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In The Beginning

Posted 02-20-2017 at 01:58 PM by Abloheet

In The Beginning

In the beginning, everything was present in nothing. The First Prime Monitor, switched on at 10e-43 seconds. This was the primordial equivalent of “Let there be light!” And everywhere was light. The Big Bang took place. More appropriately, space expanded 50 times faster than light. As the universe started cooling, its symmetry was broken, causing the fundamental forces to break off from each other.
Matter-antimatter annihilations started taking place. The Universe became awash with high energy photons. Matter gained the upper hand. The Prime Monitor saw to that. In time, quarks lost enough energy to be ‘glued’ together by gluons, forming protons, neutrons, and the hydrogen and helium nuclei we are familiar with today, were formed; the first seeds of life in this desolate, opaque-yet full of light universe were sown. The Prime Monitor took preparations for that, introducing Planck-dimension quantum distortions in the fabric of space time, which would later be magnified to the scale of galaxies, clusters, stars and planets by the expansion of the universe.
380,000 years into the expansion of the universe, it turned transparent. The temperature had fallen below 30000C, which meant that the electrons had finally slowed down enough to be captured by the nuclei to form stable atoms. Radiation could now travel freely, without being absorbed and intercepted. The radiation which, since then, had started to travel unhindered, has now cooled to become the Cosmic Background Microwave radiation. Finally, the Dark Ages had come to an end.
Meanwhile, on the large scale of galaxies and clusters, fantastic events were taking place. The quantum distortions introduced by the Prime Monitor, had expanded by 50 orders of magnitude, causing variations in the distribution of matter throughout the universe. This caused matter to clump together, forming proto-galaxies, huge dust clouds and nebulae suitable for being the birth places of later generations of stars and systems. By this time, the first stars and galaxies had started coalescing out of the primordium.
The first stars were huge monsters, weighing hundreds of times the mass of the Sun. They had short lives, lighting up the infant universe as the first beacons of illumination in the ignominious darkness. They literally cooked the lighter elements in their furnace-like hearts, churning out the essential elements of life-the higher elements like carbon, nitrogen, oxygen, silicon, etc. all the way up till iron. The rest of the elements, till uranium, came into being in the very death throes of these massive monster stars; supernova explosions, which compressed even iron into heavier elements with the help of the enormous pressures generated during these explosions. These explosions are some of the biggest bangs, dwarfed only by the primordial bang of creation itself.
The huge primordial stars blew themselves apart at the end of their short life spans, creating giant nebulas enriched with the heavy elements. Subsequent shockwaves from future supernova explosions gave impetus to these clouds to undergo contraction, forming second and third generation stars and planets.
Like any sufficiently advanced machine, the Prime Monitor was capable of feeling emotion, upto an extent. It felt proud, that its actions had been fruitful in yet another one of the multitude of universes. It felt consciousness beginning to break up, forming multiple copies of itself, one for each galaxy. As each new galaxy came into being, another copy was created. The Prime Monitor itself still retained its individuality. In essence, all the copies were the same. The master copy remained in the eleventh dimension. The galactic copies were its shadows in four-dimensional space, enabling it to be present in more than one place at the same time.
In one of the huge primordial star’s system, on a huge watery world, the first life of this cosmos was born. Through the viewpoint of the Prime fragment present in the system, the entire collective consciousness of the Prime Monitor was focussed on this momentous event. Curious molecules had formed in the watery world’s oceans, presumably by reaction of the substances present in the primordial atmosphere, using energy provided by the massive sun’s intense ultraviolet radiations and lightning. Nitrogen, carbon, oxygen and hydrogen had combined in an innovative manner to give rise to molecules we now know as lipids and amino acids. The Prime Monitor watched with immutable patience, contemplating the future of these congregations of atoms.
One of the Prime Monitor’s main constraints was, that it could have a direct control over the future only during the inflationary phase of the universe; the time when the universe was expanding faster than light, and the symmetry of the universe was breaking down, giving rise to the fundamental forces on by one. The Prime Monitor decided the values of the fundamental constants of each of the forces. As gravity was the first one to break of, it was the weakest, i.e; its fundamental constant is the smallest. All the values of the fundamental constants had to be fine tuned for the universe to be able to give rise to complex life later on. Any discrepancy, for example, if the strong nuclear force had been weaker by a tiny percentage, the proton would have been unstable, and the atom as we know it would not have been in existence. The Prime Monitor had made many such mistakes before, dooming multitudes of infant universes to be just an empty sea of quarks, gluons and other elementary particles.
Once the massive scale of the universe had become coherent and stable, the universe evolving along the physical laws set down by it, the Prime Monitor could only observe.
Evolution drove life towards achieving higher goals. On the massive oceanic world, from prokaryotic, then eukaryotic life; evolved the first truly intelligent life of the cosmos. Their fate was overshadowed by their massive sun, whose life was swiftly coming to an end, and would culminate in a supernova explosion. Quickly developing space travel, in an epic migration, they moved to a second generation system, from where they could see the death of their birthplace. Scanning the heavens, they found that they were indeed very lonely in this vast but still young universe. They longed for companionship. As soon as they were capable, they spread out, searching the universe for signs of life. Calling themselves the Precursors, they would be the cause of subsequent development of intelligent life in the galaxy.
The Precursors soon came to the limits of flesh and blood; it was time to move on. They built machines, which could do their work for them more efficiently. In time, it was no longer they and their machines, they became their machines. They moved their consciousness into shining bodies of metal, and roamed about the galaxy, beginning life wherever possible. But the Age of Machine Entities swiftly passed. Using their highly advanced science, they learnt to store their thoughts in the cold lattice of space itself, transforming themselves into organisms of pure energy. Now, they truly were gods.
Wherever the Precursors had begun life, it led to a massive depletion in the free energy of the universe in that region. Civilization, it seemed was a means of depleting the viable energy resources of the universe even further. As civilizations progress from hunter-gatherer, to agricultural, to industrial, to nuclear, to space-faring, and so on, each ascent to the next level results in higher usage of the resources available to the civilization. Current day humanity is at the nuclear level. When humanity exhausts all the resources on this earth, it will be forced to become space faring.
Everywhere, the Precursors valued life, and the Mind, above anything else; but, the right kind of life. Only those civilizations could be allowed to flourish, which followed the policy of live and let live. Alas, this kind of life was very rare. For the survival of even one civilization till the very end of time, a massive economy in energy spending was needed.
The Precursors considered themselves as the forest guards in the sanctuary of the galaxy. They nurtured the growth of diversity, and sometimes, dispassionately, they had to weed. Beautiful, strange and terrible galactic empires rose and fell all the handiwork of the Precursors.
On the third planet of an obscure sun, an experiment of the Precursors had become successful. But, it was one of the most energy hungry civilizations that had ever existed. The Precursors were appalled at their extravagance. Also, in the end, this was the civilization that one day arose up at arms against their makers.
The Prime Monitor watched this galaxy’s events with increasing dread. These events were repeated more or less the same in every other galaxy it observed. Some were less fortunate, the galaxy turning into a quasar because of the intense interstellar wars being waged. Such massive wastage of energy, which could be better used in supporting more life, was being squandered by these civilizations. Alas, there was nothing it could do. It wholeheartedly supported the Precursors, but civilizations of its stature were very rare.
As time passed, the harnessing of vacuum energy by these civilizations was the final nail on the Universe’s coffin. This manipulation of the fabric of space time completely altered the predictions of the Prime Monitor about the Universe’s future. The use of vacuum energy led to higher amounts of dark energy, an anti-gravity force believed to be driving the expansion of the Universe today. The future held an enclosing darkness, something called ‘The Big Freeze’ by today’s cosmologists. The Universe was doomed to be an ever expanding ocean of the elementary particles, as the cosmos was to be torn apart by the increasing levels of dark energy, until it was in a state of absolute entropy.
Before these events occurred; they were still a hundred billion years in the future; the Prime Monitor saw no hope for this Universe, just the darkness of death. Unless the civilizations changed. The Prime Monitor took leave of this doomed universe, making a mental note not to repeat its mistakes in its next creation.

The End
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  1. Old Comment
    Face's Avatar
    Nice story. Reminds me a bit of Asimov's "The Last Question" with that Multivac (later AC) computer.
    Posted 03-20-2017 at 07:25 AM by Face Face is offline
  2. Old Comment
    Indeed, great short story - I first read it in my teens in the early '70s. and his work, along with stories by Sheckley, Robinson, Clarke, Blish,Heinlein, Anderson and Bester, formed the basis for my lifelong love of speculative fiction. Great reference, Face - brought back so many memories....
    Posted 04-28-2017 at 08:14 AM by ZCochrane ZCochrane is offline

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