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ALPHA v0.3

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To All Human Beings

Topic: science

TO: ALL HUMAN BEINGS

FROM: GOD & MOTHER NATURE

SUBJECT: BUGS IN NATURE 1.0, AND THE FORTHCOMING UPGRADE - 2.0

GENERALITIES

Firstly we would like to say how impressed we are at the enthusiasm many of you have shown in coming to grips with version 1.0. Thanks also to those who have filed bug reports - all your problems have been given a sympathetic ear, but I have been unable to respond individually in the great majority of cases.

Mother Nature and I have been hard at work most of the time on version 2.0, and although we have not finalized all the details, I will tell you of some of the new features a little later on. Of course the biggest dilemma we have faced since we ran 1.0 was whether to produce version 1.1, 1.2, etc. as a series of bug fixes, or whether to let the existing system run, with all its faults while we worked on a more expansive system. Mother Nature in particular has been very concerned at some of the crueller anomalies in 1.0, and while I share her concern, I have persuaded her to let the system run while we worked on something really special.

A lot of you are probably wondering why the new version is so late in coming -all I can say in response to that is, if you had any idea of how long it took us to get 1.0 to the point where it would run at all, then you wouldn't be surprised at the time it has taken to upgrade it.

Many of you have been guessing that a new Nature would be running around the end of the millennium, and we hope to be able to run it by then. We have both been impressed by the name you have given this system you have been wishing for so long - "Aquarius". Mother Nature would like to call it Aquarius 2.0, but I still think that the word "Nature" needs to be in the title as well. It will probably be called "Nature 2.0 - Aquarius".

Some of you are wondering whether we will "beta-test" 2.0 before running it properly. This was not possible in the case of 1.0 because Mother and I were the only people anywhere - so there was no-one else to give it to test. I toyed with the idea of actually running version 0.8 (the first one that didn't crash immediately), and asking some of the people there what they thought of it and asking them to take a look at later versions, but the whole idea gave me a headache. The thought of running various "Natures" which we knew to be imperfect, especially several different versions at a time, filled me with dread. Mother and I are real programmers - we don't feel the need to beta-test - but the thought of running several realities at once was too daunting for us. So we worked very carefully, and when we were reasonably happy with the way it all looked, we ran it and you are part of the result.

Those of you who can see beyond your own noses will have noticed that I like to do things on a grand scale, and I felt much happier writing a complete upgrade, than fiddling with the details. Besides, I must admit that I was fascinated by the extremes to which anomalous situations could develop in 1.0 and I was attracted by the purity of letting the system run for so long. For those who came out the worse for wear - sorry. Version 2.0 will be much more pleasant.

Upgrading to 2.0 will be interesting. Although the process is analogous to running new code on the old data, bringing up a new "Nature" will be non-trivial even for us. I envisage that nothing which exists under the current system will be lost in the changeover, although some entities may hardly recognize themselves. None of you will know when the change will come. The change will be instantaneous, and although you may find yourself changed somewhat, these differences are insignificant compared to the expanded possibilities of the new Reality you will inhabit.

There is no preparation you can make for the changeover, except of course to keep your eyes wide open, and my advice to you all is carry on as usual, relax and take it easy.

Don't think however that your bug reports can do no more good; whether you pray or blaspheme, keep them coming in - I am still listening.

It is not often that I write to you like this and I would like to take this opportunity to answer some of the more interesting queries you have raised.

ANSWERS TO QUERIES

Firstly one boring query I have grown quite sick of - "Dear God, I am not sure that you exist, please show *me* a sign!". Like some great sage I am bound to answer this question with a series of questions - Take a look around you, see everything in the Universe - do you think that it grew like topsy? Do you think that I (I mean we) made it? If I exist, then of course I made it, and I would rather be doing something constructive (or fun) rather than creating a special little miracle for you. On the other hand if you think that Nature grew like topsy without me then why are you praying? Why have you read this far?

Many of you have wondered which parts of nature were created by Mother Nature, and which by me. The original idea was Mother's but I provided most of the structure and a lot of the tricky connections within the system. I have dealt with most of the technical intricacies, and Mother Nature has worked long and hard developing most of the gorgeous details you see in the world around you. I have often asked her advice on basic structure however - for instance when I was trying to decide what the limits of the physical universe are to look like, I was torn between the receding time and distance appearance and the goldfish-bowl approach (which I was unhappy with). Mother was able to suggest an approach which is much more fiendish and beautiful than anything I would have thought of on my own.

I am very interested in detail and have gone to a lot of trouble to ensure that Nature can come up with lots of random finely graded detail. I have also ensured that the mechanisms were available for life to create its splendid diversity of function and appearance, but you should all know that Mother Nature has continually lent her personal touch to lovely designs of many of the living entities.

Many of you have been troubled by anomalies in human belief structures which seem to involve me - I am speaking here of the organized religions. The apparent connection with me is all an illusion - a result of their continuing pretence to have some special knowledge and connection with the Big Boss. Of course this is not true. Fortunately no other species apart from Homo Sapiens has the brains to waste its time with concepts like guilt, damnation and grovelling. Some of you may think it pleases us to be the object of praise and worship, but it generally leaves us unmoved. We certainly don't need our egos boosted. I find the religions generally tiring and often quite distasteful, although some of them have given rise to works of great beauty and value. So that you may understand my disdain, let me give an example of a human situation which is similar in many ways to ours.

You decide to make a big beautiful fish pond. You dig it wide and deep and stock it with fine water weeds and insects. You search the countryside for many species of fish to live in your pond. You hope that they will grow, swim around, enjoy life and reproduce.

Everything grooves along quite happily until one day you notice that some members of a particular species of fish form little groups. The individuals are praying to you and the groups are often led by a fish with a self important manner wearing a funny looking hats or collar. There are different kinds of groups with different styles of prayer and occasionally they squabble and fight about their disagreements. Some groups kill other fish or members of their own group as a sacrifice to impress you - in the hope that you will sprinkle a little more fish food in their corner of the pond.

They praise your greatness, build quaint piles of rocks in your honor. They feel guilty about their fishy weaknesses, and beg your forgiveness. In many cases the leaders have convinced the individuals that when their time is up, you will flush them down the toilet because they have been bad little fishes, and that if they pray hard enough you will forgive them and put them back in the big river from whence they came.

This fish psychosis troubles you. You set out to make a pond that would be pleasurable for all fish, and yet some of them have become sidetracked and are making a mess of it all. They assume you are terrible powerful and punishing, and there is nothing you can do to change their minds.

Perhaps now you can understand my feelings for the churches.

I have often thought that there would be a lot less trouble if I built in some kind of limit to Homo Sapiens' mental development, but I admit that I am fascinated by its continued development, and all the new complexities it brings. I have no intention of implementing such a restriction in 2.0 but I am working on a special mechanism to limit the depths of despair which people are capable of talking themselves into. This will be difficult to do cleanly, but the fact that such a large number of people have their heads full of depressing restrictive dogma is one of the major failings of Nature 1.0. Many people have a vision of hell (which of course does not exist as such), but my vision of hell is groups of people spending all their lives wallowing in their own mental diarrhea, and never experiencing very much else. Sadly for some people, this hell is real. The problem is not confined to religions of course, or indeed to groups of individuals, and I hope that the special mechanism will alleviate the blinkered vision in all these cases.

Some people have asked why I have made atom bombs possible. The fission process was a direct result of the forces and diversity of nuclear physics. I am quite happy with this part of nature, and do not intend to change it significantly in the new version. It was inevitable that the fission bomb would be developed rapidly once the principles were understood. Its use of course was regrettable, but the restraint shown since then has been both heartening and absolutely necessary.

I am often asked "God, why did you allow viruses?" and "Why did you make mosquitoes?". I am extremely proud of my work in laying the basis for the chemistry of life, and I would not change anything in that area, but I admit that I had not considered the possibility that these self replicating lifeless genetic landmines would evolve. They are not much fun, and even Mother Nature doesn't seem to think that they enjoy life, and so I admit they are a damn nuisance, and not something I had planned. I am confident that you will be able to cope with them as you have in the past. As for mosquitoes and flies, I only look at them, and admire their wings and eyes - they don't buzz around me, and although I can see that they are a problem to many of you, I couldn't bring myself to cut them out of the new version - where would I stop anyway - mosquitoes, fruitflies, dragonflies, beetles - they are all a nuisance to some living entity, and yet they groove along just like everything else.

I am often asked "Is this table real?", or more depressingly people say to themselves (rather than to me) "Do I really exist?" After all the work we have put into making Nature happen it is really sad to hear people questioning their own existence. On a slightly less self centred tack are those who ask "Is life just a simulation?" This is usually asked by humans who have been comparing atoms and solar systems, or spending too much time with computers - my response to all of you is "Well... what does it feel like??"

I am often asked to perform miracles and such-like, and once again I would rather be working on the Big Picture for version 2.0 than poking around inside the old system. I have had virtually no direct interaction with Nature 1.0 and its Reality since I turned it on, although I have been a keen observer. Mother Nature has intervened in human affairs occasionally but most of her involvement has been adding her own ideas to the form and detail of plants and creatures.

Before giving a few details of the new system, I have a few quick things to say to various groups of people.

To the Occultists: you can poke your fingers into the machinery, but you are unlikely to change its workings the way you want, and your fingers might get squashed.

To people who have wished for time travel, sorry this is just not on. I occasionally go backwards to have a look at the earlier stages of Nature 1.0, but even I do not dare go forwards. I think that backwards travel would cause too much trouble if made available to humans, but I will be keeping a copy of the old system 1.0, and I have made a few "snapshots" of its Reality at various stages of development. It is possible that I could re-run the old system and some of its frozen realities in the future, but I find it hard to imagine why I would do so.

To the Physicists who have recently discovered some of the subtle details of gravity - I am surprised it took you so long! Have a good look now, because the anomaly is just that, and it will disappear once I bring up 2.0.

To the Physicists who are researching subatomic structure, nothing much will change, but forces which you currently ignore, and only occasionally appear in 1.0, will be a more normal part of life in 2.0.

To people who are concerned about the extinction of species - although cataclysmic changes have changed the direction of lifeforms in the past, the current impact of Homo Sapiens on other creatures and plants was certainly not what we had in mind when we made 1.0. No-one is more concerned about the extinction of species than Mother Nature and I, but we feel that Nature must run, and that Reality should care for itself rather than be periodically saved from itself by divine intervention.

To humans who think that we created the Universe, but made it for humans - we do not like your attitude.

NEW FEATURES IN NATURE 2.0

Firstly everything that exists now will continue to exist in one form or another. The physical world will exist as it does now with the same number of dimensions and forces, the major exception will be that one of the forces that was only an intermittent part of life will be much more accessible. This is the single force that is the basis of psycho- kinesis (moving things by thinking about them), ESP and precognition. This force moves physical objects (brain chemicals in the case of ESP and precognition) in a way which serves the mind's desire. To achieve the same result with conventional forces would involve impossibly complex control of those forces, and knowledge which cannot be gained through conventional physical channels.

In the current version, this force has made a tantalizing and sometimes crucial impact on life, but we both agreed that it would do no harm to make it more readily accessible. You may be concerned that this force can be used destructively, and this will certainly be possible. However we think that the positive uses of the force combined with the reduced chances of being trapped in depressed mental patterns will reduce destructive misuse to a large degree.

I am currently finishing new exception handling code in the fortune engine, and this should ensure that bad luck cannot continue for excessive periods of time. There will be additional forms of plant and animal life of all kinds - I have just tasted one of the delicious new fruits that Mother Nature has been working on.

Mother Nature has often complained that the human perception of color is too restrictive - your eyes sense the intensities of three wavelengths of light so that your perception of color is essentially three dimensional. After a great deal of work in the lab I have developed a new protein complex which tunes the retinal reception to the extreme violet, which when combined with an existing complex (currently only found in some animals) which tunes it to the near infra-red, will give humans the ability to sense five different wavelengths of light. Making such gross low level hardware changes to all existing human retinas will be a tricky business, but definitely worth the trouble. The sudden change to 5 dimensional color perception will be instantaneous when I turn on 2.0, and you will all get a bit of a shock, but I am sure the surprise will be pleasant.

There will be other important new elements to Nature, which would not make any sense to you at present. In general the aim has been to increase detail, pleasure and scope and to decrease the occurrence of particular anomalies from which people seem unable to extract themselves. There will be an inevitable increase in complexity. There is no shortage of complexity under 1.0, but we feel that the expanding human conciousness, and the greater accessibility of the intuitive force will enable most people to cope.

BYE-BYE

That's about it from us for now, we will not be in touch with you for a few millennia at least, so don't trust anyone who claims to have heard from us. "Nature 2.0 - Aquarius" will hit you with a bang in around 4 years, and we will have a rest and a bit of our own fun for a while. But remember, we are thinking of you, so keep those bug reports coming in! Nature 2.0 will not be perfect, but it is our best, and we are confident you will get to like it.

Best wishes,

God and Mother Nature.


ALPHA v0.3