MISC: The Girl Who Saved the World, Part 22

George Phillies phillies at 4liberty.net
Thu Jan 14 10:16:32 PST 2016

The Girl Who Saved The World, continued

Liouville was a French mathematician. The fellow after him was an 
American, Gibbs. What they showed, the part I had to struggle to 
understand even slightly, is that the past is as big as the future. No, 
let’s be honest.  I really did not undertand almost any of the math 
parts.  For what they needed to prove, they used calculus.  I’m not 
terrified of a single derivative, at least if someone else is taking it. 
  I even know sort of what they are. Kind of. I think. Maybe. Well, I 
asked Mum what they are, and she told me.

No, I’m not one of these people who have infinite math genius, but Mum 
always said I was way ahead in math. That’s way ahead, even though I 
actually had to learn the stuff, not have Mum pass it to me 
mind-to-mind.  Things you learn mind-to-mind you aren’t creative with, 
not easily, so I’ll have to work really hard to write great love poems 
in Atlanticean.  I’m heartbroken, truly heartbroken. Mum did pass me 
lots of things not quite mind-to-mind, but she was mostly interested in 
helping me learn how to use my gifts effectively.  She thought using 
gifts was way more important than math, or science, or money technology. 
I could learn those the usual way at my usual speed.  GR, my usual speed 
is not slow.

In any event, Gibbs wrote down a whole forest of derivatives in a big 
square block.  Down on my study pad went ‘Hamiltonian’, ‘Jacobian’, 
‘determinant, ‘permutation’, and a bunch of other words I don’t know.  I 
suspected there were a lot of parts I did not know yet, even  before I 
got to the forest of derivatives.  When I reached the derivative forest 
I took a break for the caramel ice cream and fudge crumbles…a lot of 
fudge crumbles. Still, it was a forbidden book, and I have all the time 
in the world, if I’m real careful, to learn it.  The original Gibbs 
proof about the past and the future was two short paragraphs of which I 
could make neither head nor tail. The book spent 30 pages breaking the 
Gibbs proof up into very small parts. Each part was supposed to be easy 
to follow.  And the fellow who wrote the small parts is said to be the 
greatest science writer since Amizov, Amizov being the muse of clear 
science writing. Except when I talked about muses with Mum, for 
Terpsichore she had an image of this statue, but for Amizov she 
remembered fondly this guy with funny whiskers. I even understood two of 
the parts that he wrote.  It’s just that after you had followed all the 
small parts you had come a very long way, and you wondered if you had 
really come all that way or if the wool had been pulled over your eyes.

I skipped to the end.  The Forward said it was GR to skip like that. 
There was the image, translating the forest of derivatives to a simple 
picture.  The picture I understood. I think. The picture is pawns on a 
huge chessboard. The pawns represent whole worlds where history started 
out slightly differently. They start out next to each other, farther 
away sideways being stranger.  By the time you get well sideways across 
the chessboard, history is completely different. The simple view of 
history is that the pawns all move forward one space at the time, always 
staying in their own file. Worlds that start very similar to ours end up 
very similar to ours. Worlds that start out very different end up being 
very different. The butterflies show that every so often a pawn takes 
off sideways, so two pawns that start next to each other do not end up 
that way. The pawn next to ours marches off sideways and ends up halfway 
sideways across the board. That’s the maiasaurs not becoming 
intelligent. You might think that would simply leave a gap in the file 
next to ours. No, there are as many files at the start of history as 
there are the end. What Liouville and Gibbs showed, and someday I will 
understand that part of the book, is that every file was full at the 
start of time, so when we reach the present every file must still be 
full, one pawn per file. If the pawn next to us took off and ended up 
way across the board, there must be another pawn that started off 
someplace way across the board and ended up at our shoulders. I thought 
the mirror imaging looked pretty obvious. We’re not someplace special. 
If some of our nearby-at-start pawns end up someplace else, pawns from 
someplace else must end up nearby, because if they didn’t we would be at 
someplace unusual.  Lots of people get extremely upset with the idea 
that world history could’ve started off completely different than ours, 
but when we get to the present our two worlds are almost the same. 
Liouville’s Butterflies, the forbidden book, is the famous proof that 
some worlds must converge. The rest of the book is the arguments about 
what Liouville’s result means.

All good things come to an end. Liouville’s Butterflies was no 
exception. I looked up and realized it was well after dark outside. GR, 
it’s January.  Dark happens early. My mocha pot was empty. For all I 
hadn’t understood most of it, I had really been concentrating on the 
book, concentrating hard enough that I didn’t think about my pain. I 
still hurt, a lot.  I’d dodged the sword. At the end, just as I slit him 
the fellow from end to end, I’d had to take getting gut-punched. Hard. 
Before I started reading I’d remembered to pull up a quilt, so I hadn’t 
gotten cold. My gifts will protect me from cold, but only when I’m 
calling them.   I left the rest of the book for tomorrow.

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