Oct 7, 2022

Three Body Problem

Posted by in categories: physics, space

Recently I had the pleasure of reading what is likely the most terrifying science fiction book series I’ve ever read. I’ve always enjoyed scary stories. As a kid, I read anthologies like goosebumps or scary Stories to Tell in the Dark. But I didn’t know true fear until I encountered the works of Stephen King, and H.P. Lovecraft in my teenage years. Lovecraft’s works opened up such terrifying vistas of thought that I would while reading them become transfixed and filled with ultimate existential dread. The cosmic terrors he wrote about in his stories struck me as somehow realer than the monsters and ghost of goosebumps and that is probably because in truth Lovecraft, being the flawed man he was, was expressing a very simple fear, fear of the unknown. And what is more unknown than the blackness of space. I must admit that not since my early teenage years have I felt such poignant terror while reading as I did when first encountering the work of Lovecraft. That Is until I read the Remembrance of Earth’s past trilogy.

There are three books in this series, The Three-Body Problem, The Dark Forest, and Deaths End, there is also an additional book not written by Cixin Liu himself, called Redemption of Time. The first books in the series The Three-Body Problems start off as a mystery. As the story unfolds it starts to feel as though we are reading the unfolding of some grand conspiracy, a conspiracy written into the fabric of the universe itself. Early on in the story, you find out that scientists around the world have been killing themselves. A note left behind by one of the late scientists, Yang Dong ominously added to the mysteries, saying only:

All the evidence points to a single conclusion: Physics has never existed, and will never exist. I know what I’m doing is irresponsible. But I have no choice.

We base so much of our own perception of what we consider to be reality on what we can observe. We look upon the universe as it is and extrapolate from that point. But what if we will never be able to know the truth about the universe. What if the universal constants are not constant. What if the laws of physics are not laws, what if reality isn’t real. Before we get any further into the video I have to give a spoiler warning. If you have not read the series I highly recommend you stop this video and do so. If you’ve read the series, or just don’t care about spoilers then continue forth. Now we won’t be getting into all of the details of the series, I’ll be giving context to why exactly I think this series is so unnerving.

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Cover art: The Fourth Dimension by Marc Simonetti.

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