• Member Since 30th Jan, 2012
  • offline last seen Last Thursday

Star Scraper


Physics Student, High-Powered Rocket Engineer, Latter-Day Saint, Writer, Vector Artist, and loves adorkable bookworm pony.

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Source

Luna discovers a vast and ancient being approaching Equus. When she and Celestia go to meet it, they see into the early dawn and eternal twilight of their universe.

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Based off of a thought/realization I had in my studies.

Illustration "Black Islands" used under creative commons share-alike, which the artist (Equestria-Prevails) put all of his art under.

Chapters (2)
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Comments ( 103 )

Well done, I love the broad, cosmic strokes. Theorizing about how life might prevail fascinates me, you've done your research and it shows.

Wow. That was...just amazing. I don't know how else to describe it.

.... This was.... Confusing.... It was... Paradoxical- comically complex, and beyond all else- INSANELY HARD to read.... And because of that, I can't think of a single reason to hate it.

.... I want to ask "What" were you studying to have come across this broad idea- but I'm terrified of the answers that your mind touched.
.... I want to ask "Who" but your skill with the conventional method of displaying information via written language is incredible, and would probably only serve to confuse me more.
.... I want to ask "Why" but.... I feel like, deep down inside, I already know why. I know why this story was written, and I know more importantly? "WHAT" it represents....

Before I go any further, I think someone needs to state this directly to you if they haven't already: You are a talented writer. More than that- you have... such a beautiful way of thinking. A BEAUTIFUL way of THINKING. Like an Artist's style is based on their preferences in colors and lines- it is first born and given path and guidance by a NATURAL skill that one is either born with, or one develops over time. Your mind has developed it's own style of writing that is... simply put? Beyond words. You are capable of writing stories beyond words. I can tell, and I don't know how I do, but you are.... I must concede- this is how it feels to watch a true artist at work.... letter by letter, writing something so confusing, it is either extremely complex and thus cannot be understood by my own mind- or so intricately fowled up, it feigns a sense of confidence and emotion that cannot be summed up in a simple "One in a Million" but more like 300 Trillion.

.... Long story short. I'mma take Tatsuro's line here.
9246866

..... People who have thought like you in the past, have their names in history books.... But you? .... I feel like you'll probably be the one writing them.... Please, never stop. That was... Encouraging to read, to think about Life in such a manner... It inspires me to hope for things. Impossible things.... Beautiful, impossible things that only the mind can comprehend.... Thank you for this glimpse. You've most certainly earned a spot in my "Out of this World Stories" Bookshelf.

Reading this immediately made me think of a discussion I had in days past in the FiO forum, where I specifically brought up the possibility of a superintelligence (in that case CelestAI) surviving a vacuum state collapse; the relevant post can be found here. (In fact, if I didn't know any better, I'd almost think it was my post which inspired this story somehow... :pinkiecrazy: )

“I'm afraid so...” Celestia's voice was solemn. “One of the fundamental scalar fields will quantum tunnel to a lower energy state. That will change how matter interacts at a fundamental level for the entire universe within a Hubble Volume of that point. That will be what we call Vacuum Decay. It's only a matter of time. It cannot be prevented any more than the flow of time itself.”

Oof, living in a False Vacuum sucks.

She turned and walked to the edge of the room, looking out the now-dark window-screens. “We need to learn what kind of universe we're in. Then we can start to expand the ship and its capabilities, and ensure our survival. We have a long quest ahead...”

A chapter and a half does not seem like enough for this concept.

As she struggled with the questions, she sprang up in her bed in Canterlot.

O_O

It immediately dawned on her. “Sister! That is how we could contact the aliens I found in the dream! If they dream – that's how we could tell them... our story... if we could make them dream they were us...”

I'm intrigued. Continue.

“May I join you, in Equestria?”

N E W
F R I E N D ?
:pinkiehappy:

“I feel warm !”

Perfect ending. <3

9247228
Some comments are to die for. This one is to live for.

I cannot thank you enough for your words. Some people just have too much fun insulting and degrading, even if their intent is to be constructive.

But it's not constructive criticism that gives me the motivation to continue with anything. It's feedback like this, where someone felt strongly enough to write hundreds of words and painstakingly articulate that it's not just some fluke that something I made is worth existing, but that I can make great works and hold great value in at least some endeavor in my life.

As for what I'm studying, it's just physics, heh. In particular, the heat death of the universe is founded on the idea of entropy - the law most regarded in theoretical physics is probably the 2nd Law of Thermodynamics (entropy). It seems to indicate that a cold end to the universe is inevitable - in fact, it is. But I thought it was worth pointing out that it's already happened. In the earliest moments of the universe, it was at 10^32 kelvin. A being used to 3*10^31 kelvin would see Earth the same way we'd see something a hundred-thousand-trillion-trillionth of a degree (29 orders of magnitude of difference), and even the blazing core of our sun would be seen the same way we'd look at something one ten-trillion-trillionth of a degree (25 orders of magnitude of differrence).

But just as you can simulate one type of computational structure in another (like simulating a brain in a computer, or imagining a pocket calculator in your head), you should still be able to map such a being's processes into some form of computer that can survive a much colder universe, and even then, into any "life" that may somehow arise there.

I guess I'd either have to edit that, or Echo is kind of wrong in one way - the cold and dead universe Luna traveled through was a trillion times closer to the temperatures she was used to than the current universe is to Requiem.

But anyways, although it's incredibly cold compared to the early universe, by no means is it so cold that you can just wave your hand and say, "way too cold/too little energy for anything interesting, it's dead." And similarly, there's a temptation to say "if the universe is at a trillionth of a kelvin, it's so cold it's basically dead", but that's simply not true. It'll never reach zero because of the asymptoptic nature of adiabatic cooling (expanding universe) and entropy, and that's even another (the third) law of thermodynamics.

But at lower energy, processes take longer, everything slows down that depends on thermal "noise" to work - which is most things. So generally things will go slower.

Landauer's Limit says computation will be more efficient, though. But I wonder of quantum tunnelling in computation wouldn't cause more issues at such colder temperatures, and thus you'd need to average over more processes or something to remove the noise.

But at any rate, things will still happen. The universe will never truly end. The heat "death" is a lie.


9247241
Hah, I know that feeling. I particularly had it when the song "Luna's Future" first aired, since it seemed reminiscent of my A World Apart setting. But no, it's just convergent ideas, since we're all working with the same fundamental laws of physics. But yeah, since the laws of physics manifest themselves differently after a vacuum decay (such as electrons losing mass if the Higgs Field were to decay), whatever you want to exist after it can't exist now, so you'd have to "seed" it. Set up something that when it's struck by the wave of energy state change, turns into the thing you wanted to build.

And fwiw, the orange clouds the ponies saw wasn't that wave - it, itself, would be invisible. No, that was the neutron star undergoing a sudden and dramatic change of state. The decay event would radically alter the balance of force between gravity and degeneracy pressure that keep the star stable.

9247420 Apparently cosmologists are now going back to the 'Big Crunch' thing again. Dark matter and dark energy are proving to be very unruly things which simply will not conform to any theory very well.

I, frankly, think they are simply artifacts of a flawed set of theories. The REAL universe likely operates on higher principles we cannot even properly perceive.

Also, I wonder what effects super-cold temps have on quantum entanglement, an effect that would become more prevalent as entangled particles move farther and farther apart and thus never encounter anything.

Hmm, on that note, what happens to the partner particle when its entangled partner falls into a black hole? Or, what if one partner is integrated into a Bose-Enstein condensate? Ooooo... so many things to play with!

9247403
Thanks. And hah, that Pinkie smiley is perfect. I can only imagine Requiem probably wouldn't be able to stop laughing with exuberant joy at Pinkie's antics.

It's a bit tempting to maybe do some slice-of-life-esque sequel, but the tonal shift would be too drastic, I think, and anything dramatic would pale in comparison to the end of the universe so much it wouldn't work.

The death of the universe isn't really a death. It's a process of getting colder and colder approaching infinity. However, during that approach, entire new paradigms of "what is cold or not" can change.

So one race may consider the universe "dead" because their default living state was millions of degrees Kelvin. But another may thrive in the ever decreasing, but never quite reaching zero, universe.

This is a very interesting, and quite optimistic, take on universe death. I love it!

It's so interesting! Basically you tunneled through cosmic horror all the way back to Friendship is Magic!
It is probably due to reading another story with and eldritch elder horror earlier today so I kept waiting for the alien intelligence to have some bad twist, but instead it made me sad about my own cynicism.

Instead these extremely dissimilar (Alien with a capital A) beings are able to cross the communication barrier so well that one is able to hold out a hoof to ask for friendship, and the others are able to reciprocate. The better nature of both sides are what won the day... and I felt shame that my own assumptions of where the story WOULD go betray my cyncism. I hope I would be brave enough to do as Celestia and Luna did, but in reality I probably would not have reached back out.

9247420
.... Okay, I consider myself a very Sci-Fi Friendly person, and know a thing or two about a thing or two when it comes to actual Scientific Fact.... I will not pretend to understand EVERY word you just wrote beyond the second paragraph. Most of it made sense to my brain... but my brain is still finding it hard to believe anything you just said. Somehow.... if that makes ANY sense. XD

In other words:

.... I want to ask "What" were you studying to have come across this broad idea- but I'm terrified of the answers that your mind touched.

And I'm glad I could. XD I've been there a number of times and written things that I look down upon later in life- and even with criticisms of the full rainbow, I know that nothing truly inspires a writer, other than to know that their work has touched someone's very being. Their very way of thinking...

LESS importantly than that, I found the entire prospect of this "Evolution" of life being interesting. I can't begin to try and make sense of this huge difference in "Life" and the times before and after- in all actuality I found it more comforting to think of them as not existing before their Universe's demise, but rather existing during "The Big Bang" itself. When the first fires struck the first pockets and nebula's across the Universe, and the explosion of heat and life began. I can't claim to know if the birth of the Cosmos was or wasn't this "Heated Universe" These warmer beings came from, but it seemed to me that.... What they called "The End" was in fact- the Big Bang itself. The BEGINNING of our Universe. And that prior to it's explosion, was a whole different variety of Life, impossibly different from our own in every describable manner- from when we thought no life could exist, and yet, somehow still so much like our own~

I thought of it as more of a "beautiful thought" that Life will Always find a way to thrive, and that what we think we know will be eternally challenged. And that it is not a Challenge we must try to conquer, but one we must strive to comprehend and grow alongside- and simply, have faith that even if we are forgotten in it, our life will be given onto the next unending Cycle.... If that makes ANY sense. XD

9247430
I think a genre shift between stories is fine as long as it's announced clearly. If you can have horror episodes in a non-horror series, you can shift to Slice-of-life. Also, escalating stakes is a dirty, dirty myth that only applies to standalone stories, not sequences of stories that share a universe.

I'm a pretty big fan of science fiction, so this was a welcome treat. I was expecting something along the lines of an elder god espousing some metaphysical/philosophical mumbo-jumbo, but I'm glad you subverted our expectations with a heartwarming ending like this. Who, or what, will Echo become in this new and exciting world? It is her new, boundless eternity. Such a lovely alternative to the doom and gloom of the Heat Death of the universe.

Thank you for writing this.

9247478
I didn't include it in the story itself because Celestia and Luna don't have modern science so it would've been out of place, but I imagined Requiem is the "echo" of life that was made of quark-gluon plasma somewhere before a millionth of a second after the big bang. At such temperatures, particle interactions would be absurdly common and high-energy. The Landauer Limit (the minimum energy to do a computation, whether a "computation" is in some kind of alien "brain" or a computer) would be extremely high, but the available energy would also be extremely high.

So she hails from before the Hadron Epoch. The universe she's used to didn't even have protons or neutrons; the universe was too hot and dense for them to form.

9247472
It took great effort. Luna faced the daunting challenge, herself, at the end of her dream, but they managed to cross that bridge. Or rather, they managed to create that bridge, and that bridge called herself Requiem Echo.

9247439
Thanks! It's physics :derpyderp2:

Also millions is peanuts. That's only 10^6. We're talkin' like, at least 10^22, here. Which is ten billion trillion. And you can go all the way back to like, 10^32 before quantum gravity puts a shroud of mystery on the physics.

Check it out in a concise little place.

9247427
Well, studying physics and having spent time with them, they've put a lot of solid work into it and stand on top of a pyramid of what must be hundreds of millions of hours of brilliant minds working, and tens of thousands of lives devoted to figuring it out in a careful, proven way. I think you're both right and wrong - right, in that why the heck does the universe have laws we can understand to begin with? Einstein was baffled by this, himself, and it was at the core of his spiritualism.

But you're also wrong in the sense of "we can't understand it". We can, and though our current knowledge is imperfect, it gets better with time, so long as intelligent people keep devoting themselves to it. After all, I'm typing on a laptop that wouldn't exist if it weren't for that fact. But perhaps higher levels of being exist that can't be understood in the orthodoxy of scientific thinking. If you have success with astral projection and bending reality with your mind in a provable, independently verifiable way, be sure to let us know, we'd love to see proof of that :derpytongue2:

And also I think there's some resurgence of big crunch. Cosmologists are hardly unified in their theories. There's a lot of room for different cosmological fates at the moment. Big Crunch is actually not particularly likely, it just seems like whatever hits Science News or Scientific American is kind of random. They seem to routinely run articles like some 30-year-old idea is new. Ultimately the fate of the universe in terms of expansion depends on the equation of state, which is closely tied to the shape of the universe.
upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/thumb/d/dc/Friedmann_universes.svg/1270px-Friedmann_universes.svg.png
You can read more about it here.

9247486
I suppose that's true. Even if it'd lack what made this so good, a good chunk of readers probably like both enough that it'd have some audience, and all it needs to do is stand on its own merits. I've always wanted to try doing something that matches MLP's style of some blend of slice-of-life and drama/adventure. This premise might be interesting enough for such an endeavor.


9247499
No problem! :twilightsmile:

To be honest, I didn't even really mean to subvert Lovecraftian Horror. That came naturally as a result of independently coming up with the idea of extremely alien life, I guess. It crossed my mind that Echo is different to a Lovecraftian degree - but why would she be malevolent? Is there any particular reason Luna might have sought to destroy the life she found in her dream? On the contrary, the species she's an "echo" of was hypersocial and hyper-empathetic. They'd "greet" each other by sharing memories. This could cause issues, and it did, a little, in subjecting Celestia and Luna to that dream, but the more they learned about ponies the closer Requiem's psychology came to a pony's, and so they could better understand the faux pas of ponies - like for example, ponies don't like being assimilated into a collective as "hello", and splitting their thoughts into different beings.

But any even remotely intelligent life that's done science will inevitably realize that alien life is, well, alien, and it takes a translator and study to bridge that gap. Thus Luna branched herself into a being that could better understand the aliens she found, and Requiem's original being branched itself into Requiem.

If anyone's interested and uses Wallpaper Engine, I made this for it, made from the art used here.

9247500
Okay so I didn't even consider Echo as being pre-Hadron but holy shoot that makes an incredible amount of sense looking back at the story! Please never stop being this nerdy, this is honestly incredible.

This has honestly been one of the most touching stories I've read in a very long time.

Thank you.

This is conceptually plausible. I like it.

this is an extremely good and well written story! please continue writing!

This story was incredibly good, although I struggled to figure out precisely what was going on until the comments explained that Echo here existed from the quark-gluon plasma epoch. What really threw me off was the neutron star in the beginning, because no such formations could exist in a quark-gluon plasma. It seems like there are several layers of metaphors going on here, which makes it difficult to piece together what really happened. Re-reading the story, it seems like it presents the heat death of our own universe as a metaphor for the collapse of Echo's quark-gluon plasma, but the problem is that it is simultaneously using Luna and Celestia as metaphors for alien life. Because of the nested metaphors, it's easy to get confused and think that the "metaphor" you are supposed to get is that Echo was from a previous vacuum decay where the described heat death literally happened, when in fact the heat death as presented to us was itself only a metaphor for what Echo went through. The only hint the story gives about this metaphorical explanation is when Echo says the universe she was from was only a thousandth of a second old. I think there needs to be an additional line here that explains that what they say was not a literal vision of what happened, only a metaphor they would understand.

My other complaint is that it's unfair to call the heat death of the universe a "lie" when it is describing a fundamental state change: eventually, all matter in the universe decays into radiation. At that point, something is definitely different, because there is no more matter. As the story points out, life might go on, but a "heat death" could still be considered to have happened, since that life must now subsist entirely without matter.

With that said this is the nerdiest story I have ever read and I fucking love it.

Wow, this was very Greg Egan/Stephen Baxter* meets MLP, and I think I rather liked it! :pinkiehappy:

* Well, if he ever wrote anything upbeat for a change... :rainbowlaugh:

9247655
Thanks! Yay! Wohoo! My nerdiness isn't a total waste...

9247691
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derpicdn.net/img/view/2013/9/10/424155__safe_screencap_rarity_green+isn%27t+your+color_animated_blushing_cute_excited_eyes+closed_grin_happy_laughing_lip+bite_open+mouth_pronking_rari.gif
Seriously my ego and self esteem both needed this whole thing more than y'all can imagine... Like holy crap. Even if I don't make another splash like this for many years, this still came at a time when it was needed.

9247743
It's not proven that protons are only meta-stable - it's only the case in some theoretical models, and there are hosts of other particles that won't necessarily decay into radiation, unless you're referring to everything eventually winding up in a black hole and becoming Hawking Radiation? Also she specifically listed the ways in which the dream was accurate. All else wasn't necessarily accurate - ie, wasn't necessarily an accurate depiction of Echo's time. You definitely do need hadrons for a neutron star, after all. It's kind of assumed the reader will take the assumption that ponies exist in the same state of the universe that we humans do (Or not be confused by the physics because they don't know it at all. It's only confusing if you know some but not all and try to figure it out from there, I think?).

9247751
Can't say I'm familiar with the author.

Love it.

The end had me in tears.

Good job.

wearing the golden regelia of a princess

regalia

Nice Fic, It's interesting how it evolves and the interaction are beautiful...
Now... What happens when you put Discord in the mix? ^^;;;

I wonder if this has any relevance.

Brought to you by Kurzgesagt – In a Nutshell.

It immediately dawned on her. “Sister! That is how we could contact the aliens I found in the dream! If they dream – that's how we could tell them... our story... if we could make them dream they were us...”

Wait, so the minds that approached at first are Luna and co. from the main part of this chapter, and the Luna and Celestia at the start are different beings? That doesn't make much sense, so I hope things will be cleared up next chapter

She looked around, and saw only a few others around her – the last six bearers of the Elements of Harmony, and the alicorn they had rescued from the clutches of Nightmare Moon over a thousand years ago. She rushed over to help Luna stand up.

A little bit of nitpicking here, but the description of Luna is reaching Purple Unicorn Syndrome levels, especially since NM has little to do here.

9247500 Oh I know all about the fate-shape thing. I'm just dubious of certain measurements which, to me, appear as though an inherent bias might be in effect. Namely, the standard candle being based upon Type 1a supernovas... which may not always be as standard as was thought. They turn out to be very hard to tell apart from a subset which are from stars of a different composition, but which may be dimmer... or was it brighter?... anyway, the margin of error could be as much as 20% in terms of brightness, which totally throws the measurements for a loop.

Then, again, there's the dark matter/dark energy problem. There's no explanation for either. And yet these two things make up the vast majority of the matter and energy composition of the universe. No theory properly describes them, and all attempts to identify them have come up utterly empty, which means there is a gaping hole in the theories.

Also something perplexes me about dark matter. It does not generally interact with other matter, BUT it is affected by gravity. Given that dark matter has mass, would this not mean that intense gravity wells such as neutron stars and black holes should have ADDITIONAL mass from dragging in dark matter... which if the theories of dark matter are correct should behave in gravitation the same as regular matter? There are a number of intriguing consequences from this. The Chandrasekhar Limit could be exceeded not merely by normal stellar matter, but by how much dark matter composition a star has in its core... if there was enough of it, it could initiate core collapse BEFORE the star has technically run out of the required fusion fuel for its general mass. Or, could dark matter interfere with stellar core collapse to a degree and stave off a supernova in stars just slightly heavier that have already run out of fuel and should already have exploded?

We know essentially nothing about dark matter other than it appears to exist (I say 'appears' because the dark matter 'maps' are really just postulating where it should be based on gravitational attraction and astronomical motions, not that it's been observed), so I find that we're currently vastly underestimating what it COULD be doing within massive bodies. And that's assuming it actually does respond to gravity in the same way as normal matter.

If it DOESN'T respond the same way... well then cosmology suddenly has a very huge problem, as there is NOTHING which would explain that, other than a pure conjecture that dark matter somehow repels itself when it reaches a certain concentration... but that MIGHT explain where the repulsive dark energy comes from... buuuuuut then that makes dark matter even more exotic and inexplicable, and implies that it's solely responsible for a 5th force of nature, which it then would enact via emitted dark energy 'particles', making it similar to electromagnetism, the weak force, and the strong force. Of course, that still leaves gravity off on its own as the red-headed stepchild of the universe which refuses to have particles associated with it.

On gravity/spacetime, I've long speculated that it's not a true force, but merely a hologram-like projection effect of curvatures within the framework of space itself. Given that pure geometry/topography can simulate similar effects in computers, I believe that bolsters the notion. An interesting caveat is that a 2D universe should not be able to exhibit gravity as we'd recognize it. From the perspective of an observer within such a universe, even curves would be flat, since curving the flat sheet requires it to flex itself into a third dimensional axis, which would mean higher dimensions MUST exist for it outside the realm of the observable universe. And if such a case were true in two dimensions, it would likely then also have to apply to a three-dimensional universe in which space-time (a 4th dimension) is flexible within relativistic terms.

There's that strange Dirac Sea concept I've tried to wrap my mind around ever since first encountering it in the "Evangelion" series back in the 90's.

9247801
you're not familiar with the author of the xeelee sequence?

thats honestly surprising.

Awesome stuff. I did have to switch gears very hard at the start of the dream, what with Celestia suddenly rattling off how they were counteracting heat death, but this was still some awesome sci-fi that approached alien life from an angle I've never seen before. Thank you for it.

My head.

It hurts.

But in a good way.

good story, but I can't stop myself from saying our understanding of physics way outgunned our understanding of social life, even if in limited to humans (mostly) sense. So, it all asymmetrical, and in wrong way - we have tons of books about how to look at stars - and no idea how to alter trajectory of individuals and bigger groups away from some well-known (way too well known) dangers.. In sense we captured by dominating field, and especially by all those BIG numbers ..... I don't think today's world need more physics alone - but like more understanding of how to make humans able to steer away from known dangers of overobedience, super-hiearchism and other, more publicized intellectual problems [including unability to act], and in this changed/changing atmosphere continue to search for simpler astronomical and physical laws ....

Ooooh man. I love science fiction. I love ponies. I very rarely love them when they're combined.

Congratulations on being the rare exception. This is fantastic.

This story made me tear up.

But in a good way.

Well done author.

Such a wonderfully last question story, makes me tear up every time.

9247801
Stephen Baxter wrote the Xeelee Sequence novels, the eponymous Xeelee being the descendants of Planck-era emergent life, though most of what they do goes on in the background of the novels as they're focused on a human POV. He tends to be a little bleak in his writing.

Greg Egan writes a lot of stories about life arising/continuing in weird environments, uploads, higher dimensions, encoded in weird physical processes, or on the other side of false vacuum collapses. I highly recommend his novels Diaspora and Schild's Ladder, they strongly share themes with this delightful story of yours. :twilightsmile:

Hey, next one.

Seriously, next one.

This is the only comments section I have ever seen that makes my brain hurt from science. I'm understanding maybe half of the terms being thrown around here. If anyone could answer these questions, I would be happy:
1: What is "quark-gluon plasma?" I know quarks are protons and neutrons, or at least I think they are, but what are gluons?
2:What's a "hadron?"
3: What's the whole vacuum state thing about?

There's a description of and protagonist from a species that went down a route of evolving/engineering themselves into energy states as their Universe aged, in Lucy's Blade by John Lambshead. The very concept that Light had ever existed was considered heretical by them.
The interaction between their explorer sent to disprove the idea that the universe had ever been different and Elizabethan England was rather interesting, as were her final conclusions on what her kind were. Made me think of Brin's Lungfish story.

I love comments, but I'll have to answer most of these tomorrow. I'm on my phone now and just want to answer this one for tonight;

9249279
Quarks are the fundamental building blocks of larger particles called "hadrons". Trios of quarks will clump together because of the Strong Nuclear Force. Protons and neutrons are two types of hadrons, so they're made of trios of quarks.

Particles only interact by shooting other particles at each other. When a particle feels a magnetic or electric force, that's because a photon carried the influence of that force to it.

Well, while the electromagnetic force is carried by photons, the strong nuclear force is carried by gluons (they "glue" quarks and atoms together). Now, while photons can go on forever, a gluon is unstable and will decay if it travels too far.

Quarks are also unstable by themselves, and need two partners nearby to keep from decaying. Thus they form up into trios, and those trios we call hadrons.

Think of it like quarks are dancers, and they always need two dance partners, and their dance creates mass-energy (most of the mass in a proton or neutron comes from the quarks' dance, not their own intrinsic mass).

But if there's enough quarks everywhere, then they can trade partners around all the time and don't need to be in secluded little trios because by always trading dance partners around they've always got two - like a nice big, crowded party. Or maybe like a rave. It's pretty energetic. We can only barely maybe create this kind of intense party for infentesimally small moments in huge particle accelerators they're so energetic. They're rather wild parties. There's quarks everywhere and gluons being thrown around all over the place, and they don't decay because there's so much energy around.

But in the first millionth of a second after the big bang, the whole universe was hot enough that it was a constant rave of quark-gluon plasma. But since it cooled down they all gotta stick together in little trios now, and form those hadrons.



As for vacuum state; it's like there's a kind of invisible stuff (a "field") that permeates the entire universe that has some amount of energy everywhere. Sadly it's not all that useful, because to go downhill you need somewhere lower than where you are, but the energy of the field is constant throughout the universe so you can't go downhill on it anywhere (ie, extract "usable energy" out of it a.k.a. "work") because it's just flat. But at any point, because of quantum weirdness, it could suddenly drop, and then the whole universe would drop with it, and some things may be a bit different after we're all on that lower level (like electrons would lose mass if the Higgs field did this).

“Sister! That is how we could contact the aliens I found in the dream! If they dream – that's how we could tell them... our story... if we could make them dream they were us...”

That sentence confused me for a good second.

That was absolutely amazing. Definitely a keeper.

You get an updoot. This is a good short.

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