I always dread endings, which is funny because I’ve been told that as a child I liked to skip to them. Books, movies, television shows; I would just skip to the conclusion and find that out before watching. Maybe even then I was wary of them, but just too stubborn to let them hang there at the end for me to dread the approach of down the line. You might even say I hate endings, which has made this month a rather fun one. Everything’s ending, and I’m sitting here digesting that.
So as I move past the end of Game of Thrones, the last episode of Batman origin story Gotham, the conclusion of awkward nerd comedy The Big Bang Theory, and the cinematic and true-to-form Western that was the Deadwood movie – not to mention books like Proxima/Ultima by Stephen Baxter, the Revolution Space series by Alastair Reynolds, and even John Perry and Jane Sagan’s story line through the first three books of the Old Man’s War series, I can’t help but feel like I’m being bombarded by things that are coming to an end far before I was ready for them to. And I can see down the road as well, to the in-hand copy of Triumphant (the final Genesis Fleet title from Jack Campbell), to the final seasons of Killjoys, Mr. Robot, Elementary, and more. I don’t like how everything I seem to enjoy is ending.
But I have hope.
Everything can’t always be the way we want it, or the way we need it to be. Things end, and that sucks – but the next big thing might be just around the corner. I can’t wait to see what the next Game of Thrones level experience will be on television, and what the next book/series is that sets its hooks as deep as Ty Franck and Daniel Abraham’s The Expanse series or Peter F. Hamilton’s Commonwealth Universe series did.
Who knows, if it’s in the book category maybe it’ll be written by me.
A man can dream, can’t he? 😉
I have dabbled in the more mysterious bits of the universe. Though I know we can’t truly explain everything, I’ve poked at the odds and ends we’re grabbing to try and tie it all together in my own way. I’ve looked beyond what we see to the structure of things, and I’ve come away with an inkling of how the universe works – as far as we understand it.
But now there’s this weird problem coming to light where the universe seems to be expanding faster than predicted and previously measured, and I think I might actually have a theory that fits the problem. I like to call this theory “the inherent entropy of space.”
In the inherent entropy of space, we can think of the big bang as the ultimate moment of order. At the moment before expansion started (okay so time didn’t exist before the big bang – but stick with me) you could consider everything that existed to be in its most organized state. It was crammed into the tiniest amount of “space” possible, had reached its maximum possible density, and therefore was in perfect order. The problem with order however, is that in the universe as we know it everything is tending towards disorder. Disorder is the ground state; the state that everything wants to reach. It’s the bottom, whereas the big bang is the top by comparison.
So picture the big bang as the top of a hill, and the bottom of the hill as the end of the universe; or at least its disorderly ground state. As we allow things to fall out of order and be subjected to the pull of the ground state, the universe expands – akin to moving down the hill. But without anything to hinder that fall, and being that the ground state is so desirable that things at the top of the hill “want” to get there, they accelerate as they tend in that direction.
In effect, the universe seems to be falling from a state of high-density energized order, to low-density minimal energy disorder by the natural progression of time. Where zero is perfect order at the highest level, infinity is complete disorder at the lowest level. They’re opposites, and that’s important.
But how does this explain the conflicting readings of how fast the universe is expanding?
Well, the measurement of expansion is based on light – which takes time to reach us, meaning we’re always looking into the past. If the universe is expanding faster and faster all the time (it’s gaining speed as it “falls” from high energy high density to low energy low density), then the path that the light takes to reach us undergoes expansion as well. We can’t account (yet?) for that changing path length and how fast it changes, so our measurements come out different depending on how far the light has traveled (and therefore how old the light is). Therefore, we’ll get different results depending on how old the light is that reaches us. Looking further back will skew current expansion speed results further out of accuracy than looking closer, but we have to look far back in order to measure expansion. The trick that would give us a more accurate result in a universe that expands with a constant speed actually makes measuring that way in an accelerating expansion universe less accurate.
So, taking that into consideration, let’s break down our two measurements.
The faster of the readings comes from something that exists closer in the universe’s overall timeline to “now” than the big bang. Measuring the speed of expansion by looking at certain type of standard candles (a predictable light source) called Cepheid variables gives an expansion value of around 46 miles per second per megaparsec.
The slower of the readings comes from something that was created almost right after the big bang; the cosmic microwave background (CMB). With an apparent expansion speed of just under 42 miles per second per megaparsec, the CMB supports the idea that the speed of expansion was slower in the past.
But here’s the thing; if time makes a difference, that means the rate of expansion must be changing. Being that the older object would’ve had lower start values to bring its average down (ie; it started closer to 0 miles per second per megaparsec), and the newer object would only have higher relative numbers to factor into its average, it stands to reason that the older object would have a lower measurable result if all things were assumed equal – which it does.
Now, if you follow the logic that the big bang was the top of the hill, and the end of the universe is the bottom of the hill, this makes sense. As something moves down a hill here on Earth it gains speed due to acceleration, and that acceleration on Earth (or anywhere remotely massive) is called gravity. For the universe however, acceleration is powered by the “attractiveness” of the base state – or in other words, the fact that things tend to disorder. As the universe falls into disorder and expands, it accelerates.
So there you have it; if you ask me, the inherent entropy of space is what’s causing the “precise” expansion measurements to disagree. The universe is expanding faster every moment, and will until it hits the “wall” of the lowest possible state.
I’m not a physicist, but given the evidence and the strength of the measurements that much seems obvious to even me. The universe isn’t expanding at a constant speed, or slowing down; it’s expanding faster and faster as it “falls” towards its ground state.
Who’s with me? 😛
A trillion and one years after the big bang, a son and his father were sitting in front of a small grave. It was night, and the only light that fell upon them was from the single low light lantern they carried with them.
“Why did my mother have to die?” the boy asked his father, staring up at the blackness of the sky.
The father paused for a moment as he mimicked his son’s gaze, then cleared his throat to speak as he snuffed out the light. “Son, do you know why the night never changes?”
The young son, bewildered by his father’s reply, admitted; “No.”
“So much time has passed since the big bang that all the stars you might’ve been able to see at night, all the ones brighter than our own red dwarf, are dead. It wasn’t that they weren’t good stars, as many of them went on to seed the universe with the elements we need to survive; it’s just that being so bright meant that they wouldn’t be able live as long. The price they paid for being so exceptional is that they had to leave first, and now all we see at night is their absence.”
The son turned to his father and shook his head, tears running down his face. “I don’t get it, what does that have to do with my mother? Why did my mother have to die? Why did she leave me here?” he managed through sobs.
Quietly, through tears of his own, the father whispered his reply; “Because she too burned brightly.”
My characters are not built. They aren’t picked out of a book of details and tailored to a situation. I’m sure they could be, and I’m sure many people have written books that way, but that’s not the only way to go about it. I’ve found it’s just as interesting (and more than possible) to allow a character to develop from a foundation of needs into a fully fledged person.
So it works like this.
First, you need rules. I’m not talking rules like “don’t name him Keith ’cause Keith is the worst name ever,” I’m talking “flies a ship.” Something simple, which only serves the purpose to allow the character into the story. The rules are sort of like your reasons for knowing the character in the context of the plot. Try and keep their number low as not to pidgeonhole yourself, but in the same way you don’t want to screw yourself over; use as many as you actually need to fit your purpose.
Next, you need to decide a few of the basics; things like gender, specific role, job, and physical attributes – the kind of thing you’ll use to describe your character at first glance. Some of these might be more fluid than others (I’ve changed the gender, job, rank, and even looks of many of my characters as I went on), but many of them will stick so give it a little thought. While you’re at it, remind yourself that unless it’s somehow related to a plot point it is okay to change things when you feel like it. These are your characters, and – much like you as a person and a writer – they will evolve and change as they experience things and are experienced.
At this point, if you haven’t already, you start putting them in the book. As time goes on and you put them into the story, you will come to points where you ask yourself (or your character) questions. The answers to these questions are what helps you develop your character further, as the character evolves as you write about them and think about them. It’s also important to remember as you write that even though some written scenes or notes may be of no use to the plot they may still be of use to you as the writer. Even things you don’t actually tell the reader have happened can be held to be true and worth remembering because they tell you something about the character a blank page and a snap choice can’t.
So you’ve got rules, you’ve chosen some basics and have changed or kept them as you’ve gone on, and you’ve written about your character (in many different ways); what’s next? Well, you keep writing and asking yourself and your characters questions. Just like you as a person learns about yourself through experiences and choices, so must you put your character through experiences and choices to learn about them – even if just as a thought to yourself.
Characters are just people you’ve invented, after all. 😉
According to what I’ve gleaned from Twitter, I’m what you might call a “plantser.” A combination of the terms “pantser” and “planner,” a “plantser” is someone who tends to plan ahead but may go off-script (so to speak). Unlike most “plantsers” I’ve heard of however, I think I do things a little bit backwards.
While most “plantsers” seem to start with a plan and then work the plan until it breaks down and they need to improvise, I tend to improvise until I run out of steam or encounter a wall, and then I switch to planning. The first bits of every story I write are completely improvised (even if they don’t even up at the start of the story in the end), but once I’ve pried open the idea with whatever flows out of my brain I like to give it a little structure.
In writing my first novel, for example, I put down over half of the story before I went back to adjust with any sort of planning. As a result, entire portions were cut and parts were re-written to fit my new plan, but at that point the story turned from a plausible but flawed series of events into a very possible and quite accurate (physics-wise) portrayal of a harrowing journey into the unknown. Instead of using structure to get my work off the ground, I tend to use it to go back and adjust my work to better fit the surroundings it has grown from.
While I acknowledge it may be true that “no plan survives contact with the enemy,” it’s also equally true that no structure can be properly built without one. I just take things a little bit backwards and use the plan to reinforce and tweak my writing instead of begin it.
But hey, my brain has always been a little wonky – why shouldn’t my methods be wonky too? 😉