Do not go gentle into that good night,
Old age should burn and rave at close of day;
Rage, rage against the dying of the light.
Cooper had crossed the event horizon of the massive blackhole that dominated the trinary star system in the Formax galaxy. The Gargantua solar system contained almost two dozen planets, at least three of which were in the habitable zone for supporting human life. The black hole was a monster, containing hundreds of stellar masses, and was twisting and bending spacetime in ever tightening spirals around itself as it devoured everything in its path.
This included Cooper's own spacecraft. It had consumed TARS in the lander only a few moments prior.
Cooper heard a voice in the cockpit of his craft, feminine. It was soft but insistent. "Eject."
The voice wasn't coming from his headset. It seemed to be coming from within his own head.
He wasn't paying attention. Instead he slowly took his hand off the joystick as he continued to stare in awe at the flurry of point-like white lights that surrounded his craft. Those lights dived and whirled like birds flying in formation. There seemed to be millions of them.
He continued to watch in wonder at the dancing and swirling lights as they spun around him.
He absently lowered his hand and clasped the yellow ejection handle. He pulled it.
He was flung into the void.
Time and space twisted on itself. Eventually Cooper found himself floating in a strange gridlike construct with rectilinear branches going off in all directions. He was still wearing his spacesuit.
He spoke into his mic. "TARS, you there?"
"Yes, Cooper. I am not far from you."
"Where are we?" He was bathed and surrounded by a gentle glowing light that appeared to originate from every direction.
"Based on the telemetry data that I have gathered so far, it would appear that you and I are now inside a high-dimensional rectangular geometric construct, a tesseract. It appears to be projecting at least five co-linearly independent dimensions, possibly more."
"At least. I am having difficulty establishing the vector basis for this space, so I cannot be more accurate than that, sorry."
Cooper nodded to himself. "So Professor Brand was right. Quantum gravity is the key to unlocking access to higher dimensions." The problem, of course, was that Brand didn't happen to have a nice big black-hole singularity floating nearby with which to test his novel theory.
That the universe might contain higher dimensions was not at all surprising. Quantum string theory had posited at least 11 such dimensions must exist, and possibly many more. Those dimensions were mathematically required.
Quantum strings had endpoints that ended in Dirichlet boundary conditions, the so-called 'D-branes'. Simply put, all objects that are made of open strings (which basically included all of the objects in the known physical universe) are constrained to only move along the paths of these D-branes. It created a restriction that prevented physical objects from ever moving at 'right angles to reality' (so to speak).
However, the conjectured force mediator particle for gravity - the graviton - had the vibrational states of a closed string, not an open one. That meant that gravitons had no such limitations on their movement: They were not constrained to follow only the paths of the D-branes. In other words, certain gravitational effects could take place in ways that are linearly independent of spacetime. And that meant that, given the right conditions, they could actually move at 'right angles to reality'.
Some physicists have suggested that holography could be the key to developing a quantum mechanical theory of gravity that includes the graviton. The idea is based on a black-hole information paradox known as the holographic principle. The holographic principle was originally invented to deal with the problem of the horizon-paradox with conventional Schwarzschild-style black holes. The problem was that for the quantum mechanical state of a physical system to remain consistent, then the amount of the informational content of the objects consumed by a black hole must be preserved, and so by necessity that information must exist solely as surface fluctuations at the event horizon. Otherwise there would be a basic violation of the laws of thermodynamics.
The idea of the holographic principle is to extend this notion up to the scale of the universe. The universe itself, after all, can be considered simply to be one gargantuan black hole, which by definition constrains light and therefore information. And so the entire universe might basically be a two-dimensional information structure that actually exists only at the farthest edges of the cosmos. In other words, the three dimensions that you and I take for granted might be an illusion, the physical manifestation of a hologram that is being projected from some kind of big mysterious 2-D film-projector out at the edge of the universe.
And so, by using these theories, Professor Brand had postulated that if gravitons could somehow be modulated properly inside a carefully constructed inertial reference frame, and with the correct choice for the vector basis, that he could achieve a form of anti-gravity. And with it he could, in principle, move arbitrarily large objects up into outer space. These could include (for example) a rotating space habitat that could support up to 100,000 people. And as a corollary of his remarkable theory one could also, again in principle, allow objects to move independently along the temporal axis. In other words, an entity existing along a timeline could essentially change its position along that line like any other spatial coordinate and roam back-and-forth through time at will.
Brand, you magnificent bastard. You were right.
Cooper quickly spoke into his mic, "TARS, listen carefully. Given the telemetry readings that you have just collected inside of this black hole, do you think you can now work out a gauge-invariant set of linear equations for supersymmetric quantum gravity?"
"Cooper, I have already done so."
"Oh man, TARS, that's wonderful. I'm so happy I could kiss you."
"Sorry Cooper, I don't swing that way."
Cooper rolled his eyes inside his helmet. "TARS, that joke was horrible. Drop your humor level from 70% down to 60%."
"Now how do I do this.." He started to move. They began to move through time.
He finally recognized where he was. He was standing behind the rear side of Murph's large bookcase in her old bedroom, back when she was 10 years old. He saw his daughter.
Murph, don't.. don't go..
She finally left the room.
As he looked through the bookcase he saw that Murph had re-entered the bedroom again. She was now 34 years old.
"TARS, quick, transmit the data in Morse Code to the second-hand on the watch."
"In Morse? Not binary? That is a rather archaic data transmission method."
"Just do it. And no lame jokes."
She picked up the watch and looked at it.
C'mon, Murph.. figure it out. Use that genius brain of yours. C'mon..
Her eyes lit up.
She yelled, "Dad! I got it!"
He smiled at her as she ran out the door with the watch in hand.
That's right, Murph. Dad's gift. To you.
She was gone.
Then he sighed. "Well, it's done. Now what?"
TARS calmly replied, "I'm sorry, Cooper. The tesseract that surrounds us is collapsing rapidly. I am afraid that we only have a few seconds of existence left before we are destroyed."
TARS was silent.
"I see..." He looked down.
He sighed, "I only wish I had more time."
TARS again replied calmly, "How much time do you require?"
"I said, how much time do you require?"
Cooper said quickly, "But you just told me that we only had seconds left!"
"Yes. But you can now move independently of time, remember? You just moved through time twice to contact Murph."
Cooper smacked his head. "Duh, of course! So where should we go? Or should I say when?"
"We can go wherever or whenever you would like to go."
He thought a moment. Then he smiled.
A few seconds later the tesseract disintegrated.
And the gentle light died.
But Professor Brand, do we have any hope?
We do, Cooper. For you see, love is the one thing that transcends time and space. It is the most powerful force in the universe.
Dad, you once told me there was no such thing as ghosts.
Murph, once you're a parent, you're the ghost of your children's future.
That's who you are. It's why your Mom and I named you after Murphy's Law. It doesn't mean that something bad will happen; it just means that whatever can happen, will happen.
Murph, I love you, forever.
He was standing inside a hospital ward in Cooper Station. In his physical appearance he looked to be approximately the same biological age as when he first left for space, over 90 years ago.
His appearance looked the same.
His daughter's did not.
She chastised him from the hospital bed. "You missed my birthday again."
He touched her white hair. "I'm sorry, pumpkin. I just woke up."
"It wasn't easy for me to blow out 100 candles all by myself, you know."
"You shouldn't have come all the way up here to Saturn just to see me. Not in your condition. It took two years."
She made a grin. "Well, I convinced them to let me. It wasn't easy, but, well, seeing as I'm supposed to be this great big hero of humanity and all, I do have a teeny-weeny little bit of clout around here."
She went on. "Yeah, I know. I tried to explain it was you, not me. That you solved the anti-gravity equation. But nobody believed me. They said it was just my imagination. Anyway, I got mad, stamped my feet, made a scene, you know, the usual stuff."
"You were always so stubborn."
There was a pause. She looked up at him. He hadn't changed at all. She said simply, "I love you."
He got on his knees at her bedside. He started to tear up. "I had to keep my promise. That's why I came back. And I'll stay here with you now. I'll pull in a second cot, put it right here, sleep right here with you. I'll never leave you again."
She looked down. "You can remain here for a little while. But Dad, you know I'm dying. So you can't stay."
"No. No parent should ever see their child die. Instead a dying person should see their children's faces as their last happy memory. Not the other way around. Please leave."
She was oddly insistent. "No, you must go. You have to. You must."
"I must? But why? I don't understand."
She looked at him. "Because when I died, you weren't here."
Cooper shook his head in confusion. "Murph?"
"I wanted it that way. I didn't want you to see me pass ahead of you."
"But.." He was completely confused.
She held his hand gently. "Father, don't you see? You've changed. You are no longer anchored to travel along D-brane pathways. Right now you are drifting back-and-forth through time. You've transformed into something.. else. I'm not sure what, exactly."
"I'm still confused."
"Father, I am sorry to have to tell you this.."
He stared at the smiling centenarian.
".. but this moment happened a very long time ago. You have simply travelled backward in time to experience it again. Probably because you wanted to."
"Dad, that's why I came here."
"I know, you came up all the way from Earth to meet me."
She shook her head. "No, I came all the way here to help ease your anguish in reliving this memory again. I decided to travel backward in time as well. That is why we are having this conversation right now. I didn't want to see you suffer through it again like you did the last time."
He spoke in a stunned whisper, "How long..?"
"I honestly don't know. This moment might have happened decades ago, or centuries, or millennia. It doesn't really matter. Since you are free of the bondage of time the answer is rather meaningless anyway."
He just looked at her. Then he saw that she was 10 years old again. It seemed that they were surrounded by a gentle light.
They were standing in a park. She walked up and embraced him. "Do you remember this park?"
"Yes. It was your favorite."
She said, "Dad, I'm so happy now."
"This is.. wonderful."
"Yes. This is what immortality is. You and I now exist in a higher level of reality, one that exists outside of the bondage of time. We lived our lives in a low-dimensional subspace compared to where we exist now. So in a sense you can say that you and I are actually more 'real' now here in this place than when we were existing as mere three-dimensional physical beings, living our lives as projections from something that was actually only two-dimensional."
He shook his head in disbelief. "That makes it sound like a video game or something.."
"A video game? Hey, that's a pretty good analogy. Yeah, I like that. A video game projects the image of a three-dimensional world from a two-dimensional surface. And in a video game you can go back to old savepoints, replay parts of the game differently, change your route, and so on. Anyway, whatever or however we existed before, we have left that place."
She twirled before him, then she giggled a bit. "Father, welcome to the real world."
Then she picked up his hand again and started to guide him along the walkway in the park.
"Oh man.. this is wild. Murph, I'm still really disoriented.."
"Dad, it's okay. I'm here with you. And you are here with me. Don't you see? You came back to me, just like you promised you would. You came back. And you did it because you loved me."
He touched her cheek. Whatever was happening, that much he knew for certain. "That's right. I did."
Her smile grew. "And the best part? The whole 'secret' was right out there in front of us the whole time, and it wasn't a secret at all. Love is the most powerful force in the universe. It transcends both space and time. It is infinite. And it is that Power that brought us here, and because of that Power we will never be apart again. And He made the greatest sacrifice that He possibly could to make that happen."
Cooper looked up, "And all out of His love for us, the strongest force there is."
"That's right. So follow me." The ten year-old girl gently pulled her father's hand.
"Here." She simply let go of his hand and waited. He looked around.
Then he saw a figure approaching down the grassy walkway. Her hair was long and blond and she had deep blue eyes.
And then, surrounded in that gentle bathing light, the lovers embraced. And Cooper knew that light would never die again.
Behind the pair a man scratched his stubbled beard and then crossed his arms and frowned.
Donald said sardonically, "Cooper, you're always late."
So what is it all about, anyway? Ok, here is the whole enchilada, the entire philosophical edifice that I lay out in detail in my heavy-duty hard-core techno-philosophical fanfic, The Final Act of Haruki Suzumiya (still in progress).
This is the short version.
1. The exciting advances in physics and cosmology during the past two decades strongly indicate that the Universe is not random. It seems to be designed, and very carefully so. Big hint: The Hubble Ultra Deep Field. The UDF is impossible without a super-finely tuned matter density gradient and alpha opacity function that is absolutely perfect. The UDF does not require the Anthropic Principle. (AP is the last, desperate, refuge of the cornered atheist.) The UDF is basically God showing off. I think He likes to do that a lot.
2. Our universe has basic minimal rules and structure (a closed simulation, like a video game.) Ask a physicist how elegant and minimalist it all is. Gravity is the ugly duckling of the four forces, seemingly a standalone force, with weird behavior at cosmological distances. I believe that was needed to make it all work. (Dark matter is a design hack.) Meanwhile, dark energy gives us the Big Rip, which is a totally cool way to end the story. It will be visible. You will literally see the galaxies dissolving one by one, then the stars, then the planets, then the Earth itself. Again this is God showing off. (See a pattern?)
3. Item 2 implies that a higher level of reality exists somewhere (running the video game). Call this Heaven, or whatever.
4. Item 3 implies there is no way for you to reach Heaven on your own. It would be like a video game character trying to step out of the screen. (Secular Humanists and Gene Roddenberry think this way.)
5. Item 4 implies you must be pulled up. No way to get there on your own. Instead, God shoved His own hand inside the screen, over 2000 years ago, to grab us and pull us up. Why? Dunno. Grace. (Aside: The difference between Christianity and Buddhism is that I think God wants friends to chat with. The Buddhist wants to merge with the Godhead and lose self-identity.)
6. I strongly suspect there is a chain of these higher realities, possibly transfinite. God lives up at the top, the apex of this infinite ladder. (The Continuum Hypothesis is true.) Why? Because the math is elegant, and it is the only way for Georg Cantor to defeat Kurt Gödel. But it requires CH for it to work. The atheist denies CH. That is an unsupported and unprovable assumption. (It is really fascinating how the atheist/deist divide strongly correlates to each mathematician's position on CH. See the Wikipedia article.)
7. God is definitely watching you. Why? The video game analogy. But there is an even better way to prove it: Observation is the key to Quantum Mechanics. We are living inside a closed QM system with a collapsible wave function. So who collapsed it? Answer: Whoever observed us from outside the box. So, like Schrödinger's cat, we are alive and not dead. We are literally alive because of Him. (That's a pun.) Yeah, I'm oversimplifying a bit. Observation is the key to everything. I say 'I think, therefore I am,' and since I am aware of myself right at this moment, therefore somebody must be observing me doing it. QED.
8. God wants a relationship with you. Why? Because you are hardwired for it. You feel it. You are an instinctive seeker. No other animal thinks this way.
That's basically it.
You can work out the rest for yourself. God gave you eyes and a brain. It's all obvious. You can work out all the deep philosophical questions of life from the above: the question of free will, the two-way communication backchannel called prayer, the problem of evil, how salvation really works, pretty much everything.
You need to get at least items 1-5 under your belt first. Otherwise you will never get anywhere, and you are toast.
And then after you got all that nailed down, go ahead and pick up an NIV Bible and start with the Gospel of John. He really gets it, the gestalt, the head space, the intuition, the heart, better than anybody. Love is the key. Our minds cannot grasp the infinite so He had to downsize it to something finite that we could understand. Basically, Christ is a hack to make it all work, the same way that dark matter is a hack. (I use the word 'hack' in the following sense: Not an error or a mistake, but a necessary special modification to make it all work. For example, the kludgy van der Waals force is a hack to make proteins fold right and ice float in water, so that Earth's oceans and ocean-under-ice-worlds like Europa can support life. I'll explain that later sometime.)
And there it is.
How to start: To start your seeker journey at step 1, go see the following YouTube video, the most important video ever created by mankind: The Hubble Ultra Deep Field in 3D by Deep Astronomy. Watch this video carefully. Or just look out your window.
The end of the story is called the Big Rip. See New Estimates May Adjust Universe's Date for "Big Rip" Fate by slatester, and Dark Energy Are We Alone? by ScienceChannel.
It's all pretty simple, really.