I'm not quite sure why my blog seems to have got stuck in some science fiction oriented hysteresis loop at the moment, but I might as well take advantage of it after reading an article last week about creating tailor-made Universes. And this, supposedly, actually isn't science fiction. As the renowned Dr. John Gribben explains in his book "In Search of the Multiverse", it's perfectly possible - in fact quite likely - that our own Universe is actually just a member of a collection (or generic List maybe) of Universe instances in a Multiverse.
It seems that the only way physicists have discovered for making a Universe is to start with a black hole and have it explode and release into the ether all of the mass it contains - rather like the recent global finance black hole where the banks exploded and all the money evaporated into the ether. And, expounding on the theme, if we are part of a Multiverse it's supposedly almost inevitable that somebody in another Universe originally created our black hole (the mass one, not the money one).
And by carefully modifying the initial settings (such as the force of gravity) and other content, it seems like they could influence the development and future evolution of the new Universe to some extent. Rather like the way we carefully tailor the target and content of our guidance here at p&p before launching it into the wild world of the Web. Of course, unlike our guidance, once it sets sail the manufacturer of the new Universe has no control over it. So the state that the world is in now is entirely our own fault.
Making a black hole is, according to the article, not that difficult. They reckon that the Large Hadron Collider (LHC) at CERN in Switzerland could make very small ones - a fact that has alarmed some people to the extent of taking legal action to prevent them using it at all. Making very large ones is, of course, likely to be more problematic (and dangerous). To give some idea of the difficulty, the article explains that you would have to compress the earth into a ball about half an inch (one centimeter) in diameter. Or, to provide a p&p-related allegory, compress the entire documentation set for Enterprise Library 5 into a 4-bit integer value.
So perhaps Terry Pratchett's story about how the Wizards at the Unseen University inadvertently created our Universe and "Roundworld" (the Earth) when their experimental thaum-splitting reactor went out of control is not just fiction. Or maybe Gregory Benford's novel "Cosm" about a disobedient particle accelerator creating a baseball sized Universe is more prophesy than just an entertaining read. Of course here at p&p, where we're always at the leading edge, we'll need to provide some guidance on the process. Most likely including a table of members for the new Universe:
Constructor: Creates a new instance of the Universe class and sets the name for the new instance. Use the var keyword when defining the return type as the actual type returned is likely to be previously unknown.
var myUniverse = new Universe("Sample Universe")
Description: Gets or sets the relative gravity ratio for an instance of the Universe class. The value must be a member of the UniverseGravityRatio enumeration.
myUniverse.GravityRatio = UniverseGravityRatio.WowThatsHeavy
Description: Gets or sets the speed of light in metres per second for an instance of the Universe class. Values less than 5 may impact the operation of forthcoming technologies within the new Universe, such as cable TV and lighthouses.
myUniverse.SpeedOfLight = 250000000
Description: Gets or sets the ratio of detectable matter in the new Universe instance. All Universe instances appear to contain less matter than is actually required according to the laws of physics. The remainder is the paperwork. Typically this is around 75% of the total.
myUniverse.PaperWorkRatio = 0.7
Description: Gets or sets a Boolean value that determines if Plancks constant will be variable or constant for an instance of the Universe class. Setting this value to false may have indeterminate effects such as raising the level of uncertainty for the results of measuring physical items within the Universe, and increasing the number of cats. It may also affect the quantizational stability of electrical charge, which is typically appropriate only if your company manufactures Uninterruptible Power Supplies.
myUniverse.IsPlancksConstantConstant = false
Description: Starts the instance of the Universe class running. Note that the Universe instance will run on a background thread, which means that you will not be able to interact directly with the user interface.
Description: Creates a backup copy of the Universe instance. This allows you to restore it following a configuration error or failure during operation. Backup copies should be protected with a strong password and stored in a secure location.
var myBackupCopy = myUniverse.Clone()
Mind you, what's somewhat worrying is if Douglas Adams actually knew all about this from the start, and summarized it in one of his more well-known comments: "There is a theory which states that if ever anyone discovers what the universe is for and why it is here, it will instantly disappear and be replaced by something even more bizarre and inexplicable. There is another which states that this has already happened."