Saturday, 23 November 2019

You Call That Rain?

It’s wet again. Still, at least that isn’t plasma raining down on us, capable of vaporising our bodies in an instant. And, believe me, I know what that’s like. In fact, they used to make us play… hmm, I’m not sure I can translate the original word as it’s kind of a cultural reference, so I’ll have to do my best and come up with one in English in a minute. It’s played in a hypercube in a bubble of upgraded spacetime, along a second time dimension. This means that the game is over before it’s begun, which effectively rules out gambling. That said, some disreputable charlatans persist in fleecing unsuspecting tourist punters, who end up earlier regretting their gullibility – yes, earlier, not later: it’s confusing as hell having two time dimensions.

Okay, I have a name for this thing. Tesseraction. Not great, but it will serve for now.

Tesseraction is a somewhat cerebral contest, but physical activity is involved – in a way. The idea is to build a continuous sequence of slices of standard spacetime, and there is a physical subgame that plays out in each one. The rules of this subgame are chosen before the main game begins (actually, after it ends… but I don’t want to get into all that yet), and part of the attraction of Tesseraction is the creativity of the judges who come up with these rules.

In the first slice of spacetime at one end of the arena, the subgame is played under the normal laws of physics. The subgame players, of course, have to be simulated beings with artificial intelligence, because they are deleted once the subgame ends. All of their actions in each slice – from beginning to end of the subgame – determine the best move in the next slice, just as with a position in chess. A “move” consists of making a copy of a slice, performing certain allowed modifications to the laws of physics to try to alter the outcome of the game in the new slice. On the next turn, the other player attempts to preserve the outcome of the subgame as it was in the previous slice.

Part of the appeal of the game is that, every so often, the physical laws will be accidentally altered in a way that leads to instability and makes the game arena explode. The contest, of course, is then declared a draw.

At this point, the more astute among you might be wondering why I stated that the game is over before it’s begun. The reason is complicated, but involves a two-way dependency between the AI subgame players in each slice and the actual players of the game. The subgame players can also alter the laws of physics in the real game arena, which is why it’s played in a special bounded region of upgraded spacetime, to prevent the entire universe from being flipped like a cosmic pancake and folded flat. Because of this, there’s a tendency for reality to flicker chaotically between two orthogonal axial orientations: one in which the subgame arena slices are “real”, and one in which the original reality is “real”. It’s kind of hard to explain without a lot of horrible equations, but the upshot is that, from an external viewpoint, the entire arena collapses into a final state with a game result, before it’s even begun. You see, the Pre-ordination Principle, which is one of the Laws of Multiple Time Dimensions, states that when multiple solutions to Arrick’s Law can exist due to expanded dimensionality, a cyclic hyperfield always results, and has a hyperspherical curl given by the coefficient found in—

You know what? I think I’m in danger of losing most of my audience at this point, so I’ll stop here.

The short version of the story is that, when I was at school, we were made to play this game in plasma rain, with only the altered physics of our arena for protection. Despite the small bonus of being able to enjoy the feeling of having won while on the way to the match due to the time reversal, it wasn’t all pleasant. Watching the plasma splatter against the cosmic boundary surface certainly focused my mind, and it made me the stubborn, driven Space Lord I’ve become today.

So don’t come complaining to me about rain.

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