June 1998
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Waiting for Tipler

By Piyal Navin Weeraratne-Arachi-Patibandige

"Why is green, green?"

Ah, the stupid questions of youth. We all asked them we did, peeling away the pretentiousness of our parents and revealing how little they really know.

"Green is green. It just is, that's all I can tell you. Certain wavelengths of light register in a certain way in your eye and you've learned to identify that with a term you call green, but there really isn't anything called green. You just call it green. A better question is what is colour."

But he didn't press on with that, he stopped caring maybe the second sentence into what I'd been saying.

"Why are stones hard?"

"Ah, easy one. Stones are hard because they're made of materials where the particles are held by very strong bonds, so you can't just pull them apart. Some are macromolecules like diamonds and they're the hardest, except if you know clever cleaving tricks. It has a lot to do with how hot things are, because the photons bouncing around in things are what the bonding forces in them have to hold against, in order to stay together. The answer is stones are hard because they're not molten."

"Why do things blue shift?"

"Easiest still. Things blue shift because they're all moving towards each other and the Universe is contracting."

Today was Forman's birthday and he promised us a grand old party and here it was. Everyone had turned up and then some, the lads from work, some of Forman's inhaling buddies who were all smoking clustered on a balcony very politely anti-social, and a whole brood of his seedy relatives from the countryside.

It was nearing the morning and a lot of people were lying about drugged out of their minds, their pheremone pits overloaded with synthetic drugs and the breeding after-glow signals of some Randy Birds. Forman was lying out on the lawn on one of the balconies with three young neuter females sleeping on him, the Randy Birds overwhelming their young, unhardened receptors. Forman lit another cigarette and extinguished his match on the back of the neck of one of the neuter females but she was much to blissful to feel it. He liked doing that to girls, I found it very disturbing.

"Thirty years and still looking like a fresh drone," I saluted him. "Thirty, fourty more and then you'll finally be done with keeping up appearances."

"Oh not this man!" he shoved off one of the females who grunted semi-consciously and attracted the attention of a Dominant in heat in automata mode, who carried her off to rape her. It didn't matter that they were the same sex and neither would remember it by mid-day.

"Oh?"

"I'm going to have it done. I'm uploading! Appointment set for five years from now."

"Uploading? You can afford that?"

"What are savings good for if your single and no spawn? Get myself a nice big Rig bigger than a Breeding Queen, yeah. I'll have fifty, sixty penises stuck on, it'll be on TV when I have sex! Buy your tickets now Trevel."

He wasn't joking.

"Why do you want to upload? It won't be you, you know."

"Hey, if its my pattern then its me. Trevel you've got to leave aside all these cheap emotions about looking after natural rigging, very out of date! That's why we got brains, see, we don't have the time to sit around and evolve anymore. And after I upload I'll be able to get into whatever other Rigs I want, better, tougher rigs. Heck, if I make a lot of money I'll make several copies of myself to better my chances. Why settle for just being an individual?"

"Oh of course."

"Of course that's all just sh*t. The real stuff is when we get close to Crunch time. By then machines will be a lot more advanced, a lot faster. My literal life time will be increasing faster than the Universe collapses around me and I'll be as immortal as you can ever be. It'll be even easier when I start slipping into the Ultimate Singularity; that just slows down time for me exponentially. I'm going to do it Trevel, I'm going to be God."

"Remember me."

"F*ck off," he lit another cigarette.

"Dami is uploading as well, she said she'll be doing it in a few weeks."

"She got the idea from me you know, said she was retiring and I asked her what she was going to do. You know what she said? Wait till I finally die and lose everything I made. It wasn't hard convincing her! Hey, speaking of convincing, you heard about that scientist at the Green Dome?"

"I haven't been able to keep up with anything since our new spawnling was delivered."

"This scientist, he says that the Universe was really warm, before it was cold I mean, that all the cosmic backround radiation around now is what's left of all the heat that was being generated at the time and is the energy that was wasted."

"How was there energy?"

"He's not sure but he thinks that there was a lot of violence with matter, anti-matter annihilation or a grand scale, nuclear reactions everywhere with light elements."

"Anti-matter makes more sense."

"I think so too. In that case he says that all the matter and anti-matter would have finished colliding before the Universe stopped expanding, so then everything got colder."

"Sounds all very sound and interesting."

He burned another cigarette in a neuter.

"Interesting? He said that there was probably life back then!"

"Life before the cold? During the expansion!"

"Neat stuff eh?"

"What a crazy idea. It must be right."

"Almost too crazy for me. Hey, some of that life might still be around now, you know, hibernating till it got warmer again."

"We're talking quadrillions of years!"

"Anything is possible. All it had to do is last. You know, an energy pattern or something. Even a record waiting for someone to decode it and recreate the original."

"The Holar Disks?"

"They're the oldest thing we know of after the Universe itself. What's to say its not even older than we like to think?"

"This is ridiculous."

"You're the one that mentioned the Disks."

"Well if they're information stores then they've sure got us fooled. Why would they make it so complex - and so natural seeming if they're artificial?"

"Maybe they don't want to be resurrected by just anybody. I know I bloody wouldn't, no! They're waiting for someone smart enough to crack them, the intelligence tests, someone really worth it. Think about it, we could live in a Universe filled with the wealth of what everyone had, and we can't get it because we're not good enough to know how to raid their tombs!"

"That's effective I say, make your tombs too advanced to be raided. I think I'd take Resurrection regardless of who'd do it, I wouldn't like to trust to finding an intelligent enough race right before everything ends. A bit too last minute."

"These are the last minutes. Every moment we squander now is accounted for somewhere now that the Universe has stopped expanding, every moment on an unyielding time table since them."

"Our species would probably have died out by them."

"Probably. But then there'll be people like me, waiting out for the end. I think I'll get extra filthy rich so that I can go off looking for the legacy disks of the first chaps, poor sods deserve to live forever as I much as I do don't they? I'd ask you to remind me but by the time I'm able our race probably will be extinct."

"I'll send you my disk," I said.

"F*ck off," he said again.

I obviously wasn't worth knowing forever.

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