On a parallel earth in a
parallel universe, far, far away, Sally walked
into a laboratory and stood beside Jennifer, who
was intently monitoring her computer screen.
simulation going? asked Sally.
Jennifer replied. Ive just run the
program for a cosmological constant of 10-122
plus 10-57 %.
Thats so close
to the value for this universe, noted Sally,
that you wouldnt expect any variation
from conditions here.
At a macro scale,
thats right, Jennifer agreed.
All the obvious physical properties of that
universe are the same as ours. All the galaxies
are in the same places, for example.
It seems to be very
subtle, replied Jennifer, pointing to a
graph on her screen. Its to do with
quantum processes at a sub-molecular level in the
brains of living creatures the areas that
impact on consciousness.
Sally pulled up a chair and
sat down next to Jennifer. Jennifer was a
particularly gifted researcher, as well as being
a good friend, and Sally knew that if she had
spotted something fascinating, then
it was likely to be correct and probably more
than fascinating. What effect does that
have? she asked.
It causes aggression
and self-interest, said Jennifer. I
know its hard to imagine, she
continued, but humans on the earth in that
universe would probably not be very nice to each
That would be a
pretty weird place to be, mused Sally. She
visualised the cooperative, sympathetic behaviour
of people on their earth and the resulting peace,
tranquillity and happiness of all. It was very
hard to imagine unkindness. You mean they
would occasionally feel a sense of good natured
annoyance towards one another in extreme
circumstances. Sally struggled to link that
world view to her own experience.
Jennifer re-checked the
output from the biological life form module of
the simulation. It seems to indicate that
it would take virtually no provocation for them
to kill each other!
Sally spontaneously broke
into laughter. I think, Jen, you might have
found a hardware glitch or something wrong with
the simulation software, she said.
Im sure that no value of the
cosmological constant could produce behaviour
Im pretty sure
youre right, concurred Jennifer,
but we mustnt ignore crazy results
without fully checking them. Were only
human and make mistakes all the time. Thats
why we need everyone else to be kind and help to
support and advise us.
Sally, whatever is causing the program to
produce this horrid simulation, its
certainly creating interesting results. What else
does it predict about the behaviour of the poor
people inhabiting that awful place?
Jennifer typed a few
commands on her keyboard and looked at the
predictions for people on that simulated earth.
She burst out laughing. Youre right,
Sal, this is silly. It talks about violence, wars,
racism, sexism, homophobia, bigotry in the name
of religion, greed, massive inequalities of
wealth and privilege, starvation. . .
They both looked at each
other, tears of, now hysterical, laughter rolling
down their faces.
Thank God it
cant be true, said Sally. What
politicians, bankers, newspaper proprietors and
just about anyone else in positions of power
would generally be corrupt and self-seeking.
Sally, holding her side due to the pain of a
stitch brought on by uncontrollable laughter.
If you read any more about this daft earth
of yours, Im going to wet myself.
Through her tears of
laughter, Jennifer focussed sufficiently on the
computer screen to close down the program. She
took a deep breath to compose herself.
Im starving, shall we go and eat?
The women left the building,
chatting about other events of the day. As they
walked to their favourite restaurant there was a
short silence during which their eyes briefly met.
Both knew immediately that the other was again
thinking of the ridiculous simulation results,
and they instantly dissolved into hysterics.
Passers-by had no idea what
they were laughing about, but their obvious joy
contributed further to the habitual happiness and
contentment of all who saw them.