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3 Posts

Posted - 01/29/2006 :  15:12:39  Show Profile  Email Poster  Reply with Quote
I remember working with a physicist from Duke. When he opened his attache case, there was always a SF paperback right next to the science documents we were working on. He told me that SF first inspired him to go into physics. Many scientists who I've known became interested in science from reading science fiction as kids. Certain SF can be said to be a cultural artifact of science as a belief system in society. And the pollination works both ways. When Carl Sagan was writing his book Contact, he needed a viable method of interstellar travel. In order to give the story some degree of credibility, he wanted something that, although exotic, should at least be possible given what we know today. So he called his friend Kip Thorne at Cal-Tech in LA. Thorne came up with something physicists had just briefly considered--wormholes. That communication with Sagan set Thorne thinking about wormholes. After getting in touch with his friend Stephen Hawkings, Thorne set out with other physicists such as Matt Visser on a serious study of wormholes.

I will admit that much of the physics that I consider in Worlds In Transition is speculative at best; but the stories were an interesting way for me to explore murky issues of society and science in a human context. That is the power of fiction.

Edited by - PeterD on 01/30/2006 11:19:44


203 Posts

Posted - 05/04/2006 :  07:58:19  Show Profile  Email Poster  Reply with Quote
A number of readers have asked about simulations. Simulations are central to some of my stories as well as to Proteus Rising. I thought some readers might be interested in the more transcendental aspects of simulations.

A simulation is a model used to predict or gain insight into the system it's modeling. All we have are models that we infer from experiment. We call that collection of models science. Evolution is a model for what is happening in the objective worldóthat's why science changesówe amend our model. For anyone who's interested, Richard Dawkins, in The Blind Watch Maker, develops an evolutionary simulation of avatars with 16 genes, then evolves them under "non-random" environmental pressures. To take the simulation idea a little farther, Wolfram once proposed a theory in which the universe was actually a giant computer executing a kind of algorithm, and the laws of physics were just a shadowy inference of the universe's operating system. David Deutsch, arguably one of the first proponents of quantum computers, in his book, The Fabric of Reality, argues the use of a virtual reality simulation to test the possibility of deriving an experiment in which an inhabitant of a virtual world could tell whether he/she were virtual. His motivation was to explore if we could determine from experiment if we were, in fact, a simulation of some more objective reality.
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