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THE PERILS OF SOCIAL MEDIA

Description

This is a 19-frame comic strip about antigravity and social media, especially the blog at http://www.antipope.org/charlie/blog-static/ by science-fiction author Charlie Stross.

  1. Johnny, a physics enthusiast, is in bed asleep. Like Kekulé, he is having a marvellous dream. In it, he has a sudden insight: "TENSER!".

  2. We see Johnny in his bedroom. There is a table with a laptop, and his cat's empty food dish on the floor near a book by Feynman and sheets of paper with relativistic equations. One starts "Gμν = 8πGT". On the wall are posters. One says "Maxwell said: 'Let there be light'". Two others have the equations "Δx Δpx ≥ ½ ℏ" and "T = T0 × √ (1 - v2 / c2)". The fourth shows a Feynman diagram, looking rather like a bent capital H with a wavy line for the crossbar.

  3. As in the first frame, we zoom in to Johnny's thought balloon. He is thinking about gravity and space-time. The top of the thought balloon has a little diagram of a bent grid with a black blob in the middle and an arrow going past it, curving in to almost meet the blob, and then curving away again. The arrow is labelled "GRAVITY". Near it are the words "MATTER CURVES SPACE-TIME".

    Below this is the equation
      Gμν = constant × Tμν
    with the left-hand side labelled "curvature" and the Tμν labelled "distribution of matter".

    And under that, are the thoughts "So if I can change that constant ... I can stiffen space-time. WOW!". Below that is another grid diagram, but this time its lines are straight and hands at each end are pulling it taut. An arrow is going past the central blob again, but it is not curving in to meet it. This arrow is labelled "ANTI-GRAVITY".

  4. Johnny's thoughts continue. "It's just like pulling wrinkles out of a carpet — except you don't get fluff all over your hands".

  5. We now see Johnny thinking furiously:

    ... so if I apply the Minhyong-Smolin compactification ...

    ... stretch the metric g⃡ = Ω2 g and embed with ∂M̅ ⊂ M ...

    ... YES! CURVATURE → 0 AS g⃡⇟Б𝜌.

  6. Johnny is getting out of bed, thinking "Look up the stress tensor Tμν for some common matter distributions".

  7. Johnny is now at his laptop. He is typing into Google while holding some pages titled "TYPES OF MATTER". The Google search box shows the letters "S T R".

  8. But engrossed in general relativity, Johnny has neglected his cat Felix. Felix is peering dolefully into the empty food dish.

  9. Felix employs every feline's preferred mode of communication. He bites Johnny's leg. He is thinking "FEED ME!".

  10. Johnny is still typing into Google, but blinded by cat-induced agony, he has typed O instead of E. The Google search box shows the letters "S T R O S S".

  11. Johnny hits ENTER and Google takes him to the website www.antipope.org. We see his thought balloon with a picture of the Pope in, but drawn in white on black and flipped left to right. "ANTIPOPE? What is this???".

  12. Johnny is reading comments from the site, which he thinks looks like a blog. But some of the comments are baffling. We see this text:

    Given the temporal wave riding [all links 2014-2016, mostly prefigured and temporally imagined before existing] and so on and the general response and the entire saga. No, humans, you're not good at this
    Johnny is thinking "Does this even make sense?"

  13. Now Johnny is looking at another comment: five lines of ancient Greek. Johnny is baffled. Even more baffled than in the previous frame.

  14. And a third, which reads

    ᑭᑎᒫᑭᒪᒥᑐᓀᔩᐦᒋᑲᐣ
    1066. gēomerung?
    Johnny winks, thinking "Ah, now I DO understand this! Lucky I found that Cree–Anglo-Saxon dictionary in Oxfam, eh readers?".

  15. A fourth comment says:

    As SF it does not even rise to "bad" - it's just a mediocre thriller with rayguns instead of .45s. Which given its success is probably what its readers want.
    Johnny's thought balloon shows a stern police type pounding after a malefactor, while shooting a raygun. As well, he's thinking: "This chap knows his SF criticism! Mind you, I LOVE thrillers with rayguns! I always wanted to be a secret agent."

  16. Johnny is reading a post by the blog's author, Charlie Stross. It says:

    So for the cost of removing chewing gum, a city in 2030 will be able to give every square metre of its streets the processing power of a 2012 tablet computer (or a 2002 workstation, or a 1982 supercomputer).

    "Wow!", thinks Johnny. "Slabtop computer!"

  17. And now, Johnny reads another comment:

    --Yog-Sothoth is the interstellar equivalent of the internet. Perhaps there's some sort of hyper-drive or dimensional gate available through Yog-Sothoth to make travel between planets easier. Perhaps not. Installing a local instance of Yog-Sothoth can go terribly wrong if you don't know what you're doing(cf: the Dunwich Horror).
    We see a look of terror on his face.

  18. In this penultimate frame, Johnny reads on ... and on ... and on. Until he succumbs to the insidious effects of information overload. He slumps in front of his computer, his eyes glazed, as pages from a calendar peel away behind him. January ... February ... March ... May ... July ... September ... . Around him are words and phrases from the blog:

    • EU
    • Daily Express
    • THESUNTHESUNTHESUNTHESUN
    • 4chan /pol/
    • V-parasites
    • BIG BUCKS $$$
    • P S Y C H O S I S
    • UFO aliens
    • Liberdpillerians
    • Nazis
    • الجن or Icelandic Elves
    • OLD WHITE MALES
    • Mogrellons
    • homozygosity
    • electron excitation
    • That depends on what you think Cthulhu actually does. Most versions of Cthulhu have
    • that a) the Pantheon is unreinforced concrete, and 2) the Romans had
    • your GPS satellites
    • 0% knowledge of peanuts
    • Deuchars
    • "having an edifice complex"
    • This could also be engineered for the better. Inserting genes for new photoreceptive eye pigments onto autosomes instead of just the X chromosome would
    • as I write this, I can just hear the soft hum of a MakerBot 3D printer fabricating a dinosaur skull in the other corner of the library
    • 52 (0'+0')=0'' MP(35,51)
    • 1 ∀x;x=y⇒(x=z⇒y=z) Gen(x,l1)
    • the job. QM and GR don't "conflict" any more than bacon and chocolate "conflict"; they're two different things
    • singularity
    • Jared Diamond
    • *shrug*
    • surströmming
    • SS universe. Now rotate R♁ and R卐 90° clockwise to make rectangles R♁↱ and R卐↱. Then there ought to be another curve ཌྷ↱ which links R♁↱ with R卐↱.
    • You might want to Google The Romance of the Three Kingdoms and The Water Margin before claiming that Wuxia is new. After all, the
    • The danger arises when contaminated water enters the nose
    There is also a chunk of Hebrew and a chunk of Chinese.

  19. The final frame shows an alien planet. Stars and a crescent moon and a ringed planet are visible in the sky. In the background are jagged hills; in the foregound, strange plants. Behind a ridge on the right, a rocket painted with the word "EARTH" has landed, and a space-suited astronaut is walking away from it. Two aliens are looking in that direction. One says to the other, "And that is why they never discovered antigravity".