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Scene 2: Physics

[Single chair center stage, lights dim or dark. Al stumbles in and takes a seat. Throughout scene, Al will pace frequently and occasionally make gestures as if at virtual controls. At all times, the voice of the Firmament is offstage but omnipresent, a neutral-sounding analog of a computer.]

AL Firmament...

FIRMAMENT Activated. Ready.

AL Firmament, activate the Cosmos Creation Universal Simulator.

FIRMAMENT Simulator activated.

AL Okay... and I guess I'll need some lights in here.

FIRMAMENT Please restate the command more clearly.

AL I said, let there be lights! [key lights up full bright] Ow...!

FIRMAMENT Lights are on.

AL Thank you... Hey, I didn't ask for anything in the simulator yet.

FIRMAMENT You requested that there be lights. Lights are now present in this simulated universe.

AL Hm. Well, if we gotta have a chicken, I guess we'll need something to start from.... Firmament. Separate the light and the dark. Good. Hm. Zoom in on that blob of light right there, yeah, the yellow one. Set Gravity at about 10 and give me a speed limit of 3.1415.... million. Hey, how'd all those little dense things get in there?

FIRMAMENT New objects are the result of new settings plus previous separation of light and dark.

AL Huh. Not behaving at all like the standard format. Lessee... the third one looks interesting. Zoom in on that one. We'll just use that as the world instead of the whole universe. Firmament, analysis: what is this world made of?

FIRMAMENT Sludge.

AL ...Sludge? What, not even different kinds of sludge, just... sludge?? Nosiree bobbity, we have to do something about the sludge. Find a way to separate the sludge.

FIRMAMENT Separate energy states have now been created.

AL Ooooh, hey, better. More to work with. Zoom in closer, I wanna see how they're composed.

FIRMAMENT No underlying levels of complexity have been created.

AL No? Well, then, let's just make some. Create discrete types of matter each with their own properties but capable of combining with others with an underlying hierarchy in which the behavior of the type of matter is dependent upon the number and actions of the various subparticles and now another subhierarchy which determines the behavior and composition of those particles.

FIRMAMENT Complete.

AL Hmmmm... Hmmm... nope. We gotta have more. They specifically said, "Same but different." How do I get everything to be the same and different at the same time?

FIRMAMENT Uncertain.

AL You're uncertain? That's different.

FIRMAMENT [More firmly this time] Suggestion: introduce mathematical uncertainty into the universe.

AL Hmmm... yeah. But this is already different from anything anyone has done before. If I go and introduce uncertainty, that would make their jobs nearly impossi-- Do it.

FIRMAMENT Uncertainty introduced.

AL Ooooh, look at that... look at that. Now show dynamic effects throughout, say, 10 eons. Oooh, pretty! Wow, look at that! Hey, this stuff's great! I gotta keep it... Firmament, save cosmos.

FIRMAMENT Error. Cosmos must have a specified starting formation. This modified universe was not created from an approved template.

AL Well, okay, I'll just find a way to compress the universe into one object and then uncompress it later. Firmament, reverse the time arrow and increase gravity constraints. Good, it's working. More. Yeah, this'll do the trick. Keep shrinking it.

FIRMAMENT Warning: gravity becoming dominant universal force.

[back and fill lights up partway, key lights off]

AL Hey! What happened?

FIRMAMENT Gravity has compressed all matter into a single point.

AL What?? Well, now it just looks like a big... black hole! Put it back! Set the time arrow forward again.

FIRMAMENT No effect.

AL Set gravity at the original level!

FIRMAMENT No effect.

AL Well, how do I start the whole cosmos from a single point, then?

FIRMAMENT Unable to comply.

AL What!!?? [throws something]

[cued from loud crashing noise, enter Matthew at a dead run]

MATTHEW What the heck is going on in here? Al!!?

AL What!?

MATTHEW I said, what's the matter? I heard a big bang.

AL Yeah... yes! That's it!!

MATTHEW What the heck have you been doing?

AL Boss! Have I come up with a great cosmos! Instead of just one big flat world, we have a bunch of round ones! The light comes from discrete points! And at first it was all just energy, but now it's different kinds of sludge! There's rigid sludge, free-flowing sludge... even sludge that can fly!!

MATTHEW Um, Al...

AL [speeding throughout] And the dynamic interactions! Why, after just a few eons there were these great big puffy things, and it was flying sludge but not really!! It was flowing sludge trapped in the flying sludge by energy gradients! [losing coherency by now] And there were these great big plates of rigid sludge riding on top of flowing sludge colliding together and the edges curl up and hot sludge shoots waaaay up, Whoom, ha ha ha! This world is gonna be great!!

MATTHEW Al?

AL Yeah?

MATTHEW ...Where is it?

AL I had it a minute ago.

MATTHEW You lost... a cosmos!!?! [pause, shrug]

AL No, ahh, just a simulation of one. I've been using a new system called Firmament... it's a little expensive, but it's got great graphics, lots of handy templates. The only problem is that it, ah, occasionally crashes, which means that it destroys work I've already done for no particular reason.

MATTHEW And just where did you get this new system?

AL Macrosoft.

MATTHEW Great. [giving up and starting anew] So what happened to your simulation?

AL Well, it collapsed, I couldn't help it. I'll have to start it from in the beginning.

MATTHEW Al, listen... it sounds great, and I'm sure it was good but we're on a really tight deadline here. So stop playing with your sludge and get to work! [Matthew exits]

AL Firmament.

FIRMAMENT Ready.

AL Let there be... light.

[Blackout. End of Scene.]