The Emerald

7:34 A.M. Simon is woken again by his radio’s alarm with the usual barrage of bargains and generally annoying advertisements. This was his average morning as getting up any earlier he was tired and waking up any later meant he wouldn’t get to work on time. Albeit he was slightly restricted in the times he could get up at as the sum of the two digits on the minute side had to equal the hour, a remnant from his youth which was filled with self-diagnosis on the internet, this one being when he was adamant he had OCD or CDO as he would call it (alphabetical order, of course).

Donning his jeans, although certainly not akin to the cliché of falling over, was a rather comical act to watch. Luckily, perhaps, for him no one ever saw it. The closest anyone had been was when his mother walked in on him half-naked (unfortunately for both parties it was the bad kind of half-naked) while inquiring about his rent which he had no qualms about handing over. His white-socked feet slid quickly into his “looked good at some point” runners and his Google t-shirt managed to become him despite not being washed for 72 hours.

He arrived at his desk in Google’s headquarters, turned on his monitor (the computer itself was never off) and wolfed into the free breakfast. Despite being an extremely average man on all accounts bar his intellect Simon managed to have an interesting title and somehow got put in charge of extremely daring projects. As a nuclear-physicist turned computer-programmer he received his current position without an interview. His project was creating a reliable computer-model of radioactivity; a seemingly random process. This was, of course, part of Google’s millennium goal project (3000 ACE for anyone reading this a few Ks from now) to simulate an entire universe. Nobody had even considered calling it audacious after their previous successes of simulating a brain and the human race itself. This project was addressing the only remaining mysteries to man. Could a universe be simulated? If it could would life evolve? If it did could this simulated life be as subtle and nuanced as our own? Of course if you’re reading this you most certainly know the answer but perhaps there are a few children out there who have yet to learn.

“Hey, Sim! You want me to recalibrate the radiation detector and hook you back up?” Said one of the underlings whose name Simon still did not know.

“Yeah sure, go ahead… I reckon this will be the last time you have to do it. I should…we should be finished tomorrow”

Half an hour later the radiation spikes started appearing on his screen. He then became transfixed with his work and while hyper-focusing on the code he often forgot that he was hungry and only by chance remembered once or twice to go to the bathroom.

The Sun had long since set and one could only have guessed so due to the decreased population of the office. After five years of diligent (and what to some would seem monotonous) work Simon had fixed all the glitches, bugs and faults in his model and he left it running on screen for a while. He watched it like a proud father or flamboyant artist and even started pretending to conduct it briefly with a satisfied grin on his face. He brought up the real radioactive decay results beside his model and despite not intending to get a perfect match, after randomly scrolling the two in opposite directions, he noticed a striking similarity. Sitting down again to make minor alterations to the units of output his heart quickened. When he brought his stooped head up from its gaze at the holographic keyboard and readjusted his short-sighted eyes onto the screen he saw a perfect match. He jumped out of his chair knocking it back (hoverchairs can’t fall over you see) and let out a shout that was incongruous with his personality. He printed off his results (yes some people were still that old fashioned) and started running to the top floor, taking no heed of the open elevator doors. After three flights of stairs of being unstoppable Simon took a well-needed break and got the elevator the remaining 39 floors.

The secretary waved him in which was odd as the boss was usually awfully busy and Simon had not even made an appointment. The boss was standing with his back to the door, looking out at the city below.

“I’m no supervillain Simon but I feel obliged to say I’ve been expecting you”

Simon confirmed in his head that he obviously wasn’t a supervillain as they usually turned around when they said that.

“Come in, sit down.”

Simon obeyed while his higher in command stayed put.

“So you’ve solved it, yes?”

“Yes sir, here are the results. They fit perfectly”

He slid them onto the desk. The boss didn’t move.

“I had a feeling they would, yes”

He pivoted on his patent leather shoes and produced a small metal disk out of his pocket.

“Tell me Simon, do you know what this is?” He said, holding the object out at arm’s length between two fingers and his thumb.

“I believe it’s a coin, sir. And old form of money of some sort”

“Exactly, yes! That is not the reason I am showing it to you though. In the days when these were more commonplace they were often used as a means to fairly decide something that could not be done otherwise. They were tossed and whoever guessed correctly the side on which it would land got to make the decision. Now tell me Simon, is the event of a coin toss random?”

“Well no it depends on the initial torque, velocity, air resista…” The boss cut across him.

“Exactly! Not at all but neither participant could have an advantage over the other. At the time it was often said that this was random but whether they believed that or not we will never know”

“I don’t see what this has to do wi…” Cut short again

“Patience, patience my friend!” He paced around the room.

“The anecdote was an example of something perceived to be random that truly wasn’t. An exhibit of human ignorance. Personally, I have always found it difficult to accept that anything can be truly random as everything is seemingly governed by physical laws. One of the ancient thinkers, Albert Einstein, even said himself that God does not play dice with the universe. Unfortunately with the great success of quantum mechanics, which as you know has randomness at its very core, everyone forgot how bizarre randomness was and took it for granted. Now, can a computer generate random numbers?”

“Well of course, I…” Simon responded in a perplexed tone.

“Incorrect” Simon blushed slightly as he was embarrassed to be wrong. The boss continued.

“Someone has to create a computer programme to generate these seemingly haphazard numbers never mind having to create a computer as well. In a similar way the universe cannot and does not simply decide on a whim when a radioisotope will decay or when a particle will or will not be somewhere. It must be governed by something. The numbers have to come from somewhere! Your model is a view of the source-code of the universe. It is a scripture more sacred than any of the holy books from the major world religions although we’re not quite sure how they’ll take it. If we were to put it in a simulation it would complete our current one as I have just had the same talk with the leading quantum-physicist and his work has similar bearing. The simulation would end up exactly the same as our own universe!”

“Why did you say if we were to put it in? I thought that was the plan. I did as you asked.” Simon was allowed to finish what he was saying for the first time in a long while.

“For someone so intelligent you can be a terrible fool sometimes, Simon.” Simon blushed again and his posture became considerably more awkward.

“We have answered all the questions we set out to answer although I am the only one fully aware of it yet. You will join me soon.”

Simon’s interest piqued and his posture perked up.

“We never intended to create a simulated universe, Simon…”

“We’re in one.”

Written in about 2 hours in 2013