By Pavlofox on pixabay.com
The smell of burnt rubber stung in Finn’s nose, prompting him to jump up and run across the room.
“Fuck. Fuck!” He flipped one of the switches on the whirring machine sitting on one of the tables. The whirring stopped, but the smell persisted. Carefully, Finn lifted the cover off to look at the wiring. To his relief, nothing was burning. Instead, one of the wires had melted through its isolation, but he had caught it early enough, so there wasn’t any irreversible damage.
“Should have asked one of the engineers for help”, he mumbled. But no, the engineers would just have laughed at him and his theories. They had done so before, and there was no reason to believe it would have been different this time. Still, it was moments like this when he wished he had taken more than just one additional class in electrical engineering and at least several more in computer science. A Ph.D. in mathematics just wasn’t sufficient to test his theories, not without hours upon hours of extra work, trying to figure out how to implement his formulas. @suesa
Finn cut the power to the machine and started replacing the cable. It was the one that provided energy to the console.
“Little fucker”, Finn said, finished his repairs and closed his machine again. The metal box was sitting there. Still. Lifeless. He turned the power back on.
”Hello, Finn.” The pre-programmed bootup message greeted him from the console display.
“Hello to you too.” There was almost no delay between him saying that, and the voice recognition picking it up. He had ‘borrowed’ that technology from the computer science department. They just didn’t know he had.
”Please input your formula.” The machine requested.
“Input formula testing formula one”, Finn said, watching the machine closely. The display lit up in a green light, indicating it had understood the command and was now accessing one of the formulas Finn had embedded into its code. The calculations that followed were accompanied by a soft buzzing that blended in with the whirring the machine produced in its idle state.
After five minutes, nothing happened.
Finn sighed. The machine was still calculating, but it didn’t look like she would come to any successful result any time soon – or ever. It was not like Finn had expected it to work. It hadn’t worked a single time in the past. Sure, he had been refining the formulas he had used to program the machine, had corrected mistakes in the algorithm, and chased bugs in the code. His work very likely still wasn’t perfect yet, and to prove his theory, everything had to be absolutely, 100% perfect. Any mistake would immediately ruin everything.
“Back to the drawing board, I guess.”
But as he moved his hand to flick the switch that’d interrupt the machine’s current work cycle, the display changed its color to blue, and the buzzing stopped.
”Calculation successful. Do you want to implement the results?”
The sound of his heartbeat hammered in his ears. His hands were shaking, and his mouth suddenly felt as dry as parchment paper.
This couldn’t be correct. It couldn’t have worked. It had just been a theory. A silly theory. Sure, he had put years of work into it but … it was still just a theory.
Blue light seemed to seep out of the whole machine. Finn knew it was just his imagination playing tricks on him, that it was a hallucination induced by the sheer shock of what the machine finding a solution.
Maybe it was a mistake. Maybe the machine just assumed it had completed the calculation successfully, and it actually hadn’t. It was still just a machine, a program. He had to test it to confirm if it had really worked.
Finn reached for his backpack and pulled out the apple he had brought as an afternoon snack. It was yellow, with tiny black spots and some dents. Finn wasn’t sure why he spent so much time thinking about the details of this apple, but his brain seemed to focus on the least important facts.
He put the apple down in a circle next to the machine.
“The object has been placed in the target area.” His voice sounded strange. “Implement the results for formula one.”
Louder than before, the buzzing returned. The few fragments of a second during which nothing of significance happened felt like forever to Finn. Pearls of sweat were running down his back.
The apple rose from the desk and stopped to levitate fifteen centimeters above it.
Exactly as intended by the formula.
“This can’t be”, Finn whispered. “This is impossible.” No, it wasn’t impossible. He saw it with his own eyes! It obviously was possible. It confirmed his theory and opened up a whole new world of possibilities.
“It’s a simulation. It’s all a simulation.” For decades, Finn had been leaning towards the idea that the whole universe was just a simulation, running on some kind of cosmic computer. People had agreed with him, on a philosophical level, but never enough to help him.
“You could never prove it”, they had told him, and left. Obviously, they had been wrong.
Finn’s theory had been that, if the universe were a simulation, the only constant would be math. Everything could be traced back to math, especially the rules of physics. But that also had to mean that the right formula, fed back into the simulation, should make it possible to change the rules of physics – like gravity.
And now, during all his panicked confusion, the apple had stayed above the desk, exactly 15 centimeters. Exactly as he had instructed the machine.
“I was right.” A grin started spreading across his face. “I was right all the time! Nobel Prize, here I come!” Finn could already see it before his eyes. The headlines!
Genius mathematician solves the mystery of the Universe and makes the impossible possible!
God proven to be just part of the programming, theists around the world panic.
Meaning of life revealed to be …
Finn hesitated. Why. Why was it a simulation? Who had made this simulation? Who was controlling it?
Now, the floating apple seemed to mock him.
“You haven’t figured out anything”, it seemed to say. “You’re barely scratching the surface. You’re pathetic.”
“End program”, Finn instructed the machine, and the apple fell back onto the table, from where Finn picked it up. There were more things to do before he could show his findings to the public, more calculations to be done.
He had to find out who ran the simulation.
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