Just think what a useful thing this would be to have in your posession. Just think of what you could use it for. You would be a God, and would have absolute power over all creation. However, as "absolute power corrupts absolutely", you might have a problem with magnetic storage media. Apart from this, you could do things like editing the parameters of eletromagnetism so that parking tickets won't come within three metres of your car. And just think what it would do for your connection speed. If anyone annoyed you, you could just delete their account from the server. As well as these useful features, you could do cool things like edit gravity's parameters to make you float 20cm above the ground, or you could connect the universe to the internet, which is, when you think about it, an interesting concept.

Update 2nd June 2000, 2050 UTC: My comments on the internet are motivated by the idea that maybe there is an inter-universal internet, ignoring the obvious fact that there cannot be more than one universe. And I don't think the universe runs on UNIX or even WinNT. God has his own operating system, probably called Olympus. But I just thought, does it run VNC?

We already have the administrative password for the universe.

  • It grants root access to all privileged areas of the filing system, assuming we're smart enough to make sense of the information..
  • it grants all executive power, assuming we learn how to use that information.
  • it imposes no arbitrary organizational constraints except those we impose upon ourselves.

It's called the mind, and in one sense it resides, in potentia, within the mass of electricity and grey goo that fills up your cranium. In its natural empty state, it's pure consciousness.

Of course, the administrative password would only be useful to someone who understood something about the structure of the operating system. To someone with no idea what to do, having root access to an alien operating system would be basically useless.

Having the administrative password and the seemingly unlimited power which goes with it would correspondingly imply total and complete responsibility for your own actions, and invalidate any and all future methods of involuntary control and conditioning.

However, such a state would be constantly lost as you became attached to concepts and sensations and attributed truth and reality to them, believing you had experienced the ding an sich, rather than simply perceived its reflection through the sensorium and a priori transcendental intuitions, and confused it with reality.

"Sweet Newton's ghost!" howls Ed from the basement. His voice is abject astonishment tinged with fear.

This is never a good thing.

Ed seems to have been stamped directly from the comic-book mad scientist mould - last week he raised an Amiga 500 to sentience (although it took us a while to notice; it thinks darned slowly). When Ed gets even slightly worried about anything, it's time to run for the next Earthlike planet.

"What's up, Ed?" I holler back, for I am busy fighting a boss and cannot be interrupted.

"You remember last year when I found a second layer of reality below this one?"

My mind races. I vaguely remember something like that. Ed had remotely hijacked control of the Relativistic Heavy Ion Collider, just out of curiosity. It's a long story. "Yeah... but you said it was completely featureless void, didn't you?"

"That's what I thought, but it's not. You should come and have a look at this."

Odolwa will have to wait. I pause the game and descend into the basement.


"So what did you find?"

"Messages," says Ed. "Messages, encoded into the very fabric of reality itself. Absolutely no question about it. It's like a pattern of vibrations in- well, the details aren't important. What's important is that the message is obviously in some kind of language; and there was enough of it for me to translate it.

"I've just finished reading the translation. Look at this: it reads like a piece of software documentation." Ed hands over a chunk of paper. I leaf through it.

The first page is a table of settings. The numbers I don't exactly recognise, but some of the names I do.

"Those settings," says Ed, anticipating my first question, "are fundamental physical constants. The speed of light. The Planck Constant. The gravitational constant. Some others that you won't have heard of. Some others that even I haven't heard of."

Next is a list of instructions for altering the settings. Short one-line commands followed by large tracts of incomprehensible vector equations. This goes on for about forty pages.

"The instructions are extremely detailed. In order to alter the constants, you basically need to access this second level of reality and adjust it in some special way. That involves using some seriously heavy hardware. And when I say 'heavy' I mean heavy - if I'm reading this right, I think we're looking at something like five white dwarfs in a Klemperer Rosette..."

"Sorry, white dwarf stars?"

"And that's just to get access. To actually change the settings, for instance if you wanted to increase the speed of light by a factor of a thousand; well, use your imagination. There's no way mankind will ever get that far, not in a million years. But think about what this means. Our universe is 1) open-source and 2) user-modifiable."

"Are you saying... that God uses Linux?"

"Keep reading."

I leaf through another few pages. "It says here that the settings have been changed. There are comments, too."

"Several times, and by several different people, yes. The comments you see there were written by the changers. There aren't any dates - after all, we measure our time according to the vibrations of a caesium atom, and theoretically, one could adjust the frequency of that vibration as much as you liked. But check out the very last comment. 'The next wave of changes that our race makes to these settings will hopefully result in the spontaneous creation of an entirely new universe from the ashes of our own dead one.' I'm willing to bet that the very last change occurred roughly one quadrillionth of a second before the Big Bang."

I am deeply thoughtful for a moment. "It is my considered suggestion that we don't attempt to mess with these settings."

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