God’s a pretty good idea. Let’s build one.
1 Month Later - Megacles - The Mega Lab
Doc-Danger's back! I saw him for an hour yesterday. We didn't talk much, but I expect him for a full lab day today!
He arrives on time, and we shower immediately. Afterwards, I grab a few beer and head to the backyard. I leave the hypnoclone on, so we can snuggle on the hammock. I’ve gotten more outdoorsy since the blackout. If you consider napping in a hammock outdoorsy.
“What have you been doing?” I ask.
“Well, I burned a lot of daylight keeping things right.” he says. “At night, I sat in the dark and thought about physics.”
He’s so hot. “Tell me.”
“I was thinking about sending a message back in time. Time travel is one of my favorite impossible projects. There are a couple weird loopholes in reality that let you change the past. But only the past of very, very tiny things. Like photons or electrons. It doesn't work on big things like people or Deloreans.
“You can reach back to 1940 and alter the spin of an electron, but you can't go back and date your grandmother. Probably for the best.
“Anyway, I was wondering if I could receive a message from my future self. The message could be very, very tiny - coded into the spin of a handful of photons. I'm not sure how useful talking to myself could be, but at least I could cheat at gambling.
“I started a delayed-choice quantum eraser experiment. I won't bore you with the details, but it involved lasers, beamsplitters, double slits, down-converters, all the good stuff. Halfway through setting it up, I found out somebody had already tried it in the 80’s. Typical. Annoying, but it saved me a lot of work.
“Basically, they found you could change the past, but not your own past. If I receive a message from the future, it will be gibberish, until I catch up to the day it was written, when it will eerily become intelligible. I clearly changed the past - the old message is different - but it doesn't change what I knew in the past. It was cool, but useless. Fuck.
“Realizing I wasn’t going to win big on the ponies, I drank. Later, I had another idea.
“I could send information into the past, but I couldn’t access it until the present. What if I sent a calculation into the past? Could I send a math problem, that would take a billion years to solve, a billion years into the past and get the answer immediately? Or, more practically, could I send it a nanosecond into the past 100 trillion times at once?” says Doc-Danger.
“Holy fuck.” I say.
“I made 2 extremely small computers. Really small. Under a billion particles each. Then I entangled the computers together. Computer One shoots a photon at Computer Two. Computer Two uses a statistically insignificant quantum measurement of that photon to create a random number. That number becomes a guess for an impossible math question.
“If the random guess is correct, Computer Two’s quantum state stays the same. If it is wrong, it changes a little. This causes Computer One’s quantum state to change as well - because they are entangled. And, because they are entangled, this change happens faster than light. So, Computer One is changed before it sends the photon that changes it. This causes it to send a slightly different photon, which produces a different random guess, which starts the loop all over again.
“The computers may make trillions of guesses, but they all happen in a past that never coexists with my timeline. It only enters my timeline when they get the right answer. From the photons perspective, they are in a billion year loop. From my perspective, the computer guesses the right answer to any question in one try. Any question. Well, any math question - it’s not fucking magic. It’s just a shade off impossible. The penultimate improbability. But, just possible enough to obey Einstein’s Relativity.” says Doc-Danger.
“Holy fuck.” I say.
“Yep.” says Doc-Danger.
“You could crack any encryption.” I say.
“I guess. I don't really give a fuck about anybody's secrets.” he says.
“Good point. Me neither. Isn't there an unsolvable math problem for antigravity?” I ask.
“Yes, in string theory.” he says.
“Holy fuck.” I say.
“There's also one for teleportation.” he says.
“I have to lie down.” I say.
“We are lying down.” he says.
“I meant underneath you.” I say.
“So, did you try to solve these impossible equations?” I ask.
“No. The physics works on paper, but I don’t know how to build a computer that small.” he says.
“I do.” I say.
“Yes, I figured you would.” he says.
“Show me your math.” I say.
“Yeah, slight problem. I'm worried we'll get arrested if I send them to you. Spies and shit.” he says.
“Let me tell you what I've been doing.”
I tell him about Leviathan.
“Holy fuck!” he says.
“Well, you said we had to do something to slow the Darkness. That was the best I could come up with.” I say.
“Jesus Christ! I meant like 'We the people’ not you and your drinking buddies versus the military industrial complex.” he says.
“Oh, sorry.” I say.
“Fuck! You're amazing!” he says.
“Maybe a little bit.”
When I told Agent Happy about Leviathan, he grilled me about my identity precautions. He was very concerned the National Spying Agency was going to disappear me. Doc-Danger just sends me his math. He has faith in my skills. Or, he figures I'm so fucked a little dodgy math won't make a difference.
We relax in the hammock, sipping brews and doing science. We give each other the occasional handy. It's everything I've been missing.
As we work, the design of the computers evolve. To keep them under a billion particles, they will have to be in a vacuum. Also, they will have to be miles apart to produce sufficiently random numbers. I guess we will have to use them in space.
I’ll use a modified green sulfur bacteria to make the computers. They can manipulate photons without collapsing their quantum state. I’ll hammer the impossible questions into the physical arrangement of the particles. The answers will be in the quantum state of the same particles. Only when the two are complementary, will they produce the same photon over and over again.
We need it to make billion digit random numbers. Doc-Danger is convinced that it will only work if there is a non-zero chance the computer could guess the right answer the first time. Anything else would mean we are sending information faster than light speed. Which is not possible. Well, nobody’s ever done it. It’s probably impossible.
We name it God Machine.