The First String Quartet (Metaphorically Speaking, Of Course)

Thu 04/13/06 at 10:16 am

At some point, I either read or heard about a professor at Columbia who lectured about something called “string theory” while accompanied by a string quartet. I conducted some additional research and learned the professor was a theoretical physicist named Brian Greene who had written The Elegant Universe (“Universe”) about string theory (a/k/a superstring theory or M-theory) or, the “theory of everything” — “everything” being comprised of Planck-length vibrating strings.1 Growing up a Midwestern Lutheran with family ties to both Luther and Saint Olaf, sacred music played a large role in my life. Even today, if I get an “earworm” it’s often something from The Messiah. Consequently, I found it exciting that science appeared to be getting closer to discovering/explaining a phenomenon I have had no trouble believing exists (metaphorically speaking, of course) — the “music of the spheres.” I immediately obtained a copy of Universe.

Much of the version of the creation story as presented in my earlier Proxemics Entry was inspired by details culled from the pages of Universe. Thus, for instance, as I read about singularities, the scenes of heaven depicted by Milton in Paradise Lost came alive in my mind. I imagined the pre-Big Bang singularity as a place with God in the center surrounded by the heavenly host “praising God and saying [or rather singing, in perfect harmony], ‘glory to God, glory to God in the Highest’.” Handel, The Messiah. At the time, Satan and his rebel forces were responsible for the disharmony that caused the Big Bang. As I read, I also realized who, or, more precisely, what, many of my characters were. Turns out that during the initial explosion, certain strings manifested as celestial figures. Some of these string beings (“strings”) traveled from the edge of this universe to the Milky Way via a series of wormholes. Universe, pp. 264-265. The first stop was a smallish black hole in the middle of the galaxy. Id. at p. 81. There, they calculated the time of their arrival on earth by entering the black hole and hovering just above the event horizon for a specified amount of time and then climbing back out and continuing on to earth. Id. at p. 80.

There are hierarchies of strings, depending on the exact make up of their string structure.2 Some, including the more powerful “ethnic” gods; e.g., Zeus, Odin, and Trickster, have shapeshifting abilities. These strings are the Elohim or the “other gods” of the Hebrew Bible and other cultures. See Gen. 6:2, 4; Exodus 20:3, Job 1:6, 2:1, 38:7 Hence Christ’s ability to “pass through the midst of the mob” that wanted to hurl him off a cliff or suddenly to appear in a locked room.3 Luke 4:29-30; John 20:19. In The First Voice, Jesus and Satan will both possess these powers. Other strings are consigned to their initial materialization. These strings are the Nephilim of the Hebrew Bible and other heroes such as Gilgamesh. Gen. 6:4; Num. 13:33. Melchizedek and Johanna are Nephilim. Some of the Nephilim have endeavored throughout the ages to impart knowledge of string manipulation to humans. The first practitioners of the art were the magicians, then the alchemists. Today, they are scientists and what, since The X-Files, we might call paranormalists.

Strings have the power to manipulate other strings, and so, for instance, turn water into wine, or stones to bread, or to multiply bread and fishes. John 2:1-11; Matt. 4:1-4; Mark 6:38-44. (Though as to the latter, I would like to believe that the people fed themselves on that day by each producing food s/he had brought but were initially reluctant to share.)

The key to string theory hinges on the existence of considerably more than four dimensions. Universe, pp. 184 ff. As I read Greene’s discussion of dimensions, I thought back to my Superman comic days and the Phantom Zone. For those of you who may be unfamiliar with the fate of the planet Krypton’s criminal element, Wikopedia provides as follows:

As originally described, the Phantom Zone was discovered by Jor-El [Superman’s father] and used on the planet Krypton as a method of imprisonment of criminals. . . . The inmates of this dimension are cast into the dimension and reside in a featureless state of existence from which they observe, but cannot interact with, the regular dimension clearly. Inmates do not age or require sustenance in the Phantom Zone; furthermore, they are telepathic and mutually insubstantial.

In The First Voice, Elfredge will be charged with creating the circumstance whereby The Beast can be imprisoned in a similar dimension for a thousand years. Revelation 20:1-2.

As I hope you can tell by this entry, reading Universe proved to ba a defining moment for The First Voice. As I read and imagined the above, I knew it was only a matter of time before I would indeed put fingers to keyboard and endeavor to write my novel.
1 A Planck-length is “small almost beyond imagination: a millionth of a billionth of a billionth of a billionth of a centimeter. . . . To get a sense of scale, if we were to magnify an atom to the size of the known universe, the Planck length would barely expand to the height of an average tree.” Greene, Brian, Universe, p. 130 (Vintage ed. 2000).
2 Yahweh and the Holy Ghost/Great Spirit are not strings. Instead, they are composed of dark matter/energy. See, e.g., Universe, pp. 225, 235. On a related issue, Universe also enabled me to reconcile in my mind the apparent conflict of omniscience and free will by the explanation of that single electron simultaneously taking an infinite number of different paths from its starting location to its final destination. Id. at pp. 108-112. And then there’s also retrocausality (future events influencing present choices).
3 Until we humans progress in our ability to manipulate strings, our attempts to walk through seemingly solid barriers such as walls much rely on the phenomenon of quantum tunneling. The technique for such tunneling is simple; it requires only that an individual repeatedly walk into a wall. Eventually s/he would emerge on the other side. Unfortunately, success will come only after approximately 50 trillion attempts which would take longer than the current age of the universe to complete. See “Magic in Hyperspace: Walking Through Walls and Other Party Tricks.

Copyright © 2006 by cko.

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