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May 29, 2016

Mental Science

original Astounding cover art by Hubert Rogers
In the 1940s when Asimov wrote his original Foundation stories, he described the imaginary discipline of Psychohistory as the culmination of a mathematical breakthrough that allowed for scientific understanding of the human brain, human psychology and even sociology.

1. According to Asimov's account of future science, the electrochemistry of the brain could only be understood by tracing its details all the way down to the "nuclear forces".

2. As the story was told by Asimov, not only did the Second Foundation have the mathematical tools needed to predict the future direction of Galactic Civilization, but the Second Foundationers were able to use their telepathic ("mentalic") abilities to control the emotions and motivations of other people.

3. Thirdly, the Second Foundationers were able to abandon spoken language and communicate with one-another using a new type of gestural and telepathic language.

Later, in the late 1980s, when Asimov finally returned to the task of telling the story of Hari Seldon and how he established the Second Foundation, he depicted some humans as having the genetic elements that were required to establish a small colony of telepathic Second Foundationers.

Asimov had originally described The Mule as a genetic mutant who had been born with the natural ability to control the minds of other people. In contrast to the Mule, the Second Foundationers had to practice and train in order to fully develop their mentalic abilities.

Psycho History
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Extending back into the dark days of the previous millennium, there is a twisted history of some philosophers, physicists and chemists who have proposed that an understanding of quantum physics must be utilized within neuroscience in order for us to fully understand minds and consciousness. This idea leaves most neurobiologists cold: they see no role for quantum uncertainty in the mechanisms of consciousness that exist in the warm and wet environment of a brain.

The physics world was recently abuzz with the possibility of a new short-range nuclear force. In the Exode Trilogy, I imagine that there are additional forms of matter (hierions and sedrons) that are, as yet, unknown to Earthly science.

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When creating science fiction stories, it is fun to imagine that some mysterious unseen particles are what might account for human telepathic communication. Maybe new and wonderful branches of physics remain to be discovered.

In the Exode Trilogy, I imagine that the events described by Asimov in his Foundation Saga and in his Robot Stories reflect actual events that took place in Deep Time, in what I call the Foundation Reality. At that point in Deep Time, time travel technology existed and Daneel was being used as a tool by the Queen of Time Travel, R. Gohrlay. R. Gohrlay was the first telepathic robot.

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Mentalics Time
What if the predictions of future events that were believed to be "calculated" by Seldon's "little algebra of humanity" were instead actually made possible by accessing information about the future that existed in the Sedronic Domain? Possibly R. Gohrlay collected some information about the future and made it accessible to the Second Foundationers. The best way to do this might have been to link the Prime Radiant to a sort of "data base" within the Hierion Domain. Using their mentalic powers, Second Foundationers might have used the Prime Radiant as a tool for accessing the Bimanoid Interface.

If all this was done correctly, the Second Foundationers could have believed that they were simply using mathematics to calculate the probabilities of future events, while in actuality they were obtaining information about the future, information that had been carefully provided to them by R. Gohrlay.

The Doctor who created our universe (in the Ekcolir Reality).
Original Ace Double cover art by Edward Valigursky.
Additional cover art by Virgil Finlay.
For the Exode Trilogy, I imagine that Asimov was able to tell his Foundation Saga in our Reality because he had access to information from the Foundation Reality. In the Foundation Reality, Asimov was an investigative science reporter. There was much to report because a secret agent from the far future (see The End of Eternity) was pushing primitive humans towards the development of positronic robots and hyper-spatial interstellar travel technology.


In the next Reality, the Asimov Reality, it was Asimov himself (the Asimov from the Foundation Reality) who traveled through time and passed on stories of the Foundation to his analogue in that new Reality. In the next two Realities, the momentum of Time ensured that the Asimov analogue in each Reality was also informed about events in Deep Time and able to write versions of the Foundation saga.

Next: Searching for Observers on Earth
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