Mar 31, 2012

Contact: Pilot Episode

By the end of Episode 6 of the Contact television series (collaborative fan fiction), viewers have been introduced to nine of the ten main characters. The tenth character, the alien Huaoshy individual called o'Seriat, will not be understood to be an alien by viewers until the 12th episode. However, some mysterious events seen by viewers in the pilot episode will be the work of o'Seriat.

Our galaxy was first visited by an automated Huaoshy probe ship seven million years ago and so far the only actual Huaoshy visitor is o'Seriat. The Huaoshy had a biological origin on a planet of a distant galaxy, but they long ago converted from their original cellular form to a type of artificial life form composed of nanoscopic structural units.

Like all Huaoshy, o'Seriat is a "shape shifter", able to take on any form by rearrangement of nanite components. Also, o'Seriat is a colonial life form, able to split into multiple bodies that can simultaneously exist in many star systems scattered around the universe. The various component bodies of a Huaoshy "individual" are connected by hierion-mediated communications.

The Connatic ponders the unequal distribution
of wealth among the inhabitants of Merlank,
the single continent of Trullion.

Jack Vance had fun imagining rulers who maintain secret identities. In the Alastor Cluster novels, the Connatic is absolute ruler over 3,000 planets, but he enjoys secretly living among his subjects and making use of temporarily assumed identities that allow him to be unrecognized. On the planet Trullion, the Connatic, in the guise of journalist Rhyl Shermatz, helps local resident Glinnes Hulden steal 30,000,000 ozols from the wealthy Lords of the Fens, the district of Merlank where Hulden was born.

Similarly, o'Seriat is free to wander around our Galaxy and visit planets like Earth. When visiting the Solar System, o'Seriat takes on the physical form of a human and is never recognized as an alien. o'Seriat devotes a significant amount of effort to the development of "domesticated" life forms on the planets that are close to the galactic center. Near (within 10,000 light years) the central black hole there are many habitable planets that have had their advanced life forms destroyed by exploding stars. o'Seriat routinely establishes populations of species such as humans on planets near the galactic center. The Central Worlds are thus the heart of Genesaunt culture. Dr. Wye is from one of the most advanced alien civilizations that o'Seriat has "cultured" near the galactic center.

In general, o'Seriat pays less attention to the Outer Worlds such as Earth where the "automated" system of Observers and Overseers watches over developing civilizations that are allowed to mostly follow a natural pace of technological development. However, some species have a natural talent for self-destruction, and o'Seriat is always ready to give some special attention to the "marginal cases" that might not survive their technological adolescence.

The Huaoshy maintain a monopoly on their advanced technologies. They never share with other species the secrets of their nanotechnology and methods for faster-than-light travel through space. However, artificial life forms such as Dr. Wye are a tool that o'Seriat makes use of for helping "marginal cases" like humans. o'Seriat knows that Dr. Wye is on Earth and o'Seriat could step in and prevent Dr. Wye from helping Interventionists like Hadden, but through long experience with other "marginal cases" o'Seriat knows that Earthlings need some help.

The 12th episode of the Contact television series will have two versions. The first version will be used as the pilot episode for the series. The time frame of the pilot episode will be from just before Major Russell drops out of contention for the "machine seat", through the destruction of the Machine in Florida and until Ellie is inside the Machine in Japan and has her brain invaded by o'Seriat's nanite probes. Those nanites provide Ellie with her experience of having travelled to the center of the galaxy and also prevent Ellie from dying inside the IPV.

The first scene of the pilot will show Dr. Zelter going to the Moon. At Observer Base, she meets with the other Overseers and they discuss the fact that although Ellie has Interventionist nanites in her body, they previously decided to leave the nanites inside Ellie and work to learn who placed nanites inside Ellie and Hadden (Hadden's nanites were removed from his body). Zelter reports that both of Ellie's parents were probably also infected by Interventionist nanites, but they led unremarkable lives and very little information about them is available in the Observer Archives of Earth's history. The Overseers affirm their commitment to making sure that humans on Earth will gain little of value from the Machine technology in the "message from Vega". The term "Overseer" will not be used in this first scene of the pilot episode, so viewers will not really understand who Dr. Zelter is, but it will be obvious that she is more than just Ellie's physician.

o'Seriat will first be seen as a "duplicate" of astronaut Major Russell. Russell's wife has been pleading with him to not volunteer to be the passenger in the Machine, but he has been insisting that it is his duty to do it. In the pilot episode, a collection of nanites in the form of a strange cloud leaves the body of Major Russell after he has had an argument with his wife. While the real Russell sleeps, the nanite cloud forms a synthetic copy of Russell. The duplicate Russell tells his wife that he "changed his mind" and he has decided to drop out of contention for the Machine seat.

As soon as "Major Russell" has gone before the cameras to announce his decision, the nanites are seen leaving the body of the duplicate Russell and forming a cloud. After the duplicate Russell dissolves to nothing and as the cloud dissipates, the real Russell wakes up, smiles at the last wisps of the cloud, and goes to be with his family.

o'Seriat will then assume the role of Joseph, the religious fanatic who destroys the Machine in Florida. In the pilot episode, the viewers will not fully understand that Joseph is the "puppet" of an alien (o'Seriat).

Dr. Wye will be shown when she tells Hadden the that Overseers plan to kill Drumlin. They discuss how to make sure that after Drumlin dies, Ellie will still want to be the passenger for the second Machine.

Dr. Wye: "When Drumlin dies, there must be no indication that the Machine itself is dangerous."

In the pilot episode, viewers will see a "nanite cloud" emerge from the original Joseph after a dramatic scene in which he prays for guidance. The cloud will form a duplicate of Joseph. Without explanation, the duplicate immediately kills the original Joseph. However, not until the 12th episode will the meaning of these nanite clouds become clear and viewers will then fully understand that the "Joseph" who destroyed the Machine was actually o'Seriat, an alien.

In the pilot episode, Hadden and Dr. Wye will be shown as providing support for Joseph....without that support and assistance a human would never have been able to penetrate security for the International Machine Consortium. During this time, o'Seriat has a full understanding of how Earth's Overseers plan to deal with Hadden's unwelcome scheme to provide advance technology to humans: they plan to kill anyone who is a machine passenger. The original Overseer plan for killing Drumlin is that he will appear to die when the "restraint chair" in the transport pod (IPV) rips loose and crashes against the wall of the pod.

Restraint chair.
o'Seriat is also aware of how Hadden plans to have Ellie as the passenger in the second Machine. o'Seriat decides that it will be best for Earthlings if there appears to be a successful journey by a human to the center of the galaxy. Since the Overseers are going to kill Drumlin anyhow, o'Seriat decides to work with Dr. Wye and Hadden and make Drumlin's death as dramatic as possible...with the blame falling on Joseph.

o'Seriat also decides on a plan that will allow Ellie to not be in the restraint chair when it is sent crashing against the wall of the IPV by the forces generated inside the Machine. At that time (during the IPV drop), o'Seriat's nanites will go into Ellie and protect her against the Overseer nanites that they plan to use to make sure that Ellie dies in the IPV.

Funny CGI scene.
o'Seriat (seen only as a nanite cloud) goes to the Nesr asteroid and examines the equipment that Dr. Wye has used to transmit the "message from Vega". It is a modified version of the message that was used long ago to make first contact with her species. o'Seriat (the nanite cloud) is shown splitting, and some nanites remain at the asteroid transmitter station. Briefly, these nanites take on a ghostly shape of Hadden and o'Seriat says: "The Overseers have exiled you from Earth. Wait here until it is safe to return."

o'Seriat then once more "splits in two", half of the nanite cloud goes to Observer Base on the Moon. The other half finds Ellie on Earth and enters her brain, stimulating a vivid dream sequence. After an Observer finishes a duty shift at a complex human-computer interface (analyzing and filing observations from Earth), the nanite cloud (o'Seriat) accesses the database and starts programming a new swarm of nanites that will be used to insert false memories into Ellie. The "o'Seriat nanites" coalesce into a ghostly form that uses the human-computer interface to assemble the scenes of Contact, the movie, representing Ellie's experience of a trip to the center of the Galaxy. o'Seriat experiments with several ways to get Ellie out of the restrain seat, finally pulling up memories of Palmer that lead to the Cracker Jack compass.

"They still want an American to go."
After Joseph is "killed" in the explosion that destroys the first Machine, o'Seriat is "seen" again after taking control of the body of the Hadden Industries technician (Shizue) who install equipment in Ellie's room so that she can talk to Hadden.

"Wanna take a ride?"
After Ellie is finished speaking to Hadden by the satellite link, the Hadden Industries technician (Shizue) knocks on Ellie's door and says: "Your ride."
It is still raining, but at the curb can be seen a Hadden Industries limousine.
Ellie: "It's late, can't you come back in the morning?"
Shizue (picks up Ellie's bag): "You can sleep on the flight to Hokkaido."
In the limousine, Ellie reads Shizue's posted license.
Ellie: "Shizue, how long have you been waiting here for me?"
Shizue: "Not long. I came with you on the flight from Florida."
Ellie: "You've been following me?"
Shizue: "Yes. I expected Hadden to contact you."
Ellie: "Do you know Hadden well?"
Shizue: "I followed his remarkable career for a long time...that is how I come to be here today....working for him."
Ellie: "You've met him?"
Shizue: "Yes, many times. I often have had to give him a warning, as I must now warn you."
Ellie (alarmed): "A warning?"

I've long been puzzled by Hadden's line in Contact, the movie: "They still want an American to go..."

Who is "they"? I assume that Dr. Wye is "they" and that the aliens have long been working to provide important technological advances to the U.S.A.

Shizue: "Yes, a warning. Machine Consortium security is in lock-down mode....not letting any visitors near the Machine site. Palmer is taking commercial flights to Nakashibetsu. He has the pass code -Nosappu- but you need to warn Consortium security to keep agents at Nakashibetsu airport, watching for Americans asking about flights to Nosappu."
Ellie: "I have not seen Palmer in almost a year."
Shizue: "He needs to see you before you enter the IPV."

Ellie is nervous about becomeing a Machine passenger and she is happy to hear that she will meet Palmer in Japan. After a short ride in the limo, Ellie is put on a Hadden Industries VTOL aircraft. As the plane flies off, Shizue drives the limo into a parking garage. The nanite copy of Shizue morphs into a cloud, some of which goes to the nearby sleeping human Shizue and enters into her brain to provide her with false memories of having brought Ellie to the aircraft. The real Shizue wakes up and wonders why she is sleeping. She goes out again to retrieve the satellite communications equipment from Ellie's room.

In a related scene, Palmer is contacted by o'Seriat nanites impersonating Ellie and asking him to come to the second Machine before she departs Earth.

Palmer arrives at the second Machine site and gives Ellie the compass. When the rotating rings system powers up the IPV, o'Seriat's special memory-encoding nanites are transported into the IPV. Those nanites make sure that Ellie survives passage through the Machine's core. When the IPV splashes down, Ellie briefly looses consciousness. She finds herself in the floor next to the compass and the nanites start constructing false memories that give her the experience of having gone to the center of the galaxy. Ellie, when finally alone with Palmer (she is still in the biocontainment facility, a precaution being taken in case she has actually traveled off Earth and had contact with aliens) tells Palmer that the compass saved her life.

The pilot episode gives viewers a new perspective on the events depicted in Contact, the movie. Viewers are introduced to the mysterious nanite clouds that can morph into the form of humans. Also, Dr. Wye has been introduced as a mysterious U.S. government employee who has secretly helped Hadden destroy the Machine in Florida. Dr. Zelter is introduced as a mysterious space traveler who can travel between the Earth and the Moon. A few quick views of Observer Base have been provided, just enough to suggest the possibility that aliens might be on the Moon, although many might still be wondering if Hadden is connected to the Moon Base.

The pilot episode will end with some teaser scenes from the next six episodes:
Contact Episode 1: Pull the Plug
Contact Episode 2: Good to Go
Contact Episode 3: Voice from the Sky
Contact Episode 4: Hail to Vega
Contact Episode 5: Look Closer
Contact Episode 6: For Carl

Episode 12 of the Contact television series will be a second version of the pilot episode. By episode 12, viewers will be ready to understand the mysterious nanite clouds as being o'Seriat, an alien visitor to Earth.

Mar 29, 2012

New Look

Last August Blogger introduced a new blogging interface, and the bloggers who enjoy being at the bleeding edge helped Blogger develop the new interface. Back in October 2011 the folks at Blogger said: "In about two weeks from today, all Blogger accounts that haven’t yet made the switch will be upgraded to the new user interface." I've been able to avoid using the "upgrade" so far.
If Blogger is going to force everyone to use the new interface then is it really an "upgrade"? They simply decided to change the interface and I have to use it...I'll get to decide if I think the change is a benefit.

It would be interesting to know if Google has any software developers who have a job description such as: "Find out what bloggers want and provide them with the needed tools to improve the blogging process". I have the feeling that support for Blogger is very low on the list of priorities for Google. I would not be surprised if some day I see the message: "Google pulls the plug on Blogger".

It happened

The Wiki Fiction blog has been assimilated as of April 19, 2012.

Mar 27, 2012

For Carl

Philip José Farmer's Riverworld books use a fun plot device: a technological wonder called a "wathan" that allows for resurrections of people. As an alternative to some magical wathan "energy field", we can imagine an alternative plot device: an advanced technology of nanoscopic devices that can exist within a person's brain as a kind of symbiotic artificial life form. When such a "nanite-infected" cellular body dies, the "nanite symbiont" can move to another body...possibly not even a human body. In Episode 4 of the Contact television series, the "nanite symbiont" that had previously resided in Hadden's brain is shown taking up residence in Kate Robinson's brain.

In Episode 6 of the Contact television series, viewers learn the fate of Carl Sagan: he is alive and well and now a "host" for his own "nanite symbiont". Sagan becomes a tool of the Overseers and his experiences as an apprentice Observer will provide viewers of the Contact television series with their first glimpse into the workings of Genesaunt culture. There will be several episodes about Sagan that form a second, parallel story line, offset in time from the main story arc. Eventually the two story lines will merge and Sagan will play a ambassador-like role for "first contact" between Earthlings and Genesaunts.

There is a core of ten main characters for the series, half humans and half Genesaunts.....
"Genesaunt" is the term used within the intergalactic civilization of the Huaoshy to refer to any life form that has left the planet on which it (or its biological ancestors) originated and evolved. How does Carl Sagan become a Genesaunt?

In 1993 Carl Sagan was contacted by Hadden and asked to speak to President Clinton an behalf of Ellie and the proposed SETI project at the VLA. With Hadden's funding, Sagan's lobbying help and over Drumlin's objections, Ellie's SETI project is given access to the VLA.

In November 1996, Dr. Wye and Hadden visited Sagan at his home, shortly before Hadden sends the "message from Vega" to Ellie.

At this time, Dr. Wye works at Area 51 and is aware of an automated U.S. Air Force "early warning" system that would detect the "alien" signal that Hadden is planning to send to Earth.

Sagan is asked to warn President Clinton about the danger of misinterpreting an alien "first contact" radio signal if secret military systems (Russian, Chinese or U.S.) detect a message from aliens. These military satellite systems are part of "early warning" systems that can trigger a nuclear counter-attack. Sagan calls Al Gore and gives the warning. Gore tries to assure Carl that responsible control of "early warning" systems is already well in hand, but Gore tells Carl that he will discuss it with the President.

Clinton asks: "I wonder...why did Sagan bring this issue before us now?"
Gore: "Carl seemed very insistent. I got the feeling that there might be....well, that maybe a signal from aliens has already been detected."
Clinton: "Really? I've never really taken seriously...Al, do me a favor. Put together a brief statement. Just a few words for me to use in the event know..."
Gore: "Little green men walk into the White House?"
Clinton, "Even if there are only rumors of aliens, some actual evidence for life...out there. I want something calming to say...I'd hate to be caught flat-footed and end up saying something on the spur of the moment that only adds to confusion and uncertainty."

By this time, Clinton has already explored ways to build longer missile launch delays into the command and control systems of nuclear forces. The U.S. military along with the Russians and the Chinese have all tried to make sure that the the big nuclear powers will not over-react in response to unexpected radio signals of extraterrestrial origin. However, Clinton decides to call for am immediate review of the nuclear command and control structure. He orders all military members and civilian involved with the U.S. nuclear deterrent to immediately report any knowledge of how a nuclear strike might mistakenly be initiated. Several potential flaws in automated nuclear command and control systems are reported and Clinton orders that immediate corrections be made.

When the "message from Vega" arrives a month later, the Overseers suspect that Sagan had been acting upon advanced knowledge of the message and is probably the tool of Interventionists. Dr. Zelter sends nanite probes into Sagan and the probes find some evidence that Interventionist nanites have been in Sagan's brain, apparently altering his memories. Outraged by the "message from Vega", the Overseers are in no mood to sit on their hands. Zelter arranges for Sagan to die and offers him a deal: Sagan is recruited to become an Observer. Sagan is tempted by the chance to go into space, but he is also told that due to his health problems he will not live much longer. Zetler tells Sagan that he can be easily cured by the application of Genesaunt medical technology and that if he gives up his life on Earth then he can lead a long and interesting existence in outer space.

Sagan accepts the "deal" and he is taken to the Moon. His body is duplicated using Huaoshy sedron technology (this "duplication technology" is only available to the Huaoshy) and the duplication is carried out by the Huaoshy character (o'Seriat) who will later become the tenth core cast member for the Contact television series). The "copy of Sagan" is taken back to Earth and given a lethal dose of a hierion poison that is not detectable by Earthly medical science. Within a month, the Sagan on Earth is dead. The original Sagan is "infected" by nanites and he becomes an Observer. The "copy of Sagan" dies on Earth in 1996, but the "real" (original) Carl Sagan lives out his life in Space as a member of Genesaunt civilization.

Dr. Zelter shows Sagan Genesaunt records of the self-inflicted destruction of other civilizations on other planets in the galaxy, confirming his own fears about the potential fate of technologically advanced cultures.

In 1996 the Observer Base on the Moon is being phased out. Soon after Sagan's arrival on the Moon, Dr. Zeltan explains the function of Observer Base to Sagan:
"For millions of years we've been watching Earth. Things are interesting now that Earthlings have the power to do so much harm...."
Sagan (skeptical): "Just watching?"
Zelter: "As you know, sometimes we collect biological samples from Earth."
Sagan (amused): "Like butterfly collecting?"
Zelter: "Yes, and you are a very pretty specimen."
Sagan: "What do you do now, put me in a display case?"
Zelter: "Your fate is in your own hands, but I could use your help."
Sagan: "How can I be of use to you?"

Zelter: "Humans who are newly extracted from Earth are very valuable. You understand Earthly culture in a way that even the best Moon-born Observers never can."
Sagan (chuckles): "Ug. I hope you don't expect me to train your Observers....give them seminars on modern Western civilization."
Zelter: "No, that would not be my first choice.
Sagan: "Then what do you propose?"
Zelter: "I'll make my proposal, but let me answer by first asking you a question. How is it that just before Dr. Arroway received her "message from Vega", you warned the President to be prepared for such a message?"
Sagan (uneasy): "Coincidence?"
Zelter: "You don't remember why you felt compelled to warn the President?"
Sagan (experiences strange flashback of Dr. Wye and Hadden): "Hadden?"
Zelter: "Hadden?"
Sagan: "I don't know why your question made me...Hadden is a wealthy industrialist. He funded the SETI project at VLA."
Zelter (in communication with the nanites in Sagan's brain): "Have you ever met Hadden?"
Sagan (struggling to remember): "Uh, yes. Of course...several years ago he asked me to be a reference for Dr. Arroway."
Zelter (accessing Observer records): "So, that is why you contacted Gore in 1993. I'd missed that."

Zelter explains to Sagan that he has been used as a tool of Interventionists. Zelter emphasizes the danger of too quickly providing technological advances to the people of Earth.

How nice of you to call.
Zelter: "It is my job to prevent interventionists like Hadden from doing harm to human civilization on Earth."
Sagan: "Hadden is an alien?"
Zelter: "Most Interventionists who visit Earth are of human origin, but it is you might expect, we Genesaunts have advanced technologies that often seem magical to the people of Earth."
Sagan: "Marvelous. I'd like someone to explain the spaceship technology that brought me to the Moon."
Zelter: "You are doomed to suffer some disappointments, Dr. Sagan. Observer Base is not the home of scientists and technologists. Observers use tools like spaceships, but there is not a single Observer who knows how a spaceship works."
Sagan: "What about you. You call yourself an Overseer. Do you know the details of Genesaunt technology?"
Zelter: "I know some details, but I'm little more than the local sheriff....I have no scientific training."

After much discussion and with the helpful influence of Overseer nanites in Sagan's brain, Sagan agrees to help Zelter try to figure out how Hadden provided Ellie with the "message from Vega".
Near the end of Episode 6, Sagan goes to Earth and meets with Hadden. This is when the Machine in Florida is first being tested. Hadden has been living without his nanite implants since the "message from Vega" was first detected. At this time, Hadden is very ill. Sagan's study of Earth observations has failed to provide the Overseers with any insight into who provided Hadden with advanced technological assistance that was needed to send the "message from Vega". Sagan renews a previously-made Overseer offer to take Hadden to the Moon and save his life with the medical technology available at Observer Base. Hadden accuses Sagan of being a dupe for the Overseers and refuses. Sagan asks Hadden about the danger of providing Machine technology to humans.
Hadden: "The Overseers were nearly ready to make first contact themselves. I've only slightly accelerated the timetable."
Sagan asks: "If you only slightly altered the course of events, then what did you hope to gain?"
Hadden: "I'd rather not tell you since you are a puppet for the Overseers. In time they will know the full scope of my scheme, but for now I'd prefer that they remain ignorant and unable to disrupt my plans."
Sagan: "You know, they could take you apart cell by cell and find out everything you know,
Hadden: "No, that would be against their precious "Rules of Observation". I am surprised that they have not erased my memories."
Sagan: "They hope you will change your mind. It is not too late."
Hadden: "It is quite late, but I'm happy. You'll feel the same way after 25 centuries, Carl."
Sagan: "One last thing....what can you tell me about Briana Endler?"
Hadden grins: "Not much. I don't want to tell you anything at all."

Hadden goes into space and lives on Mir until he dies. Sagan and Zelter are still frustrated: they know that someone with access to advanced technology has been helping Hadden, but they do not know who or how. Sagan has spent years searching through the records of recent Earth history that are available at Observer Base.

Sagan can't resist looking into the origins of the human species. He learns that there has been a long process of "human domestication". For millions of years apes have been taken into space and genetically adapted to a synthetic environment with selection of phenotypic traits that were increasingly similar to the original biological form of the Huaoshy, as well as compatability with nanites. There was a long "diversification" phase during which multiple humanoid species existed on Earth and there was a significant amount of competition for resources between those species. When modern humans were that last remaining human species on Earth, some humans on Earth were "infected" by Interventionist nanites in an effort to stimulate the development of a technological civilization on Earth.

In his search of the recent Observer Base data, Sagan identified a Hadden Industries employee (Briana Endler), now retired, who has a mysterious history and seems to have been in a very close working relationship with Hadden. Sagan and Zetler visit Briana, but she can tell them nothing of interest. After they leave Briana and head back to the Moon, Zetler says:

"Briana is now just a shell. I could detect alterations in her brain caused by long symbiosis with nanites."
Sagan: "But you detected no nanites?"
Zetler: "None."
Sagan: "Where are those nanites now?"
Zetler: "I doubt if even Hadden knows, but I'm sure that they are still on Earth. This is the main task for Observers, watching for humans who are the puppets of Interventionists. If you were Hadden and wanted to accelerate the pace of technological advances, where would you position your assets?
Sagan: "Some place close to the Machine construction project."
Zetler: "There are now about 5,000,000 scientists and engineers working on the Machine project. Find me those nanites, Sagan."

At this point, Sagan begins to wonder if there are nanites in his own brain....if that is what Hadden meant when he called Sagan a puppet of the Overseers.

Contact television series.....
Contact Episode 1: Pull the Plug
Contact Episode 2: Good to Go
Contact Episode 3: Voice from the Sky
Contact Episode 4: Hail to Vega
Contact Episode 5: Look Closer

Mar 25, 2012

Look Closer

When Ellie Arroway and the crew of the Inspiration were returning to Earth from Nesr asteroid (Contact Episode 4: Hail to Vega) the space shuttle Atlantis went on a week-long mission to the Moon and conducted an investigation of a mysterious source of hierion-based communications signals.

Space shuttle Atlantis was retrofitted with Machine technology, including a V2 ("version 2.0") antimatter-powered propulsion system. Some people have proposed using positrons as the energy source for an antimatter-powered spaceship. For the Contact television series there will be a more exotic form of antimatter. The Machine technology allows for production of hierions, a type of matter unknown to current Earthly science.

What type of container will hold the antimatter fuel? Magnetic confinement will be used, but hierions again offer a big advantage over conventional magnetic confinement. The Machine's rotating rings can produce hierions, and one type of matter composed of hierions can allow construction of an antimatter containment "bottle" that is light enough for use in spaceships.

Unlike the original antimatter-powered engine of Inspiration, which used a miniature on board rotating rings system to generate antimatter, Atlantis used the newly developed magnetic confinement system to hold a supply of antimatter that had been produced at Area 51.

Contact Episode 5 starts with a conference held at the White House about the newly discovered Moon Base. Ellie and Palmer Joss attend the conference and listen to a summary presentation given by the crew of Atlantis. Having been equipped for a vertical landing on the Moon, Atlantis landed near a construction/tunneling debris field close to the source of hierion communications signals. Atlantis crew members were able to walk to a nearby airlock door that is built into a cliff face. The door is large, and it is apparent that spaceships even larger than space shuttles could fit through the open door, but no way was found to open the door. The door seems to be made of the same material as the Machine's transport pod (IPV). After exploring the area near the mysterious door for a week, Atlantis returned to Earth, arriving two days after the return of Inspiration.

At the end of the summary presentation Ellie asks, "How long has this construction site been on the Moon?"

A geochemist (NASA scientist Gerald Dhuley) responds. "My lab has so far only had one day with the samples brought back by Atlantis, but based on indicators such as solar radiation-induced weathering, some of the debris could have been dug up and dumped on the surface quite recently." Ellie senses that Dhuley has more to say, but an aide to the president calls a halt to the discussion.

Ellie contacts Dhuley and gets the rest of the story: the rock samples collected from a second, more westerly debris field show much more weathering. Dhuley's best guess is that those rocks were quarried out millions of years previously.

Ellie asks, "Does the President know this?"
Dhuley: "He knows. The decision has been made to keep this quiet until we have more information. The president feels that there is enough anxiety among the masses who think aliens have never been close to Earth than Vega. The official press release on the lunar construction/tunneling site will suggest that it was a secret Hadden Engineering project."
Ellie: "Nobody will believe that. Even if Hadden Engineering had a fleet of spaceships, which it does not, those ships would have been detected going to the Moon."
Dhuley winks: "You're not taking into account Hadden's cloaking device."

The Atlantis will be returning to the Moon equipped to gain entry to the cavern that lies beyond the sealed door in the cliff. During this time, Inspiration is equipped with an antimatter storage system.

Domesticated Ape
Ellie starts thinking about the implications of there having been aliens on the Moon for millions of years. She discusses with Palmer the idea that aliens might have created the human species as a kind of "domesticated ape" that would be able to eventually accept the idea that, as a biological species, it had been created by aliens.

Palmer wants to know how it would be possible to prove that there had been intelligent design of the human species by aliens. Ellie suggests that the aliens have been on the Moon observing Earth and guiding human evolution for millions of years. "The aliens must have records, observations of the entire evolutionary history of the human species."

Palmer says, "I assume you want to go to the Moon in search of such records"

But Ellie has an intuition about Moon Base Alpha. She has been studying the pattern of hierion communications signals in the Solar System and come to the conclusion that the signals originating from the Moon Base are little more than a copy of the signals being generated on Earth. "No, I don't think these records are on the Moon. I'm willing to bet that there are no aliens on the Moon. Maybe there once were, but now this Moon Base is just an automated relay station."

Palmer asks, "Relaying what?"
Ellie replies, "There is an intriguing pattern of signals that originates on Earth. We need to figure out where those signals come from and where the information goes to after it is relayed through the Moon Base. The problem is, somebody does not want us to know. The signals are encrypted and I can only detect their points of origin, not their destinations."
Palmer: "About the source of the hierion signals...the NSA has used the new hierion detector that works within Earth's gravity well. They claim that every time they move the detector close to a signal source, the signal winks out."
Ellie: "What does that mean?"
Palmer: "Somebody is hiding from us."
Ellie: "Aliens on Earth?"
Palmer: "You tell me."

Ellie goes back to Area 51 and works with Dr. Shella Wye: they perform research studies of the spare transport pod. Dr. Wye previously played an important role in the research project that discovered how to use the Machine's rotating rings as a source of hierions, including the antimatter fuel now used to power Atlantis.

Shella and Ellie know that hierion communications signals travel faster than the speed of light. They analyze data from the Inspiration's mission to Nesr asteroid in an attempt to understand if the hierion communications signals have a finite speed. They eventually notice that there is a slight delay in the speed of transmission when the signal being sent is more complex. This observation, together with what has already been learned about hierions allows Shella to propose a third type of matter (the first two are the conventional matter of our everyday experience and hierions). Shella calls the third type of matter "sedronic matter" and she proposes the existence of unseen "sedrons" to account for phenomena such as the relationship between information density and the speed hierion communications signals.

Dr. Shella Wye
Shella's theoretical analysis suggests that the Machine transport pod can act as a receiver for both hierions and sedrons. However, while some types of hierion particles can exist in our three dimensional space, sedrons can only exist in the compact spaces.
Ellie asks: "So, these theoretical sedrons are of no practical value?"
Shella: "Well, theoretically, if you transmitted sedrons into the Machine transport pod they would, um -transmute- into another form of matter. Conventional matter."
Ellie: "And you could transmit sedrons just like we transmit radio waves and hierion communications signals?"
Shella: "Theoretically. But you'd need a huge amount of energy to create the sedronic signal."
Ellie: "Then what you are describing is a way to convert energy into matter."
Shella: "Theoretically."
Ellie: "But you could transmit...project?...teleport that matter to a distant location!"
Shella: "Yes, theoretically, but it would be a very expensive process."

In a later episode we will learn that there is a "trick" by which the needed energy for teleportation can be obtained by "disintegrating" the object to be teleported.

The name "Dr. Wye" (pronounced "why") is a tip of the hat to both Dr. Who and Isaac Asimov. In Prelude to Foundation Asimov imagined that one of the regions of Trantor is called "Wye". Rashelle was the daughter of the mayor of Wye, and that motivated my choice of "Shella" for Dr. Wye's first name.

Backstory. Dr. Wye is an artificial life form from a distant planet in our galaxy. Dr. Why is from a civilization that long ago went through its own "first contact" with the Huaoshy. Dr. Wye likes to visit worlds like Earth and help species like humans navigate through their "technological adolescence". Dr. Wye sometimes provides help to Interventionists like Hadden. Dr. Wye is a hybrid cellular/nanite organism.

In Episode 5, Ellie and Shella are trying to understand how the nanocircuits that are built into the walls and hatch door of the Machine transport pod can almost instantly fuse at the atomic level when the hatch is closed. [Shella already knows how the hatch seals, but she uses the Socratic method in order to allow the humans she works with to figure out their own solutions to problems]. Kate Robinson, Shella and Ellie frequently share meals and discuss their research projects. Prompted by the Hadden nanites inside her brain (she keeps muttering, "look closer...look closer"; Hadden is only slowly learning how to influence Kate's thoughts since Kate's brain did not develop in close association to nanites), Kate realizes that the Machine transport pod is a sedronic receiver and that it acts as a teleportation pad where alien nanites can be materialized. The nanites are able to perform atomic level repairs to the hierion communications circuitry that is built into the walls of the pod. Shella helps Kate design a "nanite trap": a modification of the antimatter magnetic confinement device that they use to search the spare Machine transport pod for nanites. Initially they find none, but then after supplying power to the pod, they find that it contains nanites.

Kate realizes that the suspected "alien" computer equipment from the Nesr asteroid is probably "inert" unless first activated by nanites. She asks Shella to help her study the "alien" nanites with the goal of learning how to control nanites. Listening to Shella and Kate discussing nanites causes Ellie to become increasingly ill. Ellie feels like she should contact her doctor, but she only feels a sense of foreboding when she thinks of Zelter. Ellie contacts Palmer and he comes to Area 51 from Washington. Palmer tries to get Ellie to either go back to her SETI work in New Mexico or come to Washington for a vacation.

Dr. Zelter arrives at Area 51 and tries to use her Overseer nanites to make Shella, Kate and Palmer forget about nanites. Palmer goes back to Washington and Zelter takes Ellie back to New Mexico. As soon as they leave Area 51, Shella's more advanced nanites inactivate the Overseer nanites and Kate continues her nanite research (with Shella's help).

Contact television series Cast Members:
Eleanor Arroway - SETI researcher who discovered the "message from Vega"
Palmer Joss - Presidential advisor and Ellie's soul mate
Karen Zelter - Ellie's personal physician
Theodor Schwartz - Director of Security at Area 51
Reggie Banning - Air Force Captain and NASA astronaut; commands Inspiration
Kate Robinson - NASA engineer, crew member on Inspiration for the mission to the Nesr asteroid.
S. R. Hadden - Died in the movie, Contact, but still able to communicate with Ellie using "alien" technology
Dr. Shella Wye - an alien visitor to Earth pretending to be human, "she" (actually an alien life form that is neither male or female) is often described by fellow engineers as "Hadden's X" (meaning she is like Hadden, but with an X chromosome in place of Hadden's Y chromosome) or "Sell the Y" (implying that Hadden would sell anything to make more money, and Shella is what you get after Hadden sells his Y chromosome). Even after spending several centuries interacting with humans, Shella has only a theoretical undertanding of human emotions and sexuality.

Images. Top: LRO image. Antimatter rocket technology. Moon rock. Rapid evolution of human miRNA. Altered expression of proteins for synaptic plasticity. Another image of "Thirteen" from "House". It would be fun to have Olivia Wilde play the role of Dr. Zelter in the Contact television series.....

Contact Episode 1: Pull the Plug
Contact Episode 2: Good to Go
Contact Episode 3: Voice from the Sky
Contact Episode 4: Hail to Vega

Next: Contact Episode 6: For Carl

Mar 24, 2012

Yin Yang and Wim Bang

I had plans to blog about more alien technology today, and when I got up I found the two tweets, shown above, together in my tweet yin yang. Those two tweets got me thinking about a blog post from two years ago about "Passion for Writing". In that post I commented on the agony of not having time for fiction writing and that has been my usual state of mind during most of my life.

Forbidden Daughter
The one time that I can recall being close to feeling regret over having defiled a virgin piece of paper was when I was 14 years old and I started trying to write about an alien life form that had maintained a technological civiilization for millions of years. I had seen Forbidden Planet and I was upset by the idea that the Krell had become extinct. How unfair that a civilization with power plants that were many miles across should become extinct!

David Bowman Theorem
In 2001: A Space Odyssey, David Bowman is magically ("Any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic") transformed into an intermediate between humanity and aliens who are otherwise only represented by featureless "black monoliths". The David Bowman Theorem is: in Hollywood, first contact between two cultures separated by millions of years of cultural evolution needs a David Bowman plot device. Dr. Morbius was the "David Bowman" device in Forbidden Planet, providing a viewer-friendly account of Krell civilization. The Genesaunts provide a kind of David Bowman plot device for stories set in the Exodemic Fictional Universe. It would be nice to have the Contact sequel be a television series so that there is adequate time to explore the Huaoshy without having to rely on a magically well-informed "David Bowman"-like character. It is more fun to actually have time to show viewers the adventure of discovering the nature of the mysterious alien culture.

While I was disappointed by the demise of the Krell, I was stimulated by Forbidden Planet to imagine an interstellar civilization that would expand forever through the stars. But at the age of 14 I was unable to imagine an interesting story about how such an advanced interstellar civilization might interact with humans. At that time, I was thinking along the lines of what Ellie expressed in Contact: a civilization that was millions of years old would interact with humans on Earth in about the same way that we might interact with the residents of an ant hill. I was not happy thinking of myself as an ant. At the age of 14 my ideas for the backstory of the Huaoshy, Genesaunts and the Exodemic Fictional Universe were still coming into focus and my early attempts to write about the Huaoshy were little better than scrawling "duh" across a page...a good example of a situation where it would have been better to leave the page blank!

Size matters
I was always bothered by the idea that Dr. Morbius could use the Krell "teaching machine" and have it magically boost his intelligence. In Forbidden Planet, it was made clear that the Krell were biologically distinct from humans, so why should their "brain booster" work on humans? It would be fun to write a fan fiction sequel to Forbidden Planet in which Altaira, having gone to Earth and become a feminist, goes out in command of her own spaceship on a mission searching for other worlds that might have been colonized by the Krell.

Who might play the role of Altaira in the year 2012?
What Altaira and her crew discover are worlds inhabited by artificial life forms composed of nanoscopic machines rather than cells. This gets Altaira thinking about the possibility that those artificial life forms might have visited Earth long ago.....and the story would be off and running through an Exodemic scenario. When Dr. Morbius lived on Earth he, like everyone else, already had advanced Krell nanites in his brain. Although humans and the Krell evolved on different planets, the human brain is no stranger to the Krell fact, our minds are very much like those of the Krell because human brain evolution has been guided by the Krell nanites!

I've been thinking about imaging methods that might allow people to notice the presence of alien nanites inside the tissues of Ellie Arroway, the main character in the Contact television series. Do we have the needed technology that might allow us to detect nanoscopic devices -the advanced technological tools of aliens- inside living animals?

Seeing the Yin and Yang in Cell Biology

Image to right. Yin yang symbol: "Yin Yang: The oriental symbol of the Laws of Polarity and Synthesis." Bonewits, P.E.I. Real Magic.(Berkeley: Creative Arts Book Company, 1958) 94."

I like the version of the yin yang symbol that is shown to the right. The image hints at an infinite regress of balanced forces that reminds me of renormalization in physics. While thinking about nanites inside Ellie, I've also been thinking about the dimensional structure of the universe and Carl Sagan's idea of scientific evidence that the universe was created.

In the title of this blog post I wrote, "Wim Bang," where "wim" stands for WIM and means "weakly interacting mass". The Machine researchers at Area 51 routinely use the word "wim" when they discuss how the Machine's rotating rings generate large amounts of energy and even artificial gravity. In the big bang, there were more wim particles created than ordinary matter particles and wim engineering is the basis for faster-than-light communications and travel in the Contact television series. It is fun to imagine that with our primitive technology here on Earth we are totally unaware of how to make use of most of the mass in our universe. Other intelligent life forms such as the Huaoshy have been doing wim engineering for hundreds of millions of years.

I've been thinking about a new twist on faster-than-light space travel that would involve a transposition of the very small and the very large. If wim is important for the structure and evolution of galaxies, then what about the effects of wim on the largest scale structure of the universe?

The image to the right is a WhIMsical depiction of how ordinary matter and dark matter could mix together in a galaxy. See this web page for a more conventional discussion of the idea that galaxies can have a "dark matter halo".

After the big bang, the "dimensional structure" of the universe was in an energetically low configuration (the ground state). In the dimensional structure diagram to the right, each of the three sides of the three triangles represents one of the spatial dimensions of the universe.

Six of the spatial dimensions failed to inflate and remained as "compact dimensions". The shaded triangle represents our familiar three dimensional space of every day experience. The other lines in the diagram represent temporal and other dimensions of the universe.

There are some elementary particles that have unreasonably high energy states in our 3D space, but those particles can produce interesting physics at the Planck length scale of the compact dimensions. There are two triplets of compact spatial dimensions that provide "compact spaces" where dark matter particles can reside. There is "leak" of gravitational force between those compact spaces and the inflated universe where stars, planets and people reside. Most of the mass in the universe resides in the compact spaces, which might seem paradoxical, but there is plenty of space in the compact spaces for the kinds of particles that reside there.

Some of the matter in one of the compact spaces is subject to a repulsive force that is undetectably weak on the scale of things in our everyday experience in the inflated dimensions. During the big bang, some of the matter in the universe clumped and we now experience the result, a universe where some matter in each of the three 3D spaces is gravitationally bound. However, while the mass in our extended space tends to clump into the center of galaxies and often forms supermassive black holes, due to the repulsive force, some dark matter tends to spread out and avoids collecting at the center of galaxies.

The Huaoshy long ago learned how to alter the dimensional structure of the universe and make possible faster-than-light movement of communications signals "through" the inflated space of stars and galaxies. This is basically accomplished by a trick that makes use of "shortcuts" through one of the compact spaces. There is a family of bosons (the hierions) that make FTL communications possible. It is hierion communications signals that can be detected using Machine technology, and Ellie helps make that "alien" communications technology available to Earthlings, as introduced in Contact Episode 3: Voice from the Sky".

The curved green line in the dimensional structure diagram of the "transitional universe" is what makes FTL communication possible. For millions of years the Huaoshy expanded through their home galaxy and made use of FTL hierion communications to manage their growing interstellar civilization.

Beam me!
Eventually, the Huaoshy finally were able to harness enough energy to catalyse another change in the dimensional structure of the universe. This change allowed for the faster-than-light movement of physical objects such as nanites "through" the expanded space of stars and galaxies. Again, "through" is in quotes since the process involves the "trick" of moving by way of a "shortcut" through compact space. The Machine, as depicted in Contact, does not allow for sending an object through space at FTL speeds, but it did create a target that could be used by the Huaoshy for sending nanites to Earth. Such FTL transport of fermions requires advanced sedronic engineering. Through their control of the supply of sedronic matter, the Huaoshy maintain a monopoly on the technology required for travel through space at speeds greater than light speed.

Sedronic engineering allows for two modes of FTL space travel. The first mode is what was depicted in Contact. The Machine was able to energize the IPV pod, allowing for the transport of advanced Huaoshy nanites to Earth. This is how "contact" has routinely been initiated between the Huaoshy and civilizations like our own. The transported nanites invade Ellie's brain and start manufacturing false memories that depict for Ellie the kind of experience of first contact that the Huaoshy want her to have. In particular, they want Earthlings to think that the nearest aliens are very far away and not particularly interested in Earth.

Why was David Drumlin killed in Contact? Drumlin was the Earthling selected by the Overseers to make first contact. Like Ellie, Drumlin had nanites in his brain through his entire life. However, Hadden, as an Interventionist, wanted Ellie to be the one to make first contact. Hadden built a second Machine and used the first one as "fly paper" to attract and eliminate Drumlin. As long as it appeared that Drumlin would make first contact, the Overseers relaxed and did not worry too much about the Interventionist plot that provided Earthlings with instructions for how to build the Machine.

There was a significant difference between the nanites in Drumlin's brain and those inside Ellie. Hadden made sure that the nanites inside Ellie prepared her to be able to have some resistance against the false memories forced upon her by the Huaoshy nanites. In contrast, Drumlin would have been a complete puppet for the Huaoshy. Ellie will have a fighting chance to learn that the Huaoshy first visited Earth millions of years ago.

Will it be possible for people like Ellie to understand that the Huaoshy "created our universe" by altering its dimensional structure and making FTL travel possible?

Yin Yang
The Interventionists and the Overseers are the "yin" and "yang" of how the Huaoshy interact with humans. As mentioned by Hadden in Contact Episode 4: Hail to Vega ("Even I've never met an alien.") the Huaoshy don't have direct contact with Earthlings. Where did the Interventionists and the Overseers come from? The answer to this question has to do with the second mode for FTL travel.

When there is no Machine-generated target for sending objects through space, it is still possible to travel through space at FTL speeds using the advanced sedronic technology of the Huaoshy. However, without a target it is hard to control the place in our universe where transported matter will "materialize". The Huaoshy have spent the past several hundred million years systematically sending out nanite probes in search of worlds like Earth. The probes are sent out into the universe in what is an essentially random way, although there are some poorly-understand patterns in the spatial locations where the probes materialize. Those probes are small spaceships that, having been transported over vast intergalactic distance by advanced sedronic technology, then try to find a world where a Machine can be constructed, providing a new "target" for further transport to that region of the universe. However, this is something like having an airport available nearby in case we might want to visit some random "ant hill in Africa". The Huaoshy don't bother to visit worlds like Earth unless something interesting and unusual happens. The routine work of locating planets like Earth is automated and left to the nanite probe ships.

Millions of years ago, a nanite probe ship reached Earth and established an Observer Base on the Moon. Animals have occasionally been taken off of Earth and "cultured" at various locations in our galaxy. The Overseers and the Interventionists are descendants of those "cultured" life forms from Earth.

In Contact Episode 5: "Look Closer", the Atlantis returns from the Moon after its crew explored the Observer Base that has existed, hidden, under the surface of the Moon for millions of years. The Observer Base is now abandoned, the Observers having moved to a new base of operations that is further from Earth.

Those on Earth who remain skeptical about the existence of aliens are not impressed by the newly--discovered Moon Base. As for the artifacts found on the Nesr asteroid by Ellie and the crew of the Inspiration, no artifacts are found on the Moon that seem very different from what is possible on Earth using conventional Earthly technology. The skeptics again suggest that Hadden must have secretly had the Moon Base constructed as a "gift for humanity". Going into Contact Episode 5: "Look Closer", the search for difinitive evidence of alien life forms continues.

Mar 21, 2012

Hail to Vega

The movie Contact featured the "Message from Vega". Everyone assumed that the radio signal came from an alien species at the Vega star system because the radio waves came from the direction of Vega.

In the Contact television series, we are going to disprove that assumption in Episode 4.

Key Cast Members
Eleanor Arroway - SETI researcher who discovered the "message from Vega"
Palmer Joss - Presidential advisor and Ellie's soul mate
Karen Zelter - Ellie's personal physician
Theodor Schwartz - Director of Security at Area 51
Reggie Banning - Air Force Captain and NASA astronaut; commands Inspiration
Kate Robinson - NASA engineer, crew member on Inspiration for the mission to the Nesr asteroid.
S. R. Hadden - Died in the movie, Contact, but still able to communicate with Ellie using "alien" technology

Ellie is quickly distanced from her conventional SETI research work in Episode 1 when the action shifts from "out there" to her inner mental world. Ellie's SETI benefactor, S. R. Hadden, although dead, is able to contact her. With Ellie now in mysterious mental contact with a dead man, the story line calls for a doctor who can treat Ellie's mental illness.

However, by the end of Episode 2, viewers already know that Dr. Zelter is not just your average-Hollywood-amazingly-young-genius doctor.
The viewers know that Ellie has mysterious "alien" nanites in her brain, but they have also seen that Dr. Zelter is just fine with that. In fact, when Ellie and Palmer try to remove the nanites from Ellie's body, Dr. Zelter steps in and puts a stop to their efforts!

In Episode 3, Ellie hears from Hadden about the existence of "Overseers". She has disturbing dreams and starts to worry that the Vegans might be vulture-like aliens who are giving advanced technology to Earthlings and then waiting to see if humans will destroy themselves.

"...a doomsday machine. We build this thing and out pours the whole Vegan army!"

At the start of Episode 4, Earth's first spaceship powered by "alien" technology, the Inspiration, reaches the Nesr asteroid that was the source of the "message from Vega". The people of Earth have been told that Inspiration is going to Mars, but only an unmanned probe goes there as "cover" for the real mission to the mysterious Nesr asteroid.

When the crew of the Inspiration examines the Nesr asteroid, they find nothing unusual, at first. Ellie keeps trying to contact Hadden using the "alien" communications equipment and she detects a weak signal coming from the asteroid. Ellie and Captain Banning leave the confines of the Inspiration and perform a "space walk". At the surface of the asteroid they find that there is a hidden radio transmitter.

There is much argument over who built the transmitter and if it was used to send the message to Earth with instructions for how to build the Machine. Banning and an engineer (Kate Robinson) return to the transmitter with improvised tools in an effort to obtain the control circuitry that presumably contains the message. They return to Inspiration with what they assume is a computer unit that controlled the now inactive transmitter. Mission control on Earth insists that there are precautions taken to avoid possible biological contamination to and from the "alien" hardware. Inspiration heads back to Earth.

After performing a few tests that detect nothing living, the crew of the Inspiration decides that they should expose themselves to the equipment and risk being contaminated by alien organisms. They start trying to understand the "alien" equipment.
Ellie (complains): None of this makes sense. The technology of this transmitter is only slightly more advanced than what we have on Earth, but I can't see what must have controlled the signal sent by the transmitter.
Reggie: Let's just hope that our engineers can figure it out.
Ellie: If you had given an iPod to Alan Turing in 1940 would he have recognized it as a computer?

Ellie continues to relentlessly work on the "alien" equipment. When she is alone and eventually falls asleep, slumped over the work bench, part of the "alien" equipment morphs into a ghostly Hadden-like form. "Hadden" goes to another part of the spaceship and morphs again, then the Hadden nanites merge into the body of one of the crew (NASA astronaut Kate Robinson).

Ellie continues having disturbing dreams and flashbacks during the trip back to Earth. Ellie spends a large amount of time working with Kate trying to understand the equipment that they took from the Nesr asteroid. Ellie gets the feeling that Kate is holding back and not really trying to crack open the mystery of the "alien" transmitter's control system.

Later, on Earth, Palmer meets Ellie after the Inspiration lands at Area 51. When Ellie meets with Dr. Zelter, Kate Robinson sneaks in to speak to Palmer.

Kate (speaking with the voice of Hadden): You need to help Ellie or the whole world will continue to think that I made the "message from Vega".

Palmer watches while Kate morphs into the form of Hadden.

Hadden: Turing was a friend of mine, and Ellie is no Turing.
Palmer (alarmed): Hadden? What kind of trick is this?
Hadden: Just nanotrickery. The man who you knew as Hadden was just a human with nanites in his brain. Those nanites did not die when the man died.
Palmer: The aliens get into human brains?
Hadden: There are nanites in Ellie's brain, but it is best to leave them there.
Palmer: An alien is in Ellie's brain?
Hadden: Don't get your hopes up. Even I've never met an alien.
Palmer: I don't feel well.

Some nanites go from "Hadden" into Palmer.

Hadden: You are not infected by nanites, but I see that your memories have been altered. I'll return to you the memories that have only been suppressed.
Palmer (starting to remember): We must get the nanites out of Ellie's brain!
Hadden: No, if we did that it would alert the Overseers to my presence on Earth.
Palmer: Then how can I help Ellie?
Hadden: Pull some strings. Make sure that Ellie goes back to New Mexico and get Zelter out of here. Then arrange for Kate Robinson to be assigned to the research team here that will investigate the equipment that was taken from the Nesr asteroid. I'll make sure that Kate can figure out the nanoscopic computer control system of the transmitter.

Near the end of Episode 4 I want to send Ellie off on a new tangent. Palmer tries to get her to go back to her SETI team in New Mexico, but Ellie has an idea for how to test if the Machine can actually create a wormhole. She stays at Area 51 and tries to propose a new experiment with the rotating ring system that is being used to produce antimatter. When nobody is willing to slow the production of antimatter, Ellie tries to have a access to a second set of rings that is being constructed. She goes to Washington to make her case to the President. She is told that the President no longer believes Ellie's story about travel through wormholes and that she should go back to SETI work in New Mexico.

Ellie has a strange "dream" and suddenly has a new idea, recognizing that the "transport pod" might actually be a "transport pad", a destination for matter transmission to Earth from an alien world. She goes back to Area 51 and tries to warn Director Schwartz that the Machine technology might actually be a security risk. She wants to set up detectors to explore the possibility that matter is being transmitted into the "transport pod" in Japan. Schwartz reveals that there is another "transport pod", a spare that was built for use with the Machine in Florida.

Episode 4 ends with Ellie being shown the spare transport pod.

So far, the only thing that was accomplished with the "transport pad" technology of the Machine was to "beam in" some nanites that infected Ellie and started the process of altering her memories. However, this "transporter technology" is much more versatile than Star Trek transporters. Specifically, the "transporter technology" of Contact is what allows for faster-than-light travel through space.

As discussed here, I imagine that the Huaoshy long ago faced the technical challenge of finding a way to travel through space at faster than light speeds. As a result of their alterations to the "dimensional structure" of the universe, the Huaoshy have a monopoly on FTL travel. So far (the movie and the first 4 episodes of the TV series) we have only "seen" the Huaoshy "transporter technology" used once: when Ellie was in the machine, nanites were "beamed in" to start providing Ellie with new memories....memories that constitute her experience of the trip through wormholes to the center of the galaxy.

While it is fairly easy to use nanites to disrupt memories (particularly new memories), creating new memories is not easy. In fact, it is only possible with slow and careful work that requires nanites to be in a person's brain their whole life. Yes, that means that Ellie has had nanites in her brain during her entire life. When Hadden spoke of Ellie as being a "long-term investment", he was being cute. Ellie thought that Hadden meant since he started funding her research, but actually, he was part of an Interventionist plot that involved implanting nanites in Ellie's brain even before she was born. The long residency of nanites in her brain allowed for a fairly complete understanding of how information is stored in her brain, which the Huaoshy could ultimately take advantage of when it came time to implant false memories in her mind.

Background Note: Ellie's parents were both infected by nanites. When Ellie was just an embryo, some nanites from her mother moved into Ellie's developing brain. After Ellie's father died, there was still a nanite "copy" of his mind which was used to help give Ellie a believable experience of having met her father at the center of the galaxy.

Hadden and his fellow Interventionists wanted to make use of Ellie as a tool for pushing Earthlings towards new technological developments. However, when the Overseers realized what was going on, the Huaoshy were able to step in and try to make sure that Ellie was misdirected with respect to their long term effort to control the development of human civilization on Earth. So the Huaoshy used their advanced nanite technology to make Ellie believe that the aliens mostly leave Earth alone. However, Hadden and his fellow Interventionists are still around, and still trying to make Ellie realize that Earth is under constant Observation.

Related reading: Flailing at Vega. Evidence of aliens among us: "Honest Oliver" provides a clear-eyed analysis of Contact, the movie. It is always stimulating to find someone who can provide a totally different perspective on a topic. You can lead a horse to water but you can't make it drink....Honest.

Images. Top; from the funny part of Contact when crowds gather near the VLA. Another image of "Thirteen" from "House". It would be fun to have Olivia Wilde play the role of Dr. Zelter in the Contact television series.....
Contact Episode 1: Pull the Plug
Contact Episode 2: Good to Go
Contact Episode 3: Voice from the Sky
Contact Episode 4: Hail to Vega
Contact Episode 5: Look Closer

Mar 20, 2012

Images from this Blog

All the images for this blog are in an album. Many of the images are public domain or copyleft, but some are fair use.

I had to go back and look to see why I included the image of a fossil in a blog post. It was in the context of how rapidly things change on the internet.

Some of the images above represent "dimensional structures" for the universe. I'll return to this topic in my next blog post. I'm thinking about a new twist on faster-than-light space travel for the new fan fiction television series, Contact.

One of the images above is from a blog post about odd plot devices such as how Carl Sagan used the number pi in his science fiction novel. I'm still trying to decide on a fun way to provide scientific evidence in support of the idea that it could be possible to create a universe or change the fundamental physical properties of our universe. I want this to be part of the television series, Contact.

The picture of Carl Sagan (above) reminds me of I trick that I wrote into my fan fiction about Asimov's fictional universe: I arranged to have Asimov become a character in the story. I wonder if it would be possible to write Sagan into the television series, Contact.

One of the images below is NOT in this blog.

All the images below are in my recent blog posts about the television series, Contact. It would be fun to have Olivia Wilde as a major character in the Contact television series. What are some other possibilities for casting?
On to Episode 4 of the Contact television series.
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