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The Encoding

“Last Prefect Qa’a, we believe a solution is at hand,” breathed Imuthes.

A sigh of either resignation or relief from Qa’a and then “We have time, but now would be a fine moment for a solution. For so long our solutions have been about survival, this last one,” a pause, “our rebirth.”

There were people still alive that remembered the light of Tabby falling on Hoth. Today, the Array transformed gamma rays from Sekhmet, a stellar mass black hole, to bathe the planet with visibility, yet strikingly different light from what they remember from Tabby. Qa’a was the one that demanded the addition of Last to his honorific. Many others had followed suit and added Last to their names. He mused it really wasn’t necessary, as living on Hoth at this moment meant you always knew you were the last. Last man of the family Narmer. Last of the Engineers of the Array. Last lover of Neith.

Imuthes floated alongside his beloved Prefect. Old beyond any body, the Great Engineer of the Encoding was mostly augmented except for his brain. That brain had taken on the challenges of the Last Save and the Recovery. One failed, and one, so far, had not. As they moved, Imuthes reflected on the loss of Tabby. Sekhmet appeared seemingly out of nowhere. The rogue black hole was on the perfect trajectory to eject Tabby and capture Hoth. When they first discovered Sekhmet, it did not take long to discover that Tabby would be ejected. All of the people of Hoth were notified at the same time they were told of the plan for the Last Save.

The Last Save was the finale of a series of attempts to keep Hoth in orbit around Tabby. The energy needed was so great, Imuthes despaired many times. Finally, he came up with the Array. He looked up to see the rapidly fading star, knowing that in just a few years, the increasing distance would make Tabby invisible to the unaided eye. The purpose of the array was to provide Hoth with the energy needed to maintain its orbit around Tabby as it was ejected from the local cluster. After years of construction and innumerable calculations, Imuthes realized that no array could keep Hoth with Tabby. The array could; however, keep Hoth in a thousand year decaying orbit around the despised Sekhmet.

If it were not for the Recovery, Hoth would be rubble slowly winding into the maw of Sekhmet. The Array was the great invention of his people. It saved the plant from annihilation. As the dark interloper Sekhmet drew near, Imuthes used the Array to provide the delta in Hoth’s velocity to match the evil black hole’s orbit requirements. With their orbit stabilized, the Array was repurposed to convert Sekhmet’s X-rays into all manner of energies for Hoth. Now, however, saving Hoth was out of the question. What they needed was a plan for rebirth of their civilization. The Encoding.

The Prefect asked the current rigor of testing for the solution. “We are in the 314th iteration of the simulation, my Lord Prefect,” stated Imuthes. “The last 100 iterations have used some new concepts I would like to discuss now. There is great care to ensure that the Encoding explores our question, can we be rescued from inside the back hole, while at the same time, at some point, understanding its purpose. The bias to ensure that upon understanding its purpose, the iteration still explores our question is what has stymied us until now.

Just imagine, a society learns that all they are is a simulation instantiated by a dying people to rescue them from a black hole. Why would they continue their discovery, their science? What tool can we insert into the Encoding final iteration to bias the understanding fork to take the still true path?”


Mark was in trouble. His last paper had sent Professor Tegmax into one of his spittle rants. As a poor footballer in his youth, Mark had watched a small bit of spittle slowly freeze on his coach’s nose during a similar rant. Now, as Professor Tegmax emphasized the truism of science not being funny, fragments of spittle launched from the event horizon of his lips. Less a spray than a ejecta, the bits-o-spit mostly followed the same trajectory toward Mark with some wildly arcing off in the direction of the great window spittle attractor.

Mark was not listening. His mind wandered to the paper he wrote in college. The creative writing assignment was one of metamorphosis. Kafka had been consumed, and now it was Mark’s turn at writing a classic. The metamorphosis of food to feces was probably never anticipated by the professor, let alone Kafka, but the line including “individual feces pieces” was a hit in class.

“Mark, Mark, you are jeopardizing your credibility, not to mention your career,” moistly aired Professor Tegmax. “I was willing to support your research into mathematics as reality, but this ludicrous language [the professor doing the silly air quote finger thing] is Einstein’s observer is just, well stupid. Occam would scream. Reality arises from language?”

“Sir, Kaufman, Strogatz, and Lereto’s work in adjacent realities was the key. They showed how true innovation was equal to personal discovery. The mathematics of a person discovering a new song was equivalent to Curie’s discovery of radiation. If as it appears increasingly likely, that there is another external physical reality, then how does our reality present itself? How do we discover [Mark purposely doing the same air quote finger thing] reality?

“But Mark, language is what locks in reality? Please, sir.”

“Whatever is in my head, not communicated, is real only to me. As I hold on to some random thought, you and the rest of our reality will react as I either communicate or do not. When I elect to communicate, my words modify all adjacent realities. Some of those language constructs continue to propagate and become a new reality. We are individual observers that as a collective communicate the state of reality for our agreed to universe. We are the building blocks of reality and language is what locks in our discovery of reality. At one time, the bulk of humanity considered the Sun a god, the world flat, and flight impossible. Once people are able to describe a new reality that permanently modifies enough adjacent realities, then the new reality is discovered. Language is reality. And don’t forget, we now know that language is based in math.”

“Until you come up with a mathematical model that explains this, I loathe to call it a theory, OK theory, then your ideas, to use the German; es ist nicht einmal falsch!

Professor Tegmax’s use of German caused a huge increase in spittle. “That is why I am here, Professor Tegmax, I would like the university to fund my research. Pikovski just found pixelation. Our entire reality is encoded in the event horizon of some black hole. Why do we live on a black hole? Why is language the discovery tool for reality? You must support my research, Professor!”

“Get out, you and your crackpot ideas. Pixelation, indeed. Until the entire scientific community can understand and agree with Pikovski’s research, pixelation and the Holographic principle are not reality!”

“That Professor, I completely agree with,” Mark murmured as he left Professor Tegmax’s office for the last time.


“So Imuthes, what is different with this iteration of the encoding?

“Prefect, we placed the simulation in our future, not our present or past. I did, though, add much of our history into the iteration. The encoding of the simulation is holographic and the learning method is our language. This simulation is intended to tell us what it is like living on an event horizon. Its goal is to ascertain if there is a way to leave the prison of the event horizon. Can our frozen reality leak away from Sekhmet? In the 314th iteration, the simulation has just discovered the holographic reality. Even though it has discovered that it is trapped on the outer edge of a black hole, it appears that it is continuing discovery. The simulation science continues!”

“What was your bias Imuthes? What did you do this time to keep the Encoding alive?”

“Qa’a, we encoded a bias for hope.”

“Ah, my dear Imuthes, you give hope back to me on this day. The array gives us light and saved our world from being torn apart. Yet, it will not save us from the same fate as our simulation. So be it, launch the simulation to the Lagrange point. Someday, may a great civilization discover our simulation still at work looking for or having found a reality for leaving the event horizon.”

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