What is Arcanotech?
Arcanotech is the groundbreaking realm of technology that functions on multiple dimensions, is frequently and incorrectly referred to as non-Euclidian Geometry (nEG) and is based on an entirely new foundation in mathematics.
Most people will complain that all math is arcane, but this really isn't the case.
Once upon a time 2 + 2 could only ever equal 4. There was also a time in science and math when the concept of 0 or zero didn't exist.
Then along came Sign Function and turned mathematics on its head, by giving numbers positive and negative values.
2 + 2 could be -4, 0, or 4.
In Arcanotech there aren't 2 values (+/-), there are 6. Factor in Sign function, and that jumps to 12. And people think math is hard now.
The six arcane functions correspond to the six flavors of quark, Up, Down, Strange, Charm, Beauty, and Truth. Like sign, each of these has a specific mathematical function, though most of these functions do no manifest in mundane mathematics, regular day physics, and traditional science.
Up and Down are terms of rotation. Yes, arcane mathematics asks you to consider the speed and spin of the numbers you are attempting to work with.
Strange and Charm are terms of symmetry and longevity. Is the 2 in the equation an old two, an asymmetrical 2, an old 2, is it a pretty 2? The math becomes quite odd.
Truth and Beauty are terms of interactive force. Is the 2 attractive, or is the 2 repulsive?
At the end, the answer of 2 + 2 is a sliding curve with hundreds of possible answers.
Arcanotech and Computers
The modern computer, internet, and everything that was come from it exists in a technological world of two options, 1 and 0, on and off. The computers of the Cosmic Era have twelve. This has created a massive increase in computing power and potential, and facilitated the development of the harmonic circuit, and from that, the quantum circuit.
The Quantum Circuit is a stunning piece of arcanotechnology, and it functions perfectly fine so long as it is not observed. When observed, the flow of electricity starts breaking down in the circuit. The system uses non-linear patterns and quantum jumping and nanotunneling to create connections when and where it needs them, and is rapidly adaptable. Once manufactured, these components are typically sealed and if they become faulty, are replaced completely as repairing one generally renders it inert. The QC is a vital component in robot cortices, artificial brains, and almost all computer devices.
Dues ex Machina
Artificial intelligence and smart computers already existed before the Cosmic Era, and many of the standard tech computers of the Petroleum Era and later Resource Wars became very intelligent, including the first supercomputing mainframes. With the advent of the QC chips, and floating point programming true sentience appeared in machines.
Arcanotech and BioSciences
Compared to the Cosmic Era, the medical capacity and life saving technologies of the Petroleum Era are closer to the barber surgeons and chirugeons of Medieval Europe than to the modern timeframe. Cloning, genetic engineering, and biotechnologies have advanced to a stunning degree, most of which was made possible by the advent of arcanotechnology. The old problem with biotech was a foundational limitation of the hardware and comprehension behind medical thinking. Computers were only able to operate in binary format, and the introduction of the first AISCs and L/AISC demonstrated that the new computers destroyed the old machines and their ability to function.
With 3D printing and cellular cloning technology it was a simple matter to start harvesting a few cells and growing new organs from scratch for those in need or organ transplants. Likewise, arcanotech and genetic manipulation created such things as a seaweed that produced red blood cells for blood transfusions, and cultured biomass to sweat or otherwise excrete valuable hormones, pheromones and other synthesized chemicals for use in medications and treatments. This brought to the forefront the biochemical breakthrough of LCL, an arcane superfluid that was used in a large number of applications. The most important biological application was the use in creches, mechanical wombs designed to repopulate endangered and extinct animals species. From there grew human cloning, and a whole new wing of the biological industry opened up.
Genetic engineering has become it's own industry in the Cosmic Era. In the Petroleum Era, such engineering was largely relegated to insidious agricultural companies and science fiction. With the unlocking of new arcanotech devices, this primitive firing seed RNA bullets at DNA strands was replaced with a much more precise system. nanotechnology and other old technologies resuscitated by arcanotech proved valuable for 'flipping' the genetic switches, and cutting and replacing various sections of a genome. Within a century, several major ailments vanished, with Cancer, Diabetes, and Alzheimers falling to the tiny scalpels of molecule sized surgeons.
After the major issues were dealt with, scientists and engineers had a lot of free time on their hands and as such started delving into fringe and superficial modifications to their technology, and the realm of crimes against humanity. After destroying cancer, arcanotech turned to what people really were worried about, male pattern baldness, erectile dysfunction, and undersized breasts. On the other side, genetic engineering started producing human level intelligence in animals, caste based clones, and making supersoldiers for the good fight.
Arcanotech and Entertainment
The Cognet is arguably the pinnacle of entertainment technology, streaming content directly into the user's brain. The graphics are so real that they can be felt, smelt, and makes the Holodeck look like a 13 inch black and white television set. While the tech started with primitive brain probes, it evolved to the point that the causal user could use nothing more than a hat sized apparatus to interact with the CogNet, watching movies, listening to music, and virtually attending events as such with limited feedback. The larger Synthetic Simulation System (S3) is not much larger than a large television and stand and has a seat and a larger biofeedback system and headband and allows for full sensory immersion.
Why watch a movie, when with an S3 you can be in the movie. The line between dreams, video games, and passive entertainment blur together creating a new genre of entertainment, Immersive. Parlors hold rows of S3 units with access to premium, exclusive, or illegal content, and there is a new wave of pornography, and the Black Feed appears, streaming illegal sims, murder, rape, extreme violence, and political dissidence and warfare.
In the Cosmic Era, there is often little difference between a Porn Star and a Movie Star, other than the production value of their entertainment.
Arcanotech and Power
Arcanotech's application to electricity and power generation is the technological aspect that made the most immediate and longest lasting impact on the Second Renaissance. Arcanotech provided the fundamental fixes to make fusion reactors viable, and eventually the Arc Reactor was born, and started lighting up the West. Likewise, the interaction of dimensional sciences and power generation merged to produce the Dimensional Engine, the Cascade Dimensional Engine, the Dimensional Screw, Battery, and Heatsink. These reactors exploited weaknesses in hyperdimensional objects to generate force and movement, which in turn created power. The Screw is the smallest, while the Cascade is a series of reactors linked together into a network. The Dimensional Battery proved valuable as it allowed for long term power storage, and greater quantities of power to be stored than traditional chemical batteries could ever dream of. The Dimensional Heatsink sucked heat in, and belched it out into a mathematical 'somewhere else'.
Small vehicles and robots use dimensional batteries, allowing for these objects to become smaller and more efficient. On a standard D-Pack an automobile could go several hundred miles, and a robot could run for several weeks of standard functioning. While running a D-battery to zero takes a while, recharging it can also take a while (lacking fast charge capacitors) so most do routine 'topping off' recharging. Larger vehicles like mecha, airships, and other machines have their own dedicated D-engines or Arc reactors, and so long as maintained, can run almost indefinitely. This brought back cheap construction, cheap transportation, and in the case of the Arcologies, cheap power sources to run the buildings.
Arcanotech and Construction
Arcanotech provided three major breakthroughs for the realm of construction. Industrial and construction mecha which have increased the ability to built rapidly and efficiently. With less reliance on cranes and other ponderous machinery, the industrial mecha can reduce conventional construction times by a factor of 10. On large and complicated projects, such as arcologies, and space stations, and new habitats on the surface of other worlds, these machines are essential.
New computers and architectural theories have changed how things are built, and while mundane construction hasn't seen much benefit from this, the appearance of Raft cities, seacologies, space habitats, and geofronts dug into a variety of terrain types have.
Finally, arcanotechnology has facilitated the birth of new construction material. Non-ferrous steel, plasteel (actually an organic aluminum) transparent aluminum, Light emitting glass, monopole ferroceramics, and all sorts of fantastic materials have been generated from the Second Renaissance, and these materials have made giant robots, mile tall buildings, and all of the other wonders of the cosmic era happen. Carbon nanotubes have a footnote in history as one of the great red herrings of the Petroleum Era.
Arcanotech and Transportation
Transportation has always been vital to humanity, and arcanotech facilitated a number of existing technologies and created several new ones. In mundane applications, power sources, batteries, and building materials have made possible the mecha, and the spaceships, and refined technologies like small vehicles, mag-trains and so forth. The biggest breakthrough in arcanotech for moving things has been the A-Pod, an arcane device that floats. This has spawned the creation of hoverbikes, floating race cars, flying battleships, and probe droids that drift around battlefields and scout natural disaster areas for survivors.
A-pod equipped ships have replaced trains, cargo trucks, cargo ships, and other freight vehicles. While they are not very fast, they can carry large loads and more importantly, require no infrastructure. No rails, no roads, just flight control and aerodromes for loading and unloading. These cargo floaters are typically serviced in port cities, and have strong nautical themes as the best way to build them and service them in sitting in water. They have watertight hulls, and other naval accoutrements as this makes them both functional in emergency situations (water landings, caught by bad weather, etc) and more familiar in regular use. Most cargo ships could be built like spaceships and function just the same but this would be unsettling as most cargo haulers are more the blue collar worker type and not the space explorer type.
Arcanotech has also been invaluable in space exploration. With abundant power from D-engines, theoretical propulsion systems have become reality, with ion based impulse drives being the most common space drives, and more exotic things like plasma ramjets and more alien Dimensional Slide drives being in the experimental phases. The lightspeed barrier hasn't been broken, yet. It's just a matter of time before a group of young engineers and scientists figure out how to get around that particular constant in the universe.
While there is no progress in FTL travel in the setting, functionally limiting it to the Solar System, the advances in engines and such has facilitated easy travel too and from most planets near Earth. There is regular traffic between Mars and Earth, with the peak tourist season coinciding with when the two planets are the closest. The moon is inhabited, as are many other moons in the solar system, especially the Jovian Moons and Titan. Most of these are military, clandestine research centers, scientific endeavors or oubliettes for toxic materials, criminals, or very dangerous research projects.
And this has all happened in the recent past of the setting, so rather than being wondrous, it's almost all taken for granted.
Parapsychology and Paranormal Phenomenon
It has been said that magic is nothing more than insufficiently explained technology, and arcanotech has proven some of this to be just the case. Many instances of paranormal activity, cryptid sightings, alien conspiracy theory, religious miracles, and aspects of the New Age Movement were not in fact magic and fantasy, but unexplained manifestations and misunderstood events.
In quantum theory observing something changes its behavior, and this was also found to be true in arcanotechnology. Some things only worked when they went unseen, such as the quantum circuit chips in advanced computer systems. Other things only worked if they were being willed to work by someone holding them, such as the S3 systems. Hyperdimensional technology responds to human will and emotion because either surprisingly or not, human beings are hyperdimensional beings. It just happens that the 'soul' is a hyperdimensional aspect of human biology, and this interacts with other souls, and interacts with sufficiently advanced technology.
The ParaPsychic Phenomenon
The Parapsychic phenomenon was the appearance of people who could manipulate things with seemingly the force of their mind alone. This ranged from setting things on fire, to controlling people's minds, and healing by the laying on of hands. It all seemed very magical, and in some instances, very sinister. Arcanotechnologists specialised in parapsychology and paranormal studies determined that these manifestations were in no way magic, because magic is silly, and magic isn't real. They instead claim that this is an evolution in human ability, and rather than a biological mutation, such as those being manufactured in biotech corp labs, this was a racial/species level evolution and represented a new aspect of the human soul, the ability to directly control and manipulate energy.
The Soul can be photographed with suitable arcanotech Kirlian cameras, and is seen as the aura.
The Cryptid Phenomenon
The Mothman, bigfoot, dinosaurs in central africa, chupacabra, ghosts, etc all are being explained by arcanotech and parapsychology. The 'truth' behind such beings is often just as fantastic as the creatures themselves, and as such has done little to reverse their position in fringe science. Claiming that Bigfoot is a hyperdimensional being and only occasionally wanders into Earth or is glimpsed through transient dimensional fatigue events has moved what would be a serious scientific study back onto the fringes of what is considered acceptable.
There are few words that inspire such dread as Dimensional Fatigue. Working with arcanotech is working with devices that turn the apparent laws of physics and nature on their head, and when these devices fail, they do so in dramatic fashion. The good news is that most arcanotech devices and machinery have sophisticated fail safes and cut off systems to ensure that the machines shut down before that point of critical failure.
The danger of arcanotechnology is strongly downplayed, and the instances of these fatigue events are classified events, and the various world powers and media keep said events under wraps. Disease outbreaks, terrorism, industrial accidents and other mundane events are used as cover stories for when the most exotic tech fails and rips holes in reality in the process. There are entire military and paramilitary units that exist to rapidly respond to and contain these events. These units are both elite, and expendable and with the prevalence of clones and droids used, the survivors can either be reconditioned, rehabbed, or just decommissioned.
The Dirty Secret
The underlying principle of arcanotech is human suffering. This isn't known in the Cosmic era, but the dimensional realm that is accessed by the vast dimensional engines, and quantum circuit chips, and the other pieces of hypertech are all tapping into cosmic power through a conduit made of human misery, suffering, and death. Identified as the river of Sorrow and corresponding to the Sanzu river of Japanese mythology, or Styx in Western mythology, it is a metaphysical dimension of human existence. Just as the body decays and rots, so does the soul, becoming the stuff of the 'river'.
The viability of arcanotech is directly dependent on the 'level' of the river, and prolonged periods of peace and prosperity see the river ebb, while large scale death and suffering will see it flow. In the Petroleum Era, the levels were low. While there was war, the population was showing strong (unsustainable) growth, and everything for the larger part of the human race was going fine. The Population Contraction saw a large percentage of the world population vanish in a short period of time. Billions of people perished over the course of a century, which in all honesty is normal, but while billions died, there were not billions being born to replace them. The balance of life and death shifted, the river flowed. The period afterwards was marked by violence, famine, starvation, ethnic cleansing, and the rampant use of revenge wars and the desolation of large parts of the planet with biological, chemical, and atomic weapons.
Everything created from or touched by arcanotech is tainted by it.
While many good things come from arcanotech, human longevity, the banishment of many diseases, cheap abundant power, and space exploration and so forth. These things all have a hidden cost. The improvements in medicine have seen the unintended effect of reducing the value of human life. People treat others and even themselves poorly because almost everything can be fixed or replaced easily. Casualties can run high, but no one cares, because it is assumed correctly or otherwise that it was just clones, drones, and dumb droids in the wrong place at the wrong time. The demise of many diseases has seen the birth of viral engineering as a weapon technology, and cheap abundant power has lead almost immediately to massive wastes of power.
Author's Note: I read once that Alice in Wonderland was written partially in response to the introduction of the sign function in mathematics, and by giving one number two possible values (positive and negative) turned everything on it's head and nonsense was the only sort of sense. By introducing not 2 values, but 12, things really get thrown into the blender, and things just go from there are functionally it's vanilla science fiction hypertechnology.
But one of the common themes of science fiction is that said fiction exists in an atheistic universe. Faith and religion, salvation and damnation are abstracts or relics from the primitive and barbaric past. The Cosmic Era is very much a pantheistic setting, there are gods, and there are alternate dimensionals and fractal realities that mimic the appearance of Heaven and Hell, and human beings are entities with hyperdimensional aspect souls. I drew upon one of the core ideas I saw in Event Horizon, the first FTL ship built tunneled through space-time to jump to another location. Unfortunately, the underside of space-time is Hell, and the crew was butchered, the ship became a malevolent sentient monster and everyone dies. Arcanotech is in many aspects the same. There is math and numbers, but there are metaphysical and spiritual implications behind the advanced technology.
Arcanotech makes the Cosmic Era world go 'round, and it is somewhere between technological date rape, and the proverbial deal with the devil.
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? Responses (4)-4
I think I get it now!
One of the things about this submission is that I wrote it in the hopes of pulling some of these different threads together and give them some cohesion. This is also written from the hopeful perspective of putting the setting together into some sort of publishable format, and if it does end up a book, there would pretty much have to be a chapter on how arcanotech works and why it does.
Unfortunately I don't enjoy this aspect because it feels like I am showing my hand, and showing how I do things and make them work on a mechanical level, a functional level and that ruins the magic.
If there was really no magic in this you would have published this article in Nature and not roleplaying website. I like it, and this stuff is a necessary tool for deep fiction (by deep I mean complicated).