Jon Michael Galindo

~ writing, programming, art ~

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14 August 2015

Alchemite Origins

Which do you prefer: fantasy or science fiction? If you answered "neither", this post is not for you.

Behold, Alchemite:

Science fiction has envied fantasy; Frankenstein mourned the death of magic even as his science attained its heights.

Personally, I have been long enamored of magic: alchemy, levitation, ESP. I don't mean the supernatural elements; I want no spirits or necromancers. Rather, I find myself thrilled by the notion that if only some particular word or sigil could be found and employed, anything would become possible.

Magic in this sense is not easier than science, it demands time and energy to achieve any outcome. However, it takes no tools, whereas scientists drown in their bewildering assortment of gadgetry. So, imagine instead a single gadget: the scientist's "wand". If science were to realize one particular tool which could, given sufficient resources, accomplish any phenomenon, what might it resemble? This is not simply a tool compendium; it is not the ultimate swiss army knife. Rather, this tool alters some singularly fundamental force of reality. It hacks the matrix. It sounds like fantasy, not science fiction.

I struggled to answer this question for some time. The device had criteria: it must be small; it must contain upgradable hardware; its programmable interface must promise unlimited potential; and, like magic of old, it must require a human operator, whose own skill and strength would to a great extent define the device's capacity.

At last, I settled on Alchemite.

I imagined tiny rifts into alternate dimensions, existing at or below the scale of quantum fluctuations. Then, I imagined a device that might manipulate these rifts, translating and amplifying them. These rifts open into dimensions unlike our own, in which the laws and state of nature vary wildly. By intersecting such a rift with our own reality, this device could generate virtually any extranormal phenomenon.

All I needed was the human agent. I decided to use the brain, since it is uniquely human and mysterious. I decided that these sub-quantum rifts would be in principle non-differentiable until intersected. However, assuming Penrose's quantum mind, I decided that these rifts could interact with the brain without collapsing, leaving tell-tail signs of their properties. The alchemite uses filters to deduce rift activity from brain activity, and so selects necessary rifts.

Perhaps my human is not perfectly indispensable. It is close enough.

I call alchemite an "optical processor" to justify glowing effects, inspired by the works of Hiromu Arakawa and Ishida Kana / Tsutomu Satō, as well as the excellent animation teams who brought their work to life.

The alchemite runs simple programs to filter and intersect rifts:

And, of course, it has plenty of hardware components to upgrade and fiddle with including program memory limits, a rift storage stack, a rift channel array, editable filters, rift analyzing speed, intersection power requirements, a core temperature which must not overheat, and a battery:

The device is definitely everything I wanted it to be. Although, the in-game effects still fall a little short. I'll work them out. The physics are brain-racking to build, but fun. I'd call this idea a success.

© Jon Michael Galindo 2015