Traversing the Realitiferous Aether 101
Part 1 of 2
Good morning, students! First of all, let me congratulate you on your entrance into the Invisible College! Here, we will be learning about the basics of Quantum Chronodynamics and worldjumping. Many of you are also taking classes in Powers Theory and will see some similar concepts being used in this course.
Now, all of you come from highly differing backgrounds, and this course is a primer that will get all of you on 'even footing' so to speak. Many of you may have heard 90%, even all, of what I'm going to say here. But many of you have not, and I shall elaborate upon it anyway.
Back in the day, time travel, and to a small extent worldjumping, was a fairly common occurrence. Superheroes and supervillains battled across the temporal axis of history, and this created a lot of question. Questions like "Wait a minute, if Clockstopper just went back in time and assassinated Einstein, then why do I still have a timeframe to respond to him? Why can I go back in time and stop him; shouldn't everything have instantaneously changed or something?" Time travel is confusing, and also Serious Business, which attracted many scientists to the field.
The real breakthrough came when Quantum Mechanics was applied to the question. But before I explain further on that, I'm going to step back a bit and talk about a bigger picture.
As I expect all of you know, there are various separate 'universes' within our massive 'multiverse'; our universe being one of them. If one were to take every single variable in the universe and turn it into a spatial axis, then you'd be able to create a massive infinite-dimensional volume where every point corresponds to an entire universe.
All these universes can be considered points within this massive soup of possibilities; what we call the Phase Space Continuum.
However, this does not imply that there are an infinite spectrum of universes (though there probably are infinite universes; I'll elaborate more on the degrees of infinity in later lectures). For example-
[THE PROFESSOR PUSHES A BUTTON ON A DEVICE ON HER TABLE; IT DISPLAYS THE NUMBER "1"]
… this is a simple quantum random number generator. It displays the numbers '1' and '0' on a 50%/50% basis. There is not another parellel universe which is identical to ours except for the device displaying '0'.
This is because of a fundamental quantity we Chronodynamicists call 'Probabilitas', which is colloquially known as 'Chrono-energy'. This is a misnomer because there is more to Probabilitas than simply time-travel; it is fundamental to the structure of the multiverse itself and the interactions between the various universes in it.
Probabilitas is an extension of a quantum mechanical concept called the probability density function. It measures how 'real' a given universe is. I'll deal with the proof later, but an important aspect of probabilitas within the multiverse is that it attracts other probabilitas in a manner similar to gravity.
In fact, we can use analogues to orbital mechanics to explain many aspects of the multiverse, and I will use a metaphor now; imagine the solar system at its conception.
- In the beginning, it was simply a diffuse ball of gases. This represents the birth of the multiverse as a diffuse spread of universes of equal reality; a 'spectrum of universes' so to speak.
- Over time, The center of this ball of gases coalesces into our sun. This represents the Prime Radiant, which I will elaborate upon later.
- The swirling vortex of gases around the center coalesce into various distinct bodies; the planets. This represents our many universes.
Now notice the analogy that our universe was a planet. It requires a good deal of 'force' to escape the 'gravitational pull' of the planet. This is why that one minor random number I just generated didn't split our universe into two universes; any two universes which are sufficiently similar to each other will collapse into one stronger universe. I say 'stronger' in the sense of 'it has the combined probabilitas of its two parent universes'.
The multiverse has coalesced into several separate universes. The scientific name for these are 'Worldlines', but for some reason a lot of scientists call them 'Storylines'. We physicists have bad senses of humo-
[A STUDENT ASKS A QUESTION]
Why, yes, you are perfectly right. Worldlines are not the rule of Phase Space; they are simply an extremely common emergent phenomenon. Just like it is possible to have non-planetary celestial bodies, its possible to have extremely complex structures made of probabilitas. For example, to extend the solar system analogy, there is an 'asteroid belt' of micro-universes that pop into and out of existence called the "What ifs?".
Continuing on, I've just about summarized the long and short of how the multiverse works. One final comment though; here's an abstracted image of the observable multiverse as it stands…
Those bands are actually extremely zoomed out views of thick rings of tiny point-like universe. Towards the outer edge, the colour is darker, implying a lack of probabilitas and reality. The universe on the central band (where we exist) are much stronger in reality.
Notice the central orb? That's the Prime Radiant. It's the 'sun' of our solar system of universe. It's not a universe; there's simply so much probabilitas in the region that it reaches a few boundary conditions that we won't talk about until we reach the advanced classes; essentially the region is so super-saturated with 'reality' that it breaks down into a region of Platonic Ideals. It's something like a Black Hole of the Phase Space Continuum; extremely massive and dangerous and a complete mystery beyond theoretical physics.
This is our 'solar system' within the multiverse, and we have reason to believe there are other 'solar systems' like these far faaar away in Phase Space. This multiverse has been christened 'The Octagon' due to the eight-fold council of inner worlds powers. The phrase "Octagon Multiverse" is actually a misnomer.
Traversing the Realitiferous Aether 101
Part 2 of 2
Now onto time travel! The reason we were named 'Chronodynamicists'!
Simply put, as Worldlines travel through Phase Space-oh sorry, let me back up there! Worldlines have to continuously travel through Phase Space; if it were sitting still, it would imply it was trapped in some sort of permanent stasis.
Anyway, as I was saying; as Worldlines travel through Phase Space they create a kind of 'mouse trail' behind them. This is their Timeline. It's something like a combination of a 'mouse trail', a slipstream of probability current and a plant. Yes, a plant; the universe is the shoot at the very top, and the point where the stem touches the ground is the Sketerpot Limit. I'll elaborate on this later.
There are three fundamental pseudo-constants within every Worldline that are dependant on the amount of probabilitas within the universe.
- Chronowave frequency, measures in seconds-inverse.
- Chronowave speed, a dimensionless constant.
- The Sketerpot Coefficient, measured in seconds.
Yes, that's right students, we're treading into the territory of the dreaded Quantized Chronological Wave Mechanics! Fortunately for all of you, we will not be focusing on the math of QCWM. We will, however, be focusing on internalized understanding and practical application of time travel technology and superpowers.
Let us say that Alice travels back 1 year into the past. If there weren't any waves around, she would be stuck! The motive force that pushes us in the present 'forward in time' is the probabilitas of our Worldline. If one were to travel back into the past, one would be stuck in a timeless stasis for there would be no probabilitas to push oneself uptime…
But this is only a theoretical oddity and a Timeline like this is as likely as a frictionless machine!
In reality, the probabilitas of the Worldline bleeds into the phase-slipstream of the universe as it flows through Phase Space. As this slipstream represents all the places the universe had existed in Phase Space in the past, and 'places in phase space' = 'state of the universe', the slipstream represents a perfect record of the Worldline's past!
As probabilitas bleeds into this slipstream, it echoes and interferes with itself and creates 'waves' of reality that travel uptime from the furtherest point of the Timeline until they reach the present.
The mechanics of this phenomenon are based on the pseudo-constants I established earlier. Let's take a sample universe, shall we?
- Let's set the frequency to be once a day.
- Let's set the speed to be 365.25.
- Let's set the Sketerpot Limit to be 100 years.
Now, the Timeline extends back 100 years. A time-traveler, say Alice, can't time travel back further than 100 years into the past.
Also, every day, a wave is created from '100 years' ago and starts flowing forward through time. It passes a year every day, and in 100 days, it will reach the present.
Let's say Alice wishes to assassinate the president of America 20 years ago. She travels back 20 years to the right time, and is stuck in time. However, the daily passing wave catches her in its wake, and she can now act in the past.
Notice how she experiences time at a rate 365 times faster than a person in the present; this is a constant problem for many Time Police agencies, which is why they place agents in the past to respond to changes in the timeline.
Alice then assassinates the president. This change is then propagated up via the very time wave that buoys her in the timestream. The changes will arrive in the present within 20 days; the local Time Police have just under 3 weeks to respond to this.
They can try so in two ways:
- Deploying an agent right onto the time wave itself so that they can attempt damage control to the timeline. Perhaps they can install a clone of the president! Note here that it is trivially easy to intercept a time wave; just deploy agents to one second ahead of the wave, and it will pick them up within 1/365th of a second.
- Deploying an agent further back in time and preventing the time traveling Alice from murdering the president in the first place! This has its pros and cons. The pro is that is perfectly fixes the Timeline without any problems. The con is that since it is behind the timewave that is carrying the changes, it will only fix subsequent waves. This means that, for one day, Alice's changes will affect the present. Sometimes allowing temporary changes is an unacceptable outcome.
On changing history; it is important to note that the Timeline is still essentially an echo of the current universe. This means that if one makes minor changes, the universe's sheer probabilitas-momentum will conspire to keep the Timeline consistent. We Chronodynamicists call this the "Anti-butterfly effect". If one were to travel to prehistoric times and step on a bug, it is unlikely to change the present. One needs fairly extreme changes to change the present.
… and we're running out of time, but I think we still have enough of it to cover paradoxes. And by 'paradoxes' I mean 'The Grandfather Paradox'.
Let's say Alice travels 20 years into the past and kills herself as a child. This propagates the change that child-Alice is dead up the Timeline. Note that the adult-Alice is still alive and kicking, riding the wave. Once the wave reaches the present, the changes propagate to the time machine itself, preventing Alice from traveling 20 years back into the past.
… and 20 years in the past, Alice blinking into her childhood house is quietly overwritten into her not arriving in a puff of energy. As the next daily wave picks up this change, it sends a new reality uptime: "Child-Alice survived, adult Alice never arrived". In 20 days, this reaches the present, and rewrites reality to allow the newly grown adult-Alice to travel back in time to assassinate herself…
And as everyone can clearly see, this is an infinite loop. Every 20 days, reality rewrites itself. In fact, over time, these two trading realities will develop into two very different worlds thanks to the butterfly effect, but each reality can contact and travel to the other the other by simply traveling to the right times to catch the right time waves.
These are referred to as different Timelines, for the same Worldline.
This, however, is not infinite! Notice that the distance between the act of Timeline-splitting and the present grows and grows over time. In the Alice example, it is 20 years… but over time it will grow to 21 years, 22 years, 23 years, etc.
So what happens if it extends past 100 years? Beyond the Sketerpot Limit?
Here's where the vegetation analogy comes into play; the 'base' of the plant is the final reach of the Sketerpot Limit, while the shoot on top is the present. The Worldline can here be thought of as a continuously growing plant that is slowly sinking into the soil.
As the Timeline splits, a branch is grown in the plant. Over time, the connection between the secondary shoot and the main stem approaches the ground, until it eventually reaches it. At this point, the plant effectively bifurcated into two completely separate plants with no connection between them!
This is exactly what happens with universes. Once the Limit is reached, 'parallel universes' graduate from conjoined twins to completely independent Worldlines. This usually involves splitting up the probabilitas of the parent universe evenly among the daughter universes.
This is also why time travel is somewhat dangerous; as a Worldline grows more and more Timelines, it will eventually rip itself apart into separate Worldlines that may not have the requisite probabilitas to sustain themselves! This leads to the entire family of Worldlines dying and being wiped from the Multiverse.
… and we're out of time. Tomorrow, I'll discuss Phase Space oddities like the 'What ifs?' clusters and travel between universes of different physical laws. We'll also be covering Worldjumpers like the famous Captain Hazard!