Fiction: "The Great Wall"

Story by Geoff Tuffli


++++ DATE 1.11.2464
++++ TIME 08:00 GST
++++ LOCATION Samsara City, Oberon
++++ DEPARTMENT Astrophysics
++++ SUBJECT Doctoral Thesis Defense
++++ TITLE Periodicity in Normalized Patterns of Hypernova Formation in the Hercules-Corona Borealis Great Wall
++++ CANDIDATE Sun Yue

Examiner Nǐhǎo, Sun Yue.

Are you at present prepared to begin?

Sun Yes, Examiner. Thank you for this opportunity.

If I may offer a brief introduction for annotation of the record?

Examiner Continue.
Sun Thank you, Examiner.

The subject of my defense is the malapropically named Hercules-Corona Borealis Great Wall, a massive galactic superstructure found to have an unusually high concentration of evenly distanced gamma-ray burst emmission locales.

At 10 billion light-years across, the Hercules-Corona Borealis Great Wall is the largest structure of the observable universe, occupying a region much larger than the constellations Hercules and Corona Borealis, and in fact covering much of the region from Boötes to the Zodiac constellation of Gemini.

Even when first observed, the sheer unlikeliness of such an exact structure was noted, but it was chalked up to the vagaries of cosmological assumptions of that time.

Examiner I am familiar with the phenomenon. You reject the accepted explanation of its formation?
Sun Respectfully, I do.

The most frequent explanation for the Great Wall was an improbably large supercluster in the region evincing an improbably large rate of stellar formation. As no better explanation was proferred, this explanation stood.

Data from the Li Shimin Telescopic Array in the Kuiper Belt, however, confirmed in 2461 that there was no such supercluster, and that previous data suggesting such was the result of a misreading of the original data.

Examiner On what basis do you claim a "misreading" of the original data?
Sun The original data was interpreted assuming a now-discredited theory of stellar formation. That theory, though discredited, represented the entire underpinning of the assumptions.

Rather, the hypernova periodicity that is reflected in the data from the Li Shimin array is indicative of set of hypernova events displaying a consistent distance and time declination from each's neighbor.

Examiner Such consistency could be explained by a Type Ic hypernovae, by jets from fallback to a black hole.
Sun With all due respect, Examiner, such a conception would rely upon an impossibly consistent grid of hypergiants.
Examiner In an impossibly expansive universe, every possibility must necessarily occur at some point.
Sun By that reasoning, every improbabilty observed must necessarily be considered to be the result of random chance.

Is such a configuration theoretically possible? I will allow that it is, however, that probability must be weighed against other more likely scenarios.

Examiner What, then, is your proposed mechanism?
Sun I have no proposed mechanism.
Examiner I confess to being confused. If you have no proposed mechanism, what exactly are you proposing this committee base a conference of academic credentials upon you?
Sun As I said, I have no proposed mechanism. I do, however, have a proposed explanation.
Examiner Continue.
Sun While the available data and knowledge of hypernova formation does not allow for a convincing theory to explain what it is we do observe, it is possible to come to certain other conclusions.

Namely, the regularity of the positioning of the hypernova events, along with the expansion of said events over the last four hundred years of observation of gamma ray data, suggests an artificial mechanism.

Examiner I am sorry, but am I to understand that you are suggesting an artificial agency has deliberately created the phenomenon of the Hercules-Corona Borealis Great Wall?
Sun I am.

Nor should this, in truth, be considered a radical proposition.

Consider that humanity has, over the last four hundred years, identified some seventeen generally accepted stars bearing signs of technological life, not to mention hundreds of others bearing the spectrographic indications of biological processes. Moreover, these indications only represent those that we can recognize as such; it is likely that there are other processes that we simply do not have the reference point to recognize.

Even more recently, there are the confirmed extrasolar biological evidence in the submantle seas of many of icy bodies of our own solar system.

Examiner Primitive protoplasmic fluid is one thing. What you are suggesting is several orders of magnitude greater.
Sun This is true.

However, the fact that this protoplasmic fluid is common among multiple bodies buried beneath, in some cases, hundreds of kilometers of ice, and yet shows a common nature is indicative of a common early colonization attempt of our solar system.

It is reasonable to extrapolate that in the same way as we can identify the signs of early industrial alien civilizations many light-years distance from us, even in one case a suggestion of sub-light capability, we must also allow for the existence of civilizations far in excess of our current capabilities.

Examiner The Hercules-Corona Borealis Great Wall stretches approximately 10 billion light-years across at its farthest extent. What would be the purpose of such an impossible construction?
Sun Forgive me, Examiner. I thought the answer to that was obvious: I expect it is intended to keep something else out.
Examiner You recognize the magnitude of your suggestion? Such a project would require the reshaping of entire galaxies. At sub-light timespans, the time to construct this implies a sentience in existence for a period in excess of our entire solar system's current lifespan.
Sun That is correct.
Examiner The committee will adjourn to discuss the suitability of continuing the examination. You will understand that this is an exceedingly irregular basis to form a thesis defense upon.
Sun Irregular, yes. Not unprecedented. I have taken the liberty of attaching several previously accepted examples of such a defense. Two, in fact, by this very institution.
Examiner Nevertheless, we will need to confer.
Sun I understand. I will wait patiently upon the committee's decision, Examiner.
Examiner We are recessed.