Qualia the Purple
Arc 2: 1/1,000,000,000th of a Kiss
Chapter 12: The Future and the Anthropic Principle
If the cat in the box were both alive and dead while the box stayed closed, then did the cat sense its own situation at all? Was it conscious that it itself was in a state of both life and death?
No, that was probably not the case.
The cat definitely wasn't thinking about whether it was alive or dead or in some superposition of the two, and we also didn't think that way.
We all could only feel like our bodies were fixed entities.
Our minds were incapable of recognizing any other state of being.
Even if someone were to tell us that we were quantum beings, that we were both waves and particles, that we were composed of probability densities, it would be impossible for us to just readily accept that statement. But when they continue to push and tell us that our bodies seemed to be fixed quantities only because we perceive them to be, it's not like we could easily dispute that either. It was impossible to deny a claim that we thought a certain way only because we perceived that way to be true. After all, humans were creatures that took in and processed information purely through perception.
If someone told me that I was sleeping and just having an extremely realistic dream right now, that my brain was floating in a water tank somewhere and I was just experiencing a virtual reality created by artificial electrical stimuli being sent to my brain, then there was no place that discussion could proceed from there. And thus, we arrive at the statement which will become our ultimate lifeline: "I think, therefore I am."
Have you ever heard of the cosmological theory known as the Anthropic Principle?
To put it simply, it is the idea that the cosmos exists purely so humans can live in it. That notion might seem rather outrageous by any normal standards, but there are many scientists who think about it in great seriousness. Namely, it seemed that the parameters and fundamental constants that defined our universe were incredibly convenient for human life. It was to the point where if those parameters changed just a tiny bit, then humans would not exist at all.
So to the universe, was the onset of humankind an inevitability? Or conversely, did the universe take this particular form just so humankind could come into being? These concepts formed the central pillar of the Anthropic Principle.
The amazing thing about this field of study was that the more research you did into this topic, the more you started believing that this principle had to be true.
I don't claim to be a physicist, so take what I say with a grain of salt, but there are quantum physicists who make some quite fantastical claims.
They say that the laws of the universe are what they are purely because humans observe them to be so.
They say that the universe is determined to be one which is convenient for humans purely because humans observe it to be so.
In other words, one and one make two not because that was how the universe always worked, but because humans, as the observers, felt it would be convenient for that to be true, and as a result the universe made it so. Observations in the future end up exerting their influence into the past, and the results of those observations are what form our present.
Honestly (and once again I'm not a physicist, so take what I say with a grain of salt), it was a rather outlandish way of thinking if you ask me.
Maybe this was arrogant of me to say. Maybe I was distorting the intended interpretation of the Anthropic Principle.
Either way, things certainly were very convenient. So I would put aside my personal feelings on the matter and rejoice, reveling in the correctness of this way of thinking. I would join the chorus of voices in their merrymaking. All hail the Anthropic Principle!
"I think, therefore I am."
At our core, we lived under the auspices of convenience.
I once again went back to being Hatou Manabu, and just left the world to proceed as it wished.
I went to junior high and met Yukari with that kiss of ours in the hallway. I also met Nanami, and eventually got wrapped up in that incident, after which my hand became a cell phone.
On the first day of the second school semester in our second year, Alice transferred into our class.
Yukari transferred out, and died.
After I graduated from junior high (by the way, I dated Kasoku Tomonori around then. Before Nanami got to him. Hmm... yeah, that might've been a pretty mean thing to do, but sue me for being a bit human sometimes), I joined Jaunt.
I investigated the truth behind Yukari's death, and along the way repaired my relationship with Alice, forging an even deeper relationship between the two of us.
Yes... I didn't just make Alice into my collaborator, but made her depend on me.
I brainwashed her, made her love me, and set it up so that she would consider me her everything. I knew everything there was to know about Alice after all, so this was a simple task, and even if I failed I had infinite possibilities to help me. After I managed to ensnare Alice, I acted like an obedient member of Jaunt and polished my own powers in the meantime.
I waited for the right opportunity before exposing the depraved organization that Jaunt had become, and like lancing a boil I purified it and emerged at its head.
I had become the leader of Jaunt.
I changed Jaunt into an honest, upright organization, and assertively worked to protect and nurture the geniuses around the world. At the same time, I sought to expand my own influence - and for that I needed an expansive treasury. No matter how much money I had, it never seemed enough. I created a company and it succeeded. There were quite a few worlds in the infinite parallel worlds where I became very rich. I set up a foundation and continued to search far and wide for talent, gathering scientists and supporting promising enterprises. I prioritized development over profit, and invested all my personal wealth in pursuit of that goal.
Jaunt became a symbol of the dynamic progress that would shape the future, became synonymous with innovation, and at this point, I was Jaunt.
I spared no expense when it came to scientific advancement and realizing paradigm shifts in the ways we thought about things.
I personally traversed the world in search for people with talent. I never did anything dirty or sleazy - I didn't need to. After all, I was constantly followed by a thousand chances and ten thousand points of good fortune. I came to be known as the Goddess of Victory, and was cited as one of the chief architects of the Twenty-First Century. I was selected by working women as one of the hundred most important people in the world, made my way onto the cover of Time Magazine, and constantly received requests from all corners of the world to give speeches and lectures.
All the while, the young people like Alice I had gathered into Jaunt continued their research.
I sent support to geniuses in physics, in biology, and in every conceivable field of study.
Sociology, fine arts, music, literature... I spared no effort to support any and every development that seemed like it would be useful towards my goal.
But, in the end, the key to everything was Alice.
So I would do anything for Alice.
... Anything except allow her to leave.
Human relationships were a tricky business, but I would always succeed.
"Alice. Is there anything I can do for you?"
At this point in time, I could speak four different languages, but despite that I always spoke Japanese with Alice.
Alice had grown into an adult and her hair was back to its original black color. She answered me without emotion.
"... Leave me alone. Just ignore me no matter what I say. Do not answer me."
I laughed and shook my head before answering her firmly.
"That would be impossible. I can love you from the bottom of my heart. And I can hate you from the bottom of my heart. But I can't do anything in the middle. Like light, out of all the paths possible from A to B, I can choose none but the most extreme, most simple path. Indeed, I can only live in the extremes."
Alice was pointing a gun at me, so I smiled and tried to make it a bit easier for her by averting my gaze and pointing to my forehead.
This was not the first time this had happened. Trial and error. Rinse and repeat.
"Try to finish it in one shot, please. Get closer if you wish."
"...... Do you really think I won't shoot you?"
"No? You probably won't understand what I'm saying, but I know all too well. I know that you can shoot me. And I know that for a fact. You might not be aware, but this isn't the first time you've killed me. And of course... the reverse of that has also happened."
"... Yes, Manabu, I confess I have no idea what you're saying."
"It's fine. But try to understand just this. Right now, the me in this world loves you. So if you wish it, I don't mind... I will leave this world to you. Be happy for that."
"... That's not at all what I really want!"
"Yes. I know that too."
I could hear her sobbing.
I raised my head, and saw Alice's tears dropping to the floor in large drops.
... Yes, in every world, Alice always hesitated. She was really a kind girl.
I quietly let out a sigh.
"... Alice. You know, there really isn't anything else I can give you. So please... just shoot. It seems this world was a failure. So at least end it by your hand."
"If you love me... then prove it. Prove it with those hands of yours, Alice. Make me yours. Unless you do that, you will never be free from me."
Love. Hate. Always the most extreme, most simple path. I would carve that crest into my very being.
For that was what I was.
"Let me die for you, and bring an end to this world, Alice."
I searched through my memory, trying to find where I went wrong, trying to collect my thoughts.
But unfortunately, there was not much I could do.
Things will go better in the next world.
Alice finally completed it in the year when I welcomed my forth-seventh birthday - it was the same year I was nominated for a Nobel Peace Prize for my long, continuing efforts in helping the world.
Alice's pride as a genius was on full display as she barged into my room in the early morning, hugging me and planting a loud kiss on my cheek before uttering three words.
"I did it."
I held my breath and just gazed at the large canvas that had been brought in front of me.
At the abstract-looking painting in front of me...
"... This is a painting of the Theory of Everything."
This was the one thing I had been chasing after, the one thing I had wandered across infinite worlds and recruited so many geniuses to find.
It was the pinnacle point of physics. The one theory that unified the four forces that created the universe: the strong force, the weak force, the electromagnetic force, and the gravitational force.
Of course, the completion of this theory did not automatically solve everything.
Just because we had the Theory of Everything didn't mean that tomorrow we would suddenly be able to predict the future, suddenly find the secret to immortality, or suddenly be capable of traveling between galaxies.
However, it would serve as confirmation.
It would serve as an indicator for whether all the science humanity had explored up until this point was useful, for whether our hypotheses about the birth of the universe or quantum mechanics, which up until now had been limited by the bounds of human observation, were actually correct.
Yes, this was the vantage point I needed for firm observations.
The indicator by which we could base everything.
"Well, I guess I still have to translate this into mathematics though. But now that I've come this far, the rest should be... Manabu, I'm sure I should be able to make it before your Nobel ceremony. So look forward to it-"
I shook my head, interrupting Alice's words.
"No, Alice, this is more than enough. I understand... I truly do. I understand that this is what I've been hoping for all this time."
Yes, I understood.
I couldn't read mathematical formulae as paintings, and I didn't have much mathematical ability in the first place, but I could still for some reason understand what was in the painting in front of me.
I could just feel it.
Feel that I now knew what I should've known.
"Yes. This is where the story begins."
Numbers dimly glowed through my left hand.
I had not used this cell phone of mine for a long time, but now its display was shining even though Alice was in the same room.
Seeing that, I sensed what was happening.
Ahh, just now, my world had been observed.
And now the universe would contract. Its wave function would collapse.
I finally, finally understood the thing I had been completely oblivious to this entire time.
Up until now, the universe had not yet been determined.
Up until now, the universe's wave function had never collapsed (or the many worlds had never lost their ability to interact with each other). Just like the box that held the box which contained the cat... and the box that further covered that one... and the box which further enclosed that one... we were merely unaware of it because we were entangled in this strand, but the world had never left the state of being a probability density. We were just not aware of it, but everything had existed in the probabilistic realm.
After all, human beings never knew what they should be observing.
However, just now, I came to know.
Know exactly what we should observe.
Using the Theory of Everything as an indicator.
Right now, starting from here, the past would be determined, and a future could be made.
The beginning had never evolved beyond a probabilistic existence, but it could now finally be collapsed into something real. All of time would rotate into imaginary time, and I would at last tunnel through that time to emerge away from it all, causing the universe to contract to a single point, before becoming infinite points, and then all these points would suddenly and violently expand outwards...
Of course, this was not the ultimate answer.
Someday, a theory would be formulated that would be even more unified than the Theory of Everything. Perhaps the next theory would even be able to solve the hard problem of consciousness. And when that theory came into being, once again the cosmos would contract anew. Once again the blast of the Big Bang would occur anew. And that wouldn't be the end of it. Again, and again, and again, and again... the trial and error would never cease. It was trial and error , ad nauseum, ad infinitum. It was the Uroboros, the serpent eating its own tail.
But what I had right now was plenty.
"Huh? What's that? That light on your left hand... Manabu?"
I softly put my left hand up to my ear, while I used my right hand to stroke Alice's cheek.
Like that, I pulled Alice to me, kissing her on the eyelids covering her honey-colored irises.
Thank you, Alice. Truly, thank you.
Let's meet again after this universe goes round one cycle and is determined into its rightful, original state of being.
... Although by then, I suppose I will be nowhere to found anymore in the cosmos.
And right then, I finally reached my goal.
My goal to extinguish the entity that was me.
Yes, at last, I had disappeared and was no longer part of this world.