Is up at 365tomorrows. It’s about a programmer who writes an application capable of inferring a universe from the laws of reality.
Director Almod peered at the computer screen frowning in contemplation, “I don’t get it.”
“It’s a star,” Jaed offered helpfully.
“I know it’s a star,” Almod gaze never broke from the image. “So what?”
“Sooo…” the smile gracing Jaed’s face only moments before had vanished, “So it was made from scratch.”
Almod looked at her, quirking an eyebrow, “On a computer.”
“Yes. On a computer,” Jaed’s hands began playing with one another in that way they were prone to do when she was anxious. This was not going the way she had planned, “I gave the computer eight decillion virtual hydrogen atoms, described in exquisite detail, and defined an environment with physical laws just like our own Universe, and…” Jaed’s mouth scrunched up at the look on Almod’s face.
“And it made a star,” the Director’s frown deepened.
“I–I don’t like to think of it as making a star, so much as the computer inferred a star,” Jaed swallowed.
“What are the applications of this?”
“It’s a proof of concept for the Cartesian method,” Jaed stumbled over the words trying to get them out. “In the 17th century, the philosopher Descartes argued that everything about reality could be known through logical inference. In the 18th century, John Locke argued that reality could best be understood through experimentation, and this has been the dominant paradigm for centuries, the scientific method. The only place Descartes’ idea has had any relevance is mathematics.”
Director Almod’s eyes were starting to glaze over, and Jaed’s hands continued wringing one another, “So you see, this program, this simulation, is a proof of concept. I’ve given the computer a cloud of the most basic atom to work with, and, using gravity, the electromagnetic force, and the strong and weak nuclear forces, it has inferred fusion, producing helium. It has even inferred several gas giants in orbit around the star. So you see…?”
“Hmph,” Almod grunted and Jaed’s heart sank. “We live in a Universe a few billion years old–”
“13.5 billion years old…”
“–Running that on a computer, even accelerated, you might have something useful to the company in… What? A few million years?” the Director shook his head, “I’m sorry, but we can’t dedicate more computing power to something with such mediocre chances of profitability. We don’t do science experiments here.”
Almod left the room without another word, leaving Jaed to swivel back to her disparaged accomplishment. Helium now made up 0.27 percent of the atoms in the simulation, Oxygen and Carbon made up 0.006 percent and 0.003 percent respectively. Neon and Iron were there too, and when the star eventually went supernova, Jaed was certain it would produce all the other elements found in the Universe.
But that event was decades away (not “millions of years” as Almod had grossly exaggerated), and would only occur if the server was allowed to run that long. In the meantime, Jaed could at least watch her simulated Universe of a single star for her personal enjoyment, maybe get a Discover magazine article out of it.
She zoomed in on a tiny speck of clumped matter, a planet made of carbon was orbiting the star. It had an atmosphere as thick as the layer of varnish on a globe. H2O molecules were pooling on its surface, forming lakes and oceans.
There was also a strange discoloration spreading across the planet that puzzled Jaed. There were no chemical reactions with the few elements present in the simulation that she could think of to produce the color green.