Fire on the Deep, zones?

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Ken Schwarz

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Feb 20, 1997, 3:00:00 AM2/20/97
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Hi all-
Just finished reading the book- and not quite sure
what to make of the zones. Kind of understand that only
certain levels of technology worked or barely worked in
different areas, jumps went from many light years to less
than one, and ramscoops were needed in the "Bottom". Were the
zones created, and what caused the different levels of performance
Also, did not like Phams death at the end, kind of thought he
went through hell, and then died, at least his memories were
real


thx for any input
ken
?

Nyrath the nearly wise

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Feb 21, 1997, 3:00:00 AM2/21/97
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Ken Schwarz (ke...@hpcmra.sj.hp.com) wrote:
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: Hi all-
: Just finished reading the book- and not quite sure
: what to make of the zones. Kind of understand that only
: certain levels of technology worked or barely worked in
: different areas, jumps went from many light years to less
: than one, and ramscoops were needed in the "Bottom". Were the
: zones created, and what caused the different levels of performance

It is my understanding that the zones reflect the speed of light.
In the Unthinking Depths, the speed of light is probably
slower than a drugged snail.
In the Slow Zone, where we currently live, it is the classic
186,242 mile per second.
In Low, Middle, and High Beyond, the speed of light climbs
faster than the USA's National Debt.
In Transcend, it is probably close to infinity.

What makes your 120Mhz Pentium computer better than
your old 12Mhz 286 machine? Clock speed.
Increasing the speed of light would have a similar effect
on a computer, allowing the electrons to move faster.
That's why computers work better the farther one gets
from the center of the galaxy.
A simliar effect would happen to any machine using electricity.
Like human beings. Read Poul Anderson's BRAIN WAVE for a
similar effect.

Were the zones created? Good question. Vinge implies that
the zones were created by hypothetical creatures who live
in the cores of galaxies. Guess they like it slow.
Read Charles Sheffield's BETWEEN THE STROKES OF NIGHT
for something similar.

+----------------------------------------------------------------------------+
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| Nyrath the nearly wise nyr...@clark.net |
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Brett O'Callaghan

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Feb 21, 1997, 3:00:00 AM2/21/97
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ke...@hpcmra.sj.hp.com (Ken Schwarz) wrote:

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> Hi all-
> Just finished reading the book-

So did. <Sigh>, *another* author to put on the "buy-anything-by
list." The book reminded me of the buzz I got when I read my first Iain
Banks book.

>Were the zones created,

I don't think it was stated either way, but that was the
implication I got from what the countermeasure did. Brilliant idea
though.

>Also, did not like Phams death at the end, kind of thought he went
>through hell, and then died, at least his memories were real

I was sad he died, which is a sign the author succeeded IMO.

.eeeeeyB

--
TBT: Look at this - "9 out of 10 doctors agree that when you don't eat
Sunblest natural bread, you'll get squashed by elephants!"
GG: That's right. Mind you, it did take us a while to find the right
9 doctors. And the elephants.
Fluffy Central, Frontline Guide at http://www.cbl.com.au/~boc/

Vincent Archer

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Feb 21, 1997, 3:00:00 AM2/21/97
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Ken Schwarz (ke...@hpcmra.sj.hp.com) wrote:
> spoilers


> Just finished reading the book- and not quite sure
> what to make of the zones. Kind of understand that only
> certain levels of technology worked or barely worked in
> different areas, jumps went from many light years to less

Exactly. The laws of nature are subtly different, roughly in proportion
to the density curves in the Galaxy. You have a continuous variation,
and at some points you get qualitative transition. Such a transition
occurs between Slow Zone and Beyond, and another one between Beyond
and Transcend, but we really don't know about what qualitative jump
occurs between Slow Zone and the Unthinking Depths.

> than one, and ramscoops were needed in the "Bottom". Were the
> zones created, and what caused the different levels of performance

There are strong hints that the Zones are creations. Not real idea about
the *purpose* of the Zones. Either as protection against that which lies
in the center of the galaxies, as protection for that, or as a general
purpose mechanism to build variety and diversity, and make life more
interesting overall for the Powers.

> Also, did not like Phams death at the end, kind of thought he
> went through hell, and then died, at least his memories were
> real

Well, you've read it. Ravna will never know what of Pham was real and
what was the Old One's re-constructions. But we know. After all, we will
also have a look at Pham's early life in the next book, including his
brush with the Unthinking Depths.

--
Vincent ARCHER Email: arc...@frmug.org

Bill MacArthur

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Feb 21, 1997, 3:00:00 AM2/21/97
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nyr...@clark.net (Nyrath the nearly wise) wrote:

>Ken Schwarz (ke...@hpcmra.sj.hp.com) wrote:
>:
>: s
>: p
>: o
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>: l
>: e
>: r
>: s
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>It is my understanding that the zones reflect the speed of light.
>In the Unthinking Depths, the speed of light is probably
>slower than a drugged snail.
>In the Slow Zone, where we currently live, it is the classic
>186,242 mile per second.
>In Low, Middle, and High Beyond, the speed of light climbs
>faster than the USA's National Debt.
>In Transcend, it is probably close to infinity.
>

That's not the way I read the book. AFAIR (and I did read it recently) c
was still constant but "interstellar jumps" were much eaier to do the
further from the Unthinking Depths one got. The calculations required to
make these jumps were massive and required tremendous computing power.
The deeper the ship went more calculations were required as the jumps
became shorter. Also, the computers became less and less able to do the
calculations.


>What makes your 120Mhz Pentium computer better than
>your old 12Mhz 286 machine? Clock speed.
>Increasing the speed of light would have a similar effect
>on a computer, allowing the electrons to move faster.
>That's why computers work better the farther one gets
>from the center of the galaxy.
> A simliar effect would happen to any machine using electricity.
>Like human beings. Read Poul Anderson's BRAIN WAVE for a
>similar effect.
>

Good point and it makes sense but it doesn't fit AFUD as I remember it.


>Were the zones created? Good question. Vinge implies that
>the zones were created by hypothetical creatures who live
>in the cores of galaxies. Guess they like it slow.
>Read Charles Sheffield's BETWEEN THE STROKES OF NIGHT
>for something similar.

I didn't read the implication about the zones being created by creatures
in the deep but it seems to be an obvious extension. Another question
would be; do other galaxies have similar zones?


Nancy Lebovitz

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Feb 21, 1997, 3:00:00 AM2/21/97
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In article <5ej0r0$1...@clarknet.clark.net>,

Nyrath the nearly wise <nyr...@clark.net> wrote:
>Ken Schwarz (ke...@hpcmra.sj.hp.com) wrote:
>:
>: s
>: p
>: o
>: i
>: l
>: e
>: r
>: s
>:
>:
>:
>:
>:
>:
>:
>:
>:
>:
>:
>:
>:
>:
>:
>:
>:
>: Hi all-
>: Just finished reading the book- and not quite sure
>: what to make of the zones. Kind of understand that only
>: certain levels of technology worked or barely worked in
>: different areas, jumps went from many light years to less
>: than one, and ramscoops were needed in the "Bottom". Were the

>: zones created, and what caused the different levels of performance
>
>It is my understanding that the zones reflect the speed of light.
>In the Unthinking Depths, the speed of light is probably
>slower than a drugged snail.
>In the Slow Zone, where we currently live, it is the classic
>186,242 mile per second.
>In Low, Middle, and High Beyond, the speed of light climbs
>faster than the USA's National Debt.
>In Transcend, it is probably close to infinity.
>
No, I think the difference is the speed of computation, with the means
unspecified. Hyperspacial travel requires rapid computation (of position?),
and if you can't compute fast enough, things change before you can jump.

--
Nancy Lebovitz (nan...@universe.digex.net)

October '96 calligraphic button catalogue available by email!


ArtWarrior

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Feb 21, 1997, 3:00:00 AM2/21/97
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Bill MacArthur

>
> I didn't read the implication about the zones being created by creatures
> in the deep but it seems to be an obvious extension. Another question
> would be; do other galaxies have similar zones?

Yes they do: It was mentioned in the book that the Milky Way Beyond had
contact with the beyond in the Sculpter galaxy (an elliptical galaxy
somewhat closer than Andromeda but farther than Magellenic clouds).

Mr. Tines

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Feb 21, 1997, 3:00:00 AM2/21/97
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On Fri, 21 Feb 1997 17:19:48 GMT, in <E5yqt...@news.uwindsor.ca>
Bill MacArthur <billmac\<removethisformail\>@uwindsor.ca>
wrote.....

> nyr...@clark.net (Nyrath the nearly wise) wrote:
> >Ken Schwarz (ke...@hpcmra.sj.hp.com) wrote:
> >:
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> I didn't read the implication about the zones being created by creatures
> in the deep but it seems to be an obvious extension. Another question
> would be; do other galaxies have similar zones?

Created, yes there was an implication, and a suggestion - but no more than
that - that it was to protect something at the cores. That the zones are
manipulable doesn't necessarily mean that they are entirely artificial,
however.

There was a throwaway mention (I think in one of the postings from the
Zonographic Eidolon) of communications with civilizations in the Beyond of
Sculptor; OTOH, vague mentions suggested that all the Magellanic Clouds are
in the High Transcend (at least).

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Peter Cash

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Feb 22, 1997, 3:00:00 AM2/22/97
to

Somebody forever lost in a sea of attributions wrote:

>>What makes your 120Mhz Pentium computer better than
>>your old 12Mhz 286 machine? Clock speed.
>>Increasing the speed of light would have a similar effect
>>on a computer, allowing the electrons to move faster.
>>That's why computers work better the farther one gets
>>from the center of the galaxy.
>> A simliar effect would happen to any machine using electricity.
>>Like human beings. Read Poul Anderson's BRAIN WAVE for a
>>similar effect.

The problem with this is that humans don't use electricity in the way you
are thinking. That is, you (and perhaps Vinge) are thinking that brain
activity is electrical. It's really electro-chemical, having to do with
ions permeating through membrances <begin to wave hands wildly> and
chemical changes taking place in the neurons, as well as in the interstices
between neurons (synapses aren't bridged by electrical impulses, but by
neurotransmitter chemicals). Thus, what would really be required to produce
the effect described by Vinge would be far-reaching differences in the laws
of physics between the Zones. I like the concept of the Zones, but it
it requires the suspension of about 85 kilograms of disbelief. (Gotta get
some more of those pulleys next time I get to the hardware store.)


--
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
Die Welt ist alles, was Zerfall ist.
(apologies to Ludwig Wittgenstein)
email: cash at convex dot com (sorry, spam prevention)

Peter Cash

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Feb 22, 1997, 3:00:00 AM2/22/97
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In article <5enfgs$2...@icarus.rsn.hp.com>,
Peter Cash <st...@your.spam.gov> wrote:

>ions permeating through membrances <begin to wave hands wildly> and

^^^^^^^^^^
MEMBRANES
MEMBRANES
MEMBRANES
.
.
.

Nyrath the nearly wise

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Feb 23, 1997, 3:00:00 AM2/23/97
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Peter Cash (ca...@no.more.spam.com) wrote:
:
: The problem with this is that humans don't use electricity in the way you
: are thinking. <snip>
: (synapses aren't bridged by electrical impulses, but by
: neurotransmitter chemicals).

Yes, specifically the neurotransmitter acetycholine.

: the effect described by Vinge would be far-reaching differences in the laws


: of physics between the Zones.

Well, <grin> my theory of the speed of light being different
in the various Zones could be loosely defined as a "far-reaching
difference in the laws of physics".

Perhaps the zones differ in (start wild hand waving) the
"rate" of entrophy. Things don't suffer from the ravages
of entrophy as one moves to the outer Zones.

As I recall, BRAIN WAVE by Poul Anderson also had an
alteration in the laws of physics. The joker there was that
it wasn't earth entering a zone of anomalous physics so
much as it was the earth *leaving* such a zone.
The zone decreased the speed of light slightly, and made
insulators slightly better at insulating. Earth entered
it several million years ago, and current life evolved
under its constraints. When we left, everything underwent
subtle differences (like the average IQ becoming around 400).

+----------------------------------------------------------------------------+
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| Nyrath the nearly wise nyr...@clark.net |

+---_---+---------------------[ SURREAL SAGE SEZ: ]--------------------------+

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Al von Ruff

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Feb 23, 1997, 3:00:00 AM2/23/97
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Peter Cash (ca...@no.more.spam.com) wrote:

: Somebody forever lost in a sea of attributions wrote:
:
: >>What makes your 120Mhz Pentium computer better than
: >>your old 12Mhz 286 machine? Clock speed.
: >>Increasing the speed of light would have a similar effect
: >>on a computer, allowing the electrons to move faster.
: >>That's why computers work better the farther one gets
: >>from the center of the galaxy.
: >> A simliar effect would happen to any machine using electricity.
: >>Like human beings. Read Poul Anderson's BRAIN WAVE for a
: >>similar effect.
:
: The problem with this is that humans don't use electricity in the way you
: are thinking. That is, you (and perhaps Vinge) are thinking that brain
: activity is electrical.


According to my sometimes quite faulty memory (being stuck here in
the Slow Zone), the zones were not related at all to clock speeds nor
the speed of light. Computation was simply "easier" somehow in The Beyond.

At the time I read the book, I was in the middle of bringing up a
new computer board that we were manufacturing. It ran fine at 40MHz,
but when pushed up to the target speed of 50MHz, it began to execute
instructions incorrectly. I remember thinking at the time that if I
could just get the board into The Beyond it would work just fine,
and could probably run at 500MHz with no problems. Take that old
12Mhz 286 to The Beyond and it would be faster than anything we've
ever built.

Basically, the rule set for computational devices (including brains)
is much more finicky in the Slow Zone than the rule set for computational
devices in The Beyond. *How* this is accomplished remains a mystery.

-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-
Al von Ruff avon...@prairienet.org
Internet Speculative Fiction Database: http://cu-online.com/~avonruff

Sean Eric Fagan

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Feb 23, 1997, 3:00:00 AM2/23/97
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In article <5ej0r0$1...@clarknet.clark.net>,

Nyrath the nearly wise <nyr...@clark.net> wrote:
>It is my understanding that the zones reflect the speed of light.

Not quite. As far as I know, the speed of light is constant throughout all
of the Zones.

Other things, however, are not. Faster-than-light travel is not possible in
the slower zones, nor FTL communications.

The Zones also appear to affect intelligence.

How the Zones work, only Vinge knows. Fortunately, he's supposedly working
on another book in that universe, so we should have more information "soon"
:).


Nancy Lebovitz

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Feb 23, 1997, 3:00:00 AM2/23/97
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In article <5eoddj$r...@vixen.cso.uiuc.edu>,

Al von Ruff <avon...@prairienet.org> wrote:
>
>According to my sometimes quite faulty memory (being stuck here in
>the Slow Zone), the zones were not related at all to clock speeds nor
>the speed of light. Computation was simply "easier" somehow in The Beyond.
>
>At the time I read the book, I was in the middle of bringing up a
>new computer board that we were manufacturing. It ran fine at 40MHz,
>but when pushed up to the target speed of 50MHz, it began to execute
>instructions incorrectly. I remember thinking at the time that if I
>could just get the board into The Beyond it would work just fine,
>and could probably run at 500MHz with no problems. Take that old
>12Mhz 286 to The Beyond and it would be faster than anything we've
>ever built.
>
>Basically, the rule set for computational devices (including brains)
>is much more finicky in the Slow Zone than the rule set for computational
>devices in The Beyond. *How* this is accomplished remains a mystery.
>
Could a small controllable Slow Zone be good for anything but a weapon?

Michael Handler

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Feb 23, 1997, 3:00:00 AM2/23/97
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Spoilers (vague, but there).

In <5ekqma$b...@universe.digex.net>,
Nancy Lebovitz <nan...@universe.digex.net> wrote:

> No, I think the difference is the speed of computation, with the means
> unspecified. Hyperspacial travel requires rapid computation (of position?),
> and if you can't compute fast enough, things change before you can jump.

<geek joke>
So all of this means is that Moore's Law is different in each zone?
</geek joke>

--
Michael Handler <han...@sub-rosa.com> Washington, D.C.

learn to swim learn to swim learn to swim LEARN TO SWIM -- tool

Stephen Thomas

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Feb 23, 1997, 3:00:00 AM2/23/97
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Al von Ruff wrote:
> According to my sometimes quite faulty memory (being stuck here in
> the Slow Zone), the zones were not related at all to clock speeds nor
> the speed of light. Computation was simply "easier" somehow in The Beyond.
>
> [ ... ]

>
> Basically, the rule set for computational devices (including brains)
> is much more finicky in the Slow Zone than the rule set for computational
> devices in The Beyond. *How* this is accomplished remains a mystery.

The impression I got was that the primary effect of the zones was
on technology, rather than intelligence per-se. I seem to recall
Ravna musing that there was no essential difference in *intelligence*
between Slowness and Beyond inhabitants, just in the technology
available to them. I don't have my copy to hand right now, I'm
afraid, so I can't give a precise reference.

Intellectual distinctions seem to come into play at the extremes
of the two Zones, however. Pham's comments as he described his
adventures at the Bottom of the Slowness seem to imply that
his fellow crew-members intelligence dropped quite sharply as they
approached the boundary. We may assume that the distinction
between the High Beyond and the Low Transcend is quite similar.
There seems to be little difference between the humans of
Straumli Realm and Sandra Kej (sp?).

[Aside: Slowness - Transcend - Beyond. Aren't these wonderfully
evocative terms? I read the book because of a review in rasfw,
and I'm very glad I did. It was slow-moving at times, but
Vinge's vision is inspiring, and that's what I look for in a book.]

So, however the mechanism works, its effects are manifested in
technological sophistication primarily, and only effects
intelligence at the extremes. There are plenty of hints that
the Zones are artificial in nature (the term "Ur-Partition" is
used once, seemingly to refer to the time when the Zones appeared),
perhaps instigated as a direct response to the first Blight outbreak,
so perhaps this is by design in some way, rather than being
consequential.

Keep well,

Stephen Thomas
--
I do not speak for my employer

Michael J Gebis

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Feb 23, 1997, 3:00:00 AM2/23/97
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Stephen Thomas <step...@isltd.insignia.co.uk> writes:
}Al von Ruff wrote:
}> According to my sometimes quite faulty memory (being stuck here in
}> the Slow Zone), the zones were not related at all to clock speeds nor
}> the speed of light. Computation was simply "easier" somehow in The Beyond.
}> Basically, the rule set for computational devices (including brains)
}> is much more finicky in the Slow Zone than the rule set for computational
}> devices in The Beyond. *How* this is accomplished remains a mystery.

}The impression I got was that the primary effect of the zones was
}on technology, rather than intelligence per-se. I seem to recall
}Ravna musing that there was no essential difference in *intelligence*
}between Slowness and Beyond inhabitants, just in the technology
}available to them. I don't have my copy to hand right now, I'm
}afraid, so I can't give a precise reference.

<Arrogannt "This is how it is" mode>
The effect of the zones isn't on the speed of light, it's on quantum
effects. In the beyond, the quantum effects may be used in a way such
that the speed of light is exceeded. Imagine being able to exploit
the uncertainty principle to always make your position slightly
further than it should be.

Now the zones have an effect upon intelligence thusly: The speed of
causality is limited by the position within the zone. The chemical
reactions which occur in the brain are nowhere near the limit in when
in the beyond or transcend. However, somewhere in the slowness or in
the unthinking depths, the quantum mechanics of the situation actually
come into play and the chemical reaction occurs at a slower rate.
This is actually very similar to the effects of dumping several ounces
of Jagermeister into the bloodstream...your brain slows down.

In the slowness, semiconductor-based computers are limited by these
same quantum effects. However, in the transcend, the electrons are
able to jump energy band gaps faster, etc., and the computation can
occur at a higher speed. Computers which are designed for use in the
transcend can work on different, more efficient principles (which
would not work at all elsewhere) and these computers really kick ass.

Notice that the zones act as a limit. Humans
moved to a higher zone don't get smarter--the quantum effects weren't
the thing limiting their brain power anyway. However, moved to a low
enough zone, the quantum effect does play a role, and we start to
become "dumber". Computers are a little more flexible (since you
can easily change the clock speed at which a computer runs) but to
really take advantage of the higher zones, the computer needs to be
designed for them. Good computers are designed such that when they
are moved to a slower region of space, the computer continues to work,
only at a slower speed. If the computer moves to TOO slow a zone,
parts may cease to function--it's simply too slow to run the
high-speed floating point unit at all.

Why create the zones at all? If it's possible to create a "bubble" of
transcend within the middle of the unthinking depths, I can't think of
a safer place to be.

--
Mike Gebis ge...@ecn.purdue.edu mge...@eternal.net

Al von Ruff

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Feb 24, 1997, 3:00:00 AM2/24/97
to

Michael J Gebis (ge...@purcell.ecn.purdue.edu) wrote:

: In the slowness, semiconductor-based computers are limited by these


: same quantum effects. However, in the transcend, the electrons are
: able to jump energy band gaps faster, etc., and the computation can
: occur at a higher speed. Computers which are designed for use in the
: transcend can work on different, more efficient principles (which
: would not work at all elsewhere) and these computers really kick ass.

I can live with this theory. The reason that computers begin to break
down when pushed to faster clockspeeds is that information isn't
propagated fast enough through the gates. The quantum effect would
explain the faster switching speeds.

: Notice that the zones act as a limit. Humans


: moved to a higher zone don't get smarter--the quantum effects weren't
: the thing limiting their brain power anyway. However, moved to a low
: enough zone, the quantum effect does play a role, and we start to
: become "dumber".

I wonder what effect the zones would have on a nanotech-based
computer, which is essentially a very fast mechanical device (that
is, nanotech is used to construct the device, but not to run it).
Theoretically, there would be few chemical reactions in the device,
limiting quantum effects.

Assuming that your human "brain power" theorem holds, and also assuming
that FTL is limited by computational power, it should be possible to
construct a mechanical computer unaffected by the zones, thus making
FTL in the Slow Zone possible.

Barak Pearlmutter

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Feb 25, 1997, 3:00:00 AM2/25/97
to bap

All your speculations here are quite incorrect. They would all
lead to only a constant factor speedup between the zones, which
would be unable to give rise to the effects described in the novel.


The difference between the zones is strongly hinted at a couple
times. (And keep in mind that Vinge is a professor of Comp Sci.)

- The ship's cargo includes a one-time pad. Why not use strong
encryption, like RSA? Note that strong encryption of that sort
becomes *more* feasible rather than less feasible as computers
become faster, because the gap between the encoder and the
cryptanalyst *grows*! (Assuming current models of computation.)

- Pham questions this, and says they should use public-key
cryptography instead. He is laughed at, and it is explained to
him that public-key cryptography is not secure in the beyond. Why?

- Some mysterious *calculation* is needed to make a "jump", and if
you can't make it fast enough (presumably before something has
changed out from under you) you can't jump at all.

There can be only one explanation: our models of computation break
down. The complexity class that can be realized by physical
computers is *different* in the beyond than in the slow zone.
Eg, NP-hard problems take only polynomial time to solve, so
the code-breakers gain the advantage over the code-makers.

The zones correspond to different complexity classes. In the
depths, the complexity class P is not physically realizable.
Instead something like Poly-Log is all that can be calculated
in polynomial *physical* time.

In the slow zone, the complexity class we call P can be calculated
by an actual computer in polynomial time.

In the beyond, even more can be done. There are levels of the beyond,
corresponding to more difficult gradations of NP-hard problems
becoming accessible.

And in the transcend, even undecidable problems become soluble.

There are also some strong hints that the zones are set up via
particles of some sort, under some kind of mutual long-range
attraction. In the unthinking depths, these particles form a solid.
That's why the transition between the slow zone and the unthinking
depths is so abrupt and stable.

In the slow zone the particles form a liquid, allowing more
computational mobility. That's why there are no gradations within
the slow zone, and why the transition between the slow zone and the
beyond has waves at various scales, foam-like regions, etc.

In the beyond, the particles are a gas. The pressure is high in the
low beyond, so their density is high. Towards the high beyond, the
pressure is getting lower, and so computation gets even faster.

In the transcend, these particles are no longer present, ie there is
a vacuum of these computation-inhibiting particles. That's why
the boudary between the beyond and the transcend is so gradual, with
no abrupt transition whatsoever.

Vinge was basically making a joke: he was building a cosmology on the
principles of theoretical computer science, rather than on the more
usual principles of physics.

As a postscript, I should note that if we can actually build quantum
computers, we may not actually reside in the slow zone, by these
definitions. Ie it may be physically possible to solve problems in
QP (quantum polynomial) in polynomial physical time, and there exist
problems known to be in QP which are believed to not be in P. It
is even possible that QP = NP, we don't know yet. Vinge knew this
when he wrote the book.
--
Barak Pearlmutter <b...@cs.unm.edu>, http://www.cs.unm.edu/~bap/

Michael J Gebis

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Feb 25, 1997, 3:00:00 AM2/25/97
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Barak Pearlmutter <b...@cs.unm.edu> writes:
[In response to my theory about the nature of zones. I was
purposefully vague, but speculated that the zones were due to some
sort of change in the way quantum mechanics worked. I theorized that
in the higher zones, computation could be more efficient due to these
new physics.]

To be vague once again: Many interactions which occur at the level
where quantum mechanics applies are completely random; our
current model says that the interactions are not predictable in the
same way that Newtonian physics are. What if the quantum effect at
higher zones is such that we actually CAN get some insight about the
interactions (or even influence what will happen)? In lower zones
or even the unthinking depths, quantum interactions that _we_ currently
think are predictable also become random.

}All your speculations here are quite incorrect. They would all
}lead to only a constant factor speedup between the zones, which
}would be unable to give rise to the effects described in the novel.

There's no reason that the quantum effects I describe can't get more
"intense" as you move upward in the zones. The uncertainty begins to
approach zero in higher zones.

}The difference between the zones is strongly hinted at a couple
}times. (And keep in mind that Vinge is a professor of Comp Sci.)

} - The ship's cargo includes a one-time pad. Why not use strong
} encryption, like RSA? Note that strong encryption of that sort
} becomes *more* feasible rather than less feasible as computers
} become faster, because the gap between the encoder and the
} cryptanalyst *grows*! (Assuming current models of computation.)

No matter how strong your encryption is, all an interloper need
do is move to a higher zone (or appeal to someone there) and any advantage
the legitimate users had will have been wiped out.

} - Some mysterious *calculation* is needed to make a "jump", and if
} you can't make it fast enough (presumably before something has
} changed out from under you) you can't jump at all.

Back to _MY_ model: In the low beyond, you're only able to glean a
small amount of information about the nature of the "ultrawave"
medium. You need to do many observations and do a lot of calculation
in order to get enough information to do a jump. In the slow zone,
the rate at which you can get information about the jump is not fast
enough to counteract any uncertainty in the calculations, and it's
impossible to jump.

}There can be only one explanation: our models of computation break
}down. The complexity class that can be realized by physical
}computers is *different* in the beyond than in the slow zone.
}Eg, NP-hard problems take only polynomial time to solve, so
}the code-breakers gain the advantage over the code-makers.

}The zones correspond to different complexity classes. In the
}depths, the complexity class P is not physically realizable.
}Instead something like Poly-Log is all that can be calculated
}in polynomial *physical* time.

I find this hard to swallow. I can physically build a machine which
does a calculation in polynomial time (for example: mechanical card
sorters.) I would be very hard pressed to suspend my disbelief that
this machine could stop working for non-mechanical reasons.

}In the slow zone, the complexity class we call P can be calculated
}by an actual computer in polynomial time.

Your theory suffers from the same flaw that caused you to dismiss my
theory. All NP-complete problems are provably computationally
identical. If one type of NP-complete problem becomes solvable, they
all do. While this is not true of NP-hard problems (they have not
been proven computationally equivalent to anything) I find it hard to
believe that there could be such a smooth transistion of computation
speed across a zone under your explination.

}In the beyond, even more can be done. There are levels of the beyond,
}corresponding to more difficult gradations of NP-hard problems
}becoming accessible.

}And in the transcend, even undecidable problems become soluble.

}Vinge was basically making a joke: he was building a cosmology on the


}principles of theoretical computer science, rather than on the more
}usual principles of physics.

}Barak Pearlmutter <b...@cs.unm.edu>, http://www.cs.unm.edu/~bap/

P.S. From your home page, I see that you're a professor who may
frequent the same circles as Vinge. If you actually know Vinge, then
that's not fair! :)

Tom Womack

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Feb 26, 1997, 3:00:00 AM2/26/97
to

Al von Ruff (avon...@prairienet.org) wrote:
: Michael J Gebis (ge...@purcell.ecn.purdue.edu) wrote:

: I wonder what effect the zones would have on a nanotech-based


: computer, which is essentially a very fast mechanical device (that
: is, nanotech is used to construct the device, but not to run it).

<SPOIL SPOIL SPOIL>


I thought that was exactly what the Device used by pham was; a machine
built using the technologies of the Transcend, but using non-Transcendental
effects so that it would operate in the Slow Zone.

William Lewis

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Feb 26, 1997, 3:00:00 AM2/26/97
to

(spoilers, of course)

In article <5ekbq1$7...@tines.hsc.fr>, Vincent Archer <arc...@hsc.fr> wrote:
>>There are strong hints that the Zones are creations. Not real idea about
>the *purpose* of the Zones. Either as protection against that which lies
>in the center of the galaxies, as protection for that, or as a general
>purpose mechanism to build variety and diversity, and make life more
>interesting overall for the Powers.

This is an interesting idea. It seems that many/most of the Beyond
civilizations originated in the Slow Zone. Maybe there's something
about the Slow Zone that makes the evolution of intelligent life
more likely there. Maybe without a Slow Zone there wouldn't be anything
to populate the Beyond or to transcend.

If the Zones are entirely artificial --- instead of being natural effects
which just happen to be manipulable --- then perhaps they were put there
to keep things that evolve in high-matter-density high-energy regions
in galactic cores from getting out and wreaking havoc.
--
Wim Lewis / wiml@{omnigroup.com|hhhh.org} / I do not speak for Omni
PGP 0x27F772C1: 0C 0D 10 D5 FC 73 D1 35 26 46 42 9E DC 6E 0A 88

Avram Grumer

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Feb 26, 1997, 3:00:00 AM2/26/97
to

In article <5epmag$q...@universe.digex.net>, nan...@universe.digex.net
(Nancy Lebovitz) wrote:

>Could a small controllable Slow Zone be good for anything but a weapon?

Do prisons count as weapons? I suppose they do.

If you could make hollow Slow Zones, you could set them up as protection
around places where you planned to experiment with Transcendent technology.

--
Avram Grumer Home: av...@interport.net
http://www.crossover.com/agrumer Work: agr...@crossover.com

Information wants to be incorrectly formatted.


Al von Ruff

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Feb 27, 1997, 3:00:00 AM2/27/97
to

Avram Grumer (av...@interport.net) wrote:
: In article <5epmag$q...@universe.digex.net>, nan...@universe.digex.net

: (Nancy Lebovitz) wrote:
:
: >Could a small controllable Slow Zone be good for anything but a weapon?
:
: Do prisons count as weapons? I suppose they do.
:
: If you could make hollow Slow Zones, you could set them up as protection
: around places where you planned to experiment with Transcendent technology.

Starting sound a bit like bobbles now.

Ken Cox

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Mar 4, 1997, 3:00:00 AM3/4/97
to

Michael Handler wrote:
> So all of this means is that Moore's Law is different in each zone?

Yes. In the Transcend, it follows the Busy Beaver function.

--
Ken Cox k...@research.bell-labs.com

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