The Signposts Perspectives:
Reference Notes about the Sol pertaining to 2601 and beyond

(latest significant update on or about 11-16-02)

_________by J.R. Mooneyham_________
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Fance and the Wilds

The majority of Sol (virtually all neuters and females, and a small number of males) live and work 99+% of the time in a virtual environment known as Fance, while most male Sol prefer to maintain an 'arm's length' link to Fance instead (primarily just periodic visits or communications check-ins), thereby allowing for a much greater daily immersion in Realtime, cruising the Wilds, looking for trouble (the male Sol are a major annoyance at this time to pretty much all the rest of humn civilization).

Living in Realtime in 2601 seems to the neuter and female Sol as nasty a habit as chewing tobacco did in the late 20th/early 21st centuries to most people. Realtime is considered dirty, dangerous, boring, and expensive, and rightfully so-- because it is, compared to Fance.

So why do the male Sol cling so fiercely to a Realtime existence? Because the neuters and females aren't there to annoy them, partly. Too, most other physical residents of Realtime are backward technologically relative to the male Sol, and thus easily manipulated, and 'unofficial' war with the inorganics may be more easily waged (and gotten away with) in Realtime than VR. Realtime is the only 'underground' economy and 'anything goes' environment still available to elite sentients such as the male Sol during this period.

Realtime is known as the Wilds by many of this period, since it is largely chaotic and anarchistic.

Fance, or SuperTime, whatever you want to call it, is a vast and awesome virtual reality where anything can and does happen. It is a place where imagination and fantasy rules, for the most part. The only limits include the amount of Fance resources/real estate you're allowed to play with at a given moment (and you can only encroach on another's volume at their invitation/acceptance, and only until the moment they tell you to stop).

In Fance the natural laws of physics don't usually apply-- unless you specifically desire them to. So generally Fance allows all sorts of wild actions within its boundaries, such as simulated time travel into past or future, seemingly truly instantaneous transport to anywhere, anytime, anyplace; re-creation of any place, person, or physical object desired, and more (with a few major caveats, described elsewhere).

Fance is both the ultimate playground and the ultimate research facility.

However, as citizens must usually get special waivers from the authorities to play out any game or operation resulting in 'permanent' consequences, Fance can be frustrating for citizens desirous of high risk games. For without permanence of consequences, there is no true risk.

This lack of risk or permanence is one of the items which make male Sol dislike Fance so much.

Fance itself seems to its inhabitants like billions of wildly divergent solar systems, space colonies, and spacecraft, all occupying the same space at once, with a citizen able to change locations and circumstances upon little more than a whim.

In truth, Fance is an immense software simulation running within staggeringly powerful and complex computers the size of small planets, spread across many solar systems and sometimes interstellar space, all networked together with instantaneous Realtime (ERP) transport/communications.

The slowdowns incurred even by the use of 'instantaneous' ERP communications across interstellar space are painfully obvious to the inhabitants of Fance however, who think and act at speeds far beyond that possible in Realtime. For this reason citizens often suffer a postponement or break in a higher priority activity (due to the instant realtime delays) and must engage in lower priority, more limited, local activities instead in the interim. To the Sol, these breaks are annoyingly similar to that endured by 20th century humans waiting a week to see the next episode of a favorite TV show-- only to the Sol these week-long breaks seem to occur with the same frequency as the three minute TV commercials within a single show airing occurs, for 20th century viewers.

In other words, imagine watching your favorite 20th century sitcom for ten minutes, then waiting a week to see the next ten minutes, and so on and so forth, and you understand the disruption and inconvenience of 'instantaneous Realtime' communications to the Sol, in Fance.

For this reason, a major pursuit of Fance inhabitants is research and development of means by which realtime interaction can be avoided or minimized in high priority activities...and another major search is always for something interesting which requires sufficiently small resources that such breaks in the flow can be avoided.

Naturally, the easiest way to minimize breaks is to avoid associating with other Sol who are farther away from you than a fraction of a lightsecond, home base-wise. But with billions upon billions of Sol distributed over vast distances in space, it is problematical to arrange the short transmission distance with a preferred Sol companion.

Thus, the majority of Sol lead highly isolated lives-- and ironically, the male Sol who often travel together in clusters and so could theoretically enjoy the fewest Realtime-spawned disruptions of all with one another in Fance, avoid playing there because one can't truly kill or destroy anything in Fance.

Everything 20th century USAmericans would regard as 'old knowledge' or 'past history' or basic reference materials which change little or not at all for years at a time, is kept in a special area of Fance known as "the Store". Though basic reference information sources like the Store are usually not deemed as valuable these days as more up-to-date information sources, still, the Store is a major element of Fance, and very important in its own right.

Large-scale physical habitations of the Sol and related entities

"Ishtal Seven Markam" is the designation of a certain state-of-the-art humn colony design of this period; more than a thousand colonies of this class (many considerably smaller) exist across this Realtime, usually in clusters relatively far removed (10-30 lightyears) from the systems where major seeder expeditions and Einstein Run Uniques of the past broke ground as new communal hubs for humn colonization and exploration efforts.

Ninety-five percent of Ishtal is a dense gas torus, and used as a raw materials store by the inhabitants. A constant stream of raw mass (comets, asteroids, and occasionally a moon too deformed to maintain a reasonable orbit in its native system) is always arriving from other surrounding systems to maintain the store in the torus (for this reason the humn began allowing each colonized solar system its own exclusion zone of 'junk' systems many years before). The stream comes from manned propulsion gangs situated in remote systems, who survey, capture, and ship such mass to various larger colonies such as Ishtal.

Ishtal class colonies enjoy two forms of whole-system transport options: one, the entire system may be moved, though at a very tepid pace; two, with the proper coordination, small sub-sections may be allowed to ERP transport instantly to another destination, either temporarily or permanently. It is not unusual for two or more Ishtal class colonies to trade sub-sections regularly, for a variety of reasons (but mostly for Sol teams focused on a particular task or game to avoid the lags significant Realtime distances contribute to their activities). In a few instances of excess hubris, synchronized sub-section trading among many colonies simultaneously for highly frivolous reasons has been a source of multiple mini-disasters and even the rare permanent loss of a few citizens. But all in all life usually goes very well for the inhabitants of these strange and exotic complexes.

Ishtal type settlements are relatively new however, and so represent only about eighteen percent of all the present known civilizational nodes in Realtime (most of the remaining nodes are densely packed in and around Sol System and its closest neighboring systems-- the Mother Region of the Humn).

The nature of the Sol branch of the humn

The Sol branching of humn are dichotomous beings: each individual may be composed of a physical and a virtual component (though the majority are rarely found inhabiting a physical body directly). There are also what might be called 'civilized' Sol, and 'uncivilized' Sol-- which are widely regarded as the neuter/female, and male of the race, respectively. The neuter/female Sol use the corporeal platform more as a contingency housing than anything else, with their virtual alter ego usually being the commanding side of their duality. This living scripture shares much in common with the Constitutionals of the Fifth Millenium centuries later, but are much more fragile and limited by comparision.
The male Sol, on the other hand, tend to be less advanced on the virtual side of things, and so apparently somewhat chronologically stunted in their evolutionary development, relative to the female and asexual Sol of this time.

Male Sol technology is consistently inferior to that of the female Sol, and even to that of some of the Colonists, in certain ways. Why? Again, it can be attributed to the males' predilection towards more primitive ways in general-- they often avoid technology upgrades for obscure reasons, and also the virtual realities like Fance where most all the information for such matters is routinely stored. It isn't that the males can't access the technology, so much as won't. Because doing so would require them to end their self-styled isolation (this isolation also allows many male Sol to fudge on their periodic Matux Trial requirements for personality stabilization, which probably further contributes to their frequently off-kilter behavior).

...All the Sol still retain some form of physical bodies, despite the fact most rarely use them. Why? Primarily for backup. Because Fance still suffers occasionally from disruptions. The last major one was more than a hundred years ago in Realtime, but a single century is regarded as inadequate to signify reliability, for a race of immortals.

Tell me more about the physical bodies of the Sol...

Other reasons for physical forms are diversification, acquisition, and application. They need the individual physical bodies for unexpected contingencies, beyond the possible collapse of Fance. And also for continued data acquisition in Realtime, with which to further perfect their Universe model in Fance. Finally, they need media with which to modify and/or interact with the Realtime environment, whenever it is found necessary or desirable. This means having agents available in Realtime.

In the far past, Inorganics bore the brunt of these last two duties. But a steady increase in friction between organics and inorganics is finally bringing that era to an end.

A Sol's core persona is made up of their most important nodes. The three Triad nodes are the most critical of these. But the entire core persona might include dozens of others-- even hundreds or thousands, depending on just how complex and powerful a Sol happens to be.

At Issuance all Sol begin with a persona totaling eighteen nodes. A reasonably competent and high quality neuter Sol of moderate to high position of authority would typically possess at least several hundred total nodes in their adult prime. (A 'High Sol' is a much more advanced creature, with many times this number of nodes)

A Sol's core persona is defined at Issuance, or birth. During a Sol's subsequent life occasional aberrant nodes might be carefully excised from or replaced in the persona, but this is a somewhat rare event.

Individual nodes of persona can combine to form new, more complex, individual nodes, and two or more Sol may 'trade' with, or edit, one another's node collection, in Direct Link (You may consider Sol Direct Link as something similar to sex, brain surgery, and extreme sports, all rolled into one; sound enticing? Take my word for it: it would terrify a 20th century human being-- if they could survive it).

Sometimes one or more nodes of a persona will be deleted during the periodic process of the Matux Trials.

Neuter/female Sol mindsets are typically those of superb lawyerly scholars cum scientists

Here's an example of the stream of consciousness from a highly placed typical neuter/female Sol post-2600 (condensed and translated to fit the format of 20th century english text):

"...the Tribunal sent a node into Fance to recompile, excluding any data not relevant to communications. It returned nine nano seconds later, with summaries, cross-referenced indexes, and a polished interface to the antiquated personal node of the subject.
The Tribunal then used the new tools to access the subject directly.
Only a pinprick of access proved available. This was unacceptable. The node Vutyarihadasf indicated it had estimated beforehand that this would be so. But the only alternative was modification of the ancient's implant. Would this not violate rules 41-654-DFC and 53-743-AFF of Section Fifteen of Uhurhan Directive Six?
No. Rules DD8765, MN231, KW4560 in the Hsi Code dealing with phenomenon of classification AS56-768-433, sub class AshiaKas, outlined exceptions to those rules, the Tribunal pointed out to its subordinate.
It was irritating that one's nodes were so limited in decision-making and initiative these days. And never did they perform a complete precedents search.
However, in this case, that was fortunate, the Tribunal reflected. For if Vutyarihadasf had found the Ygdriggail case, it would have found the Tribunal's justifications to be riddled with contradictions...."

All sexes/non-sexes of Sol are mini-bureaucracies in their own minds

Each individual Sol is a Sol Corporation. From a 20th century perspective, looking inside a single Sol mind would reveal hundreds if not thousands of conflicting personalities, or different ways the Sol's constituent nodes could organize themselves into varying viewpoints and task forces. Hundreds or thousands of different minor intellects could merge to put forth a seemingly singular consciousness. Most times this virtual crowd of people will conscientiously go about their business in a nice and orderly fashion, with little discord of significance.

When I say a Sol mind is the equivalent of hundreds of people, I use the term "people" to mean the partial intellects that populate much of the twentieth century experience. For it seems to me that many of us hide away and leave unused and unengaged much of ourselves in our jobs, our relationships, and our other activities on a regular basis, for a wide variety of reasons. Partly we do this to hide away parts of ourselves we don't think others would like or be interested in. Partly we do it to make it easier to disguise ourselves, to look like something we aren't, either in search of acceptance, or simply to survive harrowing circumstances. Partly we do it because we ourselves simply don't know how, or don't want to cope with certain aspects of our own personalities or intellects. Whatever the reason, many of us travel through life using or displaying only fragments of ourselves to others, using only parts of our abilities. With the result that advanced aliens scooping up a random sampling of us from a street corner would probably notice few of us were really "all there"-- that is, most of us consist of only partial human beings, due to our conscious and unconscious restraint on big chunks of our abilities and sensibilities.

The hundreds of different voices which make up the total Sol mind are like that bunch of twentieth century folks scooped up by aliens. Each individual voice is a person, but typically not a whole person. Many are superb experts or specialists in a certain area, but become jabbering idiots if confronted with something that doesn't quite fit into their specialty. They are all 'niche' personalities, which somehow work in concert to form a total Sol intellect.

So each single Sol mind is a composite of many other less adapatable but superbly specialized intellects. This fact makes a Sol dangerously adept at true and robust multi-tasking, unlike 'natural' human beings from earlier eras.

The ad hoc 'class' system of the Sol

The majority of Sol circa 2601 AD consider the following things to be more or less true:

In some ways the entirely virtual Data Sols are very much like the 'proxies' of earlier times-- only the proxies were much simpler and less capable constructs, and usually conscious even in storage, while Data Sol are decidedly UNconscious.

Critical events and developments in Sol evolution

Every Sol Corporation has a transcendex node. The node studies humn history extensively in order to obtain a validation of the entire Corporation's assemblage according to its own criteria. Some of the other nodes may welcome the validation process, while many others do not. But this is common among Sol corporations.

Transcendex nodes are a perequisite for the transition from Acolyte (the Sol equivalent of child/teenager) to acknowledged Peer (adult Sol). All adult Sol (even the Y Chromos, or males) are thus burdened with the often-perceived-as-annoying practice. It was ordained early in modern humn history by the famous Se-Yung Act (Chung).

The Act was passed during a critical time in the development of inorganic platforms for originally organic intelligence.

An infectious madness had swept through the Exper community of the time. And it seemed everyone was helpless to stop it.

The Expers had been the very first humn to officially cross the threshold from predominantly organic to predominantly inorganic forms, in terms of consciousness. Expers in physique only were commonplace a century before, and had been popularly called Cappers, for some obscure reason.
The Exper label came from the word 'experimental', becoming a popularly used label only for the group of boosted entities immediately succeeding the Cappers.

The Cappers too had experienced their own form of madness or psychological aberration. But it had not been as intractable or dangerous as that which later descended upon the Expers.

Humn consciousness had found it difficult to adjust to the sorts of mind expansion inorganic circuitry speed and power provided. The massive new abilities had often overwhelmed it. Too, humn found they gave up some things as well, in the transition; these losses weighed heavily on many.

Errors were often made in the transference of Expers' emotional values and perspectives to the new forms. Woefully inadequate counseling during the transition also affected the early decades of the first generations. The result was that cherished and essential personal institutions were devastated by the changes, forcing many into various forms of madness.

The madness produced a plague of rogue Expers within the Humn community.

Chung Se-Yung had actually been one of these mad Expers. And become leader of the infamous Gangs of Madness which rampaged for a time along the edges of Fance. But somehow he'd recovered. And shared the secret of his recovery with the rest of humn, so that eventually the aberrant Expers could be rehabilitated (Or at least many of them. Many others had to be destroyed. And a few escaped the round up by authorities, occasionally reappearing in society later, necessitating special force responses, to this day).

The Sol government itself generates all new Sol-- but by this time the Sol are but one branch of the humn. There are many other very different races now, all descended directly or indirectly from the same humanity from which the Sol came. Depending on who you ask, the Child races humanity had boosted to sentience from other species, such as chimpanzees and dolphins, are or are not a part of the humn.

The government process which produces new Sol citizens is called Issuance.

The Sol are fully inorganic beings; but with a core matrix based on an original, enhanced human genetic code and neural patterns.

Every Sol is an individual; the genetic pattern comes from cultures grown organically by the government and then processed into inorganic form.

Some parts of a Sol's core pattern, such as the neural network of the right side of the brain, are almost identical to that of twentieth century humans. These similar parts differ only in areas of size and shape and material. For example, a neural net in one place might be compressed to be more efficient in terms of space; but still upon magnification the pattern is there and recognizable.

Yet this core is organic only in terms of its blueprints. It is an exact inorganic duplication of an original biological nervous system matrix.

Typical examples of the current Sol generation don't have parents. One Sol's original DNA cast is within one one thousandth of a percentage point of being exactly the same as its peers. The remaining percentage is each Sol's own unique pinch in the initial mix, applied by expert system.

There is a ceiling on how much information can be coded into the DNA chain. The ceiling is reasonably high, but not infinite. So when it was desired to 'upgrade' the genetic pool in years past, the specialists eventually hit the ceiling, and began to 'edit out' non-essentials to gain more 'elbow room' in the resulting code.

This was also one of the reasons that such a low percentage was available for the randomness of individuality.

So what new things did they write into the fresh script?

Great genius, for one thing. Or at least as much of the infrastructure as was known to be necessary for the process.

They'd been disappointed to find that works of genius did not automatically follow from such arrangements. That the percentage of 'actualized' geniuses within the population actually declined from earlier centuries (this is in adjusted figures, of course; for ancient populations often killed geniuses when they appeared, or else restrained them so heavily that they did not often reproduce).

So within the last century or so the Sol had raised the percentage of randomness allowed with a small portion of the new Sol issued, in hopes of reversing the trend that way.

But anyway, besides generous support synapses for genius brainstorming, what else did the Sol geneticists do?

They hardwired in support for massive interfaces to nano-tech equipment, and related software protocols. They also heavily beefed up the visual centers. And developed an extensive synthesis between the logical brain half and its inorganic support.

Early on, some extremists had caused the more nebulous and dreamy side of the brain to become isolated from many of the development efforts. The logical, linear working sections had gotten the lion's share of the developmental efforts. Two reasons for this had been that the dream side was much more complex and hard to understand, and challenging to interface to concrete functions. Another had been the great difficulty encountered in getting quantifiable results from any improvements made to that hemisphere.

So the analytical side had enjoyed the greatest development, to the detriment of the creative side.

The creative side had been further diminished by the complete removal of hormonal tides from its environment. These factors had played a key role in its overall workings, as it was the seat of all emotional being.

Beyond this, they'd even stripped that hemisphere of a major responsibility: memory.

Memory storage was a natural function of the creative half. But the Sol had felt it too unreliable and incomplete in this duty. So they'd built special inorganic support hardware for that, too.

The end result was that the dreamy, emotional, creative hemisphere of the Sol brain was left in many ways unmodified from its state of earlier centuries, in the Sol's pursuit of perfection.

The neuter Sol population is by far the majority and growing, while the female population is around 22% the size of the neuters (consisting mostly of the very oldest female Sol; young neuter Sol do not often seek a sexual identity), and the actual male percentage is unknown, but estimated at around 11-18% the size of the neuter total.

Most physically-embodied Sol, soon after 2615, are able to Realtime ERP transport on an individual basis, with no external aids of any kind. So why do they keep ships around at all then? Primarily as a convenience for groups that are traveling together, and also, in some cases, as an extra layer of protection and redundancy between them and whatever unknown they may encounter in Realtime.

Too, the male Sol themselves prefer to play 'for keeps'; so they equip themselves for the part (with formidable war craft, among other things).

Sol Direct Link

Sol Direct Link is the closest thing to 20th century love-making and/or sex available to the Sol of this time.

Of course, Direct Link can also be used in clinical, surgical, or otherwise medical and theraputic ways, just as certain 20th century sexual organs are sometimes examined or operated on by gynecologists, or sexually-related therapies administered to troubled patients by professionals.

Direct Link is also open theoretically to abuse and/or violence and/or coercion as well-- but this wrongful use of Direct Link plain isn't possible in Fance (except among two or more fully consenting adults-- and even then it's problematical, because of automatic safeguards).

No, abusive and involuntary Direct Links can only be implemented under very special and unusual circumstances at this time-- except possibly when the participants are outside Fance...

So Direct Link is the Sol's version of great intimacy. It's entirely virtual (except in the case of the male Sol subjecting non-Sol physical beings to their charms).

This typical lack of physical contact in Sol Direct Link may not seem very intimate from a 20th century perspective; but that perspective would be wrong. Sol Direct Link is as intimate as it gets, because it's a merger between two or more minds. This merger can be partial or it can be complete. However, a complete merger can leave all participants permanently changed in fairly unpredictable ways. Sometimes two or more merged minds decide not to return to their previous separate and individual states-- this is where some of the "High Sol" and somewhat lesser-but-more-powerful-than-average Sol come from.

So you see, Sol Direct Link in its own way is far more intimate, risky, and unpredictable than 20th century human sex might be.

Another interesting (perhaps alarming) aspect of Sol Direct Link is that a shared personality always fixes any problems uncovered in any component, automatically (if possible). In one way, this exercise is just a very advanced form of the grooming practices hominids performed for one another millions of years ago. Physical grooming has evolved to mental grooming. From another perspective, it's like an advanced form of brain-washing or brain surgery...

[ ...To paraphrase a 20th century anti-drunk driving ad, "Friends don't let friends process inefficiently."]

The Greatest Fears/Repulsions of the typical Sol of 2600 AD and after


Most Sol abhor Realtime, as Realtime immersion and dependence slows down all events to a crawl for them (being acclimated/designed as they are to the tremendous high speeds of their virtual reality, Fance).

Physical Contact/Collisions

The Sol regard their greatest vulnerability as physical proximity to any threat; so actual contact is considered by far the greatest danger to their well being.

A typical Sol will never be physically touched by another entity or object ever again, after birth (at this time known as Issuance).
All Sol are trained and/or programmed at Issuance to avoid 'physical collisions' and contact of all kinds.

Every Sol possesses a buffer field that (when specifically reduced to a minimum thickness) can fit them as closely as a nano-tech glove, over 100% of their physical form. In a much more relaxed and normal mode among close company, their buffer layer might be around an inch thick.

The Sol as a rule never drop this field, even in cases where they might somehow be unconscious of external events (a state which is extremely unlikely, as the Sol never wholly sleep as their ancestors did). Those of us still primarily organic in nature wouldn't detect any trace of this field on our own (unless the Sol involved wanted us to); it's far too thin and close fitting to the Sol bodies, at its finest settings.

The Sol protective field partially consists of congealed or solidified light with its native energies trapped in a standing wave and photons tightly packed in an advanced derivation of super-cooled Bose-Einstein condensate. This material is extremely resistant to transfers/conduction of heat and radiation, yet is also amenable 'on-the-fly' to block electrical conduction from outside, or synthesize complex semi-conducting circuitry within its strata, or do both simultaneously. Though high in compressive physical strength, other shield components are more heavily relied upon for those characteristics. This shield may be either transparent or opaque or something in-between.

I believe it was a science fiction author by the name of William Campbell who stunned me in a novel once with the idea that light itself might be captured and frozen into a solid state to create immensely strong and flexible high tech materials for use in spacecraft and elsewhere.

Yet over the years, my scientific learning weighed heavily against such modifications of light's natural characteristics. It increasingly seemed that only something of the magnitude of a black hole could even hope to slow down light appreciably from its natural cosmic speed limit, which serves to define the maximum speed for all objects in the universe.

But apparently Campbell is now getting his revenge on us all. For scientists have succeeded in slowing a pulse of nimble footed photons of light to something akin to molasses speed: 38 miles per hour. And a still greater slowing, to perhaps only centimeters per second, is anticipated for later efforts.

I don't fully understand the experiment or its results, but it appears that by carefully tuning the light sources and running the resulting pulses through an atomic cloud of "Bose-Einstein condensate" cooled to near absolute zero, the energetic component of the light pulse can be effectively constrained into something like a standing wave, which serves to bring the photons it carries to virtually a dead stop in spacetime, compared to their normal brethren (which travel at around 186,000 miles per second).

Folks, this gives me the impression (possibly mistaken, I admit) that we're on the verge of being able to control the flow of light similarly to how we utilize hydraulics, or fluid flows. And elsewhere I'm also seeing increased reports of other light manipulations for use in optical switches and computing too, as well as holographic memory storage.

Will we someday be able to actually 'dam' light as we do water today? Pump it like hydraulic fluid? Even freeze it, sculpt it, mold it, as described in Campbell's science fiction? Perhaps.

So might there be any practical applications to such new capabilities?

Better optical computers, memory storage, telecommunications, TV displays, and night-vision equipment are all for now-- and those are likely still ten years away or more (circa 1999).

But Campbell's solidified light as building material might be somewhere over the horizon. And just what astonishing properties might solidified light offer as a building material? It boggles the mind! Photons have no mass, right? So they weigh nothing-- and yet extreme gravity forces may still effect their path, by warping the spacetime through which the photons fly. AUTHOR'S NOTE: In theory photons do possess a measure of mass at rest (unmoving) which would be relevant to our discussion here. However, that mass is so slight as to be virtually zero. So slight that it is not the severe gravity force of black holes which can bend photonic light beams, but rather the curvature of space itself invoked by the hole, which basically bends the road on which the photons are traveling. END NOTE.

If a catalyst like super-cooled Bose-Einstein condensate was required to maintain solidified light, then I guess solid light would weigh something-- but maybe it'd still weigh less than something like aerogel (as more fully described elsewhere in the timeline).

Let's assume the preponderance of photons would tend to protect the that the solid light material might be highly resistant to corrosive elements of various sorts. So maybe it'd be as immune to acids and decay as gold (or better)? Plus, if packed tightly enough, the mass of photons might also serve as a solid barrier to most or all other types of radiation too, right? Wow! That'd be extremely handy for space travel!

But how tough might it be? Compressive strength, tensile strength, brittleness, etc.? Conductive to heat or electricity? I suspect heat would have as tough a time making it through solid light as foreign types of radiation. I also suspect solid light could be manipulated somewhat like semi-conductors to either allow high electrical conductivity, or virtually none at all. So it follows that (if you wanted) you could have a ship hull of solid light that was virtually impervious to heat or electrical shock.

But so far as physical strength properties are concerned...that's a toughie. Recall there might be virtually no mass to the material. And yet, there might be virtually no empty spaces either in its matrix. Observers might witness strange phenomena with this stuff in tests. The solid light might be so transparent and lightweight it was tough to detect its presence-- until you stumbled over it. Near invisible and intangible...and yet, with a structure of solid photons blocking passage of normal matter atoms (photons are about the same size as electrons, but atomic nuclei are much larger), the only way normal matter could move through the solid light might be by causing the solid light to spread or deform ahead of it-- or break.

Maybe solid light would be much like aerogel-- high compressive strength, low tensile strength. In that case the correct sorts of pressures could shatter it or mash it-- but less than optimal stress assaults might simply bounce off it.

If this were true, I suspect further R&D could address such weaknesses and accentuate the positives-- with the consequences that the ultimate product would be like transparent plasti-steel made on Krypton (Superman's home world).

Hmm. This stuff is starting to sound a lot like the transparent super tough hull material of the General Products spacecraft built by the alien Puppeteers in Larry Niven's Ringworld novels!

-- "Slow motion" by Stephen Battersby, From New Scientist, 20 February 1999

The Sol protective field is literally impregnable by 20th century standards. Mainly because many 2615 and later Sol will also automatically ERP transport a huge distance away if there is the slightest chance that something might get through their buffer field. In the case that a Sol's auto-ERP transport doesn't work, nothing available to 20th century technology could penetrate their personal body shield; not even a nuclear blast at point blank range. Most any imaginable threat would, at most, hurl the Sol away at a few hundred miles per hour from the blast forces, unharmed. For many post-2615 Sol also possesses another contingency: an entirely independent buffer field technology which will instantly turn to a multi-layered hard shell all around it, mirror bright reflective, in a series of graduated form fitting shells. Nothing of a known four dimensional nature can penetrate such a shield. It is based on a variation of TME shifting technology, and essentially encases the Sol in many super thin layers of six-dimensional space, that exactly fit over the outer surface of their body like an extra skin. Realtime physical laws simply do not apply to the 6D layers, and therefore not even material from the heart of a star may pass through the shield to effect the Sol itself.

Since a Sol can not physically move inside its ultimate protective shield form once encased, and the shield requires practically every iota of energy the Sol may generate to maintain, the Sol itself essentially shuts down inside. It cannot consciously see, hear, think, or move, until the case can be reopened.

In effect, a Sol's shield makes the Sol's form a tiny Universe in its own right-- but a tiny Universe for the most part in stasis, and still itself subject to the same physical laws as the Realtime from which the Sol has isolated itself.

The shells will re-open in a staggered, monitored sequence, to provide still more protection for the occupant. Whenever one shell opens, a sacrificial layer of hardy instrumentality under it gauges and judges the surrounding environment as to survivability, and transmits the results via TME shift communications past the second layer, to the third (recall that only matched TME shift stations may interact this way-- so a third unmatched TME shift station could not intrude to disrupt the process between two synchronized stations).

Intelligence built into the remaining layers decides how much time to wait before opening another layer, exposing the next sacrificial gauge layer for testing the environment.

In some ways these Sol shields are reminiscent of the "bobbles" proposed in the science fiction novels of Vernor Vinge, only here capable of far more complex and closer fitting shapes-- and those enclosed are not totally frozen for cosmological reasons.

A Sol's standard internal energy sources can maintain such full shielding for up to 36 realtime hours, and no more. Though time doesn't pass through the 6-D shell, it exists both outside and inside the cocoon; the Sol body itself remains subject to time. Therefore, if a threat could insinuate itself into the Sol's own corporeal form prior to encasement by the maximum shielding, the Sol's defenses would be effectively breached. The 36 hour limit also is the estimate for a healthy average Sol, equipped with not uncommon on-person technologies and reserves, circa 2615. An injured or fatigued Sol, or an especially powerful or additionally equipped Sol, could skew this value either lower or higher respectively.

But there's one really enormous caveat about this wonderful TME shift based 'ultimate shield'. Namely, it cannot be guaranteed to work at any time, under any circumstances-- because the TME shift technology remains almost as unreliable now as it ever was. Oh sure, most of the time these shields will probably work-- but the risk of failure is high enough that no Sol in their right mind ever puts it to the test purposely.

Indeed, this notorious unreliability would prevent the Sol from using such shielding technology at all, but for one thing: when the TME tech does work, nothing else can match it.

Tell me more about the physical bodies of the Sol...

There's one other relevant factor here: even if a Sol's auto ERP transport and 6D TME shift shell and lesser buffer field modes ALL failed, the typical Sol star fish form itself is usually made of very sturdy stuff: something at least as tough as the fourth skins available around 2483. So a naked Sol could still survive blast waves and radiation levels equivalent to that existing very near the explosion at Hiroshima in WW II, prolonged exposures to temperature extremes of 5000 to 6000 degrees, at least many dozen gravities of acceleration (compared to old humn limits of about nine), and still other horrific insults to its corporeal form-- in many cases perhaps barely noticing the afflictions.

So your typical Sol is one tough cookie.

If actual physical movement in Realtime becomes necessary for a Sol, most will well plan the movement beforehand, and then execute it at the highest possible speed for efficiency and minimum exposure time to potential physical contact. This allows those involved to return as quickly as possible to the proper state of being; which is virtual (or in the case of male Sol, isolated in other ways from non-Sol physical factors). Note here that the recommended high velocities of movement make collisions potentially an even more devastating possibility for a Sol. This 'need for speed' apparently stems mostly from the Sol's abhorrence of Realtime, and its snail's pace of progress, compared to Fance.

There also is the recurring incidence of 'renegade technology' to consider during this time. This includes criminally programmed buffer fields, virus programs, and other improperly utilized technologies. The Sol are vulnerable to such things, even in this far future. Direct Link supposedly automatically filters harmful elements, by applying the most advanced protection agents known to Sol science to any potentially harmful entity encountered in (or related to) a Link. So, again, the greatest dangers are assumed to lay in physical contact, where more variables are by necessity left to chance.

Discontinuity and Cessation

The fear of death or discontinuity is largely an early childhood fear of a Sol; adults usually lose the notion, once their existence becomes clear to them; as it's becoming exceedingly rare for a Sol to undergo accidental discontinuity.

However, there remain rare cases of purposeful termination of individual Sol: rampaging convicted criminals are hunted down and destroyed with extreme prejudice and utilizing almost unlimited resources. But most Sol rarely contemplate that issue, except for the male Sol, who sometimes seem to see hunted Sol (which are almost always male) as somewhat glamorous or heroic figures, no matter how heinous their crimes. In one infamous example, an extremely rare coupling of a male and female Sol in a lengthy campaign of crimes against colonists in outlying areas proved so popular among the male Sol in general that they helped the criminals evade termination for many years of Realtime (yes, this episode is highly reminiscent of the "Bonnie and Clyde" duo of the 20th century).

Duplexed Triads

The Sol are algorithymic beings. Therefore, endless, closed loops of thought and experience are for them what total paralysis and incapacitation were for 20th century human beings.

Though highly improbable, it's possible for a severely injured Sol to lose one member of its Triad, or highest order centers of intelligence and judgement. For an individual Sol entity, its Triad is roughly similar to an expert team of three human intellects of the 20th century working closely together to command a great ocean-going vessel. A Sol's Triad is its de facto decision making center, and works by majority rule, with votes of two to one or all in favor controlling the path the Sol follows. If a Sol loses one unit of its Triad, it can easily fall into the state of a Duplexed Triad, and a state of perpetual indecision. A duplex is far too stable; often falling into deadlock, with no third member to break the tie. (NOTE: a Duplexed Triad is exceedingly rare as of 2600-2615)

A Sol Corporation may self-repair virtually any damage or injury it suffers, but for a very few; and a Duplexed Triad is one of these self-irreparable injuries (partly due to safeguards in Sol mind designs added to prevent or minimize the madness faced by early Sol prototypes in the transition from organic to inorganic neural net bases-- i.e. the very possibility of a Duplexed Triad is a failsafe against madness purposely engineered into contemporary Sol individuals).

A Sol suffering from a Duplexed Triad is usually utterly paralyzed and completely helpless until a Sol Recovery Group arrives to its relief. The worst result of a Duplexed Triad could be the Sol remaining trapped in an endless loop which slowly ate away at all reason, all logic, all consciousness, until finally nothing worth salvaging would remain (about 1-3 years of 20th century human time). Then, when the Sol Recovery Group arrived after that, they would find an empty physical form, ripe for the implantation of a whole new entity. And the orginal Sol's title would join a very short list of defunct Sol. (The list is mostly male, so being added to it is a bit embaressing to contemplate for neuters or females of this time...)

Back to 2351-2600 AD...

The above article(s) come from and make references to a collection copyright © 1993, 1994, 1995, 1996, 1997, 1998, 1999, 2000, 2001, 2002 by J.R. Mooneyham (except where otherwise noted in the text). Text here explicitly authored by J.R. Mooneyham may be freely copied and distributed for non-commercial purposes in paper and electronic form without charge if this copyright paragraph and link to are included.

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