of ionization.
The premise of the cd The Exodus Wave was inspired by recent observations of black hole “eruptions” caused by a mechanism that astrophysicists are presently debating. Perhaps the matter falling in does not go quietly into that ultimate night. It is known that material sucked in emits an electromagnetic “death scream” of hard radiation powerful enough to exert pressure on the surrounding matter farther away. But to eject 400 solar masses per year at a speed close to 3% of the speed of light must be the result of an action-reaction effect – the reaction being to the action of vast quantities of adjacent matter being dragged in. We can see something like this on our modest-scaled Earth where the tide rises on the hemisphere facing the Moon … and on the hemisphere on the opposite side.
One such eruption made space deadly to our form of life for a distance of 250,000 light years. Luckily the black hole in the center of our galaxy has already sown its wild oats. But what if this part of our universe collides with another one? The microwave background radiation shows signs of other expanding universes pushing against the envelope of this one in many places. The multiverse is getting crowded.
The paradigm of our conception of the cosmos may be swinging back to an earlier era. It seems appropriate to evoke these times musically as well.
If such a collision did occur, then what? Some scientists worry that the laws of physics belonging to the other universe (and different from ours) could seep in and create havoc. What if something worse happens, such as splitting a crack in time and space that will widen and tear?
As a lover of old sci-fi movies, I come across lines of dialogue that stick with me. One exchange between Dr. Quatermass and Dr. Roney has stuck with me:
“If we found that our world was doomed, say by climate change, what would we do about it?”
“Nothing. Just go on squabbling as usual.”
But if -- ?
There are other more hopeful scenarios, such as in a few of the novels written during the Cold War. In these variants, humanity united against a common threat.
In “Telemetry” Earth gets the alert in the form of impersonal electronic code. This track develops into the theme of Earth’s response to this terrifying news: dramatic suspense and urgent dread at the prospect of annihilation.
Not for the first time has Ron Charron attracted other redoubtable talents to his projects. Bernhard Beibl’s guitar riffs inject stern segments of dire realization as the stakes become obvious to minds driven to steely clarity by the sheer magnitude of the threat.
Read this as a story, with the track titles serving as chapter headings in an audio book that consists solely of cinematic soundtracks. (Hint hint!) “Subspace Breach” must refer to the analysis of the data as scientists learn what is happening in the worst-stricken region. Something from another dimension is invading our spacetime continuum. The front cover depicts the glowing menace in the sky as force and radiation and unclassifiable particles invade our universe through this rip. What are perhaps the last monumental images fashioned by our species dispassionately view this magnesium glare in the sky.
However it happens, terrestrial eyes regard the stars anew. Only now it is not grand schemes and dreams and ringing phrases about our race throwing down its challenge to the stars, a vision of our species encompassing the universe by the power of human intelligence. We are being challenged by a galactic eviction notice, and we must run the way animals run to escape a forest fire. “Interstellar” is Ron’s alone, a solo performance by a versatile artist. Given the grim prospects, the mood of the piece is appropriately muted, as though the entire universe is hesitating between one step and the next.
Ron performs “Wavefront” by himself too, and it’s most effective. I see it as a continuation of “Interstellar,” but the mood shifts from abstracted contemplation as the observer's’ gaze is halted by the anomalous intrusion from the other universe, which is blowing the gateway across the fifth dimension wide open, allowing it to blast through like an expanding sphere of nullified gravity, burning radiation, and contagion.
So “The Arcbuilders” get to work. Imagine the hull-assembling job being performed in orbit, the component parts ferried up from Earth’s surface and welded together. The activity is feverish without being chaotic.
When the enormous bulk is ready, the “Countdown to Launch” begins. This seems to be a time of reflection as the passengers and crew view the planet they are leaving forever. The Arc drifts in space, anticipation builds as systems phase up to full power, fault tolerance checks are made to certify that everything aboard is functioning smoothly.
Assuming that everything is, what will make it go? The favorite sci-fi technique today is the wormhole. John Archibald Wheeler was talking about constraining one volume of space to congruency with another. If you manage that, an object introduced into one of the spaces will end up in the other as well.
A friend of mine who is writing a novel is making abundant use of wormholes. During a phone call she brought up the issue that had been bothering me. How do you make the other end of the wormhole open up where you want it? relativity scientists talk sagely about the “initial-value hypersurface” which is a fancy way of specifying the numbers they plug into the spacetime equations. When you write equations with variables you have to start somewhere. All of the values have to be functions of t or time. At t = 0 you have to be clear about the other variables so you can watch how they change when you start the clock. The trouble is, Einstein went to a lot of trouble to restrict his math to our spacetime. Since he couldn’t observe a fifth dimension he went out of his way to avoid it. sure, the wormhole opens up because the symmetry of the process demands that the entrance has an exit. As far as I can tell, where the exit appears is completely random.
Early this year an article appeared that tried to explain quantum entanglement – the odd way that particles are connected together by a relationship that defies the limits imposed by the speed of light. The authors proposed that microscopic wormholes were making this connection possible. The uncertainty principle already insists that the so-called vacuum buzzes and hisses with a “foam” of virtual particles that are on the threshold of existence anyway. Nothing can go completely to zero in quantum physics. When Wheeler was trying to reconcile Einstein’s theory with quantum physics, he claimed that tiny wormholes were creating and uncreating themselves all the time, just like those unpredictable subatomic particles like the electrons, mesons, the whole gamut. If you give one of these ephemeral, evanescent pairs of fairy dust a jolt just right, they’ll pop into reality and share this special relationship until some later interaction breaks the connection. The authors of the paper say that the mini-wormhole is what is connecting them (until it gets cancelled by the next thing that happens to either one of them).
Since the Arc is a substantial number of particles, the journey might rely on a macro-application of the uncertainty principle. If one of the characteristics for identifying individual particles can be isolated from the rest, since it depends on the location of other particles so distant that they are effectively at infinity (a favorite initial condition among scientists who like to keep their maths and their labs tidy and unaffected by uncontrolled parameters), if this characteristic can be changed by the application of certain local stresses in the continuum, the Arc will go simply because it “wants” to belong to our ordinary universe again, and until it’s in the right place it won’t.
That’s a lot of “ifs.” And right now, in order to compare the identity of the two spaces you’ll need to generate a signal that is flatly forbidden by everybody from Heisenberg on down.
But if you could -- !
I imagine that “Quantum Theory” is about how mathematical intuition solves the problem. It’s as good a guess as anybody else’s.
As the wavefront of destruction approaches, the clock ticking relentlessly, Earth’s scientists battle impossible odds and their own fear of inadequacy to pull a scientific hat-trick that saves the human race and as much terrestrial life as possible. A good way to sum it up is by saying that the wave created by the bombardment of our cosmos by another creates a second wave: “The Exodus Wave.”
Apparently normal space persists in imposing conditions of its own: so many degrees above the plane of the ecliptic; direction set as though for sublight travel. While Ron sustains the central theme, Bernhard reappears as though to remind the listener of the unaccountable disturbances in real space which the Arc is fleeing. Arend Westra has envisaged the different order of existence to come, when the Arc is crossing that indefinable threshold between its two possible states of being after “Booster Separation.” Ron has a gift for tying together these disparate methods of space travel.
During “Arcflight” the Arc has ceased to exist in our normal universe, but the crew remain aware – their hearts beat, their onboard clocks continue to tick away time. Subjectively a “real” ship and a “real” crew continue to exist. I don’t know if the people aboard experience anything untoward as they rush onward from one sun to another, driven by whiplashes of light. The transition might have felt like tumbling as far as the devil when he was cast into the pit, yet it lasted only seconds.
Facing them is the long stress of the voyage, especially since it is unbroken. There is the risk of developing claustrophobia. There are other psychological effects. There may be physical ones too. As far as normal spacetime is concerned, the Arc exists only potentially. Human tissue may react differently in this other state of being. To reduce the strain of the journey, most of the people will be put into “Hibernation in a Virtual World” where they can live a second life.
Be prepared for some find metallic pianambience augmented by lines of music that weave banner-like around the deep vibrations. Next comes a hastening buildup of epic notes which may signify the immersion of the passengers in heroic adventures, test of courage, the making of kings and queens, lost worlds from a distant, half-forgotten past that prepare them for the real adventure to come.
A grating robotic voder calls the sleepers back from an archetypal eternity while they are “Approaching Terra Nova.” At trip’s end they will open the Arc’s ecology to replenish the resources which are bound up in their bodies. Water, calcium, phosphorus, nitrogen, carbon, eighty or a hundred pounds of complex organic compounds in the form of heart, brain, liver, lungs, the rest. How marvelous it is that beings spawned in a chemical soup, mere smears of moisture on a ball of rock, should cross the gulf between the galaxies. And utilize powers similar to the seething, crackling furnace fires that were threatening to reduce them to ashes, and their home planet to molten slag.
George Miler, remote-skies.blogspot.com April 12, 2017